Fr. Kimel begins with what I think is an extraordinarily valuable insight: "in Scripture predestination is good news," and he quotes what I think is a particularly beautiful passage from Barth (Church Dogmatics II/2):
In itself, however, [the truth of the Gospel] is light and not darkness. In any case, even under this aspect, the final word is never that of warning, of judgment, of punishment, of a barrier erected, of a grave opened. We cannot speak of it without mentioning all these things. The Yes cannot be heard unless the No is also heard. But the No is said for the sake of the Yes and not for its own sake. In substance, therefore, the first and last word is Yes and not No.Fr. Kimel nicely explicates this notion via the doctrine of the Incarnation:
Because predestination intends Jesus, it intends the Church, the body of Christ, the new Israel and elect company of the twice-born. And because predestination simultaneously intends Jesus, Israel, Mary, and the Church, it also intends the individual believer in Christ, who has been baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord, incorporated into the eschatological community, and made an heir of the kingdom. The gospel of election proclaims to the baptized that through their sacramental incorporation into Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, they participate in the divine Sonship and are destined to be with Christ in his kingdom. Jesus is the elect One of God: united to him we share in his divine election. To be in the Church is to be in Christ; to be in Christ is to be in God; and to be in God is to enjoy eternal salvation in the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.This is salutary for the philosopher who, like me, pedantically persues God through logic as though God can be captured within the formal constraints of the human mind; Fr. Kimel rightly notes what I had been missing: to conceive of the problem of predestination in the way that philosophers usually do is to make a kind of category mistake, or to commit oneself to something that is not a well-formed formula:
At the moment one makes the Augustinian turn and seeks to explain human rejection of the gospel in terms of God’s eternal decrees, the preaching of election becomes impossible. The logic appears inescapable. If salvation is by grace alone, and if some reject Christ to their damnation, does this not mean that God reprobates, directly or indirectly, the damned? But the gospel itself disallows the question. The election of Christ Jesus is the reason why some are saved, but it is not the reason why some are not!Fr. Kimel turns, with the writer Joseph P. Farrell (of "Tesla studies" fame--or infamy, depending on whom you ask), to the thought of St. Maximus the Confessor in the quest for an explanation of this situation. The Maximian solution lies in seeing Christ's redemptive act as saving human nature rather than individual human persons, and ascribing the natural will to that human nature, while the personal will belongs to the individual person. Every natural will, on this account, strives for the good, thanks to the redemptive healing of Christ's sacrifice, but individual persons are still quite capable of choosing something that falls far short of the good, since a healed nature does not guarantee a healed individual capable of using a particular will in the way the healed natural will is structured to be used.
The idea here is a very interesting one. The metaphysics is broadly Neoplatonic, with a natural kind functioning as a kind of singular in which multiple particulars can participate by means of a kind of hypostasis. Just as in Neoplatonism, the singular is unqualifiedly what it is, while the particulars are capable of falling short of it. In the present case, the singular is unqualifiedly redeemed by the sacrificial act of Christ, and particulars may approach ever closer to that state individually by becoming as like to the singular as possible. Since the particulars have a share of the singular, they have a share of the salvation enjoyed by the singular due to Christ's sacrifice; but as particulars they are quite capable of having other properties as well, including a kind of falling short of perfection that, due to our limited free will, can have the effect of turning us away from God rather than towards him.
This sort of "both/and" metaphysics is characteristic of our Trinitarian theology. God is also a singular, and has certain properties, including "being from God/being the God from whom", a sort of bi-valent property that captures the essence of the relations among the three Persons. God the Father is the "God from whom", while God the Son is "God from God". The "both/and" aspect of this kind of metaphysics can be seen most clearly in the debate over the Filioque: since this bi-valent property must always be present in God considered as such, it must also be fully present (that is, both aspects of its valency must be present) in any given Person-pair. Obviously when you consider Father and Son it is present, as it is when you consider Father and Holy Spirit. But what if the pair is Son and Holy Spirit? The Greeks had argued that the Holy Spirit was not really "from the Son", but if, with the Latins, you accept that he is, then in that pairing also you have one Person who is "god from God" (the Holy Spirit) and one Person who is "god from whom" (the Son). The Latin formulation has the advantage of making perfect sense out of the properties that we must ascribe to God as such while at the same time making sense out of the properties that are ascribed to the separate Persons.
Trinitarian metaphysics is necessarily mysterious, because what it attempts to explain is a mystery. But being mysterious is not the same thing as being unintelligible; it means only that intelligibility will require cognitive leaps of the sort that ordinary logic does not sufficiently account for. The human mind is finite and limited, but God is not. We are like the poor folks in the book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions: we are squares contemplating spheres, plane figures tyring to understand three-dimensional space, human beings trying to comprehend God. There will be gaps.