Note: Ken is a new Catholic who read through my website and was confused
about what Catholics teach differently from Presbyterians on the doctrine
of pre-destination. Since he gave me a false email address, I could not
reach him directly and hope he (and others with similar questions) will
understand after reading this article I wrote.
Welcome to the Catholic church! I also an an exProtestant and ex "free
thinker" who came to conversion to Catholicism in 1963! I have studied a
lot since then and first thing I will point out is they CANNOT teach you
the whole deal in RCIA so they teach you just enough to practice i.e. the
basics, but hope that you keep on learning like reading the Catechism,
taking classes at your parish, going through retreats etc. Also there is
a lot on the web and finally what will teach you a lot of good doctrine is
EWTN. If you cannot get this cable TV station in your town, you can
listen or watch on line at
www.ewtn.com. I will give some good websites (besides mine...hehe)
later on in this email.
I must stand by my statement you quoted from my rebuttal of White's "FATAL
FLAW" where I stated that Pre destination as the Calvinists teach it,
denies Free Will. Following is the explanation with Bible quotes, Early
church father quotes and even a quote from an Ex Presbyterian theologian
who now is Roman Catholic. (you can tell I come from a technical
background.. I tell ya WHAT I'm going to tell you, then I tell you, and
then I tell you what I just told you... you can take the geek out of the
computer room but cannot take the computer room out of the geek...*LOL*)
OK, Predestination is associated with Calvinism, a doctrine where some
are pre destined to go to Heaven and some not and if you are not so
destined, you will not go to heaven, regardless of what you do. Even some
Calvinists are not strong on this anymore because it is so against the
Bible, particularly, the place where it says God wants ALL MEN TO GO TO
Basically speaking what the Catholic church teaches is PRE ORDINATION. You can see explanations of this
several places.... sometimes people use the two words interchangeably but
they point to two very different beliefs which is why I, personally prefer
to use the term "pre ORDINATION" for the Catholic beliefs...
Pre ORDINATION means God WANTS us ALL to go the Heaven, but we have the
free will to accept or decline His Offer. This is what the Bible, the
Catechism (CCC) and the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic church teach!
That being said, the church teaches that there
may be a "SIGN OF PREDESTINATION".
That means that doing something or some conditions are a sign
that the individual has had enough contact with God that s/he is likely
to go to Heaven i.e. s/he is likely to say "yes" to God.
Here are a couple of Signs of Pre-destination:
1. If a person has had visions, locutions or other intimate
contact with God, it is unlikely that person will WANT to do anything
BUT be with God in Heaven. Fr Mitch Pacwa, SJ states that certain
people of God's choosing are given these special graces in order to
"inspire the rest of us". For example most of the saints had these
2. Praying the Rosary daily is, as the Blessed Mother said to
St Dominick, a "Sign of Pre-destination". There are again, so many
graces which are given through the Rosary that again, the individual who
faithfully prays it daily will likely go to Heaven because will want to
say "Yes" to God. And the neat thing is praying the Rosary daily
is something everyone can strive to do... it not only does a lot of good
for you but also for the world as it's an extremely powerful prayer.
One passage in the Bible against Calvinist pre-destination: 2 Peter 3:9 "The
Lord is patient with you, not wishing that ANY SHOULD PERISH, but that ALL
SHOULD COME TO REPENTENCE" The fact that not all do come to
repentance -- despite God's wish that they would - proves decisively that
we are capable of deciding whether to accept or reject God's will. Which
of course, is the essence of free will.
John 6:37: "I will not
reject anyone who comes to me".. God promises to accept those of us
who accept HIM. He has made His Overtures. The outcome of our lives --
our salvation -- is ours to determine. He will help us if we wish Him to,
of course. This is what the Scriptures mean when they say we were created
in the Image and Likeness of God.
NOTE: The Early Church fathers disposed of the error of predestination
in short order. Eusebius Pamphillus wrote in about 315 AD, "...
foreknowledge of events is NOT the cause of those events ... not because
it is known does it take place, but because it is about to take place, it
is known." ("The Faith of the Early Church Fathers" Vol 1, Jurgens, P.
