The Feudal Nature of Existence

Steven asked me, “How do you manage to reconcile Predestination with free will and the idea that God is NOT the cause of evil?

Short answer: I don’t have to. Long answer:

Predestination affects your eternal destiny, not your life here on the earth. Human free will encompasses a whole range of human choice throughout life; it’s the freedom to decide a lot of things, not just that one eternal choice. Nor do I imagine predestination as something cold and hard, reduced to that one single question of eternal destiny, but it’s a question of where God has placed us in His realm. I find the typical debate about free will versus predestination full of false assumptions in itself. The question itself presumes to know things that cannot be known until after we depart the flesh. The whole thing is impossible to grasp from this side of eternity, so it’s a bogus preoccupation. The question stands on Aristotelian epistemology, and I find such an epistemology is presumptuous at best — it asks all the wrong questions.

A mystical epistemology of the heart presumes that all questions are relational, not logical; they are first moral, and only secondarily analytical. The concept of objective truth is a myth. It’s a question of knowing the Person who Created all things. Human reason and logic is a chimera, a thing that doesn’t really exist. It’s a part of the fallen nature, wholly unable to grasp reality in fullness. It’s the wrong approach to every question that really matters, and is good only for the mechanics of how we might implement moral decisions. And both West and East have moved quite a ways from the Ancient Hebrew way of reasoning. Hebrew thinking first and foremost presumes a feudal existence with God up at the top of the chain. Existence itself is personal and relational, so it leaves no room for the great debates of theology; they all arose after the churches lost contact with the Hebrew roots of faith.

I’m fully aware of those historical debates, and I use the terminology that arose from them, but I find that almost the whole range of debate is bogus. I don’t have to reconcile free will and predestination, because the terms themselves carry baggage I don’t own.

Just as a reminder: The curriculum for my religion degree from Oklahoma Baptist University (BA 1978) included the Early Church Fathers and what they wrote in debating each other on theological questions, and it included classes in philosophy from multiple cultures and civilizations along with our own. Finally, that curriculum included a very heavy dose of literature and history of the Western Civilization itself. Not to set myself up as some expert, but to indicate that I am at least familiar with all the questions involved in this stuff. In proper academic terms, I am acquainted with the mythology of our Western heritage as a body of academic pursuit.

We can do a lot better than Western mythology and heritage. Here’s a very abbreviated narrative to institute what I believe is a more biblical approach.

We are born slaves, the property of God our Creator. What makes us slaves is our instinct to believe we are free. God has saddled Himself with a whole world of slaves who reject His lordship by instinct. He alone truly understands how things got that way, and in our slavish nature we cannot comprehend it, so He settles on simply trying to explain how it is now. We weren’t supposed to be slaves, but His children. We have to bridge that gap, though with an awful lot of help from Him. And His help is abundantly generous, because it’s in accordance with His intimate knowledge of what it should take to move us back into our proper place as children of His household. We cannot even want that without His help. True liberty begins by recognizing His ownership and mastery.

It’s all very personal. Indeed, the fundamental nature of all Creation is that feudal relationship. The fundamental question in all things is not, “What is real?” It’s “What is right?” “Right” is whatever God wants for you. Our slavish imagination wants to treat the question as objective, but it never was. There is no “truth” outside of God’s Person. You either begin to know Him or you are trying to avoid Him. Of course, He can read the most intimate thoughts of your mind, so there’s no privacy and nothing you can start with outside of God. You only imagine an objective truth; you posit this thing as a means of childish assertion that you are “free.” So God tolerates us for a while in that state of rebellion.

Some people manage to come to terms with a part of this feudal reality, and they become valued servants. They actually do useful stuff in His household. They still haven’t claimed their full rights as family, but they are tolerable and can gain some of His divine privileges. Some people go all the way, and reclaim their divine heritage here on this earth. They realize that their whole existence, as perceived with their own faculties, is one big lie. While they no doubt struggle with their human perceptions always getting in the way, some part of them perceives that it’s one big lie, and they know they can’t do things based on those lies. It’s all made worse by a whole world that still wallows in those lies, so that it creates an atmosphere that makes the lies all but inescapable.

We who know that we are family are caught in a very tough place. It’s tough because we have to live as His children and manifest His claims and His character in a world that makes no room for it. We have to break a lot of the rules by which everyone else tries to live, not so much in specific acts, but in the very basic assumptions about reality. It’s so bad that most of His children are deeply confused about it. But He is patient and kind; it’s a living and on-going thing, not a static relationship with locks and barriers. It’s all a question of love and moral restraints built into our very existence. It’s vivid and organic, dynamic the whole way through until we die. There is no clear line of departure between “your will” and “God’s will.” There is only the interaction between two persons.

Stop worrying about Heaven! Stop worrying about your “eternal salvation”! It’s all the wrong questions. Worry about your personal individual response to His call to reclaim your divine heritage as His child. Seek to restore all that privilege in the here and now. You are hard-wired already to understand this stuff, but it requires fighting off the persistent arrogance of our cursed human nature. Don’t trust your own mind to answer any important questions up front; it’s all a matter of pleasing the Father. When you deeply and fully embrace His ownership, all of the moral implications will settle themselves out. Your brain is not so mighty as to resist the Flaming Sword at the gate back into Eden; it will humble itself when it’s skewered on that blade. But it will attempt to flee that blade at every opportunity, so let your heart be the real “you” and keep chasing down the brain with that sword.


About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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2 Responses to The Feudal Nature of Existence

  1. Iain says:

    Another bullseye!


  2. Benjamin says:

    Definitely gives me some food for thought. Thanks, Brother.


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