The concept of predestination has been an essential topic in theology and philosophy since at least the time of St. Augustine, and is notoriously among the most contentious of religious doctrines. Many people of faith have found the belief that God destines them for eternal joy a source of great comfort, but many others have found it deeply troubling. Above all, those who reject predestination have been motivated by concerns about the doctrine's implications for human free will and divine responsibility for evil.
Couenhoven addresses these issues by taking up two important questions: “What does predestination actually imply?”, and “How have great theologians defended their doctrines of predestination?” He answers these queries by analyzing why Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth found the doctrine attractive, and explaining the different ways in which they combined belief in predestination, freedom, and God's goodness. The book concludes with a constructive chapter in which Couenhoven defends predestination as a doctrine of hope.