My own take on life, the world, the church, and lots of other things along the way. The prevailing themes of Theophane Blog are Christianity, Christian Living, Christian Literature, as well as general philosophical and religious musings.
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Friday, July 8, 2016
Free Will vs. Predestination: A Headache-Inducing Paradox
July 8, 2016
"God created things which had a free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. A free will is what made evil possible. Why, then, did God, give them free will? Because free will though it makes evil possible , is also the only thing that makes possible any love and goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata-of creatures that work like machines-would hardly be worth creating."
"The human being is a self-propelled automaton entirely under the control of external influences. Willful and predetermined though they appear, his actions are governed not from within, but from without. He is like a float tossed about by the waves of a turbulent sea."
The path our lives take is not one we decide for ourselves, if the Lord is indeed our Shepherd. In our innermost being we have already made the choice to renounce, surrender, and abdicate all notions of self-sufficiency. In our secret place (where we dwell in the shadow of the Almighty) we were chosen before the foundation of the world. You and I were predestined to pledge our lives in service to Him. The choice to enter the waters of baptism is how we, the undersigned, freely affirm what has already been decided for us. But can rational
creatures such as ourselves have free will in the face of God's pre-choosing?
As per his ministry to the Church at Ephesus, St. Paul wrote this:
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In lovehe predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."
So, as non-sentient automatons, you and I have been programmed by the Creator to choose, love, and cherish Him only. This is a hidden directive. This is a holy covenant buried deep within the lines of our operating system code. But wait! How does a mindless biochemical machine (as scientific determinism insists we are) choose, love, or cherish anything? In the Greek myth of Pygmalion the sculptor, the man, unlucky in love, creates an ivory statue of a beautiful woman. As the story goes, Pygmalion was a devotee of the goddess Aphrodite. His sacrifice of a bull at one of Aphrodite's temples caused the aforementioned goddess to smile on him and as a reward for his devotion, turn Galatea into a human woman he could have as his wife. Was it the power of the goddess or the power of Pygmalion's love for his creation that made Galatea real? The myth ends on a happy note, with the nuptials of Pygmalion and Galatea. She was brought to life already choosing, cherishing, and loving Pygmalion and no one else.
From the dust of the earth, God created a being in whom He bestowed a piece of Himself, His essence, His Ru'ach (Strong's #7307). The Lord is our shepherd, but there can be no true love, choosing, or cherishing Him without the ability to choose between good or evil. Without consciousness, there is no will. To argue against the existence of the will is willfulness in action. How does the conscious mind convince itself of its own nonexistence? Had it not been for the Serpent and the Fall of Man, our entire race may have been as Galatea apparently was to Pygmalion: perfect and perfectly incapable of knowing good and evil. God has a plan for your life and mine, and we can participate in this Great Romance only because we are infinitesimally small.