Is Predestination in the Bible?
The Church rejects any suggestion of the “predestination” doctrine, and yet I seem to detect such suggestion in Scripture. “My Father, who has given them to me” (John 10:29) and “as many as were ordained to eternal life” (Acts 13:48) are just two instances. Could you comment, please.
The first Eucharistic Prayer in the Roman Missal contains the petition: “Save us from final damnation and count us among those you have chosen.”
These words plainly express that the Church does believe in predestination because our redemption is wholly dependent on God’s generous will and not on us.
This does not lead to the conclusion that those not so chosen are automatically predestined to final damnation. Such an idea would contradict St Paul’s teaching that God wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).
Historically, the problem of the doctrine of predestination is how our infinite God can create a finite human freedom of choice that is wholly dependent on him and yet still be free to do good or evil.
Some theologians inferred that if only an elite group of believers were predestined to eternal bliss because God wills it so, then those not admitted to eternal bliss must logically be predestined to hell because God wills them to be damned.
As long ago as the year 855, the Council of Valence rejected that view and made this statement: “In regard to evil men, we believe that God foreknew their malice, because it is from them, but that he did not predestine it, because it is not from him. We believe that God, who sees all things, foreknew and predestined that their evil deserved the punishment which followed, because he is just.”
In other words, the human free choice to do evil is the reason why souls are excluded from the divine presence.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: “God predestines no one to hell; for this, a wilful turning away from God (mortal sin) is necessary and persistence in it until the end” (1027). So, some kind of perseverance in moral evil is the reason why some people are not saved but rejected by God.
God does value our moral lives yet he knows ahead of time (and he lives in eternity, not time) how we shall respond morally to the graces he gives us. Divine foreknowledge does not predetermine our free moral acts.
It is the faith of the Church that our eternal redemption is God’s free gift to us. To accept or reject that gift depends on our free will.