This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Predestination

Predestination is another apparent dilemma that troubles the lives of believers and is, despite varied efforts that claim success, insoluble at that level of exoteric exposition, which is to say, there is no acceptable apologetics that can do away with it. Solutions always wind up leaning on man’s freedom, which explains very little, or denying his freedom, which again does not explain the problem but exacerbates it.

The truth is that the term predestination has no meaning in metaphysics since is strictly a temporal notion, hence the prefix pre-. It assumes the limits of human ignorance and describes a problem that only exists within the very limited sphere of human comprehension, which sees events one at a time in a linear progression. From that point of view, which is a very contingent one, it appears that God knew ahead of time about some action and then damned or saved certain beings by destining them for those actions. But does this really make sense if we step beyond time? In such a case, God doesn’t “predestine” anything, since everything exists in perfect simultaneity. It makes as little sense to say that God predestines as it would to say that he post-destines by looking backward at the end of life. He does neither. He creates, and his creations realize the potentialities which they represent.

This is not to deny freedom, but to put it in its proper aspect, which is entirely different from the modern view, which is reduced to a simple political conception. Suffice it to say that for man whose goal is transcendence, liberty is in conformity with the Divine. This is why Paul speaks of freedom as slavery in Christ. To what degree this is “in our hands,” is somewhat like water flowing into a mold. The water flows freely, but it flows into a mold and its full development implies complete conformity to that mold, which is the full development of its possibilities. To wish not to fill it is not to change the mold, since that is impossible, but to simply truncate one’s own development.

We must emphasize here that this analogy, while accurate in this precise context, is not the only way of considering human freedom, and it can legitimately be described in other ways, so long as this basic reality, which shows the limits of that freedom, is not forgotten.

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