edited February 2005 in Coptic Orthodox Church
I was just wondering what is the church's view on predestination?

Predestintation refers to what certain branches of christinaity believe in which states that God has determined the destination of every human being....whether they are going to heaven or hades no matter what they do on earth of good and bad. Also, that they have to pass three things in earth to be considered "saved" from hades, but their destination is still determined by God even before they were created. The three tests are that they should be baptised, believe that Jesus Christ is the only and one saviour, and do good things while on earth.

I agree with those three things....but I just don't agree with predestintation and I actually don't c it fair...I mean yeah everything happens by the will of God, but I doubt tht God would just determine something before He sees the doings of people while they are on this earth. So anyone who knws what the church's view on this...or have any thoughts..please reply
Thanks and God Bless,


  • Also, that they have to pass three things in earth to be considered "saved" from hades, but their destination is still determined by God even before they were created.

    Most people who believe in predestination are Protestant christians.They believe in the absolute sovereignity of God.That He has chosen some for eternal life and some for eternal damnation.That salvation is God's gracious choice to make and does not depend on the will of man.They use the 9th chapter of Romans in support of their position:"For He says to Moses,'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion'.So then it depends not on human will or exertion,but on God who has mercy" .
    So you see they do not believe that man has the power to save Himself or that man even has any input as to where he will spend his eternal destiny.They do however believe that repentance,faith in Christ,baptism,a godly obedient life, are all evidences that God has called a person,elected and chosen a person for eternal life in Christ.They are signs and assurances given by God to a person in order that they might know that they have truly been accepted in Christ. This is known as "making your calling and election sure".Its not that any of these things contribute to a persons salvation but rather they are external proofs that a person is already chosen in the Beloved,accepted in Christ,elected in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.

    Alot of people attribute the doctrine of predestination to the teaching of John Calvin and other teachers of the Reformed Theological movement, but in truth it was the great St. Augustine who developed and expanded this controversial teaching.

    Most Protestants,Evangelicals,Pentecostals,etc today reject the doctrine of predestination as taught by Augustine and Calvin believing that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.
  • Marianne,ý
    You bring up an important and a much debated topic. Predestination. ý
    The Coptic does not believe in predestination. Let me give you an example just to ýillustrate how things work. this is a very limited example to God's ability, but it helps ýpaint the picture (at least it helped me)ý
    Imagine someone standing on top of a building on the corner of two main streets. he sees ýtwo cars coming to the intersection. He knows that they will crash but can't do anything ýabout it. His knowledge does not mean that these cars are destined to crash, but because ýof his position, he knows what will happen.ý

    Same with God, God is limitless. He is all knowing. He is not constrained by time. He ýknows what we will do before we are even born. He knows how we will end up from the ýbeginning of time. This does not mean that He destined it, but He has an advantage in ýknowing. Perfect example, He knew that Adam would sin, yet He gave him the choice. In ýour daily lives, we are given choices, however God knows what we will choose but the ýchoice is still ours. He knew that Judas would betray Him, Yet He gave him the choices ýand even warning signs. Judas choose to betray Him anyway. God's will is for all of us to ýbe saved, but He leaves it up to us to choose. We can't be saved without Him, but we ýhave to choose to be saved (Baptism, repentance and confession, and communion)ý

