Tackling Predestination

Salve,

Right now I’m debating a non-denominational, former Baptist Christian. This person believes in Predestination, as well as salvation by faith alone.

Now, I know how to combat regular salvation by faith alone pretty well by now (I’ve debated that one a lot). But I’ve never met somebody who actually believed in predestination. This throws a whole new curveball in the mix. This person claims that works are unnecessary for salvation because you’re not really doing anything, it just seems like you are when in reality God is doing all the work of accepting his forgiveness and all that good stuff. She says that good works, like having love and forgiveness, can get us to higher “places” in Heaven…that even the most horrible sinner who has been “chosen” by God to have faith in him will make Heaven, just a low place in Heaven.

Now, this person is very well meaning and seems interested in real discussion. For that reason, I DON’T want to hear all the Catholics here complaining about how horrible this type of God would be and how cruel he would be to create creatures predestined not to choose him and all that. I agree with all of that. But that would only offend the person I’m debating and push them away from further discussion. What I’m asking for are reasons that predestination doesn’t make sense, preferably biblical.

Thanks for the help!

-Marc Anthony

Marc,

I would suggest the Parable of the Talents in Mark 25. Explain that the talents represent the faith passed down to us, the servants of God. Those who make use of their faith through works are given places in Heaven, but those who simply keep their faith as ‘enough’ are thrown into the darkness (damnation).

May not be 100% dead-on, but I like to think it’s a decent starting point.

Best of luck!

Catholics believe in predestination, just not “double predestination” in which God “passes over” His grace to some people, thus giving them no chance at heaven.

Here are 2 articles that have helped me.

Tiptoe through TULIP by Jimmy Akin (go to the Perseverance of the Saints part)
Predestination by Dr. Ludwig Ott (whose book is used to train seminarians as I understand)

If God has given us free will we are all able to embrace the faith. For, the faith is a product of the will - we choose to have it or to turn away. Judas knew the truth of Jesus, he witnessed the miracles; and yet chose to turn away; likewise - many people who have not seen the miracles of Christ or indeed any miracles have turned to faith. Therefore faith is a choice.

To say that those who have it have it so through it’s implantation through God, and not through the works of evangalisation is to deny the value of all religious discourse; as if such elections are predetermined by God and not through man; there cannot be a birth of faith in anyone not so chosen to do so.

Furthermore; this person is incongruous, because on one hand it is said that “works” are irrelevant to us being saved tacitly admits that being christian is not nessecary for being saved; for if one is saved by the will of God then one is saved regardless of ones future desertion of christ. Therein, if one has been elected by God to go to heaven by a form of predestination then one’s apostacy from one’s church is irrelevant; at least in determining the general place of ones eternal life.

Total predestination or unconditional election is contrary to the gift of free will, contrary to Genesis and the knowlege of Good and Evil, contrary to Jesus telling the disciples to preach, contrary to the ten commandments, contrary to Noah’s flood, contrary to all moral decency.

Quite simply; James 2:20 “Faith Without Works is Dead”

:thumbsup:

As a former Calvinist, and a recent convert, I could give you plenty of scriptures highlighting their point of view if you’d like a bit of foreknowledge :smiley: on what to expect. Unfortunately, those things you said you don’t want to hear about are to a large degree what brought on my conversion. I would suggest, however, a reading of the Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject of predestination:

newadvent.org/cathen/12378a.htm

I know its the old version but it addresses Calvin and the distinct position that the Catholic Church takes from him on the subject.

This always bothered me.

I never could wrap my head around a ‘single predestination’.

It’s like a bicycle with one wheel. I have never read a Latin Catholic explanation on the subject that has made enough sense to me.

1 Tim 2:3-4

God wills all to be saved.

Thanks for the link.

Actually, if it’s not too much trouble for you, it WOULD be quite helpful if you would post the Scripture passages and underlying logic (even if faulty) supporting predestination, so that I have a good idea of what to expect.

Thanks!

Thanks Marc, its never too much trouble to help. I want to make the point that if this person doesn’t take all 5 TULIP points, the entire structure of Calvinism basically falls apart. SO in order for this “predestination” to make sense from a Baptist/calvinist point of view, Total Depravity (a more extreme version of what we know as “original sin”), Unconditional Election (double predestination), Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints, must all stand or they all fail together.

As far as scriptures go, I’ll just start with the one below…

Calvinists won’t deny this point, but rather, they will cite that there are two wills of God; one that wishes all be saved, and yet another will preserving his character of supreme justice. As Paul said in Romans 9:21- NIV, “21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Furthering his case, Romans 9:22-23 - NIV “22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory” Notice here the NIV uses the word “patience”. As a Calvinist, trying to push idea that the Calvinist mindset can provide immense freedom and joy, I would’ve brought out that the KJV translates this word as “longsuffering”, meaning God didn’t like it but needed to do it to preserve his character as just and wrathful, as well as merciful.

Another passage that’s I always liked as well was Jude 3-4, " 3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about** long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Now at first glance it might seem like Jude is making the same old argument toward OSAS, “so you think you can do whatever you want”, but this is not the case… He characterizes these “certain men” as “godless men” meaning never saved in the first place. So, IF, the theology of the time was prevalently dependent upon the works of man and our current state of grace, the how on earth could these men “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality”? Rather, if the theology was aligned with OSAS/calvinist thought, it would be rather easy to “change” the teachings of this church into a “license for immorality”.

Hebrews 6:4 is a good answer to OSAS/Perseverance of the Saints, " 4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because**to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." Sounds to me like a “saved” person can “fall away” (granted this is hypothetical, as the Calvinist would be sure to point out).

John 6 has tons of stuff for the Calvinist… OSAS/Unconditional Election John 6:39-40"39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him** shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:44 OSAS/Unconditional Election: “44"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
and John 6:65 Unconditional Election/Limited Atonement: "65He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”**

continued from above…

As a Calvinist though, my favorite was Romans 9…
Romans 9:11-13, “11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[d] 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”[e]” Hmmmm, God “hated” Esau before he was born and did anything good or bad, in order that his purpose in election might stand?

14-15, " 14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Calvinist stick to this, to say that he is choosy with his mercy and compassion, ie limited atonement…

16-18, "16It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. "
Calvinist - Unconditional Election

19, "19One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” "
Ahhh, here we go with Irresistable Grace

20-21, "20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ “[h] 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”
and here we have support for the entire TULIP thing, with a grand finale of Romans 9:21-23 which I quoted above.

Here’s the problem with it all, firstly I do believe Paul is making a point about God’s sovereignty, but not so much in choosing between individual people but rather about Paul’s people, the Jews, the hardships they had to come, and their denial of their messiah, as all this had been prophesied. As Paul continues to point out in verses 25-29, "25As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”* 26and,
"It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ "[j]

27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”[k]

29It is just as Isaiah said previously:
“Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.”[l]"

The context of the end of Romans 8 where Paul is explaining the joyous and loving position Christ has provided for us, and to contrast in Romans 9:2-3, “2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race”, Paul is lamenting about his people the Jews and their rejection of Christ.

Sorry for such a long post and I apologize ahead of time for any errors I may have made. I was rather in a hurry here at work…
Peace*

Greetings, brother!

You can check out the first 5 chapters of Garrigou-Lagrange’s Predestination.

And I saw a quote from Augustine in your signature! :slight_smile: He’s the go-to guy on this doctrine (and most any doctrine, really) if you ask me. You’ll find that there is much that you’ll be able to affirm in your friend’s understanding. Reading any of his anti-Pelagian writings will help. But it may be best to start with On the Predestination of the Saints and On the Gift of Perseverance.

