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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Postmodern, Predestined

In my experience, people who are less modern tend to be more fatalistic. We don't normally believe that what we do will make a difference in the world. Sure, I'll keep on recycling, but because it's the right thing to do, not because it's going to save the environment. I don't believe that buying a cheeseburger for the homeless guy on the street will end global hunger (I don't even believe it will end his hunger), but I do it anyway, because Jesus talked a lot about it. I vote, but hey, I'm registered in California. A lot of this is about doing what's right because it's right and not because it works, but that's another post.

Lately I've started to wonder if maybe this fatalistic attitude (which most Christians decry) is why the doctrine of predestination makes so much sense to me. Now I'm not talking about Calvinism, mostly because I don't want to be lumped in with that crowd, and because I won't pledge my allegiance to any guy who started a Christian Taliban in Switzerland. For me, I recognize that though I should do the right thing, and I want to do the right thing, I probably won't. Even if I were to do the right thing, it wouldn't really make any difference anyway. Thankfully, the eternal destiny of the world doesn't depend on me.

So, if it is God who chooses us, and not the other way around, by what criteria does He choose? That question is just so, well, modern. I really never stress about that. In fact, I find beauty in the mystery, and I'm humbled that He elected me. (Proof that being handsome, smart, or nice aren't among the criteria.) Predestination is fatalism with a face, and in case you haven't heard, Grace is the new Karma.

If I truly believe that people's salvation doesn't depend on me, why am I here on the field? (I figure that of my small audience, there's got to be at least one person wondering about that.) I'm not here to make an impact on "lostness," or to "finish the task," because I couldn't if I tried. Not even all of us, working together in Christian unity could do those things. No, I'm here because God called me to go. Perhaps you could say it was my destiny.


mike said...

It is your destiny...sounds like Star Wars...okay maybe not.

You are totally right in why we do anything. I have believing friends who evangelize because they think the person needs them and do not understand how someone, like me, could believe in predestination and still have an enormous passion for missions. The answer is the same: Christ has commanded us to go and evangelize, just has he has called us to love one another and the world (kosmos) at large.
I truly appreciate your heart and your mission in Western Europe. Where in Europe are you, if you don't mind me asking?

Rede Vida Mais Café said...

I dunno. I hear you but I don't think I'm quite there. I guess that I'm romantical enough or brainwashed enough to really believe that one person can make a difference here. I do believe that the one burger makes a difference in the man's life. (BTW--that guy plays an air guitar in front of McD's here!) I think that something amazing happens when the people that follow God align their lives to His ways for His Glory. I wish we lived closer--twould be fun stuff to sit and talk about this for hours! Well, I guess I would have to set aside some hours after I figure out how to do the headings on these things!Have a great week :-)

David Rogers said...

I hate to "keep beating the same drum", but let me take you back here to verses I cited commenting on your "Front Burner" post:

1 Cor. 9.19,22. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more...To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (KJV)

The Contemporary English Version says: "so that I can win as many people as possible" and "I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can".

Yes, it is true that any "results" we have in evangelism are, in the end, due to God's sovereignty and grace. But that still doesn't take away my responsibility to be the best I can, and to be a good steward of the "talents" that He entrusts to me.

It is true that each of us has different "talents" and different "callings", but, in the end, I think we have a responsibility to put those "talents" and "calllings" to the most strategic and effective use possible towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

stepchild said...

Good points. And you're beating the drum of scripture, so by all means, keep it up! I guess I'd agree with your comment up until the part about everyone having the responsibility of putting
"those talents and calllings to the most strategic and effective use possible towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission."

I believe that Paul's goal (per the scripture you shared) was to "win" as many as possible. I believe it was his calling. And while I believe that all believers are to be Christ's witnesses and ambassadors, sharing our faith as He leads us to, I'm not so sure that all believers share Paul's calling.

I guess it's obvious in many of my posts, but I also don't believe that all of us who are called to missions are supposed to be trying to "reach" as many people as possible. Unless God leads us to that, aren't we putting a goal before His guidance?

David Rogers said...


You will notice I didn't say putting your "talents" and "calllings" to the most strategic and effective use possible towards "reaching" as many as possible. What I said was putting them to the most strategic and effective use possible towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, which is, as you have already reminded us, on your blog, making disciples, and which I believe is not just given to those with a particular calling, but to the Church as a whole.

An analogy I like is that we are all working together "building the wall" as it were in the spiritual Zion that is the Kingdom of God. Just like in Nehemiah ch. 3 each clan had a different part of the wall they were working on, each of us has a different role to carry out in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. What is important, just as in the parable of the talents, is to be good stewards (not slackers) with the talents God has given us, working on the part of the wall in which He has assigned us to work.

Hope that helps.

stepchild said...

I guess in my response I was thinking through the 1 Cor. verses you mentioned, more than your comment. Sorry if it sounded like I was putting you in the "reaching people" box.

I really like the idea of being good stewards of what God has given us- being the best we can. I believe we can be true to the Commission by doing just that.

Thanks. By the way, thanks for sharing your letters to the trustees on your blog.

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David said...

Umm...catching up to your blog a little after the fact, but I was kinda expecting to read some sort of disposition that has a postmodern flavor to it. What's postmodern about this post? I'm really asking, because I'm trying to better understand the whole "postmodern" thing.

stepchild said...

Thanks for your comment. There isn't anything particularly postmodern about this post. I'm not really sure what would make a post modern or postmodern. I called it "Poatmodern, Predestined" because I'm wondering if postmodern people, who tend to be very fatalistic, might be very comfortable with the biblical concept of predestination.

If you want to see a good example of a modern worldview vs. a postmodern one, check out the comments on my post on alcohol called "I'd Like to Make a Toast." There I get steamrolled by a reader who obviously knows more than I do about the issue. But the way he cites sources that support his idea makes it hard for me to continue in dialogue with him. He's wants to win the debate in order to convince me of his argument. I was looking for a discussion with someone who might understand my situation. To me, quoting the factual evidence as he does seems impersonal.

Hope this helps...

David said...


Thank you for your response! I guess I'm a little misguided in what postmodern is. I've just completed reading Brian McLaren's book, "A New Kind of Christian", and found it to be very intriguing. It seems to me that according to McLaren, those who choose to become postmodern must be more open to discussion, more willing to accept others' actions and thoughts, always with emphasis on pointing others to Christ. Maybe I'm off-base. I know he does elude to C.S. Lewis' thread that seems somewhat unitarian, but he doesn't focus on it too much. Like I said, I'm just trying to figure out if I can even be "postmodern" and a follower of Christ. I think it's possible, especially when I recognize how different Christ was vs. the "modern" culture during his time in human form.

As for being fatalistic, I just don't know what to think about that. I think that our feeble minds can only grasp so much of the reality that is God. When we say we believe in predestination, does that mean we cannot be fatalistic too? I'm not willing to say that those ideas are truly mutually exclusive according to God.