Predestination and Predilection

Our will is truly free only in union with that of God and that God acts on earth only through our free will freely united with his. ~ Valentin Tomberg

Every incarnated human being is the product of two shaping forces: heredity and the creative force of self-realization of the eternal individuality. ~ Valentin Tomberg

Any discussion of the mystery of birth would be incomplete without an understanding of predestination and predilection as understood in the Medieval Germanic-Roman religion, which is also known as the Catholic religion. To summarize the earlier post:

  • Each person comes into the world with a set of qualities (his karmic inheritance).
  • Beyond those innate qualities, his life’s path is to actualize the possibilities open to him (his dharma path).
  • He enters the world process at a time, place, and relationships suitable for him.

Nevertheless, the story is incomplete. Ultimately, beyond such terrestrial concerns, the goal is salvation and liberation. Hence, there is a supernatural destiny beyond our ordinary life. For some reason, the doctrines of predestination and predilection are seldom mentioned today despite their enormous importance. They may be hard to understand, or even distasteful to the secular mind, so it is helpful to meditate on them. For what follows, I am relying mostly on the book Predestination by Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange.

Predilection

This is the Principle of Predilection:

One would not be better than another unless one were loved more by God.

Predilection and predestination are clearly radically anti-egalitarian, as that principle makes clear.

St Thomas Aquinas justifies this principle:

Since God’s love is the cause of goodness in things, no one thing would be better than another if God did not will greater good for one than for another … and the reason why some things are better than others is that God wills them a greater good. Hence it follows that He loves more the better things.

Hence good things are not better because of some accident or injustice, but precisely because God loves them more. And the most perfect good is theosis, or becoming God-like. Fr Garrigou-Lagrange explains:

Every agent acts for an end and the purpose of the action of the supreme agent is to manifest His goodness by reproducing a likeness of Himself which is a more or less perfect participation of His nature.

Predilection is both a philosophical truth, known to reason, as well as a revealed truth. As a philosophical truth, it is obvious that it is true. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange explains:

This principle is true in every order. It is true of plants, of animals, of human beings, of angels, of things in which there is less of perfection or of goodness. It is also true of every man who, from whatever point of view, is better than another …

As a revealed truth, predilection is related to the gratuitous gift of grace from God which makes us pleasing. Thus, predilection, or what we consider the “good life”, may have one meaning in the natural realm, but in the supernatural, it may be completely different; the beatitudes are examples of supernatural predilection. This goodness comes from the grace of God, and makes us pleasing in his sight.

There is no injustice in this, for justice requires that unlike things be treated differently. Nevertheless, pride must be avoided since it is God who makes one man superior to another (Thomas Aquinas).

Predestination

Predestination is the foreknowledge and preparedness on God’s part to bestow the favors by which all those are saved who are to be saved … God already knew, when He predestined, what He must do to bring His elect infallibly to eternal life. ~ St. Augustine

The doctrine of predestination follows from predilection. St Thomas defines it this way:

The plan of the direction of a rational creature towards the end, i.e., life eternal; for to destine is to direct or send.

Therefore, predestination is the plan in God’s mind of directing a particular man to the ultimate and supernatural end. This plan, from all eternity, determines the efficacious means that will lead a man to his final end.

For God, intention precedes execution, or ends before means. Hence, according to this doctrine, God will also provide the means, circumstances, and situations required to achieve the ultimate end for the elect, or predestined. This is exactly what Guenon was getting at with the notion of “compossible”. The conditions of birth need to be consistent with, and provide the necessary opportunities, to achieve salvation or liberation. A sign of being predestined is to be born into the Medieval Germanic-Roman tradition, or otherwise to have the opportunity to embrace it freely. Nevertheless, some would spurn God’s love and reject it.

Antecedent and Consequent Will

To fully grasp these doctrines, it is necessary to be clear about the difference between the antecedent and consequent will of God. What God wills antecedently may or may not take place. On the other hand, the consequent will is efficacious.

Now the antecedent will of God is for all to achieve salvation, but not all are predestined. The antecedent will is more like the Hermetic notion of Providence. To deny the antecedent will would make God responsible for “wars, concentration camps, and physical and psychical epidemics” as Tomberg points out. This view of God’s omnipotence is not uncommon and is based on presumption.

The consequent will involves the alliance of the divine will and the human will. This is not pure passivity, as Fr Garrigou-Lagrange makes clear:

The wills of men are more in God’s power than their own.

We can’t go into all the details right now, but God affects the will through graces and virtues.

Postscript on Incarnation

Tomberg’s understanding of incarnation is in general agreement with Evola’s. Tomberg writes (in Letter XX):

The individuality descends consciously and of his own free will to birth, into an environment where he is wanted and awaited.

Those are rarer cases however. For most, the incarnation is dominated more by the horizontal than the vertical.

The consequences of Tomberg’s insight have been mentioned in other contexts. Some are “born from above”, even if their memory of it is quite dim. The second birth is a remembrance of that. Many, if not most, people today, have a self-understanding of being a product of biological forces and cultural influences. They lack that true will that Tomberg mentions.

The united will constitutes the indestructible and immortal kernel of the body … its active principle, its formative will-energy, survives death.

The notion of being “adopted sons [or children] of God” is trivialized today. It leads to a spiritual infantilisation, a pure passivity, the presumption that God loves you just the way you are, without any demands. As we have seen, God does not love everyone to the same degree. His real children are those who have taken on his nature. That’s what being a son means: to inherit the nature of the father, or, speaking colloquially, being a “chip off the old block.”

Nevertheless, unlike certain reformation heresies, the Germanic-Roman religion does not accept that some people are condemned at birth. God does not demand the impossible, so it is incorrect to claim that a man may be born with certain proclivities that compel him to deviate from the cosmic law. Even worse is to believe that such compulsions are therefore good and defensible.

16 thoughts on “Predestination and Predilection

  1. Pingback: A Priori and Ab Initio | Gornahoor

  2. Precisely, Mr Ferguson. Predestination removes the temptation to act as “master instead of as servant”, since it is something you can take no credit for.

    Conversely, there is the temptation of the “last man” who takes his squalor as normative (“God makes no junk”), no longer strives for anything (“we are all equal”), and resents his superiors.

  3. I’ve thought of this discussion off and on for the last several weeks and am promted to comment again in the wake of today’s post on “Darwin and Social Surgery” which mentions this article in passing:

    [“As we have recently pointed out in the essay on Predestination and Predilection, individuals have unequal worth, even from the perspective of Providence.”]

