Does God play favorites?

Hello. I’ve recently hit a roadblock on my faith journey. In seeking to understand more about the truth, I have reasoned and researched my way to a conclusion that I personally find disheartening. For as long as I can remember, as I was being taught Catholic doctrine growing up, I’ve heard things like “God loves everybody equally” and “we are all God’s favorite.” However, upon contemplating certain biblical and traditional truths, I’ve concluded that this may actually not be the case.

The following are examples I found in the Gospel of John that come directly from Jesus Himself:

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all*; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25-30)

I pray for them. I am not** praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)

37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)

As we can see, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that only some are drawn by God, and that being drawn by God is a prerequisite for coming to him and being risen on the last day. St. Paul reinforces this point in his letter to the Romans:

*14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son*, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” (Romans 9:11-12)

18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18)

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24)

According to Paul, God’s purpose for electing certain individuals in advance is to show “the riches of his glory” to them, “the objects of his mercy”. But what of the others, or “the objects of his wrath”? Further examples of this idea can be found in the book of Revelation:

8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

Even the Catechism mentions the “elect” on multiple occasions:

769 “The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven,” at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, “the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations.” Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will “be united in glory with her king.” The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will "all the just from the time of Adam, 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,’ . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father’s presence." (CCC #769)

842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:
All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city… (CCC #842)

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. (CCC #1031)

636 The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.(CCC #1045)

1344 Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus “until he comes,” the pilgrim People of God advances, “following the narrow way of the cross,” toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom. (CCC #1344)

In my opinion, this is a significant theological truth that cannot be overlooked. If this is true, then God does play favorites, He loves some more than others, and human equality is ultimately an illusion. It also brings the significance of free will into question. Any input on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

The opening lines of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

*1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. *


Answering each of your quotes would require a large amount of space and hardly be pithy as the forum requests. Consequently, I’ll only hit the Catechism passages and some of the theory behind grace, free will, and omniscience, which will hopefully answer your questions in a general sense.

If you look at the text of each of these passages from the Catechism, then you can see that they each refer to those in heaven. Any who have gone to heaven could be easily justified as the elite, as they are those who chose of their own free will to accept the gifts and graces of God. So no, he doesn’t “play favorites.”

We are all given the opportunity to receive the Salvific Grace from Calvary, just as we are all given whatever graces we need to overcome temptation and to do the work of God. This does not mean that we cannot choose to deny the grace and choose to fall into sin. God, being omniscient knows what choices we will make. However, that does not mean that any who choose against his will did not receive the graces necessary to overcome whatever troubles they had. Even if a helicopter pilot sees people running off a cliff, it is not his fault if they fall, especially if he has given them as much warning as possible.

That’s the thing. The “all men” part is contradictory to what Scripture says. Let’s look at the last sentence of the paragraph: “In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.” The ironic thing is that God invites men to become his children through Jesus, but Jesus mentions that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

Though you have a valid argument, it doesn’t address the issue of God’s electing of certain individuals to be saved in the first place. The quotes from the Catechism do refer to those already in heaven, however, we shouldn’t forget that those who are glorified in Heaven are only the ones who were first drawn by God. “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)

He elect and the people God calls his sheep are the ones that choose God instead of the world. God is not picking favorites we are choosing to accept of deny God.

Sure, God plays favourites.

Make God your favourite and He’ll favour you…it’s really not that complicated.

That covers everyone, since He’s called everyone to Him.

I’m not sure what you’re worried about. The Church teaches (and has always taught) that Heaven is available to all.

Instead of looking for shadows, enjoy the sun!

But that would mean that it is somehow in our power to be his sheep, when in reality God already decided who would be his sheep before the world even began: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4)

But, couldn’t we only make the choice to favor God if he predestined us to? :confused:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)

That’s the thing; I’m wondering if everyone is really called to Him, and how much free will actually plays a part in this.

“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” (John 17:9)

Jesus didn’t pray for everyone, he prayed for “those you have given me”.



St. Augustine tells us that “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” This certainly does not imply a sense of favoritism.

(God) who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim 2:4

No one is predestined to hell apart from their own free will. God may predestine some to be saved, but never damned.

Does the Church believe that G-d predestines some to be saved? If so, wouldn’t that be favoritism?


God predestined all of us to be with Him in heaven, and He predestined no one for eternal damnation.

