The question of predestination has always been topical for the Christian Church. Being one of the main dogmas of faith, it triggered multiple debates about factors impacting the divine providence and individuals lives. For decades, theologians argued about the role or prayers in furthering predestination and the ways in which it can be achieved. In such a way, the significance of the given topic resulted in the emergence of multiple perspectives that were different from dogmatic ones.
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Thus, Saint Thomas Aquinas was one of the philosophers also interested in this question. He is known as the promoter of orthodox scholasticism who bound Aristotle’s ideas to Christian doctrine statements. At the same time, being an outstanding theologian, he provided his own arguments to cogitate about predestination and explain its nature.
In the discussed text, St. Thomas answers the eight questions critical for the Christian church. Thus, speaking about the first point which is whether predestination is suitably attributed to God, the philosopher assumes that men are not predestined (Humphries, 2017). They are subjected to God’s providence, and he should direct them up to the end; however, only God can give grace He continues this idea while cogitating about the second aspect which is “whether predestination places anything in the predestined” (Humphries, 2017, p. 82).
Formulating his perspective, Thomas says that God is the only creature who predestines as it is a fundamental part of his providence (Humphries, 2017). That is why he formulates another critical idea regarding the issue stating that “predestination is not anything in the predestined” (Humphries, 2017).
Moreover, Thomas covers other questions related to the nature of this unique phenomenon and its place in people’s lives. For instance, answering the question about reprobation, he states that God does not do it to men as he loves everyone and this fact proves the true character of this idea. Reprobation differs from predestination because the first one “is not the cause of what is in the present”, but the main reason for God’s abandonment (Humphries, 2017, p. 85). At the same time, speaking about chosenness, the theologian says that love, not predestination is the main cause of God’s choice. It becomes a critical aspect of faith as all people can become appreciated by Him.
Another important idea offered in Thomas’ text is that foreknowledge is not the reason for predestination. Speaking about this idea, the philosopher assumes that God does not base his providence on this issue. He gives grace to a person because a man deserves it by good acts, and it does not mean that knowledge of these acts will help to become predestined (Humphries, 2017). Finally, speaking about the certainty of this aspect and the role of prayers in its promotion, Thomas argues that predestination is certain; though it does not destroy the free will of a person as it creates the effect of contingency (Humphries, 2017).
He also states that “predestination cannot be furthered by the prayers of saints” as it is eternal and cannot be impacted by something temporal (Humphries, 2017, p. 93). In such a way, there are no factors that can affect it.
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Altogether, Thomas introduces a grounded view of predestination. He is sure that it is only God who can predestine men and impact their lives. At the same time, the main cause of giving grace is love. No other factors can influence or further predestination which means that prayers also become useless. Moreover, regardless of the fact that it is certain, people still preserve their free will as the foreknowledge does not guarantee predestination. For this reason, everyone should do good to be loved by God and predestined.
Humphries, T. (2017). Many are called, but who is chosen? Winona, MN: ProfessorsChoice.com.