SOME CHURCH DOCTRINES ESPOUSED (Providence, Predestination and Arminianism)
The Christ Apostolic Church is a prayer church and yet many in the evangelical world claim that there is no need to pray that much since it, in essence means arm twisting God who rules the earth and the universe with decrees he had ordained even before the foundations of the earth. Can we or indeed the church change such decrees? Hence in this chapter we examine the authority we have or we do not have as individuals or believers to change God’s decree or force his hands to adjust his decrees using prayers. Calvin proposed the doctrine of providence and predestination. He was countered by the work of Arminius who lived after him. In doing justice to this section we review the 16th century work of Calvin from which the doctrine of Calvinism is derived and the 17th century work of Arminius. All pentecostal groups, including the CAC, fall under the large group of the church, which are strongly armininian in doctrine rather than Calvinistic. Calvin maintains that God, in his infinite sovereignty uses decrees made before the beginning of creation to rule the earth. Hence those who are going to heaven and hell have been selected before they were born and nothing they do can change this position. The doctrine is also applicable to prayer. It is believed that prayer should be short and to the point of requesting God to follow his own decrees and do His will. Proof text includes ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’ (Rom 9:13) and ‘Not by will but yours be done’ (Lk 22:42). On the other hand Arminian doctrine teaches that you can change your position by prayer and ability to turn your own fortune round by your own choice to make heaven or indeed hell by choosing to believe or not believe. Proof text includes ‘whosoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life’ Rev 22:17. Now read on the arguments which dates back to 16th century and which has created two major groups in the church even today.
By providence we mean ‘God’s care for human beings and all he has created.’ Cameron gives the following definition-
The idea of providence is implicit in any notion of God as the supreme being. An adequate definition of the idea of God requires his overlordship of the history of all that is.
He then further defines the Christian doctrine of providence as follows
the beneficence outworking of God’s sovereignty whereby all events are directed and disposed to bring about those purposes of glory and good for which the universe was made. These events include the actions of free agents, which while remaining free, personal and responsible are also the intended actions of those agents. Providence thus encompasses both natural and personal events, setting them alike within the purposes of God.
Calvin (1509-64), in his argument for Providence of God discusses the following in two chapters
a. God’s power over all things
b. Benefit of God’s Providence to the Christian.
He ends in the third chapter by exposition on how God uses the wicked to accomplish His supreme purpose in the life of his creation.
First Chapter- God’s
power over his creation
Calvin argues convincingly that God did not create in order to absent himself from his creation. He presents his thesis in nine sections.
Section 1: God’s power
Creation and providence are one and the same thing. Hence, God is very much in the business of his creation. It is difficult for the carnal mind to understand the concept of Creator. Even the general motion to which the universe is subjected is moved by the Creator. But He does not move only inanimate objects; he also moves man and directs his day to day affair so that in Him ‘we live, and move and have our being’ (Act 17:28), according to Paul. Calvin distinguishes two types of Providence- the general providence by which is meant ‘a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts’ and a special ‘providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.’
Section 2: Fortune is not providence
In this section, Calvin discusses that chance does not exist. God does not leave anything to chance for He ordains everything Himself including the splendor of the sun which shines in such a way as to make it possible to provide replenishment for the whole earth. But in order to show His ability is not dependent on natural laws, he decreed ‘that light should exist, and that the earth should be replenished with all kinds of herbs and fruits before he made the sun.’ By certain other acts which are recorded in the Bible, He showed He could display His power over the sun (e.g. Josh 10:13; 2 Ki 10:11).
Section 3: God’s providence in omnipotence
Calvin says ‘ God is deemed omnipotent, not because he can act though he may cease or be idle, or because by a general instinct, he continues the order of nature previously appointed; but because, governing heaven and earth by his providence, he so overrules all things that nothing happens without his counsel.’ Also, Calvin maintains that God’s act on mankind can be either for good or bad for him but for God all acts are for his divine purpose.
Indeed, if we do not shut our eyes and senses to the fact, we must see that some mothers have full provision for their infants, and others almost none, according as it is the pleasure of God to nourish one child more liberally, and other more sparingly.
Is it possible to base congenital abnormalities which have natural causes on God or on chance? Why should God ask a woman to have no milk in order to provide no nourishment for her own?
Section 4: Definition of providence.
Calvin holds that prescience is not evidence of the providence of God, but that God not only foreknows but foreordains what He wants by active intervention in all events. There is also general and special providence. General providence is the act by which God governs all nature but special providence has to do with individual events so that God provides cause for all events no matter how minute. Calvin argues against the epicureans that hold that God is idle and inactive and that He rules only the upper regions of the heavens and that the inferior regions are left to fate. He ends his proposition
The thing to be proved, therefore, is that single events are so regulated by God, and all events so proceed from his determinate counsel, that nothing happens fortuitously.
Section 5: Biblical support for special providence
‘Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of his Father (Matth x. 29)’ From this passage Calvin argues that no single event of the human can escape God’s providence whether good or bad. He says
Surely, if the flight of birds is regulated by the counsel of God, we must acknowledge with the prophet, that while he “dwelleth on high,” he “humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth.” (Ps cxiii. 5, 6).
