from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Predestination ( Latin praedestinatio ) means predestination and is a theological concept according to which God predestined the fate of people from the beginning. In particular, it is about the election of individual souls to eternal life or to eternal damnation . The background is represented by the human assumption that God is above him as a species and is beyond. The Creator is qualitatively different from his creation, God stands above the reality of creation, even in Jesus and the Lord's Supper , where he is united with it. Man's inferiority before the exalted God is also expressed through the doctrine of predestination. Salvation is achieved by those who are predetermined by God for salvation.


The influential concept of Augustine

The doctrine of predestination of the Church Father Augustine is essentially carried out in the writings "De gratia et libero arbitrio" and "De correptione et gratia" around the year 427 and arose from the discussion of Manichaeism and Pelagianism . The starting point is Augustine's tracing of the will in a person.

This will especially includes the instincts and affects which the human being is supposed to adjust to the divine law in his spirit. For Pelagius and his followers, man has the ability to learn through the law sent by God. For Augustine, on the other hand, man is caught up in the original sin resulting from the fall and incapable of willing what is good. Only God can deliver man who is dependent on grace . The difference between Pelagius and Augustine becomes particularly clear through the controversy over infant baptism .

For Christian authors from late antiquity to the early modern period, the term free will does not yet have, or not only, the modern philosophical, psychological and criminal sense. Instead, it is always about the ability to do good or evil in a person who was initially created in the image of God but then seduced by the devil .

Augustine's conception, in which God chooses and determines the number of those saved in the eternal community, remains ambiguous due to the polemical pamphlets, so that it could later be used from different directions: in the Middle Ages by the church doctor Thomas Aquinas and in the Reformation by Luther and Calvin.

Precision (foreknowledge)

In the Middle Ages, a weakened version of the doctrine of predestination is discussed, in which it is only about the foreknowledge (presence) of God: Man has full freedom of action, but God foresees what he will do. A distinction is made between the intellectual and the voluntary presence.

Double predestination

From Augustine to the Reformers the doctrine of a double predestination was developed: some people would be destined to eternal life by the grace of God, others would be separated from God. The basis was an absolutum decretum (that is, a piece of advice given regardless of man's merit or guilt). Karl Barth in particular contradicts this view with the teaching of God's choice of grace : There is no rejection or condemnation by God. Rather, all human beings are chosen by God for salvation through Christ's suffering and resurrection. Even the remonstrants argued against the double predestination; however, their principles were rejected at the Dordrecht Synod (1618–1619). Moyse Amyraut (1596–1664) softened this rejection with universalism hypotheticus , similar to Luther by accepting a gracious will of God to save all people on the condition of faith. Against this, the Consensus Helveticus , which was partially introduced in Switzerland, turned.

Personal success as a sign of predestination

It was not just Calvin who declared that human action could not be successful without God's grace. The fact that Calvin also emphasized the need for his own provision for earthly well-being gave rise to the feeling of life in Calvinist circles in the 16th and 17th centuries that success was an expression of God's blessing. Notions of being able to infer from economic success on earth who should be granted grace after death are not part of Calvin's theology. Max Weber attributed to Calvinism in his essay The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism of 1904/05 a prominent role in the development of capitalism .

Conflicts in Protestantism

In the Catholic Church the general conception of human freedom of choice in relation to the graces of God has prevailed.

Calvinist position

John Calvin considered that from the beginning of divine creation there had been two groups of believers: the elect, who received eternal salvation, and the rejected, who remained in eternal damnation. This "doctrine of double predestination" (Praedestinatio gemina) called predestination of the one to bliss and the other to damnation is God's unalterable counsel. Calvin's doctrine of predestination also emphasized that belief in God was an undeserved gift. God's free choice of grace is his secret. So it was not up to the believer's will or effort, but to God alone, who showed his mercy. It is a pure, undeserved gift, based solely on God's free decision. Man would not find certainty of election in himself, but solely in view of Jesus Christ ( Rom. 8-9  EU ). Despite his warning against speculating about God's will, Calvin himself succumbed to this temptation by teaching God's deliberate condemnation of the other as a logical counterpart to the election of the one (“double predestination”).

