Does God Desire the Salvation of the Damned?

Luca Signorelli, The Damned Cast into Hell (1504)
Luca Signorelli, The Damned Cast into Hell (detail) (1504)

Does God wish that the damned had been saved? In other words, when a person dies and goes to Hell, is it because that’s where God wanted them from all eternity, or because they rejected His plan for their salvation?

Traditionally, Catholics have said that yes, God does desire the salvation of all, that Christ died for all, and that those who go to Hell go there despite God’s plan for them rather than because of it. That said, some Catholic theologians have thought otherwise, and Reformed Protestants (“Calvinists”) likewise argue in the opposite direction. Their argument is that if God had wanted them to be saved, they would have been. Calvinism goes further and says that Jesus Christ didn’t even die for these people. The Calvinist Synod of Dort declared:

In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that Christ should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death).

The Westminster Confession adds that “Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.” This idea that Christ only died for the people who end up in Heaven is called Limited Atonement, and the result of this doctrine is that the damned couldn’t have been saved. Their damnation was predetermined long before their birth. A third view, Universalism, is the liberal stepchild of Calvinism. Like Calvinism, it holds that anyone that God wants saved gets saved. It differs only in holding that God wants everyone to be saved.

So those are the three basic camps, and it makes for some interesting agreements and disagreements. While these three bullet-points all contain some oversimplifications, it’s basically true that:

  • Catholics and Calvinists agree with each, contra the Universalists, that there are people in hell.
  • Catholics and Universalists agree, contrary to the Calvinists, that God wills all people to be saved.
  • Calvinists and Universalists agree, contrary to the Catholics, that everyone who God wants saved gets saved. [As we’ll see, we Catholics agree with this in one sense. But let’s not jump ahead too far just yet.]

So what does Scripture have to say? Let’s look at the positive case for why we can say that God wants all to be saved (and that Christ died for all), then consider some objections, and then see if we can’t come to a fuller picture.

I. Scripture on the Universality of God’s Salvific Will

1 Timothy 2:1-4 is a great place to start the discussion:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

That seems straightforward enough. But some have interpreted this to mean simply that God wants to save every type of men (men from every race, class, sex, etc.), rather than actually wanting to save everyone. But this passage isn’t an isolated instance. A few chapters later (1 Timothy 4:10), St. Paul says, “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”

Now neither Catholics nor Calvinists believe that this verse means that God saves all men in the sense that everyone goes to Heaven, whether or not they believe. Something different is happening for “those who believe” than those who don’t. But the passage is also pretty clear that salvation extends to everyone, not just those who believe. How do we make sense of that? John 3:16-18 sheds more light on the matter:

 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Three groups are mentioned in this passage: those who believe, those who don’t believe, and “the world.” Those who believe are finally saved, and those who don’t believe aren’t, but the plan of salvation wasn’t just for the first group. Rather, it was for “the world.” Jesus becomes Incarnate because God so loved “the world”… not just the elect. And Christ comes to save the world. But final salvation, eternal life, extends only to “whoever believes in Him.” That certainly sounds like the Catholic view that salvation is extended to all, but only produces its final result in the elect. The last line of that passage reinforces this: Catholics and Calvinists alike point to it as proof that hell really does exist and that Universalism is false. Damnation really is possible. But it’s worth pointing out why the passage says that these people aren’t saved: they’re condemned because they didn’t believe. It’s not that they didn’t believe because they were already damned, or were never within the scope of Christ’s salvific action.

Still, perhaps none of those passages are clear enough, and you’re intent on reading “the world” as just referring to those of us who are saved. In that case, I would point you to 1 John 2:2, which seems to close the door on that interpretation. It says that Christ “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” And 1 John is one of the “Catholic Epistles,” meaning those New Testament books written to the entire Church. So it when it says that Christ’s Atonement isn’t just for us, that’s the corporate us. By “the whole world,” he seems to actually mean the whole world.

And of course, this fit in well with the broader picture of salvation. St. Paul speaks of the effects of Christ’s salvation extending through “the sons of God” to the entire cosmos, that somehow all of Creation participates (or will participate) in Christ’s redemption (Romans 8:19-23).

So we’ve considered two sets of passages: those that generally speak of salvation as being for the whole world; and those that specifically say salvation is for the whole world, and not just us. But still there are those who reject the apparent meaning of these passages. So what we could really use are verses in which Scripture describes specific individuals or groups who are not saved because they reject God’s plan for them. That sort of passage would simultaneously refute Calvinism and Universalism. And there are a few of just such passages.

The two clearest are in the Gospel of Luke. One of these is in Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, in which He says (Lk. 13:34), “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” The passage is clear that (a) Jesus willed to gather the children of Jerusalem together as a brood (or a flock, to use His other pastoral imagery); (b) that the children of Jerusalem were not gathered together; and (c) that this was because of their refusal of God’s plan. These three points, taken together, show the errors in both Calvinism and Universalism. So too does Luke 7:29-30, which says that “When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” I’ll let that passage speak for itself.

II. Some Objections

Given these passages, why does anyone believe in limited atonement? A few reasons are consistently given. The first is that there are other passages, in which Christ’s salvific action is described as being done for His people, or for the Church, or for the Saints, etc. GotQuestions defends the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement this way:

The doctrine of limited atonement affirms that the Bible teaches Christ’s atoning work on the cross was done with a definite purpose in mind—to redeem for God people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9). Jesus died, according to Matthew 1:21, to “save His people from their sins.” This truth is seen in many passages throughout Scripture. In John 10:15, we see that He lays “down His life for the sheep.”