Section 6: God’s providence & features of men
A man may be blind or born blind, but that singular event was ordained by God. Prophet Jeremiah exclaimed “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. x. 23). Not only that, promotion comes from God as is very ably put in Ps 75:6-7. It is God that decides who should be elevated and who should be without honour.
Section 7. Features of God’s providence in nature
God controls the weather in such a way that he is responsible for the mildew, rain and storm and whirlwind. He is also able to endow some with the ability of procreation and others without it. And since these represent general purpose, they are fully adapted to special purpose in man and events that control man in such a way as to become His (God’s) secret counsel.
Hence we infer, not only that the general providence of God, continuing the order of nature, extends over the creatures, but that by his wonderful counsel they are adapted to a certain and special purpose.
Section 8: Fate
There is no such thing as fate as the Stoics hold. Fortune and chance are heathen terms; they have no place in Christian thought. According to Augustine, if everything in the world is left to chance, then everything will have to move at random which is not the case! Calvin says
I answer, it was a true saying of Basil the Great, that Fortune and Chance are heathen terms; the meaning of which ought not to occupy pious minds. For if all success is blessing from God, and calamity and adversity are his curse, there is no place left in human affairs for Fortune and chance.
Correct. Only the heathen hold to chance. For the Christian, God is His
We cannot know why things happen for our sluggish minds ‘rest far beneath the height of Divine Providence.’ The Philistines were stupid enough to assume that if evil befalls them it is partly from providence and partly from chance. But of course, all are due to the Providence of God. There are therefore two kinds of necessities- necessity absolute and necessity secundum quid. Also Calvin makes distinction between necessity of consequence and necessity of consequent. He gave an example of this in the fact that God’s providence did not allow the bones of Christ to be broken because of His decree which was well prophesied before His crucifixion( Jn 19:33,36). Hence
God made the bones of his Son frangible, though he exempted them from actual fracture; and thus, in reference to the necessity of his counsel, made that impossible which might have naturally taken place.
Second Chapter: Benefit of Providence of God by the Christian
This chapter has 14 sections.
Section 1: Meaning of God’s providence
When the sky is overcast with dense clouds, and a violent tempest arises, the darkness which is presented to our eye, and the thunder which strikes our ears, and stupefies all our senses with terror, make us imagine that everything is thrown into confusion, though in the firmament itself all continues quiet and serene.
Section 2: Secret will of God
Special providence is the secret will of God. Calvin quotes Moses
“Secret things,” saith he, “belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.” (Deut xxix. 29).
Calvin concludes this section of the secret will of the Providence of God
Therefore, since God claims to himself the right of governing the world, a right unknown to us, let it be our law of modesty and soberness to acquiesce in his supreme authority, regarding his will as our only rule of justice, and the most perfect cause of all things,-not that absolute will, indeed, of which sophists prate, when by a profane and impious divorce, they separate his justice from his power, but that universal overruling Providence from which nothing flows that is not right, though the reasons thereof may be concealed.’
Section 3: Human Responsibility & God’s Providence
It is useless to blame God for one’s wickedness just as it is also futile to blame Him for adversities of the past. But some argue that it is futile also praying to ask God to change His decrees or to take precautions against danger or death since these events are fixed. Calvin ends this section
Has a son waited with indifference for the death of his parent, without trying any remedy? He could not oppose God who had so predetermined for eternity. Thus all crimes receive the name of virtues, as being in accordance with divine ordination.
Section 4. Human will is under God’s providence
God has provided for man his own will by which he can prevent calamity on himself and thereby preserve his own life. But this functions still under the great will of God. For Solomon says ‘A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.’ (Prov xvi.9). Calvin says of this
For he who has fixed the boundaries of our life, has at the same time intrusted us with the care of it, provided us with the means of preserving it, forwarned us of the dangers to which we are exposed, and supplied cautions and remedies, that we may not be overwhelmed unawares. Now, our duty is clear, namely, since the Lord has committed to us the defence of our life, -to defend it; since he forewarns us of danger- not to rush on heedless; since he supplies remedies, not to neglect them.
Section 5. Crimes are interposed by divine will
As all contingencies whatsoever depend on it, therefore, neither thefts nor adulteries, nor murders, are perpetrated without an interposition of the divine will.
Calvin denies that crime is the will of God. For we as humans should not do anything that God says is wrong; therefore the criminal, nevertheless, is wrong for doing something contrary to the will of God despite the fact that God interposed of it. Calvin admits that if God did not will a crime, it would not be committed, but he says clearly
I concede more- that thieves and murderers, and other evil-doers, are instruments of Divine Providence, being employed by the Lord himself to the execute judgments which he has resolved to inflict. But I deny that this forms any excuse for their misdeeds. For how? Will they implicate God in the same iniquity with themselves, or will they cloak their depravity by his righteousness?
Calvin uses the example of such magnificence of the sun which can aid by its heat, putrefaction in a decaying dead body but nevertheless, the sun is full of purity and cannot be said to be the object of the putrefaction or indeed the odor from the decay. God therefore can aid evil but cannot be said to be corrupted by the evil.
This is a paradox. It is incoherent to say that God wills crime and therefore punishes the crime doer. If God aids evil for his own purpose then He becomes corrupted by the evil also. But this is essentially the whole system of Calvinism; that the reprobate has been lured into reprobate status and hence God uses him to commit all the things He (God) wishes done through crime. It is inconceivable to the mind!
Section 6. Christian’s benefit from God’s providence
Providence of God is all good things for the Christian, for this allows God to watch over him in his sleep and no one dares touch him for he is the apple of God’s eyes. Equally important is the fact that there seems to be nothing evil in the life of a Christian, for whatever is evil will eventually be turned to good.
Section 7. God’s providence against the enemy
While God is faithful to his children, he also disallows enemies from harming them by preventing such and allowing them to wallow in their own devices. He actively allows the enemy to make mistake (e.g. by sending a lying spirit to deceive their prophets) in order to execute his plans even to include ‘overruling the devil himself.’
Why should overruling the devil become an issue in the Calvinistic system of providence? If he is not ascribed any worth then overruling him becomes a non effect.
Section 8. Wicked things are upturned for good for a Christian
When an enemy wishes a Christian evil and plans and executes the evil, God overrules the evil by turning it into good for him. Thus Joseph was sold into slavery but he said to those who sold him out ‘’Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.’ (Gen l. 20). Although it was evil that was conceived and executed by man, God had planned it to be for good. But let man be warned lest he thinks only good can come out of God and evil from human beings which he (God) superintends, for God says of Himself clearly ‘I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things.’ (Is xiv. 7). Clearly God creates evil.
This is a good example of proof texting and the lack of full induction. I create evil can mean many things. For God when He created the world said it was good. Then did He corrupt it Himself by creating evil side by side with the good? It does not make sense.
Section 9. Inferior causes of providence
A Christian must acknowledge the benefits received from inferior causes of his good, namely men and women of good will whom God has used to provide him good and recognize the justice of God when he is visited with evil by evil men. While we strive to request for the will of God in whatever we do, we should not forget to pray constantly and fill our hearts with good hope which will only ‘enable us to feel secure, and bid defiance to all the dangers by which we are surrounded.’
If we are only to pray to expect the will of God in order to fortify us to receive the will whether it seems good or bad to us, then we are no longer fulfilling the will of the Son himself who enjoins us to ‘Ask any thing in my name and I will do it.’ It is in fact a direct contradiction of supplication and the need to seek the face of God when in danger; or indeed faith for without faith it is impossible to please Him. Heb 11:6.
Section 10. Place of calamities in God’s providence
‘Here, however, we were only referring to the misery which man should feel, were he placed under the dominion of chance.’
When a Christian is faced with calamity or the possibility of calamity, the Bible teaches he should pray expecting God to avert the calamity for Him. (Jas 5: 13).
Section 11. God’s providence sets believers free from all care
The fact that the believer knows God cares for him sets him free from all cares of the world, since nothing can happen except the Lord wills it. It is absolutely unnecessary to give too much credit, which is not worth it, to Satan as a hinderer of God’s people since that is according too much power to Satan which he does not possess. This provides, unfortunately ignorance of God’s providence that make miseries while its knowledge (of God’s providence) leads to the ‘highest happiness.’
Section 12. On Repentance of God
God is not a human being that He should repent. Whatever he decrees he carries out and does not repent of his own action. Rather, the passages that talk of God repenting in his action only buttress the exchangeability of his nature and therefore lend wing to the fact that he carries out his own counsel for good whether they seem good to man or not.
Wherefore it is certain that, in administering human affairs, the ordination of God is perpetual, and superior to everything like repentance.
Section 13 What is the meaning of God’s repentance?
What from eternity he had foreseen, approved, decreed, he prosecutes with unvarying uniformity, how sudden soever to the eye of man the variation may seem to be.
Section 14. Why should God ask people to repent?
God having decreed sometimes requests for the repentance of the individual in order to avert a calamity he would have brought on the person/people. Several examples abound in the Holy Scripture; Sodom was requested to repent, also Nineveh, Hezekiah and Abimelech. Some did and other did not. But nevertheless, God had ordered his decree before he requested the individuals to repent.
When, by denouncing punishment, he admonishes to repentance those whom he wishes to spare, he paves the way for his eternal decree, instead of varying it one whit either in will or in language.’
God’s Providence in using the ungodly
This chapter emphasizes the previously stated information that God has something to do with evil of ungodly men. But a distinction cannot be made between doing and permitting. If God is doing then he is guilty of creating evil, but if he only permits, the evil is not from him. But Calvin objects to this false distinction for the latter concept of permission means God has no control over his own universe in totality, which is absurd. Hence it makes no sense to talk of God only permitting. But God is in control of the ungodly in such a way as to direct his wicked deeds to carry out his preordained judgment without any defilement or blame on him.
Calvin’s system of Providence.
By providence, Calvin not only means God’s care for human beings and all his creation but also God’s acts that appear evil and so distress man or make him unhappy. It also means the method and process by which evil by the ungodly is harnessed to provide the will of God and make his purpose secure. By providence is meant in short, the general mechanism by which God intervenes actively in His creation through intermediaries which may be human, or non human (such as thunderstorm). Specially important in God’s interaction with man, is his general and special purpose for his children, i.e. Christians. Since nothing to God happens by chance it is important therefore that children of God be more strengthened to face the world, knowing fully well that nothing happens to them by chance and nothing will harm them without the permission of God. Unless such works ultimately for good, God can certainly not allow, or use it and God’s act is immutable. And so He cannot repent in the human sense of the word.
