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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? - Melkite - 12-02-2011

I think maybe I get it now.  We're not absolutely depraved, but we are thoroughly corrupted.  Nothing in us is good that is not of, by or from God, sin has that completely affected every fiber of our being.  So to be upset that God would send someone to hell because they were born into a state of sin beyond their choice, in some sense is rooted in a pride of one's humanity.  The idea that one's fallen state, in the greater scheme of things, isn't all that bad, and certainly not bad enough to warrant eternity in hell.  In that sense, I think it is improper to view hell as a punishment per se, but rather the unavoidable consequence of death.  It is just as unnatural to escape hell in a state of complete corruption without divine intervention as it is to escape death in a state of terminal, incurable illness without divine intervention.  If the sun rises, it has no other course available to it but to set; it can only go in one direction.  I don't know that this proves predestination in some way, but it at least removes the perceived injustice from God's part by allowing someone to come to their ultimate end unhindered by him.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 12-03-2011

(12-01-2011, 11:56 AM)cgraye Wrote: But they did not know the person of Christ during their lives.  Having a hope of some kind of redeemer isn't the same thing.  If it were, then we could say that anyone who believes in some notion of God believes in God.

The just of the Old Testament rested in Abraham's bosom, waiting for the coming of the Lord. Only after Christ came down to preach and baptise them, could they be truly saved and assumed into heavenly glory. Faith in Christ is absolutely necessary for salvation.

Quote:And for that matter, the Limbo of the Infants (if it exists) would contradict this as well.  Because those children who died without Baptism never knew anything about God.  OK, so they don't get to go to heaven because of their original sin, but they also don't burn in hell forever.  But no such place is theorized to exist for those who have passed the age of reason.  This seems to pose a problem for the "All those unlucky enough not to be born into a position where they know about Christ are just screwed" theory.  If that were how it worked, then logically we would conclude that those children are in hell.  But if the Limbo of the Infants does exist, it proves that there is at least one case where God does not punish those for not knowing something they could not have known.

I'm not really following.

If the Limbo of the Infants really exists, it's only further proof that without faith one cannot be saved since this Limbo cannot be but a part of Hell. There's no fourth place (or state) besides Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. The Pelagians advanced that opinion which was justly condemned as heretical.

Quote:It seems a far more elegant solution to me than the "roll the dice" theory.  And why would it not explain how those who never had the faith could be damned?  There are other ways to sin besides the First Commandment.  Everyone has a conscience, everyone has some sense of right and wrong, even if it is not perfectly formed.  Those people do wrong and know it, just as we do.

There's no "roll the dice" here, that's your erroneous assumption. All fate is foreordained by God, nothing is left to chance.

You're proposing that God purposefully creates souls outside the reach of missionary activity because He foresaw that those souls would waste the grace of faith in case it were given to them in a hypothetical life that really didn't exist to begin with. This explanation is as contorted as it gets. And how would it still be "just" according to your system? You could say that those Indians are justly damned because they committed other sins besides the sin of infidelity but, then again, I would answer that God didn't give them the chance to believe, to have that faith without which no man can escape God's wrath. If everyone has a fair shot at Heaven as you propose, then those Indians and blacks should have had it too.

The truth, however, is far simpler. Some are elected unto glory and given the grace to believe until the end, others have divine grace withheld from them and are left to perish in their sins.

"Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And thou Capharnaum, shalt thou be exalted up to heaven? thou shalt go down even unto hell. For if in Sodom had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in thee, perhaps it had remained unto this day. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." (Matthew 11:21-24)

St. Augustine aplty comments thus:

"Tyre and Sidon would not have been condemned, although more slightly than those cities in which, although they did not believe, wonderful works were done by Christ the Lord; because if they had been done in them, they would have repented in dust and ashes, as the utterances of the Truth declare, in which words of his the Lord Jesus shows to us the loftier mystery of predestination. […] But can we say that even the Tyrians and Sidonians would have refused to believe such mighty works done among them, or would not have believed them if they had been done, when the Lord himself bears witness to them that they would have repented with great humility if those signs of divine power had been done among them? And yet in the day of judgment they will be punished; although with a less punishment than those cities which would not believe the mighty works done in them." (The Gift of Perseverance 22, 23)

