We believe that all the posterity of Adam, being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: Merciful , since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable council, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without respect to their works: Just , in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves. (Art. XVI)
Predestination in its broadest conception is the doctrine that because God is all-powerful , all-knowing , and completely sovereign , he "from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass," ( Westminster Confession ). "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11).
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mid-14c., "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 destiny ). First used in theological sense by Augustine; given prominence by Calvin.
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In this common, loose sense of the term, to affirm or to deny predestination has particular reference to the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election. In the Calvinist interpretation of the Bible, this doctrine normally has only pastoral value related to the assurance of salvation and the absolution of salvation by grace alone. However, the philosophical implications of the doctrine of election and predestination are sometimes discussed beyond these systematic bounds. Under the topic of the doctrine of God (theology proper), the predestinating decision of God cannot be contingent upon anything outside of himself, because all other things are dependent upon him for existence and meaning. Under the topic of the doctrines of salvation (soteriology), the predestinating decision of God is made from God's knowledge of his own will (Romans 9:15), and is therefore not contingent upon human decisions (rather, free human decisions are outworkings of the decision of God, which sets the total reality within which those decisions are made in exhaustive detail: that is, nothing left to chance). Calvinists do not pretend to understand how this works; but they are insistent that the Scriptures teach both the sovereign control of God and the responsibility and freedom of human decisions.
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