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Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the so-called "paradox of free will", whereby God's omniscience seems incompatible with human free will. In this usage, predestination can be regarded as a form of religious determinism; and usually predeterminism.
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Predestination is the Divine foreordaining or foreknowledge of all that will happen; with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of John Calvin.
Predestination may sometimes be used to refer to other, materialistic, spiritualist, non-theistic or polytheistic ideas of determinism, destiny, fate, doom, or adrsta. Such beliefs or philosophical systems may hold that any outcome is finally determined by the complex interaction of multiple, possibly immanent, possibly impersonal, possibly equal forces, rather than the issue of a Creator's conscious choice.
For example, some[who?] may speak of predestination from a purely physical perspective, such as in a discussion of time travel. In this case, rather than referring to the afterlife, predestination refers to any events that will occur in the future. In a predestined universe the future is immutable and only God's ordained set of events can possibly occur; in a non-predestined universe, the future is mutable. In Chinese Buddhism, predestination is a translation of yuanfen, which does not necessarily imply the existence or involvement of a deity. Predestination in this sense takes on a very literal meaning: pre- (before) and destiny, in a straightforward way indicating that some events seem bound to happen. The term, however, is often used to describe relationships instead of all events in general.
Finally, antithetical to determinism of any kind are theories of the cosmos that assert that any outcome is ultimately unpredictable. The ludibrium of luck, chance, or chaos theory have determinist implications, as a logical consequence of the idea of predictability. But predestination usually refers to a specifically religious type of determinism, especially as found in various monotheistic systems where omniscience is attributed to God, including Christianity and Islam.
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Discussion of predestination usually involves consideration of whether God is omniscient, or eternal or atemporal (free from limitations of time or even causality). In terms of these ideas, God may see the past, present, and future, so that God effectively knows the future. If God in some sense knows ahead of time what will happen, then events in the universe are effectively predetermined from God's point of view. This is a form of determinism but not predestination since the latter term implies that God has actually determined (rather than simply seen) in advance the destiny of creatures.
Within Christendom, there is considerable disagreement about God's role in setting ultimate destinies (that is, eternal life or eternal damnation). Christians who follow teachers such as John Calvin generally accept that God alone decides the eternal destinations of each person without regard to man's choices, so that their future actions or beliefs follow according to God's choice (Romans 9:14-16). A contrasting Christian view maintains that God is completely sovereign over all things but that he chose to give each individual self-determining free will through prevenient grace. Classically, this view is called Arminianism, which holds that each person is able to accept or reject God's offer of salvation and hence God allows man's choice to determine salvation (John 3:16-18).
Judaism may accept the possibility that God is atemporal; some forms of Jewish theology teach this virtually as a principle of faith, while other forms of Judaism do not. Jews may use the term omniscience, or preordination as a corollary of omniscience, but normally reject the idea of predestination as being incompatible with the free will and responsibility of moral agents, and it therefore has no place in their religion.
Islam traditionally has strong views of predestination similar to some found in Christianity. In Islam, God knows what choices humans are going to make and allows the actualization of the consequences of those choices based on his attributes of justice and mercy. Muslims believe that God is literally atemporal, eternal and omniscient.
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A number of speculative ideas have appeared that attempt to explain the relationship between time and eternity, which have bearing on the subject of predestination. Some regard all speculation about predestination and its implications as all alike, pernicious, and offensive to God.
A common pre-Kantian idea of time and eternity, describes "eternity" as a trans-temporal mode of being - such that all the moments of time are in some sense present in eternity. God looks into the realm of temporal reality from outside of it, as though it were a surface or a line stretched out: the edges or ends of which are fully "visible" to God, so that He is in a somewhat spatial sense "omnipresent" with regard to time. In such a speculative view, the past, present and future are all in some sense simultaneously present in the eternal perspective of God. From a temporal point of view, the past seems to disappear and the future doesn't yet exist, and God always appears to act from moment to moment. But from an eternal perspective, there is nothing temporal about time. Non-determinism is not possible on such a view, but predestination may be excluded if the belief system does not permit the direct interference of the non-temporal God and the temporal plane of existence.
