Tag Archives: Boettner

Know or Cause?

God has a plan for your life. There are things he desires and hopes for you. A recent bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life, argues that we all have a purpose and ought find that purpose in to be pleasing to our maker. I know of few people who would argue that God has no plan. Loraine Boettner, a renowned Presbyterian scholar says that God’s plan is precise and that even the most minuscule aspects of your life are pre-planned by God in the long ago. In Boettner’s way of thinking, those plans are immutable, that is, they cannot be changed. It is this idea in which Boettner  finds the basis for his view of predestination, a Biblical doctrine which he morphs into a kind of divine fatalism.

The Boettner view of predestination is often used to support the varied tenets of Calvinism, a collection of doctrines which underlie almost all of the Christ believing religious world today. In the future, we will address these more fully. For now we examine the question of whether God’s knowledge of the future is the same as God causing all future events. Does God know or does God cause the events of your life?

We can dispense with any discussion of whether God knows our future as that question is settled with our disputants. Fulfilled prophecy is evidence enough of his ability to know the future.  Even the hairs of our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). God knows anything and everything he chooses to know. There are no limits to his knowledge, hence, God is omniscient.

The question before us is whether it is necessary for God to cause the events which he foreknows. For example, God did foreknow and did plan the crucifixion of Jesus. (Acts 2:23). A harsh truth but nonetheless accurate. But because God did know and have some hand in planning an event, it does not follow that he causes all sin.

Boettner says, “…plainly, the fall of Adam and other sins which made that sacrifice necessary were in the plan, no matter how undesirable a part of the plan they may have been.” ((Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 1932, page 24) It is here that Boettner’s idea begins to unravel. Boettner believes that the sin of Adam and Eve was “predetermined” by God. Notice, he says “predetermined” and not “foreknown.” He effectively lays the blame at the feet of Jehovah for man’s sin. It is one thing to say that God planed for the salvation of men, including the sacrifice of Jesus, because God knew man would sin, but something else entirely that God planned and thus caused the first sin to happen. It does not stand to any reason that God would create a “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) and then willingly make his world corrupt so that he would have to send Jesus to save the very world he tainted. Such an idea strikes at the very heart and glory of God. No person would come to such a conclusion unless he were searching first to confirm some doctrine.

Back in the my youth we played with Hot Wheels racing cars and  tracks. Many children would lay out the track and, after placing an obstacle on the track, laugh heartedly as their car slammed into the obstacle and careened off the track. In that case, we knew the collision would occur because we planned that collision. But who has not witnessed the seconds before a real accident and knew that someone was going to be horribly hurt. We did not plan or cause the accident although we did know what was about to happen.

God does not cause your sin just as he did not cause the sin of Adam and Eve. Our sin is our responsibility. No matter how good we fancy ourselves, we are sinners and in full rebellion against God (Romans 3:9, Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). It is to God’s glory that he knew we would choose to sin and so provided a means of escape from the terrible penalty of sin. God’s love is great. His love is evidenced by the giving of the precious Son who died for sinners (Romans 5:8). How will you respond to that gift?