Can you change the road you're on?
Using philosophy, before theology, to understand the predestination.
I have heard many people talking about the theological topic of predestination since the beginning of school year. I wanted to share some things that I found helpful in approaching this topic through a philosophical lens, rather than citing a bunch of verses. In the space I’m allotted, I will draw upon some ripped off ideas from Thomas Flint in his article on Two Accounts on Providence that I examined in PHIL 384 Suffering and Belief in God.
Predestination is a theological topic wherein God “predestines” certain individuals for salvation (Acts 4:38; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:5, 11). For instance: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph.1:11). God is traditionally understood as having foresight and active control of what will happen, exercising that control wisely and morally. How God is involved is another question.
But, rather than squaring verses to form an argument, I want to address the core issues of predestination: a) God’s knowledge, and b) human free will, from the perspective of Molinism, a philosophy of religion that I have found particularly helpful. The diagram below presents the three types of knowledge that God has according to Molinism, and three of the main possible positions on what kind of will we have as humans.
Deeper issues are at stake here rather than siding with theological titles. Truly, truly predestination is a topic that involves good philosophy in order to achieve a good theology... then you can side with your theological titles if you so desire.
Clearly, if consensus among us is unattainable, theological diversity is all but assured. These are things that everyone who considers themselves a Christian theist should think about, since they pertain to the gospel message, especially in sharing its message. I hope that this will help nuance your philosophical and theological discussions in a constructive way.
For me, the idea of grace seems to imply that the choice of our faith and salvation is not up to God. It is sometimes said in Christian circles that our love of God has no value if our choices in response to God aren’t made freely. When God created, those people who freely chose salvation were predestined for one purpose; those who freely rejected it were for another. Thus, I’ll identify with a lyric from a specific song: "There’s still time to change the road you’re on…and it makes me wonder."