    Since I am relatively new to these studies, I realize that I could easily be misunderstanding the import of this claim or be mistaken in my evaluation of it, but I must confess that it remains very problematic to my mind. I appreciate the responses to my earlier comments– and, I especially want to thank Logres for his comment which I read again this morning and which is very much to the point –but just as there is a democratic spirit that can use the watchwords of “justice” and “equality” as a pretext for overthrowing an established order that is, on balance, good and right and just, so there is a fascist spirit that can use the watchwords of “order” and “hierarchy” and “nobility” as a pretext for self-enrichment, self-aggrandizement, and tyranny (i.e.”the will to power” at its very worst). So while I can fully acknowledge the legitimacy of order and hierarchy and the propriety of everyone assuming their proper role and function (by fulfilling their authentic vocation, under God), in the interest of a more nuanced understanding of what this might mean from a Christian point of view, I would like to submit a couple of extended excerpts from the 7th century writings of Maximus the Confessor following this shorter excerpt from Letter VII of Meditations on the Tarot, remembering that the one who triumphs is the one who overcomes the 4th temptation of pride–i.e. “the temptation to act ‘in one’s own name’, to act as master instead of as servant.” I would also suggest that it is only from the standpoint of separation, duality, and relative ignorance that it makes sense for one to be of greater worth than another–i.e. those who more perfectly fulfil their vocation, under
    God, are worth more than those who don’t. But as the following quotations make clear, we do not, in the final analysis, exist in abstraction from one another–each of our vocations imply the others, in Christ, under God. Ideally– i.e. “above” –this is so, is it not? And if it is to become actual, we must resist the temptation to smug self-satisfaction of the self-proclaimed “master” who acts in his own name.

    Quoting Letter VII from “Mediations on the Tarot”:

    “The ‘triumpher’ of the seventh Arcanum is the true adept of Hermeticism, i.e. an adept of mysticism, gnosis and magic —divine, human and natural. He is not running. He stands upright. He is not seated, deep in meditation. He holds a sceptre which serves him to bridle the two horses (one blue and one red) which draw his chariot. He is not absent, plunged into exalted ecstasy. He is on his way and he goes forward, standing upright all the while in his vehicle. The two horses, the one blue and the other red, have relieved him of the effort of walking. The instinctive forces of “yes” and “no”, attraction and repulsion, arterial blood and venous blood, trust and mistrust, faith and doubt, life and death and, lastly, “right” and “left”—symbolised by the pillars of Jachin and Boaz — have become motive forces in him, obedient to his sceptre. They serve him voluntarily as he is their true master. He trusts them and they trust him —this is mastership according to Hermeticism. For in Hermeticism mastership does not signify the subjugation of the lower by the higher, but rather the alliance of superconsciousness, consciousness and instinctive —or sub-consciouness. This is the Hermetic ideal of peace in the microcosm — the prototype of peace within a humanity divided into races, nations, classes and beliefs. This peace is equilibrium or justice, where each particular force playing its part in the life of the microcosm is assigned its rightful place in the life of the entire psychic and physical organism (168-169).

    Quoting Maximus the Confessor, Trans. Andrew Louth (Routledge 1996) from Letter 2: On Love:

    “For since the deceitful devil at the beginning contrived by guile to attack humankind through his self-love, deceiving him through pleasure, he has separated us in our inclinations from God and from one another, and turned us away from rectitude. He has divided nature at the level of mode of existence, fragmenting it into a multitude of opinions and imaginations. He has set up the means through which each vice may be discovered, and with time established a law, to which all our powers are devoted, introducing into everything a wicked support for the continuance of vice — namely, irreconcilable inclinations. By this he has prevailed on humankind to turn from the natural movement he once had and to move his longing from what is permitted to what is forbidden. Thus humankind has brought into being from itself the three greatest, primordial evils, and (to speak simply) the begetters of all vice: ignorance, I mean, and self-love and tyranny, which are interdependent and established one through another. For out of ignorance concerning God there arises self-love. And out of this comes tyranny towards one’s kin: of this there is no doubt. For by the misuse of our own powers – reason, desire and the incensive power – these evils are established. For reason, instead of being ignorant, ought to be moved through knowledge to seek solely after God; and desire, pure of the passion of self-love, ought to be driven by yearning for God alone; and the incensive power, separated from tyranny, ought to struggle to attain God alone. And the divine and blessed love, which is fashioned from these and through which these come to be, will embrace God and manifest the one who loves God to be God himself. Since these have turned out evil, because of man’s own will and the devil’s deceit with regard to human beings, God, who made nature and wisely healed it when it was sick through wickedness, through his love towards us, emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7), and without change [8] united himself to this [nature] hypostatically. For our sake and from us and through us he became wholly man to such a degree that unbelievers thought that he was not God, while existing as God to such a degree that to believers was granted the ineffable and true meaning of reverent religion. In this way the works of the devil were dissolved, and nature restored to its pure powers, and by again bringing about union with him and of human beings with one another, God renewed the power of love, the adversary of self-love. This self-love is, and is known to be, the first sin, the first progeny of the devil and the mother of the passions that come after it. He to whom it is granted to be worthy of God through love does away with it, and together with it the whole host of wickedness, which has no other foundation or cause of existence than self-love. For such a one no longer knows pride, the mark of that vain opinion that opposes God, the monstrous, composite evil. He does not know the glory that causes one to fall, and casts down from itself those who are puffed up with it. He causes envy to waste away, which itself first rightly lays waste those who possess it, through voluntary good-will making his own those who share the same nature. Anger, bloodthirstiness, wrath, guile, hypocrisy, dissembling, resentment, greed, and everything by which the one human person is divided up: all these he roots up. For by plucking out self-love, which is, as they say, the beginning and mother of all evils, everything that comes from it and after it is plucked out as well. Once this is no more, absolutely no form or trace of evil can any longer subsist. All the forms of virtue are introduced, fulfilling the power of love, which gathers together what has been separated, once again fashioning the human being in accordance with a single meaning and mode.[9] It levels off and makes equal any inequality or difference in inclination in anything, or rather binds it to that praiseworthy inequality, by which each is so drawn to his neighbour in preference to himself and so honours him before himself, that he is eager to spurn any obstacle in his desire to excel. And for this reason each one willingly frees himself from himself, by separating himself from any thoughts or properties to which he is privately inclined, and is gathered to the one singleness and sameness, in accordance with which nothing is in anyway separated from what is common to all, so that each is in each, and all in all, or rather in God and in others, and they are radiantly established as one, having the one ‘logos’ of being in themselves, utterly single in nature and inclination. And in this God is understood: in him they are all beheld together and they are bound together and raised to him, as the source and maker. The ‘logos’ of being of all beings by nature preserves itself pure and inviolate for our attention, who, with conscious zeal through the virtues and the toils that accompany them, have been purified from the passions that rebel against it.