Some belief systems allow for the possibility that only God and the present moment are the sum of what is "real". The past persists only in its effects, and the future does not yet exist, and thus only the present is directly knowable. Further, the "eternity" of God is presumed by some not to be accessible to understanding, and therefore no speculation can be meaningfully based upon it.
Nevertheless, these belief systems may retain an idea of God's decision eternally determining the present or future, in the sense of God's decision being logically prior, or "transcendentally necessary" to all existence. Time is not a "thing", but rather, a succession of the intersections of God's manifold purposes being revealed in the creation. Time is the succession of events, identified as moments by an intentional, mental act of setting one event apart from another and noticing their relation to one another - but, otherwise time does not exist as irreducible, discrete moments. Time is coherent, because God consistently acts according to his own character.
Strong predestinarian views are basically undisturbed by these assumptions, because strong predestination is based upon God's knowledge of Himself and of His own purposes. The effect of these new views of time are more clearly seen among those who reject strong predestinarian views, because those views classically share a comparable conception of the relation between time and eternity.
Predestinarian version: God, in comparison to temporality, always is. Temporal things however, exist from each fleeting moment of being to the next, only in the present. Such a conception of reality may be thoroughly predestinarian, if God is the personal cause of continued existence and the orchestrator or determiner of the relationship between each present event and each subsequent present event; but, it is only predestination if in this conception God acts with absolute freedom and entire knowledge of Himself. God brings to pass each moment in its turn by a continuous, timeless act of self-revelation. God sustains the effectiveness of all secondary causes and choices, and so on. Thus, each moment is a disclosure of God's character. The meaning of time and experience is disclosed not in the subjective relation of the present to the past and the future, but rather, because of the relation of all created things, in every aspect, to the will of God. As a logical consequence, the meaning of history is known only through the knowledge of God (an idea similar to this can be found in the speculations of Augustine of Hippo and some Calvinist philosophers, such as Herman Dooyeweerd).
Anti-predestinarian version: If the idea of absolute freedom and entire self-knowledge is absent from this kind of idea of God's acts in time, then God Himself is (to express the idea anthropomorphically) becoming something new, or discovering something new about Himself with each new moment, just as we are. It's as though God is waking up to the possibilities that are inherent in temporally limited acts, and like an artist developing his ideas in dynamic interaction with an ever-changing medium, He is making new discoveries about himself every day. A summary of such a view might be that, the present is an encounter "in God" with new possibilities (where "God" is sometimes not understood "theistically", in the sense of a "person"), and the past is thus a record or remembrance "by God" of the experiences of existent beings. Or, put another way, the past is what God has thus far become in the process of all experience, and the future is pure possibility. Predestination is completely excluded from such a system, except possibly in the most broad outlines of God's intentions. God's decision, on such a view, is an inventive experience, almost precisely equivalent to the unfolding process of historical events (thinking like this can be found in modern process theology and open theism).
There are other types of Christian or Christian-influenced belief, which exclude the personality, or the volitional aspect of the personality of God, so that even if they express some form of determinism, it is not predestination in a theistic sense.
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Predestination may be described under two types, with the basis for each found within their definition of free will. Between these poles, there is a complex variety of systematic differences, particularly difficult to describe because the foundational terms are not strictly equivalent between systems. The two poles of predestinarian belief may be usefully described in terms of their doctrinal comparison between the Creator's freedom, and the creature's freedom. These can be contrasted as either univocal, or equivocal conceptions of freedom.
In terms of ultimates, with God's decision to create as the ultimate beginning, and the ultimate outcome, a belief system has a doctrine of predestination if it teaches:
There are numerous ways to describe the spectrum of beliefs concerning predestination in Christian thinking. To some extent, this spectrum has analogies in other monotheistic religions, although in other religions the term "predestination" may not be used. For example, teaching on predestination may vary in terms of three considerations.
Furthermore, the same sort of considerations apply to the freedom of man's will.
The univocal conception of freedom holds that human will is free of cause, even though creaturely[clarification needed] in character. These belief systems hold that the Creator (or, in some cases, Nature or Evolution) has fashioned a system of absolute freedom: human volition that features a free and independent nature.
On the other end of the spectrum is the position that the Creator (or a foreign Being, object, etc.) exercises absolute control over human will and/or that all decisions originate with some outside cause, leaving no room for freedom.
