Author Topic: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box  (Read 214 times)

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« on: October 09, 2017, 09:21:40 PM »
The old debate between the Thomists and the Molinists was quite the epic fail, and should have been the first indication that baroque scholastic Catholicism was doomed to failure.  And here is why.  (I'm limiting the topic to predestination proper, and not introducing the question of grace and how it works, although similar considerations apply there.)

We have two principles: God's willing to save being first cause of salvation, and God in fact saving only those who cooperate with grace.  All Thomists and Molinists are arguing about is which should be the primary principle and which should be the subordinate one.  Thomists make the former principle primary; thus, those who cooperate with grace do so due to an a priori decision by God to save them and for those who do not so cooperate this is due to the lack of such an a priori decision by God (negative reprobation).  Molinists make the latter principle primary; thus, God's will (or decision) to save someone is dependent on something outside of Himself and thus He is passive.

I've read all the pages and pages of sophistry in support of either view, and I won't be swayed by citing the qualifications of the theologians promoting them.  Putting lipstick on a pig doesn't make it not a pig.  This is a frank embarrassment for Catholic theology.  God, pure act, can't be passive.  But, having raised men to the supernatural, nothing can be lacking from Him for them to achieve their supernatural end (e.g. there is a universal salvific will).

Of course nobody questioned the underlying assumption: that one of the principles must be primary and the other subordinate.  Doubtless this would be the case if we were talking about a creaturely will, but we are talking about a Divine will, the will of an infinite being, for whom the limitations of the finite do not apply.  Both principles are primary.  Father Garrigou-Lagrange's dichotomy "God determining, or God determined, there is no third way" is false since it implies "determining" or "determined" are (contradictory) accidents God could have, and as though "determined" would imply change in God.  They are actually both true, and this is not a contradiction, as it would be for a finite being, but a paradox of the infinite, just like you can remove one gumball from a gumball machine holding an infinite number of gumballs and the number of gumballs inside the machine doesn't change.
The real purpose of traditionalist polemics is not to find truth, but to attempt to construct an epistemological fortress rendering one's worldview impervious to attack.
 
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Offline james03

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2017, 10:56:46 PM »
A big problem with predestination is perspective.  We always assume man's perspective.  The very word PRE-destination is from Man's perspective.  It is completely wrong to use that word when describing God because HE IS ALREADY THERE at the outcome.  I guess it is the best we can do.
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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 12:58:01 PM »
Of course nobody questioned the underlying assumption: that one of the principles must be primary and the other subordinate.  Doubtless this would be the case if we were talking about a creaturely will, but we are talking about a Divine will, the will of an infinite being, for whom the limitations of the finite do not apply.  Both principles are primary.  Father Garrigou-Lagrange's dichotomy "God determining, or God determined, there is no third way" is false since it implies "determining" or "determined" are (contradictory) accidents God could have, and as though "determined" would imply change in God.  They are actually both true, and this is not a contradiction, as it would be for a finite being, but a paradox of the infinite, just like you can remove one gumball from a gumball machine holding an infinite number of gumballs and the number of gumballs inside the machine doesn't change.

 How can both God and man both be the primary cause of salvation? This would seem to be a denial of causality, or a proper distinction between God and man. Unless you are going to say God's will to save and man's will to be saved are, in every respect, one and the same act, I don't see how they can both be the primary cause of salvation. Since in reality they are two separate acts, one has to come before the other.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 01:34:45 PM »
How can both God and man both be the primary cause of salvation? This would seem to be a denial of causality, or a proper distinction between God and man. Unless you are going to say God's will to save and man's will to be saved are, in every respect, one and the same act, I don't see how they can both be the primary cause of salvation. Since in reality they are two separate acts, one has to come before the other.

This would be true if Divine causality and willing were the same natures of things as creaturely causality and willing.  But they aren't; our notions of causality and willing are only analogous to His.  God is altogether outside the realm of of time (which is only applicable to creatures), so it is a category error to speak of Him as doing something "before" or "after" something else.  Even if "before" is meant in an ontological and not a temporal sense, He is also altogether outside the realm of ontological or logical dependency, just like an infinite number is outside the realm of being reducible via subtraction of a finite number from it.  Thus, God answers prayers, on account of the prayer being made, without Him being "ontologically dependent" on the prayer for so acting.
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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 02:52:50 PM »
Even if "before" is meant in an ontological and not a temporal sense, He is also altogether outside the realm of ontological or logical dependency, just like an infinite number is outside the realm of being reducible via subtraction of a finite number from it. 

This would make theology impossible, if God cannot be described in any ontological or even logical categories. God would simply be an absurdity. Even the concept of infinity could not be ascribed to Him, as infinity has a definite ontological and logical meaning.
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 12:25:49 PM »
Even if "before" is meant in an ontological and not a temporal sense, He is also altogether outside the realm of ontological or logical dependency, just like an infinite number is outside the realm of being reducible via subtraction of a finite number from it. 

