Saturday, November 2, 2013

C.S. Lewis on predestination

From the book Perelandra p149:
"Without any apparent movement of the will, as objective and unemotional as the reading on a dial, there had arisen before him, with perfect certitude, the knowledge "about this time tomorrow you will have done the impossible." The same thing happened now. His fear, his shame, his love, all his arguments, were not altered in the least. The thing was neither more nor less dreadful than it had been before. The only difference was that he knew-almost as a historical proposition- that it was going to be done... There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. The future act stood there, fixed and unaltered as if he had already performed it. It was a mere irrelevant detail that it happened to occupy the position we call future instead of that which we call past. The whole struggle was over, and yet there seemed to have been no moment of victory. You might say, if you liked, that the power of choice had been simply set aside and an inflexible destiny substituted for it. On the other hand, you might say that he had delivered from the rhetoric of his passions and had emerged into unassailable freedom."

I have underlined the money shot.

At first we have a tenancy to put human free agency and divine sovereignty in opposition, then give up when they come into conflict. For myself I have argued that human free agency is the highest expression of God's sovereignty. But Lewis makes a great point here, predestination is freedom in a couple of ways.

1. Freedom of future 
In the first sense it's a freedom from destruction. Predestination sets men at liberty because it releases us from the certain doom awaiting sinners. It's the warden coming to tell you that the governor has placed a call for you, and you are to be released forthwith. You're still in the cell, but you're free now, you have been transformed. It doesn't matter that the guard hasn't let you out yet. He's reaching for his keys, he's turning the lock, opening the door, but you are already free. Predestination secures your future.

2. Freedom of the will
Fixing the destiny of a sinner for good is the ultimate freedom of the will. In other words, it allows the will of a man to come alive. When Usain Bolt lines up at the blocks he knows that if he runs his best, he's guaranteed to win. He's therefore truly free to run. If you were guaranteed to win before you tried you might think 'why bother trying, no matter what I do I win. I don't even have to run at all.' But this would only belie your desire to not run. You wouldn't actually be competing if you used it as an excuse for laziness, and if that was true, you wouldn't receive the promise in the first place. If, however, you did desire to actually run, as the promise indicated, then you would be free. Free from fear, from uncertainty, from doubt. You are free in the ultimate sense. Your will would transcend all that holds you back, and you would be who you really are.

Nice job Lewis.

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