“Will any man dare to say that God did not foreknow those to whom He would give to believe, or whom He would give to His Son, that of them He should lose none? And certainly, if He foreknew these things, He as certainly foreknew His own kindnesses, wherewith He condescends to deliver us. This is the predestination of the saints,–nothing else; to wit, the foreknowledge and the preparation of God’s kindnesses, whereby they are most certainly delivered, whoever they are that are delivered” (On the Gift of Perseverance).

I say, send your friend to Augustine! If your friend takes the time to read his writings, what will happen is that he will find much in what Augustine says to be pleasing, which will make him want to read more. But he will at the same time be adjusted and corrected in his own thinking and be exposed to a firm exposition on other Catholic doctrines that he would otherwise not be exposed to.

“[W]ho causes that men should be good save Him who said, ‘And I will visit them to make them good?’ And who said ‘I will put my Spirit within you, and will cause you to walk in my righteousness, and to observe my judgments, and do them?’ Are ye thus not yet awake? Do ye not yet hear, ‘I will cause you to walk’, ‘I will make you to observe’, lastly, ‘I will make you to do’? What! Are you still puffing yourselves up? We indeed walk, it is true; we observe; we do; but He makes us to walk, to observe, to do. This is the grace of God making us good; this is His mercy preventing us” (, Bk. 4Against Two Letters of the Pelagians).

Catholics, he says in this book, “assert God’s grace above free will, as antecedent to all merit, so as truly to afford a gratuitous divine assistance” …] “Let them, then, who disdain, if they do not do any evil and if they do any good, to glory, not in themselves, but in the Lord, learn to be Catholics.”

“We do not say that by the sin of Adam free will perished out of the nature of men; but that it avails for sinning in men subjected to the devil; while it is not of avail for good and pious living, unless the will itself of man should be made free by God’s grace, and assisted to every good movement of action, of speech, of thought… all are born under sin on account of the fault of propagation, and…, therefore, all are under the devil until they are born again in Christ… nor does man at all begin to be changed by the beginning of faith from evil to good, unless the unbought and gratuitous mercy of God effects this in him” (, Bk. 2Against Two Letters of the Pelagians).

“Augustine would seem to have wrested the palm from all. Of a most powerful genius and thoroughly saturated with sacred and profane learning, with the loftiest faith and with equal knowledge, he combated most vigorously all the errors of his age… How subtly he reasoned on… the will and free choice” (Pope Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris).

“Hormisdas wrote in answer to Bishop Possessor’s request for direction these weighty words: ‘What the Roman, that is, the Catholic Church follows and maintains touching free will and the grace of God, can be learned from the different works of blessed Augustine’…

“Finally by a Divine impulse, he carried over many years his study of the ruin of the human race after the sin of our first parents, of the relation between the grace of God and free will, and of what goes by the name of predestination. So closely did he study the subject and with such happy results, that he was deemed the Doctor of Grace and was so entitled. He led the way for all other Catholic writers of later ages, to whom he reached a helping and a restraining hand, lest in their discussion of these intricate problems they err one way or the other: either by teaching that free will in man, once his original justice was lost, is but a name and no more, as the early Protestants and the Jansenists held; or that divine grace was not a free gift and was not all-powerful, as the Pelagians kept repeating” (Pope Pius XI, Ad Salutem Humani).

In Christ,
Pete

So many Calvinists do quote Augustine and cite him as a source for their doctrines. Calvin himself was a big fan of Augustine. The real kicker to this entire idea of “double predestination” for me actually had nothing to do with that theology in itself, it was rather the history of the Catholic Church and Jesus’ promise that she would never be overcome. Protestants and their theology is purposefully in direct conflict with the priesthood, the Church hierarchy, Church history, the Church existing as the visible Kingdom of God, and this promise of Jesus to Peter upon which he would build his Church and to whom he gave the keys to the kingdom. For me, the realization that all this was a blanket effort to deny and undermine the authority of the Church and the Papacy was enough to make me question everything. If your friend is trying to debate their stance of “double predestination” by characterizing your faith “works based” they’re severely mistaken and merely regurgitating the lies of their leaders. A serious look at the history of the Protestant Reformation and what a debacle that was contrasted with the ongoing historical teachings of the Catholic Church should be enough to make anyone who is willing think about what they “know”.

