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 Post subject: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 2:12 pm 
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I decided to continue the discussion I was having with Being and PED to this forum. Just by way of qualifier, I don't move it here to make any argument against the Catholic view of salvation wrt works and eternal life. Rather, I thought it would be better here for two specific reasons:

1. As I don't agree with the Catholic position that heaven can be merited in any sense, anything I say in attempt to understand the doctrine can easily be understood as an argument against the position. So I can either spend half my time insisting that I'm just looking for clarification and not meaning to argue, or just accept the reality that some will take it that way and seek clarification here. If someone wants to take it as an argument, then fine. It doesn't change (I hope) the fact that I'm looking for some simple answers on Catholic doctrine.

2. Beng's original question, while very much related to my own, is distinct enough that the direction my question would take that thread would essentially derail it. That, I think, would be a disservice to everyone involved. So better, again, just to move it here.

---------------------------------

Okay, qualifiers out of the way:

Malleus Haereticorum wrote:
jac3510 wrote:
beng wrote:
jac3510 wrote:
It seems to me that if I have earned something, then what I am receiving is not a gift but a wage due. So if eternal life is merited by our good works (even if they first come from God), that seems to make it a wage. Yet Paul calls eternal life a gift. So how can a gift be earned; that is, how can a gift also be a wage?

Let's not put our apologetic hat and address Protestant objections.

Let's learn what the Catholic Church is teaching about meriting heaven.

I'm not asking for an apologetic. I'm asking a straightforward question. I teach courses on soteriology and comparative religion. These issues come up with my students. I'd like to be able to give them the Catholic answer. If I find the answer objectionable, I'm perfectly capable of taking it up in the apologetics forum. As for now, it seems that my question is perfectly appropriate for both this forum and this thread. Catholics clearly teach that heaven is merited. Paul calls eternal life a gift. It seems that gifts cannot be merited, and likewise what is merited is not a gift. So what is the Catholic teaching with regard to that?

1. We do not in any way merit to come to grace.
2. We do not in anyway merit to persevere
3. God promises (explicitly and blatantly) heaven as a reward in the Gospels.
4. Consequentially we must say that, while in the state of grace (and being put there is unmerited), we can merit heaven as a reward. Not on account of strict hustice, but on account of promise. God has promised something, hence it is owed in that way. He does not owe us salvation simply, just as He owes us neither the first or last grace. Hence that one persevere has no basis in merit. Hence eternal life remains gratuitious.

(1) seems obvious enough. I would ask how we come to grace, then, but I take it that is going to wade into the sovereignty/free will debate. You and I had one very brief exchange on the matter that you never replied to, so I don't think that's going to be a profitable avenue for us to explore. I'll just take it that, in some sense (that we may disagree on), our reception of grace is non-meritorious. Have I heard you correctly here?

(2) This is a rather standard debate. I've found Akin's remarks on the subject helpful, but they raise an important point that may help me understand your view here. He said:

    If one is talking about predestination to initial salvation, then the fact that a person will come to God does not of itself mean he will stay with God. If one is talking about predestination to final salvation, then a predestined person will stay with God, but this does not mean the predestined are the only ones who experience initial salvation. Some might genuinely come to God (because they were predestined to initial salvation) and then genuinely leave (because they were not predestined to final salvation).

So one may be predestined (which I assume is obviously not meritorious) for initial salvation but not final salvation. Therefore, the one predestined to the former may fall away, not being destined to the latter. But here is where I am unclear when you say that perseverance is non-meritorious: suppose one does persevere unto salvation. Is that because they were (obviously non-meritorious) predestined to final salvation? It seems they are, since, according to Akin, some have "the gift of final perseverance." But what of those who do not have that gift and yet persevere? In what sense is their perseverance non-meritorious?

In short, I am excluding for the sake of argument both those who fail to persevere to final salvation and those who persevere because they have received a special grace. Of the remaining who do persevere, what makes their perseverance non-meritorious?

(3) I looked up the word "reward" to find all its occurrences in the Gospels according to the DR (1899). I found 13 occurrences. I found references to having rewards in heaven, but I didn't see anything that "explicitly and blatantly" called heaven a reward. Now, I'm not disagreeing with you, but in order to understand the Catholic position, I need to know where you are getting this claim. Could you provide some citations? (In other words, I'm just asking the popular question here for documentation!)

(4) I appreciate your distinction between meriting by justice and meriting by promise. But I'm a little unclear on how it helps us here. Is it not true that God does nothing necessarily (except by supposition)? So we may know that those who sin merit condemnation (the wages of sin is death), but to say that is meritorious by justice whereas heaven is meritorious by promise seems a bit disingenuous, since in both cases, God "set the rules." In other words, I fail to see the difference in justice and promise in this case. God promised me that if I do this and that, I would merit heaven--which is now supposedly not a matter of justice but just of His promise. But on the other hand God tells me that if I do that or this, I merit condemnation--and this supposedly not by promise, but by justice. Yet what is the difference in the two? In the case of one (promise) God tells me how He will act, binding Himself (so to speak) only by His own promise to save; whereas in the case of the other (justice) God tells me how He will act, binding Himself (so to speak) only by His own decrees to punish wickedness. But the promise to save and the decrees to punish are the same for God. He declared Himself what would merit punishment and what would merit salvation. So why is one called promise and not the other? Can we not say that God promises those who are disobedient that He will punish them?

Thanks for the help with this. Again, beyond understanding the view myself, I'd like to be able to be sure my students adequately understand the Catholic view so that they don't distort it either in their own minds or in teaching or in discussion, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 9:33 pm 
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Jerome_2 wrote:
What about conditional election, God may choose you among the elect because he already knew before you were created that you would freely cooperate with his grace?

I didn't mention election, as I see a difference in predestination and election. Perhaps the Church makes them synonymous as Calvinists tend to?

Anyway, I can see how someone could hold that position. Whether the Church does or not, I wouldn't presume. But since you raise it, assuming so, the question I asked in that section was how those who persevere until the end and yet do not have this special gift of final perseverance (predestination to final rather than just initial salvation) do so non-meritoriously?

I can see how election and predestination (to either initial or final salvation) can be called non-meritorious. Things get murky for me, though, once you say that our perseverance is non-meritorious, and yet the works that constitute that perseverance are meritorious. I'm like . . . eh?


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:41 pm 
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I don't really think my issue is with the Molinist/Thomist debate. I've been there and done that, so to speak, on these very boards. Here's my problem.

I'm told that perseverance is non-meritorious. I'm also told that while some have a special gift of perseverance (which is non-meritorious), others do not have said special gift and persevere all the same. So excluding those who have the special gift of perseverance, we are therefore talking about those who persevere until the end "normally."

Now, with regard to this group, I am told that their perseverance is by the grace of God; but that grace is not merited. Yet I am also told that an increase in grace is merited to the degree that we cooperate with said grace. That's one apparent contradiction to me, for what is perseverance but cooperating continually with the grace of God? One says that the grace to persevere is non-meritorious; another says that we merit that grace. With that aside, consider the one who has finished the race and persevered until the end, though (again) without the special gift of perseverance. I am told that their perseverance is non-meritorious, but that the works that constituted that perseverance are meritorious. I can make some degree of sense out of that for those who have the gift of perseverance, for I suppose you could argue that the grace to persevere wasn't earned, and yet, having received it, the works I do by that unearned grace are meritorious works. But here I am told that not everyone has this special gift. So some get it, and some don't. I must presume on this basis that the ones who get it do so on the basis of merit (for if not, then it seems it would qualify as a special gift), which you seem to confirm when you say that we merit an increase in grace by our cooperation. So I am left with this second apparent contradiction, namely, that the grace to persevere is non-meritorious on the one hand, but that I merit it by cooperating with it on the other, and in all of that, that the works I do born out of that grace (merited or not, I don't know now) are meritorious, and that apart from a special gift (so, I assume, apart from a special gift, it is something I merited).

As I said before . . . eh?

And beyond all that, I still have my most basic question. How can a gift me earned? If a gift is earned, it is no gift. It is a wage due. If it is not earned, but given anyway, then it is a gift. So the two seem to me mutually exclusive. I do not contest the notion that one may take a gift and earn something with it. So in principle I concede that God could grant us a grace such that we could use it to earn something else. But when eternal life is called the gift, then I don't see how anyone can say that eternal life is merited. Merit seems excluded by the nature of a gift.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 4:21 am 
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jac3510 wrote:
PED wrote:
2. We do not in anyway merit to persevere


(2) This is a rather standard debate. I've found Akin's remarks on the subject helpful, but they raise an important point that may help me understand your view here. He said:

    If one is talking about predestination to initial salvation, then the fact that a person will come to God does not of itself mean he will stay with God. If one is talking about predestination to final salvation, then a predestined person will stay with God, but this does not mean the predestined are the only ones who experience initial salvation. Some might genuinely come to God (because they were predestined to initial salvation) and then genuinely leave (because they were not predestined to final salvation).

So one may be predestined (which I assume is obviously not meritorious) for initial salvation but not final salvation. Therefore, the one predestined to the former may fall away, not being destined to the latter. But here is where I am unclear when you say that perseverance is non-meritorious: suppose one does persevere unto salvation. Is that because they were (obviously non-meritorious) predestined to final salvation? It seems they are, since, according to Akin, some have "the gift of final perseverance." But what of those who do not have that gift and yet persevere? In what sense is their perseverance non-meritorious?

In short, I am excluding for the sake of argument both those who fail to persevere to final salvation and those who persevere because they have received a special grace. Of the remaining who do persevere, what makes their perseverance non-meritorious?


As to the first question, yes.

As to the second question, there's no such person. Only those with the gift would persevere. Those without it would not. That is why we are taught to ask for that special gift relentlessly.

Quote:
(3) I looked up the word "reward" to find all its occurrences in the Gospels according to the DR (1899). I found 13 occurrences. I found references to having rewards in heaven, but I didn't see anything that "explicitly and blatantly" called heaven a reward. Now, I'm not disagreeing with you, but in order to understand the Catholic position, I need to know where you are getting this claim. Could you provide some citations? (In other words, I'm just asking the popular question here for documentation!)


Mat 25:34-35


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 4:36 am 
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jac3510 wrote:
PED wrote:
4. Consequentially we must say that, while in the state of grace (and being put there is unmerited), we can merit heaven as a reward. Not on account of strict hustice, but on account of promise. God has promised something, hence it is owed in that way. He does not owe us salvation simply, just as He owes us neither the first or last grace. Hence that one persevere has no basis in merit. Hence eternal life remains gratuitious.


(4) I appreciate your distinction between meriting by justice and meriting by promise. But I'm a little unclear on how it helps us here. Is it not true that God does nothing necessarily (except by supposition)? So we may know that those who sin merit condemnation (the wages of sin is death), but to say that is meritorious by justice whereas heaven is meritorious by promise seems a bit disingenuous, since in both cases, God "set the rules." In other words, I fail to see the difference in justice and promise in this case. God promised me that if I do this and that, I would merit heaven--which is now supposedly not a matter of justice but just of His promise. But on the other hand God tells me that if I do that or this, I merit condemnation--and this supposedly not by promise, but by justice. Yet what is the difference in the two? In the case of one (promise) God tells me how He will act, binding Himself (so to speak) only by His own promise to save; whereas in the case of the other (justice) God tells me how He will act, binding Himself (so to speak) only by His own decrees to punish wickedness. But the promise to save and the decrees to punish are the same for God. He declared Himself what would merit punishment and what would merit salvation. So why is one called promise and not the other? Can we not say that God promises those who are disobedient that He will punish them?


Hell is justice. Thus people deserve hell because it's what is truly due to them. But people don't deserve heaven. That's why we don't say that we merit hell or that God promises hell because of that merit.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 1:23 pm 
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I am not fond of the CE's phrasing there, which depicts the two as co-equals in the act.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 7:17 pm 
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beng wrote:
As to the first question, yes.

As to the second question, there's no such person. Only those with the gift would persevere. Those without it would not. That is why we are taught to ask for that special gift relentlessly.

Then the problem has been complicated.

1. All of those who persevere until the end do so on the basis of receiving the special gift of final perseverance; that gift is non-meritorious. But in order to receive that grace, we have to cooperate with God's will, thereby meriting an increase of grace. How can you say on one hand the special gift isn't merited and on the other it is?

2. It seems to me that you have the same general problem here that Calvinists do with the lapsarian debate and double predestination. For God to grant some this special gift and to pass over others is to effectively predestine them to Hell. Only you complicate it, where now God predestines some to lose the grace they were predestined to receive for a short time. That idea just sounds absurd to my ears. (That's not an argument. It's just an honest statement of incredulity)

Quote:
Mat 25:34-35

You mean this?
    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
Heaven is called a reward here . . . much less "explicitly" as PED claimed.

Quote:
Hell is justice. Thus people deserve hell because it's what is truly due to them. But people don't deserve heaven. That's why we don't say that we merit hell or that God promises hell because of that merit.

But a person only "deserves" Hell because God has so arranged the nature of things to be so. You could just as well say that God promised that people who act certain ways would end up in Hell. So I still fail to see the difference. Appealing to the nature of things themselves only helps if you ignore the fact that God created those natures and could have created them differently had He so chosen. Unless, of course, you are going to argue that God necessarily made the world this way rather than that, but that would create other serious problems elsewhere. Put simply, we all (ought to) acknowledge that God, being perfectly free, could have done other than what He did.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 12:59 am 
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Jerome_2 wrote:
beng wrote:
As to the first question, yes.


Catholic Encyclopedia wrote:
Canon 22 (Si quis dixerit justificatum vel sine speciali auxilio Dei in accepta justitia perseverare posse, vel cum eo non posse, anathema sit), by teaching that the justified cannot persevere without a special help of God, but with it can persevere, not only condemns both the naturalism of the Semipelagians and the false supernaturalism of the Reformers but also clearly implies that the power of perseverance is neither in the human will alone nor in God's grace solely, but in the combination of both, i.e., Divine grace aiding human will, and human will co-operating with Divine grace.


Source


Umm, merit is not about human will cooperating.

So that citation in no way refutes what I've written. That is, you can't merit the grace of final perseverance ("The extreme preciousness of that supernatural gift places it alike beyond our certain knowledge and meriting power" - Catholic Encyclopedia: Final Perseverance


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 1:22 am 
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jac3510 wrote:
beng wrote:
As to the first question, yes.

As to the second question, there's no such person. Only those with the gift would persevere. Those without it would not. That is why we are taught to ask for that special gift relentlessly.

Then the problem has been complicated.

1. All of those who persevere until the end do so on the basis of receiving the special gift of final perseverance; that gift is non-meritorious. But in order to receive that grace, we have to cooperate with God's will, thereby meriting an increase of grace. How can you say on one hand the special gift isn't merited and on the other it is?


That's jerome_2's understanding.

See my reply to him.

Quote:
2. It seems to me that you have the same general problem here that Calvinists do with the lapsarian debate and double predestination. For God to grant some this special gift and to pass over others is to effectively predestine them to Hell. Only you complicate it, where now God predestines some to lose the grace they were predestined to receive for a short time. That idea just sounds absurd to my ears. (That's not an argument. It's just an honest statement of incredulity)


The grace of final perseverance is secured (you can't lost it), but the grace of justification is not.

Quote:
beng wrote:
Mat 25:34-35

You mean this?
    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
Heaven is called a reward here . . . much less "explicitly" as PED claimed.


Yes. You were looking for verses where heaven is given as a reward. That is one of the verse.

Quote:
Quote:
Hell is justice. Thus people deserve hell because it's what is truly due to them. But people don't deserve heaven. That's why we don't say that we merit hell or that God promises hell because of that merit.

But a person only "deserves" Hell because God has so arranged the nature of things to be so. You could just as well say that God promised that people who act certain ways would end up in Hell. So I still fail to see the difference. Appealing to the nature of things themselves only helps if you ignore the fact that God created those natures and could have created them differently had He so chosen. Unless, of course, you are going to argue that God necessarily made the world this way rather than that, but that would create other serious problems elsewhere. Put simply, we all (ought to) acknowledge that God, being perfectly free, could have done other than what He did.


What does it mean by "God has so arranged the nature of things to be so?"

Be at is may, in our current state (fallen) we deserve hell.


Now, I'm 99% certain that it's a doctrine of the faith that if Adam did not sin, we would still end up in hell after we die (in natural state man would die, immortality is a gift). That is, the part of hell with natural happiness (no punishment of the senses, but only punishment of damnation [ie. away from the Creator]). Unbaptized children who die before committing actual sins go there.

Heaven is never the place for naturally perfect person (ie. human) or the place for preternaturally perfect person (ie. angels). Heaven is supernatural, beyond any created nature. No created nature deserves this. But hell they do [deserves it].


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 5:01 pm 
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beng wrote:
That's jerome_2's understanding.

Well there seems to be some general disagreement between you, Jerome, and Obi on this whole issue. How am I supposed to understand proper Catholic doctrine if you Catholics can't even figure it out? But that goes to my general argument against the necessity of interpretation at some level regardless and therefore the final uselessness of a magesterium . . . that's an old argument I've made more than once here. I'll just defer to you all's conversation. If you can come to some consensus, I'll be sure to note it. Otherwise, when this issue comes up, I'll have to tell people that I've met practicing Catholics of several different opinions, all of whom think their position is that of the Church's. *shrug*

Quote:
The grace of final perseverance is secured (you can't lost it), but the grace of justification is not.

Of course it's secure. But on that ground, the grace of initial justification is secure as well. Everyone predestined to initial justification will be initially justified; and everyone predestined to initial justification and not predestined to final justification will not be finally justified. So both positions are equally secure. And likewise, everyone not predestined to initial justification (and by extension final justification) will wind up in Hell. That's a secured position as well.

As I said, I'm not mounting an argument here. I'm just incredibly incredulous! I always thought Calvinism's double-predestination was terribly wrong, and while a logically necessary conclusion of the system's other positions, I see that as just a reductio against the system itself. Here, we seem to have a triple-predestination: those predestined to be saved; those predestined to lose their salvation; and those predestined to never be saved at all.

Quote:
Yes. You were looking for verses where heaven is given as a reward. That is one of the verse.

But that verse never calls heaven a reward. :scratch:

Quote:
What does it mean by "God has so arranged the nature of things to be so?"

It means that God could have arranged the world such that other things would have caused us to deserve Hell (or, for that matter, nothing could have made us deserving of Hell). God wasn't bound to having to make this decree rather than that.

Quote:
Be at is may, in our current state (fallen) we deserve hell.

Absolutely. But, again, that's just by God's decree. He could have decreed otherwise. I'm just saying that I don't see a difference in God saying, "If you do a, b, and c, then I promise you heaven; but if you do x, y, and z then I will condemn you to Hell." 'Condemn' in the second sentence could be replaced just as easily with 'promise' and the meaning would stay the same.

Quote:
Now, I'm 99% certain that it's a doctrine of the faith that if Adam did not sin, we would still end up in hell after we die (in natural state man would die, immortality is a gift). That is, the part of hell with natural happiness (no punishment of the senses, but only punishment of damnation [ie. away from the Creator]). Unbaptized children who die before committing actual sins go there.

Wait, what? I'm obviously very ignorant of Catholic doctrine, but you really believed that unbaptized children go to Hell?!? Really? Can you give me some documentation for that?

Quote:
Heaven is never the place for naturally perfect person (ie. human) or the place for preternaturally perfect person (ie. angels). Heaven is supernatural, beyond any created nature. No created nature deserves this. But hell they do [deserves it].

I'm not even sure that means very much. Could you clarify? What do you mean by "perfect" here? I understand "perfect" relative to a thing's form. So why can't a human be perfect? All that would mean is that they fully actualize their human nature. If you mean "perfect" in an absolute sense--that is, having all perfections and thus lacking nothing--then only God is perfect in that sense. But how does it follow that we deserve Hell because we can't be God qua God? That just makes no sense . . .


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 9:33 pm 
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jac3510 wrote:
beng wrote:
That's jerome_2's understanding.

Well there seems to be some general disagreement between you, Jerome, and Obi on this whole issue. How am I supposed to understand proper Catholic doctrine if you Catholics can't even figure it out? But that goes to my general argument against the necessity of interpretation at some level regardless and therefore the final uselessness of a magesterium . . . that's an old argument I've made more than once here. I'll just defer to you all's conversation. If you can come to some consensus, I'll be sure to note it. Otherwise, when this issue comes up, I'll have to tell people that I've met practicing Catholics of several different opinions, all of whom think their position is that of the Church's. *shrug*


Why don't you see which is more inline with CE: Final Perseverance and Trent canon?

Did Trent say that we could merit the grace of Final Perseverance? No. Trent Canon merely secures the freedom of the will with relation to the gift of final perseverance. It's answer Luther and Calvin error that freedom of the will is destroy (Luther) and that there's a grace that overrides Free Will to secure someone's election (Calvin).

Quote:
Quote:
The grace of final perseverance is secured (you can't lost it), but the grace of justification is not.

Of course it's secure. But on that ground, the grace of initial justification is secure as well. Everyone predestined to initial justification will be initially justified; and everyone predestined to initial justification and not predestined to final justification will not be finally justified. So both positions are equally secure. And likewise, everyone not predestined to initial justification (and by extension final justification) will wind up in Hell. That's a secured position as well.


You can't say it like that.

As far as I know there's no teaching that says that the grace of initial justification is secure. The doctrine merely said that it's un-merited (from this one might infer that it is secure, nevertheless I've never heard or it such inference. So it's best to leave it as it is [ie. that the grace of initial justification is unmerited).

The same goes with the one who are justified but won't attained heaven. There's no teaching that says that they are securely going to hell.


Quote:
As I said, I'm not mounting an argument here. I'm just incredibly incredulous! I always thought Calvinism's double-predestination was terribly wrong, and while a logically necessary conclusion of the system's other positions, I see that as just a reductio against the system itself. Here, we seem to have a triple-predestination: those predestined to be saved; those predestined to lose their salvation; and those predestined to never be saved at all.


Really?

Calvin ventured to the place he should not venture.

The doctrine that the elect are unconditionally predestined MIGHT makes us infer that the damned are unconditionally predestined to damnation. It just makes sense, isn't it. What middle ground is there?

But on the other hand: 1) the fathers never taught it and strongly rejected it, 2) it's not scriptural (although the doctrine of unconditional predestination of the elect is, but the unconditional predestination of the damned isn't), 3) it just doesn't make sense that the Christian God unconditionally predestined damnation.

This reminds me of a certain scene in one of Brad Pitt's movie (I forget which). But I will modify it a bit: In the movie Brad Pitt is driving a car near an intersection. There's a sign saying "caution, no speeding, drives extra carefully" (this is not in the movie). He looks right, there's no car in sight. He quickly looks left, there's no car in sight. When he's about to step on it and speed away a big truck from the right passes by, honking and almost hit him.

Calvin is much like Brad Pitt. He's so sure that because scripture and the fathers teach unconditional predestination to glory then it logically follows that there's an unconditional predestination to damnation. He didn't care about the signs (the 1-3 I pointed out above). So, unlike Brad Pitt, Calvin will get rammed over by the truck.

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Yes. You were looking for verses where heaven is given as a reward. That is one of the verse.

But that verse never calls heaven a reward. :scratch:


Come now. You are arguing like a muslim who says that Jesus is not God because if He were, and if it's an important point, He would've said clearly and plainly in scripture: "I am God, worship Me."

It is beyond obvious that the verse is talking about heaven as a reward.

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What does it mean by "God has so arranged the nature of things to be so?"

It means that God could have arranged the world such that other things would have caused us to deserve Hell (or, for that matter, nothing could have made us deserving of Hell). God wasn't bound to having to make this decree rather than that.


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Be at is may, in our current state (fallen) we deserve hell.

Absolutely. But, again, that's just by God's decree. He could have decreed otherwise. I'm just saying that I don't see a difference in God saying, "If you do a, b, and c, then I promise you heaven; but if you do x, y, and z then I will condemn you to Hell." 'Condemn' in the second sentence could be replaced just as easily with 'promise' and the meaning would stay the same.
[/quote]

I'm gonna skip this because it still confuses me, and I think it's irrelevant.


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Now, I'm 99% certain that it's a doctrine of the faith that if Adam did not sin, we would still end up in hell after we die (in natural state man would die, immortality is a gift). That is, the part of hell with natural happiness (no punishment of the senses, but only punishment of damnation [ie. away from the Creator]). Unbaptized children who die before committing actual sins go there.

Wait, what? I'm obviously very ignorant of Catholic doctrine, but you really believed that unbaptized children go to Hell?!? Really? Can you give me some documentation for that?


I will give you citation later, but it is true that unbaptized children went to hell. Otherwise you would end up denying the necessity of baptismal regeneration and original sin (said St. Augustine). But a few things first:

1. They would be going to the "edge of hell" or "limbo" where there is natural happiness and no punishment of the senses. The only punishment would be damnation, that is the state of being far from God (Actually this is a natural state. But since man are destine to heaven, being in this place has the nature of punishment).

2. God could intervene in mysterious ways. For instance, let's say there's a mother who suffer a miscarriage. Let's also said that the baby is an elect. How would then God secures the baby's election? He could do so by infusing the baby with reason to enable him receive baptism by desire. This way, the baby is miraculously baptized (by desire) and save without the parents knowing it.

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Heaven is never the place for naturally perfect person (ie. human) or the place for preternaturally perfect person (ie. angels). Heaven is supernatural, beyond any created nature. No created nature deserves this. But hell they do [deserves it].

I'm not even sure that means very much. Could you clarify? What do you mean by "perfect" here? I understand "perfect" relative to a thing's form. So why can't a human be perfect? All that would mean is that they fully actualize their human nature. If you mean "perfect" in an absolute sense--that is, having all perfections and thus lacking nothing--then only God is perfect in that sense. But how does it follow that we deserve Hell because we can't be God qua God? That just makes no sense . . .


I meant a perfect live (no sin) in the natural state.

For the record human never live the natural state. When Adam was born he was immediately endowed with gifts beyond his natural state. When he sinned, he become less than his natural state. When human is justified we are still in a state different than our natural state.

In the natural state, human does not have sanctifying grace, does not have immortality, does not have dominion over animals, is not corrupted by sin etc.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 9:41 pm 
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beng,

I'll offer a substantive reply later (not in terms of argument, as again I insist that's not my purpose here, but in terms of detail). For now, could you just provide me with references to everything you said so that I can check your interpretation against the texts you are dealing with?

Thanks much.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:34 am 
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jac3510 wrote:
I looked up the word "reward" to find all its occurrences in the Gospels according to the DR (1899). I found 13 occurrences. I found references to having rewards in heaven, but I didn't see anything that "explicitly and blatantly" called heaven a reward. Now, I'm not disagreeing with you, but in order to understand the Catholic position, I need to know where you are getting this claim. Could you provide some citations? (In other words, I'm just asking the popular question here for documentation!)
beng wrote:
Mat 25:34-35
jac3510 wrote:
But that verse never calls heaven a reward. :scratch:
Yes, you are correct that the word 'reward' isn't found in that verse. But what is a 'reward'? If we take a look in a dictionary, for instance Merriam-Webster, we see that the primary defintion of a 'reward' (noun) is "something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment."

In Mat 25:34-35 we see that God or Christ (represented by the king in the parable) says "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (v.34) And on what basis does he give this? In v.35, he says: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." It seems that he gives heaven as a reward since he grants the inheritance on the basis of the good deeds mentioned or, in the words of the dictionary, "in return for good done or received."

The question, then, becomes: Is this something which we do by our own powers, or something we do by and through the grace of God? The text of that particular parable is silent on the matter, but we are given clues in the two preceding parables: the parable of the Ten Virgins (v.1-13) and the parable of the Talents (v.14-30). Here it seems that the point is that we are given something (oil, talents) and that we act by virtue of that.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:47 am 
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Closet Catholic wrote:
jac3510 wrote:
I looked up the word "reward" to find all its occurrences in the Gospels according to the DR (1899). I found 13 occurrences. I found references to having rewards in heaven, but I didn't see anything that "explicitly and blatantly" called heaven a reward. Now, I'm not disagreeing with you, but in order to understand the Catholic position, I need to know where you are getting this claim. Could you provide some citations? (In other words, I'm just asking the popular question here for documentation!)
beng wrote:
Mat 25:34-35
jac3510 wrote:
But that verse never calls heaven a reward. :scratch:
Yes, you are correct that the word 'reward' isn't found in that verse. But what is a 'reward'? If we take a look in a dictionary, for instance Merriam-Webster, we see that the primary defintion of a 'reward' (noun) is "something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment."

In Mat 25:34-35 we see that God or Christ (represented by the king in the parable) says "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (v.34) And on what basis does he give this? In v.35, he says: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me." It seems that he gives heaven as a reward since he grants the inheritance on the basis of the good deeds mentioned or, in the words of the dictionary, "in return for good done or received."

The question, then, becomes: Is this something which we do by our own powers, or something we do by and through the grace of God? The text of that particular parable is silent on the matter, but we are given clues in the two preceding parables: the parable of the Ten Virgins (v.1-13) and the parable of the Talents (v.14-30). Here it seems that the point is that we are given something (oil, talents) and that we act by virtue of that.


:fyi: If I'm not mistaken, Jac is not objecting to the use of the word 'reward' in that verse. He is objecting to the equivocation of heaven with the kingdom of God.

P.S. Again if I'm not mistaken, Limbo was never defined as an official doctrine.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:18 am 
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Ah, finally get a hold of my Ott.

    http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma5.php

    (it's from the profession of faith of Michael Palaeologus)

    464 We believe that the true Church is holy, Catholic, apostolic, and one, in which is given one holy baptism and true remission of all sins. We believe also in the true resurrection of this flesh, which now we bear, and in eternal life. We believe also that the one author of the New and the Old Testament, of the Law, and of the Prophets and the Apostles is the omnipotent God and Lord. This is the true Catholic Faith, and this in the above mentioned articles the most holy Roman Church holds and teaches. But because of diverse errors introduced by some through ignorance and by others from evil, it (the Church) says and teaches that those who after baptism slip into sin must not be rebaptized, but by true penance attain forgiveness of their sins. Because if they die truly repentant in charity before they have made satisfaction by worthy fruits of penance for (sins) committed and omitted, their souls are cleansed after death by purgatorical or purifying punishments, as Brother John * has explained to us. And to relieve punishments of this kind, the offerings of the living faithful are of advantage to these, namely, the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, alms, and other duties of piety, which have customarily been performed by the faithful for the other faithful according to the regulations of the Church. However, the souls of those who after having received holy baptism have incurred no stain of sin whatever, also those souls who, after contracting the stain of sin, either while remaining in their bodies or being divested of them, have been cleansed, as we have said above, are received immediately into heaven. The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, however, immediately descend to hell, yet to be punished with different punishments
    . The same most holy Roman Church firmly believes and firmly declares that nevertheless on the day of judgment "all" men will be brought together with their bodies "before the tribunal of Christ" "to render an account" of their own deeds [Rom. 14:10 ].


    http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma7.php

    693 [ De novissimis] * It has likewise defined, that, if those truly penitent have departed in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by the worthy fruits of penance for sins of commission and omission, the souls of these are cleansed after death by purgatorial punishments; and so that they may be released from punishments of this kind, the suffrages of the living faithful are of advantage to them, namely, the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, and almsgiving, and other works of piety, which are customarily performed by the faithful for other faithful according to the institutions of the Church. And that the souls of those, who after the reception of baptism have incurred no stain of sin at all, and also those, who after the contraction of the stain of sin whether in their bodies, or when released from the same bodies, as we have said before, are purged, are immediately received into heaven, and see clearly the one and triune God Himself just as He is, yet according to the diversity of merits, one more perfectly than another. Moreover, the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but to undergo punishments of different kinds [see n.464].[/color]

These two established that those who depart with original sin only (such as children or person who are insane from birth) will go to hell, but with a different punishment.


    http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma5.php

    410 (For) they assert that baptism is conferred uselessly on children. . . . We respond that baptism has taken the place of circumcision. . . . Therefore as "the soul of the circumcised did not perish from the people" [Gen. 17:4], so "he who has been reborn from water and the Holy Spirit will obtain entrance to the kingdom of heaven" [ John 3:5]. . . .Although original sin was remitted by the mystery of circumcision, and the danger of damnation was avoided, nevertheless there was no arriving at the kingdom of heaven, which up to the death of Christ was barred to all. But through the sacrament of baptism the guilt of one made red by the blood of Christ is remitted, and to the kingdom of heaven one also arrives, whose gate the blood of Christ has mercifully opened for His faithful. For God forbid that all children of whom daily so great a multitude die, would perish, but that also for these the merciful God who wishes no one to perish has procured some remedy unto salvation. . . . As to what opponents say, (namely), that faith or love or other virtues are not infused in children, inasmuch as they do not consent, is absolutely not granted by most. . . . some asserting that by the power of baptism guilt indeed is remitted to little ones but grace is not conferred; and some indeed saying both that sin is forgiven and that virtues are infused in them as they hold virtues as a possession not as a function, until they arrive at adult age. . . . We say that a distinction must be made, that sin is twofold: namely, original and actual: original, which is contracted without consent; and actual which is committed with consent. Original, therefore, which is committed without consent, is remitted without consent through the power of the sacrament; but actual, which is contracted with consent, is not mitigated in the slightest without consent. . . . The punishment of original sin is deprivation of the vision of God, but the punishment of actual sin is the torments of everlasting hell. . . .

This one say explicitly what is the punishment of those who die with original sin alone.


    http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma16.php

    1526 26. The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk,--false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.

This is a condemn proposition from the Synod of Pistoia. That Synod rejected the Catholic doctrine that those who depart with original sin only is punished with damnation but not with punishment of the sense.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:19 am 
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Byblos wrote:
P.S. Again if I'm not mistaken, Limbo was never defined as an official doctrine.


It is a Catholic doctrine. See the references I quoted.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:40 am 
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Limbo is not a binding doctrine. It formerly was a widely held opinion; now it is somewhat less so.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:41 am 
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With regard to "natural state."

Well, in Ott (p105) there's a list of various state of human natures. There's a "real" states (ie. there are actually human who had been in this state) and a "merely possible" state (ie. no human have ever been in this state).

There are three real states: the state of elevated nature (Adam and Eve before the fall), the state of fallen nature (human after the fall and not yet justified), the state of restored nature (human who are justified after the fall).

But there's only one "merely possible" state: the state of pure nature. Ott said that Luther, Baius and Jansenist rejected the existence of this state. Ott adds that the existence of this state is a certain Catholic doctrine.

Here's a peek from Ott's book about the various natures

Here's a peek from Ott's book about the merely possible states

Here's a peek from Ott's book saying that the merely possible pure nature state is a certain Catholic doctrine.


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:42 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Limbo is not a binding doctrine. It formerly was a widely held opinion; now it is somewhat less so.


Do you have decrees/documents attesting that?


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 Post subject: Re: RE: Merited Gifts
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:46 am 
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You don't have anything that says it is taught definitively. You may have things you think are definitive, but you would be in error.


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