Science in Christian Perspective



Determinism and Christian Affirmation
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio

From: JASA 37 (June 1985): 72-78

This paper examines various ways in which deterministic theories of human behavior, society, culture, and social transformation, which emerged out of the effort to understand human phenomena scientifically, present reductionistic perspectives which tend to deny the role
of God in social behavior. While deterministic models such as those of Freud, Marx, and Durkheim tend to explicitly reject and claim to supercede theological models, it is argued that such theories can and should be used by Christians as necessary means Of distinguishing between the truly divine, and those phenomena conditioned by social, economic, and other forces. Used in this way, deterministic theories can affirm rather than deny genuine Scriptural teachings. Moreover, the ontological and other limitations of deterministic models are discussed in terms of how their false claims to ultimacy point the way toward and underscore the necessity and indispensability of the Cross, the Resurrection, and salvation through Christ.

The behavioral and social sciences postulate various kinds of deterministic theories that maintain that particular determining f actors-economic, sexual, psychological, social, cultural, biological-are the cause(s) of social behavior. The early social theorists were especially prone to setting forth deterministic models. Marx's economic determinism, Spencer's bio-organismic and evolutionary focus, Durkheim's social reductionism, and Freud's sexual reductionism are perhaps the most notable, and influential, of the deterministic models of human behavior. Although many later and contemporary social theorists have eschewed such blatant tendencies toward deterministic reductionism, most still adhere, implicitly or explicitly, to some factor or another as the "bottom line" by which everything can be explained.

The ontological conflict between a Christian worldview and a non-Christian epistemological foundation is in sharpest relief at this "bottom line" point. The Christian argues that God, and His will, are the ultimate bases of all being and hence, the First Cause not only of existence itself, but of everything in itincluding, of course, all forms of social behavior. The determinist, in sharp contrast, contends that his/her determining factor is the ultimate explanation of psychological, sociocultural, and political phenomena.

Christians generally have assumed that such deterministic theories as Freudianism, Marxism, Social Darwinism, and many others are antithetical to the Christian worldview, and generally reject the idea that they can have any value in fulfilling Christian values and goals.

Is this apparently irresolvable breech really irresolvable? Can the concept of God's Will as the ultimate causal factor of human phenomena be reconciled with present modern deterministic models and theories?

Marx's Economic Determinism

Perhaps the most significant deterministic theory in terms of its impact on world history is Marxian economic determinism. Marx's perspective is so well known that it should be unnecessary to describe it in great detail. In essence, he contends that the "true" determining element of all forms of social, cultural, and political phenomena is the relation of different groups of people to the prevalent means of production of food and goods in any society. In feudal societies, those who own the land or control it through force develop religious, cultural, and social forms and institutions aimed at the maintenance and expansion of control by the ruling classes. Likewise, since factories are the basic means of production in capitalist societies, sociocultural and political phenomena emerge which rationalize, legitimate, and sustain the control of the ruling bourgeoisie.

Typically, Marxists charge that patterns of inequality and unjust institutions and practices of various kinds are rationalized and legitimated by religions as reflections of God's will. The doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings is the most notable example of the use of God's will as a rationalizing mechanism; this doctrine is just one of countless ways in which God has been and continues to be used as an excuse for injustice and inhumanity.

Fatalism is defined as "the doctrine that all things and their occurrence is necessitated by the nature of things or by the fixed and inevitable decree of arbiters of destiny" (Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, p. 922). Many of those who oppose theological explanations of sociocultural or political phenomena presume that such explanations are inevitably fatalistic. Moreover, theological explanations are seen, especially by Marxists but also by many others, as supportive of unjust status quo patterns.

In the famous Eisenstein film of the revolt of sailors on the Russian naval ship Potemkin, for example, we witness sailors forced to eat maggoty meat and their protests arrogantly dismissed by their superiors. As they begin to violently revolt, a priest confronts them and passionately shouts, "Stop! You are revolting against God!" His meaning, of course, is that God had instituted the hierarchic order which relegated the sailors to a "lower" level of existence, and that it was God's will that they put up with their conditions, no matter how humiliating and unjust.