    Perhaps it was this that great Abraham[10] achieved, restoring himself to nature’s ‘logos’ of being, or reason [logos] to himself, and through this being given back to God, and receiving God (I put it both ways, for both ways can be regarded as being true). As man he was made worthy to see God, and to receive him, since he lived naturally in accordance with the perfect natural logos through love for humankind.[11] He was led up to this, having relinquished the individuality of what divides and is divided, no longer leading another human being different from himself, but knowing all as one and one as all.[12] This is clearly not a matter of inclination, about which there is contention and division, while it remains irreconcilable with nature, but of nature itself. For it is in accordance with nature that the undeviating image is established, looking to the utterly singular reason [logos], by which we have established that God is certainly manifest, and through which God is set forth as good, making the creatures his own, since creation cannot know God from himself, as he is in himself. Nor is it likely that anything may be gathered to what is simple and the same which has become not the same as itself nor simple, but by inclination is still divided from nature into many parts, unless first through love for humankind the inclination embraces nature, and there is manifest from both an inner meaning [logos], peaceful and undisturbed, not at all primarily moved to any of those things that are after God. [13] In accordance with this, nature remains undamaged and undivided in those that have received this grace, not divided up into the differences introduced by inclination in the many. For no longer are different things drawn to this and that, thus dividing nature, but they all continue with the same, none of them directed by their own inclination, so that they are divided into separate parts, but all directed to what is common and undivided in all things at the level of nature, thus drawing together what has been separated, so that nothing of what is divided is drawn in against itself. God is thus manifest in those who possess [this grace], taking shape according to the specific character of the virtue of each through love for humankind, and condescending to be named from humankind. For it is the most [90] perfect work of love and the goal of its activity, to contrive through the mutual exchange of what is related that the names and properties of those that have been united through love should be fitting to each other. So the human being is made God, and God is called and appears as human, because of the one and undeviating wish (in accordance with the will) and movement of both, as we find in the case of Abraham and the other saints. And this is perhaps what is meant when it is said in the person of God, ‘I have been likened in the hands of the prophets’ (Hos. 11 [LXX]): God takes form in each, through his great love for humankind, out of the virtue that is present in each through the ascetic struggle. For the ‘hand’ of each just man: that is his ascetic struggle in accordance with virtue, in which and through which God receives his likeness to human beings” (pages 87-90).

    [8] One of the ‘Chalcedonian’ adverbs.
    [9] Logos and tropos.
    [10] This paragraph seems to be based on the idea, found in Philo, that the name Abraham means ‘elect father of sound’, signifying the good man’s reasoning: see below Amb. 10.45 and n. 126.
    [11] This way of seeing virtue as a life in accordance with nature, or with the logos, is typically Stoic, and Maximus’ language here has other Stoic echoes.
    [12] I.e., he led other human beings, viz. Sarah and the rest of his household, as he led himself, since they all possess the same human nature.
    [13] ‘Things that are after God’: after, that is, in the scale of being. It is a Neoplatonic use, which in Christian (Maximian) metaphysics has the radical meaning of ‘created beings’.

    Quoting Maximus the Confessor, Trans. Andrew Louth (Routledge 1996) from DIFFICULTY 41:

    “For in their true ‘logos’ all beings have at least something in common one with another. Amongst the beings after God, which have their being from God through generation, there are no exceptions, neither the greatly honoured and transcendent beings which have a universal relationship to the One absolutely beyond any relation, nor is the least honoured among beings destitute and bereft since it has by nature a generic relationship to the most honoured beings.[12] For all those things that are distinguished one from another by their particular differences are united by their universal and common identities, and forced together to the one and the same by a certain natural generic logos, so that the various kinds are united one with another according to their essence, and possess the one and the same and the undivided. For nothing of what is universal and containing [others] and generic can be divided into what is partial and contained and particular. For that is no longer generic which does not naturally unite what is separated, but which, participating in their separation, departs from its own singular unity. For everything generic, according to its own logos, is wholly present, indivisibly by the mode of unity, to those subordinate wholes, and the particular as a whole is considered as within the genus. The species, considered according to the genus, are released as it were from the variety caused by difference, and find identity one with another. The individuals, considered according to the species, finding agreement one with another, are in every way constituted as identical one with another, being indistinguishable from their same nature and free from any difference. Finally the accidents, brought together one with another by the substance in which they inhere, possess unity, not being scattered at all by their substance. And the unerring witness of all this is the true theologian, the great and holy Denys the Areopagite, in the chapter on the Perfect and the One in the Divine Names, where he speaks thus: ‘For multiplicity is not without participation in the One, but that which is many in its parts is one as a whole, and that which is many in its accidents is one in the subject, and that which is many in number or potentialities is one in species, and that which is many in species is one in genus, and that which is many in its processions is one in its source, and there is none of the beings that is without participation in the One.[13] And simply, to speak concisely, the ‘logoi’ of everything that is divided and particular are contained, as they say, by the ‘logoi’ of what is universal and generic, and the most universal and generic ‘logoi’ are held together by wisdom, and the ‘logoi’ of the particulars, held fast in various ways by the generic ‘logoi’ are contained by sagacity, in accordance with which they are first simplified, and releasing the symbolic variety in the actions of their subjects, they are unified by wisdom, receiving congruence making for identity from the more generic. For the wisdom and sagacity of God the Father is the Lord Jesus Christ, [162] who holds together the universals of beings by the power wisdom, and embraces their complementary parts by the sagacity of understanding, since by nature he is the fashioner and provider of all, and through himself draws into one what is divided, and abolishes war between beings, and binds everything into peaceful friendship and undivided harmony, ‘both what is in heaven and what is on earth’ (Col. 1: 20), as the divine Apostle says (160-162).

    NOTES DIFFICULTY 41

    [12] Reading ‘timiotata’, not ‘atimiotata’. See Hausherr (1952), 169n.
    [13] Denys the Areopagite, ‘Divine Names’ 13.2 (980A).

  4. On the concept of Worship = my own realisations and observations of this is that i put myself in “Gods” shoes and i do wonder what i might tolerate , there is a fine line between worship and beseech, and jim morrisons famous soft parade quote i do concur with in its brilliant declaration “you cannot petition the lord with prayer” So then i do perceive myself that an acceptable worship to me in my godship is not so much something wilfully pursued for a personal or other gain , but that true worship is something “arrived at” in a moment or captivated in a short duration , through direct experience , it is the result of various efforts of seeking knowledge through awareness and practical experiencing which at a certain moment activates something from a higher plane , that then conducts current from deeper in the self which is just too profound or much beyond present rationalisation levels to fully comprehend , and so there remains a bond or umbilical chord with varying degrees of intensity a special signature (a tattoo) inscribed into the memory , the very bloodflow , in recognition of that encapsulated realisation of a higher quality of perception , which is in retrospect the arrived at “worshipful state” i.e. it is an experience in consciousness that is discovered absolutely by the self through willed efforts , and there very well may be very close co-relations with other selfs in the dynamics of these tattoos , but it is a true empowering moment of self discovery , that i don’t think the majority of worshipping people out there have ever conceived off , (they don’t have no tattoos) or they have someone else’s “brand” off course there are plenty options for a deviancy or delusion to occur in this realm of worshipful investigation

  5. Nice try, Clayton, but that is strike one.
    “power or ability” were never mentioned, so please try to actually engage the material.

