In the early hours of this morning, I picked up a Bible for the first time in a while and read through the book of Revelation. I suspected before I began reading that I would be drawn back into the Christian worldview, as the words of the Bible always communicate in a powerful way.
I felt a great deal of peace as I was reading, although part of my mind was also resisting. As people who read my blog know, there are certain Christian doctrines that I have argued don’t make sense in light of my understanding (dare I say ‘knowledge’) that God is in sovereign control of all events.
A few months ago, I wrote an essay entitled ‘The Only Question You Ever Need Ask’ which dealt with the subject of double predestination. This is the doctrine that says before God created the world, He predestined some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation. My argument in the essay was that because God is in sovereign control of all events, one must either accept the doctrine of double predestination (to make sense of the Bible) or accept God’s absolute sovereignty and reject the Christian worldview. These seemed to be the only two logical options.
I concluded the essay by arguing that because God is sovereignly in control of all events, He is unlikely to experience the kind of wrath in relation to sin which is part of Biblical theology, because wherever so-called sin occurs, God is in control of the ‘sinful’ actions. If God caused these actions, and they are all part of His plan, how could He then be angry about them? By extension, it would be difficult to argue that God has justification for sending people to hell when they have done nothing freely to deserve punishment. This perspective leaves the Christian worldview looking rather nonsensical.
There is a way to make sense of this, though it’s rather unorthodox. God may be angry over sin, but only in the sense that characters acting in a play might be angry with one another. Wrath over sin could be part of a storyline written and directed by God. This makes sense if the whole of creation is a story animated by God, as I have argued it is in my book God’s Grand Game.
The crucial thing that I’m currently reflecting upon is that in the book of Revelation there is a passage which describes people’s names being written in the Book of Life at the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8). But this passage must be considered in relation to a subsequent passage (Revelation 20:12), which says that the dead will be judged according to what is written in the book.
Let me restate the point. If 1) The Book of Life was written before the foundation of the world, and 2) Our deeds will be judged according to what is written in the book; then isn’t this a clear argument that the Bible describes double predestination?
This is a critical issue for me in terms of my own struggle with the Christian faith because I am certain that God is in control of all events, and that we don’t have free will, for reasons I have explained extensively elsewhere. If double predestination is true, I can happily embrace Christianity (God willing, of course), because the doctrine makes sense of both Biblical theology and God’s sovereignty over all events.
Thank you for reading. If you have any comments specifically related to the book of life, the book of Revelation, and predestination, you’re welcome to leave a comment. I don’t really want to get into the free will debate here because I’m confident I’ve answered that one, so please respect that. Looking forward to your thoughts.