Original version created summer, 1984.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on items to go directly to that text.
Since time immemorial men have asked the questions, "Am I free to choose
in life decisions, or is the path of life determined for me? Do I
have free will, or am I subject to unavoidable destinies of fate?
Does God control my life, or does he permit me to share in the decisions
that determine my eternal future?"
In this paper I shall show that we all are subject to the choices God made before he laid the foundations of the world. When he defined the goals of the universe he determined the environment in which we all must live and move and have our being. That environment sets limits of choice for all his created children, from the divine Sons on high, down through the angels, to the mortals of earth.
He also defined the path by which he would attain his goals. All finite choice must be coordinated to follow that path; otherwise
the universe would go beyond God's control. Thereby, he further conditioned the range of choices enjoyed by his created children.
As the source of all existence, of space and time, the Father cannot be inside space and he cannot be in time. If he is not in time he must be above time; hence he cannot be conditioned by time. Therefore he must know all time, and in knowing all time he must know how his created children will choose. There is predestination, both on individual and universe levels, but it is coordinated predestination, a magnificent and awesome ability to channel all choices into a master path of achievement to attain the goal of the ages.
Since concepts of predestination appear so nebulous and fearsome I felt discussion would be helpful. I sincerely hope the following will bring increased understanding.
|SPACE AND TIME|
Compare these human expressions with parallels in The Urantia
A Mighty Messenger discussed the conceptual problems we encounter in
our attempt to understand the events of time, pg 364.
Jesus, on his way to Rome, also made remarks about time and eternity,
Our temporal natures and daily experiences give rise to the sequential notion of time. Strictly from the viewpoint of earthly existence we perceive time as a linear flow of events. From earliest childhood, through youth, on into adulthood, and eventually old age and death we sense the beginning, span, and end of our lives. We see time as a continuous chain of living sequence. But as we grow in understanding and spiritual perception this notion increasingly broadens into wider ranges of time perception. Gradually it achieves views of God working across untold ages. Eventually it will grasp the range of eternity. Although now we feel the flow of time we will grow beyond that sense of linear sequence to a recognition that we are an intimate part of eternity-past and eternity-future. And then, as we progress still further, we will begin to see the "circular simultaneity" of the events of time. We will come to understand
that time is merely an appearance, an image, associated with material creation. We will come to recognize that, as sons and daughters of God, we are far more
than isolated material beings bound by unbreakable chains in a tyrannical river of time.
In my personal thoughts I eventually came to realize that time does not exist, that it is an appearance created by our consciousness in attempt to integrate the successive moments of our lives. Time does not exist, but sequentiality does. Time is a perception as we integrate sequence.
Time does not exist with God. If time does not exist the Creator cannot
be conditioned, or bound, by time. His actions are fixed by orderly sequentiality,
continuity in the flow of sequence. If he is to maintain order in sequentiality
he must act above and beyond the confines of sequence. He must act timelessly,
without the restrictions of time, in his universe. He is not bound by sequence.
From the concept of sequence, and the existence of Creators who are above, or beyond sequence, we can gain better understanding into their existence and their power to operate "timelessly."
Michael, our Creator, is above time, above sequence. He is "behind the scenes," so to speak. He has a more comprehensive view of creation; he knows all time, all sequence, and all the events of time, the chain of sequence.
We can easily forget the awesome powers of our Creator. If he
is above sequence, he knows all components of sequence, from the movement
of atomic nuclei, to the driving forces of biological evolution, to the
thoughts, emotions, and acts of all created children, in heaven and on
There are unimaginable numbers of descending Sons within each local universe. Our Creator is personally conscious of the emotions, the intents, and hence, the thoughts, of each of those Sons. If he is conscious of each of his descending Sons is he less conscious of his ascending sons?
We are wont to conceive of God as stretching across vast and unending reaches of eternal time. We think that God came from eternity past, that he created within time, and that he goes on to eternity future. But the concept is in error. Eternity is not infinite time. God is not within time; he is beyond time. All the transactions of Paradise and those beings who occupy Paradise also are beyond time. For them eternity is a ring of pure and endless light. Circular simultaneity conditions the linear sequence we human mortals call time. God did not create from within time, from the eternal past. He created, and when he created he brought forth not only space but also the arrangements of sequence, the flow of time.
These concepts have profound implications.
1. Are all things predetermined? Is the matrix of creation cast in concrete without the possibility of free will or the opportunity for choice among the lowly created creatures of time? Is creation a tyranny imposed by God?
