There is a divide among christian groups about the meaning of predestination and election as found in e.g. Rom. 8:29 and I Pet. 1:2 etc. This has led to extremes in interpretation such as hyper-calvinism and free will groups who attribute everything to free will and very little to God. I'm Greek but I was raised in America and I'm not an expert in the Greek. I, personally, feel that man has a choice whether to believe in Christ and in christianity but also that God's Spirit is involved in the process. That it's not an either or concept or truth. Nevertheless, I feel helpless when sharing my thoughts with Calvinist's, for example, because I can not speak with authority as to what the Greek really says and means and whether it can be definitevely settled or that it's simply just a matter of doctrinal faith without any absolute definitiveness. I sure would appreciate help in this area as I believe there is an answer which is absolute and unquestionable in the Biblical Greek. Please help. Thanks. George
In Orthodoxy predestination means only that God knows what we will do – not that we are ‘obliged’ to do it. As Gennadius Scholarius put it, there is a foreknown predestination, for the faithful, and a foreknown conviction, for the non-faithful. Symeon the New Theologian asks: “who is responsible for your loss? You, not following Christ, or God who made you, because, knowing everything, He knew that you won’t follow Him, but you will keep your cruelty?”
For free will, our tradition teaches that salvation depends simultaneously to God and to man, absolutely to God, without whose Spirit there is no grace and illumination, and also absolutely to man, without whose free will God can do nothing to save him. St. Maximus Confessor says, that “God Himself exercises in us, as His organs, all actions and all theory – virtue, knowledge, victory, wisdom, love and truth-, while we contribute nothing at all, but only our disposition to receive goodness.”
This is Nikos and below I expound my understanding of the disputed understanding of the Scripture's passages. With you I also grieve for the pain of the divided Christians. I am not sure if my words help, but please pray to our God that His Spirit be amidst us as we endeavour any answers.
Christians believe that God has a plan to be fulfilled for his creation. Nevertheless, God's plan cannot be accomplished without the cooperative will of God's sons. That God predestined His Kingdom for his sons we believe to be true only because God predestined the incarnation of his Son.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man (Mark 8:29-31) fulfilling Dan.7 according to His Father's plan again. Christians believe this to be true as well, of course. This has further implications. In other words, the mission opened up by Jesus and accomplished in Him as being the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29) was to bring men to obedience to God and to submission to God's sovereign rule.
Whoever understands this purpose of God are the called ones predestined for God's Kingdom. That this goal will be fulfilled is foreknown to God, that is, that through His Son many more will be glorified. That the 'called ones', however, are the 'foreknown ones', should be seen eschatologically. God always knew that His Kingdom will be filled with the loved ones. Foreknowledge of the eschata however is only known to the Father; to the Son is known that the Farther has a plan for the eschata (in other words, God' s Kingdom). God knows us as long as we conform our wills to His will for the purpose of His creation which is the preparation of his Kingdom. To the degree that we let our spirit be moulded by His we are even called holy ones.
Our freedom is given to decide to 'what degree' we want to participate in God's purpose. Jesus's human will was always obediently oriented towards His Father's will. Although He could have chosen otherwise, He didn't. That manifested to us His divine origin as well. On the other hand, not only did He do that but He called us to do the same. So in Jesus, God the Father knows that there will be other ones as well called to God's Kingdom.
I applaude Nikos' explanation of the scriptures in this regard. The problem in divided Christianity over this issue, though, is that it springs simply from Bl. Augustine in his polemic against Pelagius. Polemics is "warlike" and will by nature use overemphasis to defeat one's oponent, thus the exagerated idea. And further, the problem is hightened I believe because of the Latin used to translate the Greek word for "predestinate."
What is being considered is purely monergism (I believe tha's a word, I mean the opposite of synergism -- i.e., only one operant, Who is God Himself). God is given ultimate responsibility for the end of all things, not that evil is His desire. Of course, this seems to place God under "necessity" which should be far from the case, it is only that God is the necessity of all.
The only place of concern for the Calvinist (one doesn't need to be "hyper" to follow the double-presestination theory, it is simply Calvin's Augustinianism) is whether your friend believes that he is predestined to perdition. The answer to him is that he cannot know that he is not, because these matters are in the deep counsels of God which remain unrevealed. All that will be revealed in the end. Does he believe the word of Truth that he has been offered unity Iat-one-ment) with the Father through the Son? Does he believe this now? If yes, then God's plan, or decree (or destination) for him is for his Good. If the answer is no, the offer is always available to him and he is free to accept it at any time.
My bias though, is that I am not Calvinist, I am Lutheran, so I would be expected to reply so.
I realized that you asked a question about the language, relating to this "predestination" problem. I share what little gleanings I have found regarding it.
Προορίζειν (to mark off first, beforehand) appears once in the New Testament (Acts 4:28) as "decernere" in Latin, and 5 x’s, "prædestinare." First, let us put Acts 4:28 to rest.
The context of Acts 4:27-28 is part of a prayer of St. Peter’s following his and St. John’s testimony to the bretheren of all that had happened regarding their defense before a Jewish synedrion for participation in the healing of a lame man before the temple in lieu of giving alms which they did not have. In his prayer glorifying God for all that had happened then, and why, he referrences the 2nd Psalm stating that it had been an example fulfillment of what it prophesies. the English translation of the salient portion of the Latin Vulgate I have gives these verses as: “... to do what thy hand and thy counsel decreed to be done…” This is the gramatically appropriate form of the infinitive προορίζειν meaning, as above, “to mark off first, beforehand.” The particularly Lutheran “American Translation” of Wm. F. Beck uses the word “decided” while the Orthodox “The Holy Apostles Convent” translation uses “…foreordained”
The other 5 places a form of the word appears are Rom. 8:29 & 30, Eph.1:5 & 11, & 1Cor.2:7. In each case the English translation of the Vulgate has “predestinated,” as the so-called “Authorized” of “King James” version. The Orthodox version cited above uses “foreordained,” and the Lutheran Beck American Translation uses “appointed beforehand.”
The Romans passage follows from “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose: [our verse> …that the one’s He knew beforehand would, He planned beforehand to conform to the image of His Son: the one’s He planned beforehand to [thus conform], He [now] calls, and these that He calls, He now justifies (some say that means “kills” – it certainly means He makes them right), and those He justifies, he glorifies.
The Ephesian passages say that God chose us before the foundation of the world, planning for us to take the place of a son, in His Son, Christ Jesus, i.e., planning for us to Come to Him in His Son, which tells us also that His plan for the Logos was incarnation from even then.
1Corinthians 2:7 says that there is a hidden wisdom of God which He planned before the ages, viz what God reveals to us through His Spirit (i.e., as preached in His Gospel), i.e., the wisdom of the age to come which turns this world upside down!
So, you see, this is all that the Scriptures will use this word.
Ephesian 1 emphasizes "In Him" and "In Christ" that describes that the gifts of salvation are those who are in Christ - "In Him" and that according to Gal 3:26-27. The boundary for salvation, therefore, is "The plan and not the Man." It is the plan that is predetermined before the foundation of the earth and NOT God's assigning some to salvation and others to hell, as some assume. “Foreordained.” “Predestinated,” (KJ), Destined” (RSV) - propridzo - to mark out beforehand, to predetermine, pro - before, plus horidzo - to mark off and separate by boundaries to appoint, designate, determine. The boundries God predetermined are those “in Christ”; therefore, whoever chooses to live within this sphere will be saved. (1 Cor 2:7, Ro 8:28-29.)