    I know it is kinda confusing because we are trying to understand God. Just try to keep in ýmind that God's knowledge of the future does not mean it is His will or His destiny for ýus. He, however, works thru our good and bad choices for the better of mankind. I heard ýthis phrase once and it makes me think "God is the author and coordinator of our lives" ýHe doesn't control our actions or circumstances but He uses them.ý
    I hope my 2 cents help.ý
  • Yeah...actually it did's like God knws everything abt us...from the time we are born until the time we die....but He doesn't interfere in our wills...He gives us His words and choices, and we have the ability to choose what is right and what is wrong. That's why predestination didn't really make sense to me...I mean if predestination did exist...then there is actually no purpose for us in earth. Like our purpose is suppose to be that we try to live our life according to the commadments of at the end we will be rewarded by going to heaven and live an enternal life with Christ. But if predestination did exist, then there is no benefit in trying to follow the commadment if at the end we are going to go where God had determined before.
    So thanks guys for replying...and if any one have more info...ur welsome to did help
    God Bless,
  • I actually look at it differently. Each of us was chosen to be a certain family, country, year, health... All those factors that we couldn't control, God chose them for us. So yes, I was predestined to be orthodox and born of my family anything that I chose to do from that point on is my own will...
  • But actually thr term predestination refers to God choose where a human being end hades or yeah God choose a certain life for us on earth...but tht doesn't mean that He wouldn't take into consideration what our deeds are while living on this earth...He wouldn't just put us in hades or heaven without taking into consideration our deeds.
    Anyone can correct me if I am wrong...but I thought that predestination only refers to where we end up after judgment.

    God Bless,
  • I think Coptic boys post summed it up good. Predestination is indeed Biblical in the sense Coptic Boy described, but the Calvinistic conception which entails notions such as total depravity, unconditional election and Irresistible Grace and limited atonement, is a heresy.

    As far as the Orthodox Church is concerned, there isn't any explicit dogmatic definition or teaching concerning the issue of predestination, other than the general acceptance of the unanimous patristic consensus:

    1) Justin Martyr in his 1st Apology affirms that God foreknows that certain men, who are not yet born, will carry out their salvation by penance." (Apology 1:28)

    Here we should note, that Justin prefers the word foreknowledge rather than the word predestination.

    2) Saint Irenaeus in his Against Heresies, 4:39,4, says:

    "God, who foresaw every thing, hath prepared for each, a worthy dwelling; for those who follow the pure light and move towards it, He hath prepared this pure light in abundance, but for those who
    turn away and flee from it and blind themselves in any way from it, He hath prepared a corresponding darkness, and He inflicts upon them the pain that they have merited."

    3) Theodoret commenting on Romans 8:29-30, notes that the predestined, are “those whose inclinations and resolves have been foresknown, and have been predestined and called from on high."

    4) Saint Ambrose commenting on the same passage says that it "...indicates that predestination follows the foreknowledge of human merits..."

    5) St. Hilary of Poitiers states that divine election isn't the result of an indiferent judgment on Gods part, but that there is a difference which is based on the evaluation of human merits.

    6) St. John of Damascus in his treatise On the Orthodox Faith (3:29-30) addresses predestination, reproducing the consensus of patristic commentaries, supporting the position that predestination is based on divine foreknowledge such that God does not will sin or the reprobation of sinners.
  • Hey Maraianne
    I was going to start this topic too but you were faster..
    I still don't get it .. I mean God gave us the choice but He knows what we will choose so what is the point of having the choice?
    Predestiny is just laying out the road for us to walk it.! I dont see why we have to walk it if God knows where we end up. No matter what our decisions or choices will be .. we will still end up where God has placed us.
    Also about the example with the building and the crashing cars..I believe this example is only vaild if what is about to happen was unknown .. to God everything is known... Iam trying to say that God would know that those cars were going to hit because he made that decision for them long before it happened .. so yes he could have changed it!!
    It just bothers me that I know my life is destined .. no matter what I do or DO NOT DO , nothing will affect the outcome of my life because it is very limited to changes! It is like putting a baby in a crib you know your boundaries, the baby will crawl around but at the end will be stuck in the middle!
    I dont see it as fair at all that we are predestined .. why cant we really have a chance to change? This really means that our brains are useless because no matter how hard we think about avoiding sins or all of that .. it is still of no use .. you are either going to heaven or to hell no matter what you do!! I just dont get it guys! >:(
  • Predestination vs. free will.... a notion that has boggled the minds of people from generation to generation. I am actually taking the blessing of writing an article on this topic so please pray for that. I am sorry but it is not yet complete though.

    First of all I would like to say that I strongly agree with what Copticboy and Iqbal had to say about this topic, but if you excuse me, I would like to add a little analogy that fairly depicts how God deals with us when it comes to predestiny and free will. I hope it is helpful.

