What hath St. Thomas to do with predestination? Dr. Taylor Patrick O’Neill joins Matt and Derek to discuss his recent book, Grace, Predestination, and the Permission of Sin: A Thomistic Analysis, to examine the Thomist understanding of predestination and how it compares to other protestant forms.

Note: this episode was recorded before the coronavirus spiraled in the US, hence Matt and Derek’s introductory comments; however, as the conversation turns to the doctrine of concursus and how God’s actions in history relate with human actions and natural events, it is no less pertinent.


Intro + How close is Thomas to Calvin on predestination? [0:00 – 9:50]

How can we distinguish between God’s “motions” in good acts and allowance of evil acts? [9:50 – 17:00]

If God upholds all reality, how do we keep clear from the fact that God sustains us in our sinful motions but is not himself responsible? [17:00 – 21:40]

How does Thomas’s account of permission compare with a Molinist account? [21:40 – 24:05]

How can average folks discuss these issues without going back and mastering Aristotle and how a classical theistic view on sovereignty cashes out morally [24:05 – 46:48]

What is the place of Christology in these discussions, and what kind of pastoral freight might this have? + Conclusion [46:48 – 52:38]

Resources mentioned:

Grace, Predestination, and the Permission of Sin: A Thomistic Analysis

The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas by Étienne Gilson


If you’re interested in supporting the show financially, you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow DerekAndrew, and Alastair for more tweet-sized brilliance. Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

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Posted by Caleb Wait

Caleb Wait (MATS, Westminster Seminary California) is a writer and the producer of Mere Fidelity. He and his wife Kristin have two children and live in Northern California. You can follow him on Twitter @calebwait and he invites you to email him at ciwait93@gmail.com.


  1. Great episode! My favorite part was Dr. O’Neill’s analogy between (actual) arguments about God’s goodness and (hypothetical) arguments about God’s being to show the absurdity of the open theism position. I don’t think I’d ever heard or thought of that point before, but it’s a good one. Keep up the good work, y’all.


  2. Thanks for this episode. I’m still a bit unclear on whether Dr. O’Neill’s position is in line with the Westminster Confession of Faith. Could a good Presbyterian who holds to the Confession describe election using these Thomistic categories?


    1. I too would like to see something like this. My hope was some kind of two-way glossary, translating Thomistic terms to Calvinistic and vice-versa.


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