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Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Printable Version

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Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - INPEFESS - 12-17-2011

(12-17-2011, 09:10 AM)Melkite Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 02:47 AM)INPEFESS Wrote: I love meditating on this teaching because of the humility it inspires. Just thinking about it inclines one to prostrate one's self before Almighty God in humility, silence, supplication, adoration, and resignation.

Also while in my ceramics class the other day, I was considering some of the people in the class, whether they were more likely to be predestined or reprobate.  I could begin to see things that people who believe in predestination would point to as evidence.  So, take me for example.  Obviously, God has given me graces he hasn't given others to even be pondering this doctrine, aside from the entire Gospel.  God has given me the grace to receive his love and to return it to him.  I mean, how amazing a grace is that?  To be aware of the God that created you, to perceive that he loves you and to truly be able to love him back?  Looking at other people in the class, who are talking all kinds of new agey crap, they don't even perceive what they're missing.  They know about Christianity, have probably heard the Gospel at some point, and yet, it never appealed to them the way it did to us.  Nothing compelled them to pick it up over any other religion.  And, in fact, they are more compelled to pick up its antithesis.  It definitely can appear that there is a lack of capability to understand there.  So, that makes it appear that I am predestined and that these other people are reprobate, or if they are predestined, have not yet received God's grace to believe in him yet.  So God picked me over them.  Interesting.  Not having anything to do with how I would live my life or how they would live theirs, for no advance knowledge of what we would be or who we would become, seemingly to me he arbitrarily picked me over them.  I must be special.  Not in my own right, of course, but God decides what is special and what is not.  If he picked me over them, there must be something special about me that they don't have.  I'm "better" than they.  I am more valuable to God than they.  God loves me more than them.

And this is why I don't believe in predestination to either heaven or hell.

The conversion of St. Paul, and all those like him who were saved by the intervention of God Himself, indicates that you are trying to make this an occasion of pride so you can have a reason not to believe it.

There are not "signs" of reprobation. God reaches down and intervenes to save whom He wills to save to bring about the greatest glory. It has absolutely nothing to do with what you or I can see.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 12-17-2011

(12-17-2011, 02:19 PM)Melkite Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 02:01 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 09:10 AM)Melkite Wrote: And this is why I don't believe in predestination to either heaven or hell.

So you deny Scripture and Catholic dogma.

Just your heretical interpretation thereof.

This is what you have to accept, Melkite, otherwise you're the one who's really slipping into heresy:

"God, by His eternal resolve of will, has predetermined certain men to eternal blessedness." (De fide)

Cf. Rom. 8:29 et seq., Mt. 25:34, John 10:27 et seq., Acts 13:48, Eph. 1:4 et seq., St. Augustine against the semi-pelagians teaches: "The belief in this predetermination, which is now being zealously defended against new errors, has always been held by the Church." (De dono persev. 23, 65) and also the doctrinal definitions of the Council of Trent that presuppose it (D 805, 825, 827, 316 et seq., 320 et seq.)

"God, by an eternal resolve of His will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection." (De fide)

Cf. Mat. 25:41, Rom 9:22, the synod of Valence (855): fatemur praedestinationem impiorum ad mortem (D 32).

Like the resolve of predestination, the divine resolve of reprobation is immutable but, without special revelation, its incidence is unknown to men.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Old Salt - 12-17-2011

I do not think Melkite understands what "predestination" means the way the Church uses it.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 12-17-2011

(12-17-2011, 02:50 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: The bottom line is that you refuse to believe it because you don't understand it; nor does it seem you want to. You have been shown explanation after explanation, teaching after teaching, and yet you are still trying to find a way to make it unjust because, it seems, based on your reply to me, you don't want to accept it.

One's status as predestined or reprobate remains unrevealed to man; it is only known by God, correct?


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Doce Me - 12-17-2011

[Deleted]


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Doce Me - 12-17-2011

(12-17-2011, 05:27 PM)Doce Me Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 09:10 AM)Melkite Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 02:47 AM)INPEFESS Wrote: I love meditating on this teaching because of the humility it inspires. Just thinking about it inclines one to prostrate one's self before Almighty God in humility, silence, supplication, adoration, and resignation.