Here’s the thing: all of that is true. But it’s a logical fallacy (a subtle form of affirming the consequent) to say that since Christ died for His sheep, He died only for His sheep… for the exact same reason that you can’t make the logical leap from “all sheep are animals” to “only sheep are animals” or “all animals are sheep.” This can be seen from Scripture quite plainly. In Galatians 2:20-21, St. Paul says,

 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.

That is, St. Paul is claiming that Christ died for him. Does that mean that Christ died only for St. Paul? Of course not. So let’s consider what we’ve seen so far. Scripture describes Christ as dying for:

  1. St. Paul
  2. The elect / the sheep
  3. The Church
  4. The world

Calvinists typically assume (incorrectly) that #2 & #3 are the exact same group (despite passages like Matthew 13:47-50, and the fact that Judas was an Apostle), and that if 2 & 3 are true, then 4 is false. That reasoning, as we’ve just seen, is fallacious.

But there’s a second argument, less obviously fallacious. It’s that Scripture sometimes speaks of two groups: the sheep and the goats, the just and the wicked, etc. It’s easy to imagine these two groups as entirely fixed in such a way that someone born into the wrong group could never be saved. If you read only those verses, that’s a completely reasonable reading. But you should also read Ezekiel 18, in which God explains at great length that this isn’t what He means, and that people can enter and leave either group (Ezekiel 18:20-32):

“The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

That’s unambiguous. There are the righteous and the wicked, yes; but the wicked can be saved (and God declares that He desires that they be saved!), and the righteous can be condemned. The wicked man who turns back to God is no longer numbered amongst the wicked; the righteous man who rejects God is no longer numbered amongst the righteous. So an argument for limited atonement that starts from the assumption that the just and the wicked are in two eternally-fixed, static groups is beginning the inquiry by rejecting a truth revealed directly by God.

So what arguments for limited atonement does that leave? Honestly, not many. If you don’t believe me, read the rest of the GotQuestions article I linked to above. Most of the arguments for limited atonement aren’t rooted in Scripture at all, but in particular Protestant theology. If their theology is true in teaching that we can’t refuse or reject or lose the salvation that Christ merited for us upon the Cross, then we would have to affirm either limited atonement or universalism. But since we’ve just seen enough Scriptural evidence to reject both limited atonement and universalism (and there’s woefully little to support either idea), the obvious conclusion is that it’s their theology that’s problematic here.

III. On the Will of God

So far, I’ve left off addressing one huge objection: if we say that Christ died for everyone, and that not everyone is saved, aren’t we denying God’s omnipotence? Protestants are absolutely right to be wary of any argument that sounds like (a) salvation is something we win for ourselves, or (b) we can overpower God. But we can’t take those theological truths as an excuse to ignore Biblical truths like that “the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves.”

So how can we hold both? An important distinction needs to be made in the will of God. This distinction will also help to make sense of how we can believe in both predestination and free will. St. John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.) explains:

Also one must bear in mind that God’s original wish was that all should be saved and come to His Kingdom. [1 Timothy 2:4] For it was not for punishment that He formed us but to share in His goodness, inasmuch as He is a good God. But inasmuch as He is a just God, His will is that sinners should suffer punishment.

The first then is called God’s antecedent will and pleasure, and springs from Himself, while the second is called God’s consequent will and permission, and has its origin in us. And the latter is two-fold; one part dealing with matters of guidance and training, and having in view our salvation, and the other being hopeless and leading to our utter punishment, as we said above. And this is the case with actions that are not left in our hands.

But of actions that are in our hands the good ones depend on His antecedent goodwill and pleasure, while the wicked ones depend neither on His antecedent nor on His consequent will, but are a concession to free-will. For that which is the result of compulsion has neither reason nor virtue in it.

To understand this distinction, imagine that you tell a child “if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.” Your desire is that the child will obey you, eat the meat, and be rewarded with pudding. So your will, in an antecedent sense, is that he should get pudding. But if the child refuses to obey you, you’re not going to just give him pudding anyway. Now your will is that he shouldn’t get pudding. But notice: you didn’t actually change your mind, and the child didn’t overpower you (as he would have if he had disobeyed and still received pudding against your will). The whole time, your will was “if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.” And whether he obeys and is rewarded or disobeys and is punished, that remains intact.

The same can be said of God, only instead of “if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding,” it would sound more like Ezekiel 18: “Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so turn, and live.”


  1. Good arguments Joe, I know that if you look at the verses that talk about predestination, you could argue very clearly that look – “some of us are damned and some ain’t”, but looking at the problem from a distance, how could Calvin argue such a horrible thing.I don’t mean to oversimplify or be rude, but It would not just make life meaningless for some, make God cruel, and even average christians couldn’t sleep, fearing in the night “am I really part of the elect? What if tomorrow i’ll do that sin! Then I’m for sure part of the damned”. And what sens would evangelizing have? “We’ve come to tell you you’re either saved or damned and there’s nothing you could do about it, you’ll just have to wait to find out”. Call me a peasant, but I think you have some theological problems to defend.

    Still, in regard to the parable with the goats and sheep. I think calvinists will argue that, yes you can move from one flock to another in this life, but God preordains how you’ll end up. I think it’s part of the “perseverance of the saints”, you could sin but in the end God will never let you in total disgrace.

    1. Dan, I agree with you. For me, it’s a mystery why anyone would care about morality at all, given a Calvinist point of view. If I’m saved, I can do whatever I want, even mass murder, because I’m already saved. If I’m saved, all actions amount to nothing. If I’m not saved, all my actions amount to nothing, too. People can retort, “Wait, if you’re saved you cannot commit mass murder”, but then maybe God chose to save me “from all eternity” but I’ll be saved just “after the mass murder”. It’s as if either saved Calvinist people cannot sin, or their sins amount to nothing. God is just an arbitrary and blind judge, randomly choosing the elect according to a preordained future (in which case we could question the very act of choosing, because they can only be either chosen or preordained/predetermined, not both), and making Christ’s death redundant (why die only for those whom God had already chosen to go to Heaven?).