A similar example of the use of theological explanation to legitimate and rationalize injustice is a wealthy landowners' talk to peasants attempting to form a Peasants' League in a Latin American nation:

The land on which you live I inherited from my father. And you, what did you inherit? Nothing. Therefore I am not to blame for being rich nor are you to blame for being poor. Everything has been ordained by God. He knows what He is doing. If He gives land to me and not to you, to reject this is to rebel against God. Such a rebellion is a mortal sin. Let all men accept God's will so that they will not incur His wrath nor lose their souls. You have to accept poverty on earth in order to gain eternal life in heaven. The poor live in God's grace. The rich don't. In this way you are more fortunate than 1, since you are closer to heaven. Hear what I tell you and take my advice. Let him who has joined the League leave it. (Page, 1972:43).

Such use of God as legitimator of economic and social injustice has led many to reject all forms of religious explanation, and to replace it with deterministic explanations. The above speech would be analyzed by a Marxist, for example, as an illustration of the mystification of socioeconomic class-related processes of religious rationalization of class interests.

Marxian economic determinism thus relegates all sociocultural phenomena to epiphenomena in that they are regarded as not having any determinative, causal power of their own, but are mere reflections of the 11 real" economic factors that are the "true" foundation of sociocultural and political phenomena.

... we must begin by stating the first premise of all human existence, and therefore all of history ... life involves before

Charles P. Flynn is Associate Professor of Sociology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. In 1975 he co-founded the Association for Humanistic Sociology, and since 1981 has been on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Flynn received his B.A. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied with Ernest Becker, and his Ph.D. from Rutgers, under the direction of Peter L. Berger. He has a longstanding interest in applying Christ's teachings to society, and is currently preparing a book entitled Love Project: Human Transformation and the NearDeath Experience, to be published by Prentice-Hall in 1985.

everything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing and many other things. The first historical act is thus the production of means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself. And indeed this is a historical act, a fundamental condition of all history, which today, as thousands of years ago, must daily and hourly be fulfilled merely in order to sustain human lif e.... The first necessity therefore in any theory of history is to observe this fundamental fact in all its significance and importance (quoted in Kamenka, 1983;171).

Mircea Eliade, Ernst Benz, Norman Cohn, and many others have argued that the sense of history moving in an upward direction toward a culmination in a collective utopian fulfillment, a conception characteristically Western, stems from the millenarian dynamism of the Judeo-Christian heritage. In many respects, when God entered, so did history. Eliade in his masterful Cosmos and History points out how the Greek and earlier conceptions of time as cyclical, with religious ritual pointing toward an "eternal return" of the time of the Creation, contrasts with the unidirectionality of the Christian worldview. Benz emphasizes in Evolution and Christian Hope how such theologians as the 12th century Joachim of Fiore saw history as moving through a tripartite ladder from the Ages of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Cohn demonstrated how the cbiliastic movements of the Middle Ages and their Pursuit of the Millenium presaged the revolutionary totalitarian Nazi, Communist, and other secular political movements of the modern era.

The prophetic dimension of Marxist thought has been a prime example of such thinking. Structura rearrangement, especially the abolition of private property, was seen (and with varying degrees of explicitness is still regarded by contemporary Marxists) as the essence of historical, indeed human, fulfillment:

Communism is the positive abolition of private property, of human self-alienation, and thus the real appropriation of human nature through and for man. It is the definitive resolution of the antagonism between man and nature, and between man and man. It is the true solution of the conflict between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. It is the solution to the riddle of history and knows itself to be this solution. (quoted in Kamenka, 1983:149-150).

Ernest Becker (1975) discusses such illusions as immortality vehicles. Like money, fame, power, etc., commitments to ideologies based on historical determinism give meaning and purpose to life by allowing a person to be regarded as part of the flow of history. Since the Marxist vision sees a final resolution and culmination of the human experience in the overthrow of private property, tying oneself to such a cause also resolves the need to feel significant and important. All of these functions of commitment to a historically deterministic ideology are apparent in Gornick's account of what being Communist meant to some ofher relatives and friends, whose meetings around the kitchen table she frequently witnessed as a young girl:

When these people sat down at the kitchen table to talk, Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them, above all, History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that had world-making properties. The context lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity of the soul into which they had been born and gave them, for the first time in their lives, a sense of rights as well as of obligations. (It) endowed their lives with the vision of a communal world with moral meaning. It was this dream-this passion, this hook on the soul-that made of Communism the metaphoric experience that it was. (Gornick, 1977:7; 13; 17).

In numerous works, Reinhold Niebuhr long ago warned of the dangers of sacramentalizing a particular reality construct as capable of fulfilling Self and History by linking the two in a false immortality pattern. Yet, are we to disregard what I would term the analytic dimensions of Marxist determinism because of the negative consequences of its prophetic aspects?

