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Predestination

by Richard D. Draper

THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints rejects the belief in predestination—that God predetermines the salvation or the damnation of every individual. The gospel teaches that genuine human freedom and genuine responsibility—individual agency in both thought and action—are crucial in both the development and the outcome of a person's life. Church doctrine rejects the strict dual option providing only heaven or hell as an outcome, since people vary widely in their levels of spiritual attainment. At the same time, Latter-day Saints recognize both the indispensable need for the grace of God manifested through Jesus Christ and the effective spiritual guidance that comes through divine foreordination.

The LDS position is based in part on the teachings of Paul that God "will render to every man according to his deeds" and that "there is no respect of persons with God" (Rom. 2:6, 11). These two principles provide a basis for understanding Paul's use of the term "predestination." The term apparently connoted "to be ordained beforehand for godly labor." In the sense that one's potential or calling has been recognized and declared, this interpretation conforms with the Greek term Paul used, proorizo, and does not denote an irreversible or irresistible predetermination.

Latter-day Saints are to "look unto God in every thought" (D&C 6:36), because no person can save himself. But neither can God redeem anyone without that person's effort and collaboration. All are free to accept or reject God's help and powers of redemption. It is clearly taught in scripture that with his help both justification and sanctification will be "just and true" (D&C 20:30). "But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; therefore let the church take heed, and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also" (D&C 20:32, 33).

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Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Predestination

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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