Whether you are reformed, Armenian, or somewhere in between, the way you view predestination determines the way you live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. This doctrine effects the way someone reads and interprets the word of God, does ministry, prays, and ultimately worships God. Predestination is difficult to understand, in all honesty there may not be an answer that is completely perfect to how God would define predestination. Though the doctrine does create a lot of controversy it is important because a person’s theology is important to their spiritual growth and ministry.
This paper will examine how predestination is biblical and determines the way someone approaches and lives out their faith and ultimately how they worship God. Historical Background of Predestination Before the paper can explore and unpack the doctrine of predestination and its credibility within the scriptures there needs to be a foundation established as to how predestination originated. The historical background of predestination is important because through its history the doctrine of predestination is revealed in the process.
This section of the paper will cover predestination’s history from Augustine till the reformation. The section will unpack how the controversy of predestination became more and more complex by elaborating on recurring issues. Origination(fifth century) The complex and very intriguing story of predestination begins with one of the most foreknown theologians in history. Aurelius Augustine, also known as St. Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century became and still is one of the key and central figures in the predestination controversy.
Augustine who’s personal testimony was no walk in the park as far as his journey from classical philosophy to the intellectual sect of Christianity ,”Manichaeism”, and finally his enlightening conversion to Christianity also progressed in his thought process from free will to predestination. Everett Ferguson who wrote “Church History: Volume one From Christ to Pre-reformation” explains that Augustine’s process to predestination was a three step process in which Augustine discovered through his growing knowledge and understanding of the scriptures.
When Augustine was a proponent of free will he would refer to his conversion from Manichaeism as he, without God’s divine intervention overcoming that train of thought. Augustine defered to Joshua 24:15 “I will choose this day whom I will serve” to prove and explain his point. Manicheans believed that “they were predetermined elect to see the truth”1 which Augustine had a problem with. Augustine would use the older Christian view, “free will in respect to faith”1. In other words the individual was able to make a conscious decision and effort to decide their destiny and salvation.
Augustine also used Neo-Platonism as an example that individuals could overcome their doubts because they would be moved by the attractiveness of the “higher good”1. Next in his train of thought Augustine used 1 Corinthians 12:6 “It is the same God who works all things in all”. The problem with this is that the word does not affirm God to believe “all in all”1. Just because someone believes that their deeds are good does not necessarily mean that they have faith in God or that God is working in them. This argument by Augustine would have to conclude that faith is a gift from humans to God but the Holy Spirit is what sanctifies.
Finally in 396 A. D. Augustine completely moved to a predestination thought process in stating “Faith too is given by God. God is at work in you enabling you to will and to work” (Philippians 2:13)1. Augustine’s statement meant that in order for someone to truly and genuinely believe in God there must be a supernatural intervention by God to call them to himself. By affirming this Augustine takes all of the power from the individual and gives it all to God. At first Augustine did not meet much opposition over his new doctrine, but that would soon change with the fourth century coming to a close and the fifth century just beginning.