Evaluation of Calvin’s definition.
Something is wrong with Calvin’s definition of Providence for the English dictionary refers specifically to all ‘good’ things coming from the Creator as Providence. Where comes the bad and the ugly? Are they from God according to Calvin? This will be examined below but in the meantime, we wish to limit the English definition of providence to only good things as the Bible says clearly
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Jas 1:17.
James is completely in agreement with the Calvinistic definition of the immutability of God and his decrees but departs from him in attributing the good and the perfect from God, but not the evil. This is the most common explanation of the providence of God even amongst the African Traditional Religions (ATR).
No created object makes a more wonderful or glorious display than the sun. For, besides illuminating the whole world with its brightness, how admirably does it foster and invigorate all animals by its heat, and fertilize the earth by its rays, warming the seeds of grain in its lap, and thereby calling forth verdant blade! This it supports, increases, and strengthens with additional nurture, till it rises into the stalk; and still feeds it with perpetual moisture, till it comes into flower; and from flower to fruit, which it continues to ripen till it attains maturity. In like manner, by its warmth trees and vines bud, and put forth first their leaves, then their blossom, then their fruit. And the Lord, that he might claim the entire glory of these things as his own, was pleased that light should exist, and that the earth should be replenished with all kinds of herbs and fruits before he made the sun.
Calvin refutes the belief of epicureans who hold everything to chance and talk of an inert and idle God. He also refutes belief in the fact that God only works in creation at the upper levels of heaven leaving the inferior part for chance. He says
I answer that it was true saying of Basil the Great, that Fortune and Chance are heathen terms; the meaning of which ought not to occupy pious minds. For if all success is blessing from God, and calamity and adversity are his curse, there is no place left in human affairs from Fortune and chance.
Evaluation of Calvin’s view of Chance and Fortune.
Chance refers to ‘the happenings of events without any cause that can be seen or understood; the way things happen; fortune or luck.’ Advance learners Dictionary. It also has the following synonyms- accidental, incidental, fortuitous, unplanned, lucky, casual.
Calvin’s refutation of Deism (which is very much a doctrine in some African Traditional Religions) is in order. God did not just create and leave himself without a witness in a hostile and terrible world of the unknown. He is actively involved in everyday affairs of his universe and in fact decreed the happenings from eternity past. God who revealed Himself in the Scriptures says ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Rev 4:11
It is therefore clear that Calvinistic position has very ample support from the Bible. God created everything according to his Sovereign will. But it is extremely difficult to support the ultraconservative position advocated by Calvin by the Bible. Where is it mentioned in the Bible that there is no chance whatsoever? No where. It is true chance is ruled out from the Christian as for example in Ps 91:1,9
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty….If you make the Most High your dwelling-even the Lord, who is my refuge-then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near you tent.’
It is clear from the text that there is a very important proviso. If you dwell in the shelter of the Almighty. Therefore there is a major difference between providence as the Christian will understand it and providence of the non-Christian. While God will always accomplish His purpose even in the ungodly, it cannot be said to be Biblical that every step of the ungodly is governed by the will of God. In the first place, the ungodly follows his own counsel and not that of God, thereby placing himself in a difficult position in relation to the protective capacity of the Most High. It is true the Bible talks also of the Divine Providence in relation to the sparrow (Mt 10:29-30) but there is no evidence here that the passage can be made to refer to the human who has been given free will to do as he pleases; either to serve God or to serve himself and the Devil in a joint partnership.
‘This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…’ Dt 30:19-20.
God’s good & evil
Calvin attributes the Providence of good from God to all; including the ungodly and godly alike. All good is from God just like all evil. Thus he cites the following
Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?’ Job 2:10
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord, do all these things.’ Is 45:7.
From these verses, and others, Calvin concludes that good and evil come from God. God has decreed evil and good from eternity past and He now executes what has been decreed. As for the ungodly, the evil which they perpetrate, God uses for his own ends. He had ordained that the evil should be committed in order to glorify himself and punish evil doers. Nevertheless, these evil doers have no excuse for they have been warned not to do evil. For not listening to the command of God and doing evil, they would deserve punishment, even though God had decreed the evil from eternity past. But Calvin also argues that evil has a special effect which may be different from good. He sees the analogy of the sun. If the sun can make a dead body putrefy because of the direct rays, it does not in anyway become corrupt as result of the putrefaction of the dead matter.
And whence, I pray, the foetid odour of a dead body, which has been uncoffined and putrified by the sun’s heat? All see that it is excited by the rays of the sun, but no man therefore says that the foetid odour is in them. In the same way, why should it be thought that God contracts any impurity in using it at pleasure as his instrument? Have done, then, with that dog-like petulance which may, indeed, bay from a distance at the justice of God, but cannot reach it!’
Finally, Calvin talks about the evil of God as becoming good in the believer in such a way as to make it impossible for the believer to have known from the start that the evil was meant for good. The example that he gave is that of Joseph who said to his brothers that sold him into slavery- ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ Gen 50:20. Also in relation to direct will, especially against the ungodly, It is most times secret. He says
Both views Moses has beautifully expressed in a few words. “Secret things,” saith he, “belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.” Deut xxix.29).
