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Question 50

Father Christopher, To what extent are the results of our lives the result of our own choices or the Divine providence of God? I'm not referring to the topic of suffering which has been dealt by you. I'm referring to events in our daily lives. The scriptures state that no man should say, tomorrow we will go into such and such a town but only if the Lord wills. Furthermore, someone who is willingly a thief should not say that it is God's will since it is his choice. In scripture we read that Job was initially blessed by God and had great wealth. Also, Joseph in the land of Egypt was helped by God to obtain favour with the Pharaoh and he told his brother's that what they meant for him for bad was meant for good for him by God. In the context of our lives should we be accepted for a certain position at a company or move to another country, are our choices or rather the results of our lives solely due to our choices or is there a synergy of our will and God's will?    



Answer to Question 50


I think we should be very careful in what we ascribe to God’s providence. If we say that everything that happens to us is from God then 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? 


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. It is as you say a synergy, a cooperation of two wills – God’s and man’s. It is not one's own efforts that will lead to the goal, because without grace, efforts produce little; nor does grace without effort bring what is sought, because grace acts in us and for us through our efforts. Both combine in a person to bring progress and carry him to the goal. God's foreknowledge is unfathomable, but it does not infringe on man's freedom. God foresees how a man will freely act and makes dispositions accordingly. Divine determination depends on the life of a man, and not his life upon the determination.