Well, OK, I got into a useless debate with a Calvinist, at least useless to convert him. But I still shared the truth, and I am gonna share the truth with y’all now in hopes it might help with a more reasonable Calvinism. Well, here goes.
The first thing to note, as we all know, is that the Catholic Church is the answer to all questions on salvation. Allow me to elaborate and to do so in response to Calvinism.
In Catholicism there are two kinds of grace:
- Actual grace
- Sanctifying grace
Actual graces are instantaneous pushes from God that help strengthen the will and enlighten the intellect. As a necessary component to please God, every salutary action [something that pleases God or merits] must be preceded by this grace and must also have a grace that happens while the act takes place.
Sanctifying grace, on the other hand, rather than an instantaneous help from God, is a very created participation in the Divine life and love of God; it is created and infused into the soul. When such grace resides in the soul, one is truly a friend of God. One truly has the supernatural beauty of God within him even though it is created and finite. You are truly like God in His love, and it enables you to love God and other creatures in a similar manner in which God loves you and other creatures..
The unjustified man is the man who does not have sanctifying grace in his soul. Such a person is not necessarily completely wicked, for they can have natural goodness. But natural goodness cannot please God, only supernatural. Consequently man in a merely natural condition, that is, without sanctifying grace, is incapable of turning towards God except the God give him actual graces. Hence, unjustified man cannot repent apart from actual grace. However, and this is vitally important, any actual grace is technically resistible. This does not mean that the possibility of any creature’s resistance is always the same. For example, a devout Christian who has lived a long life of virtue, love, and endurance of suffering is quite unlikely to fall into serious sin. On the other side of the spectrum, someone who has never repented and become a person of faith, if he is living a life of debauchery, is very able to resist grace as God continually pricks his conscience.
Unjustified persons can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are more docile to truth and love than others. There are unjustified children who grow up to become fornicators and who do not care about the truth, and then there are unjustified children who do their homework diligently, try to do what is right, and eventually embrace the gospel without ever having fallen into serious sins. It should be noted, however, that in such circumstances they were cooperating with actual graces since it is impossible for a person to avoid serious in for an extended period of time apart from grace.
No, actual graces are not riches and material blessings. They are spiritual pushes to encourage someone to avoid sin, or to do morally good actions. God gives this grace to all men. But men can resist. Hence, a Christian can resist this grace and fall into serious sin, in which case they are no longer justified. And a good non-Christian can cooperate with the graces and get justification without actually knowing who Jesus is, through what is called the implicit desire for Baptism.
Sanctifying grace, for an adult, cannot be given unless the person is sorry for their wrongdoing and believes in what truth is available to him, even if it is not the full Gospel. In those instances, they have the IMPLICIT desire for Baptism, and can get sanctifying grace without baptism and explicitly knowing Jesus. They know Jesus implicitly if they are sorry for their wrongdoing, seek the good, and desire to know all religious truth as best as they can.
In this way, a non-Christian can actually be in a state of high justification, and a Christian be out of justification and in serious sin because, even though they accept in their mind that Jesus is God, they have lost their love for Him.
For the adult convert, justification normally occurs at Baptism. Their faith and repentance is like getting engaged to Jesus, and Baptism is like Marriage to Jesus. In exceptional cases, someone may have such a radical conversion that sanctifying grace is poured out extra-sacramentally at the time of informal conversion, as when Peter encountered the Centurion in the Acts of the Apostles. But these are exceptions. These things are not the norm. For an adult convert, the normal way of initial salvation is that the actual graces of God move the person to the realization of his own sinfulness, the need for mercy and atonement, and the need to know the truths of the meaning of life. The grace moves him to investigation, he discovers the Gospel, and then the same actual graces bring him to faith. If the man finds Catholic faith, he will go to a Catholic Church and petition entrance, at which time, he will be placed in RCIA, a half year program where he will be instructed in the full dogmas of Catholic truth and life. If at the conclusion, his faith persists and he desires entrance, he is ordinarily brought into the Church with the other candidates or catechumens at Easter Vigil, where, depending on what degree of Christian sacraments they already have, or lack thereof, they are Baptized, Confirmed, and given first Eucharist.
This is the normal mode that an unjustified adult becomes justified. Baptism is what effects the justification, and Confirmation and Eucharist strengthen it.
A key Issue here: THERE IS NO IRRESISTIBLE grace. IRRESISTIBLE grace is false. All grace, to whatever degree, is resistible, if even a little bit. A person of great holiness and maturity in Jesus will find it very hard to resist actual grace to such extent that they would fall into serious sin.
But someone who is already unjustified in serious sin can very well resist actual grace, since they are entrenched. Many times, the unjustified need to reach a crisis in their sin to realize that they need God, for example, the proud man in entertainment gets into a life-altering accident. The drunk man loses his job and realizes he can no longer control his life. The abuser is thrust into despair as his wife leaves him. Then the grace of God is more fertile, since the person is forced to ask the deeper questions.
