the act of predestinatingthe state of being predestinated

2: the doctrine that God in consequence of his foreknowledge of all events infallibly guides those who are destined for salvation

mid-14c., predestinacioun, “the action of God in foreordaining certain of mankind through grace to salvation or eternal life,” from Old French predestinacion and directly from Church Latin praedestinationem (nominative praedestinatio) “a determining beforehand,” noun of action from past-participle stem of praedestinare “set before as a goal; appoint or determine beforehand,” from Latin prae “before” (see pre-) + destinare “appoint, determine” (see destine (v.)).

The Latin word was first used in the theological sense by Augustine; given prominence by Calvin. Related: Predestinarian “one who believes in the doctrine of predestination” (1660s).

Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his onlybegotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity. [From article xvii of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England]


Merriam-Webster’s definition leaves much to be desired in its handling of predestination. Nevertheless, you do see an interpretation that certain adherents do hold to on predestination in definition 2. Compare this to what we get from Eytmonline and we see contrast very quickly. The dictionary idea presented bases predestination on God’s foreknowledge. However, in Eytmonline, we see God actively working and choosing the predestined beforehand.

Both God’s foreknowledge and God’s sovereign choosing are understandable conclusions for what is God’s predestination. However, the God’s foreknowledge angle proves to be more of a logical assumption as we are not expressly told what all goes into His “counsel secret to us.” Those who ahere to the foreknowledge description are often doing it out of a concern of preserving man’s free will. They are concerned that the only alternative is for man to be little more than God’s puppets. To be clear, man certainly has a will. Even so, taking the foreknowledge angle introduces a questionable limiting of God as it brings into question His absolute sovereignty–having to submit Himself to what will happen in time and work with that to achieve His aims. As much as we may desire to know the inner workings as to how God can choose sovereignly despite our clear ability to make our own choices, it makes sense to consider it safer to stick to what we explicitly know here from God’s Word and leave the rest up to mystery. There is wonder and awe that we can share in the mysteries surrounding God and His revealed truth.

In the end, the Eytmonline take on predestination appears to be the most faithful description. The inclusion of the 39 Articles statement is particular helpful.

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