What About Predestination?

The Presbyterian Church (USA) no longer believes in double predestination, or the idea that God predestines some to salvation and some to condemnation.

Even predestination of a Lutheran type–some are predestined to salvation, but no one is predestined to condemnation–is taught, but I’m given to understand that you don’t have to believe it to be Presbyterian.

I believe in a more Orthodox view: God works on every one of us.  He makes the first move.  It is up to us to decide; because he loves us, he will not force us.

This is closer to Arminianism and different from Pelagianism, which puts everything on man’s decision, while God sits back and waits.

Predestination–as in, God determines who will be saved, based on His own unknown reasons–was not a biblical doctrine: It arose in the Latin church, particularly with St. Augustine’s writings.

The Early Church Fathers said that we can’t take texts used to support predestination “at face value without leading to unacceptable deductions about God who is loving and just, and not arbitrary” (Theodore G. Stylianopoulos, The New Testament: An Orthodox Perspective).

St. Justin Martyr and St. John Damascene both criticized the view that God decides who will be damned and who will be blessed, arguing that it would make God unjust.  Apparently, this view of “fate” came from paganism.

Rather, God gave us free will to make up our own minds.  Before the Reformation, occasionally, someone would teach double predestination, and be proclaimed a heretic.  If not for Luther and Calvin, double predestination would probably never have taken such a hold in Christian thought.  (Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr., Free Will and Predestination)

In this PCUSA article on atonement, limited atonement (Calvinist) is not mentioned; it is more Orthodox and even says our goal of being is communion with God.

Article on Presbyterians and Predestination

Written between probably 2005 and 2006

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church