At the other end of the spectrum are analogical conceptions of freedom. These versions of predestination hold that individual choice is not excluded from the fashioning work of the Creator. Man's will is free because it is determined, boundaried or created by God. In other words, apart from God's will determining man's will in a divine sense, only chaos or enslavement to mindless and impersonal forces is possible. Man's will may be called free and responsible, but not in an absolute sense; the choice of good or of evil must be uncoerced to be free, but it is never uncreated or uncaused. The likeness of creaturely freedom to divine freedom is analogical, not univocal.
It is important to note that among predestinarians there is no significant representation for the idea that human choices are unreal, but merely that they are the direct expression of the Creator's will. The analogy implied here means that however else human and divine freedom may be comparable, there is an unlikeness between the free will of the Creator and human freedom, which depends on the Creator for existence and power. With no significant exception, when predestinarians deny that man has freedom of will, it is to deny that man's will is free in the same sense as the Creator's will, or to affirm that man's choices are entirely subject to divine causation. That men are responsible without being absolutely original is particularly true in these systems, if they acknowledge a doctrine of Original Sin, whereby every person is understood to be born into a condition of helplessness under the power or the effects of sin; for whom, either through inherited guilt, or the inherited consequences of guilt, a purely free choice of the good is not possible without the aid of God's undeserved grace.
Traditional Islam holds to the powerlessness of human will, apart from the aid of Allah, and yet without a doctrine of Original Sin. Thus, Islam has a simpler version of predestination, viewing all that comes to pass as the will of Allah. And yet, the Qur'an affirms human responsibility, saying for example: "Allah changeth not the condition of a people until they change what is in their hearts". There is no significant view of predestination that entirely relieves man of responsibility for his own choices.
Therefore, all significant versions of predestination account for the differences between people (perhaps in life or, in death, or both) by reference to the will of the Creator. Also, all versions of predestination incorporate into the doctrine various concepts of human responsibility, which differ from one another in terms of the kind of volitional freedom possible for the creature.
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Christians understand the doctrine of predestination in terms of God's work of salvation in the world. The doctrine is a tension between the divine perspective in which God saves those whom he chooses (the elect) from eternity apart from human action and the human perspective in which each person is responsible for his or her choice to accept or reject God. The views on predestination within Christianity vary somewhat in emphasis on one of these two perspectives.
The early Church Fathers consistently uphold the freedom of human choice. This position was crucial in the Christian confrontation with Cynicism and some of the chief forms of Gnosticism, such as Manichaeism, which taught that man is by nature flawed and therefore not responsible for evil in himself or in the world. At the same time, belief in human responsibility to do good as a precursor to salvation and eternal reward was consistent. The decision to do good along with God's aid pictured a synergism of the human will and God's will. The early Church Fathers taught a doctrine of conditional predestination.
Augustine of Hippo marks the beginning of a system of thought that denies free will (with respect to salvation) and affirms that salvation needs an initial input by God in the life of every person. While his early writings affirm that God's predestinating grace is granted on the basis of his foreknowledge of the human desire to pursue salvation, this changed after 396. His later position affirmed the necessity of God granting grace in order for the desire for salvation to be awakened. However, Augustine does argue (against the Manicheans) that humans have free will; however, their will is so distorted, and the Fall is so extensive, that in the postlapsarian world they can only choose evil.
Augustine's position raised objections. Julian bishop of Eclanum, expressed the view that Augustine was bringing Manichean thoughts into the church. For Vincent of Lérins, this was a disturbing innovation. This new tension eventually became obvious with the confrontation between Augustine and Pelagius culminating in condemnation of Pelagianism (as interpreted by Augustine) at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The British monk Pelagius denied Augustine's view of "predestination" in order to affirm that salvation is achieved by an act of free will.
The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition has never adopted the Augustinian view of predestination, and formed a doctrine of predestination by another historical route, sometimes called Semi-Pelagianism in the West. The Western Church, including the Catholic and Protestant denominations, are predominantly Augustinian in some form, especially as interpreted by Gregory the Great and the Second Council of Orange (a Western council that anathemitized Semi- Pelagianism as represented in some of the writings of John Cassian and his followers). This council explicitly denies double predestination.
