Thursday, December 27, 2012

Choose Your Predestination Wisely

“Do you walk to school or carry a lunch?”  My husband loved to torture our kids with this question when they were younger.  It’s a nonsensical query, guaranteed to result in smoke coming out of your brain chip processor. 

In theological circles today, we have a similar mind-bender question.  How do we have Free Will while also accepting scripture that states God’s people have been “chosen,” “elected” and “set apart” from the beginning of all time? 

Predestination is a concept most often associated with Calvinists.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will already know that I no longer ascribe to any particular brand of Christianity.  However, I was raised Protestant. The very word Protestant means a “protester”.  How ironic that the base of our foundational Protestant Faith proudly proclaims by name to be in Rebellion against the original Church.  Rebellion is at the very core of sin as shown with Lucifer and the Fall of mankind through Adam.  

In my “God journey” I’ve come to realize the problems with the current state of our Christian Church schism which began at the birth of Protestantism. Protestantism got its start with the advent of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses to the Catholic Church door in 1517.  While I believe the Catholic Church was in serious need of reform in Luther’s time, the end result of his Rebellion splintered us into dozens and dozens of factions which continues to weaken Christianity overall to this very day. Protestants persist in this tradition of division as our multiple denominations still split hairs about doctrine, sacraments and methodologies.  While I am not taking any sides in these issues, I know one thing for sure…Jesus could not possibly be pleased with this disunity.

There is a similar analogy to be found in the Old Testament when Israel splintered into two Kingdoms.  The Northern Kingdom was known simply as Israel, while the Southern Kingdom was called Judah.  (See 1 Kings 16:21).  This division, like the Catholic/Protestant split, had the effect of weakening the Israelites overall against their enemies.

Luther eventually dissolved, at the end of his life, into writing rambling, vengeful Anti-Semitic rants in his book “On the Jews and Their Lies”.  Luther is also the spiritual Father of the heretical “Replacement Theology” mindset that claims Gentiles have replaced Jews as God’s chosen people. 

Does this not amaze you?  Think about it:  The man who is credited with being the spiritual Father for all Protestant denominations is also the SAME person who wrote a book that the Nazis often used to justify their evil Anti-Jewish philosophies!

Yet undeniably, Luther brought about major good developments.  He was instrumental in translating and disseminating scripture to the common man.  Because of Martin Luther, the average, every day person, would get their hands on scripture unlike any other time in history. 

Like ALL of us, Luther was a “mixed bag” of polar opposites—Evil and Good fighting for the upper hand.  This thought brings me to my knees more than any other.  That such opposing forces can reside in one individual is nothing short of truly chilling.  I sincerely pray:  “Lord, Help me not to screw up Your Message and, in doing so, become an unwitting tool for the Enemy.”  Nothing, absolutely nothing, strikes more terror in my heart than this:  The possibility, that by lack of maintaining an exceedingly close relationship to God, become a “useful idiot” for Evil.  Such is the seed in all of us…the seed for Great Good and the seed for Devastating Harm. 

Apparently following God can’t be reduced to X# of manmade points posted to a church door. This is the descent into Pride.  Interestingly, he changed his original birth name from Luder to Luther.  Like many name changes in the Bible, I believe this one had deep spiritual significance.  Luder means “alluring Sacrifice”, while Luther means “Wolf”.  Just a few small letter changes and we can go from a Holy life of pleasing sacrifice to a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing—a very unnerving idea.

Such is the capacity for Great Good along with Great Evil existing within one “simple” human being.  Maybe we are not so “simple” after all. This should cause everyone to stop, ponder and reflect.  Or as the Bible says in Hebrew “Selah”…pause…and think about that.  Hmmmmm….. 

Now...back to why I no longer call myself a “Protestant” or any brand thereof.  I humbly believe that much of Protestant America has lost the mystery, majesty and wonderment of God that still can be found in many (not all) Catholic Churches today and some sects of Judaism. We have swapped the awe for the ascetic.  It is austere self discipline that leads to apostasy as we become self-focused instead of God-focused. 

The Catholic Church has a whole office dedicated to interpreting scripture called The Magisterium.  I love that word.  Broken down in Latin it has roots of Magis (more), magical, majesty, mystery.  So, interestingly, the very name actually contradicts the function it serves!—it seeks to explain the inexplicable! 

Do you remember the Disney movie Mary Poppins?  She had some very inexplicable behavior.  When the butler demanded an explanation: “Miss Poppins—Please DO explain yourself!”  She replied: “Why, I never explain anything.”  Just how do you fully explain the mysteries of God?  Spoiler/Answer:  We cannot.  We CAN ponder, expostulate, theorize, reflect, meditate, but do not make this mistake:  We CANNOT EVER have God all figured out.  In fact, this is the VERY FIRST sin…desiring to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil/the Tree of Knowledge.  If we were ever able to figure out God…we would BE God.  This is impossible and the root cause of ALL sin…Pride.  Humbly accept that for much of your life, your spiritual requirement is like this line from the famous Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem Charge of the Light Brigade:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die

However, there is still quite a bit in the Bible about volition, will and submission by man to God’s calling.  Even Mary had to say “Yes, Lord” before He could proceed. 

Now back to Predestination.  While studying this topic, I was led to research one of the most powerful forces of nature:  Ionic Bonding.  Ionic bonding is what occurs when the negative charge of electrons is attracted to and joined up with the positive charge of protons.  The increasingly powerful vortex of tornadoes can be explained by ionic bonding.  In explaining ionic bonding Wikipedia states:  “Each successive ionization energy is markedly greater than the last.”

Our relationship with God is like this.  We lay down, he picks up.  This process continues until we, in conjunction with God’s power, become a “tour de force” for great good.

I contend, therefore, that our only job each and every day is to lay our lives down.  Submit.  Period.  Lay it down…God will pick it up.  Lose your life…you will find it.  Sacrifice yourself and you will live. And, in doing so, we become a powerful force for good.  A force to be reckoned with. 

Perhaps we are not supposed to fully understand the mysteries of God—just accept them by Faith and, in the process, have our Faith grow.  God can’t be reduced to a formula or a process.  God is not constrained by a Time disadvantage of seeing only from the present (like us).  He sees all from beginning to end. 

Therefore, I believe, humbly by scripture and revelation, that Pre-Destination and Free Will are a symbiotic mystery of two interrelated concepts.  God chooses his Elect and man submits by his own Volition. 

So, let's go back to the opening conundrum: 
Do we Choose or are we Chosen?   The answer is…


O Lord, you persuaded me, and I allowed myself to be persuaded.
~Jeremiah 20: 7-9

It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.
~Alexander Hamilton


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