Posted By Thomas Perez. September 22, 2010 at 11:07pm. Copyright 2010
Rebuttal of Chapter 21: The Dangers of Delving into Predestination and its Schools of Thought. Calvin’s assumption of the Secret Knowledge. The Un-Equality of Man, the Nations, and Individuals.
In Calvin’s citations (or rather I should say Part 2) he admits to the possible dangers for men when venturing into such schools of thought. According to Calvin, “For it is not right that man should with impunity pry into things which the Lord has been pleased to conceal within himself, and scan that sublime eternal wisdom which it is his pleasure that we should not apprehend but adore, that therein also his perfections may appear. Those secrets of his will, which he has seen it meet to manifest, are revealed in his word – revealed in so far as he knew to be conducive to our interest and welfare”
Yet, upon this Calvin ventures into the secrets of God (as he understands it to be), a limited view into what God has already revealed in His Word. It is upon this principle that Calvin delves into the topic of Predestination. Rather I say nay. It might have been more beneficial of Calvin to expound and elaborate on Soteriology as a whole, not on the parts of its sum. However, we are also reminded by Calvin at the same time that such a view, or revelation, if you will, are given to a select few.
According to Calvin, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,” (Prov. 25:2). But since both piety and common sense dictate that this is not to be understood of every thing, we must look for a distinction, lest under the pretense of modesty and sobriety we be satisfied with a brutish ignorance. This is clearly expressed by Moses in a few words, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever,” (Deut. 29:29). We see how he exhorts the people to study the doctrine of the law in accordance with a heavenly decree, because God has been pleased to promulgate it, while he at the same time confines them within these boundaries, for the simple reason that it is not lawful for men to pry into the secret things of God.
Similarly Calvin also cites, Rather let us willingly abstain from the search after knowledge, to which it is both foolish as well as perilous, and even fatal to aspire. If an unrestrained imagination urges us, our proper course is to oppose it with these words, “It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory,” (Prov. 25:27). There is good reason to dread a presumption which can only plunge us headlong into ruin.Here Calvin implicates that seeking knowledge from God can entail a double edged sword. Yet, he fails to consider, Hab 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Moreover, according to Zeph 3:8-9, “My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal. For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” Here, within this beautiful verse of Scripture we learn that God is both a Judge and a Purifier of men’s deeds. This purification can only be accomplished through a Mediator – The Lord Jesus Christ (I Tim 2:5). For truly this is the Lords doing – it is His decision to gather nations, and His decision to purify them.
Calvinists at this point would argue, “Nations, yes individual people, Nay. If this is the case, how do we account for the rendering of the word peoples and the phrase “shoulder to shoulder” in this context? Moreover, how does Calvin account for all people calling upon the name of the Lord, when the Scriptures reveal that in order to call upon the name of the Lord, one must receive the knowledge of the Lord – as promised by Habakkuk and St. Paul and thus call upon His name – (Rom 10:13). Also (and this is most vital), how can God give all men the ability to call upon the name of the Lord with purified lips AFTER he has poured out His indignation with all His burning anger and devour the earth with the fire of His zeal? According to some, aren’t the unrighteous cast out for all eternity BEFORE the new Heavens and Earth? If this be the case, how can they call upon the name of the Lord and serve Him AFTER the destruction of this present age.
But lo, there they are. No doubt, this is what John meant when he said, “Blessed and holy is He that hath part in the 1st Resurrection, for the 2nd death has no power over him.” Upon this, many would quickly cite Rev 20:12-14 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God’; and the; books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in those books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” For More on this please see my study called “Ultimate Reconciliation vs. Predestination vs. Freewill vs. Preterism: Can They Ever Truly Bound?”
The Prophet Daniel, Isaiah and Hosea
Apparently God’s decision is to save all men regardless, where, as a result, even they would call upon the name of the Lord with renewed knowledge. Perhaps, unwittingly; Calvin revealed that the glory and knowledge of the Lord shall be established for all to see and understand as rendered in his citation of Augustine when he said: “We must walk, advance, increase, that our hearts may be able to comprehend those things which they cannot now comprehend. But if the last day shall find us making progress, we shall there learn what here we could not” Did not the Prophet Daniel claim that in the “last days knowledge shall increase” (Dan 12:4)? Many within the camp of Dispensationalism would argue that this verse is speaking of general knowledge – as in the secular – I tend to disagree with that concept, simply based on Daniels overall context in chapter 12 and earlier, during his fasting, praying, and supplication before the Lord in chapter 9. For Daniel, knowledge was concealed and hidden, to be revealed in the last days or the end.
