instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The most happy dogma

A lot of people seem to find the idea of predestination oppressive. Isn't it fundamentally contrary to any notion of human freedom? Even in its most passive form, where God (so to speak) has merely peeked at the last page in the book of our lives, doesn't it mean that there is a book of our lives, and we're doomed to follow the plot automatically and wind up, blessed or damned, as chance or fate or Divine whimsy or... well, something, anything other than us, decides?

Looked at with less petulance, though, predesination is positively liberating -- at least for moral indolents like myself. Jesus promised:
Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.
What this means is I can't screw up God's plan!

Now, it doesn't mean I can't screw up myself, or that I can't cause other people to screw up. But it does mean that I can't spoil what God wills for Creation from eternity, that whatever else might be said of me on the Last Day, it won't be, "If only he had done this rather than that, God's Spirit would not have returned empty."

In particular, if the Father has given those in my care to the care of His Son, then His Son will care for them, regardless of the terrible mistakes, or even gross evils, I might commit.

This isn't a prescription for indifference, but an aspect of the dogma of predestination that eases anxiety. In the end, I can no more cost someone their predestined salvation than I can save them myself. My failures should no more cause me to despair than my successes should cause me to hope -- because again, our hope is in God, not ourselves.