In Catholic doctrine, the accepted understanding of predestination most predominantly follows the interpretation of Thomas Aquinas, and can be contrasted with the Jansenist interpretation of Augustinianism, which was condemned by the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation. The only important branch of Western Christianity that continues to hold to a double predestination interpretation of Augustinianism, is within the Calvinist branch of the Protestant Reformation. The meaning of this term is discussed under the subsection on Calvinism, below.
In broad Christian conversation, predestination refers to the view of predestination commonly associated with John Calvin and the Calvinist branch of the Protestant Reformation; and, this is the non-technical sense in which the term is typically used today, when belief in predestination is affirmed or denied.
Augustine's formulation is neither complete nor universally accepted by Christians. But his system laid the foundation onto virgin ground for the then later writers and innovators of the Reformation period.
Conditional Predestination, or more commonly referred to as conditional election, is a theological stance stemming from the writings and teachings of Jacobus Arminius, after whom Arminianism is named. Arminius studied under the staunch Reformed scholar Theodore Beza, whose views of election, Arminius eventually argued, could not reconcile freedom with moral responsibility.
Arminius used a philosophy called Molinism (named for the philosopher Luis de Molina) that attempted to reconcile freedom with God's omniscience. They both saw human freedom in terms of the Libertarian philosophy: man's choice is not decided by God's choice, thus God's choice is "conditional", depending on what man chooses. Arminius saw God "looking down the corridors of time" to see the free choices of man, and choosing those who will respond in faith and love to God's love and promises, revealed in Jesus.
Arminianism sees the choice of Christ as an impossibility, apart from God's grace; and the freedom to choose is given to all, because God's prevenient grace is universal (given to everyone). Therefore, God predestines on the basis of foreknowledge of how some will respond to his universal love ("conditional"). In contrast, Calvinism views universal grace as resistible and not sufficient for leading to salvation—or denies universal grace altogether—and instead supposes grace that leads to salvation to be particular and irresistible, given to some but not to others on the basis of God's predestinating choice ("unconditional"). This is also known as "double-predestination."
Temporal predestination is the view that God only determines temporal matters, and not eternal ones. This Christian view is analogous to the traditional Jewish view, which distinguishes between preordination and predestination. Temporal matters are pre-ordained by God, but eternal matters, being supra-temporal, are subject to absolute freedom of choice.
Infralapsarianism (also called sublapsarianism) holds that predestination logically coincides with the preordination of Man's fall into sin. That is, God predestined sinful men for salvation. Therefore according to this view, God is the "ultimate cause", but not the "proximate source" or "author" of sin. Infralapsarians often emphasize a difference between God's decree (which is inviolable and inscrutable), and his revealed will (against which man is disobedient). Proponents also typically emphasize the grace and mercy of God toward all men, although teaching also that only some are predestined for salvation.
In common English parlance, the doctrine of predestination often has particular reference to the doctrines of Calvinism. The version of predestination espoused by John Calvin, after whom Calvinism is named, is sometimes referred to as "double predestination" because in it God predestines some people for salvation (i.e. Unconditional election) and some for condemnation (i.e. Reprobation). Calvin himself defines predestination as "the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. Not all are created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death.".
On the spectrum of beliefs concerning predestination, Calvinism is the strongest form among Christians. It teaches that God's predestining decision is based on the knowledge of His own will rather than foreknowledge, concerning every particular person and event; and, God continually acts with entire freedom, in order to bring about his will in completeness, but in such a way that the freedom of the creature is not violated, "but rather, established"
Calvinists who hold the infralapsarian view of predestination usually prefer that term to "sublapsarianism," perhaps with the intent of blocking the inference that they believe predestination is on the basis of foreknowledge (sublapsarian meaning, assuming the fall into sin). The different terminology has the benefit of distinguishing the Calvinist double predestination version of infralapsarianism from Lutheranism's view that predestination is a mystery, which forbids the unprofitable intrusion of prying minds.