Really?  Thinking about it for me inclines me to arrogance and pride.  Also while in my ceramics class the other day, I was considering some of the people in the class, whether they were more likely to be predestined or reprobate.  I could begin to see things that people who believe in predestination would point to as evidence.  So, take me for example.  Obviously, God has given me graces he hasn't given others to even be pondering this doctrine, aside from the entire Gospel.  God has given me the grace to receive his love and to return it to him.  I mean, how amazing a grace is that?  To be aware of the God that created you, to perceive that he loves you and to truly be able to love him back?  Looking at other people in the class, who are talking all kinds of new agey crap, they don't even perceive what they're missing.  They know about Christianity, have probably heard the Gospel at some point, and yet, it never appealed to them the way it did to us.  Nothing compelled them to pick it up over any other religion.  And, in fact, they are more compelled to pick up its antithesis.  It definitely can appear that there is a lack of capability to understand there.  So, that makes it appear that I am predestined and that these other people are reprobate, or if they are predestined, have not yet received God's grace to believe in him yet.  So God picked me over them.  Interesting.  Not having anything to do with how I would live my life or how they would live theirs, for no advance knowledge of what we would be or who we would become, seemingly to me he arbitrarily picked me over them.  I must be special.  Not in my own right, of course, but God decides what is special and what is not.  If he picked me over them, there must be something special about me that they don't have.  I'm "better" than they.  I am more valuable to God than they.  God loves me more than them.

And this is why I don't believe in predestination to either heaven or hell.

People are tempted to pride and laziness whatever they may think about  predestination. 

If you think there is no predestination, then it may seem that  God saves you solely on on account of YOUR merit (and maybe some helpful grace) that He foresees (or sees after the fact) - the credit is largely YOURS -- leading to pride and arrogance. 

But if you think there IS predestination,  but misunderstand it - or just think about it in the wrong way sometimes, you may  feel PRETTY CERTAIN that God has pre-selected wonderful you, and that the signs are all clear to you that He has done so and that you are IN and others are OUT -- hence pride and arrogance, and laziness too. I can certainly understand this Melkite, if this how you feel about those who believe in predestination.

But I think that in predestination God selects the elect from all eternity,  but that we must remember that He is outside of time. In OUR TIME He accomplishes His selection by working in our wills AS WE WORK OUT OUR SALVATION OVER OUR LIVES, and our wills work too.  All the credit is His, but by way of a mystery He allows us to merit too.  "It is not I who live but Christ lives in me" - in the same way God wills in us, but we will too.  God moves our will as we move it freely. (Mystery? - Yes!) All is to God's credit , but we are free too and must freely follow His will.  There are no infallible "signs" that we are doing so.

There are great difficulties and much mystery here.  I can understand that you still think so and have problems accepting this.  But, as others have pointed out, you need to humbly follow the Church and Her saints and offer your difficulties to God.  Sometimes the mind has to bend to mysteries.

It is difficult though, and I can't help but feel with you.



Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Doce Me - 12-17-2011

Melkite

Thoughts on Reprobation

God can't cause sin. God by His almighty power and wisdom destines a man to hell only by  (1) from eternity permitting the man's sin and (2) causing the punishment for the sin.  I do not believe that reprobation is God leaving some men in a pit where the only thing possible for them is to sin (albeit freely) and be damned - since Christ (at least) there is no such pit.  It would be just - man does not deserve grace to be available - but with Christ there is mercy not only justice.  There is no pit.  A man is reprobated ABSOLUTELY JUSTLY if and only if he freely dies in the state of sin - if he rejects mercy. Reprobation is caused by God, but is due to man's sin (there would be no need for permission or punishment if there were no sin).  IT IS COMPLETELY JUST.

Why does God allow any kind of evil in the world (even physical evil)?  Why does He permit the particular evils that He does?  This mystery  of reprobation seems to be basically an instance of this mystery of evil.  Why does God permit this totally undeserving sinner to die in his sin, and not this other one? God's eternal plan and power and causation of all creation include His wise prevention of some evils, and yet not of others.  God from all eternity PERMITS the evils and CAUSES the consequences, and OF COURSE from all eternity KNOWS who and what and how many. The same is true for man's good and evil willing.

A Different Perspective On Predestination

I think one sometimes helpful (although non-standard) view of predestination  is to say that the Elect include everyone except the Reprobate.  God made all of us out of love, became man, and died for us out of love.  We are taught in catechism that God made us all .. to be happy with Him in heaven.  We do not deserve heaven by strict justice   Christ's grace is not owed to us, but He gives it readily if we accept it.  He doesn't give equally to all!  But he gives it - enough to be saved, for that is His purpose for us - if we don't resist it.  We have to intentionally turn away from God in order to be in the Reprobate.  If we don't:, that is if we (by God's power) follow all His commands and love Him with all our heart..., we will be in the Elect (even if not all will be great saints).  All we have to do is fall back on God's graces ("all" is a lot, but it is due to God not us). But we have to deliberately die in the state of sin to be in the reprobate. 