We see how he enjoins us not only studiously to mediate on the law, but to look up with reverence to the secret Providence of God.
Evaluation of Calvinistic system of good and evil.
The system is faulty and incoherent. If God had ordained anything in the past it would be immutable, according to the same Calvin. He says of his own system
While acting wickedly, we serve his righteous ordination, since in his boundless wisdom he well knows how to use bad instruments for good purposes.
How is it possible that God would use bad to achieve good and since his will is immutable, then punish those who have done bad in order to achieve his own glory? The analogy with the sun and dead body does not seem to agree since the sun did not ordain the body to die in the first place in order for it to decay. But God is said to have ordained the wickedness of the wicked and at the same time ask the wicked to repent knowing fully well he (the wicked) cannot and finally punishing the same wicked for the evil he has done. Simple logic helps us to see it was not the wicked that did this but God!
But we have a more convincing argument from the Bible itself and not from any system of theology. This tells us that God is no author of evil. We have already mentioned the text in James 2: 10 which ascribes, just as in the ATR, good only to God. Evil has come from the evil one the devil and this is what Jesus told His disciples in the parable of the Weed.
An enemy has done this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.’ Mt 13:28-30.
This parable is clear enough. An enemy has inserted the evil into the world when the God of creation was not approving. Satan, alias Devil is said clearly in the Bible to be the author of all evil, in the ungodly, for how else will we interpret the parable of the sower which Jesus Himself explained thus
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. Mt 13:18-19.
It is not God who hardens the heart of the ungodly, as is put by Calvin in order to achieve His putrid purpose. It is Satan! But he (ungodly) himself has refused to understand the little universal grace given to him which is the seed that has been sown in his heart. So that the little that he understands, will be taken from him. This is the simple meaning of the text
‘Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ Mt 13:12.
But then, what is the meaning of the text ‘I create evil’. This has been corrected in the translation in NIV to be ‘I bring prosperity and create disaster’ (Is 45:7). Does this mean that God says he is the author of evil? Even if this is the case, and we accept the translation of KJV, we still have problem of improper induction. We have not examined all biblical texts in order to develop our system! The totality of the system in relation to evil, can be quite easily seen in the Bible to originate simply from the devil and not God. God may offer permission only when a Christian or believer is involved (as in the clear case of Job) but He is under no obligation to offer the same for the unbeliever are the ungodly as we have seen clearly from our previous text in which we said only ‘he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’ Ps 91:1. So it is easy to conclude that chance is not a completely strange word in today’s world of free men and agents. Man is made to be totally free. He alone can do whatever he wants in the universe. But animals and trees are under his care and God superintends these as part of His creation. But man is free to do as he chooses. But if man chooses to be under the shadow of the Almighty, he is no longer left to chance in the universe. He is now guarded strictly under the shadow of the Almighty. Indeed Calvin himself concedes this for the Christian when he said
He (Jesus) even extends this (providence) so far, as to assure us that the hairs of our head are all numbered. What more can we wish, if not even a hair of our head can fall, save in accordance with his will? I speak not merely of the human race in general. God having chosen the Church for his abode, there cannot be a doubt, that in governing it, he gives singular manifestations of his paternal care.
Because of the lack of mention of Satan, it is very easy to assume that Calvin may be a monist. He simply does not admit any form of dualism. This was exactly the situation in primitive Judaism before the understanding of Satan. The first canonical discourse on Satan (based on careful exegesis) may be Is 14. Even then it was presented by Isaiah cautiously lest he be misunderstood. Indeed the pre-exile audience for which Isaiah wrote could not understand his text until the return from Babylon after exposure to, not only Persian dualism, but with the discovery of Joban dualism. Hence, all canonical literature before the exile were monists and hence any meaningful discussion on the concept and idea of Satan must take into consideration this historical theology of Judaism. While God revealed himself as ‘I am’ to Moses, he did not tell Moses of the existence of Satan. But canonical literature constructed after the exile now identified the adversary (as Satan was now called in Judaism -i.e. Devil) and since then, nothing was ascribed to God that was evil. Hear examples
It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons. Mt 12:24.
Satan, You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. Mt 16:23.
I am sending you to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. Acts 26:17.
‘For we wanted to come to you-certainly I, Paul, did, again and again-but Satan stopped us. I Thess 2:18.
On this last text Calvin accuses Paul of untruth, thereby making false the Bible. Hear him
Supported by this conviction, Paul, who had said in one place that his journey was hindered by Satan (I Thess ii. 18), in another resolves, with the permission of God, to undertake it (I Cor xvi. 7). If he had only said that Satan was the obstacle, he might have seemed to give him too much power, as if he were able even to overturn the counsels of God but now, when makes God the disposer, on whose permission all journeys depend, he shows, that however Satan may contrive, he can accomplish nothing except in so far as He pleases to give the word.
But is this a logical explanation? How can Paul be wrong in one place in Scripture and right in another? There is something wrong somewhere! If Paul says in Scripture, Satan hindered him then, Satan did hinder him and if he wants the permission of God in yet another, then he wants it. This is simple principle of evangelical exegesis.
