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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? - Vetus Ordo - 11-30-2011

Okay, Chris, let's turn the tables around then and see if it works.

Explain to me how American Indians and blacks in Africa were given every chance to be saved prior to the 15th and 16th centuries with the advent of European missionaries, or how may people today in large parts of Asia, Arabia and Africa are given every chance to be saved when they don't even have faith to begin with? There are hundreds of men and women who never heard about Christ in history: unless you ascribe to the ultimate theological cop-out that states that people can be saved in their religions and in their ignorance, therefore without faith and baptism, how do you rationally explain that these people were all given a fair chance of salvation?

Not to mention why does a simpleton believe and an educated man next door disbelieve? What about an obnoxious sinner who miraculously repents and an otherwise respectable family man who sinks into sin and despair? All were given the "same chances"? Is it all about free will and our response to the same graces? How could an Aztec of the 12th century be saved unless God had foreordained his salvation and miraculously sent an angel to preach and baptise him?

And what about election and efficacious grace? Are they earned then? If we are "elect" because we were the ones that correctly responded to grace then it's not really election on God's part, is it?  Did Israel earn their election as God's chosen people? Why weren't the Egyptians God's chosen people? Did they have a shot at it and failed?

Of course not. We must simply come to grasps with the fact that some are chosen, others aren't. That's all there is to it.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 04:13 PM)K3vinhood Wrote: What will that get you?

Then you'll be part of a church that refuses to condemn divorce and contraception, and has denied Roman primacy for the last 1,000 years.

I think it'd be best for you to not focus so much on predestination and worry more about your internal spiritual life. You don't have to be a full fledged Thomist, you have a more Eastern view of things and I understand that. But don't let discussions like this cause damage to your faith, it might be best to not think about predestination so much.

Well, that's what I originally did, but in a sense, vetus is right.  If this is Catholic doctrine, then I can't pretend I'm still Catholic if I don't accept it.  I believe predestination and election to be completely irreconcilable with everything else I believe about God.  If it's a Catholic doctrine that I'm bound to, then by becoming Orthodox i'd just be putting on paper what is already in my heart.  I don't like the Orthodox position on divorce and contraception, for sure.  But of the two, I can't choose to believe in a God who says he is Love, yet truly loves so little of his creation that he basically chooses all of them to go to hell, over believing that maybe there is something about divorce where God in his mercy could tolerate a remarriage.  I'm not sure thomists fully grasp the gravity of what predestination and election means for belief in a God that loves his creation and, from that love, sends his son to die to redeem it.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - cgraye - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 05:50 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: Explain to me how American Indians and blacks in Africa were given every chance to be saved prior to the 15th and 16th centuries with the advent of European missionaries, or how may people today in large parts of Asia, Arabia and Africa are given every chance to be saved when they don't even have faith to begin with? There are hundreds of men and women who never heard about Christ in history: unless you ascribe to the ultimate theological cop-out that states that people can be saved in their religions and in their ignorance, therefore without faith and baptism, how do you rationally explain that these people were all given a fair chance of salvation?

Perhaps they are?  Not that they are saved by their religions or their ignorance, but perhaps despite them.  Obviously it is not for us to say that this is certainly the case, because God has not revealed it to be so, and it is not our place to say so, but merely to do as we have been commanded to do.  But one thing we do know for certain is that explicit knowledge of Christ cannot be required for salvation, because there were those waiting in the Limbo of the Fathers who never knew a thing about Christ.  Some say that the rules changed instantly after Christ died and rose, but how does that make any sense?  It is an equivalent situation for those who never knew of Christ after he completed his mission.  And if God was perfectly OK with people being damned because they didn't know something they couldn't possibly have known, why was there a Limbo of the Fathers in the first place?

And there are alternative explanations that do not require this.  God certainly knew what every person would do in every circumstance in every time.  So perhaps none of those people went to heaven at all.  Perhaps instead God placed the people he knew would reject him in any case in those positions, so that their lack of actual chance for salvation did not change their ultimate fate.

Quote:And what about election and efficacious grace? Are they earned then? If we are "elect" because we were the ones that correctly responded to grace then it's not really election on God's part, is it?

Certainly it is, if we go with your previous statement that no one deserves or is entitled to heaven.  It is just not arbitrary election.

Quote:Did Israel earn their election as God's chosen people? Why weren't the Egyptians God's chosen people? Did they have a shot at it and failed?

