Tag Archive | Free will

Lessons Learned while Writing: Omniscience vs Free Will

This might seem like an odd thing to learn about while writing fiction but hang in there with me. My master’s degree is from a seminary. I have taught theology and studied the attributes of God. His omniscience vs out free will is an issue people have been arguing about for centuries.

I don’t really have the answer to that debate although I fully believe in both. God knows everything which should terrify us. EVERYTHING. Every thought and intention of our hearts, our motives, the words we don’t say out loud but think. Our wants and desires. Our deepest fears. Amazingly enough, He wanted His human creation, dependant upon Him for every breath we take and every beat of our hearts, to have the freedom to accept or reject Him.

He didn’t want puppets to worship Him. He wanted people willing to give their all to Him because He called and we chose to respond.

Now we could debate about how could God, who knows everything we will do, give us free will since He already knows we will do it?

I can’t answer that. Some thoughts are far too lofty for this mere mortal.

But I came to a place of peace with this because of my writing. It is not a perfect illustration because again, as a writer, I’m a mortal, not eternal like God is.

When I write my story I have an idea of what the journey for my characters will be like and who they are. (Remember, these people don’t really exist even if they seem to in my mind).  I have a general concept of my ending. Since I write happily-ever-afters it will be a happy ending. There will be love. Maybe a kiss or a wedding, and regardless of where my characters start on their journey, they will have grown emotionally and spiritually. Because I’m human and haven’t written the book yet, I’m not sure of all the details of those journeys to love and greater wholeness.

Whether a writer is a panster (write by the seat of his/her pants) or a plotter, planning out general points of the story’s plot, our characters sometimes surprise us. I can have in-depth interviews with these imaginary people but they sometimes throw me for a loop with a memory, or an issue I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes they make a choice I didn’t anticipate. However, I get them to my desired end for the book.

Once the book is written I am fully aware of their choices and decisions and the precise ending.

God knows my beginning and my end. He has a plan and a purpose for my life but I still make choices. Unlike me as an author, God is never surprised because He’s already read the end of my story. He read it before I was even born. That doesn’t mean He dictated my path.

I’m not even sure if that fully makes sense to you, but it does to me. I can’t understand just how it really works with an all-knowing, sovereign Lord, only that I can listen for His voice and maybe I’ll make mistakes, but He will get me to my desired end and use me to fulfill His purpose here on earth. Maybe I’ll sport some bruises from my failures, but He will never stop loving me on the journey through my story.

And He is also the One who leads me as I write. How else can my characters surprise me if my God-given imagination didn’t let that happen? An imagination designed for me combined with my history and past experiences to create a story out of nothing because I am an image-bearer of the Creator Himself.

Maybe this is too lofty, but I’ve found peace in not understanding how it all happens. It is a holy mystery beyond my ability to grasp but His omniscience doesn’t negate free will and there is wonderful security in that truth.

Trusting God (Book Review)

trusting godI know that often I do reviews of fiction, especially romance, because that’s what I love to read and write. But sometimes I come across a book so good, that I have to share it with others.

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges is one such book. Originally published in 1988, and re-released in 2008, it has lost none of its value for the time that has elapsed.

Much of this book is about how we can trust God even when life is painful. In order to do that one has to have a good grasp of the sovereignty of God. I love Bridge’s quote (pg. 53):

“Let us not be guilty of breaking a bruised reed (a heavy heart) by insensitive treatment of the heavy doctrine of the sovereignty of God.”

Bridges walks the line between Calvinistic (Predestination) and Armenian/Wesleyan (Free Will) in a wonderful way. “…the Bible’s consistent teaching that God is able and does move upon the hearts and minds of people to accomplish His purposes. Yet it also seems equally clear from these passages that God does this without violating or coercing their wills, but rather that He works His mysterious way through their wills to accomplish His purposes.”

Bridges asserts that while Scripture explains both concepts of sovereignty as well as freedom and personal responsibility, it never fully explains the relationship between the two. He at length explores these concepts with a light touch and deep understanding with practical application.

If you struggle and hurt and life is difficult (and when isn’t it for all of us at times?), then I recommend this book to you. It is easily read and understood even though a big word like “sovereignty” can put one off, it is an essential characteristic of God for us to understand if we are to walk in faith and confidence into the life He calls us to. This is a book I will be going back to again and again.