Neither Luther nor Calvin dropped the idea of necessary repentance and sin as conditions of God’s love, and in that sense, they had maintained much of what the Catholics had perpetuated, including the ” meme” I wrote of in another essay: the idea that we go to hell if we are evil. Actually, the Catholics had absorbed this from Etruscan mythology via the writings of Dante, but it proved to be a powerful tool for control of those who did not see eye to eye with the church.
Luther and Calvin maintained this meme, and as a result, Calvin found it necessary to assume that those who aren’t ‘elect” must therefore be predestined to go to hell. It was one or the other, and no middle ground, a very “digital” process of choice. On this part, Calvin had maintained Aristotle’s excluded middle. This provided three main forces to control society:
1.hell is the reward for “unrepentant”
2.We must accept God’s grace, because we cannot earn God’s forgiveness
3.We must work always harder to attain the blessing of “election” as a sign to others.
These three worked as much for the justification of wealth creation that had already developed in Italy and elsewhere.
In an earlier essay, however, we see that both Paul and Jesus’ reaction was not to establish any form of authority, but in response to the Pharisee rabbis, who had declared the idea that they were inheritors of an “oral law” that only they could properly interpret. Hillel had declared that the human mind can be subject to God, and Paul, along with Jesus(John 6:44) had declared that it could not. It is importa nt to note that in Jewish theology, there was no such thing as hell , in the terms professing Christians recognize it today. Neither paul nor jesus were emphasizing the idea of “damnation” for those who are not ‘elect”, but were mainly concerned with the idea that any human agency can represent God for others.
In an effort to challenge the Pharisees, of whom he had been a member, Paul directly challenged such ideas that en could organize knowledge in God’s name, and his teachings were backed by such scripture as Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts….”
The doctrine of predestination, taught by Paul in Romans 8:29-30, therefore, did not represent “damnation” for those not elect, but freedom from all human authority. He went to great pains to emphasize this in Romans 9:16-22. Since all human authorities do God’s will( Romans 9:17-20), all humankind are subject to God, not man. There is no remaining priesthood, but all partake in the law equally.
What Calvin did, as pointed out by Fromm, was to take the idea of predestination and re-establish a new priesthood, with himself and his followers as the true elect. Paul had eliminated all such possibility with Romans 8:29-30, and even Calvin could not, by even his own admission, demonstrate any special relation with God, he emphasized that such “revelation’ to him made him elect before God.
This had an interesting effect on all subsequent Christian religions that would follow. The “truth’ of any religious leader’s statements were not measured by actual logical processes of reason, but by the success he gained with converts. “God’s approval”, by human reasoning, must be on a religious leader, because his teachings were ‘saving’ so many. Doubt was eliminated because God showered his “spiritual blessings” on that man by the souls he saved.
No doctrine could more effectively serve to profit the superorganism and the genetic replicative algorithm. That we had no power to “judge’ them by any standard, since only God could know his elect, freed the superorganism to spread with fanatical efficiency, and in many cases, fatal efficiency.
Hoffer had pointed out, in The True Believer, that while the content of any movement or holy cause might be vastly different, each person in the holy causes or movements appeared to be dying for the same thing. That ‘thing” which Hoffer could not identify was the genetic replicative algorithm seeking to extend equilibrium. Proselytizing, as Hoffer further wrote, was merely an attempt to prove to others that our truth was indeed the one absolute truth. That truth, of course, was demonstrated by our success in adding more and more to the group, standardizing behavior and reproductive rituals, and contributing to stability of the genes.
However, as Toffler has shown in Future Shock , and Bloom shows in Global Brain, the tendency of all growth is toward diversity and adaptation at many different levels. This means, as Slater points out in EarthWalk, that cultures begin following their own “internal circuitry” to the exclusion of cultural differences. They can either “convert” or they can kill, which both Christian and Muslim religions did in their early stages, and are doing again. Our deepest hatreds and needs for justification have nothing to do with “God”, and everything to do with “us”.
Paul himself, in Romans 7, preceding the “predestination” chapter, had explored the inability of reason, of logic, of any human mechanism, to lead him to “righteousness” , but Western religion, in its various incarnations, has rejected this and followed purely the dictates of what Paul referred to as ‘flesh” of that “other law, warring in my body”.
“For I know that in me(that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me: but how to perform that which is good I find not“.(Romans 7:18)
In fact, the “flesh” does neither good nor evil, but simply operates according to its necessary algorithms.
As the RSV puts it, “I cannot understand my actions“. Religion, as we know it today, with its collective justification by proselytizing, is purely operating fro algorithms that Paul called “flesh”. Why do I know this is so? Because we cannot define, as I have shown from history and the examination of Luther and Calvin’s doctrines, by their own admission, there is no decision process by which we can demonstrate any closer relation to God than any other person.
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members”.(Romans 7:23)
It follows logically that if the brain/mind has no system of algorithms by which it can behave consistently with God’s expectations, it will tend to follow those organizing principles and algorithms that dictate survival, which is the genetic replicative algorithm. All survival strategies will follow in alignment, or equilibrium, with that strategy.
The brain, being the “hardware” by which the body operates, functions at a level of complexity which the mind cannot fathom. The mind, a parallel to “software’, cannot reach down and alter the “hardware’ since the software is dependent on the operation of the hardware for its functions. Therefore, it follows logically that all collective decisions will follow needs directed by hardware rather than software. This corresponds to Bloom’s statement in The Lucifer Principle, that Lucifer is an organizer, who employs “good” and ‘evil” to serve an integrative purpose.
This, however, would seem to serve the purpose of God , who in Isaiah 45:7, says:
“I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things”.
From the Jewish rabbinical perspective, this is not unusual, as Talmudist scholar Hyam Maccoby writes in The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity:
“The Pharisees…regarded Satan as merely one of God’s angels, who did not rebel against Him, but obeys his orders, whether as the Angel of Death, or as prosecutor of human beings in the divine court”.
Satan, from the biblical perspective, holds the job as prosecutor and angel of death, as we see reference in Hebrews 2:14. This job, obviously, would be done away if we follow the Calvinist doctrine that God has already decided who goes to hell. There would be no reason whatever for Satan to prosecute anyone, or waste his time tempting anyone, since he would merely be biding his time.
Paul’s perspective, therefore, was to teach a doctrine that actually set men free from other men, to keep any human power from organizing to control other men. Since no person can demonstrate any special relation to God, and since even world rulers are only doing God’s will, they do so only by His patience until we see a better way. This has profound effects on the concept of law, as it evolved from common law to the present day, as I will show later.