Perhaps one of the longest, and most annoying, debates amongst Christians for literally centuries has been the debate between predestination and free will. Calvinism versus Arminianism. Theologians have written about it for years. That one dude people in your Bible study keeps bringing it up. It seems this debate, like most debates, will never end.
But I am here to settle it once and for all.
I can’t settle a debate that I’m not really a part of. I find myself somewhere in the middle of the two sides. My own little happy place between the armies.
The other night I was at dinner with some friends and we were talking about how our lives ended up where they are, and how some directions we thought we were headed in completely changed. I said without thinking (which I tend to do often), “When I look back on my past, I am a Calvinist.” I meant that when I reflect on my past, I can see God’s hand leading me. Opening and closing doors. Moving me and removing me from situations and people. I can see His sovereign plan in it all. And some parts of peoples’ lives just inexplicably happen.
When I look back, I am a Calvinist, but I can’t sit here and expect my life to just play out without any effort on my part. I can’t stand still and not knock on doors and expect them to open. Sure, sometimes God drops a miracle out of the sky on your lap, but I’ll try and quote Pastor Tim Gilligan here: “Don’t position your life to where you are always having to pray for miracles.” It’s my job to get up and do work. And I think that we have a say in what direction our life goes.
When I look back on my past, I am a Calvinist; when I look forward to the future, I see I have free will to make decisions.
I don’t entirely get how God’s guidance works; I just know that He’s there with me. Watching me. Leading me. Cleaning up my mistakes. Preparing for me what comes next. My job is to knock on doors and keep taking steps.
The verses that sum it up for me are Psalm 139:5-6.
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
King David was saying that he gets it, but he doesn’t get it. That’s how the ways of Heaven work. I get it, but I don’t get it. It’s too great for me to understand. God is going before me, and God is following behind me.
So I’m a little bit predestination, and I’m a little bit free will. I get it, but I don’t get it. But maybe that’s right where I’m supposed to be: in between both of them. In between understanding and wonder. In between God’s past and God’s future for me.
For the reformed people who are ready to stone me over all of this, check out what your boy Charles Spurgeon had to say about it all.
“The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once…
That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.”