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Total Predestination

Isaiah's Doctrine of Predestination

God Sends Evil Why Calvinists are Anarchists.

Jesus' Defense of Violence

The Predestined Pencil


Baalism vs. Predestination: Random Chance vs. Personalism

Radical Calvinism

Angelic Synapses and the Trinity

The Human Mind as "Inanimate"

Demonic Delusion vs. Angelic Synapses

My Computer-Like Mind

Habits: God's Gifts

Victory: The Inevitable Triumph of the Faith

Postmillennialism: The World-wide Predestined Spread of the Gospel

Edenization of the Earth: Reversing the Stalinization of Life

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Matthew 5:17

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. {25} When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: {26} Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. {27} But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Luke 13:24-28

"Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."
Luke 16:29

And He said unto him, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
Luke 16:31

Then He said unto them, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:"
Luke 24:25



Why Christians Worship a Violent, Vengeful God

Our morning readings led us to read chapter 10 of Isaiah's prophecies, and to a good deal of discussion.
Here are some more thoughts on that discussion.

The book of Isaiah is filled with fascinating and inspiring prophecies. One prophecy has moved many in the Catholic Worker and the "Peace Movement" to direct action against deadly militarism:

Isaiah 2:1-5
The Word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
{2} And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
{3} And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
{4} And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
{5} O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

This is Isaiah's confident declaration of the coming Prince of Peace (9:6), born of a virgin (7:14), Whose reign will extend across the globe (chapter 11). Confidence is the key word here: "It SHALL come to pass!"

Plowshares into Swords

Yet there are many prophecies that come as unwelcome guests to some. Consider the readings from last Wednesday:

Isaiah 10:5-19
Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.
{6} I will send him against an ungodly nation,
And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge,
To seize the spoil, to take the prey,
And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
{7} Yet he does not mean so,
Nor does his heart think so;
But it is in his heart to destroy,
And cut off not a few nations.
{8} For he says, 'Are not my princes altogether kings?
{10} As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols,
Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
{11} As I have done to Samaria and her idols,
Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?'"
{12} Therefore it shall come to pass, when the LORD has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, "I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks."
{13} For he says:
"By the strength of my hand I have done it,
And by my wisdom, for I am prudent;
Also I have removed the boundaries of the people,
     And have robbed their treasuries;
     So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.
{14} My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people,
And as one gathers eggs that are left,
I have gathered all the earth;
And there was no one who flapped his wing,
Nor opened his mouth with even a chirp."
{15} Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!
{16} Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
Will send leanness among his fat ones;
And under his glory He will kindle a burning
Like the burning of a fire.
{17} So the Light of Israel will be for a fire,
And his Holy One for a flame;
It will burn and devour His thorns and his briers in one day.
{18} And it will consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field,
Both soul and body;
And they will be as when a sick man wastes away.
{19} Then the rest of the trees of his forest
Will be so few in number
That a child may write them.
In short, just as surely as God will send His Messiah, Isaiah says He will also send a violent, rapacious army to destroy those who oppose the Prince of Peace.

Before the righteous can be seated at the wedding feast, Jesus said, the wicked must be removed (Matthew 22:13). Or as the prophet Joel puts it, unless swords are beaten into plowshares, plowshares must be beaten into swords:

     In 722 B.C., the Assyrian Army concluded a systematic assault on Israel; property damage and loss of life was extensive. The living were made slaves.
     Assyria was known throughout the Mideast as a particularly fearsome and violent nation. Hoping to curry Assyria's favor, Israel had made diplomatic overtures to this violent State, hoping thereby to gain protection from Assyria's and Israel's mutual enemies, thus showing that a faithless failure to trust in God's protection is actually an idolatrous admiration of the violence of the nation you look to for "international aid," "détente," "league of nations," or whatever word is trendy to describe the idolatry.
     Israel was continually warned to repudiate militarism (e.g., Psalm 33:16-19), but they continued to lust after it. Assyria, Israel's lover, had no respect for Israel. God, Israel's husband, gives Israel her "space" so she can exercise her "free will" for a short time, to get to know her violent lover a little better (Ezekiel 16).

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. {11} Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. {12} Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. {13} Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. {14} Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. {15} The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. {16} The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. {17} So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. {18} And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim. {19} Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. {20} But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. {21} For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.
Joel 3:10-21

We love to quote Isaiah when he speaks of God becoming incarnate as the Prince of Peace and His people converting swords into plowshares. But we dismiss the prophets as fools, ignorant superstitious cave-men, or pathological "patriarchs" when they speak of God sending an army of violent rapists into a city wholly devoted to violence and covetousness.

Smorgasbord Christianity

Are we really Christians (followers of Christ) if we pick and choose what parts we like out of Christ and the prophets who foretold Him? Aren't we being our own god (Genesis 3:5)?

George Bush prays to a "Prince of Peace" when he sets out to kill 200,000 Iraqis. He says these murders (excuse me: this "bold foreign policy") will lead to the lion lying down with the lamb. He picks and chooses the parts of the Bible he likes (or thinks will help him in the polls). The United Nations (an assembly of Harvard-educated dictators from around the globe), which officially sanctioned Bush's international terrorism, has Isaiah's "plowshares" prophecy carved into their building in New York. How do plowshares activists differ from these rich, elitist terrorists when neither have totally submitted to the God of Isaiah? Isaiah might well say that both are simply making up their own religion.

If Isaiah was mistaken when he said it was God Who would be sending the Assyrian Army against Israel in 722 B.C., and if Christ was wrong when He said God would send the Roman Army against Israel in 70 A.D. (Matthew 22:7; Luke 21:20), then how can we believe Isaiah is right when he says the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, or that Christ is right when He says those who feed and clothe the poor (Matthew 25:31ff.) will experience eternal life? How do we KNOW George Bush isn't right?

  • Prophecy is a phenomenon which is an impossibility without predestination.
  • Worship is an activity which is impossible without surrendering entirely to God, including the surrendering of our "right" to judge the righteousness, truthfulness, and "intellectual respectability" of God's prophets.

Got to Part 2 of "Isaiah's Doctrine of Predestination."


Note: This essay was written several years ago while I was a member of the Catholic Worker. Each morning, as I explain elsewhere, we met together in the prayer room of our 12-bedroom house for Bible reading, reflection, singing, and prayer. This paper was designed to explore some of the questions that were raised when Isaiah 10 just happened to be the morning's reading. It is thus designed to appeal to a left-wing Catholic Worker, not to a supporter of wars in Iraq waged by the Bush-Clinton regime.


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