Predestination, Religion and the Society
It is very hard to talk of predestination without bringing in the religious aspect in it, where we relate the relationship between God, the creator and Man, His Creation. Predestination relates to events which are predicted to take place in the future. For one who believes in a predestined world, he/she believes that the future is immutable and only a single and fixed state of event can take place; but for a non-predestined believer, he or she knows that his future can change. The word predestination is translated by its literal meaning of “pre” for before and “destiny” to indicate the events that are bound to happen (James, 1998, pp. 290).
Those who believer in the religious explanation of predestination oppose the contrasting idea of Determinism and Free will. The proponents of the predestination theory believe that God had determined the fate of the universe and all its occupants long before its creation… that some souls are appointed to eternal salvation and others to eternal destruction regardless of what they do during their lifetime. Predestination pa se can be used to refer to the foreknowledge of the fate of all persons in relation to ones salvation or destruction. The teachings of predestination have been linked with the ideas of St. Augustine and John Calvin.
These two gentlemen believed in the philosophical system that holds that the destiny of a person is determined by a multiple interaction of impersonal and immanent forces rather than the creators fixed choice (Warfield, 1996, pp. 359). This essay will look at the issues arising from the debate of predestination as far as social science is concerned, where it will seek to explain the concept of destiny in the path of religious freedom. Predestination and Omniscience Questions that linger when relating God to predestination are whether He, God is eternal, omniscient or a temporal [that is to say, free from time limitation].
God has the ability to see the past, the present and He can also see into the future, this puts God in a position where He is able to know what the future holds for everyone. This brings this research to a near conclusion that God knows in advance the destiny of creatures or at some point, He determines their fate. The Christians themselves are at a disagreement on the role that God play in setting peoples destinies (Adolar, 1986, pp. 110). Those who go by the teachings of St. Augustine and Calvin have accepted the fact that it is God who decides the eternal fate of every individual.
Therefore everyone’s must go by the requirements of God in order to have a good life. Another clique of Christians believe that, God is completely independent over all the things that happen in the world, He gives every person a free will to either accept or reject His offer of salvation. Therefore, God’s sanctions of wrath and blessings only follow later after man has made a choice of what he/she wants for himself/herself. Judaism on their part teach the concept of having a temporal God while Jews up-to date use the terms preordination or omniscience in their modern societies.
Christians at large reject the analogy of predestination, since is not compatible with the free will concept and therefore they argue that religion has no place for it. But questions do arise on how particular God can be when it comes to playing his part in making prior decisions, Does He limit his acts within categories of people? Or it opens to specific events and people? The Islamic religion belief on predestination is similar to that of Christians and the other side, Muslims believes that Allah knows and ordains every event in life (Byers, 1998, pp. 189). Classes of Predestinations
To define different types of predestination, the foundation is based on two distinct poles which have a variety of systematic differences. These poles base their points on the comparison of what the Creator and His creatures understand by the term freedom. In this context therefore, the classes can be described as either Univocal or Equivocal Concept of Freedom (Adolar, 1986, pp. 99). Under these two classes of freedom, this essay will try to identify points between them that can help an individual make a choice that he/she believes will be best for him or her. Making a choice can sometimes be one hell of a task.
For instance, take an example of a person who wants to make a vital decision that will affect his future, this person has options yes, but not all choices are available to him. How will he be able to make a concrete choice if he does not even know all the available choices? And how well can one make a choice if he is not certain of what the future holds for him? These questions therefore lead to the discussion of the two classes of freedom. The Univocal Concept This concept of freedom holds that human beings have a free will but it is restricted by their creaturely character.
Humans are wholly free to pursue a completely free nature, thanks to their creature that has made this possible for them. The concept also has it that at some point in life God exercises an absolute control over every person’s will, whereby he designs fate which he eventually inflicts on a person… this can be seen as a restriction or a contrast to the free will concept (Bryan, 1998, pp. 146). The Equivocal Concept This is s freedom concept based on analogy, It holds that, in the creators attempt to design the fate of humans, he does consider their choice in life. It is the will of God that determines every man’s fate, but in a divine sense.
The creatures will is free yes, but it is not an absolute freedom. In order to be fully free and enjoy your hearts desire, man has to choose to be good in both character and deeds, and shun evil acts. This is where it can be concluded that the relationship between the Creators freedom and the Creatures freedom is rather analogical and not univocal as the other concept has it (Bryan, 1998, pp. 151). There is a complex relationship between the creator’s freedom and the freedom of man… the latter depends on the former in order to live. It is the degree of man’s responsibility that will determine his fate (whether good or bad).