    Also keep in mind that the purpose is to understand what the Tradition taught. Whether or not you agree with it is not important to us. We’re not trying to convince anyone of anything.

  6. If God wills all men to achieve salvation but lacks the power or ability to achieve his will than such a being is not fit to be called God and undeserving of worship. We are all elected or none of us are. End of argument. Anything else makes God a demon and not God.

  7. Postscript:

    1. typo: conscious for consciouss
    2. ‘men are granted equal existence’; by the total fact of existence but not existential equality since the total fact of existence as it is distributed amongst the particulars consists of nothing but ‘inequal relations’.
    3. ‘except as being caused’: Men are equal as effects of the one essence ‘man’ and its modes, but they manifest that essence to different degrees.
    4. Each man has a certain capacity to ‘do what he can’ which is to manifest his possibilities in which case he is not measured against other particular men, but only to the essence and degree assigned. Each man obtains what is appropriate for him.

  8. Equality properly signifies identity. Equality simply is simple identity or aseity which is God. Therefore outside of God there is not simple equality. There is an internal order which consists of nothing but degrees of presence in one’s domain. There is an external order wherein inequal relations are granted equal existence. Therefore there is a hierarchy within and without at all times. In the material and social world equality is justice which means that each member performs its function. For those particulars which are posited as composite are all parts of some whole.

    Some men must be specifically competent in this or that function while other men must be generally competent: Horizontally, both species are just particular functions, but the vertical relation should soon appear clear. To be generally competent is to able not only to actively oversee all of the species (and to master any if need be), but also to possess a greater intensity of self-consciousness. To be self-consciouss is to be consciouss that you are consciouss or to be consciouss not only of concrete objects but also of abstract objects; namely, of first principles. The person of general competence then provides the other members with the efficiency of these principles under the forms of prescriptions, commands and rules which are defined with certainty.

    Men are equal in principle through the essence ‘man’ which is to say that they are equal in God by the Divine Idea. This is obtained by each man ‘doing what he can’ (as Thomas Aquinas would say). This means that each man enters into his domain, draws upon his essence and receives grace. This aspect stands outside of the social order and yet that man who fulfills the previously mentioned social function is also most competent in this contemplative capacity. It is under this aspect especially that a certain predilection is clear. And yet, each man in his domain is not in relation to each other man as an aggregate of particulars, but only to the essence; nor are all men equal in this way except as being caused; nor is egalitarianism possible under the social aspect; nor is any particular man deprived of his particular capacity to ‘do what he can’ and receive grace.

    Also, even though a society may possess an egalitarian ‘self-concept’ it is still not the case in fact. First principles do not allow such states of affairs which means that the notion of a fundamentally egalitarian society is a delusion grounded in pseudo-principles. For example, somtimes a cowardly man thinks he is brave for no reason other than a false ‘self-concept’. In any case, not much more can be said on this topic.

  9. Wayne, human language means by “God loves him more than me” precisely what you acknowledge, ie., that “God wills a greater good to him than me”. Aquinas may offer a needed balancing to that by answering that God’s will in another sense wills and moves the same good to all (in that He imparts Himself to all), so that this is the “unity” aspect of Godhood, but the entire Old and New Testament (including Christ’s words) acknowledge the medieval emphasis on dignity, power, and grace of various hierarchies of order which differ in their “goodness” : St Paul affirms that “one star differs from another in glory”, etc. The reason we find democracy to be a “needed corrective” to false hierarchies is twofold: 1) we don’t perceive the false hierarchy and demonism embedded in democracy itself 2) we don’t like medieval hierarchy because it’s a distant historical reminder of #1.. Now, if you mean by democracy something closer to “local self government” of the GK Chesterton variety, then you have a problem too, as Chesterton thought that the medieval period was far more democratic (and courageous on an individual scale of guts/hearts to the square mile) than the modern one. Evola talks about the individual “ius” (Latin) that pertains to each unique human dignity : this is similar to a medieval classification of hunting birds (for example) by innate quality, dignity, and so on to determine use and meaning (a gyrefalcon for instance, was a king’s bird). Again, this “puts out” modern people because we prefer to dwell on exceptions to the rule, which then become justifications for ideologies that end up denying the very things they set out to ostensibly defend. Every human and every age tends to prefer its own errors, and ours is no exception. The fallen desires, passions, etc. which corrupt a legitimate hierarchy (as you point out) are precisely those things which do not exist insofar as that hierarchy is legitimate: that is, loving command and proud service are possible, and as the world moves closer to actualization, or identification with the divine image, it ceases to be subject to those very passions. In saying that words like “superior” or “inferior” still have meaning in the body of Christ, St Paul doesn’t deny the validity of the unity (“no slave or free, etc., etc.) of the energies of God, however he refers to “weaker brothers”, “those more perfect”, etc., etc. The superiority doesn’t disappear, it simply assumes a higher level or type – it is only in this way that it can destroy or replace demonic hierarchy of Satan, by becoming more subtle and powerful through Love. To read St Paul in terms of democratic ideology is to take a statement that was meant to apply or speak to a particular configuration of spirituality, and to apply it to everyone – which is the essence of democracy, ironically. I think you should look more closely at what the Bible teaches on legitimate hierarchy – yes, Christ is the greatest servant, however, He also has a sword coming out of His mouth in Revelations, trampling enemies, so it isn’t that simple. He also “loved the disciple John” more than other disciples, and called the Samaritans “dogs”, etc., etc. So there is a higher logic at work which obviates the need to apologize for our ancestor’s use of hierarchy.

  10. Sorry for the duplicate comment — my browser crashed and it did not appear to have posted the first time…

  11. As I continue to mull these question over, I think also of the two greatest commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, etc., and 2) love your neighbor as your self. I think the second commandment offers additional support for the idea that we are members one of another and that it is misleading to think of any one member existing apart from the others in a way that makes him or her superior or more beloved (though I am fully willing to grant that it may appear that way “on earth” (insofar as God’s perfect will is not done “on earth as it is in heaven).

    Another thing that comes to mind is that part of the reason for the “death of God” is the sectarian tendency to take refuge in dogma and doctrine and the unwillingness to speak directly to sinceret skepticism and honest criticism. I think that questions concerning the sovereignty of God and the free will of human beings is a case in point. As such, I want to pose some questions about predestination and offer a somewhat alternative answer to the one presented in (or implied by) the original post (from which I will quote in brackets, below).

    [“For God, intention precedes execution, or ends before means. Hence, according to this doctrine, God will also provide the means, circumstances, and situations required to achieve the ultimate end for the elect, or predestined.”]

    So those who are elect (or predestined) will arrive at the foreordained end, right? (if not, predestination would be meaningless, would it not?)

    [“This is exactly what Guenon was getting at with the notion of “compossible”. The conditions of birth need to be consistent with, and provide the necessary opportunities, to achieve salvation or liberation. A sign of being predestined is to be born into the Medieval Germanic-Roman tradition, or otherwise to have the opportunity to embrace it freely.”]