      There is no logic behind that, if one takes Calvinism to its utter grand finale, the ultimate logic is antinomianism. “No matter what I do or believe, God’s predestination makes all I do futile and worthless”.

      1. Well, from the Calvinist point of view, if you were to do sinful things (such as mass murder, or less dramatic things) that would be evidence that you were never part of the Elect to begin with. But there is the issue with perhaps getting saved after the murder has been committed, as you pointed out. It’s a very odd theological system.

          1. No one said murderers should not be saved.
            Yes, from a Calvinist point of view, if you sin it’s a sign you’ve never been part of the elect; but then if you repent it’s a sign that you’ve always been a part of the elect, and if you sin it’s a sign that you’ve always been a part of the elect (again). No matter how much you sin or how long you’ve been a “sinless” man, it doesn’t matter, God has already decided that you can be a mass murderer that goes to heaven or a fornicator that doesn’t. God has already decided whether you will be a believer or not, and if you’re a non-believer, God has already decided/preordained/whatever that you will go to heaven or not, based on some arbitrary inscrutable divine council.

            “God did not come to save the healthy, but the sick.”
            According to the doctrine of Limited Atonement (which as a full-fledged Calvinist you should stick to, unless… well, unless you disagree!), Christ died only for those who are predestined to be saved, not the sick. It doesn’t matter if you are “sick” or “healthy”, all that matters is whether God has predestined you or not. And whether he has or has not, it makes no difference to moral or immoral behavior: moral behavior (even faith) won’t save you, if you are not predestined to be saved by God.

        1. Let’s not even get into the realm of Evanescent Grace…

          I never understood how Calvinism purports to offer any sort of assurances at all when it has that fine print in its Institutes.

  2. I will add that, as a child, my husband spent many, many sleepless nights wondering if he were “really saved” or not. It’s a terrible burden to lay on anyone, particularly when you offer them no hope of changing their “status”, as it were.

    1. That’s right, Elizabeth. That is what bothers me with this doctrine. If you feel you are really saved, you are all smiles, nothing else matters, you can sin and feel very little remorse afterwards. After all, you’re already saved! And some people (Calvinists) believe they have been already saved from eternity! But if you are in doubt, serious psychological crises can emerge. If you come to believe that you have no salvation, all hell breaks loose, so to speak. Curiously, this is the other side of the coin of “already saved”: as you said, no way to change what God has preordained since the beginning of time. It’s destiny and fatalism.

  3. I don’t want to really debate this topic, as I think a lot of it is semantics, but I think that Calvinists (which I am one) do well to heed what God says of Himself:

    Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezek 33:11)

    In short I believe God desires different things, and like man, He often prioritizes one desire over another. God desires justice and mercy. Not everyone gets justice, nor does everyone receive mercy.

    God bless,

    1. Do you believe in:

      a) Limited atonement
      b) Predestination
      c) Perseverance of the saints?

      What is the worth of the “wicked turning his way” and repenting, if there is predestination? How can the wicked turn his way if there is the perseverance of the saints?

      All I have seen is an odd silence from Calvinists, e.g.:

      We believe that from all eternity God has intended to leave some of Adam’s posterity in their sins, and that the decisive factor in the life of each is to be found only in God’s will. As Mozley has said, the whole race after the fall was “one mass of perdition,” and “it pleased God of His sovereign mercy to rescue some and to leave others where they were; to raise some to glory, giving them such grace as necessarily qualified them for it, and abandon the rest, from whom He withheld such grace, to eternal punishment.”

      The chief difficulty with the doctrine of Election of course arises in regard to the unsaved; and the Scriptures have given us no extended explanation of their state. Since the mission of Jesus in the world was to save the world rather than to judge it, this side of the matter is less dwelt upon.

      In all of the Reformed creeds in which the doctrine of Reprobation is dealt with at all it is treated as an essential part of the doctrine of Predestination. The Westminster Confession, after stating the doctrine of election, adds: “The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the inscrutable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.” ( Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Eerdmans, 1932). )

      “This side of the matter is less dwelt upon”?
      “abandon the rest, from whom He withheld such grace, to eternal punishment?”

      And from the Westminster Confession:
      according to the inscrutable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures,

      So God is an Absolutist King? A dictator that feels pleasure in his punishment for things he ordered/destined them to do?

      If I were a Calvinist who cared about doctrine, I would surely either a) revolt against God and make Satan my Hero; b) go running to other faiths.

    2. “Not everyone gets justice, nor does everyone receive mercy.”

      Actually, everyone receives justice. The damned very obviously receive justice, there is no need to speak on that. However, the saved in heaven also receive justice: “For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith” (Romans 1:17)

      The salvation of Mankind is not unjust, but just. Everyone receives justice. Some merit Heaven, some merit Hell. No one earns Heaven, but some earn Hell. The fact that the just only merit Heaven rather than earning it doesn’t remove its justice — it’s earned by Christ.

      1. Well, without getting into the atonement, I would say we all agree that God gives grace to the faithful, grace is an undeserved kindness. So, anyone who has received grace rightfully could be damned apart from it. So, when I said, “Not everyone gets justice,” please understand it from the perspective. I was obviously not impugning God’s justice.

        1. Perhaps poor word choice then? I would say God desires justice and mercy too. Some receive God’s just punishment, but others receive God’s just mercy.