Calvin agreed with Luther that the message of salvation without merit bestowed on believers in Jesus Christ is fundamental. Like Luther, he emphasizes justification by faith alone ( sola fide ) and not by works .

Lutheran position

Martin Luther refers to 1 Tim 2,4  LUT “The one mediator and the salvation of all people”; according to which God wants all people to be saved and to come to knowledge. In his " De servo arbitrio " ( On the unfree will ) (1525) he announced:

“For if we believe that it is true that God knows everything beforehand, then he can neither be deceived nor hindered in his foreknowledge and his predestination, then nothing can happen if he does not want it himself. That is reason itself forced to admit, which at the same time itself testifies that there can be no free will in humans, in angels, or in any other creature. "

and further:

“If he remains trusting in himself - and he does so for as long as he imagines he can do so little for his happiness - and not desperate from the bottom up, then he does not humiliate himself because of it God, but guesses or hopes or at least desires an opportunity, time or some good work, through which he nevertheless attains salvation. But whoever really does not doubt that everything depends on the will of God, who despairs completely of himself, does not choose anything of his own, but expects the all-active God. It is closest to grace and bliss. Martin Luther: De servo arbitrio Weimar Edition No. 18. P. 632 and “

This writing was created in the examination of the ideas of Erasmus of Rotterdam and his writing " De libero arbitrio " (On free will) (1524). The theme of the Lutheran scripture was to offer a solution to the repeatedly discussed question of (Reformation) Christian thought, whether after the fall man had retained the freedom to choose divine grace on his own, or whether this decision himself already a gift of grace. Against the position of humanism , Luther vehemently emphasizes the sole effectiveness of grace . He firmly denied that humans have a free will with regard to the will of God , that is, with regard to what brings about salvation . Only the sovereign will of God decides about eternal salvation or eternal damnation .

In his doctrine of justification , Martin Luther countered this with the all-embracing divine grace ( sola gratia , solely by grace ): Through Jesus' death on the cross, every believer is saved through God's grace alone (sola gratia), regardless of his deeds.

Since, according to the reformers, God controls people's actions unnoticed through their inner motivation and not through external compulsion, the believer is again called upon to make his decisions responsibly. This freedom of the Christian also included the great translations of the Bible, which were supposed to enable ordinary believers to gain insight into the “Word of God”.

In 1973 the Reformed and Lutheran churches formulated a common understanding of predestination in the Leuenberg Agreement , Art. 24f .:

“In the gospel the unconditional acceptance of sinful man by God is promised. Those who trust in it can be certain of salvation and praise God's election. Election can therefore only be discussed with a view to the vocation to salvation in Christ. Faith does experience that the message of salvation is not accepted by everyone, but it respects the mystery of God's work. At the same time it testifies to the seriousness of human decision-making and the reality of God's universal will to salvation. The Christ testimony of the Scriptures prevents us from accepting an eternal counsel from God for the definitive rejection of certain persons or a people. "

With reference to the “universal will of God of salvation”, many Christians fundamentally reject the doctrine of predestination. Above all, the following statements of the New Testament are used: “The Lord […] does not want anyone to perish, but that everyone should convert” ( 2 Petr 3,9  EU ), “God […] wants everyone be saved "( 1 Tim 2,4  EU )," the grace of God appeared to save all people "( Tit 2,11  EU ), Jesus:" goes to all peoples and makes all people my disciples "( Mt 28.19  EU ).

On the other hand, Calvinists can refer to a number of scriptures that speak of “election”. Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer understands this election “collectively, not individually”; accordingly, God has decided to pursue his plans with a group or a “remnant”, with joining this group being an individual decision. Graf-Stuhlhofer refers to the removal of the chosen people of Israel from Egypt: The (collective) election remained, despite the disobedience of many members of the people, but the originally addressed individuals did not get into the promised land.