I wouldn't say so, no.  But there is nothing of any eternal consequence in being God's chosen people, so it doesn't really matter.  Eternal joy in heaven vs. burning forever in a lake of rather, on the other hand, makes quite a bit of difference.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - K3vinhood - 11-30-2011

Melkite Wrote:Well, that's what I originally did, but in a sense, vetus is right.  If this is Catholic doctrine, then I can't pretend I'm still Catholic if I don't accept it. I believe predestination and election to be completely irreconcilable with everything else I believe about God.  If it's a Catholic doctrine that I'm bound to, then by becoming Orthodox i'd just be putting on paper what is already in my heart.  I don't like the Orthodox position on divorce and contraception, for sure.  But of the two, I can't choose to believe in a God who says he is Love, yet truly loves so little of his creation that he basically chooses all of them to go to hell, over believing that maybe there is something about divorce where God in his mercy could tolerate a remarriage.  I'm not sure thomists fully grasp the gravity of what predestination and election means for belief in a God that loves his creation and, from that love, sends his son to die to redeem it.

I don't understand how the anyone in the EOC can deny predestination or "the elect", it's right here clearly in the scripture.

Romans 9:18-21 Wrote:Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth.  Thou wilt say therefore to me: Why doth he then find fault? for who resisteth his will?  O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

St. John Chrysostom Homily XVI on Romans 9:21 Wrote:And when he does go on to say, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? do not suppose that this is said by Paul as an account of the creation, nor as implying a necessity over the will, but to illustrate the sovereignty and difference of dispensations; for if we do not take it in this way, various incongruities will follow, for if here he were speaking about the will, and those who are good and those not so, He will be Himself the Maker of these, and man will be free from all responsibility. And at this rate, Paul will also be shown to be at variance with himself, as he always bestows chief honor upon free choice. There is nothing else then which he here wishes to do, save to persuade the hearer to yield entirely to God, and at no time to call Him to account for anything whatever. For as the potter (he says) of the same lump makes what he pleases, and no one forbids it; thus also when God, of the same race of men, punishes some, and honors others, be not thou curious nor meddlesome herein, but worship only, and imitate the clay. And as it follows the hands of the potter, so do thou also the mind of Him that so orders things. For He works nothing at random, or mere hazard, though thou be ignorant of the secret of His Wisdom.





Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 06:24 PM)cgraye Wrote: But one thing we do know for certain is that explicit knowledge of Christ cannot be required for salvation, because there were those waiting in the Limbo of the Fathers who never knew a thing about Christ.

The Limbo of the Fathers proves no such thing.

All the elect of the Old Testament died in the hope of the Redeemer to come (necessity of right faith) but were assumed into Heaven only after Christ had descended there to preach and baptise them. Needless to say, faith in Christ is necessary to salvation so it's useless to speculate about people who are hypothetically saved in spite of their religions and in ignorance of their saviour. In fact, it's absolutely preposterous to advance the notion that there are people being saved without ever believing in Christ, the sole gateway to be reconciled to the Father and to appease His wrath.

Quote:And there are alternative explanations that do not require this.  God certainly knew what every person would do in every circumstance in every time.  So perhaps none of those people went to heaven at all.  Perhaps instead God placed the people he knew would reject him in any case in those positions, so that their lack of actual chance for salvation did not change their ultimate fate.

This is the first time I come across such contorted hypothesis to explain the existence and demise of these faithless people. And yet it still fails to explain how these Indians and blacks, who never had the faith preached to them to begin with, could be "justly" damned according to your view.

Quote:Certainly it is, if we go with your previous statement that no one deserves or is entitled to heaven.  It is just not arbitrary election.

God's will is inscrutable.

The view that God elects souls depending upon their foreseen cooperation with His grace turns election into a misnomer and these people into the cause of their own election, putting God's "choice" utterly dependant on them to begin with. Salvation is not of the Lord, then, it's of the people.

Quote:I wouldn't say so, no.  But there is nothing of any eternal consequence in being God's chosen people, so it doesn't really matter.  Eternal joy in heaven vs. burning forever in a lake of rather, on the other hand, makes quite a bit of difference.

It serves to illustrate the point. God's election does not depend on the subject's foreseen merits. In fact, Israel displayed very few merits of their own but through God's grace they persevered and survived until the coming of the Messiah.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 04:54 PM)Walty Wrote: That's not what Scripture says.  By what you're asserting, it should be said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart with his free will.  But that's not what Scripture says.  It says that the Lord hardened his heart.

It does not say that, "Many are called, few answer."  It says, "Many are called, few are chosen."


What are we to make of this?

Those quotes are obviously difficult for someone who doesn't believe in predestination.  What do you make of 'it is God's will that none should perish'?

