This is an introduction to one of Christianity's most controversial doctrines. The doctrine of predestination has been an important part of Christian orthodoxy since at least the time of St. Augustine. Yet it has also long been one of the most controversial of Christian doctrines. A handful of major questions and worries that have kept both theologians and laypersons from embracing the doctrine. Above all, these include worries about the implications of the idea of predestination for Christian understandings of human free will and divine responsibility for evil. The fact that it poses such concerns raises two basic questions: 'what does a doctrine of predestination actually imply', and 'why has some version of that doctrine proved appealing to so many great theologians including Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth?' In this Guide for the Perplexed , Jesse Couenhoven leads the reader through the thorny issues connected with the Christian understanding of predestination. He offers a historical analysis of the great theologians who embraced or rejected the idea. In the last chapter he tackles the remaining issues in a constructive way. Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
Jesse Couenhoven is Assistant Professor of Moral Theology in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University, USA.
Introduction: Problems of PredestinationChapter 1: What's so Great about Predestination?Chapter 2: Predestination and Freedom Chapter 3: Predestination, Grace, and Responsibility Chapter 4: Predestination, Election, and EschatologyChapter 5: Predestination Today