Chicken or the Egg: Foreknowing Tragedy

I think I’m getting better at my job sometimes when I say something that makes me pause and realize something deeper is going on inside of me as well.

Good stories (and good theology) typically bring up more questions than answers.  While we westerners love the systemitized, compartmentalized, neat and tidy answers, I grow more and more skeptical of these as I get older.  It’s not that I don’t like them; nor do I wish they weren’t true.

So one student asked a variation of the question that many theologians and aspiring theologians have pondered over the past 500 years:

Do we have free will or did God predestine it all?  More specifically, did God predestine the fall?

I used to try to answer this question systematically, or with a tidy analogy.  I can go Calvinist or Armenian on you, but neither really satisfy anymore – I never want to be heard regurgitating someone else’s B-movie script answer to this question.

I’ve learned to take more pages from Jesus’ teaching style in that as a Rabbi, he typically responded to questions with questions and stories.  Questions and stories make people think, and learn, and hopefully grow.

So here is my best shot at this question:

Who is a person that you love very much?  I mean, someone you really love…maybe you love them even more than you love yourself.

Now imagine the tragic disintegration of your relationship.  Imagine every painful step of this tragic spiral from the first step where they don’t return your phone calls, to where they have nothing more than superficial conversation.

Now imagine that they give curt, one word answers when you express your love to them. They don’t even look you in the eye.

Finally, they ignore your existence.

They no longer trust you, even though you have been nothing but trustworthy.  You love them, but they don’t love you back at all.  You give them everything they ever would want or need, and they throw it back in your face.

Now imagine all of this will certainly happen, and you know it all beforehand.   You can’t make them change, and you can’t force them to love you – because that really isn’t love.  Forcing someone to love you isn’t really love, is it?

Does it make it any less painful that you know this tragedy before it actually happens?

They say the best ideas come from holding two opposing points in tension.  I get that with free will and predestination.  I’m OK with the tension to comprehend God as both fully loving, and so allowing humanity to choose to love him freely, and yet being fully in control and knowing what will ultimately happen in the end.

When two people get married, we don’t ask the question – who’s decision was it to get married?  We know a healthy marriage is that both people have made this decision – that one person’s decision doesn’t make a healthy marriage.  Being part of God’s family is like a healthy decision to get married – it’s both fully our choice and fully God’s choice.

When it really comes down to it, if God is love as John says (mull on that one for a few decades), then what is more mindblowing (or heartblowing) is that God had to endure the knowledge that his beloved creation which he loved so dearly chose to give him the finger.

What escapes me is how God’s heart can take it all.

0 Responses to “Chicken or the Egg: Foreknowing Tragedy”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

October 2008

%d bloggers like this: