Digest of terms

destiny

the notion that for individuals and/or collective groups (family, peoples, nations, etc) there is a set path for their future. The direction of the path may be externally (God, gods, fate, social conditioning) or internally (genetic inheritance, psychological drives) determined. In the religious traditions, there is tension -critics would say contradiction - between affirmation of individual freedom and responsibility on the one hand and divine power and karmic routine on the other.

Overemphasis on the latter, however humbly intended, often in conjunction with an attempt to safeguard God's omnipotence, tends to weaken what can be expected of human initiative and effort. This can lead to a theology in which human actions, both good and bad, are determined or indeed predestined by God, who nevertheless deems those guilty ('guilty') of wrongdoing to be deserving of divine punishment, including the torments of hell. By contrast, undue emphasis on the former risks eliminating any direct God-ward/other-initiating dimension with the direction of an individual's life,. Fundamentally, however, being free to respond in thoughts, words and action is both a precondition and an opportunity, without which no-one would be able to show recognition that life comes to everyone as gift.

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