Question for Catholic brothers & sisters

Two things that have long-since perplexed me in regards to the Catholic faith: Its rejection of the doctrines of total depravity (Rom. 3:10-18; Genesis 6:5) and predestination (Acts 13:48; Jeremiah 1:5) … Can someone explain to me why this is?

So many times in Scripture we are called SLAVES to sin, which indicates to me a servitude out of our control–one we cannot without Christ’s help escape from, that is. What’s more, Yeshua says only those whom the Father draws can truly come to him, hence our innate inability to obey, to submit and surrender.

Even Wisdom and Sirach admit, drawing from Jeremiah and the Psalms, that just as a potter can use one lump of clay to make decorations and from that same lump a trash container, so it is with God, the great Potter, who holds our fate in his hands, and may shape as he sees fit. Furthermore, how many times are Christians identified as “the chosen” or “the called” in the Scriptures?

I am confused by this, so can someone explain to me the church’s logic behind such a rejection? Thanks.

John 17 11 And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture may be fulfilled.

The Sacrament of Penance

three criteria that must be satisfied for a sin to be mortal. First, the act committed must be considered grave or serious matter. Mortal sins are heinous in the eyes of God. Throughout the moral section of the , some sins are noted as “gravely sinful” (No. 2268). For example, “The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful.” Second, the sinner must have full knowledge of the sinful character of the act; in other words, he must be acting with an informed intellect and must know this act violates God’s eternal law. Third, the sinner must give full consent of the will, meaning that he has reflected on doing the action and deliberately wants to do it.

Mortal sin destroys our union with God and the presence of sanctifying grace in our souls. Because these are heinous actions in the eyes of God, for a person to knowingly and willingly commit them indicates a turning away from the love of God. Anyone conscious of a mortal sin must undergo an interior conversion and then receive forgiveness and absolution through the sacrament of penance. Until making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution, anyone conscious of being in a state of mortal sin cannot receive holy Communion, except under extraordinary circumstance, e.g. no possibility of going to confession (Cf. , No. 1457). Moreover, an unrepentant person guilty of mortal sin objectively risks eternal damnation in hell; however, “although we can judge that an act is in itself a grace offense, we must entrust judgment of a person to the justice and mercy of God” (, No. 1861).

On the other hand, venial sin denotes either an act of a less serious matter, or one which involves grave matter but is performed without full knowledge or complete consent of the will. Unlike mortal sin, which involves a complete turning away from God’s love, venial sin wounds our relationship with God. The periodic confession of venial sins is also highly recommended as part of a good spiritual regimen. Actually, all sin is serious, since it hurts our relationship with our Lord and since even venial sin could lead to mortal sin or become habitual if not corrected. A practice of regular confession helps the individual better form the conscience, recognize faults and weaknesses, resist temptations and receive God’s grace to heal and strengthen the soul. St. Teresa of Avila said, "Always fear when some fault you commit does not grieve you.

Sadly, some individuals misconstrue fundamental option in such a way there are no particular mortal sins. Instead, the one “mortal sin” which would take a soul to hell is for a person to willingly, knowingly reject God and His love entirely. Such a stance would reduce fundamental option to some psychological game, whereby a person says, “I love God. I do not reject God. My individual choices or particular actions do not affect my total being. Therefore, although I committed adultery, or murdered someone, or fornicated, or robbed the bank, (or committed any other mortal sin), God still loves me, I love God, and I think I am going to heaven.” Think again.

While only God can probe the depths of our soul and judge a person, objectively, those actions are mortal sins. To choose mortal sin indicates a contempt for the divine law. To commit such actions evidences a lack of love for God and for neighbor. In essence, particular mortal sins show a rejection of God.

Catholic Church never reject whole doctrine of predestination. We just understand it in bit different way than Protestants. It is because predestination must be compatibile with free will.

I could make a “parable”. I’m not sure is it correct, but I hope it will be helpful.
Imagine that the God’s Kingdom is 1000 meters above the Earth. It definitelly too high to get there for any man (he cannot use any machines or tools). So Lord - through His grace - can lift us 999 meters up. But there is still 1 meter we must climb by our own.
So you see that there is an element of God’s grace, and also an element of free will. It is impossible to get there without Lord’s help. But He want (don’t need! just want!) also our cooperation.

Generally you should look here:
Catholic Lutheran Common Statement on Justification

Jimmy Akin’s “A Tiptoe Through TULIP” might be helpful.