Christians often overlook the fact that God can work even through those who deny Him, if only Christians are sufficiently aware that He works in such mysterious ways. Marx and Marxists do afford a valuable dimension of analysis for Christians seeking to distinguish God's will from socioeconomic factors. As countless historical and contemporary examples show, the label of "Christianity" has been used to legitimate and rationalize various kinds of economic and social oppression and exploitation. While recognizing that the ultimate vision of fulfillment and resolution of the problem of human existence through structural rearrangement is puerile and dangerously false because it ignores the fullness of the resolution that can only come, and has come, through Christ, analytic Marxist perspectives can continually bring us back to the "nitty-gritty" of human suffering caused by the sinful greed of others, and the need to recognize that such suffering can and should be nonviolently resisted and not merely fatalistically accepted as God's will. Moreover, while not accepting its ultimate ontological principles, Christians can make use of Marxist modes of analysis that emphasize that sin is not merely individual, but is institutionalized in structured socioeconomic patterns. In so doing, the Christian is in a better situation to carry out the Saviour's injunction not to judge others as individuals, since it is the institutionalized sin of unjust patterns of property ownership, exploitative relationships, etc., that must be condemned and changed.

Social Determinism

Another type of determinism common in modern society is that which reduces religion and belief to functions associated with social solidarity and cohesion. In his Elementary Forms of Religious Life,
Emile Durkheim sought to discover the essence of all religions by examining what he regarded as its most basic, primitive manifestations in the practices and rituals of Australian aborigine tribes.

Durkheim found that sacred objects, such as totems, represent the solidarity and cohesion of the tribes, and

Durkheim, by emphasizing the social character of many of the things Christians frequently believe to be of divine origin, can help us gain a truer understanding of what is truly God's will as opposed to that which is actually of human origin.

that religious feelings and experiences take place when individuals partake in unifying rituals that gave people
the illusion that they are in some higher realm of existence:

One can readily conceive how, when arrived at this state of exaltation, a man does not recognize himself any longer. Feeling himself dominated and carried away by some sort of an external power which makes him think and act differently than in normal times, he naturally has the impression of being himself no longer ... everything is just as though he really were transported into a special world, entirely different from the one
where he ordinarily lives.... How could such experiences as these ... fail to leave in him the conviction that there really exist two heterogeneous and mutually incomparable worlds? One is that where his daily life drags wearily along; but he cannot penetrate into the other without at once entering into relations
with extraordinary powers that excite him to the point of frenzy. The first is the profane world, the second, that of sacred things.

So it is in the midst of these effervescent social environments and out of this effervescence itself that the religious idea seems to be born ... the sacred principle is nothing more nor less than society transfigured and personified. (Durkheim,
1965 (1915):249-250;388)

This conceptualization of religion as collective con- through conflict against an outgroup which, in times of
conciousness has many implications for Christian belief war, must be struggled against and overcome if the
and thought. First, it is, like other forms of deter- collectivity and its moral force is to be maintained.
minism, a type of
reductionism. Bellah (1970:237-259) argues that Durkheim, like other determinists, engages in consequential reductionism. Since one consequence of religious belief and practice is, ideally, cohesion and solidarity between the members of a group who feel themselves "lifted up" into a higher realm of existence
through religious practices, then
all forms of religious belief and practice can be understood as stemming 
from these functions. 

If Christianity is "nothing but" another form of collective consciousness, what bases of belief are left?
First, Durkheim makes no essential distinction, as Christianity at its core does, between idolatry and faith.
The primitive-origins examples he uses are all based on idol-centered forms of religious expression, such as
totemism, the rejection of which is, of course, a major Biblical theme. "Thou shalt put no other Gods before
Me" is a continual emphasis of the Old Testament, which depicts the Jews continually falling back into idolatrous forms of religion and being punished for doing so. The revelry and frenzy associated with the
Jews' continual backsliding is very similar overall to what Durkheim, in his use of ethnographic accounts of
Australian aboriginal rituals, cites as the essence of all religion. This, of course, takes no account of the central Biblical theme of God's effort in history to push believers into a new form of worship superceding idolatry.

Secondly, Durkheim's depictions of the essence of religious phenomena pertain just as well, if not better,
to secular phenomena. Football games, political rallies, etc., all involve the same form of collective exaltation
and frenzy that has caused many to regard them as sacred: witness the sacramentalization of football by
many Americans, and the collective excitement of political events.