    But for Guenon, one might also be (so to speak) “gracefully” born into another tradition, as well (Vedanta; Muslim; Buddhist; etc.). Otherwise, this just becomes another pretext to write people off who are “other” or “marginal” (cf. “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”).

    [“Nevertheless, some would spurn God’s love and reject it.”]

    But if they do this, they were never really part of the elect, right? (otherwise, the word “election”, too, would be meaningless, would it not?)

    [“To fully grasp these doctrines…”]

    Does anyone fully grasp them? Or are we attempting to make sense of something that is beyond our grasp (at best) if not logically incoherent (at worst)?

    [“To fully grasp these doctrines, it is necessary to be clear about the difference between the antecedent and consequent will of God. What God wills antecedently may or may not take place. On the other hand, the consequent will if efficacious.”]

    So to be numbered among the “elect” — to be predestined to salvation — has consequences (is necessarily efficacious), right? And is anyone saved who is not among the elect? Who is not predestinated? These questions should make the problem with this teaching clear.

    [“Now the antecedent will of God is for all to achieve salvation, but not all are predestined”]

    Except that Tomberg (following Origen) does suggest that all are predestined… (that hell will ultimately be empty).

    [“The antecedent will is more like the Hermetic notion of Providence. To deny the antecedent will would make God responsible for “wars, concentration camps, and physical and psychical epidemics” as Tomberg points out. This view of God’s omnipotence is not uncommon and is based on presumption.”]

    Yes, Tomberg is clear on this. In addition to the text you refer to (which is from Letter XX), there is this one from Letter IV:

    “The history of the human race since the Fall is that of the prodigal son. It is . . . a matter of . . . an abuse of freedom similar to that of the prodigal son. And the key formula of the history of humanity is to be found neither in the progress of civilisation nor in the process of evolution or in any other “process”, but rather in the parable of the prodigal son, in the words:

    <<>>

    “Is mankind therefore solely responsible for its history? Without a doubt — because it is not God who has willed it to be as such. God is crucified in it” (82-84).

    [“The consequent will involves the alliance of the divine will and the human will. This is not pure passivity, as Fr Garrigou-Lagrange makes clear: “The wills of men are more in God’s power than their own.”]

    Is this clear or does it merely imply that there is some small degree of activity on the part of human beings (while explicitly claiming that our will predominantly in God’s power)?

    [“We can’t go into all the details right now, but God affects the will through graces and virtues.”]

    Once again, these Divine affections would seem to undermine human freedom in any ultimate sense. So how are we to make sense of this?

    [Tomberg’s understanding of incarnation is in general agreement with Evola’s. Tomberg writes (in Letter XX): “The individuality descends consciously and of his own free will to birth, into an environment where he is wanted and awaited” (578). Those are rarer cases however. For most, the incarnation is dominated more by the horizontal than the vertical.”]

    I would like to offer an alternative to the idea of election and predestination that truly acknowledges BOTH the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.

    Consider, if you please, the possibility that our ideal is not merely heavenly (as some putitive gnostics and platonists would have it), but (rather) our ideal is that the earthly would in some way correspond to the heavenly (as above so below–they kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven). There is a (IMO) confusingly worded passage in “Meditations on the Tarot” that (nonetheless) makes this clear:

    “God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world; and the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Pater Noster): ‘Sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra’, would lose all meaning [blessed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, as it is in heaven, and on earth]. He who prays these petitions does so solely with the purpose of affirming and increasing divine authority and not divine power. The God who is almightly– not virtually but actually –has no need at all to be petitioned that his reign may come and that his will may be done. The meaning of this prayer is that God is powerful only in so far as his authority is freely recognised and accepted. Prayer is the act of such recognition and acceptance. One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith ” no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e. to freely recognise and accept the authority of God. But on the other hand, once this authority is recognised and accepted, the powerless becomes powerful. Then divine power can manifest itself”and this is why it is said that a grain of faith is sufficient to move mountains.”

    While I find the wording of this a bit confusing, I think the meaning is clear: God’s power IS as it IS — there is no need or possibility for it to be increased (in itself or “in heaven”). But his authority on the earthly plane is subject to increase and decrease which, in turn, effects the manifestation of his power in this world (thus, his will “on earth” is not always done “as it is in heaven”). This allows for human freedom–i.e. God’s power (or perfect will) is manifest to the degree that we recognize and honor God’s authority.

    Consistent with my last comment, I would like to suggest that “in heaven” the body of Christ is complete and that each of us is chosen/created in him before the foundation of the world (in the beginning with God), but in order to enjoy our eternal life and to become mirrors which reflect Gods will in this world, we must choose ‘to be’ ourselves NOW (unconditionally). More on this below…

    [“The consequences of Tomberg’s insight have been mentioned in other contexts. Some are “born from above”, even if their memory of it is quite dim. The second birth is a remembrance of that. Many, if not most, people today, have a self-understanding of being a product of biological forces and cultural influences. They lack that true will that Tomberg mentions. “The united will constitutes the indestructible and immortal kernel of the body … its active principle, its formative will-energy, survives death” (579)]

    The idea that I am attempting to express here is consistent with Plotinus’ idea that we already exist in the Nous (i.e. in the Divine intelligence that is analogous, as I see it, to the ‘logos’ or Divine “Word” in and through which the world is created).

    Somehow it is the case that we are both “there” and “here”, but have somehow forgotten “our race and worth” (Enneids V.1.1) and are distracted by our apparently separate existence. Quoting Plotinus:

    “And- if it is desirable to venture the more definite statement of a personal conviction clashing with the general view- even our human soul has not sunk entire; something of it is continuously in the Intellectual Realm, though if that part, which is in this sphere of sense, hold the mastery, or rather be mastered here and troubled, it keeps us blind to what the upper phase holds in contemplation. . . . The souls that have gone into division and become appropriated to some thing partial have also their transcendent phase, but are preoccupied by sensation, and in the mere fact of exercising perception they take in much that clashes with their nature and brings distress and trouble since the object of their concern is partial, deficient, exposed to many alien influences, filled with desires of its own and taking its pleasure, that pleasure which is its lure. But there is always the other, that which finds no savour in passing pleasure, but holds its own even way.” (IV.8.8)

    The ‘Nous’, or ‘Intelligence’ — which is the locus of our higher element –is described as realm of pure activity devoid of evil–again, quoting Plotinus:

    “…time is replaced by eternity and space by its intellectual equivalent, mutual inclusiveness. In that Intellectual Kosmos, where all is one total, every entity that can be singled out is an intellective essence and a participant in life: thus, identity and difference, movement and rest with the object resting or moving, essence and quality, all have essential existence. For every real being must be in actuality not merely in potentiality and therefore the nature of each essence is inherent in it.
    […]
    “This suggests the question whether the Intellectual Kosmos contains the forms only of the things of sense or of other existents as well. But first we will consider how it stands with artistic creations: there is no question of an ideal archetype of evil: the evil of this world is begotten of need, privation, deficiency, and is a condition peculiar to Matter distressed and to what has come into likeness with Matter.” (V.9.10).

