The conversion of Lydia by choice?


#1

The First Reading for Mon 6-May is Acts 16:11-15. One verse that puzzles me is about Lydia's conversion. Verse 14 reads:

*One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth. As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. *

My query is if the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying how much free choice did she exercise in the matter?

I ask this with the greatest respect for our Lord and Sacred Scripture. I hope to hereby grow in my understanding of these matters.

Thanks in advance.


#2

I've understood opening the heart to mean making it to be able to be understood. God made it so she could understand what Paul was teaching. It was still her that accepted it.

God could have opened her heart, and she could have still denied it, she just didn't.


#3

She had the same amount of free will as Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9). Lydia (and Paul, and everyone who ever became a true Christian) became a Christian by God's free choice (otherwise known as predestination). Of course, this is a Calvinistic perspective (and, I believe, taught clearly in Scripture). I know the Catholic Church has a different opinion, but you didn't ask for a Catholic explanation.


#4

[quote="Cachonga, post:3, topic:325402"]
She had the same amount of free will as Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9). Lydia (and Paul, and everyone who ever became a true Christian) became a Christian by God's free choice (otherwise known as predestination). Of course, this is a Calvinistic perspective (and, I believe, taught clearly in Scripture). I know the Catholic Church has a different opinion, but you didn't ask for a Catholic explanation.

[/quote]

The RCC does teach a form of predestination. Another explanation for that passage is that Lydia received the grace from God necessary to believe. As Christians, we believe that Faith is a Theological virtue, meaning it comes from God.


#5

"a form of predestination"? What about what the Scriptures teach? For example, John 6:44 says, "No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day." (DRA). We can see clearly that the opening of Lydia's heart was the Father's drawing her to Jesus. Because the Father drew her, she belongs to Jesus (God gave her the faith to be saved), and will be raised to eternal life in heaven. God didn't give her an "opportunity" to be saved. He had predestined her for salvation from before the foundation of the world (see Romans 8:28-30, Eph 1:4-6).


#6

The Catholic Church has ALWAYS taught the predestination of the Elect--if you don't believe me then look up what St. Thomas of Aquinas had to say about it.

Predestination does not contradict cooperation by not raising an impediment to God's grace which ALL of us must have to come to faith.

Catholics teach the predestination of the Elect. Catholics also say that we do not know exactly who the Elect are though God knows.


#7

[quote="Cachonga, post:5, topic:325402"]
"a form of predestination"? What about what the Scriptures teach? For example, John 6:44 says, "No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day." (DRA). We can see clearly that the opening of Lydia's heart was the Father's drawing her to Jesus. Because the Father drew her, she belongs to Jesus (God gave her the faith to be saved), and will be raised to eternal life in heaven. God didn't give her an "opportunity" to be saved. He had predestined her for salvation from before the foundation of the world (see Romans 8:28-30, Eph 1:4-6).

[/quote]

So you are repeating what I just said in different words and making it sound like we disagree?


#8

So you're saying the Church teaches that ONLY those drawn by the Father (also called the "elect") will be saved and go to Heaven? You're saying that the Church teaches that salvation is totally by God's sovereign choice and has nothing to do with the persons desires? I would suggest that either you have a misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church teaches, or the Catholic Church is using a definition of "predestination" that doesn't fit the Biblical example. Considering you started by saying that the Church teaches a "form of predestination". I'm inclined to believe there is a different definition of the word being applied.


#9

Eugene

I will try.

God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

God "melted" the heart of Moses.

I like (love) coffee.

My wife dislikes (hates and fears) coffee.

Coffee is the same, the difference is the person.

Also, the parable of the Sower of the Seed.

Farmers, God is the Farmer as Jesus says, go back every year to till the land.

Maybe others will believe early in life and others believe later in life.

ALL IS GRACE!


#10

Proverbs 10: 13—On the lips of him who has understanding wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.


#11

[quote="Cachonga, post:8, topic:325402"]
So you're saying the Church teaches that ONLY those drawn by the Father (also called the "elect") will be saved and go to Heaven? You're saying that the Church teaches that salvation is totally by God's sovereign choice and has nothing to do with the persons desires? I would suggest that either you have a misunderstanding of what the Catholic Church teaches, or the Catholic Church is using a definition of "predestination" that doesn't fit the Biblical example. Considering you started by saying that the Church teaches a "form of predestination". I'm inclined to believe there is a different definition of the word being applied.

[/quote]

So now you are putting words in my mouth to keep your argument going?


