Which Way the Wind Blows (or Human Choice in Salvation)

28 Oct

John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Yesterday, I left my usual form of discourse and addressed an issue directly and sharply, probably leaving little room for argument (at least I hoped so).

Today’s post will also be different in that it involves a series of questions I can’t answer.  Some of the questions may not be answerable in this world.  I am not sure.

The discussion might be fruitful, however, as we strive to know God and discover His ways in the world He created.

In the above verse, Jesus challenged Nicodemus about not understanding earthly things.  He said if Nico couldn’t understand earthly things, he should not expect to understand heavenly things.

Sometimes I think we are in a similar bind when we try to explain how God’s election/choice interacts with our choice in the process of salvation.

I know there are two extremes in belief, the extreme Arminian belief (now usually referred to as “open theism” in which it is taught that God Himself doesn’t know the outcome of all events) and Hypercalvinism, in which man is drawn to God by irresistible grace without seemingly having any choice at all in the process.

There are many shades of belief in between the two extremes, usually clustered around five points called either the Five Points of Calvinism or the Five Points of Arminianism.

Smarter people than me have studied and debated these ideas for centuries.  Some of these debates have been, and remain, rancorous.  My aim is to take apart these ideas and present them in a way that the layperson can understand.  Sometimes important issues are at stake.  I try to identify those.

Talking with a friend of about my same age today, we remarked how much the world has changed in our lifetime.  We mentioned my career as a female naval officer and her husband’s career as a nurse.  When we were young, it was rare to have a female naval officer or a male nurse.  There were centuries when such people would have been non-existent.

The question became, “Did God change His will as the human race changed?  Was He not calling any women to be naval officers or men to be nurses in the 1800’s?  Or did He have such a calling upon people all along, but it took a while for the human race to catch up to His will?”

You see, that may seem like an exercise in semantics to some, but the question truly encapsulates God’s movement in this world.

People have wills, too, and groups of people have collective wills and, somehow, whole societies willed for centuries that there would not be female naval officers or male nurses, though both of those roles exist now and people are doing wonderfully at them.  How do we explain that?

Hmmm!  I can’t even explain God’s will in earthly things.  How can I explain it in heavenly things (in the process of salvation)?

Another thing I have noted is that almost no one says “yes” to God the first time he hears the plan of salvation.  So right there the idea of “irresistible grace” has to be modified.  If it were truly irresistible in the sense the Hypercalvinists use, no one would be able to withstand it at all, even for five minutes or a couple of weeks.

So, it can take a while for an individual to understand what salvation is, and to accept it.  Doesn’t it seem then like it might be a bit hard for we humans on earth, caught in time as we are, to see the overall view of how salvation looks from eternity?  I fear we get caught up on facets of it and argue those, in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debates.  The entire product probably can’t be comprehended nor explained completely while we are still in earthly bodies.

And that is why I maintain a holy awe toward such things.  I know Jesus came to save me and I am a saved woman.  I also know there are many parts of my salvation which I can’t explain but just accept by faith.  And for me, right now, that is enough.

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