    From this standpoint, our freedom is not such that we can be something other than we are (in the intelligible realm). Nor is it possible for us to manipulate the turn of events to bring about what we desire in time and space (that is the way of antichrist). Rather, as I see it, we can recognize and honor the light of aware presence — i.e. we are free to “take up our cross” and stand in the “draft” of Being — and thereby reflect the Intelligible order into the world (and, in the process, will quite naturally find our proper place in relation to God, to nature, and to one another). And, as I see it, this is also the “easy yoke” of the Master which Tomberg describes in Letter I.

  12. As I continue to mull these question over, I think also of the two greatest commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, etc., and 2) love your neighbor as your self. I think the second commandment offers additional support for the idea that we are members one of another and that it is misleading to think of any one member existing apart from the others in a way that makes him or her superior or more beloved (though I am fully willing to grant that it may appear that way “on earth” (insofar as God’s perfect will is not done “on earth as it is in heaven).

    Another thing that comes to mind is that part of the reason for the “death of God” is the sectarian tendency to take refuge in dogma and doctrine and the unwillingness to speak directly to sinceret skepticism and honest criticism. I think that questions concerning the sovereignty of God and the free will of human beings is a case in point. As such, I want to pose some questions about predestination and offer a somewhat alternative answer to the one presented in (or implied by) the original post (from which I will quote in brackets, below).

    [“For God, intention precedes execution, or ends before means. Hence, according to this doctrine, God will also provide the means, circumstances, and situations required to achieve the ultimate end for the elect, or predestined.”]

    So those who are elect (or predestined) will arrive at the foreordained end, right? (if not, predestination would be meaningless, would it not?)

    [“This is exactly what Guenon was getting at with the notion of “compossible”. The conditions of birth need to be consistent with, and provide the necessary opportunities, to achieve salvation or liberation. A sign of being predestined is to be born into the Medieval Germanic-Roman tradition, or otherwise to have the opportunity to embrace it freely.”]

    But for Guenon, one might also be (so to speak) “gracefully” born into another tradition, as well (Vedanta; Muslim; Buddhist; etc.). Otherwise, this just becomes another pretext to write people off who are “other” or “marginal” (cf. “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”).

    [“Nevertheless, some would spurn God’s love and reject it.”]

    But if they do this, they were never really part of the elect, right? (otherwise, the word “election”, too, would be meaningless, would it not?)

    [“To fully grasp these doctrines…”]

    Does anyone fully grasp them? Or are we attempting to make sense of something that is beyond our grasp (at best) if not logically incoherent (at worst)?

    [“To fully grasp these doctrines, it is necessary to be clear about the difference between the antecedent and consequent will of God. What God wills antecedently may or may not take place. On the other hand, the consequent will if efficacious.”]

    So to be numbered among the “elect” — to be predestined to salvation — has consequences (is necessarily efficacious), right? And is anyone saved who is not among the elect? Who is not predestinated? These questions should make the problem with this teaching clear.

    [“Now the antecedent will of God is for all to achieve salvation, but not all are predestined”]

    Except that Tomberg (following Origen) does suggest that all are predestined… (that hell will ultimately be empty).

    [“The antecedent will is more like the Hermetic notion of Providence. To deny the antecedent will would make God responsible for “wars, concentration camps, and physical and psychical epidemics” as Tomberg points out. This view of God’s omnipotence is not uncommon and is based on presumption.”]

    Yes, Tomberg is clear on this. In addition to the text you refer to (which is from Letter XX), there is this one from Letter IV:

    “The history of the human race since the Fall is that of the prodigal son. It is . . . a matter of . . . an abuse of freedom similar to that of the prodigal son. And the key formula of the history of humanity is to be found neither in the progress of civilisation nor in the process of evolution or in any other “process”, but rather in the parable of the prodigal son, in the words:

    <<>>

    “Is mankind therefore solely responsible for its history? Without a doubt — because it is not God who has willed it to be as such. God is crucified in it” (82-84).

    [“The consequent will involves the alliance of the divine will and the human will. This is not pure passivity, as Fr Garrigou-Lagrange makes clear: “The wills of men are more in God’s power than their own.”]

    Is this clear or does it merely imply that there is some small degree of activity on the part of human beings (while explicitly claiming that our will predominantly in God’s power)?

    [“We can’t go into all the details right now, but God affects the will through graces and virtues.”]

    Once again, these Divine affections would seem to undermine human freedom in any ultimate sense. So how are we to make sense of this?

    [Tomberg’s understanding of incarnation is in general agreement with Evola’s. Tomberg writes (in Letter XX): “The individuality descends consciously and of his own free will to birth, into an environment where he is wanted and awaited” (578). Those are rarer cases however. For most, the incarnation is dominated more by the horizontal than the vertical.”]

    I would like to offer an alternative to the idea of election and predestination that truly acknowledges BOTH the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.

    Consider, if you please, the possibility that our ideal is not merely heavenly (as some putitive gnostics and platonists would have it), but (rather) our ideal is that the earthly would in some way correspond to the heavenly (as above so below–they kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven). There is a (IMO) confusingly worded passage in “Meditations on the Tarot” that (nonetheless) makes this clear:

    “God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world; and the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Pater Noster): ‘Sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra’, would lose all meaning [blessed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, as it is in heaven, and on earth]. He who prays these petitions does so solely with the purpose of affirming and increasing divine authority and not divine power. The God who is almightly– not virtually but actually –has no need at all to be petitioned that his reign may come and that his will may be done. The meaning of this prayer is that God is powerful only in so far as his authority is freely recognised and accepted. Prayer is the act of such recognition and acceptance. One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith ” no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e. to freely recognise and accept the authority of God. But on the other hand, once this authority is recognised and accepted, the powerless becomes powerful. Then divine power can manifest itself”and this is why it is said that a grain of faith is sufficient to move mountains.”

    While I find the wording of this a bit confusing, I think the meaning is clear: God’s power IS as it IS — there is no need or possibility for it to be increased (in itself or “in heaven”). But his authority on the earthly plane is subject to increase and decrease which, in turn, effects the manifestation of his power in this world (thus, his will “on earth” is not always done “as it is in heaven”). This allows for human freedom–i.e. God’s power (or perfect will) is manifest to the degree that we recognize and honor God’s authority.

