Predestination

What does the Catholic Church teach on predestination? And how do our views compare to Protestant views?

The teaching of the Church is that some are predestined to Heaven and none are predestined to Hell, but that all have the chance of salvation until the day they die and end up in hell. Up until that point, there is always the choice of salvation for a person.

What the Church does not teach authoritatively is exactly what is meant by the word predestination. It may be the idea that God, of His own choice, ‘randonly’ selects certain people and gives them a special Grace by which they are just plain going to Heaven. That would be close to the idea of Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand, it may be that God knows who will accept Him and who will reject Him from all eternity and that He predestines people based on His foreknowledge so that he predestines to Heaven the people that He already knew would accept Him. This would be similar to the view of Luis De Molina (and also myself). Both views hold that our free will is not in any way impaired by God. In the Molinist (Molina’s) view its easier to understand how, whereas in the Thomist (Aquinas’) view its a little more of a mystery but is still held.

Consider the analogy of a party. At the party are a whole bunch of tables with different seats. God is going to put a little card with the person’s name on it that is supposed to sit at each seat. The Thomist view more or less says that first God puts some of the cards out saying who is going to sit in some of the seats, then He gets the RSVPs and somehow the people whose names He puts out RSVP and say they’re coming. The Molonist view more or less says that God first gets the RSVPs so He knows who is gonna come then He puts out the little cards of the people He knows are coming. This putting out of the cards corresponds to predestination in the analogy, whereas the people showing up at the party corresponds to them dying and going to Heaven.

The Church says that each of these views are acceptable to the faithful, as well as many in between, but that she does not teach authoritatively that either is necessarily correct because she does not know. The Church also teaches that some views are not permitted and that she knows they are incorrect (like the idea that a person can be predestined to hell).

If you are interested, CA Live had a good show on understanding predestination on January 6, for one hour. You should try to listen to it. The speaker is a convert to Catholicism, who was big on an opposing view of predestination and learned the truth through the help of Scott Hahn, who is now his mentor.

Click on it, Jan. 6, here.

[quote=Lazerlike42]The teaching of the Church is that some are predestined to Heaven and none are predestined to Hell, but that all have the chance of salvation until the day they die and end up in hell. Up until that point, there is always the choice of salvation for a person.

What the Church does not teach authoritatively is exactly what is meant by the word predestination. It may be the idea that God, of His own choice, ‘randonly’ selects certain people and gives them a special Grace by which they are just plain going to Heaven. That would be close to the idea of Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand, it may be that God knows who will accept Him and who will reject Him from all eternity and that He predestines people based on His foreknowledge so that he predestines to Heaven the people that He already knew would accept Him. This would be similar to the view of Luis De Molina (and also myself). Both views hold that our free will is not in any way impaired by God. In the Molinist (Molina’s) view its easier to understand how, whereas in the Thomist (Aquinas’) view its a little more of a mystery but is still held.

Consider the analogy of a party. At the party are a whole bunch of tables with different seats. God is going to put a little card with the person’s name on it that is supposed to sit at each seat. The Thomist view more or less says that first God puts some of the cards out saying who is going to sit in some of the seats, then He gets the RSVPs and somehow the people whose names He puts out RSVP and say they’re coming. The Molonist view more or less says that God first gets the RSVPs so He knows who is gonna come then He puts out the little cards of the people He knows are coming. This putting out of the cards corresponds to predestination in the analogy, whereas the people showing up at the party corresponds to them dying and going to Heaven.

The Church says that each of these views are acceptable to the faithful, as well as many in between, but that she does not teach authoritatively that either is necessarily correct because she does not know. The Church also teaches that some views are not permitted and that she knows they are incorrect (like the idea that a person can be predestined to hell).
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This is a good explanation. For more information I would consult this article by Catholic Answers staff apologist Jimmy Akin

**A TIPTOE THROUGH TULIP **
By JAMES AKIN
catholic.com/thisrock/1993/9309fea1.asp

or better yet, get his book on this subject, “The Salvation Controversy” available here:

shop.catholic.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/online-store/scstore/p-CB258.html?L+scstore+sjzj9735ff88c288+1144803796

Thanks for the great explanation Lazerlike and thanks to awalt for the link to the CA talk.

