Summary Against Modern Thought: God Leaves Some In Sin

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Leaves Some In Sin

Previous post.

A simple, gentle week, a nice respite from the world. And reason to recall to approach your “salvation with fear and trembling.”


1 Now, although the man who sins puts an impediment in the way of grace, and as far as the order of things requires he ought not to receive grace, yet, since God can act apart from the order implanted in things, as He does when He gives sight to the blind or life to the dead—at times, out of the abundance of His goodness, He offers His help in advance, even to those who put an impediment in the way of grace, turning them away from evil and toward the good.

And just as He does not enlighten all the blind, or heal all who are infirm, in order that the working of His power may be evident in the case of those whom He heals, and in the case of the others the order of nature may be observed, so also, He does not assist with His help all who impede grace, so that they may be turned away from evil and toward the good, but only some, in whom He desires His mercy to appear, so that the order of justice may be manifested in the other cases.

Hence, the Apostle says, in Romans (9:22-23): “What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, that He might show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He has prepared unto glory?”

2 However, while God does indeed, in regard to men who are held back by the same sins, come to the assistance of and convert some, while He suffers others or permits them to go ahead in accord with the order of things—there is no reason to ask why He converts the former and not the latter.

For this depends on His will alone; just as it resulted from His simple will that, while all things were made from nothing, some were made of higher degree than others; and also, just as it depends on the simple will of the artisan that, from the same material uniformly disposed, he forms some vessels for noble uses and others for ignoble purposes. Hence, the Apostle says, in Romans (9:21): “Or does not the potter have power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?”

3 By this we set aside the error of Origen, who said that certain men are converted to God, and not others, because of some works that their souls had done before being united to their bodies. In fact, this view has been carefully disproved in our Book Two.


  1. imnobody00

    This really sounds like Calvinism. The God depicted seems like the nominalist God or the muslim Allah: Will but not Logos.

  2. Nate

    @imnobody00 I was about to say the same thing. Boiled down this leads to the conclusion “God Creates Bad Men” or “God does not desire all sinners to repent…”

  3. Pk

    These comments are a bit harsh. God created all of us including the good and evil, the poor and rich. It is up to us to examine his blessings on ourselves and on others to move in the righteous direction. It is not up to us to ask what the motivation is.

  4. imnobody00

    “These comments are a bit harsh”

    Why? I think they are an accurate reflection of the text. As Aquinas said, God does not want everybody to repent so He bestows grace on some sinners and not other sinners. As Aquinas said, He is the Creator so he can do whatever he wants and we shouldn’t asks his motivations. If this is not Calvinism, it is very close.

    “God created all of us including the good and evil, the poor and rich. It is up to us to examine his blessings on ourselves and on others to move in the righteous direction. It is not up to us to ask what the motivation is.”

    Yes. And what is your point? This does not contradict any thing that Nate or I have said. In fact, you are not even talking about the topic of discussion.

  5. Uncle Mike

    The concept of predestination is a tricky one. The omniscient God knew a billion years before you were born that you would be, and your fate. So in that sense your life is a preordained success or failure, no matter what choices you make, which are also known celestially beforehand.

    “The man who sins puts an impediment in the way of grace”. God can help, and does, some of those. The others are lost. Which are you? Some Calvinists claim to know the chosen (the Elect) from those not chosen (the Depraved), but the mind of God is unknowable, so they don’t. Neither do you.

    Grace falls on saints and sinners alike. You can choose to impede it or accept it. Grace may not save you, if you are predestined to fall. Or it might, if by means of grace you repent and are saved, as predestined.

    But you still have to do it. You have to, of your own free will, choose goodness over evil. You are not a robot. You are not pre-programmed. You can choose to open yourself up to grace, and should, whether it buys you eternal life or not. You can’t strike deals with God, but you can live as good a life as possible given your limitations.

  6. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dr Scott Hahn developed this outline of The Thomist, Garrigou-Lagrange’s book, Predestination.