          My point is that in Christ, God’s mercy is part of His justice. Interestingly, God’s mercy is also in His justice — for in removing the damned to hell He is not only giving them what they wanted, and in only the degree of severity that they have merited, but also that the joy of the saved may be more complete.

          Just encouraging you to consider God’s justice and mercy from a slightly different angle. 😉

          I would also point out that all western Christians, protestant and Catholic alike, both agree that God is simple — that is to say, doesn’t consist of any parts whatsoever. His essence is altogether one and indivisible. His mercy and justice are not only two compatible forces that are sometimes manifested at different times, they are part of the same *singular* essence. This means that when we describe “energies” of God, we aren’t just describing separate forces within God (as the Orthodox sometimes do), but describing, albeit in a limited, human way, God’s very essence itself. This also means that when we speak of the mercy of the Father and the mercy of the Son, we speak of the same mercy, as they share the same essence.

          Just some food for thought. I like to talk about the Trinity…

        2. “So, anyone who has received grace rightfully could be damned apart from it.”

          I’m sorry…what?

          What you just said makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe a poor choice of wording?
          Grace cannot be received rightfully, by its very definition. So, either you’re talking about “wages”, which, sure…makes sense. But it seems to me that you’re using this slight of hand trick with the wording in order to connect two arguments that otherwise would not logically follow.

        3. If God gives grace only to the faithful, it is deserved kindness. They deserved it because they were faithful.

          Anyway, I impugn God’s justice according to Calvin, since it is an utter injustice, or random sadism.

          1. Well, Catholic Tradition teaches that one must be disposed to receive grace and how can one receive salvific grace if one does not have Divine Faith but merely anthropocentric faith, faith in one’s own intellect?

            Protestants do not have Divine Faith but they do have a personal faith but that is not salvific.

            Absent Sanctifying Grace one can not be saved which is just another way of saying that outside the church there is no salvation.

            Rare is the discussion of the reasons Jesus established His Church


            and the Barque of Peter has run aground on the reef of ecumenism (The Universal Solvent of Tradition [tm] ) and it is not moving to set out into the deep to teach and convert

          2. ABS,

            You can’t just present these falsehoods as if they’re the official position of the Catholic Church. You’re liable to mislead non-Catholics or poorly educated Catholics into believing that your private interpretation of Tradition is what the Magisterium actually teaches. Which, as you know, is false.

    3. I don’t really want to debate this topic either. Let’s debate what you’ve censored in your blog. Please feel free to insult me, which I think you won’t do, but anyway. Censors are cowards.

        1. I just understand that you like censorship, like many people in the internet with credentials to withhold permission to coments, which of course is your right in your blog.

    4. The Lord in the His gospel message teaches that there is a ‘scale’ of gravity with the virtues and vices that effects our degree of glory or perdition in eternal life. For those that of their free choice decide to commit even the least sin, will find that even that very small sin will have it’s effect in their future eternal state. Jesus says: “He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”

      And likewise Jesus says that the smallest act of justice, holiness or virtue has a glorious effect on the future eternal state of a soul, per His saying: “But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” And note that He says ‘do and teach’. That is, faith is not sufficient alone, but the ‘living out’ or ‘doing’ the commandments, combined with teaching, which will merit either a greater or lesser place in the Kingdom of Heaven.

      Moreover, Jesus also says: “For I tell you, that unless your justice abound MORE than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall NOT ENTER into the kingdom of heaven.

      This last statement of Christ signifies level, or gradation of vices and virtues wherein the holiness or justice of ones life must abound to a greater level than the justice of the scribes and Pharisees, otherwise like them one will not even ‘enter the kingdom of heaven’…ie. suffer eternal damnation.

      Everything in these teachings proclaim the role of free will in our salvation. Every decision we make, even the smallest, effects our eternal destiny, whether it be to a higher place of glory for those who choose to do an abundance of virtue and justice in their lives, or a lesser amount of glory for those who choose to do ‘less’ good in their lives. Likewise, there are varying degrees of perdition for those who choose to do either a greater or lesser degree of evil in their lives. All is the result of the decisions we make, corresponding to the varying gifts and talents that God has provided to us.

      Is this not the message taught in parables and sayings of Christ throughout the four Gospels?

    5. In short I believe God desires different things, and like man, He often prioritizes one desire over another. God desires justice and mercy. Not everyone gets justice, nor does everyone receive mercy.

      You are not even a nominal christian if you think God is not just with every man. You should pray for conversion as your protestant ideology is an anchor dragging you down into hell.

      You do not know when your soul will be required of you. You do not want to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ bearing with you the blasphemous heresy that God is not just with all men.

      Saint John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and Peter the first Pope all began their ministries with a call to repentance and conversion.

      Do notmiss the time of your visitation, brother

      1. 31. Why are true heretics lost?

        True heretics are lost because by rejecting the divine Teacher–the Catholic Church–they reject all divine teaching, to do which is one of the greatest sins. Hence Pope Pius IX spoke of Protestantism in all its forms as “the great revolt against God,” it being an attempt to substitute a human for a divine authority, and a declaration of the creature’s independence from the Creator. For this reason Holy Scripture condemns heresy in the strongest terms. “A man,” says St. Paul, “that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid; knowing that he who is such an one is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” (Tit. 3: 10) And again he says: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema,” that is, “accursed.” (Gal. 1:29).

        Heretics are lost because they have no divine Faith. “To reject but one article of Faith taught by the Church,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “is enough to destroy Faith, as one mortal sin is enough to destroy Charity.” For the virtue of Faith does not consist merely in adhering to the Holy Scriptures, and in revering them as the Word of God; it consists principally in submitting our intellect and will to the divine authority of the true Church charged by Jesus Christ to expound them. “I would not believe the Holy Scriptures,” says St. Augustine, “were it not for the divine authority of the Church.” He, therefore, who despises and rejects this authority, cannot have true Faith. If he admits some supernatural truths, they are but simple opinions, as he makes those truths depend on his private judgment.

