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 Post subject: Predestination
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:17 am 
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This is my first post here. I've been lurking for some months. There was a recent thread on abortion in the pub and this quote caught my attention:

Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
"Considering that predestination is Catholic dogma, how exactly does it entail no choice are responsibility?"

I am a convert of 3 years (I am so happy to be home, BTW) and am confused about this. I thought God gave us free will. What does it mean that predestination is Catholic dogma?


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 Post subject: Re: Predestination
PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:23 am 
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sea star wrote:
This is my first post here. I've been lurking for some months. There was a recent thread on abortion in the pub and this quote caught my attention:

Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
"Considering that predestination is Catholic dogma, how exactly does it entail no choice are responsibility?"

I am a convert of 3 years (I am so happy to be home, BTW) and am confused about this. I thought God gave us free will. What does it mean that predestination is Catholic dogma?

One of the, if not the most, comlex and debated issue in theology is predestination and free will.

To start off with, my point was to have people be careful with what they say. Both free will and predestination are dogmas. They are not incompatible, even if it is difficult, indeed impossible, to see exactly how they coincide...however, we can see that they do and spy a little on how.

hmmm.... there is an article on it (really a cite) that I used to point people to online, but now that I think about it, the cite is full of jargon (ante praevista merita for example). So a simpler explanation is in order. Give me a few moments

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:32 am 
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First the Catholic Encyclopedia

Quote:
Predestination (Lat. prœ, destinare), taken in its widest meaning, is every Divine decree by which God, owing to His infallible prescience of the future, has appointed and ordained from eternity all events occurring in time, especially those which directly proceed from, or at least are influenced by, man's free will. It includes all historical facts, as for instance the appearance of Napoleon or the foundation of the United States, and particularly the turning-points in the history of supernatural salvation, as the mission of Moses and the Prophets, or the election of Mary to the Divine Motherhood. Taken in this general sense, predestination clearly coincides with Divine Providence and with the government of the world, which do not fall within the scope of this article (see DIVINE PROVIDENCE).

I. NOTION OF PREDESTINATION

Theology restricts the term to those Divine decrees which have reference to the supernatural end of rational beings, especially of man. Considering that not all men reach their supernatural end in heaven, but that many are eternally lost through their own fault, there must exist a twofold predestination: (a) one to heaven for all those who die in the state of grace; (b) one to the pains of hell for all those who depart in sin or under God's displeasure. However, according to present usages to which we shall adhere in the course of the article, it is better to call the latter decree the Divine "reprobation", so that the term predestination is reserved for the Divine decree of the happiness of the elect.


The current Catechism (CCC) makes no mention of predestination other than to say, in an ambigious way, that God does not predestine one to evil.

That is, while God knows that this person will commit this or that sin and that this person will die in unrepentant, He does not predetermine them to sin or die unrepentant. One does evil by one's own accord. However, since He knows what one freely will do, He does predestine the punishment for these sins, not the sins themselves. So He knows that this or that man will die deserving of Hell from all eternity so He preordains the proper punishment for the sins committed, but He does not preordain those sins. In this way, Catholicism avoids the error of extreme Calvinism.

Predestination to heaven, however, is different.

The Epistle reading today in the Mass, did you notice it?

It was taken from Romans. I will reproduce it (albeit in a different translation)

And we know that to them that love God all things work together unto good: to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.

For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son: that he might be the Firstborn amongst many brethren.

And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30)

Still later the Apostle writes

For when the children were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil (that the purpose of God according to election might stand):

Not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said to her: The elder shall serve the younger.

As it is written: Jacob I have loved: but Esau I have hated.

What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? God forbid!

For he saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. And I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

For the scripture saith to Pharao: To this purpose have I raised thee, that I may shew my power in thee and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will. And whom he will, he hardeneth.

Thou wilt say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? For who resisteth his will?

O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus?

Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour?

What if God, willing to shew his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction,

That he might shew the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he hath prepared unto glory?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:47 am 
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Now one last post before I retire for the night.

