Strange, the things you remember...
For example, I remember Chris Dykhoff objecting to the sheer injustice that goats go to hell while sheep go to heaven.
Given that today's Gospel was the one from which this idea is taken, I'd been reflecting on this idea a lot today. Not so much the "goats are screwed, sheep are lucky" idea, more the "Chris seemed to have trouble with this" idea. And I don't know if he really had trouble with it or he just objected because it's potentially objectionable (Chris, you want to clear this up for us?), but he might have a point.
You can't really help it if you're born a goat. Or a sheep. The natural response is just that the parable means something else - that people are separated into two groups, the good/saved/blessed and the bad/damned/cursed. And it has nothing to do with what you were born as, you get to choose, by accepting God's Grace, which group you fall into.
But how true is that? Doesn't our birth really change who we are? Doesn't being born into a certain time, place, and family alter our possibility for accepting Grace? How many people are born into non-Christian families and become Christian? How many goats have a fair chance to become sheep?
I think there are probably lots of people who go the other way around, from Christian to non. But that seems easier to do. Or at least more of a distinct choice. Those people are more distinctly rejecting God, or at least we can think they are. But they're probably hindered by their birth too.
And even those who try hard to be sheep but fail. Sure, they might be making individual choices which fall far short of their "sheeply" call to live a life free of sin. But how much are those choices affected by things beyond their control?
I do want to say that I'm not a determinist. Heck, I'm anti-determinist. I think people can and do make choices. But those choices may be limited. It's hard for a goat to become a sheep.
And maybe Chris was right. Maybe there's something a bit unfair in the whole equation. Of course, fair in our eyes is certainly different than it is in Gods (i.e. Job, The Prodigal Son, etc.).
I'm not really sure how to tie this up. Anyone have thoughts? Some of you studying theology? Some of you who lean agnostic/atheistic? What are those takes on this question? How much room is there for a sheep to become a goat? For a goat to become a sheep? And how do we react to the realization that our birth affects the opportunities in front of us?
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