His "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" include Huck's reactions to well-intentioned religious instruction by the Widow Douglas — and "pretty ornery preaching."
"It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet."
("Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Chapter XVIII, Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens (1885))
If I thought predestination meant that God had decided ahead of time whether I was heading for Heaven or Hell, I might feel hopeless or self-righteous. Robert Burns' Holy Willie dramatizes what can happen when someone thinks he's Heaven-bound, no matter what. (January 4, 2012)
I'm a Catholic, so I believe that free will exists: and predestination. It's not as crazy a combination as it might seem.
Here's what got me started on the topic:
"5 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, 6 who are called according to his purpose.I'm called to love and serve God, just like everyone else. God willing, I'll be in that "great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue" — but I'm getting ahead of myself. (Revelation 7:9; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27, 788; "Lumen Gentium," Paul VI (November 21, 1964))
"7 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
"And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified."
I'm human, able to reason and decide what I do: or don't do. Ideally, my emotions would be in synch with my reason: but I don't have to 'feel good' about doing what's right. I'm supposed use my brain, not my glands, for decision-making. (Catechism, 1730-1738, 1762-1770)
In the end, I will be in Heaven, or Hell. I have free will, so the decision is mine: God does not drag anyone, kicking and screaming, into Heaven or Hell. (Catechism, 1021-1037)
In principle, I could decide that I would rather ignore God, and spend an eternity away from my Lord. That would be a daft decision: but free will makes it an option.
My hope and goal is to be where death, mourning, and pain, no longer exist: and that's another topic. (Revelation 21:4)
God knows every decision I make: throughout my life, no matter where I am.
"Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?"God is present in all times, and all places, to every creature. God knows what I will do because God is there: and not limited by time and space, as I am. For God, "all moments of time are present in their immediacy." (Catechism, 600)
I choose freely at every point in my life: and God knows what I choose.
In that sense, I am "predestined" to be in either Heaven or Hell: but the choice is mine.
Deciding what I do about my faith is important, too. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God isn't enough: not by itself.
"So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.Faith, believing in God, is fine: but useless if I don't act as if God matters. (Catechism, 1814-1816)
"Indeed someone might say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
"You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble."
And that's another topic.
More of my take on faith that makes sense:
- "Jesus: Love, Death, and All That"
(March 16, 2014)
- "Jesus, a Promise, and Decisions"
(August 1, 2012)
- " 'Love Thy Neighbor:' Putting Faith Into Practice"
(February 5, 2012)
- "Holy Willie Syndrome"
(January 4, 2012)
- "Being Saved, the Narrow Gate, and All That"
(October 26, 2011)