We end this section by quoting yet another biblical text to show that care of the righteous is different from that of the ungodly
And we know that in all thing God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28.
Calvin also seemed to have borrowed the providence doctrine from the Islamic religion for his system is entirely Islamic but with a modification which is admirable for even they (Islamists) agree that good is from God and evil from ourselves
Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from Allah, But whatever evil happens to thee, is from thyself and we have sent thee as a messenger to (instruct) mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness. Sura 4:79.
Although Calvin mentions the need to prayer by the faithful, he seems to completely jettison the concept of prayer by insisting that God’s decrees are immutable. He himself referred to prayers only in this regard. He said
The same conviction (that God would do what seems to him good-II Sam 10:12) keeping us free from rashness and false confidence, will stimulate us to constant prayer, while at the same time filling our minds with good hope, it will enable us to feel secure, and bid defiance to all the dangers by which we are surrounded.
Hence, according to Calvin, prayer can change nothing. It only provides us the ability to have no rashness and false confidence and give us hope that whatever we get must be the will of God. But this kind of interpretation is contrary to such passages of prayer like James
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Jas 5:16-17.
What about such texts in which we are admonished to pray without ceasing, asking for what we want? ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’ Mt 21:22. See also Jn 16:26.
Although, some argue that only the will of the Father must be requested in prayer, that in itself does not do any justice to the texts above which says clearly ask anything, believing you will receive. How do you know the will of the father unless you ask? The reply will tell you the will of the father, not your keeping quiet.
It is necessary, based on complete biblical data to now put down our own propositions on Biblical Providence
1. God created all things in the universe for his pleasure (Rev 4:12)
2. God directs all events according to his own purpose in the universe
3. It is God’s purpose that man be given free will to select what he wants and therefore man is placed under chance depending on what he selects- i.e. contingency plays a major role in man’s life and environment, unlike the rest of the universe and the animals and birds. Man is free since he is made in the image of God. Josh 24:15.
4. When a man becomes a believer, he is no longer under the control of chance or contingency. His steps are determined by God for his own good and not for evil.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ Jer 29:11-13.
5. By the above fact, prayer is a means of changing life expectancy in the believer. For to him prayer is not just to give hope but to change his circumstances for the better.
6. In certain circumstances, God makes exception of human free will and overrides in order to ordain for service. In such circumstances, the individual has no capacity to say no! But he does not do that in order to accomplish evil. When evil is to be done, the primary germ of evil must first be in the individual perpetrator before God uses the evil for his own purpose. God does not need the cooperation of the ungodly in order to run His universe.
7. Satan and not God is the originator of evil. When he (Satan) provides evil for the believer, it is turned into trial for him for which the evil then becomes good (Job)
8. Finally, the Christian religion is the only religion that encourages suffering and tribulations (Job; Phil 3:10)! Paul boasted about his sufferings (II Cor 11:25) and the Master died a suffering servant (Is 53). That is the haulmark of genuineness. Yet the suffering is done in silence and with considerable hope for a glorious future. Only a true religion can make people want to die for it with all smiles as if it does not hurt, and the only religion in which this happens is Christianity.
Conclusion on Providence
In conclusion, the system presented by Calvin on the providence of God is not consistent. It is muddled up with a lot of proof-texting without adequate full induction of biblical data for proper system building. Charles Hodge said 100 year ago about system building in theology.
An imperfect induction of facts led men for ages to believe that the sun moved round the earth, and that the earth was an extended plain. In theology a partial induction of particulars has led to like serious errors.
We claim that the partial induction of biblical data has done no full justice to the subject of biblical providence and that the Calvinistic system is therefore incomplete.
By predestination is meant ‘doctrine that God has decreed from eternity that part of mankind shall have eternal life and part eternal punishment (Advance Learners Dictionary).’ This has now become the standard definition even in theological circles although the above definition comes from secular background. The modalities of the acquisition of eternal life is the subject of debate between two major theological systems- the Calvinists, and the Arminians. It is the system of Calvinism, first expoused by Calvin himself that concerns us in this section. Equally important to the system we wish to describe are single and double predestination. In single predestination, only those who are to go to heaven are predestined, while in double those who are to go hell or eternal damnation are also predestined alongside the heaven group.
Calvin maintains double predestination, while most other groups maintain single predestination. But the system of single predestination seems to be faulty because philosophically if the system admits one, it must admit the other by simple reasoning. But this subject has been the basis of very intense debates in the past that it is almost impossible to do full justice to whole subject in this short article. Attempt however shall be made to be comprehensive as possible, drawing on Calvin’s primary data as contained in his great book Institute of the Christian Religions written in 1559. Predestination doctrine is contained in chapters 21-24 of Book III of the Institute. Each chapter is divided into sections as in the area on providence. We shall then examine the sections one by one and build a system around them later, followed by evaluation of the system.
First Chapter -Predestination To Salvation And Destruction
Section 1: Introduction To Predestination Doctrine.
Calvin begins with a gentle introduction to the subject mater. He says
But if it is plainly owing to the mere pleasure of God that salvation is spontaneously offered to some, while others have no access to it, great and difficult questions immediately arise, questions which are inexplicable, when just views are not entertained concerning election and predestination.