This is not to say that it is EASIER to be among the elect, or that there are more of the elect.  Certainly not.  But Christ's grace is sufficient for us, however easy it is to resist it.

The Hardest Thing


How on earth can God move our will but at the same time we will freely?  Believing this can help make predestination a little easier to grasp (but definitely not easy, at least for me)...God does elect us if WE are good (careful!), but it is ONLY because God is the COMPLETE cause of our goodness.  God ELECTS us from all eternity if WE work out our salvation in THIS life... but ONLY because HE is working it out in us - in every motion of our will.  God's election of us, and His working out our salvation,  for HIM occur in His "eternal now" (as it were, simultaneously!), because He is outside of time.  (I am thinking aloud, trying to understand. I haven't made this too clear)

God is all and we are nothing.  We can do nothing without him.  But free willing is something, something good, something magnificent - it  (along with the intellect) is why we say we are created in the image of God.  To say we can will good without God's causing it is to say that we for an instant don't need God.  But without God all is nothing.   God can't change that, any more than He can change being God. Don't think of God as a kind of superman or  puppet master, who would force the will if he moved it.  That is not God.  God transcends the will and all our understanding of it. The most awesome part is that God leaves us as an absolutely true secondary cause of our willing - exactly how we know it.

Predestination is taught by the Church.  Try to understand it, and to accept what you don't yet understand (or won't until heaven).


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - INPEFESS - 12-18-2011

(12-17-2011, 11:32 PM)Doce Me Wrote: Melkite

Thoughts on Reprobation

God can't cause sin. God by His almighty power and wisdom destines a man to hell only by  (1) from eternity permitting the man's sin and (2) causing the punishment for the sin.  I do not believe that reprobation is God leaving some men in a pit where the only thing possible for them is to sin (albeit freely) and be damned - since Christ (at least) there is no such pit.  It would be just - man does not deserve grace to be available - but with Christ there is mercy not only justice.  There is no pit.  A man is reprobated ABSOLUTELY JUSTLY if and only if he freely dies in the state of sin - if he rejects mercy. Reprobation is caused by God, but is due to man's sin (there would be no need for permission or punishment if there were no sin).  IT IS COMPLETELY JUST.

Why does God allow any kind of evil in the world (even physical evil)?  Why does He permit the particular evils that He does?  This mystery  of reprobation seems to be basically an instance of this mystery of evil.  Why does God permit this totally undeserving sinner to die in his sin, and not this other one? God's eternal plan and power and causation of all creation include His wise prevention of some evils, and yet not of others.  God from all eternity PERMITS the evils and CAUSES the consequences, and OF COURSE from all eternity KNOWS who and what and how many. The same is true for man's good and evil willing.

A Different Perspective On Predestination

I think one sometimes helpful (although non-standard) view of predestination  is to say that the Elect include everyone except the Reprobate.  God made all of us out of love, became man, and died for us out of love.  We are taught in catechism that God made us all .. to be happy with Him in heaven.  We do not deserve heaven by strict justice   Christ's grace is not owed to us, but He gives it readily if we accept it.  He doesn't give equally to all!  But he gives it - enough to be saved, for that is His purpose for us - if we don't resist it.  We have to intentionally turn away from God in order to be in the Reprobate.  If we don't:, that is if we (by God's power) follow all His commands and love Him with all our heart..., we will be in the Elect (even if not all will be great saints).  All we have to do is fall back on God's graces ("all" is a lot, but it is due to God not us). But we have to deliberately die in the state of sin to be in the reprobate. 

This is not to say that it is EASIER to be among the elect, or that there are more of the elect.  Certainly not.  But Christ's grace is sufficient for us, however easy it is to resist it.

The Hardest Thing


How on earth can God move our will but at the same time we will freely?  Believing this can help make predestination a little easier to grasp (but definitely not easy, at least for me)...God does elect us if WE are good (careful!), but it is ONLY because God is the COMPLETE cause of our goodness.  God ELECTS us from all eternity if WE work out our salvation in THIS life... but ONLY because HE is working it out in us - in every motion of our will.  God's election of us, and His working out our salvation,  for HIM occur in His "eternal now" (as it were, simultaneously!), because He is outside of time.  (I am thinking aloud, trying to understand. I haven't made this too clear)

God is all and we are nothing.  We can do nothing without him.  But free willing is something, something good, something magnificent - it  (along with the intellect) is why we say we are created in the image of God.  To say we can will good without God's causing it is to say that we for an instant don't need God.  But without God all is nothing.   God can't change that, any more than He can change being God. Don't think of God as a kind of superman or  puppet master, who would force the will if he moved it.  That is not God.  God transcends the will and all our understanding of it. The most awesome part is that God leaves us as an absolutely true secondary cause of our willing - exactly how we know it.

