Prophecy of the Future vs Freedom of Choice

iBrian

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Specifically from a Christian position (but posted on this board for Muslim and Jewish perspective), a key founding stone of Christianity is that humanity had the Free Will to obey or disobey God - but disobeyed and were left bereft of Eden.

In this argument, humanity obviously has Freedom of Choice.

However, the Book of Revelations is stated to be a work of prophecy, that by a series of mystical and complex symbolic elements, tells us the future of humanity on earth.

In this argument, humanity has no Free Will and is subject to Predestination.


Are these viewpoints flawed? If so, which one?

If not, then what is the reconcillation between Free Choice and Predestination in Biblical texts?

Is it simply that we all have a choice, but God already knows the outcome? In which case, if the decision is already decided and made, then do we really have any choices at all?


An opener for discussion...
 
this is the predestination/free will argument.

i believe both occur & are fulfilled simultaneously.
 
I'm trying not to get into a simple "Free Will vs Predestination" issue, though - I really want to address this in terms of theological devices, not least prophecy.

Dondi said:
Freewill on a personal level. Predestination on a national or world level.

Ah, but that's the problem - if choice exists on the individual level then as a sum of all of those choices, this Free Will should therefore be expressed on a national or world level, yes?
 
from a regular viewpoint of humans we have freedom of choice yet cannot see the future.

from a spiritual perspective, which john the baptist experienced, he was able to glimpse into the future, because god knows all things past, present, and future.

a simple analogy is the aquarium. a goldfish is contained in it and knows nothing else but to swim around. no matter what decision it makes -- to swim left or right, its limited. you however feed it, change its water, you enjoy looking at it, and you know it will eventually die. you know the past, present and future of that goldfish no matter what decision it makes it its bowl. we know because we have seen goldfish come and go, god knows because he knows everything.
 
I said:
Specifically from a Christian position (but posted on this board for Muslim and Jewish perspective), a key founding stone of Christianity is that humanity had the Free Will to obey or disobey God - but disobeyed and were left bereft of Eden.

In this argument, humanity obviously has Freedom of Choice.

However, the Book of Revelations is stated to be a work of prophecy, that by a series of mystical and complex symbolic elements, tells us the future of humanity on earth.

In this argument, humanity has no Free Will and is subject to Predestination.


Are these viewpoints flawed? If so, which one?

If not, then what is the reconcillation between Free Choice and Predestination in Biblical texts?

Is it simply that we all have a choice, but God already knows the outcome? In which case, if the decision is already decided and made, then do we really have any choices at all?
Humanity does have free will in regards to prophesy. In the book of Jonah, Jonah is called to prophesy against Nineveh, warning them of their impending destruction because of their evil practices. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh to prophesy against them, and ran into all kinds of trouble because of it, even being swallowed by a big fish. When Jonah finally went to Ninevah prophesied about their destruction in 40 days, the people of Nineveh repented, and God showed mercy upon them, and the destruction was avoided.

Jesus also mentioned this at Luke 11:29-33.
29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
This specifically shows that we do have a choice in regards the prophesies in the book of Revelations, because Nineveh repented and avoided destruction.
 
Hey Brian:)

I see it more like God gives us choice & waits to see us make those choices knowing in advance what we will choose.
are you thinking people can change the prophecy? because they know in advance?

i have heard of that before.
 
Bandit said:
Hey Brian:)

I see it more like God gives us choice & waits to see us make those choices knowing in advance what we will choose.
are you thinking people can change the prophecy? because they know in advance?

i have heard of that before.
IMHO, prophesy is a warning sign, a way that God draws our attention to a given situation, to raise our consciousness of the matter. If we raise our consciousness in response to a given prophesy or warning, we can then consciously and intelligently act in response to the information. However, if we do not respond to a warning in a moral and intelligent way, we take the same risk that anyone does who fails to heed a warning.

If there is a warning sign in a park that says, "Waterfall downstream. No swimming," and we go ahead and swim at the top of the waterfall, whose fault is it when we fall over the edge? JMHO.
 
BlaznFattyz said:
from a spiritual perspective, which john the baptist experienced, he was able to glimpse into the future, because god knows all things past, present, and future.

Yes, but this forms the core of Atheist objection to Christian theology - essentially, that if God already knew at the start what the choice that Adam and Eve would make, then Eden was a set-up and to punish all humanity on that basis an act of capriciousness.

This is why issues of Free Will are so important in Christianity at least (though I suspect there is some significant overlap with Judaism and Islam).

If prophecy means that the future is already set to any degree, then wouldn't that mean that the Atheist objection is sustained?


seattlegal - indeed, Jonah is a great story, and one that apparently allows choice at the time of prophecy.

However, Revelations seems to predict a far future from the time it was set down.

So is Revelations set as a definite future, or is it possible, though human choice, that Revelations will never come true?

And if it never comes true, then would that mean that Revelations is not prophecy?

