This is intended to be the first part of a multipart series on the Calvinist Doctrine of TULIP. I intend to talk about each part of TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints) and contrast each point with Catholic teaching. I feel it is important to establish wither or not Catholics believe in the underlying doctrine of “Predestination” before proceeding on to each point of TULIP.
So, do Catholics believe in predestination? The short answer is Yes. The term predestination is stated several times in the bible and generally speaking should be accepted by all types of Christians. We see examples littered throughout Paul’s letters and fairly heavily in his letter to the Romans.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 600 also affirms the Churches belief in predestination:
“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:” (CCC Paragraph #600)
The Church, however, does not define every aspect of predestination and thus allows Catholics to speculate on a range of views as it pertains to predestination. Fortunately, the Church does elaborate on a set of “bookends” or guidelines that individual Catholic belief MUST fit between in order to be considered valid view as it pertains to the subject of predestination.
The first “bookend” is God does not predestine anyone to hell. The Church affirms that God allows individuals to turn from him and thus choose hell as opposed to accepting God’s gift of salvation.
“God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want ‘any to perish, but all to come to repentance'” (CCC Paragraph #1037)
The second of these “bookend” beliefs is that when considering predestination we must consider each person free-will response to the gift of God’s salvation, as we see in the CCC Paragraph 600 quoted above. In other words, each person has the gift of free will and God allows each person to either choose to cooperate with God’s grace or refuse God’s grace.
In short, the Church teaches that predestination is something Catholics should believe in but does not define how Catholics should believe in this doctrine down to the finest detail, instead, the Church teaches that while considering a view of predestination it must take into account that God does not predestine individuals to Hell and also take into account the gift of Free Will that God has given to each person.
Given what we have been over in this post, we will move on to the first part of the doctrine of TULIP to determine how it stacks up against Church teaching. Stay tuned.