St. Thomas on Free Will

Started by james03, January 23, 2023, 11:54:51 AM

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Taken from de Veritate, Q24.

There are some who view St. Thomas as a kind of Catholic Calvinist.  This is false.

Quote from: A1l. Sirach (15:14) says: "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel"; and the Gloss comments: "That is, in the power of his free choice." ...

Without any doubt it must be affirmed that man is endowed with free choice. The faith obliges us to this, since without free choice there cannot be merit and demerit, or just punishment and reward. Clear indications, from which it appears that man freely chooses one thing and refuses another, also lead us to this. ...

But man, judging about his course of action by the power of reason, can also judge about his own decision inasmuch as he knows the meaning of an end and of a means to an end, and the relationship of the one with reference to the other. Thus he is his own cause not only in moving but also in judging. He is therefore endowed with free choice—that is to say, with a free judgment about acting or not acting.

Quote from: A15(2) Because to prepare oneself for grace is just another way of saying: to do what one is capable of—as it is commonly said that, if a man does what he is capable of, God gives him grace. But a man is said to be capable of that which is within his power. If, then, a man is not able by his free choice to prepare himself for grace, to do what one is capable of will not mean to prepare oneself for grace. ...

Thus, when a man begins to prepare himself for grace by turning his will to God for the first time, he must be brought to this by some external occasions, such as an external admonition or a bodily sickness or something of the sort, or else by some interior instinct, as God works in the hearts of men, or even in both ways together. All of this, however, is taken care of for man by divine providence; and so it comes about by divine mercy that man prepares himself for grace.

We see a balanced approach by St. Thomas.  That man is a cause of his action, and thus he gains merit, and that man is capable of cooperating with Grace.  However the First Cause is Divine Providence, whereby God moves the man to the cooperation by and external act of admonition or even sickness, or by some interior instict.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."

"Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him"


In my understanding it simply puts in that freewill is creation of God and endowed to humans. Thus, God permits humans to decide for themselves because He cannot be inconsistent with what He did. Cooperation to grace is an act of man to be aligned with God. Such is the poetry in motion of faith and reason.

Michael Wilson

"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP

"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers


Free Will as a part of The Image.