I was also going to recommend Jimmy Akin’s TULIP article, but here is a discussion thread of interest and an article that you might find helpful:

We believe that some people are predestined to go to Heaven, but never against their own will. There are also those who will go to Heaven who were not predestined to go to Heaven, but overcame many obstacles in this life to get there.

No one is predestined to go to Hell.

So many times in Scripture we are called SLAVES to sin, which indicates to me a servitude out of our control–one we cannot without Christ’s help escape from, that is. What’s more, Yeshua says only those whom the Father draws can truly come to him, hence our innate inability to obey, to submit and surrender.

St. Paul uses hyperbole to get across his point that even baptized people are full of concupiscience, and temptations surround us whether we want them to or not. Even hermits have to deal with temptation.

Unbaptized people are bound by Original Sin except for when the Holy Spirit is working in them to bring them to baptism. But God created us good in the beginning, and we reclaim this Original Goodness (to coin a phrase) when we are baptized. Baptized persons are not “depraved” and indeed, until they violate their baptismal purity by consciously committing a grave sin, they are actually Saints. :slight_smile:

*No one *is predestined to go to Hell.

How do you understand this?

When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction (literally, “fitted,” or “made” for destruction). Romans 9:21-22

The potter works the soft clay and laboriously shapes each piece of pottery for our use. From the same clay he makes some pots for clean uses and some for unclean uses. They are all made alike, and the potter decides how each will be used. Wisdom 15:7

As the potter’s clay is in his hand to be shaped as he pleases, so all people are in the hand of their Maker, and they will be given whatever he decides. Sirach 33:13

Baptized persons are not “depraved”

I agree with this! After all, we are made into new creations (1 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15) and are free now from our obligation to our old sinful selves (Rom. 8:12) … However, though this part is not an issue, it is more about how we get there—by God’s grace and call, for we ourselves are incapable before our cleansing of responding except when God’s Spirit so enables us. This is the essence of total depravity: Man’s inability to seek or please God without his own intervention and regeneration (if this be the correct term).

Both “pots,” as long as they don’t resist God’s molding, will come into His house. It’s only the pots that resist God’s molding and try to become trash cans when God wants them to be vases, or try to be vases when God wants them to be trash cans, that will actually be tossed out onto the trash heap.

For example, the Little Flower wanted to be a missionary and travel all over the world, but she ended up becoming a cloistered nun three blocks from the house where she was born. She didn’t resist God’s plan for her life, though - instead, she embraced it, and today, people all over the world learn about Jesus by reading her diaries.

Mother Teresa, on the other hand, wanted to go home and live a quiet convent life, but instead, God called her to Calcutta and put her on the world stage during her lifetime. She, too, embraced God’s will for her life, and she is remembered as a wonderfully holy nun.

In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction (literally, “fitted,” or “made” for destruction). Romans 9:21-22

This does not sound at all like the God of Jesus Christ. I think maybe you are reading something out of context, or misunderstanding something. God does not create anyone “for wrath.” He loves all of us, and died on the Cross for all of us.

If anyone is “destined for destruction” it is because they have destined themselves for destruction, by obstinately choosing the path to Hell. There are plenty of people like that, but even they have the opportunity to repent and turn to God, right up until the very last moment.

Laudatur Iesus Christus.

These two lines appear in the summary of “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma," by Dr Ludwig Ott (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1974):

God, by His Eternal Resolve of Will, has predetermined certain men to eternal blessedness. (De fide.)

God, by an Eternal Resolve of His Will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection. (De fide.)

These are in the section titled “The Distribution of Actual Grace.” I do not have the book handy, and so cannot report the source cited for these teachings, which are said to be “de fide”.

It is interesting to note the distinction between “predetermined” and “predestines.” To my ear the distinction seems to be between “pre-decided” and “plans in advance.” “Predetermined” seems much more set than “predestined,” in this context. I wonder if this is a key to the difficulty with the Protestant reading of the word “predestined” in Scripture.

These two dogmas seem related to God’s intimate knowledge of each person, even before the person is created. To me this suggests that God finds value in, loves, and creates even people who He knows by foresight will reject His love in any circumstances in which His respect for free will will allow them to be placed.

This suggests that we are to love sinners – even when it seems clear that they will never repent. We should be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; He loves even those who will go to hell.

The dogmas also suggest that anyone who desires to repent will be given the grace to do so, since the desire itself shows the person to be willing to turn to God and therefore outside the class of those who cannot be saved.

This suggests that we should never cease hoping for a living sinner’s conversion.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner

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