        And as divine Faith is the beginning of salvation, the foundation and source of justification, and is found only in the true Church, it is clear that there is no salvation for one as long as he is a heretic.

  4. I have/get to discuss these things with Calvinist co-workers (one is ‘former’ Catholic). This article will be of great help; you have jammed it full of simply-stated arguments that get to heart of Calvinism’s problem(s). The nightmare for them has to be: “I know I’m saved…unless I’m not.” And there is nothing they can do, think, or believe that can change it (as Elizabeth’s said of her husband in the comment above).

  5. Protestants should forget about ‘being saved’ and start falling in love with Jesus Christ. All of the worrying about going to Hell caused Martin Luther to develope the multitudes of the strange philosophies and teachings that he did. He basically invented a new gospel. It is LOVING GOD that gets people into the kingdom of heaven, not being terrified by Him, as one would be of Satan. Jesus taught this true gospel of the love of God by commanding us to call God “Father”. And He reinforces this concept of a ‘good’ Father when taught:

    ” And which of you if he ask his father bread will he give him a stone? Or a fish, will he for a fish give him a scorpion? If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11)

    So, why get so excited about predestination? Jesus’ contemporaries asked Him in many different ways what they needed to do to get into Heaven. It’s nothing new. He gave the answers over and over again. This is why we have a ‘gospel’… to teach us these very things. Even little children can understand. Have protestants never read the account that says:

    “And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”


    “….what must I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” (Luke 10:25)

    So again, why worry about predestination and all of the other strange Protestant inventions and doctrines? Why teach it? Why not listen to Christ when He clearly teaches about these things? Why all the philosophical gymnastics when it’s not necessary? Why the need to invent a new Gospel of fear when Jesus says we have a good Father to take care of us? That… if we have seen the ‘sacred heart’ of Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God’, the ‘Good Shepherd’…that we have seen ‘Our Father’ also?:

    “Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, shew us the Father? [10] Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.” (John 14:9)

    So, this is the ‘Good News’: We have a ‘Good Shephard’ that loves and teaches us, and a ‘Father’ in Heaven that does the same. We should naturally love them for this, even as a child naturally loves his parents who feeds and teaches him.

    Again, why all the fuss about predestination, justification by faith alone, and all of the other wacky protestant teachings of Luther’s alternative gospel? If Jesus and the apostles thought that such doctrines were important, they would have clearly stated or emphasized them in the four Gospels. Why not just accept these simple teachings that Jesus DID teach to us by His own mouth, and then FOLLOW and LIVE BY what He says? The Gospel really is “good news”…you know.

  6. Here’s how I, as a Catholic and former Calvinist, see this issue:

    Sarah and Suzie are both human and descendants of Adam and Eve, and so both are inheritors of original sin. Both would therefore be doomed to hell apart from God’s grace. However, God has sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem it, and Christ has given the world grace through his sacrifice and merits, redeeming men from the curse of sin. This salvation is made available and offered to all the world through the preaching of the gospel by the Church. Thus, God has provided sufficient grace to both Sarah and Suzie, and both can freely avail themselves of it if they will. There is no hindrance to the salvation of either of them outside the potential refusal of their own free will. From all eternity, God has ordained everything that has come or will come to pass in time, including all events both good and evil. Good (like light) is a positive thing, produced by God’s positive power and working, while evil (like darkness) is a negative thing. God positively brings about all good but permits or allows evil, as he has determined to use both to fulfill his glorious purposes in history. Therefore, nothing happens which defeats his ultimate goals or purposes for the creation. Evil is a thing displeasing to God in its own nature, but its presence in history is not a defeat of his sovereignty, for it only exists at his sufferance to the extent and in the form that he has wisely and freely determined to permit in every detail. God’s free ordination of all things includes who will and who will not be saved, as it includes every other detail of history. From all eternity, God freely decided that, in addition to making sufficient grace available to both Sarah and Suzie, he would give Sarah a special efficacious grace that would move her will to accept the gospel and persevere in that acceptance to the end of her life and so arrive at ultimate salvation, while he determined not to give that particular gift to Suzie. In other words, God chose to give Sarah a good will but not to give that gift to Suzie. He predestined Sarah to salvation by his grace. He did not predestine Suzie to damnation, in the sense of forcing her to reject the gospel or infusing into her evil that caused her to reject the gospel. He simply refrained, of his own free and wise will, for his good purposes, from moving Suzie’s will to accept the gospel, allowing her to continue to reject it of her own free will until her death.

    Why would God do this? He did not elect Sarah to salvation because she was any better than Suzie, for both were equally in need of grace due to original and actual sin. He did not refrain from moving Suzie’s will to salvation out of any malice or hatred or lack of compassion, but rather because he saw that it would be better, all things considered, to give a grace to Sarah that he did not give to Suzie. (This issue, then, is simply part of the larger question of why God allows evil and suffering to exist in his creation. He does not do so because he loves or approves of evil, or because he is incapable of keeping evil out of his creation, but because he sees, in his infinite wisdom, that it is ultimately better overall to allow certain evils to happen than to stop them from happening. As Pope Leo XIII put it in his encyclical Libertas, “God Himself in His providence, though infinitely good and powerful, permits evil to exist in the world, partly that greater good may not be impeded, and partly that greater evil may not ensue.”) God did not do any injustice to Suzie in not granting her the same efficacious grace that he gave to Sarah, for he granted her sufficient grace for salvation which she could have availed herself of if she had wished to do so. Nothing outside of her will was impeding her acceptance of salvation. In rejecting it, she acted with full freedom of will–as did Sarah, who was moved and inspired but not forced to accept the gospel by God’s efficacious grace. Nor did Suzie (or Sarah) do anything to deserve or merit God’s efficacious grace. All human beings since the Fall deserve God’s damnation rather than his grace, and any grace received is an unmerited gift rather than something owed to us.

