Predestination and freedom through Mark 5

  1. On the necessity of grace and the ability of the unassisted will:

(a) What is not known is not an object of choice.

(b) Free choice apart from the assistance of grace cannot know the object of salvation, whether as an end or a means to an end.

Eye has not seen, etc

I know that this man (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into paradise and heard things too sacred to be put into words, things that a person is not permitted to speak.

(c) The object of salvation, either as end or means to an end, cannot be an object of free choice apart from the assistance of grace.

         2. The Story of Jarius’s Daughter as interpretation and context.

While it occurs in Mark 5, Matthew 9 and Luke 8, we’ll use Mark 5.

While on his way to raise a dead person to life, Christ’s healing power is taken from him unwillingly by a woman who takes him as an object of faith. Both Matthew 9 and Luke 8 allow for the truth of Mark 5, but if we had only Matthew we would assume that Christ approached the woman, and if we had only Luke 8 we could assume the woman bumped into Christ and somehow drained him of his healing power. Mark 5 is therefore the fullest account.

Salvation is a journey from justification to sanctification and Mark 5 gives us a journey with two distinct salvation events. The main point of the story is that life comes to the dead: Jarius’s daughter neither does anything nor can do anything toward her salvation. But within this context there is a subordinate story of salvation being taken from God without his prevenient willing. The Incarnation thus allows some way in which salvation is robbed from an unwilling God.

We can share this with (1) above in more than one way, but the text itself suggests that the Incarnation itself is the grace that assists for salvation, even in the absence of God’s direct election of an individual. Through the Incarnation, grace comes to the dead in a way that allows for it to also be robbed from a God who is nevertheless surprised, and even taken by violence, by human initiative. The way in which grace came to dead allowed it to be taken by others, even where God was unwilling.

 

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