Why this may perplex the elect, it should move him to humility. Calvin appeals to Bernard, the 12th century great French theologian known for his exegesis of the Songs of Songs. Calvin ends this section by talking about the secret will of God in predestination. It is not for man to understand why God has done it and how he is going to accomplish it. Suffice it to note that there are two classes of people- the elect who are predestined to eternal happiness and the reprobate, predestined to eternal damnation.
The concept of secret will of God does no justice to adequate exegesis. Why should God do anything secretly and yet reveal it in the Bible? Is God a deceiver?
Section 2. Need For
Biblical Doctrine of Predestination
Calvin argues in the second section that any doctrine of predestination must be grounded in the Scriptures and not our own reasoning. Where we find our own reasoning prevailing, we must learn not to give glory to ourselves but to the word of God. We should not aspire to knowledge that would corrupt the mind or be grounded in untruth. It is better not to be informed at all than to be informed and then be ignorant. If ignorance is learning so let it be for it is better than learning which ‘is foolish, perilous, and even fatal to aspire.’
Section 3. Should The
Doctrine Be Taught?
The best rule of sobriety is, not only in learning to follow wherever God leads, but also when he makes an end of teaching, to cease also from wishing to be wise.
Section 4 The Role Of
Whoever, therefore, throws obloquy on the doctrine of predestination, openly brings a charge against God, as having inconsiderately allowed something to escape from him which is injurious to the Church.
Section 5: Preknowledge And Election
There is fore knowledge in election. But the preknowledge is a result of pre-ordination and not the other way round. Using several texts, Calvin argues here that election does not require any merit. It is totally unconditional. He now defines election as being completely devoid of merit.
Let those who would ascribe the election of God to human worth or merit come forward. When they see that one nation is preferred to all others, when they hear that it was no feeling of respect that induced God to show more favour to a small and ignoble body, nay, even to the wicked and rebellious, will they plead against him for having chosen to give such a manifestation of mercy?
Section 6. Rejection Of Esau
God was under no law or any obligation when he elected Israel and rejected Esau (or Edom). He however exercised his right to do as he wished in choosing Jacob. Calvin however admits
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.
This is still a case to represent the choice of a whole nation like Israel and the rejection of a whole nation like Edom etc.
Section 7: Election Of Individuals
In this section, Calvin argues for the admission of single individual for salvation and as such the elected individuals have been grafted into the one seed of Abraham in order for them to achieve salvation and for others to be damned. This election is unconditional and not resistible. He says
In regard to the elect, we regard calling as the evidence of election, and justification as another symbol of its manifestation, until it is fully accomplished by the attainment of glory. But as the Lord seals his elect by calling and justification, so by excluding the reprobate either from the knowledge of his name or the sanctification of his Spirit, he by these marks in a manner discloses the judgment which awaits them.
Second Chapter On Predestination: Proofs From Scripture
This chapter deals with the roots of predestination from scripture
Again Calvin refutes the preknowledge theory of predestination. God does not just foreknow and therefore elects on the basis of this foreknowledge. He ordains before he foreknows. Calvin appeals to Eph 1:4, Col 1:12.
Section 2. Extended Exegesis Of Ephesian 1
Paul, in this text was addressing believers no doubt. By saying the election of believers took place before the foundations of the world, it removes any reference to any worth in those so ordained. By saying they have been elected to be holy, the Apostle ‘openly refutes the error of those who deduce election from prescience, since he declares that whatever virtue appears in men is the result of election.’
Eph 1:4-12 refers to apostolic office and election to service and not to individual election to salvation. In fact there is no such thing as individual election to salvation in the whole Bible. Eph 1:13-14 talks clearly of belief before election. Paul (or any other Apostle who wrote the epistle) is saying the Ephesians were elected to salvation after they heard the word of God and believed. What great insight!
Section 3: Call Is Not Because Of Holiness
Paul again emphasizes in I Tim 2:9 that election is not due to any form of holiness on the part of the elect. He says quite clearly in relation to the text- ‘If you say that he foresaw they would be holy, and therefore elected them, you invert the order of Paul’ This is because Paul said to Timothy ‘who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace’ II Tim 1:9.
Calvin therefore charges- ‘And how can it be consistently said, that things derived from election are the cause of election?’ He further cites John 15:6 ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you.’ And Rom 11: 35 ‘Who has ever given to God that God should repay him.’
Paul, again was talking to Timothy in relation to service. Timothy was called just as Paul to be co-workers and therefore live a blameless or holy life in order to achieve that objective. Also the disciples were chosen for service. There is no where it is mentioned that this call was to salvation. Paul and Timothy, after their service could still be damned and one of the disciples was in fact damned. -‘have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil?’ Jn 6:70. There is an interesting emphasis on the Twelve. Jesus did not say he had chosen eleven of you and left the twelfth. In order that Paul may not be misunderstood that the call to holiness is an election to salvation, he says clearly ‘No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’ I Cor 9:27. If Paul did not think he could be disqualified, why did he say so? If he was called for holiness why would he be disqualified? There is serious problem somewhere in this proposal of Calvin.