Drawing on Luther's "Bondage of the Will" written in his debate over free will with Erasmus, Lutherans hold doctrinally to a view of single predestination. That is to say, desiring to save all fallen human beings, God sent his Son Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of the whole world on the cross. Those God saves have been predestined from eternity in Christ. Those who are condemned are condemned because of their fallen will. While these statements may seem like they contradict each other, this is what Luther saw as the essential and major story-line within scripture and didn't attempt to systematically or logically "fix" it. The underlying question here is, of course, if God wants all to be saved and Jesus died for everyone, why doesn't God convert the fallen will of all? This is a question that Lutherans, following Luther, put into the category of the "hidden God", the God "behind the cross" whom we don't know everything about. The answer to the question lies within God's "hidden counsel" that we are to have nothing to do with. If we doubt our own predestination, we should look for it in the God who has revealed himself in the wounds of Christ on the cross and there see a God who loved us enough to die for us. For Lutherans, systematic treatment of predestination follows the Gospel (What God has done for us in Jesus Christ) rather than being a topic discussed prior to the Gospel. As such, the sole purpose of predestination is to reinforce "Justification by Grace through Faith solely on account of Christ". Believers are reminded "you didn't choose God, God chose you in Christ!"
Supralapsarianism is the doctrine that God's decree of predestination for salvation and reprobation logically precedes his preordination of the human race's fall into sin. That is, God decided to save, and to damn; he then determined the means by which that would be made possible. It is a matter of controversy whether or not Calvin himself held this view, but most scholars link him with the infralapsarian position. It is known, however, that Calvin's successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, held to the supralapsarian view.
Advocates of open theism, like most who affirm conditional predestination, understand predestination to be as corporate. In corporate election, God does not choose which individuals he will save prior to creation, but rather God chooses the church as a whole. Or put differently, God chooses what type of individuals he will save. Another way the New Testament puts this is to say that God chose the church in Christ (Eph. 1:4). In other words, God chose from all eternity to save all those who would be found in Christ, by faith in God. This choosing is not primarily about salvation from eternal destruction either but is about God's chosen agency in the world. Thus individuals have full freedom in terms of whether they become members of the church or not. Corporate election is thus consistent with the open view's position on God's omniscience, which states that the outcomes of individual free will cannot be known specifically before they are performed since who becomes a Christian is a matter of free will and not knowable.
Lutherans believe that the elect are predestined to salvation. Lutherans believe Christians should be assured that they are among the predestined. However, they disagree with those who make predestination the source of salvation rather than Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection. Unlike some Calvinists, Lutherans do not believe in a predestination to damnation. Instead, Lutherans teach eternal damnation is a result of the unbeliever's sins, rejection of the forgiveness of sins, and unbelief. Martin Luther's attitude towards predestination is set out in his On the Bondage of the Will, published in 1525. This publication by Luther was in response to the published treatise by Desiderius Erasmus in 1524 known as On Free Will. Luther based his views on Ephesians 2:8-10, which says: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
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The Belgic Confession of 1561 affirmed that God "delivers and preserves" from perdition "all whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable council, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without respect to their works" (Article XVI).
In this common, loose sense of the term, to affirm or to deny predestination has particular reference to the Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Election. In the Calvinist interpretation of the Bible, this doctrine normally has only pastoral value related to the assurance of salvation and the absolution of salvation by grace alone. However, the philosophical implications of the doctrine of election and predestination are sometimes discussed beyond these systematic bounds. Under the topic of the doctrine of God (theology proper), the predestinating decision of God cannot be contingent upon anything outside of Himself, because all other things are dependent upon Him for existence and meaning. Under the topic of the doctrines of salvation (soteriology), the predestinating decision of God is made from God's knowledge of his own will (Romans 9:15), and is therefore not contingent upon human decisions (rather, free human decisions are outworkings of the decision of God, which sets the total reality within which those decisions are made in exhaustive detail: that is, nothing left to chance). Calvinists do not pretend to understand how this works; but they are insistent that the Scriptures teach both the sovereign control of God and the responsibility and freedom of human decisions (see "Equivocal or analogical concepts of freedom" above).
This view is commonly called double predestination, although within a Calvinist system this term is usually accepted only with qualifications, and many reject the term altogether as being incompatible with the pastoral use of the doctrine of election.
Double predestination is the eternal act of God, whereby the future of every particular person in the human race has been determined beforehand, by God. Whatever the individual wills or does, for good or for evil, is conceived as performing a functional part, or outworking of that ordained purpose. This prior determination applies to both, the elect and the reprobate. This idea is formed on an interpretation of various Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments. Romans 9 is frequently quoted in explanation of the doctrine.
