Hi, I just read Pascal’s pensées and other writings and there was a treatise on predestination. Does anyone know if Pascal is considered to have been a faithful Catholic or not? There was some discussion about predestination here some time ago and Pascal’s writings further complicated the issue. He describes three views, the Calvinist, Molinist and Augustinian (which he supports). He never says anything against the Church and calls heretics heretics so at least he thought he was orthodox and was writing what I would guess faithful Catholics believed then. He says Molinists are in error but he doesn’t use strong words to condemn them as he does with Calvinists. About the Augustinian view he says that it’s the middle way and the truth - but the way he explains it surprises me. He says the followers of St.Augustine believe God elected some to salvation out of his mercy and passes over others due to their sins which he could’ve justly done to all. This is what the Thomists/Augustinians still say I guess, but then he says that Jesus only died for the elect. For those that come to the faith at some point but don’t persevere Jesus died “but not to save them”. For the rest he didn’t die. Pascal says that the elect form a universality which is why they’re sometimes called “world” and a totality which is why they’re sometimes called “all”, they are also many which is why they’re called many but simultaneously few in proportion to the souls lost which is why they’re called few. This deals with the biblical arguments that Christ died for the whole world/all so that they can be in conformity with limited atonement.
Any comments? I don’t want to hear “well then he obviously was a heretic” but something more insightful rather from someone that knows something about the issue.
Some further questions:
- Didn’t the first Council after Augustine reject his predestination theory?
- How can the argument Pascal uses for limited atonement be refuted?
Newadvent.org says that the Church holds a doctrine that God doesn’t predestine men arbitrarily. Where and when was this dogma defined or what doctrine is this? Doesn’t Thomism hold exactly this view? And Thomism is supposedly ok Catholic theology. So there’s a contradiction…or?