There are three dogmas that the Church has that I would like to mention

1. The the human will is free even under efficacious grace (that is grace with is truly "effective", accomplishing its end). The human will can resist even this

2. The Blessed are predestined from all eternity to Heaven. It is contested between Molinists and every other school whether this is "conditional" or "unconditional" (The Molinists say conditional, every other school of thought says unconditional). Shortly put, the debate is on whether God bases His decree on our forseen merits or no. But even these merits (by merit I mean an act which God performs in and by us so that it is truly our act and truly salutary, beneficial towards salvation) are free gifts of God worked through us. So in either system God is the author of salvation. One merely says that He bases His predestination on those gifts He has given as means to salvation, while the other view is that those gifts are given precisely because He has willed Heaven for the Blessed

3. Predestination (usually called reprobation here) to Hell is based only on forseen sins that God does not predestine the wicked to, but they choose of their own accord. It is disputed as to exactly how one is "negatively reprobated" That is God permits one to sin so that without this permission one cannot sin. Yet He does not actively will one to sin. Those not predestined to Heaven, however, are going to Hell. But yet their sins are done by their own accord through God's permission. This permission to sin is called negative reprobation, as without it one would not sin that sin for which he will be punished. Why God "passes" over the damned is disputed. Same as with positive predestination to heaven. Some say it is unconditional, the reason lies in God's will and predilection. Others say based on demerits (sins), but yet these sins only happen if God permits. So then it depends, perhaps, on God forseeing that you will resist His grace, or maybe not. It is disputed and a difficult question

Oh a last Dogma. God does indeed will the salvation of all men. But this is called a "general willing". That is, He doesn't will it so that it will infallibly happen (or else all would be saved) with regards to all. He makes it truly possible for anyone and everyone not to sin, they all have sufficient grace then to avoid sin and do the good they must. Nevertheless, He wills for the Blessed to infallibly attain Heaven. He is said to give them efficacious grace. How sufficient and efficaciuous grace differ, how human freedom is respect, yet the end God wills infallibly attained, is hotly disputed. Indeed, the issue of grace has more schools of thought than simply predestination.

As the passage in Romans points out, the purpose is God's glory. Why some people go to Heaven is to manifest His mercy. Why some to Hell, His justice.

But as to why one man is predestined to Heaven and another man not, judge not lest you wish to err as St. Augustine advised.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 9:09 am 
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PED, you wrote: "The Epistle reading today in the Mass, did you notice it?"

Yes, I did, which is why I became curious enough to ask.

It seems the answer is even more complicated than I expected. I was hoping it was some sort of idomatic mistranslation problem as is usually the case when I don't understand scripture.

Thank you for the lengthy reply. It is something I will continue to ponder.

My dh and most of my immediate family have not "found" their way to the Church. I pray for them very frequently, but get a little worried sometimes when I think about predestination and damnation. But then again, I have hope because if feel that I can find the Truth, anyone can. Like many of those on this board who have shared their spritual journey, I had strayed far.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 9:29 am 
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sea star, You can follow up a little bit online by reading the entire article on predestination at newadvent.org. Even though PED provides a wealth of info on the subject above, you might gain some additional insight from the article and any accompanying links.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:36 pm 
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Predestination is simply this. God has determined all things from beginning to end, but regarding man, he also takes into account man's free will. Otherwise man would just be an automated robot fulfilling God's plan.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 7:05 pm 
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piety101 wrote:
Predestination is simply this. God has determined all things from beginning to end, but regarding man, he also takes into account man's free will. Otherwise man would just be an automated robot fulfilling God's plan.

If only it were that simple.... even man's free acts are under His providence. Not independent of it

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:39 am 
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Yes and no. Man must be free in his choice, to either obey God or reject him. True, because of some unchristian environments in the world some never come to a saving knowledge of God, but the ones that are exposed to the gospel freely choose to accept or reject God. But yes, you are correct, there are times that God intervenes and draws people to him, who would never seek him otherwise. St Paul was that example.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:46 am 
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I suppose it's one of those mysteries that I shall never quite understand until perhaps the end of time. If our prayers for our loved ones help cause their salvation then it has not been decided because I could choose to pray or not; and I could even choose to reject the graces God bestows for myself. But if God already knows who are the elect, then it a sense it has already been determined. That gives me a headache.

I guess the bottom line is, how do I not get discouraged when am I realize I may be wasting my time praying for loved ones that will never be saved?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:49 am 
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piety101 wrote:
Yes and no. Man must be free in his choice, to either obey God or reject him. True, because of some unchristian environments in the world some never come to a saving knowledge of God, but the ones that are exposed to the gospel freely choose to accept or reject God. But yes, you are correct, there are times that God intervenes and draws people to him, who would never seek him otherwise. St Paul was that example.