    Take a baby starting with their first steps. The baby will fall once, twice, a numerous amount of times. Now you may ask, where are the parents to prevent all this falling from happening? The parents are surely present. The parents know that in order for their child to overcome their disadvantage and learn to walk he/she must endure many hardships (falling). If you notice the parents although they know that this child is definitely going to fall at first, they allow that to happen. So therefore, the parents know that the child is going to fall, but they do not do anything about it because they want their chilfd to learn. Likewise with God. In order for us to learn to "walk" we must fall and God gives us the free will to choose whether to do good or evil. By doing evil, we are falling, but then we must get back up.

    Think about it, God gave us free will because He loves us. If we were created without free will, we would be like robots under the control of God and only do what is good. If this is true where is God's love to us. By His love, He gave us the choice to do evil and good. Just like the parents would like their child to learn to walk without falling, God would like us to live a righteous life, but for most of us, we must fall to learn, so we get back up by repenting and confessing.

    As far as the church is concerned, it does not believe in predestiny, but the abundant knowledge, grace and love of God.

    I hope this helped in making your view on this topic a bit more clearer.

  • AvaAntonni
    Okay! Im sorry for being slow .. but .. I do not see where is the free will!!I mean our free will does not matter because at the end our destiny is set! so we have a FAKE freewill because while we think we are making choices and decisions .. these choices and decisions are already set for us to make .. so we are basically passing by points in life .. for instance what college i will go to .. that is already set by God..once I "make" that decision I passed by this point which God has set for me .. then Where am i going to work .. okay i pick the place but it was already chosen for me so there is the other point i passed by that God set for me..then who am i going to marry .. ookay him .. well God already chose that for me .. God makes the choices and we automatically do it .. if we agree that was already preset and if we do not that was already preset too .. so no matter what .. everything is known to God that we will do it or we will not do it !! u know?
  • one little comment...

    What is the difference between people in the Old Testement and everybody in the New? In the OT, there was no way that anybody could enter heaven. Everybody was sent straight down to hades. Wether they were good or bad.

    After Christ coming down and being crucified and resurrecting, He opened the gates of Heaven and took all the righteous people out of Hades. After that, we were able to go to Heaven. In other words, we had hope of going to heaven. In the OT they didn't have that.

    So us believing in predestination would mean that if we're going to hell, we're going to go no matter what, meaning that no matter what we do, we would go to hell.

    Taking away our hope. In doing so, we would be denying any belief in the death, resurrection, and ascension of our Saviour.

    God knows what we're going to do. He doesn't make us do it though. He knows if your going to make a left turn or a right turn when walking down the street, but He doesn't interfere at all in which direction you choose to go...He only forsees it.

    I know it might not be to clear still, but thats the best i could put it.

    Pray for me weakness..
  • Dear OstazaCoptic,

    I understand how you are approaching this, now let me leave you with a little comment that will get you thinking. If everything is preset or predestined for us, let us take your example of college, you said:
    [quote author=OstazaCoptic link=board=4;threadid=1175;start=0#msg20114 date=1107820093]
    so we are basically passing by points in life .. for instance what college i will go to .. that is already set by God..once I "make" that decision I passed by this point which God has set for me ..

    Now wouldn't you say that since my life is already set before me, I can just sit back and relax because I know that God has prepared something for me. You are in school now, you are not going to do your work because you are expecting God to have set something for you. Do you really think that you will get anywhere in life if you do not struggle?

    Although God may have a foreknowledge, this does not effect the way we make our choices.

