Parable and Paradox: Rethinking Predestination

By Heath Padgett, Class of 2016

In the New Testament, one of the most common and effective ways Jesus explained various truths was through parables. A parable, as defined by the Webster’s Dictionary, is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle. Thus, when it comes to the proper balance between freewill and predestination, a great way to understand the concept is through parables. Since both ideas are implicitly and explicitly revealed through Scripture, Christians must not believe in only one yet not the other. Instead, a Christian must believe first that God chose him and that he must also choose God. How is it, though, that both coexist so perfectly? The simplest way to describe the belief is through a parable:

A man gives all women a chance to marry him as long as they get to know him on a personal level. He also determines ahead of time how and whom he will propose to. He knows for certain his future bride will love him with all her heart, for he would not ask if he knew otherwise. As a result, he proposes. The woman has the freewill to say yes during the proposal and is held fully responsible for her actions.

Now, as was done by Jesus after the Parable of the Sower, this new parable must be explained. Predestination is the belief that events in the lives of humans have been planned out ahead of time by Yahweh, while freewill is the ability to act as a result of one’s own choice. This idea of predestination is demonstrated by the man planning out the event of his and his bride’s future marriage. Following this, all people have a “choice” or freewill to choose God if they desire to know Him on a personal level just like the man in the parable. However, if a person is not first chosen by God, then that person will not be the “bride” of Christ. God’s elect resides in those whom He knows will love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds. Likewise, a man usually does not first choose a wife unless he knows the same. Also, it is the full responsibility of the wife to choose her husband, even though she has first been chosen by him. If the wife does not say, “I do,” then the marriage cannot go forward. The same is true with Christians. Christians must accept Jesus as their own and place all their trust unto Him.

Although this exact parable is not stated in the Bible itself, the Gospels repeatedly refer to Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church. Furthermore, the parable, although it does not completely explain the ideas of predestination and freewill coexisting, aids in understanding the basic existence of the two.

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