I was recently pondering on why it took me so long to discover reformed theology, and how my beliefs changed before/after reading reformed theology -- and as I traced my thoughts, it seems like a key point I hit was the doctrine of predestination.

Before believing in predestination, my notion of Christianity was something like: God vs Satan is fighting in some huge battle. I get to play a part. I'm important. I choose who to serve, and I can influence other humans in either direction.

After understanding predestination, it was something like: wow, I'm absolutely useless. There's all these angelic beings worshipping God, God really doesn't need me, and I don't have much influence over whether God or Satan wins, and I don't have much influence even other whether people ultimately get saved.

This realization then somehow paved the door for understanding reformed theology -- i.e. the focus of the Bible is about God, rather than humans.


Thus, is the doctirne of predestination considered a core pillar of reformed theology? Are there any well known doctrines / documents (accepted by reformed theologists) that argue against predestination?

  • 1
    Without some doctrine of pre-d you don't have a Biblical faith. Regarding the Reformed view, if you drop pre-d, then you must redefine the effects of the fall. If you redefine this, then you must redefine the purpose of the atonement. If you redefine this, you must redefine Christ's purpose for coming in human flesh and dying. You come to a point where you have a Christ who was not God, to effect a salvation for people who don't need it since they really aren't dead in sin. We have healthy debates about this, but I don't see this as a key to Reformed Theo, I see it as key to the Bible. Sep 27, 2012 at 11:53
  • A theology of predestination follows from a theology that God is almighty sovereign, meaning there is nothing that he does not have under his will. You can't accept this but then neglect predestination without engaging in cognitive dissonance, yet many theological frameworks have admitted internal inconsistencies which are dismissed as mysteries or antinomies, Reformed notwithstanding.
    – user3961
    Mar 10, 2017 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


I found this summary of reformed theology very helpful:


Reformed theology emphasizes the doctrines of grace, best known by the acronym TULIP, though this does not correspond to the best possible names for the five doctrines.


U stands for unconditional election. An emphasis on election bothers many people, but the problem they feel is not actually with election; it is with depravity. If sinners are as helpless in their depravity as the Bible says they are, unable to know and unwilling to seek God, then the only way they could possibly be saved is for God to take the initiative to change and save them. This is what election means. It is God choosing to save those who, apart from His sovereign choice and subsequent action, certainly would perish.


As you can see, one of the "pillars" of reformed theology is Unconditional Election (aka predestination). If you remove that pillar, I don't believe the theological system you have left could be fairly called "reformed."

For a more verbose introduction to reformed theology, see this series by R.C. Sproul:


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