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12/16/2018 11:12 pm  #1


My Greatest Fear

My greatest fear is that I turn out to be one of those who can only let the light in temporarily but in the end darkness prevails. Do you believe the Calvinist theory that God hardens people's hearts for some private, inexplicable reason and leaves the hardened person completely helpless to escape his fate?

I know that a lot of Protestants will give me trouble for this, but I believe in some Marian apparitions. Some of them have too much evidence to be hallucinations and the "it's by the power of the Devil" explanation sounds like what the Pharisees said to Jesus when they wanted him to shut up. When Our Lady at Fatima appeared, she mentioned the importance of praying for others, saying that many people descend into Hell because they have nobody to pray for them.

 

12/17/2018 2:27 am  #2


Re: My Greatest Fear

It's weird how many Christian Theists worry about preserving free will in the face of problems posed by the cosmo arguments and G-d's immutability and omniscience. The tradition is deterministic to the core. Predestination is also a part of Catholic doctrine. This was a very informative post on this board. When we turn to the source, he doesn't waffle.

Thomas Aquinas wrote:

According, then, as He has preordained some men from eternity, so that they are directed to their ultimate end, He is said to have predestined them. Hence, the Apostle says, in Ephesians (1:5): ‘Who predestinated us unto the adoption of children … according to the purpose of His will.’ On the other hand, those to whom He has decided from eternity not to give His grace He is said to have reprobated or to have hated, in accord with what we find in Malachi (1:2-3): ‘I have loved Jacob, but have hated Esau.’ By reason of this distinction, according to which He has reprobated some and predestined others, we take note of divine election, which is mentioned in Ephesians (1:4): ‘He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world.'  Summa Theologica and Contra Gentiles

Read Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange on The Meaning of Predestination in Scripture and the Church. How is it any different than what the notorious Calvinists believe? Full text.

The Reformation wasn't really about indulgences. Luther maintained that the church didn't put enough emphasis on predestination. Double Or Nothing: Martin Luther's Doctrine of Predestination is an excellent synopsis of his opus The Bondage of the Will.

Martin Luther wrote:

All things whatever arise from, and depend on, the divine appointment; whereby it was foreordained who should receive the word of life, and who should disbelieve it; who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them; and who should be justified and who should be condemned.

You may be worried that it is hard to defend the mercy and equity of G-d in damning the undeserving, that is, ungodly persons, who, being born in ungodliness, can by no means avoid being ungodly, and staying so, and being damned, but are compelled by natural necessity to sin and perish; as Paul says: ‘We were all the children of wrath, even as others’ (Eph.2.3), created such by G-d Himself from a seed that had been corrupted by the sin of the one man, Adam. But here G-d must be reverenced and held in awe, as being most merciful to those whom He justifies and saves in their own utter unworthiness; and we must show some measure of deference to His Divine wisdom by believing Him just when to us He seems unjust. … This question touches on the secrets of His Majesty, where ‘His judgments are past finding out’ (cf. Rom.11.33). It is not for us to inquire into these mysteries, but to adore them.  

 
Lorraine Boettner was a reformed theologian. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination is considered a classic. (Actually, some consider him too squishy on double predestination.)

Lorraine Boetther wrote:

The condemnation of the non-elect is designed primarily to furnish an eternal exhibition, before men and angels, of G-d’s hatred for sin, or, in other words, it is to be an eternal manifestation of the justice of G-d. … This decree of reprobation also serves subordinate purposes in regard to the elect; for, in beholding the rejection and final state of the wicked, they learn what they too would have suffered had not grace stepped in to their relief, and they appreciate more deeply the riches of divine love which raised them from sin and brought them into eternal life while others no more guilty or unworthy than they were left to eternal destruction.

A big debate in circles who believe this stuff is whether unconditional election entails unconditional reprobation. G-d only predestines the Elect; the remainder are part of some cosmic oopsie according to the optimists.

Note how this isn't "justice" by any standard. It's torturing conscious beings to make a point: 

Jonathan Edwards wrote:

When they shall see the misery of the damned, it will give them a greater sense of the distinguishing grace and love of G-d to them, that G-d should from all eternity set his love on them, and make so great a difference between them and others who are of the same species with them, are no worse by nature than they, and have deserved no worse of G-d than they. When they shall look upon the misery of the damned, and consider how different their own state is from theirs, and that it is only free and sovereign grace that makes the difference, what a great sense will this give them of the wonderful grace of G-d to them! And how will it heighten their praises! With how much greater admiration and exultation of soul will they sing of the free and sovereign grace of G-d to them!   Great sermon.

This evil doctrine constitutes nothing short of defamation of G-d's mercy. The scary "Old Testament" G-d doesn't warn of it. To the absolute and unequivocal contrary:

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die?” says the Sovereign L-rd. “Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” (Ezekiel 18:23)

And G-d saw their deeds, that they had repented of their evil way, and the L-rd relented concerning the evil that He had spoken to do to them, and He did not do it. (Jonah 3:10)

Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, that you will heed the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, which I command you today; and the curse, if you will not heed the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, but turn away from the way I command you this day, to follow other gods, which you did not know. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

Maimonides wrote:

Teshuvah atones for all sins. Even a person who was wicked his whole life and repented in his final moments will not be reminded of any aspect of his wickedness as [Ezekiel 33:12] states "the wickedness of the evil one will not cause him to stumble on the day he repents his wickedness."  It's all 'bout repentance.

This is perhaps the most beautiful thing I've ever read about the afterlife. Please consider it before you continue worrying if G-d determined from the instant of creation that your telos was eternal torture.

ShamanSTK wrote:

I contend that I am not the same person I was before. In the system I am sketching out, it is only the good in me that survives into the world to come. In the Jewish tradition, there is a concept called gehinnom. To quote Steve Miller, "You know you got to go through hell before you get to heaven." In the biblical metaphor, gold represents the aspect of our souls which survive the "smelt" of gehinnom. The parts of my soul that are not for the sake of G-d will be metaphorically burned away when I die leaving only that which is pure, and my share in the world to come is the extent to which my chunk of ore contains gold. I don't believe the aspects of my past that cause me shame will survive into the world to come. And I don't believe the aspects of my soul which I have repented actually exist in actu even in the present. I am not the same person I was in my younger years. I wouldn't recognize him as me, and I probably wouldn't like him. That person has in effect already died, and I killed him through my repentance and growth.

Completely unrelated but it's the most interesting thing I've read all week: How to reconcile HaShem, Aristotle, and Darwin.

Last edited by 119 (12/17/2018 2:43 am)

 

12/17/2018 8:07 pm  #3


Re: My Greatest Fear

"When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. If you want to, you can keep the Lord's commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not. He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take whichever you want. You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose." (Sirach 15:14-17)

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