    I hope this was helpful
  • That's a really good point Avva Antoni. I don't believe in predestination, because it just doesn't make sense. Before I approach anything, I always try to look at it in the simplest way. I mean without gettin complicated, if we just use our general knowledge and common sense it just doesn't appear possible. At first I always questioned myself, because God is all knowing therefore he knows all the choices we will make. Hence he knows whether we will go to heaven or hell. Then I realized that he gives is the choice to choose whether we want this or that. As humans, we change how we feel very often. One minute we want this and the next we want that. We're never sure where our life is gonna take us and what we will choose to do. It is the consequences that God knows, he doesn't set which path we take. We choose that. In other words, although God knows the consequences he doesn't force us to choose the better choice. That is why it is not certain whether we will go to heaven or hell. Because we never know what will happen to change our decisions. I know it's confusing, but it just doesn't make sense. Think about it, why would got even put us on earth if he didn't want us to get a chance to go to heaven. He loves us and he wants us with him. He's not gonna choose for us to go to hell. We make the choices and whether we go to heaven or hell is a result of how we lived our life. Sry if I confused anyone... ???
  • I don't know much (if any) about this topic but I think, just as you guys said, it wouldn't make any sense for everything to be already planned out because then that takes away the value of being a christian because if someone were to go to heaven then why would he even try? God gave us free will so that we, using his strength, can determine where we shall end up. God is mercifull and he wouldn't send his children to hell just because. He wants all to be with him so I don't think it's right. God bless.
  • OstazaCoptic,ý
    I see why you are confused. There is a difference between knowing what will happen and ýcausing something to happen. For example, when my nephew started walking, we knew ýhe will fall, we didn't destine him to fall, we knew what will happen. The example I gave ýearlier of the two cars, the man on the roof is not causing the accident, he has no control ýý(not that God doesn't have control) but he (the man on the roof) is not interfering with the ýaccident, he just has the advantage of seeing from a different angle. ý
    Another example, Imagine watching a movie with a friend who saw it before. Your ýfriends knowledge of the events that are taking place does not affect the plot of the movie ýin any way, shape or form. Obviously this is different than in our lives but I hope it helps ýgetting the point across.ý

    Now, here is the reason why Pre-destination is a hoax. God created us, He went thru great ýtribulation to save us, He died for us, He did everything, short of breaking His own law, ýto save us and send us to heaven. So, if it was up to Him and we have no say in it, then ýwe are all going to heaven an no one will go to Hades or hell because God wills it so. ýHowever, It is against God's will that anybody sins, but we do so because it is our free ýwill. Even the Angels, the devil who was an arch-angel had free will to sin, God didn't ýpredestine him to sin, God Knew he will do it. ý

    Knowing doesn't make things happen. Let me know if this helps!ý
  • A protestant's input:
    Predestination is a paradox, but it is taught in Scripture - see Romans 8:28-30 for example. Somehow through the sovereignty of God both the free will of man and the predestination of God are both possible. God predestined those he knew would choose Him. I don't know how, but this is certainly not the only paradox within the Christian faith. The doctrine of the Trinity - how can 3 be 1? Yet clearly they are. The Coptic doctrine of the Eucharist is another paradox. The elements are the body and blood of Christ, and yet you are not cannibals (as NT believers were accused!). These things cannot be explained in our language or understood by our finite minds, yet we accept by faith their truthfulness. They are part of the mystery of Christ.

  • Predestination is a paradox, but it is taught in Scripture - see Romans 8:28-30 for example.

    Indeed, but as long as one affirms that our predestination is contingent upon God's foreknowledge of how we utilise our free will. So ultimately, what happens to us, did or did not happen because of the choices we made according to our own free will.

    The doctrine of the Trinity - how can 3 be 1? Yet clearly they are.

    Not wanting to divert the topic here - but I think the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important doctrines that people choose to be ignorant of, and the intellectual and logical basis for it is often underestimated. Indeed, the mystery o fthe Trinity is not one to be denied, but there is truly a great, and deep level of intellectual reasoning that God has put in reach of our finite minds, to help explain both its logical consistency and logical necessity.