Can you see the paradox I'm playing with? :)
 
I said:
seattlegal - indeed, Jonah is a great story, and one that apparently allows choice at the time of prophecy.

However, Revelations seems to predict a far future from the time it was set down.

So is Revelations set as a definite future, or is it possible, though human choice, that Revelations will never come true?

And if it never comes true, then would that mean that Revelations is not prophecy?

Can you see the paradox I'm playing with? :)
Ahh, but the book of Revelations is full of calls to repent in order to avoid the plagues: it is a warning of what will happen if people don't change their ways:
Revelation 2:5
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Revelation 2:16
Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

Revelation 2:20-23
20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

Revelation 3:2-3
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

Revelation 3:19-20
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 9:20-21
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 16:8-11
8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
SOURCE
 
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Kindest Regards, Brian!

Ah, but that's the problem - if choice exists on the individual level then as a sum of all of those choices, this Free Will should therefore be expressed on a national or world level, yes?

I suppose, if things always work from the bottom up. But not for things that at any time work from the top down.

I am inclined to think none of our answers are sufficient. I see an element of both predestination and free-will at work at different times and in different aspects, simultaneously and in harmony.

As for why God chooses to continue (or even begin) if He already knows the outcome? Don't know, I can't presume to know the mind of God. I do think He had some purpose in mind, but His mind does not operate anything like ours does.

I have heard one theological scholar I respect suggest God created humans to have someone to love, in the hope that love would be returned. Forced love is not really love, so God cannot force us or pre-program us to love Him. It must be willful and voluntary on our part. I kinda like that thought.
 
juantoo3 said:
Ah, but that's the problem - if choice exists on the individual level then as a sum of all of those choices, this Free Will should therefore be expressed on a national or world level, yes?
I suppose, if things always work from the bottom up. But not for things that at any time work from the top down.
Hence, my reference to prophesy as a means to raise our consciousness...{working from the bottom up} :)
 
Kindest Regards, Seattlegal!

I'm not feeling well today, so please bear with me.

I'll begin here:
Hence, my reference to prophesy as a means to raise our consciousness...{working from the bottom up}
I am not sure we are saying the same things. I was suggesting from the point of view of God. That is, I believe God allows us as individuals free-will. Like the saying; "What we are is God's gift to us, what we make of ourselves is our gift to God." Free-will allows us to make of ourselves a gift to God. That is what I meant by "bottom-up." In Brian's case, it seemed to me he was implying that our political leadership stems from the collection of our individual self-wills. In a democracy perhaps, but even then I do not think this is exclusively so.

I also believe God sets certain individuals in places of authority over us. The Old Testament (forget now exactly where) has very complex rules for how, who and where to place qualified people in places of authority and judgement over society. In a larger context, I can see how someone might even say that God predestines matters on the world stage, at least to some significant degree. That is what I meant by "top-down."

I think your observation of raising our individual perspective is a point well taken. It is an opportunity for us to raise our awareness to a level where we have an opportunity to view the universe in action. But there also lies a danger in this...as mere mortal humans subject to the limitations of our senses, we can be "fooled." Perhaps it may be needless paranoia on my part, but I am of the firm opinion we are not to go looking for ourselves. If we are meant to see, it will be made known to us specifically in the proper time and place so that the lesson is not lost.

As for prophecy being "subverted" (my word), I do not think so. I think prophecy is given as a warning. Even in the prophecy of Revelations, there is mention and way made for those who desire to cling to God and His way. There is shelter provided in the midst of the storm. So, the storm will come. Whether or not we heed the warning is another matter. The prophecy of Revelation is far more complex and encompassing than that given to Nineveh, or even Sodom. A simple warning would suffice in those instances, one succeeded, one did not. The time of Jacob's trouble however, is in effect a deception of the entire world. That deception involves matters as encompassing as religion, economics, education and politics. Which is why I am not in favor of complete and total ecumenism and globalism. If all eggs are in one basket, it is too easy to do with the basket what you will once your hand is on the handle.

The opposite extreme has its difficulties as well. I attempt to maintain a moderate "middle road" in this. I will emphasize and support tolerance up until the point I am no longer being tolerated. At some point I expect to, of necessity, assume a position of self-defense. I will then seek that shelter my God has promised.

I suppose I will have mastered my fate and captained my soul until such time as I am required to answer to my Superior Officer. At that time my free-will will have led me to the point of my pre-destination...Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise!

My motivation is the promise of what lays on the other side, the prophecy of Isaiah and the millenial reign.
 
I always thought differently about the Genesis story.

In my view, rather than receiving free will, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and gained intelligence or discrimination. Knowledge of Good and Evil.

What is interesting about *Good* and *Evil* is that the view of such varies person to person. People don't actively set out to do knowingly evil acts. (Unless they are sick/deranged/sociopathic etc..) Good and Evil are cultural and social standards.. People are taught what is good and evil. In Japan for example, suicide was/is considered honourable in certain circumstances. In India, women were expected to throw themselves onto their husband's funeral pyre.. and if they didn't, they were toss on.