But even that free acceptance comes from a free gift of grace, even that acceptsnce was predestined, as Mary's fiat was predestined.

As I said, not that simple. Every thing towards salvation is from God, especially intial grace, which man can in no way attain or gain on his own.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:54 am 
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sea star wrote:
I suppose it's one of those mysteries that I shall never quite understand until perhaps the end of time. If our prayers for our loved ones help cause their salvation then it has not been decided because I could choose to pray or not; and I could even choose to reject the graces God bestows for myself. But if God already knows who are the elect, then it a sense it has already been determined. That gives me a headache.

I guess the bottom line is, how do I not get discouraged when am I realize I may be wasting my time praying for loved ones that will never be saved?


When we pray, we pray for what God has already decreed to give us... or so St. Thomas said.

Put it this way. Everything that benefits to salvation is from God. God does not predestine just that this man or that will get to heaven, but He predestines even those things that this or that man must do. So a meritorious prayer, Confession, etc all of this is spurred by God's grace which first moves us to do the act and supports us in doing it. As St. Paul says "God works in us both to will and accomplish"

Nevertheless, we aren't mere puppets, we do truly do these things by our will, moved by grace through it is. So how are we freely doing this and yet God is the Primary Cause of the act? This is the most disuted realm of theology. Any Catholic should just realise that he can do no good profitable for salvation by his own powers. Everything good is from God, a gift. Therefore, the saints looked at their works, not as their own, but as God's, and only the failings theirs and theirs alone.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:57 am 
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A good way of at least showing that both free will and Providence must exist is prayer actually

Think about it. I pray, say, for a good spouse and a good marriage. A great woman enters my life, we marry and have a wonderful marriage. Now was my prayer heard? Yes. Should I be thankful to God? Yes. But hold on, didn't the fact that I meant said woman depend on her free choice to, say, go to this college. Didn't the fact we had a happy marriage depend on both of us being self sacrificing? Namely, everything here would depend on numerous free choices.

Yet somehow I can thank God. God is behind every good. I might not understand how history is ordered by Him, the Author of History, while respecting human freedom, but it is.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:18 am 
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Not necessarily. I do not believe all marriages were made in heaven. We marry also out of choice. How many times does a Christian guy pray, "Lord please send me the right girl to marry AND MAY IT BE JUDY." So you see, what we pray for sometimes, is not exactly what we really want and choose. I believe in the long run God allows us to freely choose our mates, whether for good or for worse.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:39 am 
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piety101 wrote:
Not necessarily. I do not believe all marriages were made in heaven. We marry also out of choice. How many times does a Christian guy pray, "Lord please send me the right girl to marry AND MAY IT BE JUDY." So you see, what we pray for sometimes, is not exactly what we really want and choose. I believe in the long run God allows us to freely choose our mates, whether for good or for worse.

Everything is under His Providence... my point remains, every good can be attributed to God and He is to be thanked for every good given.

Every answered prayer gains what was already decreed in Providence

Even the very number of hairs on your head are predestined, that is Providentially arranged by God.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 5:40 pm 
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For some this must be elating, for others, depressing. For me, it just hurts my head and causes doubt in the compassion of God and a host of other concepts I'd been taught as a Catholic, so I'll just ignore it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 10:47 pm 
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tryinghard wrote:
For some this must be elating, for others, depressing. For me, it just hurts my head and causes doubt in the compassion of God and a host of other concepts I'd been taught as a Catholic, so I'll just ignore it.


You don't have to ignore it. Both concepts are in Scripture- that God enables those who will have faith to have it, and that whoever knocks (seeks Him), He will answer. God is big enough that both concepts are true- we have to hold all the verses in tension with each other and not drop any. Only God knows ultimately how it all works together.

I was speaking with my Pastor (I'm Evangelical, not Catholic btw) about this recently, and he said if he was speaking with a believer, he would be stressing how faith is a gift from God, not of ourselves so no one can boast. And, if he was speaking to seekers, he would stress the other verses (one has to believe to be saved, etc). Imagine if we tell seekers that they will only believe if God gives them the faith! That is no way to witness the Gospel. Many would give up and say then they don't have to listen or do anything, because it's all in God's hands. Since the N.T. letters were written to various audiences, that may very well be why we see two sides of what is really the same coin. We have to accept them all- that there is predestination, and that He allows our free will.

