Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “What is foreordination?”
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Foreordination is a big word. We believe in a God with big plans and specific purposes, but we also know our ability to choose trumps almost everything else. Foreordination is a specific gospel principle that works in harmony with our agency and differs from what many in the world believe is God’s ultimate, overreaching control of our lives.
What is Foreordination?
In the Guide to the Scriptures, foreordination is defined as “God’s premortal ordination of His valiant spirit children to fulfill certain missions during their mortal lives.” Ordination generally refers to receiving the power or authority to act.
The scriptures give multiple examples of foreordination. The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah that “before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Abraham was told he “wast chosen before thou wast born.” As always, the Savior stands as the ultimate example. The scriptures say Jesus was “foreordained before the foundation of the world.”
These are grand examples, but many regular people like you and I have been foreordained to certain callings, duties, and responsibilities.
Foreordination vs. Predestination
Some religions believe in the idea of predestination—God’s will and salvation have been predetermined and we cannot change the course of events in our lives. If someone is meant to be a prophet, they will be. If someone is meant to fail, they will.
Foreordination differs because it allows room for our agency. The Guide to the Scriptures says, “Foreordination does not guarantee that individuals will receive certain callings or responsibilities. Such opportunities come in this life as a result of the righteous exercise of agency, just as foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence.”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “Just because we were chosen ‘there and then,’ surely does not mean we can be indifferent ‘here and now.’”
What Prophets Have Taught
Here are a few quotes from Church leaders about foreordination.
“Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time,” President Russell M. Nelson said. “You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be a leader in His great work on earth. You were chosen not for your bodily characteristics but for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “The Almighty chooses the prophets and apostles who minister in his name and present his message to the world in every age and dispensation. He selects and foreordains his ministers; he sends them to earth at the times before appointed; he guides and directs their continuing mortal preparations; and he then calls them to those positions they were foreordained to receive from before the foundations of the earth.”
Elder Robert C. Oaks said, “What a sweet blessing it is to come to know—to gain a testimony by the power of the Holy Ghost—that there is a God and that He has a plan with an exalted purpose for each of His children. It is also a very powerful, personal driving factor to be able to accept that we each can have a particular role to play in this plan. You owe it to yourself to make an extra effort to discover, in every detail possible, who you really are—to discover your eternal potential in God’s plan.”
Disclaimer: While all of our answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, we do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe any of our answers are comprehensive.