The knowledge that Daniel may have been referring to might have been the knowledge that he was seeking, the glory and knowledge of God as his predecessors – Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Jonah, & Hosea. claimed would be accomplished in their prophecies, and lifetime. However, to Daniel’s disdain, he was instructed to wait his turn (Dan 12:13). And that while waiting, it is also revealed that many shall be purified and made white, and that the wicked shall not understand. It is of no doubt that this verse of Scripture is in reference to the plan and salvation of God as seen by the Prophets; Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Jonah, and Hosea. Such expectations were seen in the writings of these Prophets.
In Isaiah 42:1-4 “Lo, My servant, I take hold on him, My chosen one – My soul hath accepted, I have put My Spirit upon him, Judgment to nations he bringeth forth. He doth not cry, nor lift up, Nor cause his voice to be heard, in the street. A bruised reed he breaketh not, And the dim flax he quencheth not, To judgment He bringeth forth truth. He doth not become weak nor bruised, till he setteth judgment in the earth, And for his law isles wait with hope.” Similarly, Isa 40:5 reveals, “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Yet, he (Daniel) was not permitted to see this event in its fullest, but only dimly. Little by little God doeth reveal Himself to man in various ways, as the book of Hebrews cites – “In these last days He has revealed Himself in His Son.” (Heb 1:1-2). The revelation of Himself was consummated in the giving of Himself upon the cross, as He judged the world. Note the phrase; “He shall not become weak nor bruised until he sets judgment in the earth” Isa 42: 4 (not upon it), for such a rendering of words would indicate a random scatter of justice against sin. But the Scriptures reveal a judgment in the earth (in the very fabric of man’s domain). Also, I’m sure Daniel contemplated the oracle of the suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 and the Messenger who was to declare the acceptable year of the Lord – (Isa 61:1-2).
While it is true that, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever,” (Deut. 29:29), what becomes of the New Testament? Is not the New Testament the fulfillment of the first advent of Christ? As Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy the law or the Prophets, but to fulfill.” Such a revelation of knowledge was revealed through the mouth of Peter, who confessed “Thou art the Christ” – For truly this was knowledge given in the last days – for the Kingdom of Heaven was upon them. Yet, Daniel had no indication of this, neither did Solomon, who declared “What is His Sons name?” But, as we study the Scriptures; such men were not ignorant of the bigger picture either, for this is revealed in Daniel chapter 2 and 9:24-27. Furthermore, it is also revealed from Jesus Himself who said “your father, Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). Yes Abraham did see the bigger picture.
Therefore, upon this injunction, we can safely assume that knowledge will be obtainable to all men, albeit, some men receive it sooner than others (for this is also the will of God) as revealed in Hosea Chapter 3:1 “Cut off have been My people for lack of knowledge, Because thou knowledge hast rejected, I reject thee from being priest to Me, And thou forgettest the law of thy God, I forget thy sons, I also!” Upon reading this pronunciation of judgment, one may assume the seemingly obvious, that God will do what He sets out to do in regards to judgments and decrees…but if we are to believe the Scriptures at face value, the Bible reveals God to be full of mercy, repenting/relenting of the evil He intended to do on many occasions, of which I would expound on later. But for now, let me reveal one case in particular as seen in the story of Jonah.
