Thursday, January 18, 2007

As tonight has proven hopeless at being able to study for the P.E. exam, for a few different reasons of life getting in the way. I want to take the few minutes I have before I head off to bed to ponder the need for a little gardening as it where, it may evolve into a few parts, but I'll just start with these thoughts.

I have a good number of friends who would call themselves Calvinists, which on the surface is a very logical approach to theology. One question that arises frequently is whether or not Calvinist soteriology actually says that God has created some people only to send them to hell. This is a clear teaching of Calvin and the only logical conclusion of reformed thought on predestination. In other words, there is no room for any other belief that God created some folks for heaven and others for hell.

Think about, if God is totally soveriegn, then it is safe to say He knew those whom He did not choose, because afterall He did create them and by not choosing them He made a choice concerning them. After all, from the reformed mindset, God could have saved them had He so chosen.

Yet, God did not so choose. Though we all dserve damnation since the Fall, the Fall itself did not take God by surprise. Man in a state of grace was either capable of rejecting grace or God predestined man's fall. The calvinist can not have it both ways, for if the fall was presdestined, God condemns to hell His own will by creating souls He will not save.

As is the case with most heresy, Scripture refutes this concept. How can man, made in the image and likeness of God, possesing intrinsic goodness be destined for hell from the moment God creates him/her (Gen1:26-31)?

Though there is much mystery involved in the relationship between God's gift of salvation and man's free will, the mystery is more prefectly understood when considered in the light of God as Love. Love, despite what modern culture tells us, is the willing to sacrifice self for the betterment of others. You know, "for God so loved the world..." and "greater love has no man than this", love is more than the twinge in the groinal region...that is nothing more than lust. I digress, I made my point. Love though always leaves the one loved free to accept or reject the love offered. The acceptance or rejection does not alter the love itself, but it does change the one loved. God can not alter His nature and thus can not create a human soul to which He can not offer His love. The Greek verb we translate in the notion the "God is love" actually means to be wholly and fully be. God being infinite must be infinite love. Thus when confronted with our questions of salvation, our reply should be simple and focused on God Himself, who is Love and calls all to love.


Alan said...

"Man in a state of grace was either capable of rejecting grace or God predestined man's fall."

Maybe I don't understand the "state of grace" concept correctly...before the Fall, before sin, did man already have need of grace?

Ed said...

Short qucik answer..yes, before the fall, before sin, man not only had need of grace but was in a state of preventing grace.

Longer breakdown,when grace is viewed coupled with free will Catholics break it down as a means of understanding. Grace is grace, but the application of it is what helps define how it is worked in our life, to the best of our human understanding.

With Adam and Eve we had the first pair of graces, preventing and co-operating grace (gratia praeveniens et cooperans). Preventing grace must, according to its physical nature consist in unfree, indeliberate vital acts of the soul; co-operating grace, on the contrary, solely in free, deliberate actions of the will. The latter assume the character of actual graces, not only because they are immediately suggested by God, but also because they may become, after the achievement of success, the principle of new salutary acts. In this manner an intense act of perfect love of God may simultaneously effect and, as it were, assure by itself the observance of the Divine commandments.

It was preventing grace that kept Adam and Eve in a state of grace until they rejected the co-operating grace. By rejecting what God had given them and believing they knew what was best for them more than God did. Hence the temptation leading to eating of the fruit and the Fall.


Alan said...

Hmm...I think so. Is "preventing grace" the same as the prevenient grace of Wesleyan doctrine? If not, how do they differ?

Ed said...

Both are rooted in Augustine.
The Second Council of Orange defined it within the scope of salutary acts, but I can't pin down exactly what that encompanses.
Wesley appears to have used a broader application.

So it's similar, but the application/definition of appears to be different.