In Christianity, there are essentially two views of predestination. The Calvinists teach that God decides who will be saved and then changes them, outside their own choosing, so they’ll have faith. Calvinists deny that we can choose to be saved or not saved.
Arminians teach free will. We decide whether to have faith. This, however, gives the Arminians serious problems when they are asked to interpret the predestination verses. They come up with all sorts of clever theories, all of which explain away the passages. The Arminians cannot explain why Paul considers predestination a source of great comfort for individual Christians.
The Calvinist view is indeed comforting — for the elect. It’s ugly and awful for the rest. The Arminian view is true to our experience — we make choices every day — but completely missed the message Paul wants us to hear — a message of cosmic importance!
Modern physics makes the Third Way not only attractive but very nearly irresistible. It’s a scientific fact that if God exists outside the universe, outside time, he cannot be bound by his own creation!
But as noted earlier, this thinking is very Biblical and has been noted by Christian and Jewish scholars over the centuries.
Augustine reached the same conclusion in Book XI of his Confessions—
15. But if the roving thought of any one should wander through the images of bygone time, and wonder that Thou, the God Almighty, and All-creating, and All-sustaining, the Architect of heaven and earth, didst for innumerable ages refrain from so great a work before Thou wouldst make it, let him awake and consider that he wonders at false things. For whence could innumerable ages pass by which Thou didst not make, since Thou art the Author and Creator of all ages? Or what times should those be which were not made by Thee? Or how should they pass by if they had not been? Since, therefore, Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou madest heaven and earth, why is it said that Thou didst refrain from working? For that very time Thou madest, nor could times pass by before Thou madest times. But if before heaven and earth there was no time, why is it asked, What didst Thou then? For there was no “then” when time was not.
In other words, Paul expected to be understood. Not perfectly, of course. The subject is beyond human comprehension. We can only get of glimpse of the glory of it all. But the scriptures gives us this glimpse to give us confidence in our salvation.
Now, the point isn’t that I’m cleverer than anyone else. Other people thought of all this long before I did.
The point is that the truth is very often between or even outside the assumptions of two competing views. Therefore, it’s very limiting to seek truth exclusively in Reformation era debates, as though they were asking all the right questions. Or Restoration era debates.
You should become suspicious that there might be a Third Way solution when both sides have perfectly good verses that support their views. Rather than forcing one set of verses to “explain” — that is, explain away — the other verses, we should look for a solution that profits from and reconciles all the verses. No one other approach is truly respectful of inspiration.
Oh, and there’s another point. Science is the study of God’s creation. It is, therefore, the study of God’s self-revelation. We shouldn’t run from it. We should seek the face of God in it.
(Psa 19:1-3) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
You might enjoy this essay, reaching similar conclusions but from a different perspective.