2. How did God design space and time, to provide opportunity for choice? Can events unfold in alternate paths toward some objective fixed by God? Do these multiple, well-nigh infinite, paths provide the matrix that offers choice to so many freewill creatures?
3. Can the Gods reach down into time, at any point in time, and modify the course of events according to their desires? Were the advents of Caligastia, Adam, Melchizedek, and Jesus, the presentation of biblical revelations, and The Urantia Papers, just such acts of influence and intervention?
4. Can God inform men of the events of future "time?" Would he use such a tool to fashion decisions, and thus alter paths in the matrix of unfolding choices to achieve his goals? Is this the technique whereby he directs the course of universe affairs while still respecting the dignity of choice of his lowly universe children?
5. If he chooses human mortals for specific tasks does his "time" perspective mean he predestined them? How would he ask them to perform a task and still respect their freewill dignity? What does his foreknowledge mean in our choices?
Many other questions could be asked. Here I must limit my remarks; I cannot consider the many philosophical ramifications.
I know as an experience of life that I have opportunity for choice.
I consciously choose to do one thing and not another. I perceive
alternate paths and select among them. I set up life goals and work
for them. Although the vicissitudes of life may hamper my efforts
in one direction I can always find other paths toward those objectives.
This fact from experience suggests that God designed and built creation
in such manner that alternate routes are open to me, that I share in the
formation of my earthly life, that I can project it toward loftier goals
or toward more meanly ones, and that I can co-create the matrix of choice
upon which my life depends. I have a wide range of choice.
But I also observe that individuals exhibit definite proclivities and patterns of choice. Usually we assign these to expressions of personality.
Parenthood adds immeasurably to the experience content of mortal life. It affords opportunity to observe conduct patterns of younger individuals and to guide their choices into more constructive and sound channels while still respecting their dignity. I recall one daughter who, in her early teens, had an intense interest in horses. If we would go to the library I could predict her actions. Invariably she would select three or four books, not one or two, nor five or six, and always on horses. This pattern continued for three or four years until she grew out of that phase of life.
As we grow older our tastes, desires and choices find broader horizons. As we approach adulthood we become more "unpredictable" to elder associates. But still we all exhibit certain tendencies that determine our choices.
I have had other opportunities to observe conduct patterns with myself and among contemporaries. All of us are attracted to certain types of people, while other types may not appeal to us. This is a natural instinctive reaction of which we may not be aware. We also exhibit tastes in other daily affairs, such as home decoration, music, or art. Among married couples it is common for one mate to assume "control," to become a more dominant influence in the choices of daily affairs of the marriage. Most of us choose among life vocations, geographical location, and numbers of offspring. Many other behavior patterns are exhibited for daily and lifetime decisions.
Does this mean we operate from some mysterious and unknown predilection that does our choosing for us?
The Urantia Papers make remarks about these matters.
We should recognize that God created according to his personality and his desires; therefore all creation must exhibit his personal expressions. These creative powers have repercussion through all levels, down to the mortals of earth.
Many different factors condition our choosing. The planetary environment is an important one. We cannot choose which Roman senator we will elect; we do not live in ancient Rome. We cannot choose which planet to visit for a holiday; we do not have power of space travel. If I am a man I cannot choose to conceive and bear a child; that power is reserved for women. If I am a woman I generally cannot perform many physical tasks accomplished by men; I am physically weaker. If I am a black man married to a black woman I cannot choose to have white children; that choice is not open to me. There are many physical restrictions to the choices I make. These illustrations show how we are limited by our place in time and space. We must make choices according to the planetary and social environment into which we are born. If God directs the path of planetary and social evolution he predetermines our choices.
Early in my adulthood I may decide to enter college to prepare myself for a career in mathematics. But my high school advisors may recommend against such choice; they recognize that I do not have the basic ability to pursue such career. Or I may choose a career in social services; I love to work with people. Or I may desire to build a large corporate enterprise; I love the idea of using social resources to build large social
structures. My career choices are decided by personal tastes and desires, and those, in turn, are determined by my training as a child, by my genetic
endowment, and by the social environment in which I live.
An experience I personally encountered in my life is the manner in which I decided the range of choice for my children. Several times I relocated in employment. When I made those moves I preselected their boundaries of choice. The friends they made were determined by the people living in that community. Their future mates, their life careers, and the objectives of their dreams were all conditioned by that environment. This action on my part predestined their lives.
Even deeper are factors over which none of us have control. My parents did not ask me if they could conceive me as a child. I could not choose my parents, my race, or the social and economic environment in which I would be born. They were beyond my choice. Neither could my parents decide who I would be. No human parents existing today can predetermine the sex, physical appearance, or personality of the child. Those attributes are beyond their control.