Man is responsible for whatever happens to him in the future… this can therefore lead to a conclusion that, under this concept, man’s choices are entirely based on God’s divine intervention. This concept of equivocal freedom also acknowledges the doctrine of “Original Sin”, where everyone is born a sinner. For the Christians, after their founding father, Adam had sinned; every generation born is therefore brought up in a world of misfortune through inheritance. Therefore without God’s divine intervention; it will not be possible for man to evade any ill fates.
He therefore has no choice, but to turn to his creator and do what the creator demands of him (Herbert, (2008, pp. 194-200). Muslims simplify the predestination debate by saying that “Everything that happens is so because of the will of Allah”. Traditionally, Muslims believe that human beings are very powerless and man can only stands a chance to face the earthly challenges and survive through the mercy of Allah. The Holy Qur’an affirms that Allah only intervenes in altering the fateful condition of man, if and only if, the man changes his heart and reverse from his sinful ways (Horton, 2006, pp.
73). Pelagius View on Predestination Pelagius was a well known monk who practiced asceticism. Serving in this position meant that he had to exempt himself from carrying out any activities that were perceived to be of worldly pleasures. This act was meant to keep the monk’s souls free from sin (Chadwick, 1900, pp. 232-233). Pelagius refuted the idea of “Original Sin” and stated that there was no such thing as Predestination to either into total destruction or eternal salvation.
He believed that man acquired sin through his earthly actions, and for a man to live a sin-free life, and then he needs to sacrifice and shun the pleasures of the world. To him, man is born with a free will to make a choice of his fate. In his theory of Pelagianism, Pelagius proposed that all human kinds should be held responsible for their individual actions. He stated that man had the ability to triumph over evil, whether supernatural or not. Up-to his death he stood his ground that man can completely enjoy a good life by and successfully avoiding sin if only they obey God’s commandments…
it is upon man to make the choice [grace and free will concept]. Pelagius teachings were however not very famous with most people and was brought under scathing criticism by fellow theologians like St. Augustine and the Catholic Church (Chadwick, 1900, pp233). Predestination as Described By Augustine Augustine of Hippo was a potential critic of Pelagius views. Augustine’s take on the fate of human kind has been adopted and used by the modern churches of today, for instance the Western Roman Catholic and the Protestant Churches. He believed in the concept of original sin.
Augustine argues that the entire human race inherited the sins committed by the fall of the first man, Adam and so all their descendants are born in sin and needs salvation and constant spiritual intervention to be safe (Augustine, 2002, pp. 59). Augustine also helps Christians to understand the doctrine of predestination by putting down the following points:- ? Death originates from sin and a human nature ? All infants are born in sin and therefore need cleansing through baptism ? No good work can come out of men unless by God’s grace
? When men confess their sins, it is because they are sinners not because they are humble ? When a child dies before being baptized, it is locked out from enjoying eternal life in the Kingdom of God (Heaven) ? Accepting God’s Grace washes away all sins that have been committed, grace also goes ahead to help believers to avoid sins in the future All the above beliefs have been adopted by Christian Churches to date. His idea helped the Christian to rule out Pelagius idea that man was never born in sin. For were it were so, then God did not have to send His Son, Jesus Christ to save us from sin.
Predestination View by John Calvin The Calvinist doctrine was basically referred as the “double predestination”. Calvin on his part held it that God, the creator has mercy yes, but he withholds it to only his elects. God chooses particular people who will receive his mercies among the entire human population. These are the persons who will be fully free from the evil wrath of sin and will forever dwell with him in Glory. It is through Gods will and the “elects” good works that will see them get reconciliation with God through His Son Jesus Christ (McNeill, 1954, 45-47).
Before the existence of a person, God had long before decided on his/her fate. God knows the number of his creatures who will be doomed and those who he will save. Whether a person is man or woman, rich or poor, before God, everyone is undeserving. The points raised by Calvin have not gone un-criticized either… what has drawn the concern of most critic theologists and Christians alike is the fact that relates to the destiny of those people predestined to destruction before they are even born. If this may be so, then this would be giving God a picture of a very unfair Supreme Being.
Calvin has it that it matters less what one does at the present; the future fate has already been sealed by God. That, whatsoever comes to pass, God had already ordained it. He adds that as God appoints salvation to some people, to the others he has destruction in store for them (Battles & Walchenbach, 2001, p. 358-370). Christians on Predestination Christians unanimously draw their understanding of the predestination concept from the perspective that God has offered all human kind a chance to seek salvation.
