Predestination Understood

The sermon on Sunday was fruffy.  My mind couldn’t focus on anything I was hearing.  So as usual, my mind started wandering more theological paths.  I looked around the room and realized that most of the people I knew would say they believe in all the attributes of God, but at the same time, they say they don’t believe in predestination.  For most that don’t believe, it is because of a misunderstanding of the meaning.   The excuse is that it is cruel for a God to want people in hell, but I feel the more unsettling aspect is that they feel they lose control of their lives if predestination is correct.  Either way, an actual understanding of predestination in the framework of God’s attributes should make people understand and accept it.  Then the challenge is to not be sad about it.

I started to imagine how best I could translate predestination to the lay man.   It occurred to me the best approach would be to explain the way reading is explained to a child.  My daughter is four years old and learning to read.  She sounds out every letter.  If I show her a word, she would start to pronounce dddddduuuhhh–ooooooo.    At this point, no one would know what the word is.   For her or anyone understanding reading like her, it is in the future that she would understand what the entire word is.  For now, it is still unknown and somewhat frustrating.  However, to the adult who has had a lifetime of reading, we do not read in this way, at least perceivably.  We see the word and instantly think either “dog” or “door”.  The entire word is sitting their in plain site, but my daughter cannot comprehend the full word and its meaning in the same moment.  For her, the comprehension of the word is broken up into the past (the previous sounds), the present (the one she’s working on), and the future (the coming letters which will finally make sense and show her why she is reading this word in the first place).  This could be understood as my daughter reading words in two dimensions, while an adult reading it in three dimensions.  The word has always existed in the three dimensions.  My daughter just cannot comprehend it that way.

For God, it is the same for him and his creation.  We all agree that God is eternal.  This actually is understood to mean that God is outside of time.  For us, we see past, present and future in much the same way as my daughter read the word.  However, God sees it all at once.  We agree that God is the creator of creation.  Putting both of these agreed concepts together, we get predestination.  It has nothing to do with God’s foreknowledge because for God, there is nothing in the future.  All of creation, past, present and future, was created at the same moment in God’s perspective.  We just cannot comprehend it in the same way God does.

For us to be frustrated with this prospect is just because we do not understand.  If my daughter were to think that the real joy in reading was uncovering each word as it unfolds, she would be missing the real purpose and beauty within the novel.  God has created a masterpiece to show his glory.  We are worried about the significance in slowly unveiling  the minor details so much so that we are missing the purpose and beauty of his masterpiece.   And also, we think the beauty of the masterpiece lies in each word, namely each one of us.  Like any other novel, each word is very important and has a purpose in presenting the full picture.  However, it is the full picture which we should focus on, not each word.

I believe it is the nature of sin to “dumb” us down to place significance on each word when Adam and Eve (and Jesus) saw the picture.

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