The “double” refers to God willing people to heaven and to hell. I’m not too familiar with Catholics using the term “single” predestination, though. Did you have a source in mind?

I have been at this for a long time. I have had two public debates, and 1000’s of private debates. In my debates with (private) with Calvinists, who believed in predestination (no free will–as Catholics we believe in predestination, but we believe God does not violate our free will) I have never gotten an answer for 1 Timothyy 4:10. Christ is the savior of all, espeicially those who believe." This verse totally refutes double predestination as calvinists believe. They dont believe Christ really is the savior of “all.”

This fits the Catholic position to a T. Since we believe that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficent foe ALL, but only put into effect for the believers. See the above verse…

here is a little more from Q & A from John Salza (this will help)

"Predestination and Free Will in John 6
Stephanie: Hello John. I have greatly enjoyed your site and have used it to support by Catholic beliefs several times among Protestant friends, particularly on the purgatory issue and the works/faith issue. I am writing in regards to an issue that has come up several times among my Protestant friends but that I don’t know how to refute well based on scripture. I was wondering if you have done any research on the Calvinistic idea of predestination/predetermination. I have gotten into a few debates on this issue with a Presbyterian friend of mine who keeps insisting the Catholic Church is wrong about their belief on freewill. He quoted some versus to support his idea. The one I had most difficultly with was Romans 9:18-24. There was also another verse he used, which I can’t remember where in the gospels it is located, but it basically said “No one comes to the Father unless God wills them to come to Him (paraphrase).” I looked up predestination on the internet and found that the Catholic Church agrees with the doctrine but also believes in freewill? I am slightly confused on this matter and how to respond to my friend because it was my understanding that the Catholic Church was very pro-freewill and anti-Calvinism. I know you are busy, but if you have anytime to look into this issue I would greatly appreciate it. God bless, Stephanie

J. Salza: Stephanie, when we study Scripture and predestination, we must remember that there are two sides to the equation: what God does, and what we do. Some Scriptures deal only with what God does, and others only with what we do, but we cannot interpret them in isolation. Proper exegesis of Scripture means to read what the text says, and harmonize it with the entire Bible. We further cannot assert what is not there, and deny what is not there either.

Let’s remember this as we look at Romans 9: Verses 18-19 is about what God does, verses 20 is about what we do, verses 21-24 is about what God does. There is nothing in these verses that says that God predetermines anyone to heaven or hell. There is nothing in these verses that tell us how we know we are in the elect. The verses are only about God’s power (which is infinite), and our human response (which is not). Note in the same letter, Paul clearly teaches that God judges people based upon their works, and that people can lose their salvation if they do evil. See Rom. 2:5-8; 14:10,12.

The verse you also referred to is John 6:37-44. In verse 37, Jesus is saying that those the Father draws by His prevenient grace will come to Jesus. But note that it doesn’t say that the drawing is an “irresistible decree” like the Calvinists claim, or that the people who are drawn will remain with Jesus until “the last day.” In verse 39, Jesus says it is not the Father’s will that Jesus should lose any of what He gave Jesus. This is true. But this only deals with the Father’s will, not human will, which could ultimately reject Jesus. Verse 40 again is about God’s will; it does not address the human will, which could choose to reject Jesus at some point in the future.