Discussions about the question of predestination arose in the area of ​​Islam around the turn of the 8th century. The Arabic term under which the question of predestination was discussed was Qadar . It generally denotes an act of determination. As a verb, this root is applied primarily to God in the Qur'an: It is he who determines measures that intervene in the fate of man: Already when the world was created, he fixed the supply of food for everyone once and for all ( Sura 41:10 ); he determined the stations of the moon (sura 36:39) etc. In this sense qadar denotes the divine predestination. The term qadar , however, was ambiguous, because some groups such as the Qadarites recognized humans as having their own qadar . They appear as representatives of a doctrine of human free will. However, the Qadarites were not so much concerned with free will, but with human responsibility for their actions. Nobody should be able to justify his sins by claiming that he was forced to do so because God had predetermined sins.

Muslims who later dealt with the question of predestination often did so with reference to the preacher al-Hasan al-Basri († 728). He was used as an authority for their own position both by the proponents of predestinian teachings and by their opponents. The Arabic works from the classical period that deal specifically with the question of predestination include the “Book of Predestination” ( Kitāb al-Qadar ) by al-Firyābī († 913) and the book “Providence and Predestination” ( al- Qaḍāʾ wa-l-qadar ) from Fachr ad-Din ar-Razi († 1209).


Web links

Wiktionary: predestination  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Single receipts

  1. Minho Kim: The controversial doctrine of predestination: Luther - Calvin - Barth. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2014, ISBN 978-3-7887-2656-0 .
  2. Markus Vincent: Augustine . In: Metzler Lexicon Christian Thinkers, Metzler 2000, p. 53f
  3. Markus Vincent: Augustine . In: Metzler Lexicon Christian Thinkers, Metzler 2000, p. 54.
  4. Eckard König , Thomas Rentsch : Augustinus, Aurelius . In: Jürgen Mittelstraß: Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. Second edition. Volume 1, Metzler 2005, ISBN 978-3-476-01372-9 , pp. 293-240.
  5. Thomas Rentsch: "Predestination". In: Jürgen Mittelstraß (Ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy and Philosophy of Science , Vol. 3. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1996, pp. 308f.
  6. Compare, for example, with Johannes Calvin: Institutio christianae religionis III, 21.5; in: Opera selecta , ed. by Peter Barth and Wilhelm Niesel, Munich 1959.
  7. ^ Karl Barth: Church Dogmatics II / 2
  8. Olivier Fatio: Formula Consensus. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . May 1, 2007 , accessed June 5, 2019 .
  9. ^ Institutio Christianae religionis , I, 16.8–9.
  10. Martin Eberle, Calvinism and Capitalism ( Memento of the original from June 3, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ; Frank Jehle: Predestination . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. Predestination: Never has a more cruel god been invented than here. In: Dieter Potzel (Ed.): Der Theologe , Edition No. 49, version dated December 2, 2017, accessed on April 25, 2018.
  12. ^ Otto WeberCalvin: Theologie . In: Religion Past and Present (RGG). 3. Edition. Volume 1, Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 1957, Sp. 1596.
  13. ^ Translation of "De servo arbitrio", accessed on January 24, 2018. [1]
  14. Hubert Cancik, Burkhard Gladigow, Matthias Samuel Laubscher (eds.): Handbook of basic concepts for religious studies. Vol. 4, W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne / Mainz 1998, ISBN 3-17-009553-6 , p. 337 f.
  15. Streitenberger: The five points of Calvinism , 2011.
  16. ^ Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer: Why Christians Have Different Opinions , Foreword to Streitenberger: The five points of Calvinism , 2011, p. 10f.
  17. See Nagel: Geschichte der Islamischen Theologie , 1994, p. 45.
  18. ^ Suleiman Ali Mourad: Early Islam between Myth and History. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d 110H / 728CE) and the Formation of his Legacy in Classical Islamic Scholarship. Brill, Leiden 2006, p. 3.