Does faith in the personal God of Scripture make sense if we acknowledge that we do not have free will? This blog presupposes that we don’t have free will, but argues that far from being a source of anxiety or even a death sentence for faith, our lack of free will may actually be the central point of Scripture and essential to our inherent human dignity.
said to his apostles:
"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
he set out from his palace to seek enlightenment, the Buddha abandoned his wife
and newborn son, having named his son the equivalent of “fetter.” Like Jesus, the Buddha would instruct his
disciples to set out to teach, carrying no possessions. And just as God required the Israelites to
collect only one day’s worth of manna (their “daily bread”), the Buddha would
instruct his disciples to beg for only the day’s food.
celibacy, and poverty appear to be normative across all wisdom traditions – at least
for disciples. In modernity, there are
two interesting trends in this regard:
it is almost universally assumed among people of faith that each of us is called
to most demanding form of discipleship. I am
not sure that’s true. This is not to say
wisdom traditions have nothing to teach us laity about how to achieve ‘eudaimonia’
or how to flourish. To the contrary. But it may be a mistake to assume we must all
leave our families to participate in a lifelong divine program of poverty and
celibacy. Note that while John the
Baptist was a committed ascetic, Jesus was the opposite.
even among those who assume such virtues as self-denial are meant to be the
pinnacle of spiritual devotion, we doubt that they have value. We tell ourselves God does not want us to
suffer deprivation. We reduce wisdom
seeking to being “a good person” and neglect self-denial and reflection, prayer
and liturgy. I don’t know if there has
been a degradation of ‘virtue’ in modernity, but it is empirically demonstrable
that we don’t talk about it nearly as much as we did before 1945. Wisdom-seeking
in the context of organized religion is in dramatic decline. Has it been
replaced by wisdom-seeking elsewhere? Or
has this fundamental human question simply been abandoned?