    1. It seems to me that there is too much loaded into the term “efficacious grace”. There is no grace so efficacious that it overpowers free will. God gave Adam and Eve the ability chose evil in spite of their initial human perfections. We their descendants, burdened with the consequences, can never retrieve on our own the goods we freely throw away in continuing to chose evil. Only God in his great love can heal us so we can turn to Him that He might return to us blessings greater than all our sins. God gives and offers each of us the graces most appropriate to achieve this, but never imposes them. I’m convinced that God is not stingy with His mercy and offers it in proportion to our need. If He asks us to pray for His generosity, especially for those in most need, it’s because prayer itself is grace for ourselves and those we pray for. He has known from all eternity the remedies we each need, but we are still free to reject them. He knows who will reject them because He “foresees” our free choices. Salvation and damnation are both God’s perfect justice and mercy, that also reflect our final choices for or against Him, The efficaciousness of grace is only meaningful to us when seen as an outcome. I’d much rather trust in God and take on His loving yoke than spend 1 minute worrying over whether I am among the “damned” or the “saved”.

      1. Nice comment. Well said.

        I might add that Jesus taught as a universal teaching “ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you”. If some souls were excluded from this Gospel precept, according to some Protestant doctrines, then this saying would not apply to those persons. It would make Jesus’ saying a lie for these souls, which is not possible for Christ.

        Rather, the free will of some souls turns them away from asking or knocking. Therefore they do not receive because of their own decision not to seek, ask and knock at the door of God’s kindness, love, truth and mercy. The same free will was given to both St. Michael and Lucifer. Each made their own decision, as do all men on Earth.

  7. I like this summary by St. Isidore of Seville, found in Guido Stucco, God’s Eternal Gift: A History of the Catholic Doctrine of Predestination from Augustine to the Renaissance (Xlibris, 2009), pp. 317-319:

    Between the infusion of divine grace and the faculty of the human will there is the following element: the decision stemming from a human choice, which is capable of spontaneously desiring good or bad things. Grace is the free gift of divine mercy, through which we evidence the beginning of a good will and its fruits. Divine grace anticipates man, so that he may do what is good; human free will does not anticipate God’s grace, but grace itself anticipates an unwilling person, so that he may want what is good. Because of the burden of the ‘flesh,’ man finds it easy to sin, though he is slow to repent. Man has within himself the seeds of corruption but not of spiritual growth, unless the Creator, in order to raise him up, stretched his merciful hand to man, who is prostrated as a result of the Fall. Thus, through God’s grace human free will is restored, which the first man had lost; in fact, Adam had free will to do what is good, even though he did it with God’s help. We obtain our will to do what is good and embrace God perfecting us, thanks to divine grace. We receive the power to begin and to perfect what is good from God, who gave us the gift of grace; as a result of that, our free will is restored in us. Whatever good we do, it is God’s, thanks to his prevenient and subsequent grace; but it is also ours, thanks to the [God-made] obedient power of our wills. But if it isn’t God’s, why do we give him thanks? And if it isn’t ours, why do we look forward to the reward of good works? Insofar as we are anticipated by God’s grace, it is God’s; insofar as we follow prevenient grace to do what is good, it is ours. Nobody anticipates God’s grace with his merits, thus making him almost indebted to us. The just Creator chose in advance some people by predestining them, but justly abandoned the others to their evil ways. Thus, the truest gift of grace does not proceed from human nature, nor is the outcome of our free will, but is bestowed only in virtue of the goodness of God’s mercy. In fact, some people are saved by a gift of God’s mercy which anticipates them, and thus are made “vessels of mercy;” but the reprobates are damned, having been predestined and made “vessels of wrath.” The example of Jacob and Esau comes to mind, who, before been [sic] born, and again, after being born as twins, shared the bond of original sin. The prevenient goodness of divine mercy drew one of them to itself through sheer grace, but condemned the other through the severity of divine justice. The latter was abandoned in the mass of perdition, being ‘hated’ by God; this is what the Lord says through the prophet: “I loved Jacob but hated Esau” (Mal 1:3). From this we learn that grace is not conferred on account of any pre-existing merits, but only because of divine calling; and that no one is either saved or damned, chosen or reprobated other than by decision of God’s predestination, who is just towards the reprobates and merciful towards the elect (“All the paths of the Lord are faithful love” Ps 25:10).

  8. “The just Creator chose in advance some people by predestining them, but justly abandoned the others to their evil ways.”

    Someone who abandons many people because he wishes (no explanation at all), is not just. Justice is to give equal opportunity and free will to all. I would also side with Satan against this unjust god, if this “god” existed at all.

    1. I think every Catholic should agree with you, KO. It would be ludicrous for God to wish the damnation of a sinner at the same time that He strives to teach sinners that they have the power to dominate sin in their lives. This is a theme strewn throughout the entire Bible. Take the story of Cain and Abel for example. If God wanted Cain to be damned, then why would he bother to teach Cain ( and all other’s through his scriptural example) that he can dominate evil if he only desires and tries. Here is what the good God says to Cain before the murder of Abel:

      “And the Lord said to him: Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen? [7] If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.” (Gen.4:6)

      And Jesus also teaches: “Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38) This is basically the same admonition and instruction as is found with Cain in Genesis. So, these teachings, and many others like them, contradict the idea that there is a sort of ‘enslavement of the will’ as taught in Protestantism.

