Good morning, y’all. I’m happy to report that the Reverend Dale E. Bread is expected to make a full recovery. His head is swole up about twice its normal size, he kind of looks like a Jack O’Lantern, but he expects to be back in the pulpit on Sunday. We’re all rootin’ for him.
First let me make Lite of the situation:
A man is talking to God. “God, how long is a million years?” God answers, “To me, it’s about a minute.” “God, how much is a million dollars?” “To me, it’s a penny.” “God, may I have a penny?” “Wait a minute.”
Today I’d like to take yesterday’s events and explore a religious precept that will get you into deep discussion with any religious scholar you encounter, either in a church or a bar. The precept is predestination. Predestination, loosely translated, means that everything is foreordained. What that means is, an omniscient God knows in advance everything that will happen, throughout time. The much ballyhooed “free will” doesn’t come into play. So while Reverend Bread thought he chose to pick up Old Ben, and thought his actions were his own thoughts, the outcome was predetermined. God knew Old Ben was going to take a hunk of nose whether Reverend Bread picked up the snake with his right hand or his left hand. Now from my slant on things, if you’ve got a God, and the God is all-knowing, then knowing the future has to be part of the package. How can you put limits on all-knowing? The free-willers want to say that while God knows everything, the individual still has a choice, that the individual can change their mind, and, therefore, change their destiny. So the ambiguity is, does God know you’re going to change your mind?
To me, the concept of free will plays to the strength of revivalists and the born agains. If one presumes that God knows you from birth to death, and the course of your life is as a road traversing the cosmos, then calls to the altar will not change your final destination. Calls to the altar will increase the membership of a preacher’s congregation, though. Arguing that the initiate can change the course of their life through the use of their free will allows pastors the opportunity to establish a pattern of behavior for the initiate. That pattern of behavior can be molded to the specific needs of the denomination.
All other issues aside, free will allows the clergy to slip free from the question,”if God knows that the newborn will die from some horrible disease, why does He allow it to happen?” If God is not omniscient and man’s free will is the actual determiner of our lives on this planet, then God didn’t know the baby was going to die. Free will also creates a need for a counselor to keep us on the straight and narrow. Certainly takes God down a peg or two, doesn’t it?
Now, there are a lot of minor league doctrines that can produce discussion, like whether baptism requires full immersion, or whether women can lead a congregation or not, but if you want to bang brains with a Biblical scholar for hours on end, try predestination.