What is the difference between Calivinistic predestination and Catholic predestination?


I don’t use the term myself although in a pinch it will do. Whether it’s the Thomist election without consideration of future merits or Molinist selection of the order of grace, These are God’s sole sovereign decree.

This is what i have been trying to convey. The Catholic study of predestination covers both God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.

And please don’t throw dictionary definitions. Even more so that secular dictionaries are next to useless for difficult theological concepts like predestination.


In a pinch you’ll describe God as arbitrary?

And please don’t throw dictionary definitions. Even more so that secular dictionaries are next to useless for difficult theological concepts like predestination.

God is not arbitrary. Period. There is no “yes maybe no” about it. If you can’t understand that, you don’t understand the theological concept of predestination or any other.


All right. Explain it to me.

Why is God not arbitrary period?

Do you even know the basics of the Thomist or Molinist schools? Just some posts up you admitted to having your eyes glaze over. Then you just come up here, wave your hand and say period?

So put up. Exercise the spiritual work of mercy of instructig the ignorant and Explain it to me. Maybe if you say period you should be ready to support your proposition.


Sure. Its very simple. Because God does all things out of love. Love is God’s reason for everything and therefore, God is not arbitrary. Period.

Maybe if you say period you should be ready to support your proposition.

Well, I hope you’ve learned your lesson for the day.


That is true and yet in the same breath we say God is sovereign. God does everything out of love, yes. That’s why we affirm he gives sufficient grace to all men. And yet the mystery of reprobation is de fide Catholic teaching too. This is because God’s sovereignty requires us to also believe that his chosen order of grace is in place solely by his free uncompelled choice and therefore some souls are reprobate to hell. That’s not me. That’s not even Calvinism. That’s Catholic teaching.

How we reconcile all this is a mystery and the Church has not defined it. She has only allowed what are acceptable opinions. But I am not going to deny one aspect of God in favour of another, despite the difficulty.

God is love, but he is also completely and totally uncompelled and free.


And you have thereby proven that God is not arbitrary.

we say God is sovereign.

Being sovereign does not require even a human king to be arbitrary. Much less all mighty God.

271 God’s almighty power is in no way arbitrary: "In God, power, essence, will, intellect, wisdom, and justice are all identical. Nothing therefore can be in God’s power which could not be in his just will or his wise intellect."110

Good night.


Thanks for this. Arbitrary is not the right word for sovereign.


You’re welcome.

Arbitrary is not the right word for sovereign.

You do know that this is only a secondary point in our discussion. The main point, really the only point that I’ve been trying to bring home, is that, “God is not arbitrary. Period.”

I think you understand. For the sake of anyone else reading our exchange, I want to plainly state it. “God is not arbitrary. Period.”


According to the Council of Valence III, AD 855:

… faithfully we confess the predestination of the elect to life, and the predestination of the impious to death; in the election, moreover, of those who are to be saved,** the mercy of God precedes the merited good.** In the condemnation, however, of those who are to be lost, the evil which they have deserved precedes the just judgment of God. In predestination, however, (we believe) that God has determined only those things which He Himself either in His gratuitous mercy or in His just judgment would do… in regard to evil men, however, we believe that God foreknew their malice, because it is from them,** but that He did not predestine it**, because it is not from Him. (We believe) that God, who sees all things, foreknew and predestined that their evil deserved the punishment which followed, because He is just, in whom as Saint Augustine says, there is concerning all things everywhere so fixed a decree as a certain predestination. " (Denzinger 322)


Seems like the difference is not in the results then, but only in the process by which the result was attained. The elect end up in Heaven, and the damned end up in Hell. The same result for either Calvin or Catholicism.


Result yes. The main sticking point for heretical Calvinist predestinationism is that it holds on to the so-called double predestination, that is, it includes God reprobating people without any consideration of any foreseen sins. That is, God actively predestines certain people to hell, and that’s that. It’s contrary to God’s holiness and justice, and denies the universal desire for salvation, which is scriptural.

One half of Calvinism is in fact acceptable, and this is expressed as the Thomist/Banezan position. The other half is just monstrous and rightly condemned.

The Catholic Church does teach reprobation, i.e. predestination to hell, but it’s always on account of foreseen demerits. How this happens, again, is not defined. However, I find the Molinist position to make more sense, as the Thomist position, while they posit only a negative reprobation, the net effect is still the same as that in Calvinism, so I find it much less satisfying, much as I like their position on predestination to blessedness.


