It is true that theological controversies about “Predestination” have caused great confusion in the religious lives of many Christians. We must understand what brought this about.
In the Bible, there are many passages that could be interpreted to mean that the fortune or misfortune, happiness or misery of any individual, as well as the salvation or damnation of fallen men and the rise and fall of nations, all occur according to God’s predestination. For example, the Bible says:
Those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified. (Rom. 8:30)
Again it says:
…’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’. So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy. (Rom. 9:15-16)
It again says (Rom. 9:21), “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?”. It also says (Rom. 9:11-13) that God loved Jacob and hated Esau while they were still in their mother’s womb, and said the elder would serve the younger.
In this way, there are ample Biblical grounds to justify “complete predestination”. But we must not forget that there are also many Biblical passages that deny complete predestination. For example, when we see that God warned the first human ancestors not to eat of the fruit (Gen. 2:17) in order to prevent them from falling, it is evident that man’s fall was not God’s predestination but the result of man’s disobedience to God’s commandment. Again we read (Gen. 6:6), that God was sorry that He had put man on earth. If man had fallen according to God’s predestination, there would be no reason for Him to be sorry for His having created man, whose fall He would have predestined. John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Christ shall not perish.
When we read in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”, we can see well enough that all things are not accomplished merely by the predestination of God, but by human endeavor. If all things are to be accomplished solely by God’s predestination, why did God so emphasize human efforts? Again, when we read that we should pray for sick brothers (James 5:14), we can understand that suffering due to sickness is not by the predestination of God. If all things were inevitably decided by God’s predestination, there would be no need for man’s tearful prayers.
If we accept the traditional belief of predestination, man’s prayers, evangelism, charity and other human endeavors would be of no use whatsoever to God’s providence of restoration; and any such endeavor would ultimately be useless. This is because the predestination of God, who is absolute, should also be absolute, without leaving room for any change due to human effort.
Since there are sufficient Biblical grounds to justify either acceptance or rejection of the theory of predestination, controversies over the doctrine of predestination are inevitable. How, then, would the Principle solve such problems? Let us investigate the question of predestination.
Let us first define “will” before discussing predestination of the will. God could not accomplish His purpose of creation due to the human fall. Therefore, the will of God, in working His providence with fallen man, is to accomplish His purpose of creation. In other words, the “will” means the fulfillment of the purpose of the providence of restoration.
Next, we must know that God first determines the will, and then works to accomplish it. Having created man, God set up His will to accomplish the purpose of creation; however, due to the human fall, He was unable to accomplish the will. Naturally, in order to accomplish it, He has to determine His will a second time, and thus He carries out the providence of restoration.
God predestines the will to be one of goodness, not of evil; then He works to accomplish it. Since God is the essence of goodness, His purpose of creation must also be one of goodness. Naturally, the purpose of His providence of restoration must be good, and His will to accomplish this purpose must also be good. God could not have predestined that which obstructs and is against the purpose of creation. Thus, we know that He could not have predetermined such things as the human fall, judgment of fallen men, or the destruction of the universe. If such evil results had been the necessary product of God’s predestination, He would not have regretted the evil result of His own predestination, and we could not think of God as the subject of goodness. God, looking at fallen men, was sorry that He had made man on earth (Gen 6:6); and, seeing King Saul’s faithlessness, He repented that He had made Saul king (I Sam. 15:11). This is good evidence that these events were not the result of God’s predestination. Such evil results occur from man’s failure to accomplish his portion of responsibility, and from his being on the side of Satan.
To what extent does God predetermine the will to accomplish His purpose of creation? God is the absolute being–unique, eternal, and unchangeable; so God’s purpose of creation must be the same. Accordingly, the will of the providence of restoration, which is to accomplish the purpose of creation, should be unique, unchangeable, and absolute (Is. 46:11). God predetermines the will to be absolute; so, when a person chosen for the will fails to accomplish it, God must go on to fulfill it, even by setting up another person in place of the one who failed.
For example, when God’s will to fulfill the purpose of creation centering on Adam failed, He sent Jesus as the second Adam, attempting to fulfill the will centering on him, because His predestination of the will was absolute. When this will was again a failure, due to the disbelief of the people (cf. Part I, Ch. 4, Sec. I, 2–141), Jesus promised the Lord would come and fulfill the will without fail (Matt. 16:27). Again, in Adam’s family, God intended to lay the foundation to receive the Messiah through His providence centered on Cain and Abel.
