Written by Andy Hoffecker

A few years ago, Pam and I had a young Christian friend – let’s call him Frank – who began to attend Highlands with us. He was a Baptist.

As our friendship grew, we delighted in many prolonged discussions about our mutual Christian faith, both beliefs and behavior. Many topics came up – challenges of a consistent devotional life; making sense of the Bible’s teaching about the future; why and how denominations differ. One of the thorniest issues we found ourselves returning to again and again was the doctrine of predestination.
Uh-oh, that doctrine!

We discussed passage after passage in the Bible. And – miracle of miracles – our talks never got overheated. The more we talked and prayed, the more Frank came to accept the biblical teaching that God sovereignly and mysteriously both predestines all things yet also holds us responsible for our free choices. Among many texts that teach that twin truth is Acts 2:23 where Peter states in his Pentecost message about Jesus’ death on the cross: “… this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

Interestingly, in the aftermath of our talks, Frank met an acquaintance in the grocery store one day who attended the Baptist church where our friend used to go. The acquaintance said that he missed seeing our friend, and Frank said that he was attending Highlands. To which the acquaintance immediately blurted out, “So now you believe in predestination!” It occurred to Frank that he now had to bear this newfound belief as an inescapable burden – like the famous albatross in Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

But is that insinuation true? I’d like to suggest that the doctrine of predestination is not an albatross. It’s not a burden to bear. Correctly understood, predestination can be one of the most practical truths of the Bible. Very often when the subject of predestination comes up, the discussion devolves into unproductive speculations over who’s elect and who is not. As Ogden Nash once quipped, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” Accusations fly like predestination makes God unfair, even arbitrary in his choosing. But then a primary function of the doctrine is almost totally forgotten, and that is its practical teaching offering comfort to believers.

Let’s see what comfort looks like today, election day – November 3, 2020. Consider the following questions. Are you / have you been / will you be [choose one] a nervous wreck /upset / anxious / content / hopeful about election results to be released tomorrow morning? What if the outcome is undecided? Will you praise God for what he has ordained? Will you give thanks / praise him as I Thessalonians 5:18 and Hebrew 13:15 command?

Not only may the election not give us the results we would like, but we have also been suffering a pandemic fatigue which has drained us emotionally threatening to test our belief in predestination. While we continue to pray about both the pandemic and the election, let’s also boldly retain our belief in predestination – it’s a reassuring comfort, not an albatross.