by Bil Aulenbach

Predestination Is Hogwash

While working on a sermon recently, I reread Romans 8:30: “And those whom [God] predestined he also called.” Much to my surprise, I became annoyed. Wonder why?

Intellectually, I know that predestination has run its course. Modern science has shown that no Master Puppeteer is UpThere pulling everybody’s strings.

Realistically, I know that the theology of predestination is alive and well. I keep finding references to it all over the place.

I recently read that Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr., stated that the man currently residing in the White House was divinely sent—in other words, some god gave us Donald Trump. This is not how our presidents are elected—and where did they find that deity anyway?

The televangelist Pat Robertson said COVID-19 was sent by his god to punish us for accepting LGBTQUI people. He used the same reasoning for 9/11.

The other day, I was talking with someone about a terrible tragedy, and they said, “This is God’s will,” insinuating that their higher power had something to do with this disaster. Yikes! How depressing. What a terrible reply!

When Hurricane Douglas threatened Hawai’i, a bishop sent me a prayer that started like this: “Almighty Father, we humbly beseech thee, of thy great goodness, restrain those immoderate rains and winds.” I had to stop reading this archaic nonsense. Why did he address this prayer to an Almighty Father instead of an Almighty Mother? What’s with “thee” and “thy”—does his god only understand King James’s English? The rains and winds will do whatever they want. No master puppeteer is UpThere directing them.

The bishop might have served his flock better had he told them to board up and hunker down.

Whenever I hear this foolishness, I have to ask: Why do we have brains if NoOneUpThere is running everything? What about free will and free choice? Are they illusions? I love my brain and my ability to choose. I can’t let the church take them away.

Many sayings or axioms that insinuate predestination are still used today. Let me share some:

  • There’s a reason for everything.
  • God only knows.
  • By the grace of God.
  • God willing.
  • Thanks be to God.
  • God damn it.
  • It’s part of the divine plan.

Even you might use some of these. Such phrases are often hurtful. Annie and I have a daughter who is deaf and legally blind, with some additional other challenges. Someone once said to us, “Because you and Annie are such good parents, God sent you this child.” Unbelievable. God had nothing to do with it. She was conceived (our choice, not God’s) when, unbeknownst to anyone, a rubella epidemic was sweeping the globe.

Predestination is a dangerous approach to life. It keeps believers in a constant childlike state where they live in a fantasy world, never grow up, and never take full responsibility for their lives.

Please don’t give your life over to some god. Predestination is a tactic the church uses to control, brainwash, and dehumanize you. But please invite Jesus into your life to help you live it to the fullest.

Do you believe in predestination?

 

Image courtesy of Boudewijn Berends (CC BY 2.0)

6 Responses to Predestination Is Hogwash

  • Luckily, my church doesn’t teach predestination. I don’t believe in it and never have. A righteous God would not have predestined the holocaust. God expects us to use our own brains to make choices and sometimes those choices are not good for us or anyone else. I fully believe we use our free agency to make decisions. If we are aware of the message of Jesus and his message of love and taking care of one another, we can make good decisions but we have no control (or little at least) over people like Trump being elected President. That is the problem with ignorance…people’s ignorance. I believe we should study the issues and the past decisions of the candidates and their attitudes toward life and then make a wise decision of who to vote for. But we only have one vote and we need to study the candidate before we vote. Between the Russian interference in our election and the ignorance of people who don’t study anything and are easily impressed with celebrity, we got this clown as president.

    I have been a Registered Republican for 63 years but I never vote the straight ticket. I got a survey from the Trump machine last week wanting to know my opinions on the president’s job and if I would vote for him in November and I told them I would write in Donald Duck first. I didn’t vote for the Bush organization either.

    I let my husband talk me into voting for Nixon and we all know how that turned out. I didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan either. Much of politics is all about money. I believe in term limits.

    I definitely believe we are usually the author of our own decisions. I do not buy into predestination and I consider those “ministers” you mentioned as charlatans.

  • Yup

  • Absolutely right on…

  • Predestination and Divine punishment and retribution are not within my belief system.My youngest son did not die in an auto accident as a punishment for something he did. I was not predestined to go through a divorce or have my house flooded. How I reacted to these events was my choice. I had guidance but no one other than myself made the decisions for the steps I would take in dealing with these event.
    I believe that God is still speaking, we are still learning and experiencing new things (not all of them good) and that we are guided to do what may,Ultimately be in our best interest I have lots of happy fulfilling experiences. I have also had experiences where I felt hurt, let down and discouraged…yet I find that having gone through these experiences, I have grown and that I feel like I am a better, more compassionate person.

    No…God has not decided what my life will bring…I have that power. God “my spirit” is still speaking and guiding me…it is up to me to choose the steps I will take in my life.

    • I agree with Bil about the theology of predestination. However, I also think about God in creation (panentheism). A lot of the science of creation concludes that the universe is governed by laws that can be counted on to be dependable and determinative across the universe. Stars are born and die according to influences of gravity and energy. The universe, to a great extent, can be predicted. There is much in science that is determined by the interaction among various forces over which we have very little control. Science also has a word (agency) for what appears to be either chance or or choice. This is operative in evolution, according to many naturalists, in order to explain the effects of natural selection. I believe that the more complex species exhibit this based on not only self preservation, but on moral choice. There are consequences for bad agency. What do you think? Does agency operate in the universe? Is there scientific predestination? What will happen to humans who use their agency to defy science or the laws of nature?

      • Thanks, David for responding and sharing your interesting thots.
        Can’t people be predicted as well but I wouldn’t call that predestination. All-day long life presents chance or choice. If I stay isolated, wear my mask, do physical distancing I have a choice. But if the mailman comes and I take the mail from him without cleaning it that a chance.
        It was good speaking with Beverly and we didn’t realize that you two were still here until week. That was a long stay. Hope we’re on top of it by next year when you retrun.
        Pax
        Bil

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