While participating in an ecumenical Bible study today that was led by a dear friend who is Baptist, it really forced me to further investigate, "Predestination". During this study in the first Chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Romans, my brother in Christ did an admirable job in explaining certain things about why Paul was exhorting what he did at that time to the Jew's and Gentiles. Although he lost me when he gave a quote by John Calvin; the context of this quote was that we were discussing the meaning of "Faith", and Justification by Faith and "FAITH ALONE". Immediately I thought of James 2:17 "…faith without works is dead…" The statement he made by Calvin was…
"Faith is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds and sealed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit."
Now, he continued to hammer away at this "Predestination" doctrine, that everyone is already pre-ordained/predetermined to be saved, or damned; now this is something that you really have to watch when participating in "ecumenical" Bible Study and/or Fellowship Groups, because even though we agreed (this brother stated this JUST PRIOR to him reading a quote from Calvin) that we are going to go off of the bible (sola scriptura) and not anyone's particular doctrine/religious belief and/or affiliation. I found this to be very interesting, but food for thought. He then continued to hammer away at, either you are saved and/or part of the elect of God or you are not. Your fate has already been sealed, for lack of a better phrase.
As a Catholic, I found this type of theology very disheartening because my dear brother in Christ did not mention anything about LOVE, GRACE and MERCY of those who are believers and the unbelievers. Yes, we know and believe that Jesus said, "…I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man goes to the Father except through me." But does God's mercy not extend to those who do not believe in Jesus Christ? Do they also not have a stake in the ransom that was paid through the suffering and death of Christ?
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, teaches us –
Paragraph #600 - To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination," he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.
And continuing into the context of this in paragraph 603 is the key to this mystery –
Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned.405 But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"406 Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all," so that we might be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son."
It say's God gave his own Son up for us ALL! Roman's 3:23 says that we ALL fall short of God's mercy and goodness, but it was through HIS Divine Love for us, each and EVERYONE OF US SINNERS, that THROUGH our Faith, in Christ Jesus we are reconciled to God, once again!
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this tells me that we must continue to do more, to LOVE more, to WORK more to reach out to our brothers and sisters of other Faiths, to let them know that we serve a Just God, as well as a MERCIFUL God, who continues to provide and never turn His back on us, even though, through our own free will, we turn our backs on Him. This same God did NOT PREDESTINE US TO DAMNATION! If anything, He predestined us to SALVATION, to come back HOME to the Father, and through the Expiation of our Sin's through Jesus Christ, we pray that we will be Home with the Father one day.
I leave you with this quote from one of the 33 Doctors of our Faith and perhaps one of the greatest theologians to ever grace us…
"Nothing conquers except truth, and the victory of truth is love."
~ St. Augustine of Hippo
Keep us in your prayers, we will continue to keep you in ours and always remember, KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON!
Peace 2 U!