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I'm starting this thread to talk about predestination, there's another one but it's for the more enlightened philosophers among us.
Thomism believes in a kind of predestination, then there's Calvin's version we hate so much. I have one question only on this matter.

Is it acceptable to say the Church teaches the following: that God wills all people to be saved, but only so many accept His grace of their own free will, the ones denying it achieving hell?

I ask, because I don't think the above statement has anything to do with predestination. Because of my extreme dislike of Protestantism, I at one time would have outright said the Church doesn't believe in predestination. I now know the issue is probably more complicated than that, like most religious affairs are.
(02-03-2011, 05:08 PM)randomtradguy Wrote: [ -> ]Is it acceptable to say the Church teaches the following: that God wills all people to be saved, but only so many accept His grace of their own free will, the ones denying it achieving hell?

I think so. It might be better to say he antecedently wills all to be saved, but he consequently wills some to be damned by virtue of their rejection of the means of salvation.

I think St. Alphonsus explains answers that question in an accessible way to regular people in his book  "Prayer: the Great Means of Salvation and Perfection."

This chapter proves God wills all to be saved:
http://copiosa.org/liguori_prayer/liguori_prayer4.htm

And this chapter shows that therefore God offers the means of salvation to all men, but some choose to reject it and therefore their damnation is their own fault only:
http://copiosa.org/liguori_prayer/liguori_prayer5.htm

(sorry for the weird colored text in the links)
Chesterton said the difference between the Catholic view of Predestination and the Calvinist view of predestination is that: "It is the difference between believing that God knows, as a fact, that I choose to go to the devil; and believing that God has given me to the devil, without my having any choice at all."
My understanding, after reading up on this to debate with a really annoying Calvinist, is that it is acceptable for Catholics to believe that God specifically predestines some to salvation, provided that you don't also hold that God positively damns anyone.  If that makes sense.  So, God desires that all would be saved and gives everyone that opportunity.  It's permissible to believe that He also specifically predestines some people to salvation, but not that He specifically damns some people to hell.  If you wind up in hell, it's because of your free will, not because God predestined it.  He would only will damnation to in passive sense, He does not positively damn anyone.
Start by reading what the Church actually teaches:

Council of Orange

Yes, the Church preaches the predestination of the elect.  The main difference between us and Calvinists is that Calvinists believe in the predestination of the damned.  Catholics believe the damned freely choose to sin, that God doesn't force that on them.

I always recommend reading the short wikipedia article on Molinism.  I am not a Molinist, but it is allowable for Catholics to believe it.  It shows a system whereby predestination and free-will can coexist. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molinism
This topic is seriously complicated.  That's why I started the other thread.  If it helps, there are two articles on the Catholic Encyclopedia (NewAdvent.org), one dealing with Predestination in general, the other dealing with Molinism.  Both claim to be the correct way of looking at and defining predestination.  Both seem to have holes.  I'm waiting to get my hands on Garrigou-Lagrange's Predestination which deals with the Banezian Thomist side at length.  He writes about it in Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought, but it's not thorough enough to answer the really meaty questions.

If there is someone who can reconcile God's total providence, His omnibenevolence, and human free will then I encourage you to post on this or that thread. 
One might approach this question by looking at two extremes views:  everyone is saved (universalism), vs. no one is saved (atheism).  Between these extremes fall mainline Christian denominational viewpoints.  Unless one believes in universal salvation, there must be some process (whether a function of free choice or divine election) by which the saved are separated from the unsaved.  Whenever "choice" enters the equation, one must then deal with the issue of by what basis is that choice made (i.e., from what source arises the " convincing evidence" that persuades the sinner to make a choice to believe).  Calvinists generally view such "convincing evidence" as arising from God's grace, such that the sinner's will (decision) to believe results through faith, which itself results from God's grace (Ephesians 2-8).  Or to put it more simply, the Calvinist would say that nobody can choose to believe unless God has first planted within him/her the grace to believe, repent, and receive the Gospel.  Man's "choice" is therefore after the fact of having received saving faith by God's grace.  God is seen by the Calvinist as electing (choosing) some unspecified number of sinners (out of the totality of all sinners) to receive salvation (eternal life), while passing by the rest (leaving them in their fallen state of sin).  Some Calvinists refer to a "double predestination," whereby God destines some sinners to salvation, and likewise destines the remaining sinners to condemnation, rather than merely leaving them in their inherent fallen state in which everyone starts out.  This viewpoint leaves unaddressed the distinction between the Catholic concept of original sin and the Calvinist concept of Total Depravity.
I think that people would be surprised to see just how similar Thomistic and Augustinian conceptions of predestination are to Calvinism.
(02-03-2011, 09:31 PM)Walty Wrote: [ -> ]This topic is seriously complicated. 

Yeah it sure is. In St. Robert Bellarmine's autobiography he relates how Pope Paul V wanted to define the issue. They had an exchange that went something like this:

Pope: I'm going to define this issue once and for all.
St. Robert: No you won't. This is way over your head.
Pope: I'm going to do it anyway.
St. Robert: No you're not.

And of course Pope Paul never did define anything in this regard. In fact instead he ordered both sides to not declare the other to be contrary to the faith and permitted both sides to be taught.

St. Robert was a Molinist, by the way.
Quote: I think that people would be surprised to see just how similar Thomistic and Augustinian conceptions of predestination are to Calvinism.

They probably are.  Though the Church has always been a strongly predestinationist religion.  It sometimes surprises Calvinists to find this out, which is an opening for conversion.  Because they are uneasy about the predestination of the damned, and the Catholic Church believes in free will.
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