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It seems to be the teaching of most Arminians that when people are saved, they are added to the body of corporately predestined people, as opposed to the Calvinistic view that people are personally predestined.

Arminians would, for example, point to 1 Peter 2:9, where the elect are in the plural :

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

However, others would point out more individualistic passages, like Romans 9:15–16:

For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

Regardless of whether corporate or individual predestination is correct (or, indeed, whether both be true at once), is there an inherent logical or philosophical incompatibility between personal choice (Arminianism) and personal predestination, or are there to the contrary Arminians that hold (what seems to be the generally Calvinistic view) of personal predestination?

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  • Welcome to the site, Denis. For clarification: when you say 'personal choice (Arminianism)' do you mean the individual person chooses Christ (without any divine predestination being involved), or do you mean the person chooses to belong to the Church (which is the corporate body of predestined people)? I was not aware that any Arminians believed in any kind of personal predestination. Can you give a bit more detail, please?
    – Anne
    Mar 16, 2023 at 15:10
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    @Anne the question is whether the free will of man to choose salvation is compatible with the individual predestination of believers by God, as opposed to corporate election of the church. The question is based on the fact that Arminians do not generally believe in individual predestination, and I want to know why. Mar 16, 2023 at 15:32
  • Not sure if I have enough to write a full answer, but I would consider myself more or less Arminian and affirm individual predestination Mar 16, 2023 at 22:10
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    Predestination as a whole is pretty well misunderstood and misapplied. Those who believe are predestined to be conformed to Christ's image. Nowhere is it said that people are predestined to believe. Individual belief is foreknown by God (this constitutes Divine election) but not predestined. Therefore repentance/belief remains a choice and it is believers who are predestined to conformity. Mar 17, 2023 at 12:32

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TL;DR - yes, but not at all in a Calvinistic sense.

I consider myself more or less Arminian, and do affirm individual predestination, but to attempt to give a more objective answer, let's look at the 5 points often used to summarize Arminianism (paraphrased from this article as I generally do not find Calvinist sites accurately represent the details of their opponent's positions, but I couldn't find an Arminian source in my 30 seconds of Googling):

1 - Free Will

Possibly the most misrepresented and misdefined doctrine, Arminians generally hold to libertarian free will. This can generally be defined as the ability to do otherwise; more specifically, for any action a man does, nothing caused or necessarily brought about that action such that he could not have done something else, or at least refrained from doing the thing he did. "Nothing" includes that man's own desires, excluding a compatibilistic determinism.

This point pretty clearly rejects the idea that God is in any way puppeteering us, or even that our desires determine what we do.

2 - Conditional Election

This essentially means that the election of an individual is conditioned on their accepting of the Gospel, which God foreknew from eternity past. In other words, a person is elect simply due to the fact that they will accept the Gospel, which God has always known. Alternatively, God only chooses to bring to faith those He knows will respond positively of their own accord.

Not all Arminians hold to this view; some would instead affirm corporate election, whereby a man becomes elect upon belief; the elect are those who believe, not those whom God has decided will believe.

This pretty firmly establishes Man's choice/role in his own salvation; he doesn't contribute to it, but accepts it of his own accord.

3 - Universal/General Atonement

Christ's death was sufficient to save everyone, but is only effective/applied to those who believe.

This precludes predestination in the sense that it is not the case that Christ only died for some people, who will certainly then be saved, but salvation is instead genuinely available to all.

4 - Resistible Grace

This directly contradicts a key point of Calvinism, stating that God's grace is resistible; one could receive a genuine call to salvation and have just as much opportunity/grace as another, but choose to reject it while the other does not.

This again emphasizes that it is genuinely a choice to accept Christ, not something that is predetermined in which we have no other option.

5 - Falling from Grace

This essentially means that it is possible to forfeit one's salvation, not simply by sinning too much but by deliberately turning away and rejecting God.

This pretty clearly rejects Calvinistic predestination, as even once saved a man still has the choice to leave.

So after all that, you might wonder how I could still affirm individual predestination of any kind, and the short answer is Molinism, which I won't get into here but have described in other answers on this SE.

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No, the Arminian would not say that the saved are added to the body of corporately predestined people - just that they are added to the body of saved people. The Arminian does not believe in the predestined. They are added to the corporate body of people (who are not predestined) after They elect to become saved.

This fundamentally comes down to what it means to be "elect". To the Calvinist, this can mean that God predestined or forordained your salvation. To the Arminian however, the "Elect" are just those to which the Abrahamic Covenenat was given.

Paul then extends this into a "New Covenant" in passages like  Hebrews 8:6–13 or 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, and Hebrews 9. But this is still a cause which is joined by those with free will who choose to join the cause of the Gospel (The Arminian meaning of "elect"). Not something which is predetermined.

But this is probably the wrong place for this discussion and I hope it is transferred to the Christianity SE by a Mod. But no, it would not be possible to be Arminian and believe in "Personal Predestination" because the Arminian rejects predestination - instead believing that God is continually engaging in creation. This work is not yet entirely complete. The future is not yet forged, but the present is forged by the grace of God and humankind has been invited to engage in the acts of creation - we create art, we create life when conception happens, we were invited in Genesis to name creatures (a creative act in antiquity) and so forth. So creation continues to happen now and nothing can be "preordained" in the strictest sense - only influenced by God who omnisciently sees all creation as it happens and is created.

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    Not sure how accurate it is to say Arminians reject predestination. They do believe in predestination that is conditioned by foreknowledge. From Arminius himself: "From these decrees the fourth proceeds, by which God decreed to save and to damn certain particular persons. This decree has its foundation in divine foreknowledge, through which God has known from all eternity those individuals who through the established means of his prevenient grace would come to faith..." Mar 16, 2023 at 19:40
  • This seems to very assertively paint Arminianism as a whole with a broad brush, some references could be useful to improve this answer Mar 16, 2023 at 22:08

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