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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe vs CE Wolfe
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 13:33:45 -0800

If this is getting too far off topic, someone please yell at
me. I think it retains relevance as a discussion of what, as
a Catholic, Wolfe's views of certain issues might be.

Tom writes:

> I think I've got it right.  By predestination I mean the 
> family that includes what the CE describes as: "It was Calvin 
> who elaborated the repulsive doctrine that an absolute Divine 
> decree from all eternity positively predestined part of 
> mankind to hell and, in order to obtain this end effectually, 
> also to sin.", and its Catholic cousin.

Not sure what you mean by "its Catholic cousin." Catholics
are neither fatalists nor predestinationists ... the Catholic
view involves what I call a "binocular view."

With one eye, you look from within Time. Each of us, within
Time, is free in the existential sense that, though one is
not free to choose the facticity of one's life, one is 
absolutely free to choose (what the pessimistic/atheistic
existentialists call being "condemned" to choose) how one 
will respond to that facticity: noting, however, that the 
facticity of one's life presents inherent limits to one's
freedom. For example, one is not free to flap one's arms and
fly to Mars. More subtly, if one chooses to go to Rome, one
is not free to be in Carpathia at the same time. Further, if 
one has certain neurological conditions, one is not free to 
behave in certain ways which might otherwise be physically 
possible, or to _not_ do some things. 

With the other eye, you strain to look from the point of
view of Eternity. To God, outside Time, all moments are 
eternally _present_ from the very act of Creation; and as
such, all the free choices of all freely-willed creatures
are always-already known to God. As a simple example, 
though I freely choose, at this moment, to write this 
response, God always-already knows, from the moment of
Creation, that I choose/will choose/have chosen to write 
this response. Thus, from the moment of Creation, God 
always-already knows which creatures will choose (by the
totality of their life's free choices) to be damned, and 
which will choose to be saved.

The Church also teaches that God intervenes in many, if
not all, lives, to influence (but never force) creatures 
to choose salvation. This influence is usually subtle and
is referred to as _grace_. When it is blatant, it is called
a miracle.

> Basically, that God knows whether you're going to hell or not 
> before you're born.  Now that's pessimism.

Not really, because the word "before" is irrelevant; it makes
the assumption that God decides for you to be damned. Further,
it is equally true to say that God knows "before" whether you're
going to Heaven or not; if the one is pessimism, why would the
other not be optimism? 

> In any case, Wolfe doesn't seem to hold that view.  I'm 
> unaware of any character of his espousing it, in any case.

Silk sums a lot of this stuff up rather neatly in one of 
the LS books by suggesting that "freedom" is the ability 
to say, "Not as I will, but as You will." I'm misquoting 
badly, but I think I have the gist.



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