Saturday, July 23, 2016
NO TURN ON REDPosted Monday, June 4, 2012, at 11:42 AM
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of His heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart." (Genesis 6.5,6, KJV)
Turning west off Alabama Street onto National Avenue but the light is red. The sign, there now long enough to become "invisible", says to wait for green. There is no traffic coming from the east, with no cop to see (and who'd probably not bother an old man if he did see). Behind you a horn honks; and, you really are in a really, really big hurry.
For adherents to some world religions perhaps the question of what you do next turns entirely on what dogma demands, or fails to demand. For the proclaimed Christian, though, it depends on whether you value being that which you believe being a Christian is.
Evangelical Protestants generally follow a teaching called "Arminianism" based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560--1609). Very loosely this teaching begins with God creating the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and then giving to man something commonly referred to as "freewill."
Arminians, in general terms, hold that one makes a conscious and free determination to do good or to do evil -- good being the godly choice. Depending upon the urgency of the moment the Evangelical might make the turn, knowing God a good God and forgiveness possible; but forgiveness ought be sought.
Arminius arose in opposition to a body of teaching generally described as "Calvinism." John Calvin (1509-64), again very loosely, thought that some were born to be bad and some would be good guys no matter what.
To Calvin's "elect" the thought of turning against the sign might simply never occur, barring absolute emergency. They not of the elect, Calvin might say, would think it a stupid rule and obey the law or disobey as convenience occurred -- doing so without thought of sin.
Theological truth probably will not be known for certain until the debate ultimately ends. Absolute truth, one would suspect, will have evaded all great thinkers of human history.
To we of very simplistic theology it comes down to this: What does a good God want a good person do when the sign says, "NO TURN ON RED?" Not what label he wears or proclaims, but what does he do while the light is red?
This matters because whether or not most people most of the time do the right thing determines what kind of society, country, civilization we are. The difference is not that humans make mistakes and stupid choices. But, fearing the justice of neither God nor man, what do the vast majorities do when knowing the right -- and when immediate consequences are in fact inconsequential?
The higher question is this: Will a nation doing the good, the right, the higher-calling thing mean ultimate victory over evil? Will we win out without succumbing to the evil in which the evil engage? As with all such things, we really won't know until the light changes.
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