    While the outline is helpful, buy the book so you can make your own notes/observations

    A few days ago ABS produced a link to St Propser’s excellent explication of predestination. It is available for free online.

    The faithful (Catholic) teaching of predestination is light years away from the evil insanity promoted by Jean Cauvin.

  7. Well said, Uncle Mike. God can make Himself known to you, directly, should He choose to do so. It is up to you to let God have His will be done. If you reject Him, and do not later repent and come to Him, *you* have chosen your fate.

  8. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    A quick way to think about Predestination. Which statement is right, A or B?

    A. God loves Mary because she was the one who most faithfully cooperated with His will.

    B. Because God loves Mary more than He did any other created person, she is who she is because God granted her more Grace than any other created person.

    Not many men understand that God is Infinite Love, Infinite Justice and Sovereign Liberty and so men tend to err in thinking that God loves all equally and dispenses His grace equally to all and so the holiest person ever to live, Mary, is who she is because of her will to cooperate with grace rather than it being the case that Mary is who she is because God loves her more than any other of His creatures and bestowed more Grace upon her than any other person who has ever lived or ever will live.

    Mary infallibly uttered her fiat with complete freedom of will as Garrigou-Lagrange observes.

    Predestination is difficult and easy for the amateur (And ABS is that) to become either confused or flummoxed but it is a Doctrine worth striving to understand.

  9. Stephen J.

    The question I would ask is, is Grace vouchsafed in different degrees to different people? For example, if we assume that a certain minimum of Grace must be vouchsafed to all to give us the capacity to repent at all in the first place, is the Grace that allows those who would otherwise have already destroyed that capacity to regain it an “extra” dose on top of the first?

    If we can only choose to cooperate with Grace through a Grace-enabled choice in the first place, then it seems that the Grace that enables the capacity to repent must be different, as an event if not a quality, from the Grace that rewards the act of repentance.

  10. Uncle Mike


    I would say no, grace is not a prize awarded for good behavior. I’m not sure if St. Augustine would agree, but as a metaphor, think of grace as rain. If you tilt your head back and open your mouth, you’ll get some. If you look down and cover your head, you won’t get any. The more you seek it, the more you’ll find.

  11. John

    God always provides superabundant grace, but it is not always efficacious.

  12. Ann Cherry

    The Bible teaches predestination (Rom 8).

    Reading Briggs’ Sunday Aquinas posts, inspired me to blow the dust off Peter Kreeft’s “Practical Theology / 350+ ways your mind can help you become a saint / Spiritual Direction from Saint Thomas Aquinas”, which has languished unread in my bookcase for years.

    Each of the 358 chapters of this book is a single page, and intersperses Aquinas with Kreeft’s superb commentary and explanation; chapter 19 is “Predestination and Free Will.”

    There, quoting Aquinas:

    “Now God wills some things to be done necessarily, some contingently, to the right ordering of things, for the building up of the universe. Therefore to some effects He has attached necessary causes, that cannot fail; but to others, defective and contingent causes, from which arise contingent effects (I, 19, 8).”

    Chapter 25, “How We Can Aid Predestination”, ends with this paragraph:

    “By the way, St. Thomas, unlike classical Calvinists, does not believe in two equal and parallel predestinations, to Hell as well as to Heaven, to damnation as well as salvation. “Predestination” means predestination to Heaven, for “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to salvation.” (2 Pet 3:9). God knows that not all will come to salvation, and allows this, by allowing our free choice, and in that sense and that sense only He wills (allows) damnation. He writes the whole story, its eternal tragedies as well as its divine comedies, but He acts in the story only in one way, for the the comedy, the salvation. “For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Jn 3:17).”

  13. Stephen J.

    “…as a metaphor, think of grace as rain. If you tilt your head back and open your mouth, you’ll get some. If you look down and cover your head, you won’t get any.”

