If predestination is true, then how can there be free will?

by Matt Slick

Email:  If predestination is true, then how can there be free will?

Response:  In order to answer the question, we must first define our terms. According to Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary. Predestination is, "The act of decreeing or foreordaining events; the decree of God by which he hath, from eternity, unchangeably appointed or determined whatever comes to pass. It is used particularly in theology to denote the preordination of men to everlasting happiness or misery."  Does this mean that since God predestines that people cannot make choices? 

Free will is the ability to make choices according to your desire.  Free will is of two theological viewpoints: Compatibilist and Libertarian. Compatibilism is the position that a person is only as free as his nature permits him to be free and that his sinfulness prevents him from freely choosing God (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20). Libertarian free will is the position that an unsaved sinner is still able to freely choose God in spite of his sinful nature (John 3:16; 3:36). 

God's predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices.  God predestines in and through our choices because God is all-knowing and all-powerful.  He knows what we will do because he knows all things.  He cannot not know all things.  So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known.  But his knowing doesn't mean you don't freely choose.

An illustration would be that I could arrange for my child to choose ice cream over something else and not violate his free will. For instance, I could put a bowl of chocolate ice cream and a bowl of dirt and rocks in front of my child, and I know exactly which one the child will choose to eat.   But my knowing does not violate my child's free will.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.