Christian Relaunch

Optimal Realignment (and Predestination)

The Bible teaches that when one self is realigned and another not, it is not because the first was worthier or wiser, but solely as a result of God's choice (his election), and that God has predestined certain selves to be saved.

Given the beliefs about God explained in earlier pages, to me it seems natural to assume that in love he has desired to restrict to a minimum the effects of humanity's defection, and that in wisdom he is doing so. I call this the Optimality Principle. Optimality includes, I suppose, the following factors.

How many individuals are eventually saved.

How soon each of them is saved.

How soon mankind reaches a suitable point for the future life to begin.

There may be other factors, but I have no theory about what they might be, or about how the above factors are weighed.

A self is realigned when God's spirit prevails on them. But some of these scenarios are incompatible with Optimal Salvation.

God's love for mankind is indiscriminate. It is his wisdom that guides his election towards this or that individual, and that election is made effective, not by a mysterious intervention in the electee's mind, but by bringing about circumstances in which the spirit can prevail on them.

I find it impossible to estimate how many selves have been realigned, as this would involve making an assessment of the attitudes of millions in parts of the world I know little about. But even on the most optimistic view it looks as if, hitherto, it has always been a minority of mankind. I expect God to increase this ratio as this age progresses, as I see no reason why he would be unwilling or unable. But I am cautious about such predictions, if only because I do not understand why numbers have been so small hitherto. "Those who would predict the future must first learn to predict the past", as Comte warned us.

"If we are to believe in God he must be absolute, and that means not changing his mind or adapting his plans to circumstances beyond his control."

The idea that God is absolute has prevailed for a long time, but is an alien intruder that was not originally part of Yahwism, as Charles Hartshorne's The Divine Relativity explains.

Stones are almost absolute. Their response to circumstances is largely (some would say entirely) predictable. We cannot enter into relationships of mutual response with them.

Animals are slightly relative. Their responses are somewhat predictable, but not creative.

Selves are more relative. Their responses are far from predictable, and they show some creativity.

God is utterly relative. "His mercies are new every morning". He is utterly, unceasingly, responsively creative. We can rely on him utterly because he gives us his word, not because he is predetermined.

I do not know whether Hartshorne believed in sin in the Yahwistic sense, but God's response to our defection is certainly the supreme example of his thesis. God neither planned nor foresaw our defection, but he responded creatively out of the unfathomable depths of his relativity.

Back to God's friends are those who trust him.