Predestination

I think that God knows everything, including what I’ll do for the rest of my life.

I also think I have free will, deciding what I do for the rest of my life.

I’m not, however, emulating the White Queen.

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one CAN’T believe impossible things.’

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!'”
(“Through the Looking-Glass,” Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll, via Project Gutenberg)

I can’t say exactly how God sees reality, any more than I could explain the Trinity’s operational details.

God isn’t merely big, old, and strong. God is infinite, eternal and the Almighty. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 202, 230)

I’m not. Not even close.

I can’t fully explain God. No human can.

But I can know a little about God, and this is a good thing. (Catechism, 3138)

Ezekiel 1:26 describes God as “a figure that looked like a human being.” A couple thousand years later, Michelangelo gave us another anthropomorphic image of the Almighty.

I don’t have a problem with Sacred Scripture’s imagery, since I don’t expect the Bible to reflect my culture’s viewpoint. It’d be downright odd if it did, and that’s another topic.

Like I said, how I end up fitting into God’s reality is up to me. I’m not there yet, so I don’t have that information. God does, but it’s not because the Creator either predicts the future or decides what I think. Here’s where it gets interesting.

Viewpoint

One of the more lucid discussions of God and human understanding is in, of all things, a comedy starring George Burns. (November 13, 2016)

“I don’t like to brag, but if I appeared to you just as God—how I really am, what I really am—, your mind couldn’t grasp it.”
(God, in “Oh, God!” (1977) via Wikiquote)

But like I said, understanding what I can is a good idea.

I think God knows exactly what I’ll be doing and that I have free will.

The “up” side is that I can decide whether or not I want to spend eternity with God. If I have any sense, I’ll opt for “with.” But it’s my choice. (Catechism, 10211037)

There’s more to it, and that’s yet another topic.

I’ll sometimes imagine God in anthropomorphic terms. But I accept that God not merely a big, strong, smart human.

God is beyond this universe. God is also “here,” no matter where or when “here” is. God is present at all times, past, present and future; and in every place that was, is, or will be. (Catechism, 300)

That’s good news or bad news, depending on whether I’m seeking God, or trying to hide.

“Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?”
(Psalms 139:7)

I don’t know what my ‘in or out’ decision will be, because I’m not dead yet. God knows. God isn’t predicting the future or controlling my decisions. God knows because God is there “now.” From God’s viewpoint. (Catechism, 599600, 10211050)

Holy Willie and the Tax Collector

One dictionary defines predestination as the belief “that God has foreordained all things, especially that God has elected certain souls to eternal salvation.”

I don’t know how many folks really believe it: that God picks winners and losers.

I suppose it could help folks like Holy Willie feel good about themselves.

On the other hand, the good role model in Luke 18:914 is the tax collector. The Pharisee, not so much.

Feeling hopeless isn’t a good idea, either. It’s a very bad idea, actually. Part of my job is avoiding both despair and presumption: despondency or confidence beyond the call of reason. (Catechism, 2091)

I’m supposed to know and love God, just like everyone else. (Catechism, Prologue)

I hope that I’ll be in that “great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue” — but I’m getting ahead of myself. (Revelation 7:9; Catechism, 27, 788; “Lumen Gentium,” Paul VI (November 21, 1964))

Acting Like Faith Matters

God knows every decision I make, throughout my life, no matter where I am.

God knows what I will do because God is already there: and not limited by time and space, as I am. For God, “all moments of time are present in their immediacy.” (Catechism, 600)

In that sense, I am “predestined” to be in either Heaven or Hell: but the choice is mine.

What I do about my faith is important, too. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God isn’t enough: not by itself.

“So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
“Indeed someone might say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
“You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.”
(James 2:1719)

Faith, believing in God, is fine: but it’s useless if I don’t act as if God matters. (Catechism, 18141816)

And that’s yet again another topic.

More of my take on faith that makes sense:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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2 Responses to Predestination

  1. Peggy Haslar says:

    Thanks for introducing me to “Holy Willie”–wow. Oh how I love the tax collector’s prayer!

Thanks for taking time to comment!