In verse 44, Jesus affirms that no one comes to Him unless the Father draws him. This is true; it is speaking of the fact that we cannot come to Christ but by God’s grace. But again, it says nothing about remaining with Jesus or being eternally secure with Jesus. There are many other Scriptures that talk about how we can actually lose our salvation (Rom. 11:20-23; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Cor. 11:2-3, etc.). So, when a Scripture describes God’s divine action (the predestination side), we cannot exclude human response (the free will side). Calvinists, for example, automatically isogete the passages that deal with God’s divine action by excluding human free will actions. But this is not proper biblical exegesis."

link to the full respone:scripturecatholic.com/justification_qa.html#scripture-I

The overwhelming weight of scripture shows that God chooses us and gives the elect the ability to be saved. Not everyone will even hear there is a God. Remember He first loved us. Here are some more verses. This is by no means an exhaustive list just few.

Election
Rom 9:11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand:

Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

Rom 11:28 Concerning the Good News, they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake.

1 Thes 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be more diligent to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.

Rom 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Titus1:1-3 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,

Predestination
Lk 22:22 For indeed the Son of Man goes on His way–His pre-destined way; yet alas for that man who is betraying Him!"

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

Acts 17:31 seeing that He has appointed a day on which, before long, He will judge the world in righteousness, through the instrumentality of a man whom He has pre-destined to this work, and has made the fact certain to every one by raising Him from the dead.

Rom 8:29-30 For those whom He has known beforehand He has also pre-destined to bear the likeness of His Son, that He might be the Eldest in a vast family of brothers; and those whom He has pre-destined He also has called; and those whom He has called He has also declared free from guilt; and those whom He has declared free from guilt He has also crowned with glory.

1 Chor 2:7 But in dealing with truths hitherto kept secret we speak of God’s wisdom–that hidden wisdom which, before the world began, God pre-destined, so that it should result in glory to us;

Eph 1:5 For He pre-destined us to be adopted by Himself as sons through Jesus Christ–such being His gracious will and pleasure

Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

Eph 2:10For we are God’s own handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works which He has pre-destined us to practise.

1 Thes 2:9 For God has not pre-destined us to meet His anger, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

2 Thes 2:13-14 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose youb to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Heb 1:2 has at the end of these days spoken to us through a Son, who is the pre-destined Lord of the universe, and through whom He made the Ages

1 Peter 1:20 He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through Him,

2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are thus pre-destined to dissolution, what sort of men ought you to be found to be in all holy living and godly conduct,

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed–men spoken of in ancient writings as pre-destined to this condemnation–ungodly men, who pervert the grace of our God into an excuse for immorality, and disown Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord.

1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

2 Tim. 1:9-10 9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Rom 8:28-33 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,j whok have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

John 17:24; Eph. 1:3-14; ; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Divine election is a continuous theme in Paul’s Epistles (Rom. 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; 16:13; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 ).

Well, there you go. How would one refute the claims and scriptural evidence jericho makes and is using?

Predestination was taught by Calvin, and that some are just SOL through no fault of their own.
Catholics do not believe in Calvin’s teachings.

Catholics believe that "God made us to know, love, obey and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in Heaven.
However He gave everyone a free will. Choose to follow God, or choose to follow the Devil.
Individuals determine if they will go to Hell based upon their actions.
There are several paragraphs on this type of predestination in the CCC.

Hello,

First, let me say I’m a Calvinist. I believe in unconditional election. And I infer from that fact that this seems to also imply an unconditional reprobation. Let me preface my comments by distinguishing between election E (to salvation) and reprobation R (to hell).

The possible combinations are as follows:

  1. unconditional E, unconditional R (Calvin?)
  2. unconditional E, conditional R (Aquinas)
  3. conditional E, conditional R (Molina, Arminius)
  4. conditional E, unconditional R (nobody, as far as I know)

Roman Catholics are free to hold positions 2 OR 3 above. It’s an internal house debate that once divided the Dominicans and Jesuits to such a degree that the pope had to step in and say, “knock it off–you both may be right.”

