Discussion on Free-will and Determinism by Dr. Raymond Crownover (UGST)

The idea that God is involved in time, that time is in God, and that God fully, completely, and infallibly knows the future does not make Him the author of all evil things He knows about. Open Theism fails in not only making God ignorant of the future, but in assuming that He needs to be in order to protect free will. I use two examples to illustrate this: (1) the individual who "knows" the stoplight is about to turn red (because it just turned yellow) does not cause it to turn red even if his knowledge is correct; and (2) my memory of events of the past (if those memories are accurate) did not cause the events to occur any more than God's "memory" of events of the future cause those events to occur. Or, my observation of a present event does not cause the event any more than God's observation (of all events throughout time) cause all those events.

Of course, the question then arises: at what point does God cease to be passive observer and begins to directly cause events of the future to occur? He is the ultimate cause of all things (including evil), but not always the immediate cause. The Bible makes clear that God is causing all things to come to a determined end. However, there is nothing simple about it. Clearly God protects human free will as one of, if not THE most vital good of His creation. We know that because it is God's will that all humans be saved, yet the percentage of those who will be saved is small ("few there be..."). What is frustrating God's will? Not the devil (although he would love us to believe that). No angel, fallen or holy, can frustrate the divine purpose. The only thing that can prevent God's will from being done is God's will.

That is, God may desire X, but does not bring it to pass because it is logically impossible to bring about X without preventing Y, which God desires more. (Now, before someone says God can do the impossible, let me make clear that logical impossibilities are not in the same category as physical impossibilities. For example, God cannot make a square circle. If what He produces is a circle, it is not a square; if what He produces is a square, it is not a circle; and if what He produces is a hybrid circle and square, then it is neither a circle nor a square. It is also logically impossible for God to make a rock He cannot lift.) In this case, X is "all men to be saved" and Y is "whosoever will".

Because God cannot have all men saved without over-riding human will (forcing all to be saved), John Calvin concluded the only way to preserve God's sovereignty was to redefine "all" to mean only those He elects. In reality, that severely limits God's sovereignty by making Him a slave to His every desire. (Surely God's desires are perfect, holy, and all together good, but they serve Him, not the other way around. Desires that control are lusts, even if they are positive in their outcome.) Instead, God can choose from His desires, rank them according to His holy purpose, and put into effect one even when it means limiting the fulfillment of another. That doesn't stop God from wanting all human beings to be saved.

What does that tell us about moral free will? That it is the highest, most important, and most closely protected of all God's gifts to man. He would rather see a highly loved and precious person for whom He paid the price of death on the cross go to hell than to see them forced to love and serve Him. Most people would probably reply that they would rather God forced them to go to heaven than gave them free will, but the obvious response to that is they are simply saying they want to surrender their will to God, and if they really mean it, they will avoid hell. Unfortunately, most people don't really mean it.

Since free will is the ultimate good, God has to deal with literally billions of free choices every day, and still make it all come out according to His plan. The majority of these choices may be insignificant in relation to the ultimate outcome, but there are certainly a few that could derail the plan. However, God is not left hopelessly observing without influencing the outcome of our choices.

First, He is not constrained by natural laws of cause and effect. Second, He has myriads of angels who obey His every command. Third, He has willing human beings who desire to change the world to bring about His desired results. Fourth, He has equipped both those angels and (more importantly) those human servants with powers far beyond their individual ability to effect change, making the free decision of one man of God more powerful in its effect than thousands or even millions of decisions made by those who are ignorant of or actively working against His will. All of these elements add to His ability to bring about a determined end without violating human free will in doing so.

Some prophecies in the Bible (probably most) are statements of what will happen based on His foreknowledge of all events. A few are statements of what He will cause to happen by direct or indirect intervention in the affairs of humans. But, can we really call that divine intervention, or is it simply the divine interaction with the unfolding of His creation?

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Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)