Third, and closely related to the above, Durkheim implicitly assumes that the collectivity is the highest
moral reference point. Though neither he nor his followers were in any sense totalitarian or even excessively nationalistic, his concept of religion as collective consciousness
implicitly legitimates the claim of a
nation-state, or some entity such as the Communist or Nazi Party, indeed any collectivity, as having complete
claim upon the moral conscience of the individuals. Put differently, Durkheim's concept of religion as "nothing
but" social cohesion leaves no support for claims of the supremacy of individual, divinely-guided conscience
against the demands of a group, nation-state, or any collectivity the individual may be subject to.

Moreover, and most significantly, the moral cohesion of the collectivity is most often defined and maintained through conflict with an outgroup which in times of war must be struggled against and overcome if the colectivity and it's moral force is to be maintained. Durkheim's concept of religion and morality as inhering solely in the collectivity and expressing social cohesion thus leads, by direct implication, to ingroup vs. outgroup struggle as the affirmation and mainte nance of morality and religion.

 These implications of Durkheim's social deteminism stem directly from his reduction of God to a symbol of social solidarity and cohesion, and his view of morality as having no higher reference point or source than the collectivity to which an individual happens to belong:

However complex the outward manifestations of the religious life may be, at bottom it is one and simple. In all its forms, its object is to raise man above himself and to make him lead a life superior to that which he would lead if he followed only his own individual whims.

If religion has given birth to all that is essential in society, it is because the idea of society is the soul of religion. Religious forces are only the individualized forms of collective forces. The sacred principle is nothing more nor less than society transfigured and personified. (Durkheim, 1965~1915):461; 466;472;388).

Does this mean that Durkheim's form of social determinism should be discarded entirely by Christians seeking to actualize God's will in their own and others' lives?

Like many Christians who have refused to even read, much less incorporate, Marx and Marxist thought into their perspectives, such rejection would be shortsighted. just like Marx can help us separate the manmade economic and related constructs from the truly divine, thus Durkheim can serve an indispensable function of allowing Christians a foundation for recognizing that what has often been, and is still, regarded as reflective of God's will is, in reality, social.

For example, many forms of religious practice involve forms of collective frenzy similar, in an overall sense, to the kinds of collective excitements of the Australian aborigines. Many people attend church to share these experiences with others. But in so doing, it is easy to regard such rituals and practices as ends in themselves, and to overlook the fact that faith is not some kind of exalted feeling that one can gain only in large gatherings, or synonymous with the "highs" associated with much religious practice. Rather, it is a commitment, a surrendering of oneself not to a collectivity but to the Ultimate Unity of God that far surpasses, and even, with its emphasis on the individual soul, overrides and undermines, the solidarity of the group.

Moreover, faith is most readily manifested not in special times of collective worship but in everyday, mundane interactions with others. Jesus' parables are deliberately mundane and "everyday" in order to emphasize that faith takes on reality most clearly at times other than those involving "rising above" mundane existence.

Durkheim thus provides an invaluable basis for Christians to avoid the sacramentalization of the social by seeing and acting upon the differences between social phenomena and God's will as revealed in the Scriptures. One of the most destructive consequences of the sacramentalization of the collectivity has been the tendency to regard the interests of particular nationstates and their leaders as synonymous with God's will. The hundreds of millions of people who have been sacrificed in this century alone, not to mention the

Christianity has often overemphasized the assurances, tranquility, and other  comfort-related" dimensions of faith and relatively neglected its challenging dimensions.

countless butchered in the past in the name of God, bear witness to the need for Christians to overcome this especially horrendous form of idolatry. Durkbeim, by emphasizing the social character of many of the things Christians frequently believe to be of divine origin, can help us gain a truer understanding of what is genuinely God's will as opposed to that which is actually of human origin.

Varieties of Psychic Determinism

One of the most influential theories of modern society has been Freud's explanation of religion as an extension of childhood anxieties and needs for security and assurance into adulthood. In The Future of An Illusion, Freud maintains that religion has its origin in children's fear of the unknown and their quest for a figure that can protect and nurture them. Hence, God the all-powerf ul and almighty is but an extrapolation of one's parents into idealized phantasy.

