The theological issue of the predetermined fate of man verses man’s free will has long been a source of debate. Churches have split, and new denominations have emerged because of this one controversy. Predetermined Fate of Man During the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s, a French theologian named John Calvin had an indelible influence on the religious community of his day with his doctrine of predestination and election. The foundation of Calvin’s beliefs (known as Calvinism) was the complete and total sovereignty of God and predestination of man.
According to Calvin, since God is sovereign, He has made all choices and man is, therefore, without choice and free will. Calvin held to the belief that every man, woman, and child are chosen to be saved or lost before time began. He used scriptures such as Romans 8: 29 to support his position: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (The Open Bible, New King James Version).
To bring about man’s salvation, according to Calvin, the Holy Spirit moves the chosen few toward God, thereby condemning the rest to eternity in hell. ( “An Introduction to Calvinism: Calvinism in a Nutshell”. 16 Oct. 2008 ). Free Will The issue of the free will of man continues to be discussed in modern times. One opinion is offered by Jon W. Quinn, author of numerous Bible correspondence courses and video Bible studies for the Bradley Church of Christ in Bradley, Illinois.
He believes that the Bible does not deny human free will, but affirms it. He refers to Ephesians 1:3-6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (The Open Bible, New King James Version).
Quinn’s commentary on this passage supports his belief that reference is being made to a group that has been predestined by God to be saved—not any particular individual. He continues his argument by stating: “It is up to you and me as to whether we will choose to be in that number or not. God has not predestined our individual choices” (Quinn, Jon W. , The Expository Files. “Were You Predestined to Read This Article? ” Apr. 2005 ). Another opinion on the free will of man is offered by Lisa Yates, Ed. D. , a long-time member of the Trinity Baptist Church in Manchester, Tennessee.
In her opinion, Dr. Yates believes that God, in His infinite wisdom, already knows who will reject or accept His Son, Jesus Christ. Simultaneously, He pleads for all to call upon Him and to receive His gift of eternal life in heaven. She holds to the belief that God knows all things, and He desires to save all people. She cites I Timothy 2:4 from The Open Bible, The New King James Version: “who (God) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ” She concedes that the conflict between fate and free will is beyond her human comprehension.
That is where her faith takes over (Personal interview, 17 Oct. 2008). Conclusion The debate over fate verses free will continues today. Legitimate support for both views exists and continues to be subject to individual interpretation. WORKS CITED “An Introduction to Calvinism: Calvinism in a Nutshell”. 16 Oct. 2008 Quinn, Jon W. , The Expository Files. “Were You Predestined to Read This Article? ” Apr. 2005 The Open Bible, New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997. Yates, Lisa, Ed. D. Personal interview. 17 Oct. 2008.
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