      It amazes me how Protestants can elevate the Scriptures so highly, and then ignore the actual teachings that the scriptures are trying to convey. If Moses heard the Israelites talking of God’s WISHING the damnation of a sinner He probably would have done a back flip in his astonishment and dismay over their lack of understanding. He, after all, taught in the name of God:

      ” This commandment, that I command thee this day is not above thee, nor far off from thee: Nor is it in heaven, that thou shouldst say: Which of us can go up to heaven to bring it unto us, and we may hear and fulfill it in work? Nor is it beyond the sea: that thou mayst excuse thyself, and say: Which of us can cross the sea, and bring it unto us: that we may hear, and do that which is commanded? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, THAT THOU MAYST DO IT. Consider that I have set before thee this day life and good, and on the other hand death and evil: That thou mayst love the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and keep his commandments and ceremonies and judgments, and thou mayst live, and he may multiply thee, and bless thee in the land, which thou shalt go in to possess. But if thy heart be turned away, so that thou wilt not hear, and being deceived with error thou adore strange gods, and serve them: I foretell thee this day that thou shalt perish, and shalt remain but a short time in the land, to which thou shalt pass over the Jordan, and shalt go in to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. CHOOSE therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live: And that thou mayst love the Lord thy God, and obey his voice, and adhere to him (for he is thy life, and the length of thy days,)…” (Deut. 30:11)

      Thus, we see how greatly Protestant doctrines deviate from scripture when they promote teachings such as ‘the enslavement of the will’. Therein they directly contradict what Moses says, above, all the while promoting the absolute authority of scripture ‘alone’. They contradict Jesus’ quote above also, as the Lord teaches us the remedy for sin…that is, ‘to pray always that we enter not into temptation’.

      1. The Calvinist concern here, of course, is that if we say that God desires the salvation of the damned, then if the damned aren’t saved (which, of course, they aren’t, by definition) it seems as if God has failed to accomplish what he wants in history. If we imagine that God has some ideal plan that he would like to see accomplished, but he can’t accomplish it and has to settle for something less than ideal, the Calvinists are quite right in thinking that that would be the destruction of God’s omnipotence. To avoid saying that, Calvinists often (but not always) resort to denying that God desires the salvation of the damned.

        To parse this right we have to distinguish between two meanings of “God desires the salvation of the damned,” one of which is true and the other of which is false. It is false to say that “God desires the salvation of the damned” if by that we mean that God’s ideal for human history is that everyone be saved and that the existence of the damned (assuming there are some who are damned) constitutes a defeat of God’s unmitigated ideal. It is true to say that “God desires the salvation of the damned” if we mean that the damnation of a soul is inherently displeasing to God and the salvation of a soul is inherently pleasing to him, so that, all things being equal, he wants the latter and not the former, even though all things considered he decides freely that the best way to accomplish his full ideal for human history is to allow some to be lost of their own free will while bringing others to salvation.

        I believe that this position is not only Catholic, but also that Calvinists could get behind it, even though it may be phrased in ways less familiar to their terminology.

        1. Also a former Calvinist. I would put it a bit differently as God’s active will, and God’s permissive will. God does not actively will either evil, nor the damnation of any individual, but does permit it, and bring about a greater good by it.

          The problem with this “two wills” theory as you put it here is that it introduces conflict into the Godhead, which as we know by the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, is impossible. Therefore, His will to save all individuals and His will to send the evil to their just end need to not only differ in conclusion, but also in kind. Otherwise God would have two active wills, and God would not truly be One and altogether simple (not consisting of parts). This explains why God says that He “takes no delight in the death of the wicked,” as He does not actively will either their eternal torment, nor their wickedness. This is because God’s acts are always perfect, thereby resulting in perfect delight in Himself. This means that God does not take a creative role in damnation, nor evil itself. Wisdom 1:12-13: “Seek not death in the error of your life, neither procure ye destruction by the works of your hands. For God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.”

          Damnation is entirely our own doing.

      2. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, one of the foremost Catholic theologians in recent times to deal with these matters, talks about the two different wills of God–antecedent and consequent–in his comments on the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas, in this quotation from Lagrange’s book Predestination, pp. 74-75 (footnotes retained in square brackets):

        What metaphysical definition shall we give, then, of the consequent and antecedent wills? St. Thomas gives us in substance the answer to this question. He points out that good is the object of the will; now goodness, unlike truth, is formally not in the mind but in things as they actually are. Hence we will, truly and simply, what we will as having to be at once realized, and this is called the consequent will, which in God is always efficacious. As St. Thomas says: “The will is directed to things as they are in themselves, and in themselves they exist under particular qualifications. Hence we will a thing simply, inasmuch as we will it when all particular circumstances are considered; and this is what is meant by willing consequently. . . . Thus it is clear that whatever God simply wills, takes place.” [Ibid., Ia, q.19, a.6 ad 1um] As we shall see later on, this principle concerning the will is of supreme importance for St. Thomas as constituting the foundation for the distinction between efficacious and sufficient graces.
        If, on the other hand, the will is drawn to what is good in itself regardless of the circumstances, not to a thing as it actually is, then this is called the antecedent will, which of itself and as such is not efficacious, since good, whether natural or supernatural, easy or difficult to acquire, is realized only with its accompanying circumstances. As St. Thomas says: “A thing taken in its primary sense, and absolutely considered, may be good or evil, and yet when some additional circumstances are taken into account, by a consequent consideration may be changed into the contrary. Thus that a man should live is good, . . . but if in a particular case we add that a man is a murderer . . . to kill him is good.” [Ibid., q.19, a.6 ad 1um] Thus the merchant during a storm would will (conditionally) to retain his merchandise, but he wills to cast it into the sea so as to save his life. [Ibid., Ia IIae, q.6, a.6, c.] Thus again, God wills antecedently that all the fruits of the earth become ripe, although for the sake of a greater good he permits this not to happen in all cases. He also wills antecedently that all men should be saved, although, in view of a greater good, of which He alone is the judge, He permits that some commit sin and are lost.

