Thursday, February 15, 2007

Predestination of things?

"God predestinated his people, not things." "Predestination as taught by the true church teaches us that God predetermined the destination of his people, not things." -- Elder Claude Mckee,* Anniston, Alabama

From time to time I hear or read the idea that predestination refers only to people and not things. This "doctrine" is making a distinction where there is no difference (and thereby possibly causes division where there should be none). Consider the following factors.

1. The English meaning of the word "predestinate". It means "to foreordain or predetermine" (our common usage of "destination" is not bound up in the meaning of the word).

2. The Latin root of the word "predestinate". It comes from the Latin root déstinàre, which means "to establish or determine" (see the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © 2006, for example)

3. The meaning of the Greek word proorizo. According to most concordances, Bible dictionaries, etc., it means "to predetermine or decide beforehand", "decreeing from eternity", "to foreordain or appoint beforehand". (IOW, our modern idea of "destination" is not bound up in the word, as usage will show)

4. The use of the Greek word proorizo. It is translated "predestinate", "ordain" and "determine before" in the following verses, and is not restricted from referring to things.

Acts 4:28 - For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel /determined before/ to be done.
Rom 8:29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did /predestinate/ to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 - Moreover whom he did /predestinate/, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
1Co 2:7 - But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God /ordained/ before the world unto our glory:
Eph 1:5 - Having /predestinated/ us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:11 - In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being /predestinated/ according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

To define "things" out of what God has determined before is to ignore the totality of Scripture, place too much weight a few verses without due consideration of the whole, and to ignore the meaning of the word. Too much rests on reading back into it one of the meanings of our word "destination" -- "the place to which one is going". This ignores other meanings of the word, such as "an act of appointing or setting aside for a specific purpose". To say that God does not "predestinate" things is to say He does not "predetermine" things.

This is an area in which we need to allow the Bible to interpret itself, rather than to apply our own distinctions. As noted, the Greek word proorizo is translated "predestinate" and "determine before", which is a Biblical way of defining the meaning of predestinate -- it is that which God has determined before. For example, in Acts 4:28 - "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." What had God here determined before? That Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles and the people of Israel would crucify Jesus Christ. See verses 24-27 and also Acts 2:22-24.

* Essential Baptist Principles I do not intend to "pick on" or debate Elder Mckee. His site is the first one I found by google search that stated this idea plainly.


amity said...

Does God predestinate every single event that happens, or only those that pertain to salvation?

R. L. Vaughn said...

First, I would like to point out that your question does not encompass all the options, for there is at least two others -- that God predestinates some events that relate to salvation and some events that do not, or that God predestinates events but does not predestinate salvation -- as opposed to predestinating every single event that happens, or only those that pertain to salvation. Perhaps there are other options, but I can't think of any right now (I am supposing no one advocates that there is no kind of predestination whatsoever, at least among Bible believers).

Second, to try to divide events that pertain to salvation and events that do not pertain to it may go beyond what the Scriptures warrant and what we are truly capable of doing. Just thinking out loud here. For example, the events of the life of Joseph in being sold into Egypt and specific events that put him in the right place to be elevated to a leading position in Egypt are clearly spelled out as meant by God. So I would conclude they were predestinated/determined before (which is what predestinated means). Did this have any thing to do with salvation? Perhaps not directly. But on the other hand, it is clearly within the purpose of God preserving the descendants of Abraham from whom the promised seed (Jesus Christ) would come.

There are a number of events concerning nations described in prophetic books such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel that are purported as determined by God (e.g. Isa. 14:24-27; 19:17; 46:10ff; Dan. 4:24ff). These don't seem to have a direct connection to salvation, but then again, they are not random events and do go toward putting Israel/Judah in the proper place in the world scheme when the fulness of time comes for the Saviour to come into the world.

Just some thinking out loud on the matter, that may or not answer your question, and may or may not be useful.

Anonymous said...

The absolute sovereignty of God leads us to rightly understand what the scripture is teaching. When we understand this, the stepping stones of election, predestination, redemption and ordaination fall into place.

This does not rule out incidental happenings, but rather allows them. For example; I was a teacher and preacher, and at the apex of this course, I suffered a stroke, which took my voice and mobility. This too, was the plan of God. It was only when I accepted this fact, I developed within the confines of this handicap, and performed ministry and teaching from a different persepective. I effectively ministered to people who were also affected by such calamities. I could speak with authority.

God is the essence and the circumference of our very being.

Whilst the scriptures are the story of redemption, they include valuable stories of historical events in the lives of people. Yes, predestination includes all events in this world.

If we draw two circles, one within the other, we have the absolute sovereignty of God as the outer circle. The inner circle demonstrates the permissive will of God within that absolute sovereignty. The latter is driven by the former, but allows for relative choices by man.

The whole story of God and man is revealed clearly in what is prolly the oldest record of scripture, the book of Job. We even see the influence of Satan within this plan of God.



amity said...

It is a great blessing when we can see God's hand even in the calamties that befall us. Jim, are you still in a wheelchair and unable to use your voice?

Rev. said...

"Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it."
- Isaiah 46:9-11

Anonymous said...

Amity, I was never in a wheelchair,,just a cane.....and I lost my speech for the first three years after my first stroke. Wife says I talk too much now. My hands are should see my Columbus typing,,discover and land..and my short-term memory is way off,,I lose track of time, including what day it is.



amity said...

well, shoot, Jim, I can't remember what day it is either! ;)

Thank God you have made such a good recovery! Having you here is a blessing.