Prolegomenon* to Predestination (Romans 8:28ff)

What follows is a little mind-bending, stream-of-conciseness exercise that fits perfectly into the definition of a “prolegomenon.” (See below)

* Prolegomenon: A preliminary discussion, esp. of a detailed or controversial subject.  See “Prolegomenon to Any Future Visit of a Pope to America;” a concoction of notes by a New York ad executive found in John Bellairs’ “St Fidgeta and Other Parodies” (1966): “Paint the runway white and gold? Short Secret Service men in altar boy outfits with censers? Censers are smoke grenades in case of riot?”

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. {29} For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. {30} And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. {31} What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Rom 8:28-31, NRSV)

“All things work together?”  OK, this makes sense.  “For those who love God.”  Well; I think I’m still buying.  “Who are called…”  Wait a minute, this is getting complicated.  Aren’t those who love God those who are called?  Don’t those who are called love God?  Is Paul having a bad day?  “Those God foreknew…”  Isn’t this everyone?  Is there anyone / anything God didn’t foreknow?  After all, isn’t God God?  He “predestined…”  Oh hell, Paul; why did you have to go and write that?  Predestination:  Some are, some aren’t, right?  Isn’t that what we all were taught?  So… those who “aren’t” weren’t “foreknown?”  God didn’t “know before” (proginosko) everyone?  Now my head hurts.  This is really about that rock God made that He can’t pick up, isn’t it?  Those “foreknown” were “predestined.”  Those “predestined” were “justified;” those “justified” were “glorified.”  But weren’t ALL of them “foreknown?”  Now my head really hurts.  “What then are we to say… If God is for us, who is against us?”  Why didn’t he just go ahead and say that to begin with?  Why make something so simple so damnably complicated?  He had to know we’d fight about it!  Thanks a lot Paul; we really needed ALL of this!  Now my head REALLY hurts.

What to do?  Get out of my head for a while?  Think less, embrace more?  Choose?  CHOOSE!?   Are you serious??? CHOOSE???  Isn’t this whole “Scripture thing” a package deal?  How can we “rightly divide” (2nd Tim. 2:15)?  Can we pick and choose our Scripture?  Well… wait a minute; don’t we already do that?  (When was the last time you heard a sermon on Leviticus 14?)  Women, slavery, leadership, sexuality, pick your own “issue” here; why give predestination a pass?  But… Isn’t this a “low view” of Scripture?  Yes, well… so what?  This living in both heart and head can be a cast iron bear at times, no?  Choose to love God?  OK:  Predestined to do so?  If you want. One or the other?  Flip a coin?  God foreknew?  When the rubber meets the road doesn’t either way work?  Makes your head hurt?  Take a pill, think about it, and decide what works for you.  Paul could have been wrong?   So could John Calvin?  Heresy?  OK.  If God is still for us, what does it matter?  One way or another?  How many angels dancing on the top of this pin?  Maybe the wrong argument?  The other end is sharp; perhaps that’s the point?  So why argue?  Predestined to think about it one way?  OK that works.  Free to choose the other?  Go for it.  Sometimes 2 plus 2 might actually equal “a nice shade of blue.”  My head feels better now.