With the help Father Francisco Nahoi, Jeremy McNeil presented material on predestination in Rhigini Hall at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno Nevada. After the presentation, we discussed St. Paul and his encounter with Jesus on his trip to Damascus. Father Francisco related this is the lens to interpret St. Paul. This was compared to near-death experiences, traumatic experiences with ascending to a great light, being in the presence of God, then returning to earth a changed person. Father Francisco related, St. Paul reads Torah in light of his near-death experience.
Romans 8:28 relates, “Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Those he predestined he called; and those he called he justified; those he justified he also made important.”
Rabbi Gamaliel trained St. Paul, in the Aramaic language. St. Paul had in mind Jewish concepts. In Aramaic, “Justice,” and “Charity,” is the same word. To be “Justified,” can mean, “To be made Charitable.” People with near-death experiences become more charitable.
Deuteronomy 5 is The Ten Commandments. The people of Israel are on Mt. Horeb. There is the cloud of smoke, the roaring of the thunder, the lightning of the volcano, and the ground opening up to swallow Dothan and his followers. God commands, “It is not to your fathers that I give these commands, but to you, each of you, standing here this day…” Remember, “I am God your Almighty, who rescued your from the land of oppression.”
Here is the traumatic, near-death experience. Here is the command, “Remember what it was like to be oppressed and remember your rescue.” Our near-death experience moves us toward our final goal. Torah is life and peace from us and for all.
For Rabbi Gamaliel who trained St. Paul, Torah is the Formal Cause of the world. Through the Torah, God predestined us to look to him and his love as our final cause. The efficient causes of our salvation are Moses’ receiving of Torah, the tradition of Prophets, Writings, and epistles. Most important is Jesus Passion, resurrection, and the Gospels. Last, are our near-death experiences, which come through baptism, and Eucharist.
St. Paul was aware of the Jewish Creed, “Hear Israel, God is Almighty, God is One. Love God with all your hearts, with all of your animate being, and with all of your measure.” In the original Hebrew, the word for “Hearts” is plural, and the word for “Your,” is singular. We each have two hearts, two inclinations, one to do the noble, and one to do the rotten. This idea of two hearts is where St. Paul develops “Deviance in the flesh.” St. Augustine develops this idea into the idea of original sin. With original sin, we still strive for what we think is the “Arista,” but we are confused.
St. Augustine’s opponent was Pelagius who argued that man could choose the noble of his own free will. This is the exact opposite of St. Augustine, St. Paul, and The Hebrew Creed. These three teach that we need divine grace to show us the way. God instills into our hearts through the near-death experience of Eucharist and Baptism the grace to work out our salvation.
Romans 6:4-6 argues, “We were buried with him through baptism into death, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the importance of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. If we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall unite with him in the resurrection.”
God chooses the near-death experience, which shows us the way to salvation. We cannot find this on our own. It is through the near-death experience of Horeb and Jesus’ Passion that God predestines us to salvation. Our near-death experiences are the efficient cause of salvation. God chooses when and where we have those events. This is what St. Paul means by predestination.