    Consistent with my last comment, I would like to suggest that “in heaven” the body of Christ is complete and that each of us is chosen/created in him before the foundation of the world (in the beginning with God), but in order to enjoy our eternal life and to become mirrors which reflect Gods will in this world, we must choose ‘to be’ ourselves NOW (unconditionally). More on this below…

    [“The consequences of Tomberg’s insight have been mentioned in other contexts. Some are “born from above”, even if their memory of it is quite dim. The second birth is a remembrance of that. Many, if not most, people today, have a self-understanding of being a product of biological forces and cultural influences. They lack that true will that Tomberg mentions. “The united will constitutes the indestructible and immortal kernel of the body … its active principle, its formative will-energy, survives death” (579)]

    The idea that I am attempting to express here is consistent with Plotinus’ idea that we already exist in the Nous (i.e. in the Divine intelligence that is analogous, as I see it, to the ‘logos’ or Divine “Word” in and through which the world is created).

    Somehow it is the case that we are both “there” and “here”, but have somehow forgotten “our race and worth” (Enneids V.1.1) and are distracted by our apparently separate existence. Quoting Plotinus:

    “And- if it is desirable to venture the more definite statement of a personal conviction clashing with the general view- even our human soul has not sunk entire; something of it is continuously in the Intellectual Realm, though if that part, which is in this sphere of sense, hold the mastery, or rather be mastered here and troubled, it keeps us blind to what the upper phase holds in contemplation. . . . The souls that have gone into division and become appropriated to some thing partial have also their transcendent phase, but are preoccupied by sensation, and in the mere fact of exercising perception they take in much that clashes with their nature and brings distress and trouble since the object of their concern is partial, deficient, exposed to many alien influences, filled with desires of its own and taking its pleasure, that pleasure which is its lure. But there is always the other, that which finds no savour in passing pleasure, but holds its own even way.” (IV.8.8)

    The ‘Nous’, or ‘Intelligence’ — which is the locus of our higher element –is described as realm of pure activity devoid of evil–again, quoting Plotinus:

    “…time is replaced by eternity and space by its intellectual equivalent, mutual inclusiveness. In that Intellectual Kosmos, where all is one total, every entity that can be singled out is an intellective essence and a participant in life: thus, identity and difference, movement and rest with the object resting or moving, essence and quality, all have essential existence. For every real being must be in actuality not merely in potentiality and therefore the nature of each essence is inherent in it.
    […]
    “This suggests the question whether the Intellectual Kosmos contains the forms only of the things of sense or of other existents as well. But first we will consider how it stands with artistic creations: there is no question of an ideal archetype of evil: the evil of this world is begotten of need, privation, deficiency, and is a condition peculiar to Matter distressed and to what has come into likeness with Matter.” (V.9.10).

    From this standpoint, our freedom is not such that we can be something other than we are (in the intelligible realm). Nor is it possible for us to manipulate the turn of events to bring about what we desire in time and space (that is the way of antichrist). Rather, as I see it, we can recognize and honor the light of aware presence — i.e. we are free to “take up our cross” and stand in the “draft” of Being — and thereby reflect the Intelligible order into the world (and, in the process, will quite naturally find our proper place in relation to God, to nature, and to one another). And, as I see it, this is also the “easy yoke” of the Master which Tomberg describes in Letter I.

  13. Perhaps a bit of context will help frame my objection a bit more clearly. Against those who say God loves all things equally, Thomas writes:

    “On the contrary, Augustine says (Tract. in Joan. cx): “God loves all things that He has made, and amongst them rational creatures more, and of these especially those who are members of His only-begotten Son Himself.”

    “I answer that, Since to love a thing is to will it good, in a twofold way anything may be loved more, or less. In one way on the part of the act of the will itself, which is more or less intense. In this way God does not love some things more than others, because He loves all things by an act of the will that is one, simple, and always the same. In another way on the part of the good itself that a person wills for the beloved. In this way we are said to love that one more than another, for whom we will a greater good, though our will is not more intense. In this way we must needs say that God loves some things more than others. For since God’s love is the cause of goodness in things, as has been said (2), no one thing would be better than another, if God did not will greater good for one than for another.”
    ~ Summa Theologica > First Part > Question 20 > Article 3

    It seems clear that, in this context, “all things” includes all thing in this fallen world (as dualistically conceived by our fallen minds). From this standpoint, it makes sense to say that God loves Moses or David more than he loves Pharaoh or Saul. And perhaps it makes sense to say that the post of Emperor or Pope is (in an ideal sense) superior to that of the slave or serf–I would not argue the point. But it seems presumptuous for any man to imagine that God loves “me” more than he loves “him” or “her”. And while we are not here to argue theology, one of the reasons we are here (I assume) is to retrieve the tradition–i.e. to make it intelligible to the modern mind (or to offer modern human beings a way out the trap of the modern mind). With that in view, I would suggest that the body of Christ — the eternal creation — has an integrity that precludes God loving one member more than another–or one member being (in the strictest sense) greater than another (though it quite naturally appears that way to our fallen minds in this fallen world).

    For me to be myself, in the kingdom of God, presupposes your being yourself–and vise versa. These are eternal relationships (it seems to me). These relationships may, indeed, manifest here in terms of hierarchy (quite naturally) as we each find our proper place, under God–but at the same time, our fallen desires (for pleasure, power, and prestige) also corrupts our worldly hierarchies in such a way that the democratic mindset offers, at times, a much needed corrective (as I think we might all acknowledge).

    If I have understood them correctly, some of the recent posts have alluded to a kind of “true will” or “transcendental freedom” from which we are alienated (insofar as our “personalty” has been “emancipated” from God and Nature — see MOTT 117). This “emancipation” has, in fact, weakened our will. Tomberg quotes Oswald Wirth as follows:

    “The individual will is powerful only in the measure to which it is in harmony with a more general power . . . Let us not seek to develop the will artificially and to transform ourselves into atheltes of the will” (117).

    When the self is, as Kierkegaard put it, appropriately related to itself and to the power which grounds it, it will also be appropriately related to other selves who are, likewise, appropriately related. From that standpoint, the question of “superior” and “inferior” (or more or less beloved) will never arise (IMO). Such is the integrity of the body of Christ.

    Are you familiar with the concept of the “gnomic” will? Fr. Stephen Freeman has written a couple of blog posts recently that contrast our fallen will (our freedom of choice in the bondage of this world) in contrast to our “natural” will (as created by God). Worth a look, perhaps…

    http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2015/06/23/the-right-choice/

    The second article is “The Voice of the Natural Will” — same URL, but with this suffix:

    /glory2godforallthings/2015/07/10/the-voice-of-the-natural-will/

    Thank you for your reply–and for the clarification regarding predestination. I will need to mull it all over a bit more…

  14. M. Ferguson,

    Quite simply, if God is absolutely infinite then He grants you your freedom as well as your external conditions since the Infinite causes the finite not through determination but through grace. It is clear that determination corresponds to the receptivity of a subject, but then the mode of causation with respect to the subject is overlooked by the ‘hard determinist’ or at least not handled properly. Spinozism then is essentially a misundertanding. The complex subject must be as internally determinable as it is externally determined, for if external determination was greater than determinability then the subject is negated. If God infinitely determines a complex subject then that subject is also granted infinite determinability or it is negated before it can even be posited, but this is absurd therefore etc.