Once one has got saved, he is expected to lead a righteous life which will eventually lead him/her to receive favor before God and hence live for eternity. But it is up to man to choose either to accept or reject that offer. This belief has been greatly given a strong back-up by the bible from which Christians draw their inspiration. The recent development in the modern churches beliefs have been reported to be basically as a result of predestination doctrine. Most churches have retreated from the socio-political life into controlling individuals personal lives, particularly as far as morals are concerned.
Science has also played a role in ruining the belief that human beings initially had in God. They since have grown doubtful to the ancient belief that God has control over their destiny. Some of these people even have come to believe that through their own powers, they can change the plans that God designed for them. But all in all, the effect of Christianity coupled with the spirit of self reliance are still evident in the way the societies run smoothly, but still predestination ideas are trying to shape the modern social ideology and brush off the Christian belief (Reymond, 1998, pp.
345). The Doctrine of Predestination in Social Science Religion has a big role in every society that is in shaping its civilization and creating a basis on which the social ideologies are founded. The doctrine of predestination which has it that, God not only created the universe but also determined its fate in time and space has greatly restricted the spirit of advancement, growth, determination and equal opportunity in the society. If an individual knows that regardless of how hard he tries or how good he becomes, he will still be doomed, then he may just decide to be a social outcast…
doing all that the society considers evil. The same applies to one who may have an idea that he is destined for salvation, that person might decide to just sit back and enjoy, knowing very well at the back of his mind that his fate is sealed for salvation. But thanks for the sovereign God who does not make his thoughts known for man. No one therefore comes to know in prior his fate, and every being therefore tries to be as good as possible hoping that it is them that God will have favor upon (Calvin, 1960, pp73). When addressing the role played by predestination, another aspect of preordination comes into play.
Though both points depict the inequality in the will of God, They can be distinguished by at least these two major aspects. First, is the fact that, while predestination has it that establishes every individual has a unique place in life; preordination explains that one’s condition in life is fixed on the parents state (inherited fate). Secondly is that, to the predestinationists, poverty is a divine punishment from God for social evils, while to preordinationists, they believe that there is no moral punishment about what happens in ones life (Adolphe, 2001, pp.
37). If a group within a given setting decides to practice the “free will” as their social policy, they do s stand a chance of unearthing their potential aggressively. They will come to believe that it is upon the individual to promote his/her own interests, lest someone has their own self interest imposed on them. If that happens, those individuals who miss to utilize their full potential may be left wallowing in misery. This policy has been reported to empower individuals especially through civil rights movements.
But this laissez-fair (“let the people do as they please) policy is not good for any public social spirit. Research has shown that rules and regulations are vital if the central government wants to hold a nation together (Venema, 2002, pp. 354) Conclusion From the results depicted in this research paper, it can conclusively be said that all the versions of predestination, whether ancient or current have one commonality in them. They all give reference to the will of the creator on what the future will hold and at the same time they hold that man’s responsibility has some influence on his destiny.
It is the will of God will save man from suffering a bad fate, but it is up-to the man himself to preserve this free gift by leading a socially acceptable life (Venema, 2002, pp137). The theory of predestination has faulted the spirit of togetherness in the social welfare of individuals in any given social setting. If in any case it is supposed to be embraced then it stands to bring more rot to our societies. The rot will be possible through the following three social policies. Individualism: – Every person will tend to be self centered. They will only try to settle for whatever seems appropriate for them, ignoring the plight of others.
If the respective governments do not intervene in this case, then the situation might grow worse and people may start eliminating one another in the battle of supremacy. Blame the Victim: – An attitude might crop within a social setting of letting the disadvantaged die own death. “Let the damned and the poor suffer, they deserve it! ” This is not the spirit of socialism. Acceptance of Inequality: – If this kind of a direction is taken, then the “damned” in the society might decide not to try any hard to improve their pathetic conditions. They will accept the gap/inequality between them and the “blessed”.
And never try to make their situation any better. The idea of adopting the predestination doctrine would hurt the society by the sense that people will be seeking to satisfy their individual needs and shun collective social responsibility. Such an approach of collective responsibility is very vital in cases of charity to an ill fated individual and in tackling a communal problem. The advocates of free will as well as predestination should bring to their knowledge that, all are humans and there need no be a celebration if a fellow is suffering.
Such people who seem doomed or in misery, need comfort, encouragement and more importantly acceptance into the society, not rejection. They are like the lost sheep that have strayed away that call for attention and need to be brought back to the main flock into the fold of a good caring shepherd. In a typical social setting, such people can be helped through, training, counseling and through charity, to mention but a few. References Augustine of Hippo (2002). “Sermons to the People: Advent, Christmas, New year, Epiphany”. (Ed). Henry William Griffen.
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