Even the most hideous crimes are usually justified by the criminal. Obviously not justified to all of us (the society), but often justified to themselves, in thier own minds.. Is it not the nature of people generally to do what they think is right. There is a *reason*understood or not, behind almost all the decisions that humankind make.

I would like to assume, that since God knows the extent of what sort of free will we have, and that any free will we do have is based on mankinds base personality type + their personal knowledge/education base.. ((Eve for example had no interest in eating from the tree (I assume) until she was told by the serpent to do so.. It wasn't until she was presented with options that she was able to make that decision.)) Prophecy therefore is viable.

Prophecy is prehaps not a mystical ability, just a form of psychological logic.
 
I said:
Specifically from a Christian position
In this argument, humanity obviously has Freedom of Choice.

Is it simply that we all have a choice, but God already knows the outcome? In which case, if the decision is already decided and made, then do we really have any choices at all?
God is Everything created in one moment that lasts forever. We are blessed to live in last days, and realize that truth. That's His Love.
Ability to use truth that we are alive, to overpower any problem we can have.
Meaning what ever Path He chose for me I am gratefull for, just like Job.
When we realize that Humanity's Path was written long time ago, just explains
that whatever our choice was ( our, as part of that "Humanity" group ),
Can't be Ours, if somebody created It.
 
So is Revelations set as a definite future, or is it possible, though human choice, that Revelations will never come true?

And if it never comes true, then would that mean that Revelations is not prophecy?

Can you see the paradox I'm playing with?

i see some paradox in the book itself & i have heard what you are getting at before but,
the book does not work that way. it flip flops around in time & parts of it has already come to pass. it is declared a book of prophecy, with visions etc. & is a testimony of Jesus.
how can you make something not come true that has already come true?
i think a lot of what we see there happening on earth (GREAT TRIBULATION) goes down very rapidly & in less than a decade.

it seems through human choice, humans will make it come true & have already made parts of it come to pass.

IMHO
 
Kindest Regards, Bandit!

it seems through human choice, humans will make it come true & have already made parts of it come to pass.

This is a very insightful observation!

It seems to me the process described in Revelations is almost inevitable, given human nature and thirst for power, going all the way back the the Tower of Babylon. On the other hand though, I sometimes wonder if Christianity specifically can see its role and responsibility in making the prophecy come to pass. That is another reason I think the rapture teaching is so dangerous, it absolves Christians of their responsibilities in their own minds, but not in reality. Without the rapture, or better stated, when the rapture does not come to pass, a lot of American Christians in particular are going to be in for a very unpleasant surprise. :( This pains me to say, but I have seen this for a very long time.
 
juantoo3 said:
Kindest Regards, Bandit!



This is a very insightful observation!

It seems to me the process described in Revelations is almost inevitable, given human nature and thirst for power, going all the way back the the Tower of Babylon. On the other hand though, I sometimes wonder if Christianity specifically can see its role and responsibility in making the prophecy come to pass. That is another reason I think the rapture teaching is so dangerous, it absolves Christians of their responsibilities in their own minds, but not in reality. Without the rapture, or better stated, when the rapture does not come to pass, a lot of American Christians in particular are going to be in for a very unpleasant surprise. :( This pains me to say, but I have seen this for a very long time.

yah. there are two sides to it. kind of like what side are we on. i never fully agreed with the rapture doctrine, like a secret thing & there must be about 5 different doctrines out on that.
 
I said:
Specifically from a Christian position (but posted on this board for Muslim and Jewish perspective), a key founding stone of Christianity is that humanity had the Free Will to obey or disobey God - but disobeyed and were left bereft of Eden.

In this argument, humanity obviously has Freedom of Choice.

However, the Book of Revelations is stated to be a work of prophecy, that by a series of mystical and complex symbolic elements, tells us the future of humanity on earth.

In this argument, humanity has no Free Will and is subject to Predestination.


Are these viewpoints flawed? If so, which one?

If not, then what is the reconcillation between Free Choice and Predestination in Biblical texts?

Is it simply that we all have a choice, but God already knows the outcome? In which case, if the decision is already decided and made, then do we really have any choices at all?


An opener for discussion...

I submit that Revelation advises that this is the consequence that will befall man, if man continues down the path as described in the book. Free will is left intact, and the implication is that if our free will is used in a proper fashion, we will avoid all of the grief that awaits us. We have free will. But the results of that free will are spelled out.

It is very much like day to day living. If for example I choose to speed down the freeway, I may end up with a ticket. It is my choice, however the outcomes for such choices are spelled out clearly.

God knows the outcome for each choice we make, however the future is not written in stone, and Revelation does point that out.

my thoughts.

v/r

Q
 
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