Got Questions.Org What Is The Little Book In Revelation 10 God the Chessmaster: Omnipotence Versus Free Will

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God the Chessmaster: Omnipotence Versus Free Will

Christians often face challenges to their faith; from internal and external forces. This can be a very good thing because it forces them to examine what they really believe. They may be motivated to study more so that they can defend their beliefs in the future. In some cases these challenges can weaken faith and possibly push people away from God, but the extent of faith for the susceptible to failure is doubtful.

One of the more difficult challenges comes from those who doubt the seeming incompatibility between God’s omnipotence, and our supposed freedom of choice. In Psalm 115:3 it says “Our God is in Heaven. He does whatever He wants.” Essentially the argument is this. If God is all seeing, all knowing and always in control how can anyone claim that we have the freedom to make our own decisions. It appears that God can only know everything by controlling everything…including our own choices. Whenever such contradictions are discovered, atheists, agnostics and non-Christians use them to argue against faith. I have learned that often these arguments are based on cherry picking passages from the Bible taken out of context. What’s worse is that they are made by well-intentioned believers who know very little about what the Bible says.

If it is possible for God to experience hardship, he wants us to choose him freely and without force or coercion; however, this goes hand in hand with the argument above. How can we “choose” Him if He controls our choices, or at least knows how to choose? Furthermore, it can be argued that if God knows our choices in advance… even before we are born… then it is possible that he knows that we will not choose him, and therefore we will be destroyed. This means that he allowed a child to be born without a chance of salvation. This does not seem to be the work of a loving and righteous God.

This is a prominent issue that apologists have been trying to deal with for years. Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position or belief, usually a religious belief. One of the most famous Christian apologists to express this concern is CS Lewis. Many readers with a limited knowledge of Christianity, and especially the work of Mr. Lewis, may only know him from the movies based on his books, The Chronicles of Narnia. In his book Mere Christianity, Mr. Lewis suggested that God does not experience time in the same way that man does. In essence, he argues that all time is placed before God simultaneously. In other words, our tomorrows and yesterdays are viewed by Him not in real time but as a series of pictures placed before him at one time. Mr. Lewis stated…

“He [God] not ‘seeing’ you to do things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing it: because, although tomorrow is not here for you, it is for Him. You do not expect your actions at this time to be free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow actions in the same way because He is already there tomorrow and can simply look at you.” (Mere Christianity, CS Lewis, Harper San Francisco 2001, Pg. 170.)

Mr. Lewis concludes his analysis by saying that it is a Christian idea that gives him comfort in explaining this complex problem. He also stated that if this claim does not bring comfort at all that the reader should “let it go”. Mr. Lewis was a great man and an astonishing intellect. There are times when people of great intelligence think beyond what a typical person can understand. It must be remembered that Mr. Lewis does not give this explanation as fact; instead he offered it as a possibility. I offer something else in the form of an analogy.

For those who have played chess it should be clear that true masters of the game do not win because they are planning their “next” move. Those who think about their next move in response to what their opponent is doing are often playing defense. This mentality always ends in defeat. However the best players are always 10 steps ahead of their opponents. My suggestion is that God is the ultimate Chess-master. I bet he didn’t wait to find out what our next move would be. Instead he has already planned his infinite strategy for any choice we may make. It doesn’t matter, if we choose “yes”, “no”, or “maybe” for any question or problem presented to us, he has plans for every contingency to ensure that he wins the game every time. He already saw how the game would end with his victory while we were still trying to decide whether to move the pawn or queen.

Interestingly, this suggestion is not good for the dark one. Satan is a terrible chess player and is most certain to fail and lose for obvious reasons. There is no question about Satan’s strategy. Satan’s motives and game plans are unwavering and focused on one outcome; but it appears that there is only one way to get there. In essence, he is completely predictable and unable to change his plan. This is why his game plan is so clear in the book of Revelation. God thinks how the game will be played before it starts.

As Mr. Lewis explained, I cannot claim to know the mind of God. Like Mr. Lewis my intention is to provide comfort to those who have concerns about this elephant in the room. Finally I want to offer a possible defense for those who believe and want to answer this challenge with a reasonable answer.

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