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The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions

"Pt. 2: Predestination and reprobation - General preliminary notes"

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182. We have now investigated all the explicit data of Scripture and the Magisterium, and have seen many of the things contained only implicitly as well. We have also seen some of the Patristic teachings, chiefly those that touch our problem indirectly.

It is now time to examine the more explicit Patristic texts. We shall follow this up with an historical survey of later views. For very helpful light can be had on the solution by seeing the progressive clarification which the Holy Spirit has brought about throughout the centuries, in His work of teaching the Church all truth, and bringing to her mind all that the Master has told us.

From the very fact that the providential design does include this progressive clarification, it is obvious that we cannot expect to find teachings so clear and explicit in the first centuries as in later centuries. And especially, for many centuries, practically up to our own times, there was a great obstacle in the way of seeing the solution, namely, the erroneous interpretation of Romans 8-9 which began in the works of St. Augustine. This interpretation prevented theologians from seeing clearly the implications contained in other parts of Sacred Scripture on predestination. For theologians thought they could not take these implications at face value since they seemed to contradict what they thought was the explicit teaching of St. Paul to the Romans.

A similar obstacle was present from a misinterpretation of the words of St. Paul in 1 Cor 4:7.

But today, since divine providence has removed these obstacles for us, it is easy to see the true solution implied in other parts of Scripture.

First, however, as we said above, it will be helpful to see how the light gradually increased throughout the centuries, by the work of the Holy Spirit.

For this purpose, it will suffice to consider only the principal stages and the authors who really made notable progress towards the solution. Since, as we have seen, there is nothing explicit in Scripture, we will begin with the Fathers of the Church. Afterwards, having taken advantage of the light accumulated over the centuries, we will return to the implicit texts of Sacred Scripture.

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