In a delightful and widely acclaimed French novella, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a space traveler called “The Little Prince” visits an imaginary asteroid or planet named #325. The “king” of this domain has a very unusual view of his kingly powers as illustrated by this paragraph:
“The little prince looked everywhere to find a place to sit down; but the entire planet was crammed and obstructed by the king’s magnificent ermine robe. So he remained standing upright, and, since he was tired, he yawned.
“It is contrary to etiquette to yawn in the presence of a king,” the monarch said to him. “I forbid you to do so.”
“I can’t help it. I can’t stop myself,” replied the little prince, thoroughly embarrassed. “I have come on a long journey, and I have had no sleep…”
“Ah, then,” the king said. “I order you to yawn. It is years since I have seen anyone yawning. Yawns, to me, are objects of curiosity. Come, now! Yawn again! It is an order.”
“That frightens me… I cannot, any more…” murmured the little prince, now completely abashed.
“Hum! Hum!” replied the king. “Then I– I order you sometimes to yawn and sometimes to–“
An entry in Wikipedia describes him as “The King who can “control” (his subjects)…, but only by ordering them to do what they would do anyway”
I first heard this story in my high school French class, but I was reminded of it when discussing predestination with someone who believes that God did not choose who would be saved and who would be lost. In my opinion, he viewed God as remarkably like Saint-Exupéry’s king of Asteroid #325. According to him, God did choose who would be saved, but his choice was based upon his foreknowledge of what each man would do. God simply responds to man, rather than man irresistibly responding to the gracious work of God. Man acts, God reacts.
This view of God appears to make God impotent in saving man. He only “waits” to see what man will do. Faith, Belief, and Repentance are indeed commanded by God, but, according to the foreknowledge view of predestination, God only orders them “to do what they would do anyway”.