But God gives actual graces to all men. Some resist for a time and then allow God to move them. Some are docile right away and enter justification. Some are stubborn to the end and never allow God to change their hearts. They resist. God calls them, but they fight to the bitter end, and go to hell. God offered salvation to them, but they rejected it. Some cooperate with grace at one time and enter justification, but when tests come they fall away, like the sower of the seed. They are a baker and they don't want to lose their business, so they bake the gay cake. At one time, they loved God, but when the tough times came, they resisted grace that would enable them to remain faithful and lose their business.
The parable of the sower is a good illustration of resistible grace. Some reject it from the outset, like the devil's children. Some come to faith, but have no root, and so lose justification. Others lose justification because they go back to worldly things and worldly cares. But the one who is in the end saved, perseveres and brings forth much fruit.
So again, all men are called by God to salvation. God offers salvation to all men. But some men never accept it unto death. Some men accept for a time and eventually fall away a final time unto hell.
Others accept, fall at times, but in the end choose God.
Rare souls love Him from the outset with no serious falls ever. These are rare souls.
The diabolical nature of Calvinism is irresistible grace. In this view, if God gives grace to a creature, it infallibly brings about repentance, since the creature is so enthralled about God, it cannot, does not resist. In this view, true regeneration brings forth good works, by guarantee, since God resolves to save all He gives grace to.
This, of course, is the lie: if God can save whoever he wants, simply by giving grace, since it is irresistible, we must ask, WHY DOESN’T GIVE GRACE TO ALL MEN, THEREBY SAVING ALL?
That would be a logical conclusion, since God is loving. The answer becomes, GOD DOESN’T GIVE GRACE TO ALL MEN, ONLY SOME, the ONES HE HAS CHOSEN. But what kind of God does not offer salvation to all men, or give salvation to all men if He can? Such a God is basically a cruel bigot.
The solutions is, NO GRACE IS IRRESISTIBLE.
In this way, God offers grace, or salvation, to all men. God sincerely desires all men to be saved, even though He knows who will not make it. The ones who do not make it are not so because God didn't choose them. It is that THEY DID NOT CHOOSE GOD. God offered them His Love, and they would not have it.
As for predestination, technically, Catholicism has predestination to both heaven and hell, but they DIFFER. Neither predestination offends free will.
Man is truly free, DE FIDE.
Predestination to election is by ordination. God has ordained every cooperation with grace, from the beginning of history to its end.
Predestination to hell is by PERMISSION, NOT ordination. God has merely FORESEEN and ALLOWED all sin in history, and PERMITTED It, NOT ordained it.
Herein is the difficult part: unfortuinately, because God is outside of time and space, He is eternally present to every instant of time in history and beyond. There is no point in history, whether of nations or individual, that God is present to. The Church condemns Open Theism, the notion that God is constantly surprised by our actions and history. He is present to it all, and therefore knows the outcome before it ever happens. For this reason, God KNOWS the state of every person at their death, and therefore where they will end up.
HOWEVER, this does NOT mean that God is the PRIMARY cause of sin. Every sinful act of a creature is fully the creature's act. The only part that God must take part in it is the partial creation of the state of the existence, after which it is handed off to the creature to do with it what it will. After that, the sin of the creature is its own.
That God knows the outcome, therefore, does not mean that He was the primary cause.
But now we have an uncomfortable fact we must face: God knows from the outset and from the foundation of the world who does and does not make it. Why, then, would God create a world in which many are lost and He knows it?
Here, I appeal to Nick Nolte: Nick Nolte stood outside the school of the inner city, and the Karate Kid had pulled the false fire alarm. The whole school was standing outside awaiting permission to reenter after they had determined there was no fire.
One of the disgruntled and disillusioned teachers complained to Nolte:
Why the hell do we even bother? HALF THESE KIDS WON’T EVEN COME BACK!
And Nick Nolte responds, BUT HALF WILL! I THINK THEY'RE WORTH IT!
This is the perfect metaphor for predestination. In the beginning of human history, the diabolical classical and blues prodigy pulled the fire alarm, telling the kids, learning at God's feet is stupid. Religion is so boring, and no pleasure. Let us leave the school and pursue greater things, like the pleasures of alcohol, weed, and sex.
In the end, God knows, unfortunately, that say, half the kids won't come back to the school of truth, beauty, love and mystery. They will remain outside in the darkness, ultimately to wail and gnash teeth.
BUT HALF WILL! And God thinks they are WORTH it! You and I are worth it! In the end, God is wiling to allow the great loss of souls, even, God forbid, "half", in order that some might have his mercy, and partake of Him forever. In order that, to each that reenters and says, "Lord, I left and I am sorry, can I please come back in", He says, "Absolutely, I love you, I shower upon you My Mercy, welcome home, My child."
"... which shall be shed for you and for MANY, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in Remembrance of Me!"