I believe in the law of non-contradiction. Two oppositional things cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way.
I believe that this is an axiom.
There are no square circles.
The Bible is clear in regard to the doctrine of election. God chooses. God predestines.
(check out Ephesians 1:3-11)
The Bible is also clear in saying that man is not saved without faith, and faith is a choice – maybe the ultimate choice.
These two things seem to be in contradiction with one another, but the Bible teaches both clearly. Sometimes they are presented virtually side by side! Check out Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:11
“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…”
that is a pretty clear passage about God choosing!
But look at verse 13:
“ In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit… ”
that is a pretty clear passage about us hearing and believing!
…just two verses apart. Apparently Paul did not have a problem believing in both the doctrine of election and the need for belief in salvation.
So, is there any way in which I can freely choose God and God can sovereign-ly choose me without breaking the law of non-contradiction? Can they both be true at the same time?
Each side seems to spend a great deal of time proving their view scripturally – God chooses me or I choose God and then making the assumption that
- since the Bible clearly teaches one and
- since the two concepts must be contradictory
- therefore, the other concept is false.
But I disagree with premise #2. There are ways in which both can freely choose. Here is one (please note that I am not claiming that this is right, just that it is an example of how it could be possible)
Most efforts at this integration has essentially morphed one doctrine or the other into something different.
Predestination, for example, is not merely foreknowledge. Predestination calls for God to have freely chosen in coordination with His foreknowledge, not merely in reaction to it. That is merely God choosing those who He just happens to know will choose Him. Knowing that the roulette ball will land on RED is not the same as choosing for it to land on RED.
Similarly, the idea that man is responsible to have faith, but has no freedom or power to choose faith. That is fine for God’s sovereign choice, but is no real free choice for mankind.
Is there a way to, with integrity to both doctrines and with rationality, to integrate these two biblical concepts?
Please remember that I am not a well trained philosopher, so I am sure I will make some mistakes in this, but these are the basics of “Middle Knowledge” as I understand them:
Next week, I will offer links to William Lane Craig, a true expert on these topics, for you to follow up with more. If you are impatient, you can google him now!
God decides to create. At this point, He has limitless options because only God can limit His own options. He is a painter with a literally blank canvas… because God can create from nothing. He is limited by only His own decisions.
God decides to limit His options. A possible example: He decides He wants some part of His creation to have the option of accepting or rejecting His love for them.
God no longer is choosing from limitless options (by His own choice and design). He has begun to narrow toward what He wants. No one is forcing this on Him. This is like you choosing a candy bar at the gas station. No one limits your choices but you, and this only expresses your freedom, not diminishes it.
God looks through all the possible futures of all of the possible worlds He can choose from. He is not just choosing a starting place and letting it go; He knows all of the sparrows in all of the worlds still within His guidelines. This is an extension of what is called “Middle Knowledge.” This concept explains that God not only knows what will happen, but He even knows what will NOT happen. He knows futures that don’t exist. Check this out:
1 Sam 23:10-13
Then David said, “O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account. “Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down just as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit. (NASU)
Notice that God tells David what would happen if he stayed, but he didn’t stay! God described a future that didn’t happen.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Eph 1:11-13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.