Are Some Predestined For Hell?

Dear Fr. Bloom,

I'm a practising Catholic, but many of my friends are outside of the Church, ranging from Protestants to agnostics. Anyhow, I've asked Our Lady, Bl. Josemaria Escriva, and some of the other Saints to pray for them as I work on their conversions, and also to guide me as I seek materials to help them come to the True Church, the Bride of Christ, a.k.a the Roman Catholic Church.

One of my Protestant friends is currently a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, and using Romans 8 and Romans 9 he explained that predestination is documented in the Bible (which re-reading it in the Navarre Bible confirmed), and also that it was among the ideas St Augustine (pray for me) subscribed to. Furthermore, the Council of Orange declared predestination as part of Church doctrine, but it's teaching on it was more along the lines that God knows who will be saved and who won't be, but God doesn't create people for hell, rather people choose it for themselves and if people are determined to go there, He allows them to. As I understand the Calvinist teaching on predestination, some people are made for heaven, and others are made for hell. If you were made to go to hell, you cannot even ask for God's grace in this present life to stop it from happening, as you have been predestined to not be able to do that.

The Catholic teaching as I understand it is that God knows everything that we do for all time, as the concept of time doesn't exist for Him. He sees where our will takes us, and even if it takes us to eternal separation from Him, and wills our creation anyway. Essentially, we choose evil and choose to run away from His graces, but God will lovingly take us back if we turn to him with a contrite heart.

Do you know what the real truth is on these issues, in particular, am I on the right track with the Calvinist vs. Catholic teaching here?

Pax Christi,

Sean Reynolds
122 Grafton Road,
Grafton, Auckland, New Zealand


Dear Sean,

Good to hear from you and your commitment to Christ and his Church. Predestination is a very difficult teaching - not to mention a difficult concept. What you say seems basically on target to me. Do you have strict Calvinists in New Zealand? I rarely run into them here. Even tho Calvin's doctrine has a certain logic, it is a terrible logic. Have you read Chesterton? He compares the logic of Calvinism to that of the materialist. In a way it explains everything - but it does so by negating everything we know to be true, like human freedom, right and wrong, etc. Chesterton had this to say about the logic of predestination:

"only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health. He could sometimes forget the red and thirsty hell to which his hideous necessitarianism dragged him among the wide waters and the white flat lilies of the Ouse. He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin." (Orthodoxy)

My prayers, Sean. Keep me in yours. God bless, Fr. Bloom

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