Contend Earnestly: Definitions Please

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Definitions Please

I asked Nate to give me some exegesis and like anyone on the opposite side of the fence, we never feel as though they did a good enough job. Not saying this is just myself, but I am sure that I have not live up to my side of the bill either, in Nate's mind, with some of my exegesis. What I would like to do is have us ALL define some words. So, if you can, even if you agree with some of the definitions presented, all define these words so that we can see where each of us are coming from. Try and make it pretty short and sweet. Nate: if you would like to add some words in here, feel free to have us define them as well. Here goes:






Divine Purpose

How I define.
Determine: When I say that I am "determined" or that I "determined" to do something, this means that I will carry out that "plan" whatver that plan is. If I say that I determined to get back at a co-worker then I will do whatever I can do so. If I am a determined individual, then I am one who will do whatever I need to, to accomplish something. Take this to God. He is called omnipotent. So when He determines something for His purpose, it will come to pass. If He falls short in His determination how can I call Him omnipotent?

Ordain: To me this one is pretty simple. If I ordain something, or better yet, a President or King ordains something, they put something into place for whatever purpose they intend to follow through with. Again, if God ordains something, it cannot fail. Cause, well, He is God. "The President ordained the troops to attack Iraq."

Foreknowledge: This one is a little more tricky. At first glance, to us humans, this simply means to know beforehand. Easy. But wait. Then you see how the word "know" is used in the Bible. Such as, "Adam knew Eve..." then they had a son. Hmmmm...know is something more in the Hebrew culture. Christ also uses the term know in the same instance when He says "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." Then He says to those going to hell, "Depart from Me for I never knew you." Does this mean that Christ had no knowledge of them? Does the sheep reference simply mean that I know who Christ is and He happens to know who I am? Of course not. So, if we reference foreknowledge, with the strength of "know" being intimate, we can say that God "fore-loved" or had some type of intimacy with certain things and people (depending on the verse)

Predestine: Pretty straight forward here. To determine beforehand. One's path is already chosen. This word has never been used, to my knowledge, in secular or Christian writings to ever mean anything besides to determine beforehand.

Elect: Comes alongside the word "choose." So when we elect a president, we choose that President. Of course, we choose based on who that person is, or because of that person's works or actions. Since God is not a respector of persons, He chooses or elects much differently than we do. Of course, we can choose or elect something also, without a real reason. (not applying this to God) I can choose one cup over another to drink out of without really caring. So, not all our choices are based on previous knowledge or conceived knowledge. Not going to deal with the biblical reasons for this word quite yet. But, the decision of the choosing and electing, unless coerced, lies only in the hands of the one doing the electing, not the thing or person being elected.

Divine Purpose: If I tie in all the other words, predestine, ordain, elect, foreknowledge and take them to pertain to God, then I would say that the divine purpose, which is higher than our ways and sometimes a secret, is accomplished through all those other means. Making each of those individual words vital to understand and vital to be carried out. If any of these steps along the way go "wrong" or not according to plan, the divine purpose will not be accomplished. Kind of like the thought of the "butterfly effect". The divine purposes of God cannot be thwarted as find out in Job 42. There are many purposes but there is one above all others: God's glory to be exalted. That is the highest and everything else is literally dung compared to this one.

Alright. Let's hear from everyone else. What do you guys think?


Bob Hayton said...

I'll go on record as pretty much concurring with the definitions you give here, Seth.

Let me add one more verse to this understanding of foreknowledge:

Amos 3:2 "You only [Israel] have I known from all the families of the earth".

Certainly God knew more than just Israel, but he didn't choose to set his love on other families besides Israel.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Seth, I agree with your definitions quite fully, but I would like to supplement determine and ordain

Firstly, these two words generally appear synonymous to me. If God ordains something, he determines it; if he determines it, he ordains it. However, I think perhaps you are using God's determining as a descriptor for his hidden will, and ordaining as a descriptor for his revealed will. I am comfortable with this, but I wanted to mention that it need not be so.

Secondly, assuming that we are speaking of God's hidden will, that is, his plan and purpose for creation, if he is indeed sovereign and all-knowing then this determination must necessarily be totally exhaustive. That is to say, while we would say, "I have determined to have sausages for dinner tonight", and then proceed to do so, we do not plan to the uttermost. We don't plan precisely how we will cut the sausages, the force we will exert on the knife, and so on. We don't have the mental or even physical capacity for that. God, on the other hand, knows everything (which must be the case because he brings everything about). Therefore, if God were to purpose that you will have sausages tonight, he purposes not merely a general directive, but rather he determines the precise manner of everything pertaining to that incident. There is nothing he does not determine about it. Whatever we can think of which relates to that incident, God has determined it. Motion of atoms? No problem; God determined it. Number and nature of quarks in the neutrons of the atoms? Determined also. Thoughts you would have when you cut your finger? Absolutely determined. Everything is foreknown by God; and because he is sovereign, it is correct to use the term foreknown here as you have defined it above.

Hope this helps.

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