The Prophet Jonah
In the book of Jonah, it is revealed that God will overthrow Nineveh, but He does not! He goes against His own decree and relents of the intended destruction (Jonah 3:4-10, 4:11). I suppose this lead many in the Sanhedrin wondering of the credibility of Jonah as a Prophet, when considering Deut 18:22 – was Jonah a false prophet? I rather not think so, considering Jesus used the story of Jonah to illustrate a deeper meaning and purpose to the moral of the story – “As Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, so must the Son of Man be in the belly of the earth.” Upon Jonah’s allegorical resurrection, Jonah proceeded with his message of doom, but lo – the people of Nineveh repented and sat in ashes and sake cloth. In this instance we know for certain that the people of Nineveh had no knowledge pertaining to the things of God, yet they believed upon Jonah’s allegorical resurrection. How much then is the resurrection of Christ effective for all men? Who came into this world not to condemn the world but to save it. In the case pertaining to the message of Jonah, he came preaching doom. In the case pertaining to the message of Christ, He came preaching salvation.
Calvin’s Inequality Among Created Men and Death
In reference to Calvin’s findings on Predestination, in general, he states that “The predestination by which God adopts some to the hope of life, and judges others to eternal death, no man who would be thought pious ventures simply to deny; but it is greatly caviled at, especially by those who make prescience its cause. We, indeed, ascribe both prescience and predestination to God; but we say, that it is absurd to make the latter subordinate to the former.” Moreover, Calvin also states that; “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death.”
Upon the notation of Calvin’s statement pertaining to pious men venturing to deny such eternal death as a futile attempt to avoid the inevitable, is to contradict the piousness of St. Paul who cited “That the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (I Cor 15:26). Therefore, if it is promised in the Scriptures that death will be destroyed, why then does Calvin insist that death is eternal? Such a thought, in this day and age is called, eternal death, eternal separation from God, and eternal punishment.
Moreover, Calvin’s citation of the subordinate – meaning the prescience of the non-equality of men must be in subordination to predestination is by far a terrible and horrific thought. The Scriptures reveal the opposite as cited by the Prophet Ezekiel who said by the word of the Lord, “Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the LORD is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? (Ezek 18:29). Another similar passage is found in Ezekiel 33:17, 20. This concept of equality is also upheld in the New Testament as well. According to the Apostle Paul, he stated that “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Gal 1:14-16). Some may argue this assumption by claiming Paul realized that although in the past he may have been their (the Jews) equal, in Christ he became a separate piece of clay onto the Potter, since the day his mother conceived him in her womb.
However, while separation and holiness are essential key elements to a holy walk with God, separation does not impute holiness or promote inequality. For Paul saith himself that he is the chief of sinners and upon this, confesses his own duality within himself as declaring his own imperfection (I Tim 1:15, Rom 7:15-24). For holiness is not achieved by separation but by the merits of Christ and Christ alone. We must also make note of Paul’s use of the words “Born out of due time” in I Cor 15:8. For he was chosen in this age to proclaim the Gospel to the heathen. To be born out of time or in any time in this present age is to be called a child of God as John 1:12-13 reveals, sealing us with the Spirit that cries Father/Abba. This relationship as Father and son or child of God can not be intended for our use only to the ages upon ages to come, for such an assumption would negate Malachi 2:10 “Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us “For God is not a respecter of persons.” (Rom 2:11). He will show equity as recorded in, Ps 9:7-8 But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for [not against] the peoples with equity.
On the Nation’s and Esau
As to the topic of NATIONS, Calvin claims a distinction exists between the haves (as in the elect) and have not’s (the non elect). According to Calvin, “At first Ishmael had obtained the same rank with his brother Isaac, because the spiritual covenant was equally sealed in him by the symbol of circumcision. He is first cut off, then Esau, at last an innumerable multitude, almost the whole of Israel. In Isaac was the seed called. The same calling held good in the case of Jacob. God gave a similar example in the rejection of Saul. This is also celebrated in the psalm, “Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim: but chose the tribe of Judah,” (Ps. 78:67, 68).
The fact that Esau sold out his birth right for the temporal, did indeed negate his earthly blessing. For it is recorded in full account what really transpired on the events that befell the selling of his (Esau’s) birth right. In Genesis 25:23-26, we have the birth of two nations, Esau – father of all Edomites and Jacob – father of all Jews (as taken from one of Jacobs sons ‘Judah’).
