Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Should you lock your door at night?

One of the dumber reactions I've seen to the presidential election is the claim that it doesn't really matter who wins or loses because whatever the outcome, God is in control. People who care about elections are faithless. We have nothing to fear. God has already decreed the winner.

I take it that people who say this fancy themselves to be Calvinists. But they play right into the Arminian caricature of Calvinism as a synonym for fatalism. 

Do the same people who say this lock their door at night? Or would that be distrustful of God's providence? I mean, if God has predestined the house-burglar to break into your home, countermeasures are futile, right? 

In a sense that's true. Yet God hasn't simply decreed what will happen. God hasn't simply decreed who will be president, but who will vote for which candidate and other forms of political activism. The outcome is not irrespective of our efforts, but due to our efforts. Predestination doesn't invite complacency, as if the future will turn out the same way no matter what we do or fail to do. 

By the same token, God hasn't necessarily decreed that the house-burglar will break into your home even if you lock the door. Perhaps he has, but you don't know that in advance. Moreover, it's not as if locking your door thwarted God's decree. It's not as though God decreed that you not lock your door, but you overrode his decree and did it anyway. No, if you lock your doors, then that's why he decreed all along. And that may successfully deter the house-burglar. You only know by trying. 

Fact is, apart from revelation, we don't know ahead of time what God has decreed. That's something we discover in retrospect, as the future becomes the past. Even people who don't believe in predestination fulfill it. So you don't have to give any thought to predestination. You just do whatever you were going to do. God predestines your motives as well as your choices. You act on whatever reasons you had at the time, which turn out to be the reasons God gave you to act on. Not to mention that a certain amount of decision-making is the result of subliminal considerations. You weren't even conscious of all the factors that fed into your choice. 

Some people tie themselves in knots over predestination, but as a practical matter, there's no reason to second guess your actions. It's like saying, if the door is locked, I can't open it. True. But is that a reason not to try the doorknob? No. For if the door isn't locked, then you can open it. And you find out what's possible by giving it a try. Either the door knob will turn or it won't. That doesn't prevent you from finding out which is which. Just go ahead and do what you had in mind. And that's what God predestined! 

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