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Question 403

I’ve always believed that our lives are mapped out before we are born basically that we are all given our “death date” or use by date in another way! Lol  What do you think on this  



Answer to Question 403


 Free will is and always was the teaching of the Orthodox Church. If we say that everything that happens to us is because it was written to happen we are in danger of falling into the beliefs of karma and predestination. If everything is predetermined by God then we have no need of free will. Someone who sins is not guilty because he was preordained to sin. Does God predetermine who will be saved and who will not be saved? Does he make one person to be a murderer and another to be a saint? 


If our fate is already written for us then why would Christ say: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2); and again: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”. (Luke 15:7)  Christ did not say: “Do not repent for I will not accept you,” while to others who were predestined: “But you, repent! because I knew you beforehand”? But he did say: “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Come, He says, all you who are burdened with many sins, to the One Who takes away the sin of the world; come all who thirst to the fountain which flows and never dies. 


We cannot believe in predestination and at the same time believe that man has free will. The fact that the Kingdom of God is "taken by force" presupposes personal effort. God respects our own efforts but he also has foreknowledge which is something different from predestination. God knows all things past present and future, he knows beforehand who will accept him and who will deny him, but he doesn’t predetermine or compel anyone to act one way or the other. 


Your idea of the “use by date” means that God predetermines who will live 1 year, five years, thirty years or a hundred. It also means that if a murderer goes on a killing spree, God has made him a murderer and told him which people to kill because their time is up. If a plane crashes it means that God made that plane to crash and kill hundreds of people because their time was up. If someone dies of an illness then did God send that illness to kill that person because his/her use by date came up?


There are many more examples I could use, but I think you can understand that there cannot be a use by date because life would have no meaning. Predestination, karma, or fate however we want to call it means that we have no free will and that we have been programmed to live and die a certain way and we have no choice to change our destination in life.