Been thinking more this past year about the issue of how responsible people are for choosing Christ, and at the Christmas eve service at church tonight, I came to a potential breakthrough in my own thought.
First, a definition. ‘Predestination’ is kind of a tricky term with too much baggage. For a similar sort of concept: Monergism, as defined by Wikipedia, “is the name for the belief held by some in Christian theology that through the preaching of the word, the Holy Spirit alone can act to effectually bring about the spiritual regeneration of people that they might understand and believe the gospel.”
I was caught up for a while by the lack of clarification in the simplification of this concept, where a person has no choice really, but is chosen by God to be a believer. It’s silly to say a person has ‘no role’. However, I do agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that can bring about change, and that the person has no role here. It is not to a person’s credit that they are saved, or choose salvation.
You do ‘make a choice’ for Christ, and you are not a zombie programmed to obey an order. Your decision then would mean nothing. The thing is, the work that is mentioned that the Holy Spirit does, this work is what brings about that choice. It’s an “I really have no choice” kind of choice. God works in your life to bring about circumstances and experiences and stimulants and understanding, like it said in the definition, that the gospel may be obvious and irresistible. God’s workmanship is always something you can ask for. You can, as it were, ‘choose’ against all odds to believe in Christ, but it is not very well-founded as belief goes, and that choice may be a bit difficult for you to maintain faith to. That is why God is responsible. If we were, then the credit for our belief and our ‘strong faith’ would be to us and our efforts to seek God. As it is, our relationship with God is a gift of grace from God; we receive completely undeserved attention from a Holy God and pardon for our offences to his holiness.
Not that I didn’t already know this prior to tonight, but it makes a lot more sense now, and is slightly more put-together. Oh Christmas eve. Nothing like the institutionally installed day of Christ’s birth to think about theological issues.
That is all for now. Wish I had more references to make this seem more scholarly. Oh well, just a ‘cursory thought’ post.