So, is predestination a defined dogma of the CC? Don’t some Protestant dominations believe in predestination as well, but in a different way? That they are predestined to heaven and nothing they do in their life will change their heavenly course? :rolleyes:

Predestination is a doctrine of the Church, because the Church says that it does exist. However, it is not defined in the sense that the Church has told us exactly how it works, just that it exists. It may function as Thomists put it, or it may function as Molonists put it, or in some other way in between.

I would also make a comment about the CA live program: I am really not a big fan at all of that particular program. The speaker presented predestination as if the Thomist view is how it is. This is simply not true. It is one acceptable system, but it is not something that the Church has taught to be fact. He likes this viewpoint no doubt because he came from a Calvanist background and it is closer to Calvanism than other views. However, he is incorrect to assert that the Church teaches that predestination functions in the way that he does.

There are a couple of canons in the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification that seem to touch on predestination:
CANON XV.-If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema.

CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.

Paramedicgirl,
This really helped me

Hi Jerry,

My name is Carson Weber and I assist Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center For Biblical Theology here in Steubenville, Ohio.

With regard to the issues pertaining to free will and predestination, I wholly suggest purchasing and reading Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s famous work entitled Predestination, which was recently republished by TAN, and it can be accessed through Amazon.com here:

amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0895556340/qid=1064936439/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/103-3597502-4296622

I also suggest these excellent online articles by James Akin:

cin.org/users/james/files/tulip.htm
cin.org/users/james/files/cooperat.htm
sni.net/advent/cathen/06710a.htm

as well as this article by the Catholic Encyclopedia:

newadvent.org/cathen/12378a.htm

I hope this is of help to you.

God bless,

Carson

May God bless and protect us,
JLC

Lazerlike, I would have to go back to listen to the program again, but I didn’t think he said the church teaches what he said at all - in fact at the end of the broadcast I made a mental note (not yet completed!) to read on the Church’s views, because I thought he was a little incomplete on exactly what the Church teachings were. I still learned a lot about the subject though, I guess it depends on what you knew before you listened to it.

[quote=awalt]Lazerlike, I would have to go back to listen to the program again, but I didn’t think he said the church teaches what he said at all - in fact at the end of the broadcast I made a mental note (not yet completed!) to read on the Church’s views, because I thought he was a little incomplete on exactly what the Church teachings were. I still learned a lot about the subject though, I guess it depends on what you knew before you listened to it.
[/quote]

I think where I had a problem, if I remember, was in that he simply presented his own viewpoint without ever suggesting that there are other acceptable systems. I think, in fact, that a person called up commenting on one such acceptable system, but the speaker told him that his view was wrong or something of the sort. I’d have to listen to it again.

paramedic girl, I always say this on predestination threads. Predestination is such a difficult theological subject to understand, it is almost worthwhile forgetting about it. Even the church holds it as somewhat of a mystery.

Now, if it were to come up in a debate, use what laserlike42 said. And end it there. I have never found it helpful to discuss predestination with anyone. Maybe it is my finite mind that cannot truly fathom it.

But I feel for you, I was asking the same questions at one time.

I’m not a scholar and don’t fully understand the arguments, but a knowlegeable friend explained it to me like this: The Thomist view is that God’s grace is the primary determinant of who is justified, and the Molinist view is that since all people have received SUFFICIENT grace of salvation, it is then primarily up to the individual’s free will to decide whether to accept that grace (a few individuals, such as Mary, receive EFFECATIOUS grace, a grace so strong that is not going to be resisted). My friend also said that the debate between Molinists and Thomists raged in the church for a very long time, until one of the popes settled it by saying that BOTH grace and free will cooperation are necessary for salvation, but that exactly how the two work together is a mystery, the answer to which has not yet been revealed. Is this correct? Also, rather than saying that topics such as predestination are not worth looking into because they are difficult to understand, I find great joy in investigating these things. If God is an ocean, it’s like putting the tip of my finger into the water. The “thinking” pursuit of God, as opposed to the “feeling” pursuit (charistmatic renewal?) of God, seems to be my cup of tea. Glory to God in the highest! - Rob