"This is the predestination of the saints, – nothing else; to wit, the foreknowledge and the preparation of God’s gifts, whereby they are most certainly delivered, whoever they are that are delivered. But where are the rest left by the righteous divine judgment except in the mass of ruin, where the Tyrians and the Sidonians were left? Who, moreover, might have believed if they had seen Christ’s wonderful miracles. But since it was not given to them to believe, the means of believing also were denied them. […] But what the Lord said of the Tyrians and Sidonians may perchance be understood in another way: that no one nevertheless comes to Christ unless it were given him, and that it is given to those who are chosen in him before the foundation of the world, he confesses beyond a doubt who hears the divine utterance. […] ‘To you,’ said he, ‘it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.’’ (The Gift of Perseverance 35)

Quote:It is still of God.  It is still the merits of Christ that redeem us.  But in order for any kind of punishment to be just, the guilty party must be guilty of his own choice.  If we are not responsible for our own damnation, then an eternity of pain is unjust.  But God is perfectly just, so we must be responsible for our own damnation.  Responsible, that is, for making the choice that results in it.  But since it is a choice between two things, we must then conclude that we are also responsible for making the choice that results in salvation.  That doesn't make us the source of salvation, nor does it make us deserving of the gift of heaven, for that is a gift freely given by God, but it does establish the justice of eternal damnation.

Let's see: either God truly elects some blessed souls to eternal glory or He doesn't. And if He does, and Scripture tells us that He does, then He elects them out of His own mercy and grace, not because of their foreseen merits. If it's because of their foreseen merits, then it's not really election anymore, it's not grace, it's not mercy, salvation is not of the Lord but of men, caused by them who, through their forseen good works, merited being "elected."

The justice of eternal damnation was already established a priori since we're all born unto sin. The repobrate sin wilfully and freely, they're not robots.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Old Salt - 12-03-2011

I asked my Spiritual Confessor [an FSSP priest} and he contacted an FSSP Benedictine  priest friend, about Aquinas statement that God "hates some"
The questioner's words are in lower case and the Benedictine teachers are in upper case.
Here is his reply:


"I think it's obvious enough that God prompts, compels COMPELS IS A BAD WORD, BECAUSE IT COULD IMPLY GOD MOVING SOMEONE AGAINST HIS WILL or moves "MOVES" IS THE CLASSICAL THOMISTIC WORD IN THIS AREA OF THEOLOGY some individuals towards conversion, at least in some slight way. Whether others experience this kind of compulsion but chose to reject it, I don't know - I can't see the interior life of any other person. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUFFICIENT GRACE, WHICH IS GOD INSPIRING SOMEONE ONLY IN HIS MIND BUT NOT MOVING HIS WILL, VERSUS EFFICACIOUS GRACE WHICH ALSO MOVES THE WILL TO ACTUALLY WILL THE GOOD DEED.  MUCH MORE WOULD HAVE TO BE SAID  ON THIS, BUT IN ANY CASE THE MAN WHO RECEIVES SUFFICIENT GRACE IS FREE TO WILL OR NOT WILL, SO IF HE SINS IT IS CULPABLE. In any case however I do think that some individuals are 'called' to be saints in this life. God has always picked out individuals to do his work, on a seemingly arbitrary basis. We may as well ask, 'Why Abraham?' 'Why Moses?' 'Why Mary?' 'Why James, John, and the others of the Twelve Disciples?"

But really, I can't think of any satisfying explanation for this question, and I've never seen a satisfying answer from any theologian. I think it just has to be left as a mystery of faith which is not for human's to understand.

Here is big question that I hope you can help me with,

This is one of the few areas in which I find St Thomas Aquinas' theological explanation to be really, really unsatisfying. I can't help but think 'how ridiculous' when I read the following:

Book I, 23; a3.