The Scriptures record Esau as being the first born, therefore he was to be given the parental birth right and blessings from his father Isaac. But as the story reveals Esau did not consider his birth right important, but gave it up for some food that Jacob had prepared (Gen 25:27-34). However, upon reading the story, we come across Esau’s reconciliation with his brother Jacob/Israel. Instead of taking his revenge, Esau welcomed Jacob with joy. The event turned into a family reunion. Furthermore, it was Jacob who felt the need to find grace in Esau by wanting to bless Esau with what God had given him. But Esau answered saying, “I have enough.” Upon this Jacob continued to beseech his brother, so he urged Esau, and Esau finally took it. A happy ending of sorts for Esau.
In reference to Esau’s descendants, they became known as the Edomites. They were to become bitter enemies with Israel. Eventually they become extinct. Obadiah predicted that the Edomites would be “cut off forever,” and “be as though they had not been” (Obadiah 10,16,18). Within 4 years after Jerusalem was buried, Edom was raided and desolated in 582 BC, by the very same Babylonians whom they had aided against Jerusalem. Nabathaean’s took over Edom. The few Edomites that were left were confined to exist, as active enemies of the Jews. In 126 BC, they were subdued by John Hyrcanus, one of the Maccabean rulers, and were absorbed into the Jewish state. When Palestine was conquered by the Romans in 63 BC, the Herod’s, an Edomite (Idumean) family, were placed in the control of Judah. This was the last of the Edomites. With the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they disappeared from history.
The book of Obadiah was written circa – 6th cent. 585 – ? Some scholars date the book very early, in the mid-ninth cent B.C. following raids by the Philistines and Arabian tribes during the period of king Jehoram of Judah (II Chron 21:16, 17). This would make the book of Obadiah the earliest of the prophetic books. However, most scholars date the book immediately following the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. I tend to favor the latter, due to the books theme against the Edomites and their eventual destruction. Their destruction is confirmed in the Lord‘s indignation forever in (Mal 1:1-4). However, while this is true and certain, I can not help but remember seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture that declare the opposite of such indignation. Such passages of Scripture are found, but are not limited to:
Ps 22:27-30 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. All the proud [literally, “fat ones”] of the earth will eat and worship, even he who cannot keep his soul alive. Posterity will serve Him.
Is 19:21 Thus the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt [they were enemies of God at the time], and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the Lord and perform it.
Is 19:22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them.
Hag 2:6-9 For thus says the Lord of hosts, “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come [or, the Desire of all nations will come] with the wealth of the nations; and I will fill this house with glory says the Lord of hosts.” “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,” declares the Lord of hosts. “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,” says the Lord of hosts, “and in this place I shall give peace,” “declares the Lord of hosts.”
Again I quote:
Zeph 3:8-9 “Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal. For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder.”
Does the Scriptures contradict each other? They do when we don’t see the bigger picture.
In Reference to INDIVIDUALS, Calvin again makes the distinction between the haves and the have not’s, howbeit to be compared upon all individuals. According to Calvin, “Although it is now sufficiently plain that God by his secret counsel chooses whom he will while he rejects others, his gratuitous election has only been partially explained until we come to the case of single individuals, to whom God not only offers salvation, but so assigns it, that the certainty of the result remains not dubious or suspended. These are considered as belonging to that one seed of which Paul makes mention” (Rom. 9:8; Gal. 3:16,&c).
While it is true that God dispensed His grace to all men, the Scriptures make it very plain that all are not saved at the same time as indicated in 1 Tim. 2:6, R.V. “Who gave Himself a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times” Similarly, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive – but everyman in his own order”(1 Cor. 15:22-24). At the present time God is saving only those He has chosen and called unto the special salvation of the ages (1 Cor. 1:26-30; 1 Tim. 6:12). He will use these in various ways in bringing about the salvation of the rest (Eph. 3:8-12; 2:6-10). Note, please, the text says, “God is the Savior of all men specially (not exclusively) of them that believe.”
Because of this the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore I endure all things for the ELECT’S sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (literally, ‘eonian’ or ‘age-lasting’ glory, 2 Tim. 2:10). And again he wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that ARE CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23, 24).
Election and predestination become most precious portions of God’s truth once it is seen that the reason some are elected to a special salvation is that through them the rest may be reached. There is a special salvation for some and a general salvation for the rest later on. Those who believe now will be made like Christ when He returns and will live and reign with Him during the coming eons or ages. They will be delivered from the Second Death.