Freud's theory of religion is thus a type of reductionism which, in an ironic sense, postulates that humanity should take seriously Paul's admonition to the Corinthians to "put away childish things." Throughout the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline books, the challenges, dangers, and difficulties of living and promulgating the faith are emphasized. As Charles Glock in To Comfort and To Challenge points out, Christianity has often overemphasized the assurances, tranquillity, and other "comfort-related" dimensions of faith and relatively neglected its challenging dimensions. This is particularly true with regard to many media evangelists, who constantly sing and preach about "what God can do for you, " rather than emphasizing, as do the Scriptures, how God wants us to love Him and others as ourselves.

Thus, even Freud can serve a useful foundation for separating childish chaff from the wheat of faith, in that his theory reminds us how often we think of God and Christ as Santa Clauses who exist only to satisfy and fulfill our wishes and make us feel good. If God's teachings on earth are to be more fully actualized, one must be willing to give up such childishness and realize and accept that rather than always giving us a rose garden, we are also given our Gardens of Gethsemane with shadows of crosses looming on the horizon. Even more importantly, it can help us realize that the Christian mission is not merely to receive God's love as His children, but to give it to Him and to others.

A second major Freudian theme is the attribution of First Cause status to sexual motives. In Freud's view, sexuality is the root of human motivation, and is closely tied to the modes of psychological dependency on parental security, since children first develop their sexual feelings and needs from close ties to their parents and a need to work out conflicts with the same-sex parent over the child's unconscious desire to sexually possess the parent. Since such possession is impossible due to the child's relative helplessness, it resolves the conflict by gradually learning to identify with the parent of the same sex. Nonetheless, the basic survival needs that stemmed from the original "object cathexis" with the mother remain the root determinant of the child's behavior as it, ideally, progresses to the full 11 genital" stage of development and participates in propagating the species by creating progeny.

Finally, Freud's overarching determinism emphasizes the unconscious motives of human behavior, a view contrasting strongly to the Christian perspective. Willard Gaylin, a practicing psychiatrist who is skeptical of orthodox Freudianism, has presented a very significant exposition and critique of Freudian psychic determinism:

Freud postulated that we are mostly unaware of the determinants of our behavior, for much of behavior is determined not in the conscious but in the 'unconscious.' When one puts together the concept of unconscious determinants, the dynamic nature of determinants, and the developmental principle, what emerges is the profound doctrine of psychic determinism. If each piece of behavior is causally related to the past, if one does B because of an A that preceded it, (as well as A' and A' and A'. . .) and if one is going to explain B on the basis of A, then one is forced to say behavior is determined: You had to do what you did.

This concept of psychic determinism is directly contrary to the perception of Christianity with its central emphasis on the individual and his need to seek his own redemption. Christianity is rooted in a sense of responsibility and freedom.

Beyond the concept of determinism, Freud clearly announces the nature of these determinants as being predominately irrational. Those forces and counterforces that determine our emotions are primarily the passions, the instincts, the emotions, vested in the biological and animal nature of the human species (1983:155-156).

Is there any reason to believe that Freud's psychic determinism, as well as the other kinds of determinism we have examined, are any more valid, " scientifically" or otherwise, than the Christian view? Gaylin maintains that psychic determinism has achieved a high degree of predominance in our culture because it is couched in scientific, as well as medical, terms. Though he is discussing Freud and psychic determinism, the same points also pertain to the other determinists and deterministic theories we have examined here:

(Freud) told us a new story-a good story, a gospel that a twentieth century in the process of replacing its reverence for God with awe of science and technology was prepared to accept as gospel truth.

But it is not gospel truth, and it does not lead to certitude. The psychoanalytic view is in no way 'truer' than the Christian, or any other religious view of humankind. The power of the psychoanalytic model is that it took a philosophical vision of man and cast it within a medical model, so that we approach it Dot with the incredulity that we bring to new religions but with a credulity that we grant to 'scientific' discoveries (1983:158).

The Christian Utility of Deterministic Models

Where, then, does this leave the role of Christ and the Gospel? As we have seen, in one way or another the various deterministic theories of humankind we have examined here are based on the idea of the human being as organic and/or social creature, one whose survival biologically and socially is dependent on sources within and without him/herself. How does Christ, and the salvation He offers through the Cross and the Resurrection, afford answers to the dilemmas raised by deterministic theories?

