A World Without Hypothetical Situations

I don’t have time to give this the treatment it deserves, but for those of us who hold to the Reformed position, this deserves some serious thought.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old bon mot, imagine a world without hypothetical situations. But let me suggest something: if you believe that the world from beginning to end has been ordained by the Words of God, and that nothing happens or exists outside of this ordination, then that is exactly the type of world that you live in.

When I talk to and debate theological issues with Arminians, and we discuss the nuts and bolts of salvation and God’s goodness and the history of the world, invariably someone will propose that we examine the world through the simplified lens of a hypothetical situation. And this is where things start to break down.

You are standing at a train switch and a train is hurtling down the track. Sitting astride the right-hand track is a car containing five children. Tied to the left-hand track is your wife. The switch is currently set so that the train will go to the right. You have only seconds to act before the train is past the switch. What do you do? (Also, how could a kind and loving God ordain such a situation to occur.)

A hypothetical situation demands that the author of the situation become God. A hypothetical situation gives the illusion of total knowledge. A hypothetical situation is at best a tool for examining the world, it is at worst a tool of self-deception. I don’t know if our predilection for hypothetical situations is a modern thing. For me, they fit quite well into my science fiction fueled concept of time. The idea that contained within the nexus of every decision there are a million possible outcomes, and that a million worlds spin into existence with every choice that we make.

Scripturally, this is hogwash.

If God is the God that He says He is, then within the nexus of every decision there is one possible outcome. This doesn’t mean that I get to know what that decision is, but it does mean that I can’t game the system by proposing unscriptural outcomes. What if something happened that was so evil, that God never received any glory from it? What if someone was about to be saved and a gunman burst into the church and shot them just before they made the choice? What if…?

If God is who He claims to be, then the universe is not one million possibilities, but instead, it is one complete thing, and it is designed from beginning to end, to bring glory to God. And lately, I can’t imagine it any other way.

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  • http://bittersweetblue.blogspot.com Ariel

    Ha, well said! I totally agree with you on this. In fact, a couple years ago I adjusted my approach to hypothetical situations: instead of wrinkling my forehead I roll my eyes.

  • http://bittersweetblue.blogspot.com Ariel

    Ha, well said! I totally agree with you on this. In fact, a couple years ago I adjusted my approach to hypothetical situations: instead of wrinkling my forehead I roll my eyes.