Posts Tagged ‘Predesination’

Finding Election Beautiful

Theology can be dangerous. Bad theology can be damning but even good theology has its own risks. I was reminded of this when reading in The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers:

I thank you for showing me the vast difference
between knowing things by reason,
and knowing them by the spirit of faith.
By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it as it is.
I have seen you by reason and have not been amazed,
I have seen you as you are in your Son
and have been ravished to behold you. – The Valley of Vision, 57

Now this is just the penned prayer of some old, dead white guy which doesn’t make it right. But it is. It is because the Puritans soaked themselves in scripture and the Bible says we have to have both reason and faith:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists [reason: that he is] and that he rewards those who seek him [faith, as he is, he is gracious].

Hebrews 11:6

We need both the head and the heart engaged in our theological understanding or we could trivialize God by knowing him only as a logical fact and not loving him, or its twin error, by loving a god “as we like to think of him” rather than as he is. Both head and heart are parts of faith.

This danger of apprehending God only by reason is really present when we talk about God’s foreknowledge and his predestination. Why? Because he did these things well apart from us. God foreknew us and predestined us before we existed. He did them in a form of existence we can’t even imagine; in a time before time and in a place before space. He did them in thought process very unlike ours; in the eternal, omniscient council of his own triune will. We can only grasp these things in the abstract and so there is a danger that we might abstract them.

But that’s not why Paul taught us that “those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… And those he predestined he also called, and those he called he also justified, and those he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30). Paul taught us this not in the abstract as an interesting intellectual exercise, but that God’s purpose according to election might stand (Rom. 9:11). And God’s purpose for election is the praise of the glory of his grace (Eph. 1:11–14). Paul taught us (reason) so that God’s glory (delighting in him) would be the result.

Take care with your theology my friends. Beware that you might find it more enthralling than the God it is supposed to lead you to.