Monday, April 26, 2010

It Is What It Is

If determinism is true, is there even such a thing as evil? By determinism I mean that as a consequence of God's sovereignty every jot and tittle of existence, animate and inanimate, seen and unseen has been willed by God to be as it is, as it unfolds. Freedom of action, choice or will would really be nothing more than an illusion under such an regimen, because all things would be determined by God to be and do as they are and do.

If everything is an expression of his will, then all is in his will and could be none other that what it is. The fatalistic expression, "it is what it is" would then actually be the profound explication of the most fundamental truth of existence rather than the lazy abandonment of someone who settles. If this is so, than any judgment loses it moral distinction, just in the way a pride of lions running off a mother wildebeest to separate her suckling so they can pounce and eat is not morally repugnant in the least. It is what it is, neither good nor evil. Evil only exists where choice exists.

Romans 9 is often seen as teaching determinism within the framework of Christianity. However, those verses merely demonstrate how God does in history what he needs to do with people in order to fulfill his purpose in in making those choices. Though that certainly is a deterministic thought, it is not speaking about determining an individual's eternal status with God by fiat or decree, nor of governing every thought and action of every human being alive.

It is speaking about the advent and effect of Jesus: the purpose in election was first, that Christ would come when he came, by whom he came and where he came; and second, that those who believe in Christ would be righteous. In fact, until the end of his discussion on the topic in Romans 11, Paul allows faith as the only operative issue in what determines righteousness or eternal status with God. Faith, as opposed to works, was the deciding factor.

God did do some picking in order to bring Christ into the world--so that Jesus could do what he did and that those who believed in him could be made righteous thereby. That is a far cry from jumping to the conclusion that God micromanages the expression of human choice and action and has determined by his choice alone who will have faith in Christ and who will not. Christianity cannot be made to service a philosophy which so blurs the distinction between what is good and evil, that it becomes meaningless: it is what it is.