“Pavel, what did you mean by catalyst instead of cause?”

“In the same way that you want to affect a reaction in me, I am a catalyst for your intention instead of a cause. The question is, what is your first cause? You mentioned WHN, but the reason you got involved with him precedes him, as does your reactions to him. The combination of both your and his reactions caused a certain effect.”

“That all sounds very complicated.”

“The basic principle is simple, sorting out all the variables is where it gets complicated, too complicated, probably.”

“But that all seems like there are no good people and no bad people. Is there never one person who is responsible for bad things happening? What about when Christ says of Judas, ‘The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.’?”

“That is a good passage for showing both God’s sovereignty and personal responsibility. But just as one can blame Judas, he is shown to be more of a catalyst than a cause, since the Jews were determined on their own without him. And in this instance, the victim is Christ, who is perfect so no culpability can be placed on him. In other situations, another person also bears some responsibility, even if it is not always the victim. Did someone else place them in a vulnerable position? And after a certain point, people become more and more responsible for what happens to them. This is why how one dies tells much more about the person than how they were born.”

“I think intention differentiates people.”

“Most people think their intentions are good.”

“Even if someone wants to get rid of someone?”

“I bet they think that they are a victim of the other person, no matter what the situation.”

“Yes, they think the other person is ruining their life. But isn’t that very selfish? The good person is more interested in others having a good life than themselves. There are better motivated people.”

“But even the better motivated people have flaws that add to the dysfunction.”

“Yes, but I think the better motivated person shouldn’t take too much responsibility for what happened. That plays into the perpetrator’s hands by submitting to their emotional manipulation.”

“So you think things should be kept in proper perspective.”

“Yes. We can’t just blanketly apply equal culpability for things that happen. Some people tend to want to bear all the responsibility for every bad thing that happens and I think this is too big a burden, as well as assigning too much power to one person. And selfish people seem to want to take absolutely no blame whatsoever.”

“But even Christ says, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’”

“That is a curious statement. It seems to imply possession.”

“Yes, the determinist thinks it is God possessing them. Others can believe it is demons.”

“I think people bear responsibility for how possessed they are, which is why there are commands and admonishments. We have a choice.”

“That fits with Christ’s statement about Judas.”

“Through it all, I do think God can fulfill his higher purposes through selfish people. I don’t want to presume to know specifically what those are, however,” Elena said with a shy look at Pavel.

“I don’t doubt myself so much,” he said looking steadily at her.

“Must be nice,” she said getting up and patting his hand before stepping outside.