Predestination and God

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So Many Choices, Or Not?
Are people just God’s puppets for entertainment? Predestination vs. free will, has been and will be a hugely debated controversy in religious communities. It has been a contributing factor in separating denominations. This factor is not often addressed as the cause, but tends to play an important role in those divisions. Is it one or the other or can they co-exist? Ages old, this debate has been argued and re-argued in educated circles. In today’s society, the ideology that we have free will is not often addressed, but it is generally accepted that humanity operates under freewill. The debate waiting to unfold is to inform, and generate an interest in one’s belief and theology on the subject. This issue was first addressed by Saint Augustine, who lived from 354-430 C.E. He identified its validity in theology and philosophy. Augustine’s early opinion on predestination and free will was that God’s foreknowledge includes the free will factor and therefore they co-exist. However, later in his life he stated, “The fact that we have any choice at all is entirely a product of unmerited grace, a grace that will be given to only a small number whom God has predestined to be saved out of the vast number who are eternally lost” (Mendelson). He stated, that it was God’s gift to man to allow some the grace of God to be predestined. This way no man can boast (Augustine). He said, “If God genuinely knows that x is going to happen, it is impossible for x not to take place” (Mendelson). This intended to mean that God only gave that grace to ones whom He wanted to save, leaving others to be condemned. Relatively recent, in the early 16th Century, and widely accepted is John Calvin who addressed this issue. He believed that God from the beginning of time predestined men and angels to either everlasting punishment or everlasting death, and chose a select few to be with Him in heaven (Wolf). There is not much evidence that Calvin believed in the co-existence of free will. Calvin stated, “We shall never be clearly convinced as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the fountain of God's free mercy, till we are acquainted with His eternal election, which illustrates the grace of God by this comparison, that He adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what He refuses to others” (Oliver). In other words God has simply elected some to be predestined to receive His grace while denying it to others. Calvin wrote, “In a word, Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings” (Calvin). Thus, furthering his stated belief that God predestines. Much of the confusion that accompanies this discussion derives itself from no all-inclusive definition of free will. There are those who would say free will is mankind’s ability to absolutely determine events. If a person could foresee the full implications of each of their decisions it would grant humanity the ability to absolutely determine any set of events. This would give too much power to what could be logically called free will. Agency (free will) is mankind’s ability to simply make a decision and to have multiple options. Mankind has no way of seeing all the effects of each decision. So the understanding and thought that goes into a decision is not so great as to be able to absolutely determine an event. Free will is the ability of one to choose, with the option of choosing a course of action from alternative courses of action. Is this even possible? Predestination and God’s foreknowledge limit most ideas of free will. Common understandings of free will almost completely obliterated the idea of free will. Calvin and St. Augustine seem to be in agreement that God gives free will to only the elect (Calvin). To be in the elect is to be graced with free will, but that would mean those who are not in the elect are simply damned...