Reprobation is the withdrawal by God of supernatural gifts during life or of glory after death. The latter is meant here. So understood, reprobation includes God's knowledge of those who will be lost and His decree to damn them. This decree supposes final sin and its permission by God. Reprobation is God's supernatural providence over those who are lost. The reprobate are called "foreknown," not "predestined," for no one is destined to sin. The term reprobation is used only of adults in Catholic theology, they only being capable of personal sin.
Reprobation is conceived either positively, the intention to punish, or negatively, the intention to deny a person glory, as an undue gift, expressed in three ways: the intention to exclude one from glory, or not to elect one, or to omit one from it.
Positive reprobation of adults in the order of time consequent on their death in personal mortal sin is theologically certain, for it is a dogma of faith that sinners are punished in time [H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer (Freiburg 1963) 1002], and what God does in time He decrees in eternity. All who admit divine providence admit this positive reprobation. It follows also from the description of the Last Judgment, which is found in Mt 25.41–46.
But the theological problem concerns the eternal order of intention. Does God first, antecedently to the foreseen death of some, absolutely intend to punish them and consequently will that they die in sin (antecedent positive or negative reprobation)? supralapsarian (antelapsarian) Calvinists held that God always intended to punish some. infralapsari an (sublapsarian, postlapsarian) Calvinists and Jansenists held that God did so after He foresaw men merely contracting original sin. Catholic theologians unanimously reject these doctrines as false, being in contradiction with God's will to save all, even fallen men, prior to some foreseen condition.
Catholic theologians raise a like question about negative reprobation in the order of intention. Does God absolutely intend to deny glory to some, as an undue gift, and consequently refuse them final efficacious grace, permitting their death in sin?
Most non-Molinists hold God absolutely intends to deny some men glory, as an undue gift, because this fits the divinely preestablished order of the universe and the degree in which He wills His glory manifested; they disagree whether this occurs before or after the contraction of original sin. Some, who otherwise follow Molina, hold the same absolute divine intent, but that it is for other reasons known to God alone, it being a necessary sequel to God's absolute choice of the elect. Strict Molinists reject any form of antecedent reprobation.
The effect of consequent reprobation can be only punishment after death; that of antecedent reprobation can be also privation of efficacious grace and permission of sin during life.
Catholic theologians all agree that God antecedently to some condition wills to save all men. They disagree whether in the order of intention this be simply death in sin or some prior consideration; hence their disagreement concerning antecedent negative reprobation.
See Also: molinism; bÁÑez and baÑezianism; perseverance, final; predestination of god; providence of god.
Bibliography: h. lennerz, De Deo Uno (Rome 1955). r. garrigou–lagrange, The One God, tr. b. rose, (St. Louis 1943).
[f. l. sheerin]