Predestination 101


Yes, You have a spirit!

But how did you get it?

Predestination? Let’s start from a different angle:

The belief in the existence of a Human Spirit in each one of us is widely held across many belief systems, and, of course, is also Biblical. Ideas about the Spirit after death are also commonplace. But what about before birth? How does the human spirit come in to a human body? Where, if anywhere, was it before? These are obvious questions, but questions which nobody seems to ask, never mind answer.

All agree that the Spirit is eternal. For our purpose here it is enough to accept that “eternal” means beyond time and beyond the material world.

Logically, there are only a limited number of possible answers to the questions above :

1 The spirit existed before it became part of a person

2 The spirit came into existence when the person did.

3 People’s spirits attach to them randomly.

4 People’s spirits are placed in them by God’s decision.

The answers here have a powerful bearing on what the Bible says about Predestination. Calvin’s views on this are widely accepted by Churchgoers and Atheists alike, and naturally used by the latter to portray God as an ogre. But Calvinistic views are blasphemous – they present God as cruel and unjust, when the Bible makes it clear that though He may ultimately punish, He is overwhelmingly loving, patient and forgiving.

I am certain that answers one and four above are correct and provide a proper understanding of Predestination; that is, the Spirit existed before it became part of a person, and people’s spirits are placed in them by God’s decision. Firstly, the Scripture tells us that God has “foreknowledge”. This is often taken to mean that He knows exactly what will happen in all cases ahead of time. In reality it simply means that he knows each spirit in much the same way that we know other people. We cannot predict exactly what they will do and when, but we have a good idea of the sort of thing they will do; we know if someone is honest or dishonest, whether they are selfish or generous, and so on. Given our knowledge of their motivations and thinking, we have a fair idea of what they are likely to do in any given situation. Because of God’s infinitely greater understanding, and because He sees the “naked spirit”, not clothed and camouflaged in a human body, His ability to predict future actions is streets ahead of ours. Notice that this analysis is completely compatible with Free Will. The fact that God has foreknowledge of a spirits’ inclinations before He places it in a human body in no way effects that spirit’s Free Will.

The debate about whether men have Free Will or not should never have taken place in a Biblical context. Since God is both Just, and also punishes men for wrongdoing, the conclusion that men must have Free Will is unavoidable. Those who do not accept Free Will must deny that God is Just. They are making an error that is roundly condemned by almost the oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job. It is a long and difficult book, but those who take the time to read it properly will discover that it has a very strong message: Do not ever question the Justice of God.

The second part of the answer, that God chooses the Spirit for each new-born, completes the understanding of Predestination. God not only has deep knowledge of each individual spirit, but he also chooses the time and place that it will live on Earth. This does not mean that every single act or incident is either laid down or known in advance; but that the particular desires of each person/spirit, added to the particular environment in which it lives, makes for a highly predictable path through life.

This also explains how God justly punishes the sons of God-hating fathers to the third and fourth generations, while showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Him. For those who love God, part of the blessing is to have descendants who will receive God-loving spirits. For those who hate God, part of the punishment is to have descendants who will receive rebellious spirits. Thus everybody (every spirit) ultimately receives punishment for their own wrongdoing; there is nothing of naturally righteous people taking a beating because of what Great-Granddad did. However, because the love descends for thousands of generations, it seems a lot of rebellious spirits will be blessed on Earth in ways they don’t deserve.

See also Free Will and Predestination: No Contradiction!