It doesn't cast aspersions on His compassion, but rather shows His all-knowing nature. I myself didn't understand it until I shared the Gospel with a long-time Jewish friend (who is really atheist). After everything, she said "Even if there is a God, I wouldn't want to do what He wants, I'd want to do what I want for all eternity." That kind of summed it up for me- that is why- He knows they wouldn't be happy. Kind of a crude example, but it's how I think of why not all are enabled to have faith- as their Creator, He knows them to the bottom of their hearts.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:16 pm 
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The use of the word "enable" makes a much softer impact than does "predestination", I could live with that. The bottom line to me is to continue to do what I can to get through this life in a manner acceptable at the judgement and hope the scale tips in my favor. Most of the previous discussion in this thread sounds like classical circular argument and rationalization.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:38 pm 
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tryinghard wrote:
The use of the word "enable" makes a much softer impact than does "predestination", I could live with that. The bottom line to me is to continue to do what I can to get through this life in a manner acceptable at the judgement and hope the scale tips in my favor. Most of the previous discussion in this thread sounds like classical circular argument and rationalization.


The Catholic Faith is "circular argument and rationalisation?"

What matters is how you die. If I live a perfect life, do so much good that I am saintly and then commit a mortal sin before I die without repenting I would go to hell. If I live a nasty life and live in mortal sin, but with my last breath am perfectly contrite and desire confession, I will go to heaven.

Judgment isn't a matter of scales being weighed, it is a matter of our state with God when we die.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:19 am 
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piety101 wrote:
Predestination is simply this. God has determined all things from beginning to end, but regarding man, he also takes into account man's free will. Otherwise man would just be an automated robot fulfilling God's plan.


Here's an interesting re-framing of premises in discussions on predeterminism. Although it is from a different faith system, as far as I know it contains nothing contrary to Catholic dogma. PED and others of my friends here, please correct me if I'm wrong; my apologies ahead of time in such a case.
From:

http://www.aish.com/torahportion/moray/ ... shment.asp

Note especially:
"....
Often people question the relation between man's actions and G-d's knowledge on the one hand, and man's freedom of choice on the other. If G-d indeed knows all that was, is, and will be, then apparently man does not possess freedom of choice. However, life without freedom of choice is a theological nightmare. What is the purpose of existence if G-d sits in the heavens pulling strings while we dance below like marionettes?

"G-d's knowledge is something which is beyond human understanding, but if we were to posit that G-d exists outside of time, then the problem would be solved. Indeed .... G-d transcends time. For G-d the following sentence would be both theologically and grammatically correct; 'God knows yesterday what you did tomorrow.' G-d's knowledge simply transcends time.

"While this is true, we understand G-d to be both transcendent (beyond time and space) and immanent (within our reality). Can we make the same argument about the immanent aspect of G-d as about the transcendent aspect of G-d?

"This brings us back to the question of predeterminism -- G-d pulling all the strings. The idea of monotheism -- that there exists a one all-powerful G-d -- suggests that G-d has control over all. Therefore, the description of puppets on strings would be appropriate.

"Maimonides [medieval commentator in what is now Spain], with his passion and logic, cut down the strings and insisted on man's freedom of choice. No strings pull man, man has choice, and therefore life has meaning. Man controls his own destiny.

"But [others] insisted that, in truth, there are strings between man and G-d, and from afar it seems as if G-d is pulling the strings. But the reality is quite different, it is not G-d pulling the strings, rather it is man.

"In a sense, existence is a cosmic puppet theater. Surely it was G-d who built the stage, and connected the strings, and has the ability to pull them at will. But in our lives it is our actions that cause the reaction from G-d.

"This idea should not sound that radical, it is the major message of the second section of Sh'ma [roughly translated "Hear, o Yisrael, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One...." and subsequent text]. As we saw above if man performs G-d's commandments, then a relationship is forged, and G-d for His part will provide man with all his needs. On the other hand, when man rebels, G-d responds with withholding the Divine blessings.

"This argument requires more explanation, after all, why do we not witness this meted out daily and individually? .... [see the remainder of the article]."

Off I go.
May the Holy One, Blessed be He, grant you all a very good Sunday and I a very good Shabbos.


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