I think either 1 or 2 is the most faithful interpretation of Scripture. So for me, the question is, whether or not God simply wills people to go to hell (1) or antecedently wills them to go to hell (2). Those who opt for (2) cite texts such as 1 Timothy 2:4 “God wills all men to be saved” and 2 Peter 3:9, God is not willing that “any should perish,” and generally appeal to God’s goodness. How can God be “good” if he simply wills people to Hell (i.e., for no apparent “reason”). This seems to ascribe to God an arbitrariness or even an injustice.

Here’s why I lean toward (1). First, neither the 1 Timothy text nor the 2 Peter text require the interpretation that position 2 gives them. In context, “all men” may refer to all men without distinction, rather than all men without exception. This is because Paul seems to be thinking about “types” of people (verse 1), such as kings and others in authority. Thus there are good contextual grounds for taking the “all” in a relative, rather than absolute sense. Remember, it is Paul who posits the idea that God is a potter who makes “vessels of wrath fit for destruction.” So it’s not at all obvious that Paul believed God intends to save everyone or even desires this.

As for the 2 Peter text, it is also possible that the “any” refers to those whom Peter is addressing in his letter. Peter may be saying, God doesn’t want any of you to perish, which explains why he is “patient toward you.” In context, “you” explains that Peter only has believers in mind. If you turn back a chapter to 2 Peter 2:4-10, you’ll see that Peter does not believe that God is “unwilling” that any should perish, since God in fact not only allowed, but actually caused many to parish eternally.

This brings us to the moral/philosophical objection, namely that God is unjust if He wills someone to hell or if He does not will everyone to be saved. This is precisely the objection that Paul anticipates in his argument in Romans 9: 19-20: "You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” This kind of argument echos the same words God said to Job when Job charged God with injustice: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4).

We worry about justifying God. But that’s not our place. “Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” (Romans 9: 14). We, as creatures, can’t put God on the judgment seat as if there were a standard of morality or goodness higher than God himself! The minute we allow ourselves to think that God is being unjust, then we implicitly invoke a standard of justice that is higher than God, thereby making INFINITE God relative to our FINITE concept of justice. That’s the point of Romans 9:19-20 and Job 38:4–to remind us that we’re finite and have to bow to mystery.

For this reason, there is no need to “get God off the hook.” Besides, we know that whoever goes to hell in fact freely chooses to do so. God simply allows the reprobate to go their own way. It’s not as if those in hell are saying, “I really loved God and wanted to be saved, but he rejected me despite my earnest desire for salvation.” The reprobate will weep and gnash teeth, eternally hardened of heart against God.

Sometimes we think that if God desires to save anyone, then to be fair, he must desire to save everyone. But why? By rights, God doesn’t have to save any of us, because, but for His Grace, we all would choose “our will be done,” rather than “thy will be done.” But the pattern of salvation is that out of the “many,” God chooses “some.” This is the scandal of particularity–the idea that God is somehow unjust for doing what He wants with his own creation. Isn’t that the point of the parable of the workers in the vineyard (see Matthew 20:1-16)–that God is sovereign?

In fact, we do not have to imagine God “actively” damning people to hell. We can see Him “passively” choosing NOT to give saving grace to the reprobate. But as Calvin pointed out, “those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he will to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children.” (Institutes 3, 23, 1). Calvin had the GUTS to draw out the logical inference from unconditional election. If God elects on the basis of his sovereign will (rather than anything he sees in us), then quite obviously He rejects those whom He does not choose.

Think about schoolyard sports. When teams are picked, there’s usually a few kids who get who get picked last or not picked at all. Every kid knows that those who weren’t picked for a team were rejected by those who did the picking. Yes, they were “skipped over.” But that’s the same as being “rejected.”

Thomas and the Catholic Church are trying to preserve God’s goodness by rejecting unconditional R. But if you’re going to allow for unconditional E, then have the GUTS to allow for unconditional R, which is the flip side of the coin.

Miguel,

You believe that there are actually people in the world then that you could look in the eye and honestly say, “God doesn’t love you.”?

This is not a bait question or a question that’s intended to make your POV look bad, I’m honestly curious.

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