• Latin: praedestinare, to determine beforehand


In its widest sense, predestination coincides with Divine Providence and God’s government of the world. Guided by His infallible prescience of the future, God from eternity fore-ordained the events that occur in time, and thus destined all things beforehand to their appointed end. In its strict and theological sense, predestination signifies the supernatural providence of God, immutably decreeing and efficaciously promoting the eternal salvation of rational creatures. It implies two essential elements: God’s infallible foreknowledge (praescientia) of the future, and His immutable decree (decretum) of eternal happiness. God sincerely wills all rational creatures to be saved, and to that end He provides them with means at least remotely sufficient for the attainment of eternal salvation; yet He does not predestine every one to life eternal, but only those in whom He sees fulfilled the unalterable conditions laid down by Himself. “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be made conformable to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8 ) These only are His elect, and of them no one is ever lost (John 10). In its full or adequate meaning, predestination refers to both grace and glory as a whole, and in this sense it is defined by Saint Thomas as “the foreordination of grace in the present, and of glory in the future.” It not only includes a divine election to glory as the end, but also to grace as the means, the vocation to faith, justification, and final perseverance inseparably connected with a happy death. It is with this adequate predestination that the real dogma of eternal election is exclusively concerned. Predestination is objectively certain and immutable; but without a special revelation to that effect, no one in this life can know for certain whether he is among the predestined. Hence the admonition of Saint Peter: “Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election.” (2 Peter, 1)

MLA Citation

  • “predestination”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 December 2010. Web. 23 January 2019. <>