Published On: Tue, May 9th, 2017

Predestination and eternal life

dekker_0Martin Luther  (1483-1546), an Augustinian monk of Erfurt, posted 95 statements of criticism of the Catholic Church on a Chapel door in Wittenberg., on 31 October 1517. Protestantism was born.

The trigger incident was the vulgar fundraising by a Dominican friar, Johann Tetzel, who sold absolutions to the public with the promise:

‘as the money into the money chest clinks, the soul out of purgatory and into heaven springs.’

Anyone, according to Tetzel,  could thus save the souls of his deceased beloved ones for eternity and only with a few coins.

Luther insisted that such practice, by the condoning Catholic hierarchy, was illegitimate.  The Pope who needed the money for the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, thus abused his authority. Luther had no choice but to repudiate the Pope's authority.

“Sola Fide, Sola scriptura, (Faith and Scripture alone),” and “Here I stand, I can do no other,”  embodied Luther's resounding testimonies in front of Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms, in 1520. These famous words became the battle cries of Protestantism, echoing over the battlefields for hundreds of years after that.

Predestination became the next bone of contention in overheated 16th-century theological battles. Note: “Predestination was not Luther’s idea. St. Augustine, Western Christianity’s single most influential theologian, taught a strong doctrine of predestination.”

Supposedly, People were predestined by God to be saved or not. Many went beyond that and stated that everything, every action, and movement, was predestined by God.  Thus Luther contended that there was no free will, which clashed with Erasmus’ opinion. Over time, Calvin became the protagonist of Predestination but had to come to the nasty conclusion that God was the creator of good and evil.

“If God predestines some people to heaven, “ Calvin argued,” He must therefore equally deliberately predestine the rest to hell.” Calvin could not believe God to be guilty of sin, but he considered it an unfathomable mystery that "God seems to simultaneously will sin and to also not will sin;" this is called the double predestination.

From Augustine to Luther, all theologians had been too squeamish to draw that conclusion. Other Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther and Zwingli, eventually held similar double predestination views.

Five hundred years later, it is hard to believe that for a hundred years, bloody battles were fought over these issues.  To imagine that some divine entity, living secretly, unheard and unseen in a different dimension, is concerned with each and ever individual on earth and that everything that a person does in his life, every twist of each muscle, is predestined and programmed by this Divine entity, is unimaginable.

To many it may even be delusional, still from St. Augustine to Calvin, they may all have been right all along, at least partially.

Lately, science determined that the human genome, the genetic code, is carried by 23 pairs of chromosomes, with 3,234.83 Mb per haploid genome, 6,469.66 Mb total (diploid).  Or in other words, living beings are entirely programmed with their software present in the nucleus of every living cell. Whatever living beings do is the result of genes, algorithms, chemical reactions, and hormones as enzymes to stimulate or speed up these reactions.  The amount of freedom of each is the coincidental environmental input, not his processing.  Degrees of freedom only exist by coincidence of environment. Everything a person performs is genetically coded.

And what is more, living beings can pass on these predestined and preprogrammed containers of algorithms eternally to next generations by reproduction. Voila, here is your Divine Predestination and Eternal life.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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