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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Christian Hope

Lito over at Extra Nos invited me to take a look at his blog about what many Calvinists believe concerning (I assume) predestination and election. He was commenting on this bit from a Calvinist:

 So, to those of you who may be where I was at for so long--disillusioned, hurt, betrayed, bitter towards both men and God--I urge you to call upon the Lord and to not give up on Him. Though He may seem to tarry a long, long time, He will in time deliver you if you are indeed one of His sheep.

Lito's concern was about how the message of the Gospel, one of hope, can be compromised by the qualifier in the last sentence, if you are indeed one of His sheep. As Lito notes, one might get the notion that "you can only hope for deliverance if you satisfy the big IF."

No objections from me, nor from the Catholic Church. Our hope is neven in vain because we are truly predestined by God -- a loving God who is also our Father, Savior and Advocate -- therefore predestined to hope, not futility.

Which brings me to a thought I've had for a while now: there is a perilous (but apparently much unnoticed) deficiency of hope among many Christians. The very notion of a justification that is declared, not effected. A notion of righteousness that is worn as a vestment, not one that infuses the very heart of man. An implicit theology of humanity that refuses to put as much hope in redeemed humanity as God himself had done. A perception that humanity -- even redeemed and suffused with divine grace -- is entirely inimical to sanctity. To me, this is a betrayal of hope, an excess in humility that does not put enough hope -- and faith! -- in what the Incarnation was intended to do. God is saying "Children, I love you" to such an extent that He would give us His own son, the Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world. On the other hand, this lack of hope responds "no, you couldn't". Instead of humbling ourselves, this goes too far and debases God's handwork: the redemption of mankind. The result? The belief by many that our predestination is a "programming" that contradicts the notion of free will. Among other things.

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