predestination

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

predestination

predestination, in theology, doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation. Predestination is posited on the basis of God's omniscience and omnipotence and is closely related to the doctrines of divine providence and grace. A predestinarian doctrine is suggested in St. Paul, but it is not developed (Rom. 8.28–30). St. Augustine's interpretation of the doctrine has been the fountainhead for most subsequent versions, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. Pelagianism argued against St. Augustine that by granting every individual freedom of choice, God wills the salvation of all souls equally, a view that became popular in liberal Protestant theology. The Roman Catholic view, as stated by St. Thomas Aquinas, maintains that God wills the salvation of all souls but that certain souls are granted special grace that in effect foreordains their salvation. The damned may be said to be reprobated to hell only in the sense that God foresees their resistance to the grace given them. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that predestination is consistent with free will since God moves the soul according to its nature. Calvinism, on the other hand, rejects the role of free will and teaches that grace is irresistible and that God by an absolute election saves the souls of some and abandons the souls of others. Jansenism (see under Jansen, Cornelis) was a corresponding predestinarian movement within the Roman Catholic Church. Traditional Jewish theology may be said to be predestinarian in the general sense that everything ultimately depends upon God. Islam teaches an absolute predestination, controlled by a God conceived of as absolute will. See atonement; sin.

See P. Maury, Predestination (1960); J. H. Rainbow, The Will of God and the Cross (1990).

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