BEN: Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book—– —“If God foreknows some event that happens then he may have predestined that event. But the fact that he foreknew an event does not require its predestination if it happens…. Since foreknowledge doesn’t require predestination, foreknown events that happen may or may not have been predestined.” (p. 65). So which events do you think are predestined by God? Presumably not sin and evil.
MIKE: Agreed. I don’t think God causatively predestines wickedness. Evil is what it is because lesser beings abuse God’s good gift of freedom. I’d have to be omniscient to go beyond that. I think the New Testament makes clear that God does step into human affairs when he wants to for whatever reason he wants to (Paul’s conversion). But I don’t think that’s the norm (but have no specific basis for that idea – it’s just an impression). Given that, it means that God is constantly engaged in our lives and human affairs in term of using circumstances, events and acts (good and evil), mistakes, words spoken or unspoken, divine agents, his Spirit, etc. to influence people toward redemption and the furtherance of his kingdom. I like to use the chess analogy for all this. What’s more impressive—the chess player (God) who looks at his opponent from across the board and says “You’re going to lose because I’ve predestined all your moves,” or the one who says “You can move wherever you like, I’m going to win no matter what”? God doesn’t need to predestine everything to have his way. Our God is that big.
MIKE: I don’t see the problem. God is Yahweh. That is his name. And I do mean the Father. I’d also disagree that the NT never “uses” this. While there may be no clear statement of it, when OT passages that describe Yahweh doing or saying XYZ are applied to Jesus, I think Jesus is linked to Yahweh. I don’t think the point is “I’m going to quote this OT passage and apply it to Jesus, but please don’t think of Yahweh when I do – even though that name is there.”