But of course there is something more involved in this doctrine, namely his famous doctrine of predestination. Predestination is providence with respect to the ultimate aim of man. It is providence which leads man through his life to his final aim. And so predestination is nothing more than the logical implication and the final fulfillment of the doctrine of providence.
Now what does “predestination” mean? How does this problem arise? Why is it that most of the great names in religion, from Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, to Luther, are adherents of “predestination,” while those who do not adhere ,always are nearer to a moral interpretation of Christianity than to a strictly religious interpretation.? This is a problem which we must ask ourselves. If we deny predestination, we deny the high line of religious personalities and their theology.
Now the question behind this doctrine is: Why does not everybody receive the same possibility to reject or to accept the truth of the Gospel? Why doesn’t he get it historically? – -he never knew Jesus. Why does he never get it psychologically? – his preconditions are such that he could not even understand the meaning of what is said to him. This is a question we must ask today, every day.
The answer is: By Divine providence, but, as we have heard, providence with respect to our eternal destiny is predestination. In the moment in which Christianity emphasizes the uniqueness of Christ, it must ask why most people have never heard about Him, while those who have externally heard about Him were preconditioned in a way that this hearing didn’t mean anything. In other words, all these men observed something empirically, namely that there is a selective and not an equalitarian principle effective in life. Life cannot be understood in terms of an equalitarian principle; it can be understood only in terms of a selective principle.
Everybody asks these questions. Calvin says: You shouldn’t suppress such questions in terms of a wrong modesty; one must ask them. “We shall never be clearly convinced. . . that our salvation f lows from the fountain of God’s free mercy till we are acquainted with His eternal election, which illustrates the grace of God by this comparison, that He adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation but gives to some what He refuses to others.” But this is only the one side. The other is that which gives to those who ask this question a certainty of salvation because it makes salvation completely independent of the oscillations of our own being. This was the second reason for this doctrine, in Paul, Augustine, and Luther. They wanted certainty of salvation. If they looked at themselves, they couldn’t find it because their faith was always weak and changing. If they looked beyond themselves, they could find it in the action of God. The concrete character of Divine grace is visible in an election which elects me especially, by not electing others. All this leads to the concept of predestination.