Predestination is taught by the Church.  Try to understand it, and to accept what you don't yet understand (or won't until heaven).

These are some very edifying thoughts. Hopefully, they help!


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - INPEFESS - 12-18-2011

(12-17-2011, 05:24 PM)Melkite Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 02:50 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: The bottom line is that you refuse to believe it because you don't understand it; nor does it seem you want to. You have been shown explanation after explanation, teaching after teaching, and yet you are still trying to find a way to make it unjust because, it seems, based on your reply to me, you don't want to accept it.

One's status as predestined or reprobate remains unrevealed to man; it is only known by God, correct?

Correct. Perhaps cases can be found where certain persons might have been practically assured of their salvation (i.e. St. Paul, who was taken up to "Third Heaven"), but this is unusual, and even then, I don't think anyone can be absolutely certain.

I admit, it is difficult to understand, and we must accept that, much like the doctrine of the Trinity, our minds can never fully understand it, but understand this: if there were found to be any inherent contradictions--that is, if it were found with right reason to be unjust--, I could not call myself a Christian, for God, being all just, cannot be said to work injustice.

Analogies are useful for conceptualizing complex realities, but, much like the doctrine of the Trinity, there are no perfectly appropriate analogies in the known universe for this mystery (or any mystery for that matter). The Trinity has been described as a three-leafed clover: each leaf represents another person of the Trinity; but even then, this analogy fails because it equates each individual leaf with the entire flower, which is actually a greater reality than each individual leaf. This fails because we know that each individual person of the Trinity is fully God, which is a reality the analogy of the clover can't capture: How can each leaf be an equal reality to the other leaves collectively at the same time?

Similarly, no analogy captures all the realities of predestination, but some come close. The closest of which I am aware is what was proposed earlier: the same Sun that softens wax hardens clay. This captures the essence of predestination because each substance is pre-designed to react a certain way to the Sun, which represents God; the Sun's rays represent God's grace. The wax's encounter with grace (acceptance) softens it whereas the clay's encounter with grace (rejection) hardens it. Where this analogy falls short, however, is where it fails to take into account the role each "substance" plays in cooperating with the effects of the Sun, whether softening or hardening. This is problematic because it is in the role that each "substance" plays that we find the "meat" of the doctrine; it is here where God is either perceived to be just or unjust or by our feable intellects.

It is this aspect that was the source of the controversy between the Thomists and the Molinists. Not even Molina challenged the doctrine of Catholic predestination itself. Instead, it was simply the mechanism by which the wax and clay are softened and hardened (respectively). Molina taught that God, foreseeing in which circumstances a person would accept or reject this or that grace, would adjust life's circumstances accordingly in such a way that each person would infallibly effect what God had predestined for them. The Thomists disagreed on account of such an approach making God a spectator of creation and placing His will in an absolutely passive and secondary position to man's will: Man does all the willing and the choosing while God simply reacts to it by building a unique circumstantial world around each man's own will to see to it that man's all-powerful willing and choosing brings about what God wants. This makes God's will secondary to man's and means that God has to adjust Himself to man's will to see to that He still gets His way in the end. This approach might work as a way of reconciling free will and grace, but it doesn't work insofar as it flies in the face of the omnipotent God of Christianity.

Remember, God's omnipotent will is not a merely potential omnipotence whereby He can do anything He wants if He so chooses. God's will is an active omnipotence whereby His will is the first cause of everything that exists, including the existence and activity of free will. Free will itself cannot exist or actively function as a faculty of the soul unless God first actively wills it to exist and to actively function, so the idea that man wills first and God adjusts his plan accordingly second not only eliminates the theological mystery at work here, but it also pokes a hole through God's omnipotence by allowing the activity of man's will to function independently of God's. But if that is true, then God is not really omnipotent.

Please let me know if you understand why St. Thomas (and the Thomistic school in general) rejected Molina's approach. It is very important to understand as a starting point why Molina's approach doesn't work because it helps to understand why Thomas' approach does. For one (and you should like this part), Thomas' approach leaves much more mystery intact than Molina's because Molina's approach makes the entire process mechanical: You decide with your own will whether you are going to accept or reject grace (regardless of what God wants) and then God, using His omniscience, mechanically adjusts all the circumstances in your life in advance to see to it that you end up going where He wills you to go (either Heaven or Hell).

