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Free Will-y

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This is gonna be a shorter post than I’d like to write, but as always, ders werk ta be dun!!

The whole issue of predestination vs. free will has always bothered me, especially when both sides seem to be supported in scripture. Now when I’m talking here concerning predestination, it is not about salvation, but about whether or not we have any control throughout our lives. So I was thinking about it, not even really wrestling with it, when this analogy popped into my head. I’m sure it has its flaws, presuppositions, and faulty logic, but so far, it seems to hold. I haven’t read or heard this analogy from anywhere else, but I think it might hold water…at least for me!

Let’s say that on the side of predestination for our analogy, that God is a producer/director of a play. The play has a beginning, an end, and a theme…the most likely name of the play would be “God’s Glory” to reflect the overarching theme of the play. He also picks and chooses the players (humans) in this play, determining when and where they will enter and exit the stage (birth/death and location). He has also provided the stage (all of creation), the backdrop (nature/earth), and all the props (everything about our particular enviroment) to be used. He even provided a synopsis (scripture) of the play. The stage is set! So in the larger sense of God determining WHAT will happen, it is predestined.

Now, if God had WRITTEN the play as it progresses from beginning to end, and the players just acted out the part according to script, THAT would be total predestination and would create a fatalistic sense about our lives…why pray? why witness? why care? If it’s all gonna happen according to someone else’s will, then who cares?

But here’s the twist, the play is not written out (except for the synopsis explaining the theme), it is IMPROV!!! This allows us the free will to choose the HOW God’s plan will take effect.

Each player gets to act and react to the props, the other players, etc. Each player acts on their understanding of the theme!! Each player gets plopped into the stage at some point in time, for a certain amount of time, and he/she tries to discern the theme by the synopsis, by the other players, so forth and so on.

When the players got REALLY off topic, the director needed to set things back on track, because it was obvious that the theme was being taken as script that had to be adhered to, not direction to be acted upon. But a director can’t just walk on stage and correct players in the middle of a performance….so what to do? A-ha! Disguise himself (Jesus) as one of the players to offer a correction from where they were headed with the play! Of course, it’s all improv (choice), so the director in disguise cannot tell the other players what to do, but he does show them the correct way to stay on the theme of the play.

Okay, you ask, so where does prayer, witnessing, etc. come into this? Well, I think that just like in a real improv there are two things that can happen to get back on track. 1) Other players who understand the theme will give guidance with their own performances so that those who are floundering can “play off” and model what they are doing. (Being the presense of Christ in the world) 2) The director is always watching, but RARELY intervenes directly into a performance (miracles). He might be standing off stage, offering subtle clues as to how to get back on track (paying attention to signs around you), or he might be in the wings, whispering quietly (listening for the small voice). Perhaps sometimes, he will rearrange the props so that we have to interact with them in such a way as to shake us out of the path we are in (events happening in our lives that we didn’t expect).

But I think mostly, he sends other players to interact with us. Do they always know the way? Nope. They’re just as plopped onto the stage as we are, but I think we need to listen and learn as much as possible from every player…always keeping in mind that not only are we pushing the ultimate theme of the play to its completion, but every player is a reflection of… an image of… a mirror of the theme itself. Will we always take the cue from the player sent to us? Probably not. But that is the option of free will. My choice is, do I as a player, communicate the theme in every choice I make? Do I search for a clearer meaning of the theme itself in every other player? in the stage? in the quiet voice of the director in the wings?

Does this make sense to anyone but me? Is it possible that free will works WITHIN predestination? I think so.

I know it still doesn’t address the issue of salvation…whether we choose God or whether He chooses us…but I can’t expect to figure that out. No one else has!

Okay. Now to work. Feel free to comment. 🙂


Written by blogicalinks

October 19, 2006 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Seeking

One Response

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  1. you are right, this post is not on salvation, but providence

    also, your analogy is one of Free Will Theism or Open Theism
    John Goldingay, one of the OT profs at Fuller Theological Seminary, posited in his Old Testament Theology on the Pentateuch that God is like a President of a company: he has the end goal for the company, but he doesn’t do all the micro-managing. Your analogy goes right along with Goldingay.

    BTW – This view was not well received by the evangelical community, but I think it has something good to offer for the theology of the providence of God.

    James Gregory

    November 17, 2006 at 3:13 am

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