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)

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