I know we don’t accept the idea of predestination (except in the sense that we are all predestined to heaven if we choose to accept it), but how do I explain verses referring to the elect to those who read them as a suggestion of predestination?

Can you give some examples?

Here’s some that I copied and pasted from a site dedicated to the idea of predestination (this includes the line of editorial comment at the end):
Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; AND AS MANY AS HAD BEEN APPOINTED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED.
John 1:12-13: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, WHO WERE BORN NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD.
Philippians 1:29: FOR TO YOU IT HAS BEEN GRANTED FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE IN HIM, but also to suffer for his sake.
Romans 8:29-30: FOR WHOM HE FOREKNEW, HE ALSO PREDESTINED to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Ephesians 1:5: HE PREDESTINED US to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Some He has elected to salvation, others He has not: “…for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed” (1 Pet. 2:8); And, "’What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory’ (Rom. 9:22-23). It seems quite clear that God prepares some for mercy and not others. That is sovereignty.”

As I said, I’m confident in the authority of the RCC, but I want to have the tools for a more persuasive conversation with Calvinists. While the idea of predestination seems very arbitrary, I will admit that these quotes would be convincing to someone who is not reading them in the context of our Tradition (as well as the remainder of Scripture). Thanks!


The idea of predestination doesn’t perfectly fit with freewill given to us by God. If you incorporate this idea of predestination, it will look like we are just being treated like “toys” by our Creator. It’s like we believe in Him who loves us and then whenever He decided that we don’t need to be saved, He can do it because He already predestined it.

God loves us so much that He wills everyone to be saved. It is not the fault of God that man choses not to be saved just because of predestination.


Oh, I agree completely that it seems illogical and arbitrary. The trouble is, when discussing this with a “Bible” Christian, logic sometimes flies out the window. Their answer is that these Scriptures prove predestination and God wouldn’t have included them in the inerrant Bible if we weren’t supposed to incorporate them into our theology. I think we all agree with the last point, so what I guess I need from someone in here is a conclusion to this sentence: “Those verses aren’t telling us that a select few are predestined, what they are really telling us is . . .” To help my conversation, I guess I need a specific response to those “proofs” so it doesn’t look like I’m blinding myself to something that a fundamentalist sees as clear as day. Thanks for your help so far.

What Catholics must believe and what Catholics can believe about Predestination is discussed in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia,

In Jimmy Akin’s book, The Salvation Controversy (Catholic Answers, 2001) on page 72 in footnotes (1) and (3), it says:
(1). For the [Catholic] Church’s teaching on predestination see Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, 1992 reprint ed.), 242-244.
(3). In Catholic circles, the two major groups discussing predestination are the Thomists and the Molinists, followers of Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and Luis de Molina (1536-1600). Thomists emphasize the role of grace, while Molinists emphasize free will, but neither school ignores what is emphasized by the other.

Predestination contradicts free will.

This is a pet peave of mine and may be a little off topic but, can we please stop using RCC. First of all, there are many Eastern Rite Catholics. I’d like to see the proper term “The Catholic Church” used instead. Thanks for “listening”.

Yours in Christ

[quote=Bob Baran]Predestination contradicts free will.

Not according to the Catechism:

600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: “In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” Acts 4:27-28; cf. Ps 2:1-2. For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness. Cf. Mt 26:54; Jn 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18.

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but Catholics actually do believe in individual predestination.

What you described in parentheses is the Arminian view (God predestines Christians as a class, but not individually). Catholics don’t believe that. There is some question within the Church as to whether God wills the salvation of some unconditionally (Thomism) or conditionally (based on knowing what their response would be, i.e., Molinism), but we definitely believe that individual Christians are willed by God to be saved. Note that, in the Catholic view, not all people God predestines to become Christians (predestination to grace) will end up being saved (predestination to glory). One might mistakenly be led to this erroneous conclusion by Acts 13:48: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; AND AS MANY AS HAD BEEN APPOINTED TO ETERNAL LIFE BELIEVED.” But if you read that passage carefully, it doesn’t say that ONLY these people (the ones appointed to eternal life) believed. There may have been others who believed but were not appointed to eternal life; the passage doesn’t speak about them.

As you might expect, predestination is a theologically complex area that can’t be resolved using a few prooftexts. As an easy counter-argument, it’s good to offer a passage like 1 Tim. 4:10 (“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe”) or Romans 5:18 (“Then as [Adam]'s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so [Christ]'s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men”). Those passages are nearly impossible to reconcile with the Calvinist view, and if they try to stretch the interpretation to fit their view, ask them why they aren’t following the “plain meaning” of Scripture. :thumbsup:

Okay, so if the bible says some where in a cryptic way that predestinations does or doesn’t exist no one will bother to think about this with their brain? Predestination must exist if you believe in an omini-X-God, but just not for the group this means for every individual.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit