16 Comments

  1. Brian Rebar

    I’ve never really heard that about John. Where did you hear if it’s not church teaching?

    Also, I really like your point near the end. We are all given unique gifts of our own that give us advantages and give us a very specific role in the realization of the kingdom of God on earth. Just because we sin, doesn’t mean we can’t strive for perfection in our own rite.

    • Dave

      I think I heard it from a visiting priest at my church back in Anacortes. It’s kind of a tradition, but not one that’s officially backed by any church teachings. Perhaps its based on the passage stating the John would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even before birth.” IT would make sense that somebody constantly filled with the Holy Spirit would never sin.

  2. Brian Rebar

    Well put on the analogy. Haha! Leave it to you to include a deep fried tarantula in an analogy. And it worked perfectly. Seriously though, that helped it click in my mind in a whole new way. Thanks man! 🙂 I liked how you referenced Him being outside of space and time. I was quite sure how that was incorporated or how to articulate it at least.

    • Dave

      I believe I’ve heard talk of John being born without sin. A quick Google search, with little followup (It’s 10:30 on Christmas Eve), yields the following: There are some theories, but no dogmas, that John was sanctified in the womb. He had a sinless birth, but not a sinless conception. In other words, he was still touched by original sin, but was protected from committing actual sin during his life. This is all old speculation, and may be akin to splitting hairs, but it’s thought-provoking.

      I think it ties in nicely to Jerome’s Candy vs Tarantula analogy. If John was filled with the Holy Spirit from the time he was a baby, he could be preserved from sin throughout his life. Sin would certainly be an available choice to him, but with his eyes constantly set on the greatest goodness of God, sin would have no appeal next to it. And this tendency to live in God’s grace constantly would no doubt produce amazing fruits in a life.

      It kind of makes me wish I had the kind of gift the John was given. But the truth is that there is nothing preventing us from living as John did. Nothing that really matters, anyway. At every moment, we have the option of looking for the face of God, and once we see it, sin will look like a pretty crappy alternative. I think that’s probably the message I’ve been receiving the most this advent.

      Erin, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this blog! I’ve greatly enjoyed this series, and wouldn’t mind reading more in the future!

      • Hey thanks Dave!

        That’s really interesting about John. I’ve never heard that, but it makes a lot of sense. I’d love to do some research about it!

        Merry Christmas Eve!! 🙂

  3. Brian Rebar

    Oh also, I really loved these blog posts this Advent. It served as a great way to get me thinking about God and what He calls me to. Before we know it, we’re gonna be in Ordinary time afgain and that’s always the time where our faiths get tested. It’s the same as the week after an inspiring retreat. I also say I’m going to change but rarely ever make much of an effort. Your blog posts have covered so many different aspects of the faith and have given me a zeal for mission and love for the Church that I haven’t had in a long time. I don’t want that to just fizzle out again, I don’t want to be another lukewarm Christian. I want to live a radical and vibrant life, full of love for God and everyone around me. I want to exemplify all that it means to be a follower of Christ. These posts helped me remember that this Advent and have helped me want to start new and prepare for all of my encounters and experiences.

    I love you and I’m so proud of you for doing this. I told you at the beginning of this blog that even if no-one reads and it’s just you and I bantering back and forth, at least this will serve as a way for you and high to talk about the faith and grow together towards Christ and it definitely has and we’ll keep going with your future posts. And you’ve definitely gotten other people talking! I’ve heard from several people that they loved reading the posts and that you give such a great perspective. So it is growing!

    Keep posting dear, this blog is beautiful and it will touch many hearts and get people thinking about important things that need to be thought about. It’ll grow and it’ll decline and it’ll grow again. But I’ll always be your biggest support and promoter! Keep it up! It’s going great! 🙂

  4. Brian Rebar

    I bet it was hard for John, having your whole life path set out for you before you were even born. Everyone knew about it, everyone was expecting it of you. Your decisions were already made for you. All of this weight on your shoulders, the pressure. If didn’t do your job right, you would fail as this Prophet who was meant to further the salvation of souls. What big shoes to fill.

    The shocking thing is that what we are called to as everyday Christians isn’t that much different. Sure we aren’t labeled Prophets as much as John the Baptist was but to some degree we are. And our mission isn’t as public as his was but to some degree it is. And the responsibility may not be as great but again, to some degree it is. We are called to be witnesses to the Gospel. We have an expectation held over us whether we realize it or not both in the world and in Heaven.