    Though the concept of three persons existent in one being, is surely incomprhensible, it is surely not illogical. In fact, I could spend all day speaking about how logical it is, using all the metaphysical jargon etc, yet though I have proven using strict rules, definitions, and formulas, that it is indeed logically coherent, and that a multipersonal God is indeed logically necessary, I will still never grasp or comprehend with my finite mind the infinite and incomparable God.
  • Marianne, the church is against the idea of predestination; it goes completely against our beliefs. Why would God ultimately decide on what goes on in our lives, yet grant us free will?? These two beliefs coincide with one another. Sure God can influence our decisions, he can direct our paths, but it’s up to us whether we want to follow him or not. Also, remember that God granted us free-will, even to His Son, Jesus Christ, b/c he loved us! Had he not loved us, he wouldn’t have given us free will. God is love, and love is “patient… kind…does not delight in evil…always protects…trusts…hopes, and always perseveres” (1 Cor 13: 4-7). So, evidently, God’s willing to see us mess up several times in life and give us many chances no matter how long it takes! He’s there to be our leader; he steers us towards the right direction. He KNOWS who will be rejoicing in His kingdom, BUT He doesn’t prevent you from the many opportunities that can get you in! To put it into a simpler way for you…its like a teacher who can predict which of her students are going to do well on her unit test…she knows the students who consistently do well are going to ace it, and those who slack off are going to bomb it…but she gives her students warnings, deadlines, and doesn’t judge them too quickly, b/c its up to them to prove to her whether they want work to their full potential or not…see where I’m going?
    So, in a nutshell, God has foreknowledge, but He doesn’t decide on where you’re going; you make that decision….

    I hope I helped…if there’s anything you need me to clarify just ask! Take care, GB++

  • Actually, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches accept what is called 'single-predestination', but we reject protestant 'double-predestination'- this is what John Calvin was teaching. D-P says that God destined some to hell and some to heaven. The Cath&Ortho teaching is that God calls all to heaven, but some people reject His calling. We cannot believe that a Just God would predestine anyone to hell.
  • I'm kind of new to this topic. I like to read the church fathers. If the church is against predestination, what in the world would we do with with Saint Augustine? Do we ignore him? I see much of his teachings as very good. However, I have to disagree with a lot of the protestant teachings, obviously. Also, predestination is clearly in the Bible, it's just simply undeniable. Ephesians 1, and Romans is loaded with it. Also, I'm not totally convinced that "foreknowledge" is simply God looking ahead at merits, and it fact, I would probably disagree with that, for we are saved by grace, not of works. However, works always follow faith, and a faith without works is dead (James 2). So, we are saved by grace, and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. This is obvious. However, we understand in the church easily that the faith given to us, is simply that...given to us, or that it is a gift. God does not give faith to everyone. Back to foreknowledge, looking at the context of the word, and looking at where in the Bible it talks about "knowing" I am looking at a parallel between when Christ tells some to depart because He never "knew" them. Obviously, Christ knew of them, but did not "know" them. Personally, I don't see free will stressed too much in the Bible, if at all. In fact, I don't know of one place in the New Testament where "free will" is mentioned. We just understand that we make decisions. I'm not denying that men are given choices, obviously they are. However, all things work together to the good of His elect. And obviously we believe in election, in that we chant "elect" in matins. Now what election exactly means, is a subject for study. Obviously, God does the electing, and we don't, but God is electing by grace, so there is no reason for anyone to boast. Election is an interesting topic to study. Some people, or protestants, want to say they don't believe in election or predestination, but that is ignorance. The Bible teaches both, as do many of the church fathers, it is undeniable. Now what these things mean, like I say, it is a subject for study. I welcome any messages, if anyone wants to chat about this or anything else. I'm not really doing the subject at hand much justice.
  • 1."Also, I'm not totally convinced that "foreknowledge" is simply God looking ahead at merits, and it fact, I would probably disagree with that, for we are saved by grace, not of works."

    Foreknowledge is not god looking ahead at merits, but precisely the exact meaning of the word. Fore-knowledge. Knowing every little detail in every living object's life. This does not mean controlling it, but having knowledge of it.
    We are saved by by grace, faith, and works. For two or one lacking the other(s), we would not be saved. For if we love God and believe in him but kill, steal, and rape we certainly won't enter the kingdom of God (I don't even see how love and crime can meet).

    2."God does not give faith to everyone."