#12

[quote="Eugene, post:1, topic:325402"]
The First Reading for Mon 6-May is Acts 16:11-15. One verse that puzzles me is about Lydia's conversion. Verse 14 reads:

*One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth. As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. *

My query is if the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying how much free choice did she exercise in the matter?

I ask this with the greatest respect for our Lord and Sacred Scripture. I hope to hereby grow in my understanding of these matters.

Thanks in advance.

[/quote]

That's an interesting question, but I think it's like this. When we are listening to someone preaching, we may be just objectively taking it in, but then suddenly something opens us up to the words and their meanings, and we respond with belief and understanding. I think that's how it was with Lydia. She was listening to Paul, and suddenly what he was saying rang true to her and made a believer out of her. Yes I do think the Lord has a hand in it. Often when we have that sense of epiphany, it is the Lord open our hearts.


#13

I'm putting words in your mouth by pointing out that we're not using the term "predestination" the same way? You're the one who said "The RCC does teach a form of predestination." I attempted to clarify my meaning, which you apparently misunderstood, because you then said, "So you are repeating what I just said in different words and making it sound like we disagree?". I do apologize that you misunderstood what my point was, but the point I was trying to make was that we do disagree because the Catholic Church teaches a "form of predestination" that I don't find in the Scriptures.


#14

Honestly, I'm still not quite clear as to Lydia's free choice. I thank all those who have correponded. This predestination and free will really puzzles me. I'm not really theologically inclined but I hope there is an explanation for the man on the street.

I like the analogy about the coffee. Thanks for that.

The best way I understand all this is that God presents something to us at certin times in our lives. I'll call it the gift of grace for want of a better term (sorry if this is not theologically correct). It is then up to us or the individual to accept the gift or not. That's the faith part. Am I correct?

I'd like to believe that everyone gets this gift presented to them at some time in their lives this side of heaven.

So this is what happened to Lydia? Then where does pre-destination come in? And yes, I am interested in a Catholic explanation.

Blessings to you all.


#15

[quote="Cachonga, post:3, topic:325402"]
She had the same amount of free will as Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9). Lydia (and Paul, and everyone who ever became a true Christian) became a Christian by God's free choice (otherwise known as predestination). Of course, this is a Calvinistic perspective (and, I believe, taught clearly in Scripture). I know the Catholic Church has a different opinion, but you didn't ask for a Catholic explanation.

[/quote]

Actually, since the poster is on a site called Catholic Answers, she probably is looking for a Catholic explanation.


#16

I don't want to presume what people are looking for (there have been a few threads that specifically asked for non-Catholic input, and I have started a few threads myself). However, now that the Op has made it clear he wants a Catholic explanation, I see no reason to continue on this thread (but if the Op, or anyone else, wants to continue the discussion with a Protestant, feel free to send me a PM).


#17

The Catholic Church teaches that all who come to faith have done so by the grace of God. What we don't teach is that some are excluded from the offering of that grace, in other words, that God is arbitrary in terms of who has the opportunity to be saved. Scripture says that God wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim 2:4. If His grace is required for His will (salvation for all) to be carried out, then it is nonsensical (not mention anti-Biblical) to suggest that God would refuse His grace to anyone. One Catholic site says succinctly "Catholics believe God gives everyone sufficient Grace to make him/her, using his/her freedom, turn to God and be saved". Clearly, not all are willing to receive His grace and are unmoved by His Holy Spirit. Thus, the sufficient grace given to them is inefficacious.

Lydia's conversion was her own choice of cooperating with God's grace. She was moved by grace, just like every single believer before her or since her. She freely accepted the gift of God in Christ Jesus and the salvific grace merited by Him. Because of her free will to choose to believe and receive Jesus, one could call her the predestined elect. God knew that she would accept His grace just as He knew who would betray Jesus. One could say Judas was predestined to be that betrayer. But it was still his choice to betray.

To clarify predestination from the Catholic position:

CCC 600 "To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace:...

CCC 2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion....

CCC 2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion...

CCC 259 Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.


#18

She had free choice.

We all have free choice,

The example I gave about Moses and Pharaoh, both of them had free choice.

They were both graced by God.

Moses was given more natural and supernatural grace.

Pharaoh was given grace in the sense that God was speaking to him, perhaps personally, but especially through Moses.

The mystery of our own consciousness and free will are difficult to understand. So, too, historical figures from 3500 years ago.

Pharaoh could have repented, for all we know. That is why I said God is a farmer; He comes back to the same field every year.


#19

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