I was studying philosophy in the seminary in the 1970s. In one of our classes, our philosophy professor, a Spanish father, was discussing man’s freewill and God’s pre-determination. God being pure act there is nothing in potency in Him. He knows everything past and future; it is not simply that He knows them, but things happen because He knows them. I asked the learned priest: “since God determines everything, do we have to try hard to avoid sin and obey the commandments using our Free Will? Whatever we will be and how we will do a thing is already known to God and hence every single deed is decided in Him for all eternity.”
The priest was obviously not pleased. He thought about it for some time. He tried to evade the issue saying that everyone has the freedom to do what he pleases and that God does not interfere with the free will of man. But I persisted: “Is there any potency in God? Can anyone change something He knows for all times?
The priest was getting annoyed and he replied quoting St. Augustine: “For those who want to know more, God has prepared a place in hell." The whole class fell silent as there was a vague threat in his statement. After all most of the aspirants for priesthood were from very poor families and they could not afford to go out of the seminary. Priesthood was a good career and a respectable means of livelihood. The stand simply showed the attitude of the Church and its representatives. I replied: “I will, in that case, go to hell and suffer as God wants me to.”
God knows from all eternity who all will go to hell or heaven. He knows too who all will commit adultery, kill, steal, cheat and who all will do good, help others, pray and go to heaven. Then what is the need for all these –churches, sermons, worshipping statues, praying? Can anyone change the Almighty’s determination or knowledge? Looks funny, eh?