    Faith is not something to be given, but felt. God does not "give" faith, he shows you how get to it. You CHOOSE whether to get to it or not. (You do that by church, prayer, fasting, ect.)

    Now as someone stated before, we believe in single-predestination, which is that Christ calls all people to him. This is portrayed many times in the Bible, unfortunately I don't have the exact verses.
  • I agree on different points. I do not mean that to foreknow means to control. However, I don't know that I can say that I can see that foreknowledge means "just" to "know about". I believe it means something more than that, more specifically, a show or feeling of intimacy toward.

    As far as works. I do not believe we are saved by works. A faith that is coupled with works saves. But it is because it is a real faith. A "faith" that does not produce good works is not really true faith. James is real clear about that. Paul is just too clear about that. However, I do believe that works always proceed from real faith, which is a gift to us. And we can see how that works comes from grace. ;) , and that good works come from God in this way. Obviously, if someone is of the faith, or has the gift of faith, to be more specific, they will not be following evil. They will make mistakes, sure, but it won't be a constant habit that is something they are striving for. They will be fighting against the temptation to sin in one way or another. About foreknowledge, I certainly believe that God knows all things, even before the foundation of the world (or before the world was created), as the Scripture is real clear about. Now, I understand that it has been quite contraversial that about the fourth century that there was two ideas about the book of life. Obviously, the Book of Life was written before the foundation of the world. Our name doesn't go in during our lifetime, it was there before we were born, or it wasn't. However, are names ever erased? And this was the disagreement at that time. Of course, Augustine did not believe God erased names, and I agree with Augustine. However, it was controversial then as it is now, I suppose. However, if God is erasing, it would put God's foreknowledge as questionable. Because if God foreknew of a man's rejection of him, why would the name be written, just to be erased? I suppose I would caution folk not to see election or predestination as something protestant (for they grabbed onto the subject, and went in a rather wild direction with it), but as something that has been taught on and talked about for two thousand years at least. I can see where there could easily be a reaction to favor works and free will due to what protestant churches have done, and are doing. Just because we see some folk in left field, it doesn't mean that we have to go to the right side of the field and completely out of the ball field. Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm trying to make a point. One doesn't want to distort the Gospels and Epistles in reaction to protestantism. Paul has much to teach on the subject, and we must follow this teaching.
    About faith, I believe that faith is felt, but it is a gift that is felt. It is God who gives it. We do not conjure up faith on our own. There is one Christian faith, and other "faiths" are not really faith. Not all men have faith, as the Scriptures plainly says. We do choose God through the faith that He has given us...doubtless. However, we are drawn by God, for no man can be saved unless he is drawn of God. Man cannot just choose God on his own. To think this would be absurd in light of all the Scriptures that talk of man having to be drawn to God, especially in John 6. However, it is true, that AFTER God has given man faith, man CHOOSES to follow. If faith has not been given, man will be in rebellion and NOT CHOOSE God. He will reject, unfortunately. We have to be chosen of God to be saved, it is Scriptural. Many protestants I hear about are saying that God chooses every person. That is wrong. Hany Hanna gave a very good sermon at church about this subject about being chosen, and it would have fitted this dialogue well. We should be very thankful as Christians to be chosen! Not for any good of ourselves, but that we were born sinful and God has showed us great mercy indeed!
  • About what Michael Thomas said-He makes a good point in saying that God calls all. Not all will accept. Not all have been given faith. But the call goes out to many. As the Scriptures say a lot--Many are called, but few are chosen.
  • "About faith, I believe that faith is felt, but it is a gift that is felt. It is God who gives it."

    And this is where you and I disagree. I believe God gives the way to faith. He may strengthen faith if he sees a person in despair, yet he doesn't randomly grant it to anybody, for that would not be just, and we worship a god of justice. As I said before, God set the way to find and feel faith. You choose whether to find it and feel it or not. Just because God knows what you are going to pick doesn't mean he picked it for you. Humans do not chose God on their own. See, each one of us is put before us the Bible. We choose whether to read it or not. For those of us who do read it and seek God, he helps them through. For those who do not, he does not help (on this matter), for they did not seek him in the first place.

