Is Foreknowledge of Merits The Cause of Predestination?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our study of the doctrine of God. Our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. This can be read for free at We’re looking at the doctrine of predestination in Aquinas now and we’ve seen how for Aquinas, the doctrine is more about God first than it is about salvation. Tonight, we’ll be discussing how Aquinas views the doctrine of predestination in regards to the question of if foreknowledge of merits is the cause of predestination.

What is being asked is if God saves us based on works that he knows that we are going to do in the future. Aquinas answers no. Now up front, I really don’t have a decided opinion on the topic of predestination, so at this point, I’m mainly giving Aquinas the way I see him. We must always remember that because we have great minds that we admire, that we do not have to agree with them on everything merely because they are great minds.

It is interesting how much though what Aquinas says reflects the current debate in the church on Calvinism. For instance, Aquinas says that man can be prepared for grace and this is included under predestination. If there is anything in man that is getting him to be predisposed towards God, that too is a work of grace and that is something that I do not believe we could deny. All good we have in our lives is from the grace of God, including our ability to follow Him.

Aquinas does say however that God could preordain to give someone glory because of the works that they have done. However, in order for them to do those works, they would have to be predestined prior to have the grace to even receive that glory that they have.

When asked for the reason why some are elected and some are not, Aquinas can point no further than the will of God. There are some that God elects to punishment and there are some that God elects to glory. This is the point that many of us in the debate, including myself, start to wonder. Of course, it could be that we have to resign ourselves to ignorance in some cases. In all cases, we should trust that the judge of all the Earth will do right.

When we as Christians come together to debate this issue, we must do our part to avoid views that are heretical as well. Calvinists, Arminians, and Molinists I count as Christians. My main beef normally is with those that are dogmatic on the issue to the point of seeing those that they disagree with as being less than Christians. Let us realize that even in Aquinas, we find some mystery in this doctrine as he can give no reason beyond the will of God. Is there something else in God’s will that we do not see that is the cause of election? Maybe. Are some of us colored against ideas or for ideas? We must be cautious and watch ourselves on this issue.

It’s not an easy topic and again, I can’t say I agree with Aquinas entirely yet, but I wish to simply present his view.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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