As I’ve been wrestling this week with the dense and difficult Romans 9, specifically vv. 14-24, for the final week of our “Roman Road” series, I came upon this excerpt from a letter that C.S. Lewis wrote (from the C.S. Lewis Bible). Lewis doesn’t believe we can say as much as we might like about the challenging “inter-relation between God’s omnipotence and Man’s freedom.” But what he does say is brilliant as usual.
(When he refers to the “Calvinist view,” he means the view of God that so highly exalts God’s sovereignty—that God is absolutely in complete control of everything that happens—that human responsibility and freedom become meaningless.)
The real inter-relation between God’s omnipotence and Man’s freedom is something we can’t find out. Looking at the Sheep & the Goats every man can be quite sure that every kind act he does will be accepted by Christ. Yet, equally, we all do feel sure that all the good in us comes from Grace. We have to leave it at that. I find the best plan is to take the Calvinist view of my own virtues and other people’s vices: and the other view of my own vices and other people’s virtues. But tho’ there is much to be puzzled about, there is nothing to be worried about. It is plain from Scripture that, in whatever sense the Pauline doctrine is true, it is not true in any sense which excludes its (apparent) opposite.
You know what Luther said: “Do you doubt if you are chosen? Then say your prayers and you may conclude that you are.”†
† C.S. Lewis, “Who Is Chosen?” in The C.S. Lewis Bible, NRSV (New York: HarperOne, 2010), 1283.