    As for the book of life, (and predestination for that matter) can you give quotes please?

  • Will anyone please reply. I want to get to the bottom of this.
  • hi

    i was wondering the same question, about predestination, so i asked H.G. Bishop Youssef, and he explained it in a odd way. he said it's like a man in a really tall building, looking down at the street which happens to be on a hill. on this street are to cars. each on one side of the hill. the cars happen to be driving headed dircetly at each other, the man at the top of the building (god) has the foresight to know that there will be an accident. however, one of the drivers (us) can change his path to avoid the other car (sin).

    H.G. also said that unlike any normal man, god has the ability to see wat will happen before it happens. but he rarely changes wat will happen, but it is because of his foresight that he helps us in a minor way.

    sorry if i didn't explain it very well
    God Bless
  • but god interferes in our lives. i dont beleive that god planned out everything for me, but that he will interfere in my life if i want him to. right???
  • I don't think 'interfere' is the correct word for God's action. "Interfere" implies that God has no right to intervene. God intervenes in everyone's lives - believer, non-believer, sinner or saint. If God did not intervene in some way, the person would no longer exist. But God, in his mercy, hears the cry of his faithful - now this person may not know Christ - but God knows the heartfelt cry and He answers in His mercy. It may not always be the answer we want to hear, but He will be true to His faithful.
  • Father Segei Bulgakov of the Russian Orthodox Church had an interesting twist on predestination. Since I don't want to get too technical and start throwing Latin and Greek phrases around, I'll just sort paraphrase his thought/arguments:

    The deification/salvation of a human is brought about by synergy. This means that it is the effort of both the recipient and the giver of grace.

    Now God exists in eternity...outside of time. This means that all of the universe's history is "mapped out" before Him in "one instant" (I'm going to have to use unavoidable anthropomorphisms). Now if we were to place our selves in "God's shoes", what would we see? One compound, synergistic rise of said person towards salvation/deification.

    Now for the main question: what is causing this person's "rise" towards salvation? Is it God or is it the person? We see that because of the compound nature of synergism, that it is no longer meaningful to ask such questions. Because of the very nature of synergy (without separation or confusion), it could be looked at as God causing it (this would be the part Blessed Augustine over-stressed).....or it could be looked at as the person doing it completely on their own (which is the part the heretic Pelagius over-stressed). This is just like Christ's one Nature/Personhood, wherein we say that everything that Christ did/underwent, was done/undergone by His Entire Nature, not just half of it. We cannot say His "Godhead" did this, while His "humanity" did that, this is the mistake of Pope Leo. And yet, paradoxically, we can say that His humanity was deified (i.e. His flesh was/is worthy of worship) and His Deity was "humanified" (i.e. clothed with humanity), so we can say His humanity performed miracles, and His Godhead suffered by sheer logical conclusion of His One Personhood. This is not "confusion" or "monophysitism". Just like when two oxen tug a cart, we can say "yes" to the question, "Did ox 'a' tug the cart?" and "yes" to the question, "Did ox 'b' tug the cart?" This is because both together tugged the cart, which by logical extension also means that each one individually tugged the cart....and yet they are two oxen. We don't confuse the oxen. How much less does such reasoning "confuse" the Divine and Human in Christ?

    What I'm driving at is this: did God infallibly "cause" this person's salvation by inalienable fiat? Yes. Did this person freely choose by his own personal, naturally-given resources to save himself? Yes. One does not "precede" the other. They both happen at the same time. For God there is no "precede" or "succeed" because He is outside of time. It's a sort of Leibnizian "pre-established harmony" of two beings, if you will.....kinda like two people's hands which move the triangle over the ouija board: one is not "pushing" or "pulling" the other; they are working in harmony to such an extent that it is so mysterious how two people spelled something out that either one could not do by himself (please do not take this allegory too literal.....also, do NOT use ouija boards, for they are evil).

    ....actually....I followed Bulgakov for about the first five words of the first sentence then went on my own little tangent.
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