The nihilist title is not mine! Reluctantly I’ve made this reply to Seenoevo’s comment a new post, simply to manage the length and formatting better. It didn’t really merit more than an inline comment.
Well, Seenoevo, you’re asking me to indicate just one point at which your “definition” of predestination disagrees with, specifically, Catholic teaching, as if it were a serious summary of what you believe your church teaches, when it’s clearly actually a sarcastic polemic against some other view of predestination which nobody, to my knowledge, has ever held. That makes it a straw man and a pastiche. But since you now avow it as your own view, you convict yourself of profound uncatholicity and unorthodoxy, from any viewpoint, Catholic or Protestant. That’s not an ad hominem, but a sober assesment of the theology. I’ll take it phrase by phrase and refute it both from Catholic and Reformed points of view.
Seenoevo: “God knows all things, including what the future holds. Predestination does NOT mean only that God knows what your future destiny is.”
Actually, predestination doesn’t mean AT ALL that God knows your future destiny. As used in Scripture, it means that God destines in advance (proorizo) that his chosen people will be conformed to Christ.
Aquinas: I answer that, Predestination is not anything in the predestined; but only in the person who predestines…Whence it is clear that predestination is a kind of type of the ordering of some persons towards eternal salvation, existing in the divine mind. The execution, however, of this order is in a passive way in the predestined, but actively in God. The execution of predestination is the calling and magnification; according to the Apostle (Romans 8:30): “Whom He predestined, them He also called and whom He called, them He also magnified [Vulg. ‘justified’].”
Westminster Confession: As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto.
Seenoevo: “Predestination more importantly means your destiny is PREDETERMINED by God such that you have NO CHOICE, NO FREE-WILL DECISION and action in the matter.”
Aquinas: I answer that, Predestination most certainly and infallibly takes effect; yet it does not impose any necessity, so that, namely, its effect should take place from necessity. For it was said above (Article 1), that predestination is a part of providence. But not all things subject to providence are necessary; some things happening from contingency, according to the nature of the proximate causes, which divine providence has ordained for such effects. Yet the order of providence is infallible, as was shown above (Question 22, Article 4). So also the order of predestination is certain; yet free-will is not destroyed; whence the effect of predestination has its contingency. Moreover all that has been said about the divine knowledge and will (14, 13; 19, 4) must also be taken into consideration; since they do not destroy contingency in things, although they themselves are most certain and infallible.
Westminster Confession: When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do which is spiritually good.
Seenoevo: “If Predestination is true…”
Aquinas: I answer that, It is fitting that God should predestine men.
Catholic Catechism, 2nd ed.: 2782 We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: by Baptism, he incorporates us into the Body of his Christ; through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other “Christs.” “God, indeed, who has predestined us to adoption as his sons, has conformed us to the glorious Body of Christ. So then you who have become sharers in Christ are appropriately called ‘Christs.'”
Council of Trent: No one, moreover, so long as he lives this mortal life, ought in regard to the sacred mystery of divine predestination, so far presume as to state with absolute certainty that he is among the number of the predestined… For except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God has chosen to Himself.
Conclusion – the Catholic Church says predestination is true. But then since the word itself is used in Scripture, that was never in doubt to the orthodox.
Seenoevo: “…what’s the point of Christ’s incarnation and preaching and death, what’s the point of following his commands to grow in virtue and preach and evangelize? If Predestination is true, WHAT’S THE POINT OF ANYTHING?”
Given the Catholic teaching above, it may be because they couldn’t imagine people would ask such questions that I’ve been unable easily to find any directly relevant quotes: frankly, the Catholic Church just doesn’t teach that predestination destroys the point of everything. The Council of Orange, for example, simply assumes the whole gospel as the substrate of predestination and grace:
Canon 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).
And as John Calvin says of this in his sermons on Ephesians, “For we must not put asunder things which he has coupled together.” He refers to Eph 1.4, which says:
God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world…
ie there is no predestination apart from the eternal predestination of Christ to incarnation, suffering and glory, in which believers participate through divine grace. Duns Scotus, as I pointed out in a note to Peter Hickman, bases his entire theology on the predestination of Christ.
…to the end we should be holy and without blame before him in love. He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accoredance with his pleasure and will – to the priase of his glorious grace, which he has freeely given us in the One he loves.
ie, predestination is ordained to the very end of obedience and holiness. Romans 8 agrees with this: we are predestined specifically “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
In other words in both these passages (and others) predestination is the very basis of the Incarnation, preaching and death of Christ, and of obedience to his commands. Predestination is essentially, as the Catholic sources do clearly say, the basis on which God confers the grace necessary for these things. Council of Orange again:
Canon 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).
Just to add, buck-shee, a comment on your contention that free-will itself is the “grace” that is meant in Scripture, I have to inform you that this was the very position of Pelagius – who also threw in Scripture and Mosaic Law as the content of grace. From a Catholic source:
[Pelagius taught that] freedom is the central constituent of human nature. This freedom is a grace which comes from the Grace of God. Freedom does not have a tendency to evil, even after the fall. Thus, if one can will it, they can and must do it. Thus, the human will is totally independent of God in making its moral decisions. Therefore, Pelagian Grace must be merely an external aid, solo ab extra.
This teaching was declared heretical by the Church, as in these Canons from Orange:
Canon 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
Canon 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.
Conclusion. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29). And again, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, “I have obtained mercy to be faithful” (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, “because I was faithful,” but “to be faithful.” And again, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). And again, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.
And in the Council of Carthage:
5. If anyone says that this grace … only helps us to avoid sin in this way; that by it we are given by revelation an understanding of God’s commands that we may learn what we ought to strive for and what we ought to avoid, but that it does not give us also the delight in doing, and the power to do, what we have recognized as being good, let him be anathema.
Does that answer your question?