So what made you believe you could understand and grasp the divine mystery of God’s omniscence? Of the predestination of those who are saved? Do you not know that this is an open snare of the Father of Lies to lead unto confusion, distrust of God, fear, despair, and ultimately, unfaithfulness?

Make no mistake: double predestination is a grave heresy. And this is double predestination: “* God already decided who would be his sheep before the world even began*”. No. God foreknew in His omniscence all who would chose to reject Him by unrepentance and final impenitence, and who would instead repent and remain in His love by loving Him and striving to remain united with Him. The latter He chose as His own. But that does not mean He had cast away the others. For it is written:

“He went to His own, and His own did not accept Him. But to all those who accepted Him and believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”.

God extends salvation to everyone, and nobody in this life is born destined unto damnation, for that is a free, personal choice.

However, there are those who indeed out of their own free will chose to reject God. This is not to say that the Father had chosen not to draw them to Christ, for it is written:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant…I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”.

I suggest you discuss this peacefully with your confessor, because you are on a very, very slippery slope. If I could give a word of warning, it would be: stop trying to figure out God and start figuring out your own lack of faith and how little you do to serve God.

Remember that you and I are just a couple of very ignorant laypeople with barely no faith at all, living in a world imbued by sin and irreligion, puffed up by our “higher education” to think we can actually figure things out on our own, that we can reason things out. Instead of trying to be God’s judge, we must try to serve Him a little more, to serve Him as He desires to be served, that is, in the poor, in the needy, in those who are doubtful, in those who live in anguish and despair because they lack the light of Christ and the life-giving Sacraments.

<<The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.

When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own wealth? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ >>

So what if God desires to grant extraordinary graces to some unto salvation? Were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah not saved from the Furnace by an extraordinary grace? And did Moses not lose the right to enter the Promised Land, he who had his countenance radiating light for having the privilege of speaking with the Lord face to face?

These debates on “favoritism” are not leading unto any good place. We should focus on doing the Lord’s will, not on criticizing or judging the Lord. Not that anyone here has or is criticizing or judging the Lord: but ultimately, the idea that God plays favorites is rooted on the idea that God is unfair, unjust, imperfect. And He isn’t :slight_smile:


Ever thought that “predestines” merely means that God is Omniscient?

Ever thought that since God is Omniscient then God could and would have come up with a Plan, before creation itself, that is truly for ALL, ultimately, to be with God.

Ever thought that since we are all made in God’s Image, “Let Us make man (humankind) in Our Image…”, then God, somehow or the other, would have come up with a Plan for ALL to be reunited with God?

Many do not believe that God’s Plan is all encompassing and sadder, much, much sadder, to say many do not seem to want God’s Plan to encompass ALL, but as it is written, “My Thoughts are not your thoughts and My Ways are not your ways” and as it is written, “When I Am lifted up, I will draw EVERYONE to Myself” and as it is written, “It is God’s Will that ALL be saved…”.

Ever thought that those that God chose to accept Jesus’s work on the cross, God also chose to continue God’s work for those that did not accept Jesus’s work on the cross?

The Good News, which Jesus asked us to proclaim, is for ALL, ultimately, to be with God in God’s Kingdom, if the Good News were not for all than the Good News would not be Good News at all but would be horrific news.

I hope this is pithy enough…well said R C, well said:thumbsup:

These links were very helpful; thank you so much for sharing them. :slight_smile:

Thank you to everybody for the great input; I believe I have a better understanding of the concept now. I suppose I was just trying to come to a better understanding about something I was uneasy about. The thought of a God who favored some over others was disheartening to me, and I just needed a better explanation. I appreciate the help, and I look forward to discussing this issue with my confessor. :slight_smile:

If you are very interested in the subject, then you could look into buying a book by the man mentioned in the articles, Father Most, it’s pretty good stuff.

Before I became a Catholic, I was a Calvinist. If you don’t know anything about Calvinism, Calvinists are a group of protestants that insist upon the absolute sovereignty of God and double predestination. So I am very familiar with all the verses that allude or allegedly allude to that subject. Normally, the verses are taken at the expensive of other verses, or quite possible taken out of context as in Romans 9-11.

In any case, the Church has never definitely ruled between Thomism, Molinism, or Father Most’s position, allowing for a consensus and debate on the subject. What the Church has definitively declared, however, is that 1. Human Beings have Free Will. 2. Jesus died for everyone. 3. God desires all to be saved. 4. God gives sufficient grace to all. 5. God does not predestine anyone to hell.

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