    That makes perfect sense to me; what is tripping me up is what seems to be the implication, in this and previous posts, that in order to tilt your head back and open your mouth to the rain at all, you need to have already drunk some of it. In other words, if you can’t cooperate with Grace unless Grace is already given to you, and Grace is not given to all people, then the situation seems to be that salvation is explicitly made impossible for some people, which seems philosophically incompatible with the idea of a loving God.

    The rejoinder that God has every right to do with His creations what He will and owes us no explanations for it is true, but what an all-powerful God has the right to do is not the same as what an all-loving God, by the definition of love (the willing of the best for the beloved), must logically desire to do. If despair — the wilful abandonment of all hope of salvation — is the ultimate sin, one has to assume that God would not create a situation in which, for some people, despair was the correct and justified response.

  14. deb

    No, GOD never leaves anyone in sin. GOD gave free will to us. Your will determines if you are with GOD or against HIM. You choose whom you will serve. It is a choice to sin – even once. Repentance and asking for forgiveness and continually seeking GOD is the right way to stay out of sin. On Run, Hide, Fight the Christian girl in the cafeteria was asked if there is a GOD then why am I allowed to do this evil to you or something close to that and she answers GOD allows evil to happen so that you might be judged. I think HE allows evil because if not, we would not have free will to choose what is right.

  15. deb

    as I recall she also mentioned free will

  16. Robert O'Donnell

    I am amazed at the number of professing Christians above who refuse to believe that which is clearly taught in the Bible, New and Old Testaments. How else might one interpret the citation cited by the author of Romans 9:22,23, or Ephesians 1:3-14, Old testament: Proverbs 21:1, 1 Kings 8:53 and on, and on. I would have to quote a substantial portion of the Bible to quote all the passages that teach this. To attribute righteousness and works to men in the affect of their salvation is heresy of a most basic and perverse sort.

  17. Memus Vult

    Based on the text here and my knowledge of St. Thomas’s view on predestination, I would vouch that this article refers not to those who come to God in the usual sense, but those who receive directly infused virtue such as St. Paul.

    Most of us are offered grace but accept it slowly or piecemeal. We grow in virtue slowly, while some persist in vice. All are called to salvation, but we are capable of resisting it.

    However, in order to offer us signs of his glory, God will infuse a few men with a great deal of grace, causing rapid conversions. We even call this a Damascene conversion because the best example is St. Paul.

    The question here isn’t whether God chooses some to be saved and not others (because he chooses everyone to be saved), but why does God allow some to continue in the usual way, while selecting some for lightening conversions.

    It is akin to asking why God heals some people through the gift of medicine, while selecting others for miraculous cure. Both cases result in God healing the patient.

  18. Gordon

    “GOD never leaves anyone in sin. GOD gave free will to us.”
    That is exactly how he leaves us in sin.

    Actions speak louder than words. If God says he wants all to come to him and loves us, and that He IS love, but creates people whom he arranges to be tormented day and night without rest forever and ever, then their choices are already made for them, and God’s will (that all be saved) is weaker than his law (sin and death), and our definition of love is wrong.
    If God, is love, is He Who that judges us to hell for failing to hide behind the flesh of His son, then obviously loving your neighbor is not the love of God.
    He’s the boss. He can use any proxy to force me to sin and blame me for whatever he wants. That’s what the righteousness and justice of God really is. That’s love: that if you don’t believe the message of those who evangellize you, even if they rape and abuse you, you still go to hell. This is the love of God, and the whole gospel as taught by the church. Any questions? See Romans 9:20.

  19. imnobody00

    For the ones interested in how predestination harmonizes with free will by taking the entire Scripture in context (and not only the verses that bolster one’s favorite opinion), they can read “Grace, Predestination, and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions”), by William G. Most

  20. imnobody00

    By the way, some comments confuse predestination with “faith vs works”. There are two different areas. And of course, there are verses for and against predestination. Prooftexting can prove anything but trying to reconciliate all the verses is the path to truth.

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