The non-elect will be saved at the end of the ages solely as the result of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ on their behalf. Does this mean a second chance? By no means! Salvation is not a matter of chance, first or second (Rev 20: 12-14). Had it been left to chance, no one would have been saved, now or later (Rom. 3:10-12; 1:28-32).
Salvation is of God! He assures us that He will save all. Let no one think for a moment that there will not be judgment and condemnation. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). Those who are hard and impenitent of heart treasure up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God Who will render to every man according to his works. To them that are factious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness shall be wrath indignation, tribulation, and anguish – See Rom. 2:1-16; Rev. 2:11-15; etc. All that the Scriptures actually teach about the wrath of God will surely come to pass. The wrath of God is an awful thing and it is not my purpose to minimize it in the least. However, too much condemnation and punishment is just as unrighteous as too little. But pertaining to election, God did indeed elect many to Salvation, while yet at the same time, issued His decree to save every human individual to ultimate reconciliation.
Upon this I quote CLEMENT Translated by J.B. Lightfoot: ‘Early Christian Writings’
2Clem 1:8 For He called us, when we were not, and from not being He willed us to be.
2Clem 2:1 Rejoice, thou barren that barest not. Break out and cry, thou that travailest not; for more are the children of the desolate than of her that hath the husband. In that He said Rejoice, thou barren that barest not, He spake of us: for our Church was barren, before that children were given unto her.
2Clem 2:2 And in that He said, Cry aloud, thou that travailest not, He meaneth this; Let us not, like women in travail, grow weary of offering up our prayers with simplicity to God.
2Clem 2:3 Again, in that He said, For the children of the desolate are more than of her that hath the husband, He so spake, because our people seemed desolate and forsaken of God, whereas now, having believed, we have become more than those who seemed to have God.
2Clem 2:4 Again another scripture saith, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
2Clem 2:5 He meaneth this; that it is right to save them that are perishing.
2Clem 2:6 For this indeed is a great and marvelous work, to establish, not those things which stand, but those which are falling.
2Clem 2:7 So also Christ willed to save the things which were perishing And He saved many, coming and calling us when we were even now perishing. Are we not all sinners?
Rebuttal of Chapter 22.
In reference to Calvin’s Thought as to the Means of Election Calvin cited, “The question considered is the origin and cause of election. The advocates of foreknowledge insist that it is to be found in the virtue sand vices of men. For they take the short and easy method of asserting, that God showed in the person of Jacob, that he elects those who are worthy of his grace; and in the person of Esau, that he rejects those whom he foresees to be unworthy. Such is their confident assertion; but what does Paul say? “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, [Rebecca,] The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” (Rom. 9:11-13). If foreknowledge had anything to do with this distinction of the brothers, the mention of time would have been out of place.”
Similarly, Calvin states, “Why should men attempt to darken these statements by assigning some place in election to past or future works? This is altogether to evade what the Apostle contends that the distinction between the brothers is not founded on any ground of works, but on the mere calling of God, inasmuch as it was fixed before the children were born.” And in yet another passage Calvin states, “Since he confines your thoughts to his own mercy why do you turn partly to the view of your own works? We must therefore come to that smaller number whom Paul elsewhere describes as foreknown of God (Rom. 11:2); not foreknown, as these men imagine, by idle, inactive contemplations but in the sense which it often bears. For surely when Peter says that Christ was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” (Acts 2:23), he does not represent God as contemplating merely, but as actually accomplishing our salvation. Thus also Peter, in saying that the believers to whom he writes are elect “according to the foreknowledge of God,” (1 Pet. 1:2), properly expresses that secret predestination by which God has sealed those whom he has been pleased to adopt as sons.”
