>Predestination

>First one thing needs to be clear: predestination has nothing to do with fatalism or even with destiny, at least not in the sense of lightning striking you in the head or you stubbing your toe. Predestination refers to the History of Salvation, and God’s Divine Right to to enter into a covenant with some people but not others, and therefore choosing them (or not) to return His love. So predestination is connected with another theological term “election” – and both point to one thing: God choosing.

3 types of wrong views on predestination – which one do you fall under?

1) Double
It is double because God chooses twice as it were: chooses some to be included and chooses some to be excluded. This is the classical Calvinist belief, and it is part, I believe, of Presbyterian teaching.

Read Romans 9:14-23. But then contrast it with Romans 11. Do you see problems?

There are a few problems with this idea, the biggest one is that it seems to work only if you take passages out of context. It is not something invented, it is in the Bible, but the theory of double predestination is probably an exaggeration in one direction: the sovereignty of God. A second problem is that it does not understand “eternity”. Eternity is an attribute of God, God was, is and will be always God. There never was or will be a time when God is not God. But we take this to mean that God, outside of time, sat down and planned every little thing that would happen, every movement of every atom from the beginning to the end of time. God is with us more in the sense that the could of fire was with the Hebrews as they wandered aimlessly in the desert for 40 years trying to get to their destination (read Ex. 13:21, etc). Didn’t God know the directions? Couldn’t he have guided them in a straight and easy path? Instead He “led” them by staying in front of them for 40 years without interfering in their search. Finally, if some people are chosen by God to Hell, where’s the Good News? Double predestination makes Jesus’ sacrifice a tragedy, not a triumph.

2) Universalism
Then how about the opposite? Everyone is included in salvation, no one is left out. Christ died for everyone – whether they believe in Him or not. Let me just point that this view is officially considered a heresy since the beginnings of the church, but I think intellectually it has a lot of appeal. A loving God would want everyone to be saved right? Just read 2 Peter 3:9, for example, or 1 Cor. 15:22 where Paul says “all be made alive in Christ.” All! All? It commits the same errors as double predestination: it emphasizes only one of God’s attributes in lieu of the others (in this case, God’s Mercifulness); it only works if you pick and choose your passages carefully and out of context. What is unique here, and I think what makes it a heresy, is that in Universalism God does not treat you as a person, as an individual. For there to be a relationship, one person asks a question the other must answer and it has to be a freely chosen exchange. God asks you “Who do you say that I am?” you need to answer, and your answer has consequences. God respects that, even if it is choosing death over life.

3) Pelagianism
Here’s another great heresy, and it is pretty much THE Anglican/Episcopal heresy. we are all “natural” Pelagians. Pelagius (Google him) said, basically, that your eternal destiny is up to you. In this case, God chooses those who choose Him. Sounds logical no? If you choose God, then God will be on your side. God knows all things, and he knows already that you will choose him because he knows the future but not because he planned it that way. Again, it ends up emphasizing one thing in exchange for others. In this case it emphasizes man’s free will over God’s sovereignty. It also makes Love (with a capital L) impossible: it is not really Love if God asks you “I will love you if you love me first”!!

So, here’s the bottom line question: Are you free?

I have talked about the False Self and the Real Self. One is free, the other isn’t. But how many of us live out of our Real Selves? Furthermore, you cannot even begin to know you have a Real Self unless you are set free from your False Self. You must be set free! And who sets us free? Jesus Christ. We are slaves to sin, which means we lives within the False Self programming – we are the living dead. If so, the Pelagian position is not possible, because I cannot, while under sin, decide FOR God. It is not possible.

So what God wants, from the creation of the world, is for people to be free to have a relationship with Him. God wants this. So he foreordained, predestined, from the beginning that Jesus Christ would accomplish this. He would bring us freedom, the means to freedom. Predestination then is not the opposite of freedom it BRINGS freedom! God’s sovereignty (His right to do whatever He wants) is above all the right He has to Love us regardless of how we feel about it! His love for us is primary and it is a love so deep He is willing to die on the cross for us!

God loves you so much that He will simply NOT sit idly by while you insist on your self-destructive slavery to sin. He will get involved. So He comes down from Heaven and moves into the neighborhood, and lives and dies like one of us. All so that you and me and people who never heard the Gospel can have freedom. Your heart should be burning with love and thanksgiving for this overwhelming Love of God, and you should be dying to go and shout it form the rooftops – tell someone about it tomorrow!

Does this help? Predestination is not about destiny, or karma, or the mechanical calculations of every thing that happens in the cosmos. It is about salvation history: God choosing Israel to be His people, choosing Mary to be the Mother of God, choosing the 12 disciples, choosing Paul while he was out huntin’ Christians, and choosing you to be the amazing person you are.

In the end, predestination is not about you or me, it is about God – and we are in danger of grave error when we think it is about us.

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About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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