However, this will ended in failure when Cain killed Abel. Then, God intended to accomplish His will through Noah’s family. When Noah’s family failed to accomplish this will, God had to set up Abraham to fulfill the will. In another instance, God intended to fulfill the will which Abel failed to accomplish by setting up Seth (Gen. 4:25). Also, He attempted to fulfill the will unaccomplished by Moses by choosing Joshua in his stead (Josh. 1:5); and again, He tried to fulfill the will unaccomplished due to the betrayal of Judas Iscariot by electing Matthias (Acts 1:15).
As clarified in the “Principle of Creation”, God’s purpose of creation is to be fulfilled only by man’s accomplishment of his portion of responsibility. The will for the providence of restoration, which is to fulfill this purpose, being absolute, is not for man to interfere with; however, man must accomplish his own portion of responsibility in order for the will to be accomplished. Therefore, God’s purpose of creation was to be fulfilled only through man’s accomplishing his portion of responsibility by not eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:17).
Accordingly, even in accomplishing the purpose of the providence of restoration, the will can be fulfilled only through the accomplishment of man’s responsibility by the central figure in charge of the mission. In Jesus’ day, the people should have believed in Jesus absolutely, in order that he might accomplish the purpose of the providence of salvation. But due to their disbelief, they could not accomplish their portion of responsibility, and naturally, the accomplishment of the will had to be postponed to the day of the Second Advent.
Then, to what degree and to what extent would God predetermine the accomplishment of the will? As mentioned, God’s will to accomplish the purpose of the providence of restoration is absolute, but the accomplishment of the will is relative. So, it is predetermined that the will is to be accomplished, but only through God’s 95 percent responsibility and man’s 5 percent responsibility combined. Indicating the proportion of man’s responsibility as 5 percent is only to say that man’s responsibility is extremely small compared to God’s. Nevertheless, we must understand that, for man, it means 100 percent effort.
To cite examples: the accomplishment of the will centering on Adam and Eve was predestined to be fulfilled by the fulfillment of their own portion of responsibility, namely, by not eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The providence of restoration centering on Noah was predestined to be fulfilled by the accomplishment of his own portion of responsibility, through his loyalty in building the ark. The providence of salvation through Jesus was predestined to be accomplished through the fulfillment of responsibility on the part of fallen men by their believing in Jesus as the Messiah and following him (John 3:16). Men have caused the prolongation of God’s providence of restoration by not fulfilling even their small amount of responsibility.
The Bible says, “The prayer of faith will save the sick man.” (James 5:15); “Your faith has made you well.” (Mark 5:34); “For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:8). All these Biblical passages prove that the will is predestined to be fulfilled by the accomplishment of man’s own portion of responsibility. We can understand well enough how small were the responsibilities men took charge of in all these instances, compared to God’s responsible portion of toil and grace.
At the same time, from the fact that through their failure to accomplish their portions of responsibility, the central figures in the providence were compelled to cause the prolongation of the providence of restoration, we can well imagine how extremely difficult it was for them to fulfill even a relatively small responsibility.
Adam and Eve could have become good human ancestors if they had accomplished their own portion of responsibility by obeying God’s injunction not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but they failed to do so. Therefore, God could not predestine them, absolutely, to be good human ancestors. In the case of fallen men, a chosen man could become a person of God’s predestination only by accomplishing his own portion of responsibility. Therefore, God cannot predestine a certain person with absolute certainty that he will become what he is predestined to be.
Then, to what degree does God predestine man? In God’s accomplishment of His will, centering on a certain person, He establishes it as an indispensable condition that the man must fulfill his own portion of responsibility. Therefore, God, in predestining a person for a certain mission, determines that the person will be what he is predestined to be only by the 100 percent accomplishment of the will centering on the person, with God’s portion of 95 percent responsibility and man’s portion of 5 percent responsibility accomplished together. Therefore, if the person fails to accomplish his own portion of responsibility, he cannot become the person God predestined.
For example, when God chose Moses, He predestined him to be the great leader capable of bringing the elected people to the blessed land of Canaan, but only by accomplishing his own portion of responsibility (Ex. 3:10). When in Kadesh-barnea Moses went against God’s will by striking the rock twice, he failed to carry out his responsibility, thus nullifying God’s predestination; he died on the way to the appointed place (Num. 20:7-12, 20:24, 27:14). Likewise, when God chose Judas Iscariot, He predestined him to be Jesus’ apostle if he accomplished his own portion of responsibility with loyalty. However, since Judas failed to carry out his responsibility, God’s predestination was not fulfilled and Judas turned out to be a betrayer.