Yet, Calvin can not explain properly the apparent freewill these individuals may have had. Calvin is recorded as saying, “I admit that it was by their own fault Ishmael, Esau, and others, fell from their adoption; for the condition annexed was, that they should faithfully keep the covenant of God, whereas they perfidiously violated it.” However to accept freewill (as pertaining to Ishmael, Esau, and others) is to accept, at the very least in Calvin’s eyes, a view that would cause God’s sovereignty to be subordinate to the freewill of men. In this Calvin creates for himself a paradox, though unintentionally. A paradox that can easily be dismissed by way of Existential Freedom, as discussed above. In matters of Salvation in this age and Ultimate Reconciliation at the end of all things, man hath not the choice. For God hath determined His own determinism to save all men eventually by His foreknowledge. Now what is the difference between foreknowledge and predestination? Which cometh first anyway, foreknowledge or predestination? Of course according to Calvin; it is the latter, while foreknowledge is the accomplishment of God’s will.
The word ‘foreknowledge’ appears 2 times, the word ‘foreknow’ appears 1 time, and the word ‘foreknew’ appears 1 time, for a total number of 4 times. In Romans 8:28-30 we have salvation listed in its proper perspective; foreknowledge, predestination, the calling, justification, and glorification. Indeed, foreknowledge is equivalent with action, as Calvin demonstrated. For the Greek word ‘boule’, meaning ‘plan,’ suggests this. It would appear that Jesus’ death was the predetermined will and foreknowledge of God. Yet, Calvin fails to mention the rest of the verse, when Peter said “You nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
Although Christ’s death was a result of the decree and plan of God, wicked men were responsible for His death. Similarly, in Hab 1:6 God explained to the prophet that He was raising up the Chaldean’s to chastise His disobedient people in Judah. But when the Chaldean’s concluded their work, God held them responsible (Hab 1:11). How can we answer this apparent contradiction? The answer would appear that when drawing upon a distinction between the two (foreknowledge and predestination), the Scriptures reveal various manifestations of decrees such as: In the material realm, in the social realm, and in the spiritual realm. While the first two realms are justifiable found in what is called Existential Freedom, the spiritual realm is a different story.
As demonstrated above, the Scriptures reveal that all will be reconciled to God, that God may be all an in all. In reference to this age, every believer in Christ should have the comfort of knowing that he or she was chosen before creation to inherit election. That choice was made by God in His sovereign plan. We chose Him because He first chose us. Such is the classic Biblical teaching of predestination, not Calvin’s double predestination as revealed in the ‘Institutes,’ chapter 21 & 24. While it is true, that Christ came to lay down His life for the sheep (His elect), it is also true that Christ died for all men. We can not accept one or the other, we must accept both views because the Scriptures reveals both to be true. The Scriptures reveals divine election and the ultimate reconciliation of all. The two views do not contradict each other.
One might object upon this claiming the ultimate fate of the wicked is revealed in Scripture as being judged by fire, I say Yea, thou art correct. But to what extent is the punishment? And what is the means of that punishment? The Scriptures reveal that God is a refiners fire and that His Anger lasts but for a season as Lam 3:31-32 indicates, “For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant loving kindness.” Similarly, Micah 7:18-19 says, “Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
In reference to Augustine, Ambrose, Origin, Jerome and Erasmus
Here Calvin speaks on 3 major Church fathers they are Ambrose, Origin (One of The Greatest Theologians of the 1st century) and Jerome. According to Calvin: “But, Ambrose, Origin, and Jerome, were of opinion, that God dispenses his grace among men according to the use which he foresees that each will make of it. It may be added, that Augustine also was for some time of this opinion; but after he had made greater progress in the knowledge of Scripture, he not only retracted it as evidently false, but powerfully confuted it (August. Retract. Lib. 1, c. 13). Nay, even after the retraction, glancing at the Pelagians who still persisted in that error, he says, “Who does not wonder that the Apostle failed to make this most acute observation? For after stating a most startling proposition concerning those who were not yet born, and afterwards putting the question to himself by way of objection, ‘What then? Is there unrighteousness with God?’ he had an opportunity of answering, that God foresaw the merits of both, he does not say so, but has recourse to the justice and mercy of God,” (August. Epist. 106, ad Sixtum). “And in another passage, after excluding all merit before election, he says, “Here, certainly, there is no place for the vain argument of those who defend the foreknowledge of God against the grace of God, and accordingly maintain that we were elected before the foundation of the world, because God foreknow that we would be good, not that he himself would make us good.” This is not the language of him who says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).