"God loves all men and all creatures, inasmuch as He wishes them all some good; but He does not wish every good to them all. So far, therefore, as He does not wish this particular good--namely, eternal life--He is said to hate or reprobated them."

Seriously, what? That's basically saying, "God loves all men, but he doesn't want all of them to be saved, so he actually hates some men."  NO, GOD DOES NOT HATE ANYONE, AND THAT IS NOT WHAT ST. THOMAS MEANS.  NOTICE THE PHRASE "IS SAID TO".  AND ABOVE ALL NOTICE THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD: "JACOB I HAVE LOVED, ESAU I HAVE HATED."  ST. THOMAS IS INTERPRETING A STRONG POETIC EXPRESSION FROM GOD HIMSELF.  WHAT DOES THE EXPRESSION MEAN? IT MEANS THAT GOD DOES NOT WILL ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL MEN.  AND THAT IS BECAUSE SOME HAVE BEEN PERMITTED TO CULPABLY SIN, SO THEIR PUNISHMENT, WHICH HE DOES WILL, IS JUST.  GOD WILLS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED 'ANTECEDENTLY', BUT NOT CONSEQUENTLY.  SEE QUESTION 19 ARTICLE 6 FOR THIS DISTINCTION."



Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 12-03-2011

A few words of St. Prosper of Aquitaine that shed further light on this issue:

Quote:"What, then, about the trite objection from the Scripture text, ‘God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth?’. Only they who fail to see its meaning think it goes against us. All those who, from the past ages till today, died without having known God, are they of the number of ‘all men’? And if it is said, wrongly, that in the case of adults the evil works they did of their own free will were the obstacle to their salvation, as though grace saved the good and not the wicked, what difference in merit could there be between infants that are saved and others that are not? What is it that led the first into the kingdom of God, and what is it that kept the second out of it? Indeed, if you consider their merit, you cannot say that some of them merited to be saved; all of them deserved to be condemned, because all sinned in Adam’s sin. The unimpeachable justice of God would come down on all of them, did not his merciful grace take a certain number unto himself. As to inquiring into the reason and manner of this discrimination hidden in God’s secret counsel, this is above the ken of human knowledge, and our faith suffers no harm from not knowing it, provided we confess that no one is lost without his fault, and no one saved for his own merit, that the all-powerful goodness of God saves and instructs in the knowledge of the truth all those whom ‘he will have to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’. Save for his call, his teaching, his salvation, no man comes or learns or is saved. Though the preachers of the gospel are directed to preach to all men without distinction and to sow the seed of the word everywhere, yet ‘neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.’" (Letter to Rufinus 13)

"And again, at the very moment that the preachers of the gospel were sent out to all the nations, the apostles were forbidden to go to certain regions by him ‘who will have all men to he saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’, with the result, of course, that many, detained and going astray during this delay of the gospel, died without having known the truth and without having been sanctified in baptism. Let, then, holy scripture say what happened: ‘And when they had passed through Phrygia and the country of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia. And when they were come into Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.’ Is there any wonder that at the very beginning of the preaching of the gospel the apostles could not go except where the Spirit of God wanted them to go, when even now we see that many of the nations only begin to have a share in the Christian grace, while others have not yet got a glimpse of that divine gift?" (Letter to Rufinus 14)

"Or should we say that the wills of men obstruct the will of God, that those peoples are of such wild and fierce ways that the reason why they do not hear the gospel is that their ungodly hearts are not ready for its preaching? But who else changed the hearts of believers but he ‘who hath made the hearts of every one of them?’ Who softened the hardness of their hearts into willing obedience but he ‘who is able of these stones to raise up children of Abraham?’ And who will give the preachers intrepid and unshaken firmness but he who said to Paul: ‘Do not fear, but speak, and hold not thy peace, because I am with thee and no man shall set upon thee, to hurt thee. For I have much people in this city?’ […] For none other will have a share in the inheritance of Christ than those who before the creation of the world were elect, predestined, and foreknown, according to the counsel of him ‘who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will.’" (Letter to Rufinus 15)



Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 12-03-2011

(12-03-2011, 12:12 PM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: Let's see: either God truly elects some blessed souls to eternal glory or He doesn't. And if He does, and Scripture tells us that He does, then He elects them out of His own mercy and grace, not because of their foreseen merits. If it's because of their foreseen merits, then it's not really election anymore, it's not grace, it's not mercy, salvation is not of the Lord but of men, caused by them who, through their forseen good works, merited being "elected."

The justice of eternal damnation was already established a priori since we're all born unto sin. The repobrate sin wilfully and freely, they're not robots.

Then the real question is, if it is God's nature to be merciful, why is he only merciful to a select few and not all?  God is not obligated to show mercy to anyone, and yet he chooses to show it to at least a few.  That defines something about his nature for us, that even though he does not owe mercy, nevertheless he desires to be merciful.  If it is his desire to be merciful, why then does he choose to refuse mercy to the vast majority?

Also, the reprobate do not sin willfully and freely, if they are incapable of not sinning without baptism.  The way you phrase it, it sounds as if one can only be Calvinist or Pelagian, and nothing in between.  If I cannot choose not to sin on my own, then my sin is neither willful nor free; I couldn't choose not to sin.  If my choice to sin is willful and free, then I could have chosen not to sin on my own, which would make one Pelagian.  So on which point did Augustine err?  That one cannot do anything but sin without God, or that one's sin is freely chosen?  Both are incompatible and cannot co-exist.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 12-03-2011

(12-03-2011, 02:00 PM)Melkite Wrote: Then the real question is, if it is God's nature to be merciful, why is he only merciful to a select few and not all?

Let St. Thomas speak for me:

Quote:The reason for the predestination of some, and reprobation of others, must be sought for in the goodness of God. Thus He is said to have made all things through His goodness, so that the divine goodness might be represented in things. Now it is necessary that God's goodness, which in itself is one and undivided, should be manifested in many ways in His creation; because creatures in themselves cannot attain to the simplicity of God. Thus it is that for the completion of the universe there are required different grades of being; some of which hold a high and some a low place in the universe. That this multiformity of grades may be preserved in things, God allows some evils, lest many good things should never happen, as was said above (Question 22, Article 2). Let us then consider the whole of the human race, as we consider the whole universe. God wills to manifest His goodness in men; in respect to those whom He predestines, by means of His mercy, as sparing them; and in respect of others, whom he reprobates, by means of His justice, in punishing them. This is the reason why God elects some and rejects others. To this the Apostle refers, saying (Romans 9:22-23): "What if God, willing to show His wrath [that is, the vengeance of His justice], and to make His power known, endured [that is, permitted] with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction; that He might show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He hath prepared unto glory" and (2 Timothy 2:20): "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver; but also of wood and of earth; and some, indeed, unto honor, but some unto dishonor." Yet why He chooses some for glory, and reprobates others, has no reason, except the divine will. Whence Augustine says (Tract. xxvi. in Joan.): "Why He draws one, and another He draws not, seek not to judge, if thou dost not wish to err." Thus too, in the things of nature, a reason can be assigned, since primary matter is altogether uniform, why one part of it was fashioned by God from the beginning under the form of fire, another under the form of earth, that there might be a diversity of species in things of nature. Yet why this particular part of matter is under this particular form, and that under another, depends upon the simple will of God; as from the simple will of the artificer it depends that this stone is in part of the wall, and that in another; although the plan requires that some stones should be in this place, and some in that place. Neither on this account can there be said to be injustice in God, if He prepares unequal lots for not unequal things. This would be altogether contrary to the notion of justice, if the effect of predestination were granted as a debt, and not gratuitously. In things which are given gratuitously, a person can give more or less, just as he pleases (provided he deprives nobody of his due), without any infringement of justice. This is what the master of the house said: "Take what is thine, and go thy way. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will?" (Matthew 20:14-15).