        My summary of the idea here: In short, in itself considered, God loves the salvation of all men and hates their damnation, but in his wise providence, all things considered, he sees that it is better not to predestine all to receive the grace that efficaciously leads to salvation. With regard to Christ having died for all men, of course his atonement was of infinite value and so was sufficient for all men and is truly offered and available to all (thus providing sufficient grace to all), and yet only those who, moved by grace, receive it have its benefits actually applied to them in such a way as to move them from a state of sin into a state of grace (and, with the elect, moving them to persevere in a state of grace to the end of their lives).

        1. The point is, God gives people a choice. It is part of our creation in the image of God, who Himself has free will, and also provides this to his creatures. He gave the angels free will also. Some of these, of their free will chose evil, some others chose good. Why some choose evil, and others good, is a mystery we will probably never know.

          What we do know, is that Jesus said…”Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And this means that every person… barbarian… creature, has the opportunity to use his free will to follow Christ. Otherwise Jesus would have taught otherwise. If everyone is offered the life of Christ, then everyone also is capable of accepting it.

          Why Protestants love the philosophy of predestination and ‘slavery of the will’ so much I really don’t know. Jesus, the ONE TEACHER, says nothing of it. Why do so many want to be greater scholars and philosophers than Jesus Himself? Why are people not satisfied with the Gospel message…the words of Christ? Predestination seems to be an obsession for some..and probably caused by the infection of protestant philosophy. In my opinion it is an insult to the love found in the Good News that Jesus came to spread.

          Martin Luther started this crazy philosophy. He was highly neurotic, probably bi-polar and probably suffering from both post traumatic stress from the lightning strike he suffered, and then continual traumatic stress from fear for his life on a daily basis. all of these things can cause a soul to be very deranged.

          His behavior throughout his life demonstrates these truths. Who would ever believe a philosophy from a man who exhibited such strange behaviors and superstitions in thought, word and actions throughout most of his adult life? His philosophy might have made sense to him, due to his mental instability, but it shouldn’t be adopted by healthy souls and minds.

          Rather, the ecclesiology and spirituality of people such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Philip Neri, St. John Bosco, St. Anthony Claret, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Theresa of Liseaux, St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena……all healthy souls….should be followed.

          But people continue to follow Luther’s deranged philosophies and teachings. And it is really amazing.

  9. Love Joe and his teachings of the Gospel message. Although a cradle Catholic in love with the Lord, I am no theologian. That said, I have to share an analogy that I heard years and years ago, I cannot even remember when or from what source….

    The Redskins and the Cowboys play a Monday night game that I am unable to w
    atch, but my wonderful husband watches AND records the game for me. We sit down on Thursday to watch the game (the first time for me, a rerun for him) and he, being a great hubby, does not say a WORD about the outcome until the game is over. He, of course, KNOWS that the Redskins won, because the event is in the past and the result known to him. Does that mean that when I am watching, the Redskins are “predestined” to win???

    Obviously, it is a silly question. What happened is what happened, it is just that hubby knows and I don’t until I watch the recording because it is in the past!!

    GOD is not bound by time or space, Therefore, the fact that He KNOWS (with a nod to Mark) whether Susie or Sarah go to heaven or hell does NOT mean that they were “predestined” to do so. They were both offered the grace and redemption of the Cross, and how they chose to respond was an ongoing struggle of their paths in life. We humans on earth live life constrained by time and space, the Lord does not. Knowledge of outcome, in the case of our God, does not mean coercion or the choice of the Creator……it is how Susie and Sarah and you and I live out the call of the Gospel,

  10. You can’t just present these falsehoods as if they’re the official position of the Catholic Church. You’re liable to mislead non-Catholics or poorly educated Catholics into believing that your private interpretation of Tradition is what the Magisterium actually teaches. Which, as you know, is false.

    Dear Father to be. In the post you responded to, I am not aware that what I asserted is false. What I wrote is what used to be boilerplate doctrine vis a vis EENS and grace and divine faith etc.

    Maybe after Christmas you can devote a post to explaining to men what is wrong in what I wrote.

    In the meantime, have a Blessed Christmastide.

  11. So as Catholics let’s just bite the bullet and distinguish, as Ludwig Van Ott does in fundamentals of Catholic dogma, and even as Trent does, that Even though Christ dies for all, not all are saved, but only those he chooses.

    It would be helpful if we could distinguish between Atonement and Redemption. I would say this: if we can define atonement as Christ’s will to die for all and make satisfaction for all the sins of every individual ever, then the atonement is unlimited. But if we can define redemption as his application of the atonement to individuals, not all are redeemed, only the elect. There is therefore a particular redemption that occurs within the context of an unlimited atonement.

    Defined this way, we know as Catholics that this is true. I just don’t know that redemption and atonement have that distinction, but I give them that distinction for the sake of clarity.

    What goes hand in hand with this is the resistibility of grace. The atonement has made available for all men grace sufficient to be saved, but this grace can be resisted.

    However, the elect are those for whom this grace is intrinsically efficacious. Though they may resist for a time, ultimately they choose to abide in Him and end their lives persevering in grace.

    However for the reprobate, even though they may be docile to grace for a time, they will inevitably persevere in their resistance to grace.

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