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Do all Christians believe in predestination? If not, for those who don't, how do they explain Romans 9:14 - 9:24?

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 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? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

The passage says some are "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction," and others are "vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory..." Also when it says "He hardens whom he desires," the implication is that when a person's heart becomes hardened, it is hardened by God in which case they did not do so of their free will. Both of these support the idea of predestination (the former more than the latter) and I want to know how a Christian who doesn't believe in predestination (or one who somehow harmonizes predestination and free will) would interpret this passage, particularly the things I mentioned.

  • "All Christians" is a wide shot pattern. The term has been watered down, exaggerated, misunderstood, misapplied, and misused by most if not all of us. It will be interesting indeed to hear what a Christian who denies 'predestination' altogether has to say about this passage. – Mike Borden Jan 17 at 18:43
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    This is very badly researched and presented. How do they explain . . . . what, exactly ? – Nigel J Jan 17 at 20:52
  • The simple answer to your first sentence is "No." and as to If not, for those who don't, how do they explain Romans 9:14 - 9:24 an easy reply is "Well, they read the rest of the Bible and didn't cherry pick a single passage* But that kind of answer won't help you, I don't think. I make that point and will further observe that your question comes off more as an argument or a mini rant than a question. Have you read through the other questions and answers with the predestination tag here at Christianity.SE? – KorvinStarmast Jan 18 at 2:49
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    You have not demonstrated that this passage supports predestination, free will, or the lack of either. Maybe you ought to do that as part of your question. Not sure why you assume that the passage supports your opinion, but it would be interesting to see how you believe it all fits together, or perhaps how a theological position in that genre. – KorvinStarmast Jan 19 at 13:36
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    Thanks for adding a bit of clarity to your question. Next time you ask a question, please remember to be more thorough; complete the process. You never offended me. My comments to you were intended to get you to ask a complete question. – KorvinStarmast Jan 20 at 5:35
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Do all Christians believe in predestination? No.

Do all Christians believe in free-will? No.

Does the Bible teach predestination? Yes

Does the Bible teach Free-Will? Yes

Romans informs us that salvation is about God's choice. Romans 10 informs of of man's responsibility to believe or man's choice. Is Jesus God? Yes. Is Jesus Man? Yes. Coincidence that God operates in this way?

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  • Could you substantiate the use of the wording 'free will' in scripture, please. – Nigel J Jan 18 at 8:44
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    Thank you. What verses in the Bible support the doctrine of free will? – MATTHEW Jan 19 at 3:39
  • @MATTHEW What about the verses which say God wanted people to repent and they refuse to, or that they resist the Holy Spirit? – Sola Gratia Jan 19 at 14:33
  • I don't see how the Bible can teach both predestination and free will, because they are essentially mutually exclusive: predestination is a setting of another individual's course, while free will means that each individual can set their own course without being forced into one that has been determined for them by someone else. – Mr. Donutz Jan 20 at 15:31
  • @MATTHEW Have a look at Philemon 14, for instance, for a reference to "free will" – Mr. Donutz Jan 20 at 15:52
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The answer to your first question: No.

As with many things denominational/soteriological, definitions come heavily into play here. Some people, for example, would interpret 'predestine' and 'predestination' to require total divine determinism, ie God sovereignly and directly controlling every thought and action a man does until he arrives at the destination God has unchangeably, irrevocably determined he will arrive at.

I'm a Christian who, as you put it "Somehow harmonizes predestination and free will" - specifically, a Molinist. I do not hold to such an extreme definition as above, and believe God predestines by placing us in situations in which He knows we will freely behave as He desires.

Consider, for example, that on a given day, God knows that if it rains, Bob will accept his friend's invitation to church (and accept Christ into his heart) instead of going to that football match he was planning on attending. If God then makes it rain that day, He has effectively brought about Bob's salvation. Alternatively, He could choose to not bring rain, and bring about Bob's damnation in a similar way. In each instance, Bob has complete free will - God simply knows how he will act depending on what He brings about. I've given heavily simplified examples here, but these give the gist.

To apply this to your chosen verses: Even if these were taken to refer to individual predestination (which, although I affirm predestination, I do not believe - rather, I think this verse speaks to God's raising up of the Israelites as His chosen people), one could say God hardens, prepares and molds by placing said individuals in circumstances he knows will shape them by their own free responses. After all, Pharaoh is said to have hardened his own heart multiple times before God hardened it further.

Open Theists and Traditionalists/Provisionalists (potentially some or all Arminians) are the denominations I know off the top of my head who deny individual predestination altogether, and would most likely be the people you would be directing this question at - I just thought I'd put in my Molinist 2 cents.

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