Quote:Also, the reprobate do not sin willfully and freely, if they are incapable of not sinning without baptism.

The reprobate sin willfully and freely. No man is forced to sin, he chooses to sin all by himself. It's in his nature (and thus his will) to delight in sin, although he knows it's wrong.

Prof. Jan Miel Wrote:“The answer lies in an understanding of the nature of the human will. Our will is free to choose, but it is also determined in two ways: it acts according to motives, choosing always a greater good over a lesser; and it does not choose - but must choose among - the objects presented to it. Man has no control over either the external objects presented to his choice, nor the internal images or motives that will govern that choice: these are sent by God. [...] Professor Wolfson has shown (Philosophical Implications, pp. 559-61) that this theory of St. Augustine depends on a distinction made by Aristotle between what is necessary by the internal nature of a thing, and what is compelled by an external force. When we say, ‘God is immutable’, it does not mean that anything compels God to remain always the same, but rather it is his nature to be so: he is immutable by definition. So, the human will is concupiscent by definition and although it sins freely and without being compelled, yet it could not do otherwise and still be the same human will. When, however, it is transformed by grace, its very nature is changed and it turns necessarily - again without any compulsion - toward the good. This distinction can be seen as roughly equivalent to that between logical necessity and physical causation, and it is clear that this is exactly what St. Augustine has in mind when he says, for example, that he would accept the concept of Fate (fatum) in his system provided it were taken in its etymological meaning of that which is spoken, rather than seeming to depend on the movement of the stars. (De Civitate Dei V, 9) This then is St. Augustine’s way of reconciling the peculiar infallibility of grace and the freedom of the will.” (Pascal and Theology, pp. 27-8)



Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Melkite - 12-03-2011

"That this multiformity of grades may be preserved in things, God allows some evils, lest many good things should never happen.'

Maybe it's a bad translation from Latin, but in English, it means the reverse is true: that if God did not allow some evils, the multiformity of grades would not be preserved.  This makes God the author of evil, because prior, the multiformity of grades was defined as neccessary to differentiate between God and creatures, who cannot attain the simplicity of God.  It makes it necessary for God to allow evil in order for him to be shown as good.  This is heretical.

The quote from Romans starts with 'what if...?' which to me says St. Paul was speaking hypothetically with what followed.  If that's the case, he was using it to illustrate a point on the sovereignty of God, not teach something doctrinal about predestination.  If I'm not mistaken, some of the Fathers interpreted it in this hypothetical manner, not as a definition of doctrine.

'No man is forced to sin, he chooses to sin all by himself.'  So then you are a Pelagian?  I understand people choose to commit sin each and every time they act; that's not what I was questioning.  But could I live my entire life, with a fallen human nature, and never commit onne actual sin?  I was under the impression the Catholic Church teaches it is impossible for one who has inherited original sin to live a life free from sin.  Am I wrong in that understanding?  If not, I do not understand how it can be said that it is impossible for man to live his whole life and not sin, yet sin is entirely his choice?  If it is entirely his choice, then he can choose not to do it, which means it's at least possible in theory to live life without committing one actual sin, and not need God's grace to do so.  If it is impossible to not commit actual sin on one's own, then there is no free will in whether to sin or not to sin, because one is bound to sin.  The only free will is in the choice between sin A and sin B.  So we have free will in all things but our salvation?  Is that what you are suggesting?  If so, I thought that idea was also condemned by the Church as heretical?  A sort of anti-semi-pelagianism?


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - Vetus Ordo - 12-03-2011

(12-03-2011, 07:09 PM)Melkite Wrote: "That this multiformity of grades may be preserved in things, God allows some evils, lest many good things should never happen.'

Maybe it's a bad translation from Latin, but in English, it means the reverse is true: that if God did not allow some evils, the multiformity of grades would not be preserved.  This makes God the author of evil, because prior, the multiformity of grades was defined as neccessary to differentiate between God and creatures, who cannot attain the simplicity of God.  It makes it necessary for God to allow evil in order for him to be shown as good.  This is heretical.