2peter 3:9 the lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1tim 4:9 this is a trustworty saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 05:50 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: Okay, Chris, let's turn the tables around then and see if it works.

Explain to me how American Indians and blacks in Africa were given every chance to be saved prior to the 15th and 16th centuries with the advent of European missionaries, or how may people today in large parts of Asia, Arabia and Africa are given every chance to be saved when they don't even have faith to begin with? There are hundreds of men and women who never heard about Christ in history: unless you ascribe to the ultimate theological cop-out that states that people can be saved in their religions and in their ignorance, therefore without faith and baptism, how do you rationally explain that these people were all given a fair chance of salvation?

Not to mention why does a simpleton believe and an educated man next door disbelieve? What about an obnoxious sinner who miraculously repents and an otherwise respectable family man who sinks into sin and despair? All were given the "same chances"? Is it all about free will and our response to the same graces? How could an Aztec of the 12th century be saved unless God had foreordained his salvation and miraculously sent an angel to preach and baptise him?

And what about election and efficacious grace? Are they earned then? If we are "elect" because we were the ones that correctly responded to grace then it's not really election on God's part, is it?  Did Israel earn their election as God's chosen people? Why weren't the Egyptians God's chosen people? Did they have a shot at it and failed?

Of course not. We must simply come to grasps with the fact that some are chosen, others aren't. That's all there is to it.

For the sake of argument, let's say that's all true.  What purpose does it serve us to know it?  Why did God put it in the Bible to make it a necessary part of our faith, if either knowing or not knowing won't change your election status.  We can only begin to imagine what hasn't been revealed to us.  What purpose did it serve to let this one truth not remain unknown like the rest?


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 06:30 PM)K3vinhood Wrote:
St. John Chrysostom Homily XVI on Romans 9:21 Wrote:And when he does go on to say, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? do not suppose that this is said by Paul as an account of the creation, nor as implying a necessity over the will, but to illustrate the sovereignty and difference of dispensations; for if we do not take it in this way, various incongruities will follow, for if here he were speaking about the will, and those who are good and those not so, He will be Himself the Maker of these, and man will be free from all responsibility. And at this rate, Paul will also be shown to be at variance with himself, as he always bestows chief honor upon free choice. There is nothing else then which he here wishes to do, save to persuade the hearer to yield entirely to God, and at no time to call Him to account for anything whatever. For as the potter (he says) of the same lump makes what he pleases, and no one forbids it; thus also when God, of the same race of men, punishes some, and honors others, be not thou curious nor meddlesome herein, but worship only, and imitate the clay. And as it follows the hands of the potter, so do thou also the mind of Him that so orders things. For He works nothing at random, or mere hazard, though thou be ignorant of the secret of His Wisdom.

I think what's most important in this passage is what you didn't bold.  Paul said it for no other reason than to encourage people to yield to God.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 11-30-2011

(11-30-2011, 07:24 PM)Melkite Wrote: For the sake of argument, let's say that's all true.  What purpose does it serve us to know it?  Why did God put it in the Bible to make it a necessary part of our faith, if either knowing or not knowing won't change your election status.  We can only begin to imagine what hasn't been revealed to us.  What purpose did it serve to let this one truth not remain unknown like the rest?

Why does God reveal certain truths about Himself and not others? That's almost an impossible question to answer. We do know what He revealed to the Church and we must submit our minds and hearts to it. Election and predestination were revealed so that God's majesty and sovereignty over all creation might become even more manifest to us since we naturally have a Pelagian mindset. This is painfully evident whenever this matter is discussed.

Furthermore, I should add that predestination and election are philosophical truths that one draws from the very nature of an omnipotent and omniscient God. As long as God is God, He'll always foreordain all things and no created thing may ever frustrate His will.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Aragon - 11-30-2011

Okay, let me try to understand this.

Walty & Vetus,

You're saying that God predestines some people to receive the gift of Faith, and that our acceptance of this gift is itself prompted by an efficacious grace from God. Is it God that makes the grace efficacious (that is we couldn't deny the gift even if we tried), or is the grace efficacious because we choose to cooperate with it? Does that mean that all people are offered the gift of Faith but only a few are given the grace necessary to accept it, or God only offers the gift to a few people in the first place? As to why He chooses to give it to some and not to others that's a mystery.

Melkite and Cgraye,

You're saying that God offers the grace necessary to everyone but some choose to reject it? Does this mean that those who accept it received an extra grace that those who rejected it didn't? What about those who just have no thought of religion to begin with, and so they can't make a conscious decision to reject God's grace. The idea of religiosity just never occurs to them in the first place.