John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

Free Will vs. Predestination. Can’t Anyone Give Me a HARD Problem to Solve?

My dachshund's namesake


A couple of trouble-making readers (relative, I believe, to the story of how I got saved) have lately been asking my opinion on the question of free will vs. predestination. For some time now I have struggled mightily to ignore their queries; when finally forced by etiquette to acknowledge them, I thoughtfully suggested they upgrade their cable service, or invest in pets. "You can watch Chinese soccer matches!" I tried. "And a dachshund can be so much fun! They look like sausages--with free will!"

But, alas, they weren't distracted.

For some reason, I've never been too interested in trying to suss out the exact relationship between my free will and the idea of God's already knowing my whole life. I once tried to do some reading on the matter, but immediately bumped into words like "determinism," "Calvinism," and "Arminianism."

And that's how I came to purchase our little dachshund, Emanuel Swedenborg.

And now the question has come up again.

Stupid eternal questions of critical theology. Why can't they just ... resolve themselves, already? Do we have to do everything ourselves?

So let me finally solve the whole question of free will vs. predestination, so that I can go back to watching Chinese soccer.

Now then. I am sure I have free will. To prove it, I will now do an imitation of Daffy Duck.

There. I did it. There's no way God could have predicted I would do that.

Ha! I just did an imitation of Daffy Duck imitating The Road Runner!

And--ow. I think I hurt my throat.

But the point is: I decided to do that larynx-traumatizer all by myself. There's no way that in any Book of Life written before time began there's an entry that says: "5:43 a.m. July 25, 2007. San Diego, California. Dork on couch does imitation of Daffy Duck imitating Road Runner."

Forget it. This proves I have free will.

Except I don't want to have free will. Which is to say, I don't want to be able to surprise God. A God so stuck in temporal time that he has to wait to see what will happen next doesn't sound like a very inspiring, very All-Knowing sort of deity. That sounds like ... me watching TV.

So forget that. God knows all. Period. That's not debatable.

So God did know I was going to wrench my poor little throat box!

And yet, he didn't stop me. How ... kind of him.

Okay, so what do we have here?

I think I have free will--but in actually I don't, because God, knowing all, is perfectly aware ahead of time of everything that I'll ever do, say, or think. Moreover, he causes me to do, say, and think everything I do.

Say, you know what I think?

I think I'll take little Emanuel Swedenborg for a walk.

Wait. That would be wrong. That would be me not getting the job done!

Totally unacceptable.


Okay, here's what I think: When we're outside of God's grace--when we've chosen to be Fallen Independent Types--we have free will, because we've then placed ourselves outside of God's purview. But when we're with God--when we've surrendered ourselves to the reality of God's presence within us--then we don't have free will, because then our will is subsumed by the larger will of God.

Phffft. How is it that Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and all those other brainy theologians never thought of that?


You know, sometimes I think Preeminent Theologian Types really just keep pretending all of this stuff is so hard, so that they don't have to go out and get real jobs. Clearly, anyone with half a ...

Whoa. Whoa!

Did God know that little Emanuel was going to go wee-wee on the leg of my favorite easy chair??