Calvinist groups use the term "Hyper-Calvinism" to describe Calvinistic systems that assert without qualification that God's intention to destroy some is equal to His intention to save others. Some forms of Hyper-Calvinism have racial implications, against which other Calvinists vigorously object (see Afrikaner Calvinism). The Dutch settlers of South Africa claimed that the Blacks were members of the non-elect, because they were the sons of Ham, whom Noah had cursed to be slaves, according to Genesis 9:18-19. The Dutch Calvinist theologian Franciscus Gomarus also argued that Jews, because of their refusal to worship Jesus Christ, were members of the non-elect. According to I John 2:22-23, anyone who refuses to believe that Jesus is the Christ is an antichrist. This is what I John 2: 22-23 says: "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also." Martin Luther published in 1543 On the Jews and Their Lies, in which he denounced the Jews for their failure to convert to Christianity.
Expressed sympathetically, the Calvinist doctrine is that God has mercy or withholds it, with particular consciousness of who are to be the recipients of mercy in Christ. Therefore, the particular persons are chosen, out of the total number of human beings, who will be rescued from enslavement to sin and the fear of death, and from punishment due to sin, to dwell forever in His presence. Those who are being saved are assured through the gifts of faith, the sacraments, and communion with God through prayer and increase of good works, that their reconciliation with Him through Christ is settled by the sovereign determination of God's will. God also has particular consciousness of those who are passed over by His selection, who are without excuse for their rebellion against Him, and will be judged for their sins.
By implication, and expressed unsympathetically, the number of the elect subtracted from the total number, leaves an exact number of those who are consciously passed over by the mercy of God, who will dwell forever away from His presence, without regard to anything that otherwise distinguishes people from one another. All are believed to be undeserving, whether they are rich or poor, male or female, murderers or philanthropists, or any other difference. In other words, God determines the exact numbers of the damned and the saved, and these numbers are consciously known and indeed, decided upon by God, before any of these individuals have begun to exist.
Thus, Calvinists may acknowledge with qualifications that, double predestination is a legitimate position, logically deduced from any form of single predestination that does not include universal salvation.
Calvinists typically divide on the issue of predestination into infralapsarians (sometimes called 'sublapsarians') and supralapsarians. Infralapsarians interpret the biblical election of God to highlight his love (1 John 4:8; Ephesians 1:4b-5a) and chose his elect considering the situation after the Fall, while supralapsarians interpret biblical election to highlight God's sovereignty (Romans 9:16) and that the Fall was ordained by God's decree of election. In infralapsarianism, election is God's response to the Fall, while in supralapsarianism the Fall is part of God's plan for election. In spite of the division, many Calvinist theologians would consider the debate surrounding the infra- and supralapsarian positions one in which scant Scriptural evidence can be mustered in either direction, and that, at any rate, has little effect on the overall doctrine.
Some Calvinists decline from describing the eternal decree of God in terms of a sequence of events or thoughts, and many caution against the simplifications involved in describing any action of God in speculative terms. Most make distinctions between the positive manner in which God chooses some to be recipients of grace, and the manner in which grace is consciously withheld so that some are destined for everlasting punishments.
Debate concerning predestination according to the common usage, concerns the destiny of the damned, whether God is just if that destiny is settled prior to the existence of any actual violition of the individual, and whether the individual is in any meaningful sense responsible for his destiny if it is settled by the eternal action of God.
Arminians hold that God does not predetermine, but instead infallibly knows who will believe and perseveringly be saved. This view is known as Conditional Election, because it states that election is conditional on the one who wills to have faith in God for salvation. Although God knows from the beginning of the world who will go where, the choice is still with the individual. The Dutch Calvinist theologian Franciscus Gomarus strongly opposed the views of Jacobus Arminius with his doctrine of supralapsarian predestination.
Critics of the Arminian belief might also believe it supports the concept that God actually created evil. If God knows from the beginning of the world who will go where, why did he bring into existence those he knows will be condemned? So, if he knows person A's 'choices' will ultimately lead him to be lost, then why bring person A into existence?
