On the national political scene, there seems to be a lot more than usual in-house fighting (the voicing of disagreements) on various issues between some Democrats and other Democrats. The same can be said about people who identify themselves as Republicans. I see this as very healthy for the American political system. It can get a little scary when people have to pull out a political manifesto from their hip pockets or their purses in order to tell you where they stand on a particular issue. Our political parties seem to be getting less and less monolithic. Maybe we are about to witness the birth of a new political party?
I know for a fact that atheists do not all share the same ground on all the issues they discuss among themselves. They only agree that there is no way in the world that a supernatural God could possibly exist. The communist Karl Marx and the capitalist Ayn Rand were both proclaimed atheists, but they did not share any political ground from any of the readings I have made of the two.
Even some new evolutionists are breaking away from the dominant school of gradual evolution (which is in need of some missing links) to adopting a theory of spontaneous evolution which they believe suddenly took place in a split second. Picture a monkey swinging from one tree to the next to meet up with his monkey mate and when he arrives in the other tree...he is a man. This theory sounds pretty good to those evolutionists who are sick of the lack of evidence for the theory of "gradual" evolution.
I'm leading up to the fact that many Christians, although they share much common ground with what are often called the major doctrines of their faith, find themselves locked into heated debate (to put it warmly) among themselves concerning what are called the minor doctrines. One such conflict is the belief that salvation comes by a mixture of one's faith in Jesus Christ along with one's good works as opposed to salvation by grace through faith alone with good works excluded from the salvation formula. This latter school of thought claims that the good works are merely evidence of salvation, but do nothing toward gaining salvation.
There is a disagreement about whether or not Christ will return to set up a theocratic kingdom for one thousand years. Those who believe he will are called premillennial Christians (the prefix "pre" meaning before) and those who believe he will not are called amillennial Christians (the prefix "a" meaning not). Those who believe he will return after humankind has set up its own thousand years of peace on earth are called postmillennial Christians (the prefix "post" meaning after). The premills even disagree among themselves on whether Christians will be caught up or raptured out of the world before, during or after the seven years tribulation period before Jesus Christ returns.
There is also an ongoing disagreement about whether or not the apostolic gifts of speaking in tongues and healing by the laying on of hands is still in effect for Christians in this present age.
However, the greatest disagreement among Christians is the question of the free will of human beings versus the predestination of God forcing everything that occurs in the universe. This is the question which has engaged my interest the most. (I left a church congregation over this very issue.)
I have expressed in the past that I strongly believe that human beings have free will, but I also believe in the predestination and sovereignty of God. Although this sounds like a contradiction to hold to both beliefs at the same time, I would like to show why I do believe that they can be reconciled with one another. The great saint John Calvin saw only the predestination side and the equally good Christian John Wesley saw only the side of free will.
A case to examine would be when a loved one is killed in an accident, from an act of evil, or involved in some other human tragedy. Did God plan it as it happens or did the tragedy happen due to the freedom granted to human beings by God? I personally believe that God in what is called eternity past (God being outside of time) saw all the possibilities of how His creation would act with their freedom in every conceivable variation of reality which God played out in His mind.
God considered every possible time, locale and family which he could place each individual free agent at the starting point of their lives. After looking at a near infinite number of possible realities, He chose that possibility which He decreed as the one which would play out into what we humans call "reality". Therefore, we are all experiencing reality as God decreed it. But our individual free wills are fully intact at every moment. (Also, we can always entertain good or sinful fantasies, in our own minds, about realities that will never be.)
Christians who believe as I do, have the confidence that God's perfect plan is the best way reality can be and His plan cannot be altered. But in His plan, human beings have the genuine free will to fully express such things as love, hate, good, sin and evil. For those who are wondering, it is also my belief that God chose a reality which would save all those who would freely be saved. Besides the Christian, not even the Democrat, the Republican or the atheist will ever surprise God with what he or she does with their freedom.
As usual, I would welcome any disagreements which anyone might wish to voice against my opinions on these matters. You all have the free will to do so, but you won't do it unless God has decreed that you will freely do it. In fact, I believe those who read this letter were predestined to read it!
--Kenneth J. Wolf #51 (02/28/96)
to the editor #49
"What If I've Been Wrong?"
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