If God did not predestine their malice, what other option is there?

In my opinion, God predestined them to good, and therefore, to heaven. What do you think?


So in Calvinism the theory is that some people are predestined to Hell, regardless of their actions. So they could (theoretically) never mortally sin but still end up in Hell. Whereas the Catholic position is that they were predestined to mortal sin and therefore go to Hell?

Or is it that they were not predestined to mortal sin but will mortally sin? But then if they are not predestined to mortally sin then they could (theoretically) have chosen otherwise and were not predestined to Hell. So there would be no predestination.

But for the first, if they were predestined to mortally sin then it’s basically the same thing as Calvinism just using slightly different words.

I mean, I’m okay with whatever God chooses to do, and I will believe whatever the Church tells me to believe, but I don’t see how “predestined to sin mortally” and “predestined to Hell” are functionally different.


Yeah, it’s tough.

Catholicism requires us to affirm multiple things, regardless of which school we tend to follow, and the denial of any of which is heresy:

  1. God’s sovereignty (i.e. his total and absolute freedom to lay out any order of grace or elect people, or: predestination is a decree of the divine will, not just passive foreknowledge).
  2. Man’s free will.
  3. The Universal Desire for Salvation (i.e. and therefore its corollary, that God gives sufficient grace to every human being).

Your issues cited are why I have a problem with the Thomist position, which is what you’re expressing using slightly different terms. Thomism has a good explanation for predestination to blessedness (ante praevisa merita) but not for reprobation, which is effectively the same as Calvinist double predestination expressed only negatively.

The reason I’m more comfortable with the Molinist position is that it posits God as knowing how all people would respond to differing orders of grace, and in light of this knowledge, freely decides to lay out one fixed, definitive order of grace (this one in which we live). Presumably, we must affirm that this order of grace is sufficient for all men, but God also knows which souls will cooperate and which souls will reject. In light of this knowledge, God elects or reprobates. Molinism is therefore, as contrasted with Thomism, post praevisa merita or demerita, for election and reprobation respectively.

The difference between the Molinist position and the simplistic “predestination=foreknowledge” argument is that God’s sovereignty is respected (that is, God freely, out of nothing but his sovereign will, lays out a fixed order of grace), as is man’s free will. The problem with simplistic explanation at “predestination=foreknowledge” is that it puts the onus solely or mostly on man’s free will without respecting God’s sovereignty and eternal decree. Catholic predestination requires us to affirm both.

Probably next to the Trinity itself, predestination is likely the second most difficult theological concept in Catholicism. So much so that the Church has not defined exactly how it happens. She only lays out parameters, within which multiple, if contrasting opinions are considered acceptable. However, predestination and reprobation are both de fide, and therefore, rejecting them is not an option.


I think this is another way of saying that God did not cause their immoral choice, but did predetermine what He would do in His just judgment of those unbaptized in Christ and/or those finally impenitent in mortal sin.

Depends upon how you define “predestined.” If you mean God desires the salvation of all, I agree. That’s normally not what the Church means by that word.

Here’s a few references that may help distinguish the Catholic doctrine from Calvinist teaching…

According to Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

Vatican ll affirmed:


From the Catholic Pocket Dictionary, by Fr. John Hardon,

Note that PREDESTINARIANISM is a heresy rejected by the Church.

God bless,


Yes, that’s what I mean. Thanks.


For some posters:
why must God’s knowledge of a person’s destiny constitute force on his part?

We believe God knows all things “at once”, and at the same time we operate freely in time, participating in events that God knows “beforehand”. That is hard for the human mind to absorb. The terms in quotations are really inadequate expressions.


I am not a Calvinist but I find it hard to believe it is so difficult to just accept that “God can do WHATEVER He wants to do”.

Now I studied systematic theology in some detail. That was a long time ago. But the common historical thinking is that Calvin was also a Lawyer and he did cover the possible counter arguments in the very document. Whether one agrees with it or not is not the point. Piont is, any question is addressed in there.

Side note: Please don’t ask me to go through this again to “prove” anything. I have no wanting to prove anything. That is just my 2 cents. Any questions are actually discussed in there. Look it up if it is actually a concern. If not, just let it go. It’s not a “dogma” even for Calvinists.


No one disputes that. But God has revealed that He only does good because He does all things out of love.

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