To contrast, in pre destination if you are not pre destined, you will not
go to Heaven. Period. A real hard core Calvinist --which you probably
were NOT since you converted :)-- would say that people not pre destined,
don't have a desire thus suffering from "invincible ignorance", but the
whole thing seems very against what the Bible says in SEVERAL places... I
just gave you a couple.
I would really recommend your reading the "Catechism of the Catholic
church". Also here are a couple of places on the web that are great for
1. The coming home network:
2. Catholic Answers -
Catholic Answers is run by ex Presbyterian theologians.... here is
something on the difference between the Catholic and Calvinist beliefs
from that site:
The theory of total depravity holds that when Adam and Eve sinned
and fell, our human nature was left in a state of complete corruption;
we can do nothing towards our own salvation. As Catholics, we believe
that it is God's grace that first moves us to conversion rather than any
action or merit of our own. But we part company with Calvin on the
next point: our response. We are free to accept or reject God's gift of
grace, and our acceptance or rejection affects all of our actions that
This brings us to Calvin's theory of double predestination, which
teaches that God has predetermined who will be saved and who will be
damned. If double
predestination is true, there is no room for a genuinely free will as
regards our actions and choices.
Those who study Calvinist beliefs in an objective fashion might well
ask, "If our fate is sealed, what difference do our actions make? Does
it matter if we go to church, or evangelize, or follow the Commandments
or ignore them? What difference does it make if we contracept? If we
have no control over our actions, but are merely puppets performing the
drama of God's grace, then don't our actions become meaningless?"
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that original sin did not
leave us totally corrupt but rather left us with a wounded nature. We
are "subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and
inclined to sin-an inclination to evil that is called 'concupiscence.'"
The sacrament of baptism is necessary to wipe out original sin. It
"turns a man back to God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and
inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle" (CCC
In other words, though the aftereffects of original sin cripple us,
through baptism we are armed, in a real and tangible way, for the battle
that is our spiritual life. It is through the grace imparted at baptism
that we become "an adopted son" (CCC 1997). The adopted son is
justified, and "justification establishes cooperation between God's
grace and man's freedom" (CCC 1993). It is this cooperation that is at
the core of the conflict between the Catholic doctrine of justification
and Calvin's theories.
For a Catholic who believes that God has by his grace moved us to
cooperate with him in our sanctification and salvation, every action of
every moment of every day moves us either closer to or away from God.
Ultimately, our choices could lead us so far from God as to endanger our
salvation. Some choices are pretty minor ("Do I want fries or onion
rings?"). But every act with a moral dimension is a meaningful choice.
God gave us an intellect and a will, and he gave us the freedom to
exercise both. With every exertion of my will I can either cooperate
with his grace and grow in virtue or I can reject his grace and sink
PS: those who give me a valid email address always get a personal answer!
Note: on the above site if you search for "Predestination" you will find
many hits... I just took the first one.
I hope this answers your question. I wish you a great journey into
Catholicism. It's been wonderful for me, a journey lasting more than 47
years and still going strong! We never stop learning.
I hope you are not upset that the Catholic church does not teach pre
destination in the way you may have understood it in the Presbyterian
communion. We may bring some of our old beliefs in with us as we begin our
journey home to the Mother Church and that's ok. The Holy Spirit will
lead us along, steadily but gently, at the speed which is best for us.
When I converted, I still believed in reincarnation and it was an Act of
the Holy Spirit about 8 or 9 years later which showed me that
reincarnation is a false belief and at opposition with Christian beliefs.
If we have dragged some of our old beliefs in with us, this does not
necessarily deter from our good practice of the faith and as I said, the
Holy Spirit gently moves us along.
Anway, thanks for reading my website - hope you keep on reading and if you
have any more questions, feel welcome to ask them...
SueW, S.F.O., Catholic lay apologist.