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Barthians espouse a view of predestination that attempts to circumvent the antithesis between Augustinianism and Pelagianism. In the Barthian scheme, predestination only properly applies to God Himself. Thus, humanity is chosen for salvation in Jesus Christ, at the permanent cost of God's self-surrendered hiddenness, or transcendence. Thus, the redemption of all mankind is a devoutly hoped-for possibility, but the only inevitability is that God has predestined Himself, in Jesus Christ, to be revealed and given for human salvation.
This table summarizes the classical views of three different Protestant beliefs.
|Election||Unconditional election to salvation only||Unconditional election to salvation only, with reprobation (passing over)||Conditional election in view of foreseen faith or unbelief|
Roman Catholicism also teaches the doctrine of predestination, while rejecting the classical Calvinist view known as "double predestination." This means that while it is held that those whom God has elected to eternal life will infallibly attain it, and are therefore said to be predestined to salvation by God, those who perish are not predestined to damnation The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Predestination says,:
The Catholic Catechism says:
Nevertheless, certain Catholics in the seventeenth and eighteenth century who followed a movement called Jansenism believed in double predestination, which was condemned by the Vatican as a heretical movement.
Roman Catholics on Predestination
St. Augustine of Hippo laid the foundation for much of the later Catholic teaching on predestination. His teachings on grace and free will were largely adopted by the Second Council of Orange (529), whose decrees were directed against the Semipelagians. Augustine wrote, "[God] promised not from the power of our will but from His own predestination. For He promised what He Himself would do, not what men would do. Because, although men do those good things which pertain to God’s worship, He Himself makes them to do what He has commanded; it is not they that cause Him to do what He has promised. Otherwise the fulfilment of God’s promises would not be in the power of God, but in that of men" John Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion claims the authority of St. Augustine for his own teaching on predestination. However, while adopting some of St. Augustine's ideas and arguments, Calvin's denial of free will, and hence his adoption of double predestination, is not consistent with Augustine's. For example, in "On Grace and Free Will," (see especially chapters II-IV) St. Augustine states that "He [God] has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in man a free choice of will," and that "God's precepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will, so that by performing them he might obtain the promised rewards." (chap. II)
Thomas Aquinas views concerning predestination are largely in agreement with Augustine and can be summarized by many of his writings in his Summa Theologiae:
"God does reprobate some. For it was said above (A) that predestination is a part of providence. To providence, however, it belongs to permit certain defects in those things which are subject to providence, as was said above (Q, A). Thus, as men are ordained to eternal life through the providence of God, it likewise is part of that providence to permit some to fall away from that end; this is called reprobation. Thus, as predestination is a part of providence, in regard to those ordained to eternal salvation, so reprobation is a part of providence in regard to those who turn aside from that end. Hence reprobation implies not only foreknowledge, but also something more, as does providence, as was said above (Q, A). Therefore, as predestination includes the will to confer grace and glory; so also reprobation includes the will to permit a person to fall into sin, and to impose the punishment of damnation on account of that sin."
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Some biblical verses often used as sources for Christian beliefs in predestination are below. Note that most of these verses do not distinguish between the conditional election (Arminian) and unconditional election (Calvinist), but are simply evidence of some type of election.
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Some biblical verses often used as sources for Christian beliefs in free will are below:
Note, however, that II Peter 3:1 and 3:8 address the "beloved," which are assumed to be the elect, or Christians. Therefore, the context may determine that II Peter 3:9 means "...but that all 'the elect' should come to repentance." This could mean that God will not lose even one of those he has chosen for salvation. This concept may be supported in John 10:28: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand."
Furthermore, Martin Luther wrote in his book "Bondage of the Will" that the "imperative does not imply the indicative." In other words, just because God commands us to believe does not indicate that we are capable of it.
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In Islam, "predestination" is the usual English language rendering of a belief that Muslims call al-qada wa al-qadar in Arabic. The phrase means "the divine decree and the predestination". Despite the fact that Free will and predestination have always been conflicting topics in the thought of certain sects that – according to Sunni thought (Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jama'a) – have gone astray from the true Islamic doctrine; Sunni Muslims believe there is no conflict whatsoever between Free will and Predestination.
