Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Some pre-destinational love questions

Caution: I'm not a pre-destination nazi, and it is not my mission in life to try to convince people of this doctrine. I'm not angry with you if you don't believe it. However, when I come across it in my reading, I may mention it from time to time. And I've been reading Jeremiah lately for my personal devotion time and came across this the other day: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

A few thoughts filled my mind that morning.

1.) Jeremiah did not choose to be a prophet; he was chosen before he drew his first breath. Even before that, really. The deduction that I've heard a number of folks make regarding pre-destination is that if there is no choice, then there can be no love. Love implies a choice, and God would never "force" Himself on you. If God chooses people, then love doesn't really come into play. Love has to be chosen for it to be love.

But did Jeremiah not love God? I would tend to think "yes." I mean after all, God was just about his only friend; you know the age-old expression that "friends don't put friends in cisterns and leave them for dead (Jer 38)." Only an Ethiopian eunuch cared enough to gather some folks to rescue him. Always good to make friends with eunuchs.

My point is, that God's predetermined call (of which Jeremiah had no choice) didn't negate Jeremiah's love for Him. Moreover, I think it actually moved Jeremiah to love Him. It sustained him when no one else loved him.

2.) Foreknowledge-We can't escape the word "predestination" in the bible. The word is connected to "foreknowledge" in Romans 8 and seems to be the basis for his choosing us in I Peter 1:2. This has often led folks to believe that foreknowledge means, "God saw what choice I would make, and then he chose me." The problem with that concept is that is not what foreknowledge seems to mean. Especially here.

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."

This foreknowledge doesn't imply a choice in the future to be made, but of God's placing His love personally and specifically upon you. Some sort of relationship is established even before Jeremiah realizes who God is and what He's done for him. Now of course Jeremiah has to confess for himself, but if God "knew" him first, clearly there is no doubt that he will.

This is an offensive topic, and one in which there is much disagreement. Most Christians don't believe in predestination, but I simply wanted to share some thoughts in a passage I was recently reading. Regardless of where you end up with this doctrine, I just thought I'd throw my question into the whole "love implies a choice" and "foreknowledge" deal.


MagistraCarminum said...

Excellent thoughts, Geoff. Reminds me of a recent talk on Edwards' theology where the question was asked, "How can I know I'm elect?" The answer given was, "That's not really the point. Run to Jesus."

Geoffsnook said...

Thank you Chris. I really appreciate how you pointed us to Edwards. By the way, do know where he said that? I like that quote and would like to find it if you have the reference.

That's what it is really about: running to Jesus, not hiding behind theology or presuppositions or excuses. Thanks for the reminder!

And if someone feels the need to run to Jesus, that kind of shows something, eh? God's love is already showing its effectuality!

MagistraCarminum said...

Geoff- it's not really a direct Edwards quote, it is a Carl Bogue quote, who was preaching from Ephesians 1:1-14, in the midst of lecturing on the covenantal theology of Edwards. You can access the sermon here: http://bapca.org/sermons/ It is entitled, "How Can I Know I am Elect?" And it is excellent!

Geoffsnook said...

Thanks Chris, I'll check it out.

Jeremy said...

Very good post, Geoff. Full agreement here, for what it's worth. May other's eyes be opened to this glorious, soul satifying doctrine!

Geoffsnook said...


Thanks brother. Your opinion is always of great worth. And since you are one of those who gradually came to this doctrine by your own personal study of the scriptures, I especially appreciate what you have to say here.