Paradox and predestination

Paradox is the reverse of what, properly perceived, would by synthesis. But the proper view always eludes us. Each of us contributes by his existence to the weaving of a wonderful tapestry but it cannot yet be comprised entirely within our range of vision. In the field of facts as of spirit, syntheses can only be sought. Quamdiu vivimus, necesse habemus semper quaerere. (“As long as we live, we deem it essential ever to seek.”) Paradox is the search or WAIT for synthesis. It is the provisional expression of a view which remains incomplete, but whose orientation is ever towards fulness.

-Henri de Lubac, Paradoxes of Faith, p.9

Some people ask me: Am I reformed? Perhaps they mean Reformed with a big ‘R’. Am I a Calvinist? Well, yes, sort of. I am because I believe in a model of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ that consistently maximizes His role and minimizes ours. But what is my view on election? My answer must ultimately be vague because of the reasons de Lubac gives above. Predestination and free will are a paradox. They are awaiting the eschaton to be resolved, or explained, or “synthesized”. Until then, we get to sit down, (and to some degree) shut up, and be patient.

This is why I am not fond of long confessions like the Westminster, whatever it’s merits or accuracy or logic. It tries to strap booster rockets on to our humble ship and blast it off into orbit, escaping the gravitational field of mystery. But I don’t think we can or were ever meant (destined?) to do such a thing. It’s no wonder there is plenty of frustration when the ship fails to reach escape velocity in many minds. No idea is so powerful as to effectively swallow up all others. Christ has promised to do that with death, but not yet. We must be patient and let things stand as they are now. We can let this (and many other things) remain partially unexplained. I pray that I always err on the side of magnifying Him disproportionately, if such a thing is possible.


Today is Epiphany. This picture, depicting the adoration of the Magi, is from an illuminated manuscript from the Netherlands, early 1500s.


“In 567 AD, at the Council of Tours, the church tried to reconcile a dispute between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. The West celebrated the feast of Christ’s birth on Christmas day, December 25th as it’s major holiday, and the East celebrated this day, January 6th as Epiphany, remembering the visit of the Wise Men and Jesus’ baptism. Since no agreement could be reached on a specific date, the decision was made to have all 12 days between December 25th and January 6th designated “holy days” or as it was later pronounced “holidays.” These became known as the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”