Thus when God brings us into existence we become subject to the temporal environment in many ways. Our choices are predetermined according to the circumstances of that environment.
Upon reflection it becomes apparent we do not have absolute freedom of choice. We are conditioned by many different factors beyond our control, predetermined for us. The desire of so many modern individuals for the exercise of unbridled self will shows how very immature they are. They do not recognize how God has hedged them about with many constraints and inheritance factors. There is no greater self deception than to believe that one has absolute liberty of action.
From these elements we should recognize also that our actions show relative
levels of maturity. If older associates can recognize the decision
of younger persons how then could God, as infinite in perception as he
is in creative power, also know our decision range? If we respect
and constructively guide the decisions and behavior of younger associates
would God not work with us in even deeper respect for our dignity and growth
while still channeling our decisions according to his purpose?
The great beauty and wonder of creation is that God designed it to offer us the opportunity to choose. As part of his creative design he conceived a matrix of existence in which we are given the freedom to choose among various paths, in spite of the predetermination of so many factors.
This ability to choose then finds repercussion in alternate paths. These paths are exercised in morality, in respect we show for others, in our desires to help brothers and sisters and, for those of us with larger cosmic vision, even in dedication to a program God may have set before the foundation of the world.
The great thrill of personal existence is the ability to alter sequence, at our level of operation within the universe. We can make choices that will alter the flow of time. We can co-create with God. He gave us the ability to choose, to decide among alternate paths that find repercussion to the future of the world. Although he may have set boundaries to our existence we have great latitude in helping him fulfill his will, on this planet, and for the benefit of the universe. This is the glory of his creation, that he could make time-bound, sequence-limited, and immature material beings grow to the level where they could also consciously create, by conscious choosing, to accomplish his goals in unfolding planetary destiny.
Sequence was the method he used to offer freewill opportunity to conscious personality.
So it is with all of us. We go through phases of life, through
periods of growth from one level of maturity to another. How we choose
and the directions we take will depend on factors of which we are mostly
unconscious. Only later in life, as we have opportunity to reflect
from the perspectives of time and further experience, do we partially perceive
the causes and inheritance factors which led to that pattern of conduct.
How we grow, and not the circumstances of our lives, determines our future survival. I have met many different kinds of people, from all walks of life, from different races, different national origins, different religions, different political views. Over time I have come to recognize levels of maturity. Although I am not qualified to define maturity I can say that certain individuals exhibit conduct that I see as resulting from broader views of life and creative purpose. I know many Catholics who are subservient to the rigid hierarchy of the Church, unquestioning of the decisions of Priest or Pope. Yet I know other Catholics who, while following the doctrines of the Church as the foundation of their religious faith, recognize the transient nature of the earthly organization and see beyond the human limitations of the hierarchy. I know black people and red and yellow who, although following the religious practices of their ethnic cultures, exhibit spiritual perspectives far above their brethren. I know that God offers opportunity in each life for growth and development, from the aborigines of Australia to the Bushmen of Africa to the Shintos of Japan to the Hindus of India to the Moslems of Arabia to the Christians of Occidental culture.
This opportunity is not dependent upon origins, nor greatly upon the circumstances of life, but upon the reactions of the individual within any cultural context. Some grow; many do not. It is this growth, and not the mechanisms of expression, that determines our opportunity for future universe career.
God does not look upon earthly status as his criteria for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The president of a country may be versatile in the affairs of a nation but still be immature in his spiritual development. Promotion within a corporation is indicative more of training and conditioning in human relationships and social behavior than religious growth. Stardom in a field of entertainment expresses personality and talent, not depth of maturity. A great intellect is a property of the mind, not of the soul; it is useless if it thinks merely in terms of the secular and materialistic enchantments of this world.
These views reveal why the current social concentration on self, sex,
and material gratification is so debilitating. It short-circuits
spiritual growth and the attainment of more mature levels of living directed
toward eternal values and meanings.
Upon more serious reflection it becomes apparent why we must be limited
in our choices. With unlimited choice immaturity would bring unimaginable
trouble, woe, and destruction to our planet. This lack of maturity now
unfolds in the horrors threatening the entire world.
The transient nature of our earthly existence is designed to mature animal-origin beings, as we so assuredly are. We were not created that we might pursue purely selfish ends outside the context of divine purpose. The first great step toward spiritual growth is to set upon a course of action in which we are determined to follow the path laid out for us by God. We perceive a life goal that is fully in tune with his will for us.
