Potemra on Predestination

I’m glad to see that Mike Potemra bringing up the forgotten doctrine of predestination in a post over at National Review Online. He’s posting about a new book from TANThe Mystery of Predestination According to Scripture, The Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas, by John Salza. However, his conclusion doesn’t seem to be true at all.  Poterma writes:

[T]hat a Catholic writer is not afraid to deal so forthrightly with the central Reformation emphasis — that man is not loved by God because of any merit of which man himself is the source and author — is another indication that the ecumenical spirit is bearing rich fruit in our times.

Catholic writers have been dealing forthrightly with predestination all along.  Here are some modern guideposts:

This isn’t really the fruit of ecumenism, it’s just the continued handing on of the tradition.  In fact, Most and Akin’s work (and perhaps to a degree Ott’s) are part of an apologetic project that is in some ways opposed to much of what passes for ecumenism these days. Anyways, it’s not as if we’ve suddenly started paying attention to John Piper and Marc Driscoll and rediscovered a biblical doctrine we’d forgetten about.  While I don’t think that’s what Potemra intended, it’s not an entirely implausible way to read what he wrote.
I don’t want to miss linking to these useful pre-Reformation texts:

Addressing one of Potemra’s other points:

But — unlike some other doctrines that are baffling to the intellect, such as the Trinity — this doctrine is rarely mentioned in Catholic pulpits and publications. (It has fallen into desuetude even among Protestants. I was, for almost three years, a member of a Presbyterian congregation — in the denomination gently mocked as “God’s frozen chosen” for its past emphasis on predestination — and, in three years of Sundays, it was mentioned in exactly one sermon. …

Fr. Al Kimel (whose ordination I attended back in 2006) ran a series of articles on predestination on his blog Pontifications.  In part III, he tackles the difficulties of preaching the doctrine of predestination.  And its importance:

James Daane has explored the unpreachability of predestination in his book The Freedom of God: A Study of Election and Pulpit (1973). “Sermons on election are so rare,” Daane writes, “that even a regular churchgoer may never hear one…. And the rare occasion when a minister does venture to preach on election is more likely to be an apologetic lecture defending a particular form of the doctrine than a sermon proposing election as something in which the hearer should place his faith and ground his trust” (p. 14). This last sentence is important. In the New Testament predestination is not so much a doctrine to be taught as good news to be proclaimed. When the Apostle Paul writes that “those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son … And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30) he was not engaging in a bit of abstract theological speculation; he was proclaiming gospel to the believers in Rome and offering a powerful word of hope and encouragement. God has predestined you to glory! Therefore, you need not fear “trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (Rom 8:35). The biblical language of predestination is first- and second-person discourse. It is a way of speaking the gospel to those who have died with Christ in Baptism and been raised to new life in the Church.

Fr. Kimel has more interesting stuff (though I’m not sure I agree with all of it) in part IV, about bringing back preaching about predestination.

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