Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Second Advisor

Joseph A. Murphy

Third Advisor

A. Tallon

Fourth Advisor

Dean R. Fowler


The discussion of fundamental option is theologically rooted in Scholastic questions about the fate of those free from mortal sin but dying with original and venial sin on their souls. It was generally agreed that such persons could not be admitted to Heaven because they were still in the state of original sin but did not deserve Hell because they had not died in mortal sin. Venial sins were not considered of sufficient magnitude to warrant Hell yet were sufficient to exclude the possibility, of such persons going to Limbo which was reserved for those who. still possessed original sin but died prior to committing any actual sin. Thus, such persons appeared unsuited for Heaven, Hell, or Limbo. Consequently, some denied the possibility of being sent to Hell for original sin and venial sin. One perspective argued that God's Providence would not allow individuals to pass from this world until they made a decisive option which would constitute mortal sin or a turning to God. This answer, however, placed the burden of responsibility on God's Providence. Another perspective agreed that the situation of a person to the very nature of man himself for the answer. Because man is what he is, he cannot live nor die in this indeterminate situation. Thomas Aquinas accepted the position in which the burden of responsibility falls on man so that moral life begins with a decisive option for good or evil with all acts prior to this point not sinful.




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