    We have a very specific path to follow in our lives given by God, a mission. And the world knows it, because the world knows, we are held to a higher standard. We are expected to be better people. We are expected to exemplify the holy person. John knew this pressure just as much, if not more than we do. And he owned up to it all the more as well. John the Baptist is a great example of a regular guy called to an extraordinary mission who does an amazing job straight up to his very terrifying and martyr-like death.

    If we want a model that closely relates to who we are as humans, we should look to John the Baptist. He wasn’t Jesus, the Christ, he wasn’t Mary, the sinless Mother of God, he was a sinful human who was just trying to figure out the mission that God had given him.

    • For some reason, I am reminded of the conversation we had the other day about predestination. How does that work in John’s life? I suppose he could have chosen not to follow God’s will, but don’t you think prophesies sound a lot like fate? This is a perfect example of how thin the line is sometimes. What do you think?

      • Brian Rebar

        Ooooooh. So we’re opening up that can of worms again huh? Haha! Yeah!

        It definitely is a thin line like we talked about and I think prophesies are a good example. I think all prophesies are, are a realization of God’s will through prayer and meditation, but stronger and definitely more intense than our everyday prayerful revelations. But that being said, he could have definitely said no or picked a different path. But God knew He would say yes, which is why He picked Him. Haha! It’s quite confusing. So I’m entirely sure what the difference between Predestination in the Calvinist view and I guess what I would call Predetermination, being predetermined in the sense that God knew what we would say, do, and choose, and acted accordingly. The former has no free will which tends to seem like fate and the latter has free will but sometimes seems like it doesn’t because God knows what we’ll choose. It’s an interesting thing to talk about. Maybe someone else will chime in.

        Also, another thought. God knew John would choose the path of a Prophet preaching about Jesus but John was a human who sinned so I can assume that he was not aligned perfectly with the Divine will so he made mistakes and choices that weren’t what God wanted him to do and maybe ever mistakes in his preaching. Which makes his witness all the more powerful. I feel like God chose him for that reason as well, knowing that he would fail and wasn’t the perfect choice in that sense.

        • Good points. That’s kind of what I was thinking. A prophesy is kind of like when we can see what God sees–the future as it is created by individuals and the choices they make. Gah. This makes my head hurt. In the way that time travel stuff does. Does this mean that the future is set in stone, or that God simply sees it as it will ultimately turn out? Probably the latter, but it’s such a slight distinction.

          More food for thought: Did God choose Mary because he knew she would say yes? I don’t think it would be right to say that God chooses someone because he knows what their answer will be…because that would be kind of like God shaping events and bypassing our free will. It’s more like (if we look at things outside of time) Mary and John were going to say yes before God ever chose them. And God chose them before they were ever going to say yes…okay now my head reeaally hurts. lol

          • Brian Rebar

            Hahaha! Head hurting all around! I don’t know that knowing what we’ll say and choosing accordingly is really messing with our free will though. We would’ve said yes regardless so it’s not really messing with our free will, it’s just providing us an opportunity for our betterment that He knows we’ll be open to. He’s appealing to our own unique personalities and dispositions.

          • I guess more what I meant, is that by choosing people that he knows will say yes, he is directly manipulating the outcome of events. Not he doesn’t know people’s answers when he chooses them. I just don’t think it’s accurate to say he chooses someone because he knows their answer.

          • Jerome

            I think Brian pretty much nailed it with “…being predetermined in the sense that God knew what we would say, do, and choose, and acted accordingly. The former has no free will which tends to seem like fate and the latter has free will but sometimes seems like it doesn’t because God knows what we’ll choose.”

            But I suppose I can try to expand that a bit with an analogy. I think the difference between predestination or fate and prophesy with free will is the former is like a zip line with a shallow slope. On the line is a puppet dangling by a loop on its head. No matter what the puppet does, there is only one direction it can move: down the line to the end of the rope.

            In prophesy with free will it is like if I were to offer you a choice between a bar of chocolate or a deep-fried tarantula (I hear they have a gummy consistency when fried). I can tell you which you would choose before you choose it, because I know you (and I know you to be sane!). You would choose the chocolate. My knowing that or declaring it doesn’t affect your ability to choose.

            For God, who sees all things as now, and knows all things perfectly he simply knows with more certainty. In fact, since for God all time is now, the moment of declaring which you choose and the moment of seeing you choose it are simultaneous! God knows with absolute certainty which you will choose because he knows you perfectly.

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