Jesusians

A Courteous Contrararian

Predestination 7

Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - Jan• 29•15

Jesus’ parable contains a few groups that I’ve tried to correlate to real life groups, which is what we should do with a parable. The original chosen were God’s chosen people, the Jews. In the parable, the many chosen were replaced in this part of God’s kingdom plan by a few, who are chosen but on a different basis. The many who are called are called from among the gentile nations when, as Paul said, they heard the word of truth. The “job” of the Chosen is to call the called. The individual that was thrown out of the banquet was called. He wanted to be at the wedding, but on his terms. not the king’s. I think his inclusion in the story is as a cautionary detail. He wanted to clothe himself while the standard biblical image is of God provided us with new robes or clothing us with righteousness.

That’s my hypothesis and I’m sticking with it. Now we need to ask, and answer, “why?” Why are some chosen and the rest of us called? Why even have two groups? And why the change from many chosen to few chosen?

My answer has to do with the intersection of free will and God’s will. Another word for free will is choice. God is big on choice. Examples of choice are on almost every page of the Bible, starting with Eve’s choice in Genesis. No, starting with Satan’s choice in heaven.

The enemy of choice is sin and the slavery it causes, but the opposite of choice is foreordination, a concept we’ve developed because of predestination. The debate as to whether God preordains every action of history or whether we have free will will continue, I think, until Jesus returns. Personally, I believe in free will, I have no choice.

To me, it’s simple, (but then, to me, everything’s simple, that’s the way God made me) if God continually offers us a choice in scripture but yet we are predestined to do what we do, then God is a liar. Why make an offer we have no power to accept or reject?

But if we have free will, what of the apostles and the prophets, and anyone else God has Chosen? Do they not have free will? I think they do.

Here’s how I think it works. The Chosen were chosen by God to intercede in history in the way he would have them intercede. Paul says he was chosen before birth. Jeremiah said he was chosen before he was conceived. Cyrus was chosen, at least for one specific task, at least 150 years before he was conceived.

However, just because they were chosen doesn’t necessarily mean they were automatons. I think it means God liked their spirits (a heresy) and so inserted them into history for his purposes. Then he molded and shaped them through circumstance. God does the same with all of us but perhaps to a lesser degree.

Yet they retain a freedom of choice. They could cooperate or they could rebel. We have record of prophets perhaps not being all they could be.  Think of Anna the seer, or Simeon the prophet, both mentioned in the story of Jesus’ circumcision. Perhaps their only job was the one they accomplished that day, one solitary prophecy and mention in a gospel. But perhaps God had a greater role for them that they did not accomplish. Saul prophesied for a short time and yet God later rejected him. God chose Jeremiah but there was still a question of whether he could accurately relate God’s message (Jeremiah 1). And let’s not forget the the Jews were all God’s Chosen, and yet we think of them as not being very successful in the long run. Hence, the parable under consideration.

Proverbs says God directs a king’s path like a watercourse. Such a method feels like God orchestrated circumstances to make a particular decision more likely rather than eliminating free will. Scripture also tells us God chooses our leaders. They may not belong to the group of the few chosen that Jesus was speaking of, but because they wielded power they probably receive more attention from God than the average person. God directs our steps but to do so he only has to build a sidewalk. To direct a king like a watercourse God has to build a canal.

God orchestrates circumstances. He also works with our natural predilections, which would be effective because he knows us so perfectly. This is how I picture God exercising his sovereignty without tampering with our free will, and you probably do too. We see it in sayings like when God closes a door, he opens a window. (Which is not a problem because he doesn’t pay for heat or air conditioning.)

We see the same principle at play in our minds when we wonder what God’s will is for our lives. The question assumes we might not carry it out effectively (free will or choice) and also that he has a method of cluing us in if we are spiritually sensitive enough to discern it. Sometimes, with me, he has to lock the door and throw me out the window. Defenestration feels terrible at the time but afterwards I can enjoy my time outdoors. I’ve always wanted to use the word defenestration. It means to throw out a window.

Let’s try to tie everything together.

 

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