It is, however, a difficult concept to understand and translate. In Islam, Allah has predetermined, known, ordained, and is constantly creating every event that takes place in the world. This is entailed by His being omnipotent and omniscient. In Sahihul Bukhary, a chapter is dedicated to authenticated Scripture in this regard, under the title "The creation of humans' Deeds". Sunni scholars hold that there is no contradiction in people's deeds (and naturally their choices) being created and predetermined by the creator, since they define free will to be the antonym of compulsion and coercion. People – in the Sunni perspective – do acknowledge that they are free, since they do not see anybody or anything forcing them to do whatever they chose to do. This, however, does not contradict with the belief that everything they do, including the choices they make, are predestined and predetermined by Allah. Consequently, people are already predestined to either heaven or hell at birth, as Sunnis believe; however, they will have no argument on the day of judgment since they never knew in advance what their fate would be, and they do acknowledge that they have choice; which is what moral responsibility comes with.
The concept of human will being predetermined by Allah's will is stated clearly in the Quran: "Verily this (The Holy Quran) is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds; (With profit) to whoever among you wills to go straight, but ye shall not will except as God wills; the Cherisher of the Worlds."
Although comparable in broad terms, the differences between Christian and Islamic ideas of predestination are complex. These differences are due to the distinctives of each faith's belief system. In broad terms, the doctrine of predestination refers to inevitability as a general principle, and usually more particularly refers to the exercise of God's will as it relates to the future of members of the human race, considered either as groups or as individuals, with special concern for issues of human responsibility as it relates to the sovereignty of God. Predestination always involves issues of the Creator's personality and will; and consequently, the different versions of the doctrine of predestination go hand in hand with appropriately different conceptions of the contribution any creature is able to make toward its own present condition, or future destiny.
Generally speaking Reform Judaism has no strong doctrine of predestination. Some critics[who?] claim that the idea that God is omnipotent and omniscient didn't formally exist in Judaism during the Biblical Era (mostly before the Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC)), but rather was a later development due to the influence of neo-Platonic and neo-Aristotelian philosophy. Some modern Jewish thinkers in the 20th century (for example, Martin Buber) have resolved the dialectical tension by holding that God is simply not omnipotent, in the commonly used sense of that word. These thinkers are primarily not Orthodox Jews. Orthodox Jewish rabbis generally affirm that God must be viewed as omnipotent, but they have varying definitions of what the word omnipotent means. Thus one finds that some Modern Orthodox theologians[who?] have views that are essentially the same as non-Orthodox theologians, but they use different terminology.
One noted Jewish philosopher, Hasdai Crescas, resolved this dialectical tension by taking the position that free-will doesn't exist. Hence all of a person's actions are pre-determined by the moment of their birth, and thus their judgment in the eyes of God (so to speak) is effectively pre-ordained. However in this scheme this is not a result of God's predetermining one's fate, but rather from the view that the universe is deterministic. Crescas's views on this topic were rejected by Judaism at large. In later centuries this idea independently developed among some in the Chabad (Lubavitch) movement of Hasidic Judaism. Many individuals within Chabad take this view seriously, and hence effectively deny the existence of free will.
However, many Chabad (Lubavitch) Jews attempt to hold both views. They affirm as infallible their rebbe's teachings that God knows and controls the fate of all, yet at the same time affirm the classical Jewish belief in free-will (i.e. no such thing as determinism). The inherent contradiction between the two results in their belief that such contradictions are only "apparent", due to man's inherent lack of ability to understand greater truths and due to the fact that Creator and Created exist in different realities.
One does not have to be a Chabad Hassid to believe in this, however. It is enough to read the statement in Pirkei Avot: "Everything is predetermined but freedom of will is given." The same idea is strongly repeated by Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, Chapter 5).
Many other Jews (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular) affirm that since free-will exists, then by definition one's fate is not preordained. It is held as a tenet of faith that whether God is omniscient or not, nothing interferes with mankind's free will. Some Jewish theologians, both during the medieval era and today, have attempted to formulate a philosophy in which free will is preserved, while also affirming that God has knowledge of what decisions people will make in the future. Whether or not these two ideas are mutually compatible, or whether there is a contradiction between the two, is still a matter of great study and interest in philosophy today.
In Rabbinic literature, there is much discussion as to the apparent contradiction between God's omniscience and free will. The representative view is that "Everything is foreseen; yet free will is given" (Rabbi Akiva, Pirkei Avoth 3:15). Based on this understanding, the problem is formally described as a paradox, perhaps beyond our understanding.