Predestination, also known as divine election, is a theological doctrine that holds that God chooses who He will give saving faith to. Contrary to popular belief, predestination was not first proposed by John Calvin, but can be traced back to St. Augustine (354-430) and other Church Fathers. Proponents say that the doctrine can be traced back to the writings of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as well as passages in the Gospels, such as John 17.
Central to predestination is the belief that God is sovereign over everything that He creates, including the final end of all men. There are two formulations of predestination, predestination proper and "double" predestination. In the former view, God elects who He will give faith to (and subsequently be saved), and leaves the rest to receive justice for their rebellion against God. Double predestination also affirms that God elects who will come to saving faith, but also holds that God also elects those who will be judged for their sins and thereby condemned to Hell. In the first position, God actively chooses who he will save and is passive towards the reprobate, in the second position, God actively chooses who will be counted among the righteous and who will be among the reprobate.
Related to the issue of predestination is the role of the human will in salvation. Some critics of predestination believe that it is incomensurable with the belief that man has libertarian free will. Proponents of predestination typically agree that the views do not work together, and propose an alternate description of free will. The human will, because of Original Sin, is corrupted and fallen. Often Ephesians 2:1, which states that men are "dead in their trespasses," is cited in justification of this. The result is that the will is incapable of choosing to love God over things below. This does not remove the ability of human beings to choose between two options, but it does remove one option, the choice to love God or not, from the kinds of choices that humans can make. The will can only choose to love God if it receives the grace of God. According to the doctrine of predestination, God chooses those to whom He will give the grace to believe in, and love, him. Thus, when a person chooses to place his faith in Christ, he has recieved the grace of God and is numbered among God's elect. This understanding of predestination excludes the possibility that someone could put their faith in Christ and not be saved. The fact that one does believe that Christ died for his sins is sufficient evidence for his election.
Predestination is also called unconditional election, the U in the TULIP mnemonic for five of the doctrines affirmed at the Synod of Dort (1619), which have now come to be called the "Five Points of Calvinism."
People who believe in predestination will sometimes cite Ephesians 2:8-9 in support of their beliefs:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (KJV)Several verses in Romans 8 are also used to support this view.