Category Archives: Foreordination

Aquinas on God ordaining punishment

Short post. I’ve been reading Aquinas’s commentary on John lately (particularly, examining his Christology and Incarnational/Two Nature theory). Anyway, ran across this text of his about God ordaining punishment. I’ve written on this before: in particular Aquinas seemed to hold that God ordains punishment (even eternal, never ending, tormenting punishment) for the “perfecting of the universe.” This to me seems a wicked thing to do, and inconsistent with saying that God loves creatures. Anyway, here is the quote.

Commenting on John 17:11

A Gloss says that a “son of death is one who is predestined to perdition.”[18] It is not customary to say that one is predestined to evil, and so here we should understand predestination in its general meaning of knowledge or orientation. Actually, predestination is always directed to what is good, because it has the double effect of grace and glory; and it is God who directs us to each of these. Two things are involved in reprobation: guilt, and punishment in time. And God ordains a person to only one of these, that is, punishment, and even this is not for its own sake. That the scripture, in which you predicted that he would betray me ‑ “Wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me” (Ps 109:2) ‑ might be fulfilled.


Open Theism and Selective Foreordination

If God is a free being then he can freely selectively ordain whatever he chooses. All that means is that there are a particular number of events in the created world which are NOT up to the free willed choices of creatures, and therefore a particular number of events that ARE up to free willed creatures. Why can’t this whole matrix itself – this whole set of possibilities+certainties – be what it is by the free and sovereign choice of God? I don’t see how his character is impugned here. All you are really saying by holding this view is that God gives free will to creatures with respect to certain things that come to pass. It’s just that those “certain things” are not “everything” (which would actually make free will impossible since choice presupposes some degree of fixity.) Where, exactly, is the problem? I suspect the frustration arises from not knowing the mind of God and being thus unable to know to what degree our free will actually extends. But again, that doesn’t show any logical difficulty with the Open Theist’s theodicy.