[quote=Rob in Oregon]I’m not a scholar and don’t fully understand the arguments, but a knowlegeable friend explained it to me like this: The Thomist view is that God’s grace is the primary determinant of who is justified, and the Molinist view is that since all people have received SUFFICIENT grace of salvation, it is then primarily up to the individual’s free will to decide whether to accept that grace (a few individuals, such as Mary, receive EFFECATIOUS grace, a grace so strong that is not going to be resisted). My friend also said that the debate between Molinists and Thomists raged in the church for a very long time, until one of the popes settled it by saying that BOTH grace and free will cooperation are necessary for salvation, but that exactly how the two work together is a mystery, the answer to which has not yet been revealed. Is this correct? Also, rather than saying that topics such as predestination are not worth looking into because they are difficult to understand, I find great joy in investigating these things. If God is an ocean, it’s like putting the tip of my finger into the water. The “thinking” pursuit of God, as opposed to the “feeling” pursuit (charistmatic renewal?) of God, seems to be my cup of tea. Glory to God in the highest! - Rob
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That’s right, except that no grace is ever given in such a way that it cannot be resisted. Mary did choose to accept it of her own free will. We don’t know exctly how, but we know she did. :thumbsup:

I don’t think the Church has any doctrine related to predestination.

The Paradox or controversy is that God is all knowing and as such knows the future as well as the past. The question is that IF God already knows the future, and some folks are going to Hell then why in His infinite goodness and mercy does he create them anyway when they are doomed (or predestined) to Hell.

Part of the answer is that God is outside time and history, He can see the full range of History, but He does not interfere with free will. He wants us to choose Him on our own, not because we are forced to. Every soul is given fair opportunity to choose good or evil. No soul is preordained to choose damnation.

The fact that some choose evil and God may have known in advance does not make God culpable in their choices. God did not force those folks to choose the path that they chose.

It can be mind boggling, so it’s best we just live our lives as best we know how.

It may be the idea that God, of His own choice, ‘randonly’ selects certain people and gives them a special Grace by which they are just plain going to Heaven. That would be close to the idea of Thomas Aquinas.

God is not random. God is Love. No Catholic teaches that God randomly elects.

Romans 8:[29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
[30] And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God is not caprious.

wcknight: don’t think the Church has any doctrine related to predestination.

Certainly the Church teaches the doctrine of predestination of the elect.

Romans 8:[29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
[30] And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The Church does not teach a predestination of the reprobate in any way that would exculpate those reprobated from full resposibility for their damnation.

Heaven, ie the vision and union with God, is an entirely free Gift; damnation is of our own doing, which God permits.

Those who are predestined by God to be among the Elect, a predestination decreed before the foundation of the world, will infallible attain to Eternal Life. The Elect will not finally resist God’s decree of Election. This does not violate free will.

Quite the mystery.

Really old thread…“Feb 2, '06”

Hi,

my question is very specific. Since a few months I am active on a Polish Protestant forum. I am discussing (or maybe better: “arguing” :wink: ) with the Calvinists who believe in predestination. Consequently they assume also only the partial atonement of Jesus’ sacrifice death on the cross. They believe, as you know, that the Lord died only for those who will be actually saved, not for all. They gave me as an argument an article of John Piper: “Are There Two Wills in God?” They believe that article proves their claim. You can find it clicking here: desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1995/1580_Are_There_Two_Wills_in_God The author makes of God of the Bible to a schizophrenic one who wills on one hand that all be saved but who wants at the same time men to sin, hardens the heard of pharaoh, and so forth. Making short, John Piper thinks that “two wills” result from the reading of the entire Bible. He claims to find answers and to reconcile all the places in the Bible that seem to be contrary. The author tries to convince the reader that in God there are “two wills”. I don’t think so; I think that the article is sophistic and not tenable. We call a man who is like that schizophrenic, this means a sick one. So, in my opinion this article is also not sound, but I have to prove it. Please help me to write a good answer to that article. Maybe you know that the answer to that article has been written already? If not, what books or articles would you recommend to me in order to write a good answer to that article? Thank you.

PS. My English is not perfect, but I hope you are able to understand me.

God bless you

Thanks, Lazer, what you say makes a lot of sense.

In my opinion, those who understand predestination in the Calvinist fashion read the bible backwards.

That is, if you understand the teachings of Jesus first, read and understand the Gospels first, before going on to the rest of the NT, you will not misunderstand predestination the way the Calvinists do.

Jesus’ teachings don’t seem to be compatible with the Calvinists viewpoint of predestination, so whatever predestination means, it can’t mean what they want it to mean. If they are not read within the context of Jesus’ teaching and the kerygma of the apostles, Paul’s letters can be easily misunderstood.

Peter makes this exact point in 2Peter 3:16, “There are things in the letters of our beloved brother Paul which are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” So, if you are ignorant of Jesus and the Gospels, you will most likely misunderstand Paul, and his comments about predestination.

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