First, as we have already seen, deterministic theories can provide invaluable, indispensable means for deciding what is really Christian and from God, as opposed to what is social, economic, political, and/or biological. Deterministic theories and worldviews, in other words, describe what are basically idols: things like social cohesion, status, economic success, freedom from classrelated exploitation, sexual fulfillment, etc., that we have, in the past as well as now, ultimatized-i.e., falsely believed capable of providing us with ultimate fulfillment. Christians as well as non-Christians have often not only sought out, but regarded as legitimate, aspects of God's desire and will for our lives individually and collectively. Deterministic perspectives, regarded correctly and put in their proper place, can help us recognize how we have often used God through prayer and faith as an instrument to attempt to attain such idolatrous ends.

But even more importantly, the obvious failure of the applications of these deterministic theories to make human life more fulfilling through "free" sex, competitive success, revolutions that lead to even more inequality and oppression, etc., can serve as a means for Christians to confidently assert not only the superiority, but the unique, irreplaceable power of Christ.

As we have seen, all of the above kinds of determinism can, at root, be seen as founded on faulty basic premises. Spencerian competitors, Marxist class struggles, Freudian sexualists, etc., all rely on a fundamental ontology that, in the final analysis, contradicts itself. Each in its own way claims to have the ultimate answer to human existence through the overcoming of some form of biological constraint. But each regards struggle-against repression, oppression, the weak, etc., as the necessary vehicle for its attainment. Each worldview, moreover, is inherently zero-sum in that fulfillment must be achieved through the defeat of someone or something that is perceived as the obstacle to total human fulfillment. The "least fit," the "bourgeoisie," the repressive elements of the self, the parents who provide false security and emerge into divine beings that provide illusionary relief from anxiety and fearall these must be done away with in order for fulfillment to be possible.

Yet, by the very terminal conditions they implicitly or explicitly depict as ultimate visions, deterministic theories cannot be universal, since they all postulate that fulfillment can be attained only at the expense of some category of others, or denial of some essential aspect of the self. Moreover, they all regard struggle of some sort-internal, class-related, against outgroups, etc., as the basis of human motivation and behavior, and yet mysteriously assume that what they regard as basic to human motivation will disappear when the struggle has resulted in a victory for the determining elements. In other words, deterministic worldviews deny their own premises by first postulating some form of struggle as the basis of human existence, and then assuming that such struggle will culminate in an end to all struggle if some ideologically-defined "final" victory is attained through overcoming of the repressive superego, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the classless society, the victory of the "fittest" over the less fit, defeat of an outgroup, etc.. But such culmination is by these very premises, impossible, since it woul~ contradict the essential struggle-based character of human "nature" that the theories begin with. Human nature is, in each deterministic theory in different ways, seen as leading to an end of struggle. But such an end would be contrary to the very struggle-based foundations of human existence that each perspective, in its own way, illogically postulates as its ontological starting-point. Hence, each sets forth with different degrees of explicitness the illusion that humanity can overcome its own bases of existence-some sort of struggle-by struggling.

Understanding this can enable Christians to confidently step forward and claim that far from being ar. illusion itself, Christianity has the only true solution t( the problems of human existence posed by the deterministic theories whose adherents claim to have "superceded" it. Christ's struggle on the Cross, and His Victory over the limits of organic existence and everything that is associated with it, is, in the terms of deterministic theories properly understood, the sole. indispensable, unique, and irreplaceable answer to the struggle-based deterministically-defined dilemmas of human existence. By dying on the Cross and being resurrected, and allowing us to participate in His victory, Christ has struggled for us and overcome all of the limitations of biological existence that prevent our true fulfillment in a way that does not demand the defeat or denial of the fulfillment of others.

Luther's basic insight that led to the Reformation was the recognition, shared by many others but which he alone articulated and promulgated, that what masqueraded as religious-the selling of indulgences-was actually motivated clearly by economic and political goals. In recognizing this, Luther was in effect acting out the role of a sociologist analyzing what Robert Merton (1949:51) terms the "latent functions" of social phenomena-the unstated, often unconscious motives and consequences of actions, behavior patterns, and institutions as opposed to their stated, "up-front" manifest functions. Such recognitions were made possible not only by Luther's and others' insights but by the material advances of the printing press which made such recognitions capable of being widely disseminated and shared. In the same way, deterministic theories can be used as vehicles of analysis by Christians to develop a purer Christianity less entangled with social, biological, economic, political, and other factors that we often take as the will of God, but which frequently eclipse and reverse His imperative of Love as evidenced most ultimately by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection.


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