Which aspect of the Thomistic approach (not how you interpret it at the moment) do you find most difficult to understand?--the predestination of the elect (by seeing to it that they are saved), the reconciliation of sufficient and efficacious grace as they play out God's will, or the predestination of the reprobrate as an act of His permissive will?

All three of those must be understood so as to fully understand this teaching. You must also understand free will: what it is, what its limitations are, what it was designed to accomplish, and, most importantly, why it is a necessary faculty in order for anyone to either receive a reward or receive a punishment.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 12-18-2011

(12-18-2011, 06:04 AM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(12-17-2011, 05:24 PM)Melkite Wrote: One's status as predestined or reprobate remains unrevealed to man; it is only known by God, correct?

Correct. Perhaps cases can be found where certain persons might have been practically assured of their salvation (i.e. St. Paul, who was taken up to "Third Heaven"), but this is unusual, and even then, I don't think anyone can be absolutely certain.

...

Please let me know if you understand why St. Thomas (and the Thomistic school in general) rejected Molina's approach. It is very important to understand as a starting point why Molina's approach doesn't work because it helps to understand why Thomas' approach does. For one (and you should like this part), Thomas' approach leaves much more mystery intact than Molina's because Molina's approach makes the entire process mechanical: You decide with your own will whether you are going to accept or reject grace (regardless of what God wants) and then God, using His omniscience, mechanically adjusts all the circumstances in your life in advance to see to it that you end up going where He wills you to go (either Heaven or Hell).

Which aspect of the Thomistic approach (not how you interpret it at the moment) do you find most difficult to understand?--the predestination of the elect (by seeing to it that they are saved), the reconciliation of sufficient and efficacious grace as they play out God's will, or the predestination of the reprobrate as an act of His permissive will?

All three of those must be understood so as to fully understand this teaching. You must also understand free will: what it is, what its limitations are, what it was designed to accomplish, and, most importantly, why it is a necessary faculty in order for anyone to either receive a reward or receive a punishment.

If everything you described in this post is why Aquinas rejected Molina's approach, then yes I understand the rejection.  I think all three points of the Thomist approach are nearly equally difficult for me to understand, but the worst is predestination of the reprobate.  I don't understand how someone can be predestined to reprobation but it be said that they still have free will in all their actions.  I understand that the person has free will and is guilty in themselves to choose to sin each time they commit an actual sin, and it is just for them to go to hell for that.  But, what if each time they choose, they choose not to sin?  So, hypothetically, a man could exist who is guilty of no personal sin, but yet still be predestined to reprobation.  He would be condemned to hell before he was even born for doing nothing wrong, and God predestined him with prior knowledge of how he would live his life, so he's going to hell for nothing and there is nothing he can do otherwise.  Even if that never actually happens, the fact that hypothetically could happen shows the system to be unjust. 

The next most difficult is the predestination of the elect, and it's mostly difficult for me in relation to the predestination of the reprobate.  It still seems unjust to decide for someone that they are elect, because in some way at least it removes the choice from them, so they don't really choose to follow God, they have been robotically moved to choose.  Although, given the human inclination to self-gratification, understandably, anyone who finds themself in the state of election isn't going to complain too loudly about the injustice of their lot.

And then finally, the sufficient-efficacious synergy.  Why bother even giving someone sufficient grace if you're not going to give them efficacious grace?  If it is like the farmer and the rain analogy I used before, then it makes sense, but I assume the thomist would reject that because it makes God's choice dependant on the will of man, even if not initially.  So if my analogy doesn't work, then it seems God is only giving them sufficient grace to make himself not guilty for a person going to hell, because they actually chose in all their actions, yet they never could have gone to heaven anyway because they didn't receive efficacious grace.  Just as a muscle or a tendon can be the same component part but have a different name depending upon which part of the body it is traversing, I'm not sure there is any real difference between sufficient and efficacious grace, but at any rate it seems a waste to give someone any grace at all if you know beforehand that you have chosen this person will not receive the goal that all of this grace is ordered toward.

Now, if it is correct that only God knows one's election status, then that means nothing we can see or know here on earth can be conclusive proof of God's election or reprobation.  So even if someone loves God with all their heart and all their soul and all their mind, this can't prove election because then it would be infallibly known, and that's not possible, other than the rare hypothetical circumstance you mentioned.  So someone could truly love God with all their heart, soul and mind, but still actually be reprobate, correct?  And no one could effect that true love for God on their own, it is only by the grace of God that they are capable of loving him, correct?