Is The Book Of Life The Same As Predestination?

Hello readers, as we bid you once again welcome to Deeper Waters where we continue a dive into the ocean of truth! It is our hope that you come here seeking to know the deep truths of your faith. Deeper Waters exists to get past a shallow Christianity and give a reason for the hope that lies within us. Right now, our focus has been on the doctrine of God in Christian thought. Thomas Aquinas, the great medieval theologian, has been our guide as we’ve used his Summa Theologica, which can be read for free at The Book of Life is our topic for tonight as we consider whether the Book of Life is the same as predestination?

Readers might be wondering that if the Book of Life is the same as predestination, then won’t it be pointless to discuss it? After all, we did just go through the doctrine of predestination. To this, we bring up the same point that has been brought up with simplicity. While in divine simplicity, there is no difference in God in being, there is a logical difference in our understanding. In the same way, there is a logical difference. Predestination refers more to the action of God and the Book of Life refers to the knowledge of God.

The Book of Life is of course not a literal book. It is a metaphorical book meant to help us understand. We write books as a record of information often that we want to be held for future peoples. Of course, there could be some possible exceptions, but even in a fictional story, we want that story to be around for the enjoyment of people after us and many times, for their betterment.

God also has in his mind the names of those who are to receive eternal life and this is referred to as the Book of Life. Of course, Aquinas leaves open that the term can refer to a book that is meant to teach about life. In this case, the Old and New Testaments can be a book of life. A book of war could be a book that tells the names of soldiers who are to go forward and fight, or it could be a book that tells those soldiers how they are to fight.

For God, there is no need of a reminder. The book is presented not for the memory of God but for our assurance. When we see a rainbow in the sky, we do not need to stop and think that God now realizes that he said he wouldn’t flood the world again so the rain needs to stop. The rainbow is a reminder to us that the world did get flooded once and we can remember the promise that it won’t happen again. Communion is meant to remind us of the body and blood of Christ broken and shed on the cross, not for the memory of God, but so that we can get a reminder ourselves whenever we partake of the elements.

For the Book of Life, we are to remember when we hear of it that God knows us. He has written down our names as it were. As words are etched onto the pages of a book, so the knowledge of our salvation is known eternally in the mind of God and we can be sure he will bring it about.

Thus, Aquinas concludes that the Book of Life and predestination are the same, but they differ only in idea and not in actuality. Once again, while we are often caught up in soteriology and how this is brought about, the medievals seemed to be more interested in the idea that this is about the knowledge of God more than anything else.

Maybe we should get back to that knowledge of God.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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