I am slightly confused about foreordination.

What I thought I had understood was that foreordination is happening in the premortal life retro-causally because of the faith and good choices in this life. That's how I used to understand Alma 13, since it talks about how the foreordination happens due to the foreknowledge of God and their faith and good works (which I assumed means in this life due to the close proximity of mentioning foreknowledge??). This all makes sense for me considering God's foreknowledge of our mortal life and our ignorance of the premortal due to the veil. It is in line with what I think to understand from D&C, that the elect are elect because they don't harden their hearts, not that they don't harden their hearts because they are elect.

However when I look up foreordination on the church website, I am lead to understood a foreordination is result of faith and good choices in premortal life. Which has me scratching my head because Alma 13:5 explicitely calls out choices that would be made.

So, which is it? Maybe both?

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    Doesn't Alma chapter 13 suggest that foreordination happened before the spirit children of heavenly parents came to earth to be born as humans? Also that the foreordination spoken of in Alma chapter 13 refers to men who were "called and prepared from the foundation of the world" to be high priests? For God to exercise foreknowledge of future events, perhaps that was based on them choosing good rather than evil while they were still spirit children and before they "progressed" by being born as humans? If agency is the reason for their choices here on earth, then that's not foreordination.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 13:52
  • @Lesley The idea I had is that yes, foreordination happens before birth but is based on choices after birth. Since God knows what happens in this life, he can plan ahead according to what we will do with our agency. And since we don't know of our premortal life, a foreordination doesn't influence our choices here, preserving agency.
    – kutschkem
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 6:54

1 Answer 1


Foreordination does not happen retro-casually/retroactively, with the veil the only way one can know it one was foreordained is through revelation (prophecy, patriarchal blessing, or other other blessing). Even in the pre-existence we had agency, and a third of the hosts of heaven choose not to follow God's plan.

IMO this was not necessarily as simple as one may first read, not only was there a great war in Heaven, but that's not how divisions in opinion happen here on earth. There were probably those more committed/faithful and those less.

Those who choose God's plan choose good (see below vs 3) and we were all at the same standing as one another in that sense (see below vs 5). It would make sense that those more faithful were those who were foreordained to more, keeping in mind that foreordination does not guarantee fulfillment here on earth as we all still have agency. So foreordained individuals have to use their agency here on earth to reach that foreordained calling.

If you read from earlier in Alma 13 from verse 3 you'll find the definition is closer to the given definition

3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.

4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.

5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared

Definition from Gospel Topics:

In the premortal spirit world, God appointed certain spirits to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives. This is called foreordination. Foreordination does not guarantee that individuals will receive certain callings or responsibilities. Such opportunities come in this life as a result of the righteous exercise of agency, just as foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence.


The doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church, not just to the Savior and His prophets. Before the creation of the earth, faithful women were given certain responsibilities and faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood duties. As people prove themselves worthy, they will be given opportunities to fulfill the assignments they then received.

In regards to the elect D&C 29:7 says who will here His voice.

7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;

Related Questions:

Emphasis mine

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    "So foreordained individuals have to use their agency here on earth to reach that foreordained calling." God can foreordain something that fails to happen? I don't understand. Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 11:53
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    yes, we (man) have agency. An analogy: pretend you have a friend in medical school (fore-ordained to be a medical professional of some sort), you can see them being a great doctor (fore-knowledge), but then they leave med school to pursue another field, marry, or something else. They have exercised agency to change what they could've attained.
    – depperm
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 12:08
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    this is an analogy to explain the principle, like most analogies it is imperfect. This is about foreordination not ordination, prophecy, commandment or the like. Maybe a better analogy is you've graduated with a degree in a specific subject, you could say you're going to be a great professional in that field (foreordained), but you having agency can do all sorts of things. Foreordination is not God making guesses, its more of us having shown a certain level of faith/good works and equal/greater expectations here on earth.
    – depperm
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 13:20
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    @MikeBorden that is not what foreordination means. That sounds like predestination, which the Church of Jesus Christ does not believe in. We believe man has agency to make their own choices, for good or for bad.
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 15:32
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    @MikeBorden I have defined foreordination in the context of LDS doctrine (which does match: appointed beforehand). The LDS interpretation of Romans 8:29 is more about LDS foreordination than the doctrine of predestination (description that may explain better). I agree that God knows what we are going to do in advance, but we don't/didn't. I have not said God doesn't see things coming.
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 12:11

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