    In truth, the question of freedom cannot be understood from the standpoint of a complex subject’s reception of successive determinations. Rather it is to be understood through the complex subject’s derivation from the simple subject. For if in a narrative I am to order a series of sentences about some subject then the complex subject is not just united by the order of sentences as given but through identity in the simple subject. The complex subject is essentially defined through the simple subject for I can even change the order of sentences without affecting the complex subject as a subject but only the narrative i.e. per accidens. What is important is the subject’s action in the narrative and not the fact that he is in the narrative passively and privatively i.e. because he is not in some other narrative and so forth. The simple subject may be called the internal determination of the complex subject, but if there was not the simple subject then there would not be the complex subject therefore there would be no determinable subject to receive this internal determination. It is only by first grasping the complex subject and then the simple subject that we speak of ‘internal determination’, but this is not so in the order of being only in the order of facts. Therefore it is clear in this way also that the final mode of causation is not determination but is to be called grace.

    If a thing is finite then it is conditioned. If it is not absolutely infinite then it is finite. If it is real then it is free; it has the power to act. By freedom we mean that there is a certain essence or domain of possibilities which is actually defined prior to its limitation to a certain range under material conditions. The domain is given to me prior to the external conditions. Whatever my range thereby is I may always draw upon my domain in order to affirm my true position. If I determine my position in accordance with incidental conditions then I am justly deprived and restricted thereby. If I am finite not just through the essence but also through material composition, then I will be limited by my com-position prior (in the order of restrictions) to being limited by the simply posited essence (which is prior in the order of being). The composition by itself is less determinable than it is determined when considering also the internal determination of the composite subject. The essential act willed through the composite subject must transcend the material order. It follows that the complex subject as a subject must be integrated or disintegrated.

    Hence it is clear that seemingly problematic dualisms are resolved through hierarchical subordination. It is only in immanent experience that dualism appears problematic; immanent experience given without reference to an order of principles is itself problematic. Forgive me if I’ve erred on some point or written unclearly.

  15. Thanks for the long comment, Mr Ferguson, but let’s not get lost in the weeds. The intent was to show what the Medievals believed. It takes some effort to get into the mindset to see why they thought it was reasonable. Moreover, you probably answered the question about why that mindset is difficult for the modern mind to grasp: it is inherently undemocratic.

    We cannot engage in theological arguments here, since they have gone on for centuries. For every bible verse you quoted, I can find others; that game is not fun. The version of predestination you grow up with is indeed problematic: double predestination, denial of free will, efficacious (or “irresistible”) grace. That is not what is being described here.

    So let’s rry to keep it on the metaphysical and phenomenological level.

    Now what are your dinner plans tonight? A bowl of Alpo perhaps or [insert your favorite meal X]. I’ll be somewhat presumptuous and assume you prefer X. Isn’t that because you love X more than Alpo for dinner? And isn’t the reason you love X because it is better than Alpo? We are on solid ground here.

    Now you yourself do not create the good, rather you are drawn to it. God, however, does create the good. But we just established that some things are better than others and it is natural to love the better things more. This granted, the rest follows.

  16. Perhaps I am an incurable democrat, but some of the above strikes me as very problematic. I grew up believing in predestination — Romans 9 was a favorite proof-text and, indeed, I have no problem with it now assuming that the vessels of wrath are not imagined as sizzling on a grid throughout endless ages (after all, we have to break a few eggs if we want to make an omelet and whose to say the same is not true of God). But I can’t help but thinking that some of these ideas are simply a concession to our dualistic minds (and the world so conceived–including the apparent necessity of moral and spiritual discourse).

    [Thomas is quoted as follows: “Since God’s love is the cause of goodness in things, no one thing would be better than another if God did not will greater good for one than for another … and the reason why some things are better than others is that God wills them a greater good. Hence it follows that He loves more the better things.”]

    With all due respect to Thomas, if we are members one of another– and the whole body is, indeed, “fitly joined together” –perhaps it is misleading to separate one part off (in an abstract way) and call it better and more beloved in any ultimate sense (see scripture verses below: “fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part” and “we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function”).

    Another problem is the tendency to equivocate with regard to the role of freewill (which seems to be unavoidable as my remarks, below, will also demonstrate).

    While it is said that human beings are not simply passive, it is clear that God’s will/grace dominates (St. Paul, also– while exhorting us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” –says, in the same breath, “it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”).

    In any event, Tomberg’s position (following Origen) seems to be that Hell will ultimately be empty. If so, it would seem, from that standpoint, that ALL are chosen and that all will ultimately repent. This doesn’t change the fact that each of us must, at some point IN-DEED repent — i.e. turn away from our fallen self and toward God — towards our true Self in Christ — cf. “[God] is more me than I myself am” (as he quotes Augustine as having said). And it doesn’t change the fact that such an act of the will often follows in the wake of great suffering (cf. the prodigal son).

    But it’s also worth noting that obedience is described by Tomberg as simply turning toward the presence of God (no fight… no struggle… our freedom is found in turning toward the Good — in the “purity” of our will, not in “force of will” — cf. “The Pope” page 114 — unless I am taking it out of context). But how shall we NOT so turn (ultimately) if, in fact, we are chosen/created in Christ before the foundation of the world? (in the beginning with God) And how, indeed, can we (ultimately) turn to him if we are not so chosen/created?

    Cf. I John 3:1See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.…

    Nevertheless, there would seem to be no substitute for this act of the will on our part– this turning toward the Good — even if that is not in and of itself sufficient — as Tomberg makes clear in Letter VI:

    ” ‘Kyrie Eleison’ [Lord have mercy] is the proper comportment of the seeker–and the magical quaternity, “to dare, to will, to be silent, and to know”, is transformed by the Master into:

    Ask, and it will be given you;
    Seek, and you will find;
    Knock, and it will be opened to you.
    For everyone who asks receives,
    And he who seeks finds,
    And to him who knocks it will be opened.
    (Matthew vii, 7-8)

    “It is a matter of daring to ask, of the will to seek, of being silent in order to knock and of knowing when it is opened to you. For knowledge does not happen automatically; it is what is revealed when the door is opened” (MOTT 135).

    He goes on to say that, contrary to Pelagianism (and to the Protestantism of Luther), this formula reflects the synthesis of effort and grace — nature vulnerata, no delta — “nature is wounded, not destroyed”, therefore, “there is also an element in human nature which is therefore capable of effort and work which counts” (135).

    https://teenytinytarot.wordpress.com/about-2/vi-the-lover/

    p.s. Not including Romans 9 and I John 3, here are the scriptures that came to mind as I was reading and thinking about this:

    Ephesians 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…

    Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Galatians 3:27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

    Ephesians 4:15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    Romans 12:3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.…

    John 17:19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20″I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22″The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;…

    Matthew 23:10″Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11″But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12″Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.…

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