Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not by works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us

MYTH
Predestination to glory in abstraction from grace is post prœvisa merita

1. It seems that predestination to glory in abstraction from grace is ante prœvisa merita. This seems to be more consistent with Scripture than the opposing theory of post prœvisa merita. This is my conclusion after reading a lot on the issue and pondering the treatment of the issue by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor Angelicus in his must-read Summa Theologica.

Predestination Ante Prœvisa Merita in the Pauline Epistles
2. St. Paul the Apostle says in Titus 3:5, "Not by works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." After quoting this passage, St. Thomas rightly affirms that "as He saved us, so He also predestined that we should be saved."{1} Thus it would seem from this and other passages to follow shortly that we should probably answer negatively to the question of "whether God pre-ordained that He would give the effect of predestination to anyone on account of any [foreseen] merits."{2} St. Thomas again quotes St. Paul, who says [Rom 9:11-12], "For when they were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil … not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said of her: The elder shall serve the younger."{3} Because "no principle of action can be imagined previous to the act of thinking," we should conclude that nothing "begun in us can be the reason of the effect of predestination" from the statement of St. Paul in 1 Cor 3:5 that "we are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves as of ourselves."{4}

Merits Following the Effect of Predestination Are Not the Cause of Predestination
3. St. Thomas rebuts the thesis "that merits following the effect of predestination are the cause of predestination" by pointing out that "what is of grace is the effect of predestination" and "cannot be" called "the reason of predestination" because "it is contained in the notion of predestination."{5} We can say of the effect of predestination in particular "that God pre-ordained to give glory on account of merit and … pre-ordained to give grace to merit glory."{6} But "the whole of the effect of predestination in general" does not "have any cause as coming from us; because whatsoever is in man disposing him towards salvation, is all included under the effect of predestination; even the preparation for grace," which is clear from the statement of St. Jeremiah the Prophet in Lam 5:21: "convert us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall be converted."{7}

Caveat
4. Nevertheless I will have to do a lot of Patristic studies before my opinion can really cement.

Agreement With Fr. William G. Most
5. I agree with Fr. William G. Most, who exemplary Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong rightly calls a genius, that predestination to glory comes before foreseen merits but after the foreseen absence of final impenitence.

Notes & References
{1} St. Thomas Aquinas (Doctor Angelicus), Summa Theologica I, q. 23, art. 5.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.
{7} Ibid.

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