Ambrose, Origin, and Jerome did indeed believe in freewill in one form or another, but while they did, they did not exclude the sovereignty of God. Nor did they exclude the moral responsibility of all men as seen in the various manifestations of decrees. This is verified in the works of Erasmus. According to Erasmus, he quotes the Scriptures, “God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel. He added His commandments and precepts. If thou wilt observe the commandments, and keep acceptable fidelity forever, they shall preserve thee. He hath set water and fire before thee; stretch forth thine hand for which thou wilt. Before man is life and death, Good and evil; that which he shall choose, shall be given him – Eccl 15: 14-17. (On the Freedom of the Will’ A Diatribe or Discourse by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam). Erasmus verifies the authenticity of this particular verse and many other verses, including entire books; such as the ‘Odes of Solomon,’ claiming that Jerome himself accepted chapters 13 – 15 of Ecclesiastes into the canon of Scripture, due to the fact that the Hebrews formerly received them into their writings as well. It is well known that Erasmus and another great theologian did not see eye to eye on the question of predestination or freewill. The theologian I speak of is none other than Martin Luther.
While Erasmus wrote on the ‘Freedom of the Will,’ Luther wrote on the ‘Bondage of the Will’, and in support of Luther, though independent from Luther’s reformation, Calvin wrote his ‘Institutes.’ However, upon reading the three works of these great theologians, it would appear that Erasmus held to some middle ground concerning soteriology. This is confirmed in his Epilogue.
Erasmus wanted to bring the two opposing views together. Nevertheless, the views expressed by him revealed a tendency toward a dual relationship between the two – predestination and freewill. The latter being subordinate to the cause. But according to Erasmus, the latter is trivial and only serves as an instrument to wit God works His foreordained plans. Since there are 3 stages in all things; beginning, process, and end, Erasmus attributes the first and last to grace, while placing freewill in progress. This way in each individual act of freedom, two causes come together; the grace of God and will of man. In this, perhaps Erasmus is correct – but only as he said “in trivial matters,” – again as in Existential Freedom – But in reference to salvation, Erasmus fails to quote reliable source material or authorities. Instead he opts for the obscure and minuscule. Be that as it may, this is not a reflection against the learned Erasmus, but an observation of his fondness to think critically out of the box or status quo. It is instead John Calvin who had the sense of fair play to the status quo to cite popular authorities, though few in number, and only in passing.
Augustine: Calvin’s Only Primary Source
As indicated in part 1, Calvin’s primary source is Augustine. Moreover, of the 3 early Church fathers mentioned in chapter 22, one (Origin) out of the three believed in Universal Salvation; the ultimate reconciliation of all men – not just for the few, but for the all (I Tim 1:15, 2:4) Since this is the case as indicated in the Scriptures, how can we give an account for freewill in reference to salvation; as opposed to predestination, as fulfilling salvation? The answer to that question is…we do not have to give an explanation, since God will accomplish all that He had, and will set out to do in accordance with His foreknowledge that, indeed; the many are and will be called (as in the Greek – appointed), to obtain salvation, but the few are chosen (as in the elect), to not only obtain salvation, but to be stewards, disciples, and followers of Christ in all things.
Perhaps this is why it is written to “make your calling and election sure” (II Pet 1:10). Perhaps this is why Paul declared that he had a freewill according to the flesh, but to work that will into that which is good, he could not (Rom 7:15-18). As indicated above we can not obtain the virtue, or the actual goodness of Christ…it is a lost cause.
Nevertheless, we are admonished to practice freewill within the confines of our daily sanctification. By sanctification, I mean progressive sanctification. It is the middle ground between the beginning and the last, as Erasmus indicated, though not for the same reasons he thought it to be for. It is not to be confused with positional sanctification. Positional sanctification has already transpired as in the sealing of the called and elect ones (Eph 1:13). Therefore, positional sanctification can be obtained in this age, while progressive sanctification can only be achieved by becoming the new man (II Cor 5:17) through a restored freewill. But even this is a shadow of what the Scriptures reveal to us as the hope that lieth within us. And that hope is the final glorification for all.