That's not "heretical", that's just an observable fact of life, an irrefutable deduction from reality. Evil exists in this world, Melkite, that's undeniable. How can this be since God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent? Surely God could prevent evil from happening but yet there it is. Obviously, then, God must allow it since nothing can escape Him nor frustrate His will. In other words, God wills it (passively) to happen so that a greater good may come out of it.

God allowed the Fall to happen so that Christ might incarnate, for instance. O felix culpa, indeed!

Quote:The quote from Romans starts with 'what if...?' which to me says St. Paul was speaking hypothetically with what followed.  If that's the case, he was using it to illustrate a point on the sovereignty of God, not teach something doctrinal about predestination.  If I'm not mistaken, some of the Fathers interpreted it in this hypothetical manner, not as a definition of doctrine.

St. Paul clearly lays down fundamental doctrinal truths about predestination in Romans 9. You need to be very disingenuous to twist it.

Quote:'No man is forced to sin, he chooses to sin all by himself.'  So then you are a Pelagian?

No, I'm a Catholic.

Pelagians thought that man could make it on his own. I believe no man can make it except if God wills it first.


Quote:I understand people choose to commit sin each and every time they act; that's not what I was questioning.  But could I live my entire life, with a fallen human nature, and never commit onne actual sin?  I was under the impression the Catholic Church teaches it is impossible for one who has inherited original sin to live a life free from sin.  Am I wrong in that understanding?  If not, I do not understand how it can be said that it is impossible for man to live his whole life and not sin, yet sin is entirely his choice?  If it is entirely his choice, then he can choose not to do it, which means it's at least possible in theory to live life without committing one actual sin, and not need God's grace to do so.  If it is impossible to not commit actual sin on one's own, then there is no free will in whether to sin or not to sin, because one is bound to sin.  The only free will is in the choice between sin A and sin B.

Free will simply means freedom from external coercion. Did you actually read attentively anything that I posted before?

For instance, a man can choose not to eat or not to breathe but it's part of his nature that he eats and breathes. The same with sin and fallen nature. No-one forces you to sin but you naturally end up sinning because it's in your blood, it's part of your inherited wickedness. Your conscience still demands otherwise but you still freely and culpably yield to your depraved instincts.

Quote:So we have free will in all things but our salvation?  Is that what you are suggesting?  If so, I thought that idea was also condemned by the Church as heretical?  A sort of anti-semi-pelagianism?

You're confusing things. No-one is suggesting anything even remotely similar to that.

Consider this: the ultimate punishment from God is letting men run amock with their free wills.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - James02 - 12-03-2011

Quote: Then the real question is, if it is God's nature to be merciful, why is he only merciful to a select few and not all?

That is a mystery that can not be determined.  Even the Molinists start by saying God chooses to elect whom He chooses for His own secret purpose.

Keep in mind a few things.  First, God is Love, so it is necessary for the elect to be created so they can contemplate the beatific vision for all eternity.  God is not proud in a sinful sense.  Instead, out of Love it must come about that the elect are predestined, though God does not need them, it is out of Love.

If we weep for the reprobate, who sin 1000 times daily, think of the "poor" demons who fell over one sin of disobedience.  Even the elect disobey God, but have the blood of Christ and confession to atone for it.  Who are you to judge God, o man?  Shall we weep for the demons?  I'll pour hot coals on their head if it were the Will of God.

As for Pharoah, suppose he finished up a day of burning to death a few hundred women and children as an offering to his demon gods.  Would you complain if God struck him dead with lightning?  And yet you complain that God hardened his heart?  He was in the business of worshipping demons and oppressing God's people.

The reprobate sin by free choice.  God is all Just.  They will pay the price for their sin.


Re: Why do some people receive the gift of faith and not others? - jordanawef - 12-03-2011

To answer the question: because it is their choice.