This question came up in a thread on predestination and I thought it would be a interesting topic of discussion. Was the fall of man foreordained by God - a divine decree - or did it just happen and God had to “clean up the mess?” If the death of Christ on the Cross was foreordained, wouldn’t the Fall also be foreordained, since the Fall must precede the Cross? How do you reconcile the Fall with Divine Providence?
Calvinists believe that the fall of man was an eternal decree of God. Also, that God is the ultimate, but not the efficient, cause of sin. If the death of Christ on the Cross was predestined by God, wouldn’t that require the Fall to be predestined as well, since one event depends upon the other? How is the Catholic view of the fall different from the Calvinist one?
All “predestination” must be seen in the light of the FACT that free will exists.
If you posit that free will doesn’t really exist, because it SEEMS to be “negated” by the FACT that God’s will is always done, then you’re stuck with the course of the universe being “once and for all utterly decided” and your “free will” is an illusion.
The truth is that you can’t collapse the mystery of “free will” and “God’s will” into a nice neat “answer”.
Free will DOES exist, and God won’t not respect it.
God’s will DOES exist, and all that happens IS God’s will.
To claim the two are mutually exclusive is heresy, and an “idolatrous” imposition of human “reason” on God,… setting man’s “reason” above God’s revelation.
(( The revelation that both free will AND God’s will exist simultaneously. ))
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E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.
God did not cause Adam and Eve to sin. “Foreordained” is incorrect in the sense that God was not the cause of The Fall, but the injured party in it. Adam and Eve, granted sufficient grace to hew to God, chose to sin, and in so doing, warped all of Creation. It is a measure of God’s love for us that he did not destroy them and begin anew.
Calvinists err greatly in the supposition that God is in any manner responsible for sin. Erasmus tried to correct Luther on this error; Luther, as always, listened to nothing but the sound of his own voice, echoing The Fall.
That seems a reasonable way to put it to me, although God being outside of Time only foresaw from our time-bound perspective.
You raise a very interesting point in that Adam and Eve’s sin in a very real fashion necessitated God’s incarnation and sacrifice. We made a mess of Creation which He had to clean up at great cost.
I believe it is a very great error to entertain any notion that He was complicit in the corruption of Creation, as Calvinists do and as Luther did with his notion of Man being a horse driven hither and yon depending on whether God or Satan was in the saddle at the moment (cf “On the Enslaved Will”).
A Calvinist will say that this would make God “a student or observer of His own creation” and not its sovereign Lord. That God’s divine plan is dependant upon the choice of his own creature, the Creator made subject to His creation? At least that’s what a Calvinist would say.
A God who gives us Free Will to accept His Graces or deny them would be an observer of His own creation. I have no problem with that statement. I prefer that than to consider God little more than a mere Puppeteer.
If you follow this Calvinist view, then you would conclude that God forced Satan to revolt as well.
Sure—but Calvinists do tend to start with their own theology and reason backwards from it. If the Gnostics were the mystery religionists amongst the Christians, the Calvinists seem to be against any mystery whatsoever.
The ultimate mystery if we lack free will is why God would be so wasteful with souls, creating so many to fill the Pit.
One would think if they were correct the parables of the sheep and the prodigal son would have been much different, with the shepherd driving most of his own flock away and the father booting his son out of the house.
The real tragedy of The Fall is that God so loved us, and we disappointed Him so terribly. How hard it must have been for Him to see His gift of free will used to turn away from Him!
The only place in the New Testament Scriptures that I know of that uses the word “foreordained” with respect to Christ is here:
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.1 Peter 1 (New King James Version)
I take this to mean that it was foreordained by God that Jesus the man would be the one God chose to carry out his mission of salvation on earth. This was a choice that God made before the creation of the world. He must have done so with the knowledge that Jesus in his human nature would respond perfectly in accordance with God’s will, but I see nothing that would suggest Jesus was forced to do the will of the Father.
On the other hand, I see no such term used with regard to Adam and the Fall. Adam was not chosen as the one who would fulfill some plan that God had to plunge all of humanity into sin. That this happened and that God knew beforehand that it would happen does not logically necessitate God’s desire that it happen, or that Adam was chosen to carry out a mission in the way that Christ was.
Finally, I have to wonder about the use of the terms efficient cause and ultimate cause. I believe that what the Calvinists mean are proximate cause and ultimate cause, and that the proximate clause is really the slave of ultimate cause, meaning that free will is an illusion and has no meaning beyond man being a tool that necessarily carries out the will of the ultimate cause.
Your question deals with the issue of God creating Adam knowing full well that Adam would sin, yet created Adam anyway. Yes, God did this and it in no way makes Him the author of sin nor means Adam did not have free will, God permitted this because He respected Adam’s free will. Calvinists would not reason in this way, rather they say God created Adam knowing Adam would sin precisely because God wanted sin and infact set things up so that sin would occur (including denying Adam’s free will).
On the very subject of God’s plan for redemption the Catechism says: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: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.396
Two critical things are taught here. First, God is outside of time, thus free will can exist without violating God or man. Second, God uses mans sins and turns them around for good. In other words, even when men think they are rebelling against God they are actually playing into His hands (long term plans). Catholics believe God allows evil but will make it play out for good in the end where as Calvinists believe God causes the evil for His own “good” purposes.
There is a fundamental Catholic principal at stake here, that is the teaching that “the END does NOT justify the means”. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor might have a good intention (end) but it is still theft (means) and theft is a sin. Calvinists reject this principal when it comes to God.
It’s an eternal connundrum, if God is really omnipotent then He knew exactly what Adam would do before Adam was even created. So in essence it was pre-ordained by God. Same thing with every person, before they are created God knows if they will end up in hell or Heaven.
Oh I disagree, omnipotent means “all-knowing” God can’t be “all knowing” if He didn’t know Adam woudl indeed do exactly what he did. God would also not be able to claim omnipotence if He didn’t know that John Doe of Staten Islan NY would die this mornign in a state of mortal sin and recieve eternal fire.
If God is all powerful and all knowing, then God knows that today John Doe of Staten Island NY will die in a state of mortal sin outside the Church and recieve eternal fire before John Doe of Staten Island was even created.
Also nothing happens not even an ant walking unless it’s willed by God. When a serial killer rapes and kills a woman God knew this would happen from before the beginning of time. Yet God created the guy anyway. Therefore who we are good or evil has to be predestined.
The only possibility for an all knowing all powerful God is if evil and good is predestined. You and I can no more change our life than a leopard can change its spots. God knew everything before we were ever born.
Unfortunately He certainly does and that is his sovereign right. WHy He does this He knows and His ways are not our ways. You can NOT have an omnipotent, omniscient God and then claim He didn’t create the evil that plagues our world, He most certainly did. IF as you claim He didn’t, then God can not be all knowing and all powerful. You would have to settle for a weaker God.
If God knows exactly what evil a person will commit before their very creation, and creates them anyway. Then God most certainly is the creator…
This is the only way for God to be omnipotent and omniscient.