I have had many opportunities to reflect on this very situation in my own life. Through the vicissitudes of family events in births, marriages, departure of children, illnesses and death there has been a goal held constant over many years. Through changes of employment, changes in geography, and changes in financial status, my dedication to God has always held firm. As the years passed I came to recognize that it is the firmness of my will to do God's will that is the criterion and not the success or failure of my efforts. I know that however he may direct my life, through unanticipated events and changes in direction, I will remain steadfast to that purpose. I am assured that the variations of time and the misdirection of efforts always end in increasing maturity of view and with enlarging awareness that there are alternate paths to the accomplishments of his purpose. I have come to know more and more that the brief succession of moments is fleeting and that all efforts contribute to the unfolding of his destiny intent, regardless how poorly we may prosecute them at the human level.
This firmness of direction for any person may be summed up in one question. How much do you love God? Do you love him enough to give everything you have to him? Would you sacrifice your present comforts in service to others? Would you be willing to give your life for him, as he gave his for you? To what level are you dedicated to his will? Do you desire to give to his cause but reserve your cares of family, your circle of friends, your home, your career?
The contemporary desire of human society to pursue mere material gratification is counter to the will of God; it displaces God's spiritual goals with the self-centered and selfish goals of the individual. All things work together for the glory of God; if the individual is dedicated to his personal gratifications he cannot be dedicated to God's will. Thus we can more readily understand why the current godless philosophy of human society is so devastating. It attempts to circumvent God's will with the transient, reckless and foolish objectives of a blind people who deny God. Headlong confrontation between the two must inevitably result. The greater the power used in that confrontation the more devastating will be the consequences, thus to rectify the wayward path of the world.
Our political leaders today have power at their command never before witnessed on our world. They can destroy the planet with the push of a button. This power should be reserved only for God. How does God ensure they will not destroy his creation? And if such questions exist for a planet what range of action exists for star systems and for the universe? As we advance to higher levels of attainment in our universe careers we have larger ranges of choice open to us. If we were not matured to them we could wreck ever greater havoc in those realms. From this view we can recognize why will that is contrary to God's will cannot succeed in the longer ranges of unfolding time and in eternity, nor survive in creation. Mortal will that is not coincident with God's will is transient on the face of time; it has no eternal value.
These thoughts lead us to consider why God would create environments in which to mature animal origin beings, creatures we most assuredly are. Consider that our actions have repercussions into unfathomable levels. For example, our choice to have children ripples into the future. Their mates, their children, their education, their employments all help build an infinite matrix of planetary evolution.
God today, always in extension of mercy to his created children, offers knowledge through revelation, and the ministry of fellow mortals, for the larger and broader choices of his destiny program. Those who grasp this opportunity give him the mechanism by which he carries forward his plans into the future of this earth. But if individuals do not perceive their role in this decision process, if they do not believe in revelation, if they are not in tune with God they will not make those decisions that will help in the execution of that program. They will be eliminated from the human race in the coming tribulations. God will remove the seed that acts contrary to, or impedes, the divine will. He will cleanse the earth of those elements which hamper the attainment of his goals. Such is the nature of planetary judgment.
We measure purpose by the span of a few short years: we want to buy
a new house; we look to increase corporate profits; we build defenses to
insure against threats from countries with different political ideologies
. God measures purpose from the vantage point of eternity. He framed
the world to create a context within which man could function. But
that context is not the criterion of judgment. The criterion is the growth
of eternal values within the individual, and for the planet.
Many individuals express a serious concern for knowledge of the Father's will in their lives. They are unsure what God wants them to do. This personal dilemma is best resolved by striving to increase in time consciousness. As our time horizons expand we become more sensitive to God's purpose in our lives, and thus we open the door to greater appreciation of his will for us.
With increasing broadness of vision I have come to know that time is
structured in a vast coordinated scheme, that God, as an infinite being,
would not create at random nor without ultimate goals. Those goals
find repercussion at all levels of reality, through all space, and in all time.
No moment is disconnected from another. All work together for the
greater glory of God. From the far reaches of the remote past to
the far reaches of the future there is a continuity in time, in sequence,
that brings all creation back to those goals, in spite of heavenly insurrections,
rebellions, mistaken objectives, or ordinary human stupidity. We
live in a matrix of time and space that is an intimate part of eternity
and of ultimate reality.
