Monday, April 30, 2012

A theologian’s thoughts on Predestination: a night to forget or remember?

Actually, it was one of those delightful occasions, of one sort or another, in which you get invited. The occasion was the invitation to a small group by a philosopher in a university here to meet a distinguished colleague. Soon the topic arose, that of “predestination.” It is a head slapper if you are not familiar with it. 

Basically, it is the doctrine that we are all, individually and collectively, destined from out of eternity by the mind of God to bliss or damnation – to heaven or hell. Queer notion to many, as most folks might imagine; it does get a rise out of some people, of course. Actually, it is only one slice of the intellectual pie called ‘determinism.’ When you consider all the studies of genetics, and that sort of thing, it is something to consider. Think about tobacco smoking and cancer, nutritional deprivation and school achievement or over-indulgence and diabetes.  There are lots of ways to get a discussion going and this one did it. It was a fun evening, a small room full of smart individuals, both accepting and challenging.

The problem arises, of course, with folks like myself and my wife, who have seen and heard a lot of trauma, post-traumatic and otherwise. I don’t think a loving God wills these things; allows it as a part of creation, granted, but when I committed myself as Christian to the Jesus way of thinking and doing, it came with the conviction that God is a Father.  There are dimensions to that, but a loving Father. But then… why would a loving Father…You, too?

There are so many determinates for each of us: genes, geography, language, weather, time in history. And a thousand more, and a thousand more beyond these, the way the Knowledge Explosion is accelerating. Still: there is choice. Limited, but nevertheless open.

I was listening on television last night to the Dali Lama being interviewed. I include him in my choices, how about you?

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