When God called the Jewish people, He predestined them to be the chosen nation of glory, but only by fulfilling their portion of responsibility through their faith and service. Nevertheless, the predestination was not realized because they delivered Jesus to be crucified; and therefore, the chosen nation was scattered.
Next, let us examine the conditions and qualifications for becoming the central figure of the providence of restoration in God’s predestination. The purpose of God’s providence of salvation is to restore the fallen world to the original world of creation. Though the times of their salvation may differ, all fallen men are predestined to be saved (II Peter 3:9). Just as with the process of His creation, God’s providence of salvation, which is the providence of re-creation, cannot be accomplished in a moment. Therefore, this providence is gradually broadening its scope to cover the whole, starting from “one”. Thus, in the predestination of the providence of salvation, God first predestines the central figure and calls him to the mission.
What conditions and qualifications must this central figure have? First, he must be born out of the chosen nation, in charge of the providence of restoration. Next, even within the chosen nation, he must be the descendant of ancestors with many accomplishments of goodness. Then, even though he may be the descendant of ancestors with many good deeds, he must be endowed with the natural disposition suitable for the accomplishment of the will. Even if a man has these endowments, he must subsequently have good conditions in which to grow and work in his lifetime. Still, even among these persons, God would select first the individual most fully prepared at the appropriate time and place of God’s need.
We have clarified many problems concerning God’s predestination. But the problem yet to be solved is how to elucidate the Biblical records, such as those enumerated in the introduction to this chapter, which are written as though all things are of God’s absolute predestination.
Let us first elucidate Romans 8:29-30, which says:
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined…and those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified.
God, being omniscient, knows who is endowed with the qualities to be the central figure in the providence of restoration (cf. Sec. III–199). Therefore, God predestines and calls the person He foreknew in order to fulfill the purpose of the providence of restoration. Calling the person is God’s portion of responsibility, but this alone has nothing to do with the person’s being justified and finally glorified in God. He must accomplish his own responsibility in the position of a person called by God before he can be justified; only after he is thus justified will he be glorified by God. It is predestined that man can enjoy glory from God only by accomplishing his own portion of responsibility. There are no words such as “man’s own portion of responsibility” in the Bible, so everything appears to be accomplished merely by God’s absolute predestination.
The Bible says (Rom. 9:15-16):
…’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’. So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy.
As elucidated above, God chooses the one who is most suitable for the fulfillment of the purpose of restoration, foreknowing all his qualities. Therefore, it is God’s privilege to elect such a person and to have mercy on him or have compassion for him. It depends not upon man’s desire or endeavor. These Biblical verses are given in order to emphasize the power and grace of God.
It is again said (Rom. 9:21):
Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?
It has already been said that God set up man’s own portion of responsibility as the condition to exalt him to be the lord of all creation and to love him most by having man take after His creative nature. However, man fell, having violated this condition. Therefore, man became an existence deserted like trash; so this verse was given to teach people that man has no right to complain against whatever way God may handle men of this kind.
Further, the Bible states that God loved Jacob but hated Esau, and that “The elder will serve the younger.” (Rom. 9:10-13). What must have been the reason that God loved Jacob and hated Esau while they were not yet born and had done nothing, either good or bad? This was to fulfill God’s program in the course of the providence of restoration. Further details will be discussed in the section covering the providence of restoration centering on Abraham’s family (cf. Part II, Ch. 1, Sec. III–261). We must understand here that God gave Isaac twin sons, Esau and Jacob, because He had to restore through indemnity the will for the restoration of the birthright, which had been left unaccomplished by Cain’s killing of Abel in Adam’s family. This He intended to do by setting up the twin brothers, in the positions of Cain and Abel, and by having Jacob (in the position of Abel) make Esau (in the position of Cain) give in. God said this because Esau, being in the position of Cain, was liable to be hated by God, while Jacob, being in the position of Abel, was entitled to His love.
God’s actually either loving or hating one or the other depended upon the fulfillment of their respective portions of responsibility. In fact, Esau, having surrendered in obedience to Jacob, received a blessing of love equal to Jacob’s though he was in the position liable to be hated by God. On the other hand, Jacob, though he was in the position to be loved by God, could not have received such love if he had failed to accomplish his portion of responsibility.
It was because of ignorance about the relationship of man’s portion of responsibility to God’s in fulfilling the purpose of the providence of restoration that there appeared a man like Calvin, who obstinately held to his “theory of predestination”, and that such a theory has been believed by so many people for so long.