These insights do not come without struggle and the maturing processes of experience. They come as we grow and we cannot grow without conflict, effort, uncertainty, perplexities and intense challenge. How we respond to the circumstances of life will depend on our nature, our inner love for God, and our spiritual vision. There may be inherent factors of biology and mental endowment which determine the choices we make and the paths we select. But there is also the opportunity for growth. God fashioned us with potential to develop beyond our animal legacy, beyond the constraints of mere uncaring reaction to the material world. We can come to know the greater design of God and the manner in which we can contribute to that program.
God brings greater maturity by trial, by opportunity to resolve conflicts
and to reach solutions to difficult problems. Immature creatures
experience greater growth by the magnitude of the adversity.
God has a program of time, objectives in eternity; we call it destiny.
He knows how his created children will choose and he directs the course
of events according to those freewill choosings. He is the master
coordinator of all time, of eternity.
If God intervenes at crucial points in universe history, in planetary history, or in individual mortal history then it must mean that there is a predestiny, a plan prepared beforehand for the universe, for that planet, and for that individual. God knows us beforehand, and if, in the channels of our lives, we should stray from the divine path he may very well interpose a providential hand to bring us back to him. Paul experienced just such divine intervention on the road to Damascus. When he saw Jesus as the Creator in that blinding light, he suddenly came to firsthand knowledge of the reality of God. He was asked why he kicked against the goads. God had given him reminders but Paul was so intent on prosecuting the new sect he did not heed the signs he personally witnessed. As a man deeply serious about God how could Paul ignore the nobility and spirituality displayed by Stephen? Paul, as representative of the Sanhedrin, consented to his stoning? Later, it nagged at him. He knew Stephen was not some religious gadfly. The goads were there but Paul ignored them. Then God stepped in.
The prophets of old were keenly aware of their relationship with God
and their predestiny, as were Jesus' apostles.
We are all subjects of predestination, but it is not foreordained that
we must accept this destiny design. We are at full liberty to reject any
part or all of God's program. In speaking of the spirit fragment
from the Father who lives in all of us:
Men and women of previous ages did not have the blessing of divine revelation as we have with The Urantia Papers; they did not have such brilliant elucidation of predestiny and divine providence. God conditioned their choices in tighter constraints of ignorance. He widens our range of choice by such new knowledge. And if he provides other knowledge through other revelation he gives us additional range of choice. But in providing enlarged horizons he places greater responsibilities upon our shoulders; we have more for which to account when he asks that judgment question: "What did you do with what I gave you?"
Prophecy is merely the projection of knowledge of one segment of the
great cycle of eternity upon another segment. It is merely the revealing
unto men of sequence in another location of eternal existence. Here
and there, from time to time, certain men may have an outstanding working
relationship with their personal spirit from the Father. That spirit
may flash a picture of future time into their minds; they may prophesy.
They may inform their fellow creatures of divine intent. They are
true men of God. John the Baptist probably had such an experience.
Another technique employed in prophecy is for an angel or other divine being to project an image of a future event for the visual perception of a human being. This technique was used with the apostle John and led to his Apocalypse.
Still another technique is for divine beings to dictate the content of future events to human beings, leading them to write prophecies. Examples are the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Melchizedek collaborated with the many prophets and seers of Israel over the nineteen hundred years from Abraham to Jesus, pg 1024, thus providing us with much valuable information on the future, and on the decision matrix that affects our choices today.
Knowledge of the future is provided for real and useful purposes, contributing to the decisions of those beings who inhabit time, who are bound by sequence, and who may be fully dedicated to the will of the Father.
We should remember:
A veritable prediction is one that is true and genuine, accurate and
complete. The Thought Adjuster knows all that we are and all that
we ever will be. And if we make choices counter to his knowledge
he will bring us back to God by various refined techniques of adjustment
in both environment and thought. As the children of God we are predestined.
Our choices and our affirmation of will to do his will fixes on a full
intent to follow the plan of life he laid out for us, to thus ensure our
survival in eternity. The great circle of eternity cannot hold beings
who are less than fully dedicated to the will of the Father, to his predetermined
sequence. They cannot exist in eternity; they are transient and temporal.
How we choose will determine our contribution to the programs of eternity.
We have it within our power to make that greatest of all decisions.
Will you elect to become a contributory part of the experiential actualization of all reality? Will you accept God's personal judgments and planetary judgments? Will you search diligently to increase your understanding of imminent planetary events and your role in them? Will you then make choices to ensure the continuity of human life through severe planetary trauma? Will you be one of those to carry this world to future generations?
You may become part of the unfolding purpose of God on this planet or you may go to destruction in the coming tribulation. Such decision is yours.
Ernest P. Moyer