The Church on Free Will

Hello everyone! I have another question about the church’s teachings on free will. It is my personal belief that while people’s environments and circumstances greatly affect the way people see the world and can make people susceptible to committing sins, each individual has a choice to do good or evil regardless of those circumstances. Basically, I think that while people’s environments affect them a lot, we ultimately have control of our own actions. Is this what the Catholic Church teaches?

1 Like

I know this isn’t the first question related to philosophy that I’ve asked on here, so I’m sorry if it’s annoying anyone :sweat_smile:

Yeah that sounds about accurate.

It’s not a word that comes up much anymore, but when the Church was having debate about free will and justification a very long time ago, it ultimately settled with the “semi-Augustinian” view. It mostly accepted St Augustine’s explanation, with a few caveats.

The semi-Augustinian view is that people have free will, but because of their corrupt and weakened nature, they do not have sufficient ability or power to use their free will to obey God. An analogy that was used is that we have the notion that we can walk, but we are crippled and so we can’t follow through with it. We need divine aid from God, and then when we give God our consent, he can work through us and allow us to walk.

1 Like

Thank you so much, this is a great response! I was mainly asking this because I’m a psychology student, and I tend to view people’s lives as a series of complicated cause-and-effects. I definitely have seen firsthand how our environments can shape us into the people we are today, but I also believe that in the end we get to decide who to be.

PLEASE TK421 CONSIDER

When an architect designed a building, he designed every event down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete his building.

He gives the builders the building design, which contains every event down to its minutest details.

He causes every event/ act, which events/ acts tailor made to each of his builders to complete the building. – NO CAVEATS ON IT.

His building design creates/causes the builders their *DETERMINED WILL and their DETERMINED CHOICES which determined choices need to perform to complete his building. – NO CAVEATS ON IT.

.
GOD DESIGNED THE UNIVERSE AND WE ARE HIS BUILDERS

God designed the universe includes this world, He Designed, Decreed, Foreordained and He causes every event/ act according to His design down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete His creation. – NO CAVEATS ON IT.

Without even knowing, we are God’s builders, every choice we make, every act we perform, tailor made to each of us, and Designed, Decreed, Foreordained by God from all eternity and He causes us to do in order to complete the work of creation. – NO CAVEATS ON IT.

.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Free Will explains;

“God is the author of all causes and effects. God’s omnipotent providence exercises a complete and perfect control over all events that happen, or will happen, in the universe.” – This can be happen only if God Designed, Decreed, Foreordained and He causes every our actions, WITHOUT ANY CAVEATS ON IT.

.
CCC 307 God thus enables men to be intelligent and free, causes in order to complete the work of creation, … Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will. – NO CAVEATS ON IT.
.
De gratia et libero arbitrio 16, 32: “It is certain that we will when we will; but He brings it about that we will good … . It is certain that we act when we act, but He brings it about that we act , providing most effective powers to the will.
.
Aquinas said, “ God changes the will without forcing it. But he can change the will from the fact that he himself operates in the will as he does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9. 31. ST I-II:112:3. 32. Gaudium et Spes 22; "being. – NO CAVEATS ON IT.
.
CCC 2022; The divine initiative (supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul) in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man.
.
St. Thomas teaches that all movements of will and choice must be traced to the divine will: and not to any other cause, because Gad alone is the cause of our willing and choosing. CG 3.91.
.
As we see above TK421, every our act down to its minutest details, Designed, Decreed, Preordained by God from all eternity and He causes us to perform every our preordained acts. – CCC 307, CCC 308, CCC 310, CCC 314, etc.

We need divine aide from God, God provides all His aides necessary, which aides causes us to freely walk.NO CAVEATS, NO IFS OR BUTS.
.
God bless

There are two types of free will, libertarian free will and aided free will.

LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL:
Libertarian free will is basically the concept that, metaphysically and morally, man is an autonomous being, one who operates independently, not controlled by others or by outside forces.
.
The Catholic Church vehemently rejects LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL as follows:

The Council of Sens (1140) condemned the idea that free will is sufficient in itself for any good. Donez., 373.

Council of Orange (529)
In canon 20, entitled that Without God Man Can Do No Good. . . Denz., 193; quoting St. Prosper.

In canon 22, says, No one has anything of his own except lying and sin. Denz., 194; quoting St. Prosper.
.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA Divine Providence explains;
Life everlasting promised to us, (Romans 5:21); but unaided we can do nothing to gain it (Rom.7:18-24).

.
The Catholic Church dogmatically teaches AIDED FREE WILL as follows:

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott;

For every salutary act internal supernatural grace of God (gratia elevans) is absolutely necessary, (De fide dogma).

There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will, (De fide dogma).
.
Aquinas said, “ God changes the will without forcing it. But he can change the will from the fact that he himself operates in the will as he does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9. 31. ST I-II:112:3. 32. Gaudium et Spes 22; "being …
.
CCC 308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator.
God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes:
"For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it.
.
Ez. 36:27 I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.

John 15:5; “… for without Me you can do nothing.”
.
St. Thomas teaches that all movements of will and choice must be traced to the divine will: and not to any other cause, because Gad alone is the cause of our willing and choosing. CG, 3.91.
.
THIS IS THE WAY ABOVE, God helps us that we ALWAYS FREELY will what God wills us to will, and we ALWAYS FREELY do what God wills and causes us to do.
.
If God himself would not operate in our wills, we could not do even one single good deed in all our life.
.
CCC 301 God does not abandon HIS CREATURES to themselves.
He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, utter dependence enables them to act and brings them to their final end .
Recognizing this with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence.
.
God bless

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a3.htm

What document is this from?

Thank you so much!

You are welcome. Note also from the Catechism

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; 620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”: 621

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen. 622

2 Likes

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.