This would make theology impossible, if God cannot be described in any ontological or even logical categories. God would simply be an absurdity. Even the concept of infinity could not be ascribed to Him, as infinity has a definite ontological and logical meaning.

That's not what I said.  I said He is outside the realm of ontological or logical dependency (which is only applicable to creatures), not that He cannot be described in ontological or logical categories.  It is true to say He exists (being is an ontological category).  It is true to say His existence is ontologically prior to the existence of any creature.  It is true to say that, since He is a Trinity, Unitarianism is false.  And so on.  But it is false to say anything God does is ontologically dependent on anything else or that anything God does is prior in time to anything else, not in the sense it is false to say the color of a chair is green when it is in fact black, but in the sense it is false to say the color of a chair is large.  It's a category error.
The real purpose of traditionalist polemics is not to find truth, but to attempt to construct an epistemological fortress rendering one's worldview impervious to attack.
 

Offline james03

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 05:46:49 PM »
Another big mistake is the confusion of Divine Providence with Predestination.  Predestination is easily proven.  Hitler was most likely baptized (and we'll assume he was.)  He was saved.  We'll assume he is in hell.  Predestination.

What upsets people more is Divine Providence.  The fact that Hitler existed and was permitted to do what he did.
"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)."

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Offline james03

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 05:52:35 PM »
 
Quote
How can both God and man both be the primary cause of salvation?

There are two controversies I see.  On the Molinist side is the (implicit at best) rejection of Predestination.

On the Banez Thomist side is the rejection that Man's free will is an efficient cause of his salvation.

The Congruent side (true Thomists, as in, the internal principle of Man's salvation is his free will) accepts Predestination and the fact that an efficient cause of Man's salvation is his free will, and further, his free will is truly free, i.e. we reject the distinction between efficacious grace and sufficient grace.  All grace is efficacious.  Man's response to grace is the result of his free will choice.
"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)."

"If what they are saying is true, the problem is not that they are the ones saying it: the problem is that we are not the ones saying it."
 
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 08:34:27 AM »
Well, the Banezians wouldn't deny that man's free will is an efficient cause, but they would say that it isn't the first efficient cause, and on this they are correct.  But the sophistry comes in when they say that, because man's free will is in potency to choosing salvation, salvation is therefore "possible", even when God doesn't actualize that potency; and when He does not, they have to explain this by reference to "negative reprobation".

But here's the thing: creaturely causality is confused with Divine causality.  For creatures, a "cause" is an ontological thing (possibly an accident) which, by its nature, brings about a change in something else.  There is a real ontological (accidental) difference between me typing this post and submitting it (causing it to appear on SD) and me not doing so.

But God, being infinite, can have no accidents.  There is no ontological difference between a God Who creates and one Who does not.  And yet in the former case He is the cause of the universe and in the latter case He is not.  If one insists that Divine causality is an ontological thing then, if this is distinct from the Divine nature and Divine existence, God is not simple; and, if identical to it, then God, due to His nature, creates the universe, which means the universe is necessary (e.g. God is bound to create it due to His nature).  (And again, Thomism fails quite spectacularly here.  All they do is hand-wave about God's free choice and that God has no real relations with creation, which is merely restating the problem, not answering it.)

And it is due to this lack of ontological difference in God that both predestination and lack of predetermination of free will are true.  It is a category error to say that God wills to save someone either "before" or "after" His knowledge of that person's cooperation with grace (which is what the Molinist/Thomist debate is about in sum, and both sides are wrong).  It is still a category error even when "before" or "after" are interpreted as ontological and not temporal priority.  For, God's will and His knowledge are not ontological things any more than they are temporal things.
The real purpose of traditionalist polemics is not to find truth, but to attempt to construct an epistemological fortress rendering one's worldview impervious to attack.
 

Offline james03

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Re: Predestination and Thinking Outside the Box
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 10:53:30 AM »
Quote
But the sophistry comes in when they say that, because man's free will is in potency to choosing salvation, salvation is therefore "possible", even when God doesn't actualize that potency;

Here they misinterpret Thomas.  St. Thomas held that it was IMPOSSIBLE for man to be saved, not because he was evil, but because he lacked the ability to view the Beatific Vision.  Therefore the only way to salvation is by man partaking of the Divine, which man has absolutely no ability to do.  There is nothing that man can do to partake of the Divine.  Only God can do this, and God can not be indebted to man.  It must be a Grace.

So Sanctifying Grace is the first efficient cause.  Man's free will response is also an efficient cause and it is entirely free, and thus has merit, as St. Thomas says.

I believe the Banez view is that man WON'T choose salvation due to his evil.  It is Luther's dung pile or Calvin's total depravity.
"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)."

"If what they are saying is true, the problem is not that they are the ones saying it: the problem is that we are not the ones saying it."