Section 4: Jacob And Esau
Using again the example of Jacob and Esau as presented by Paul in Rom 9, Calvin argues strongly against the doctrine which places foreknowledge before election. He says that God did not pick Jacob simply because of his good works as said clearly in Rom 9:12 ‘not by works but by him who calls.’ It is therefore clear that God did not foresee any merit in Jacob before He called him. For ‘in explaining the difficulty, the Apostle goes on to show, that ‘the adoption of Jacob proceeded not on works but on the calling of God.’
Section 5: Works Is Not Antecedent To Election
There is no where Paul ever mentions that works is antecedent to call or indeed to salvation. Calvin says
He (God) adopts the one and rejects the other. The only right of precedence was that of primogeniture; but that is disregarded, and the younger is preferred to the elder. Nay, in the case of others, God seems to have disregarded primogeniture for the express purpose of excluding the flesh from all ground of boasting. Rejecting Ishmael he gives his favour to Isaac, postponing Manasseh he honours Ephraim.
Section 6: Further Studies On Election Of Jacob
Jacob was elected to salvation. Calvin further cites Rom 9:15 which says ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy’ suggesting there is no merit in the process of dishing out the mercy. It is a Sovereign will which is immutable.
God being pleased in this manner to act as a free dispenser and disposer, distinctly declares, that the only ground on which he will show mercy to one rather than to another is his sovereign pleasure; for when mercy is bestowed on him who asks, though he indeed does not suffer a refusal, he however either anticipates or partly acquires a favour, the whole merit of which God claims for himself (emphasis added).
The key to the understanding of the Calvin’s statement is the word favour
Texts; I Pet 1:2; 19,20, II Tim 2:19; Rom 9:2.
Elect means favourite; hence the word favour in the Calvinistic proposition is in order. We shall examine this below. But it is important here to mention that Jacob was called for service to bring the nation Israel through the seed of Abraham. He was not elected for salvation though he could have benefited from the service and persevered, like Paul says, in order to obtain the ‘prize’ which of course is salvation.
Section 7: Perseverance
Starting with the text John 6:37, 39 ‘And this is the will of He who sent me, that I shall lose none of all he has given me’ (39), Calvin says Christ is the author of election that is why he keeps the custody of the elect. He tries not to lose any one except of course Judas whom he lost (Jn 17:12). Every one elected in Christ is therefore secure by virtue of his election.
Section 8: Foreknowledge
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 foreknew 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 xv 16). For had he chosen us because he foreknew that we would be good, he would at the same time also have foreknown that we were to choose him.
In concluding the section, Calvin again makes reference to the Exodus 33:19 passage which says ‘I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy .’ He concludes
God is moved to mercy by no other reason than that he is pleased to show mercy. Augustine’s declaration, therefore, remains true. The grace of God does not find, but makes persons fit to be chosen.
But is that really what the original passage directed to Moses is saying? Certainly not! God was pleased with Moses and wanted to show Him mercy by allowing him to see part of His ‘Form’ There is an element of favouritism based on election here (see below)! Also, Augustine needs to modify his opinion for the foreknowledge is not in relation to being good. Did not Christ himself say ‘there is only One who is good.’ Mt 19:17. So many texts in the NT corpus cry out ‘Believe and you will be saved.’ Believe is the key word. God foresaw that some would believe is more consistent with biblical data.
Section 9. Sophistry Of
Thomas seems to suggest that preknowledge is essential to predestination. But those ‘who ascribe the election of God to merits, are wise above what they ought to be’ This was the opinion of Ambrose. Calvin cites texts Amos 8:11; Is 8:16; 53:1; Jn 1:12; Acts 16:6.
Section 10. Objection / Limited Faith
Some object that God would be inconsistent with himself, in inviting all without distinction while he elects only a few.
But God cannot be inconsistent with himself. He forebade Paul to preach in Asia but directed him to preach to Europe (Macedonia) suggesting He has the prerogative to determine those who would belief as part of the elect. Also faith is limited, having not been distributed with equity to all and sundry. Hear Calvin on this (which is probably the origin of the doctrine of limited atonement)
Moreover, if election is, as Paul declares, the parent of faith, I retort the argument, and maintain that faith is not general, since election is special.
Also, there are ample evidence in scriptures for the perseverance of the saint (Eph 1:3,4; Tit 1:1; Jn 6:39-40; 10:29.
Perseverance of saints is a philosophical rather than theological question. If you deny any election, then there can not be any perseverance, but if you admit election, there is no way perseverance of the saints will not follow as a logical consequence for an elect cannot, by its very definition, fall. It is a contradiction in terms to say the (unconditional) elect can fall.
Section 11 The Reprobate.
Calvin argues that we cannot understand the ways of God but nevertheless we must acknowledge his method which is to pass over some in his justice and label them as reprobate. He then asks
Is God unjust?
At last, he (Paul) concludes that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and who, he will he hardeneth (Rom ix 18). You see how he refers both to the mere pleasure of God. Therefore, if we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek any cause beyond his will.
No where in the OT or NT corpus is there any doctrine of reprobation. It is therefore not a biblical system
Third Chapter- Objections
Of Predestination Doctrine
Section 1.There Can Be No Predestination Without Reprobation.
Calvin argues that many are against the doctrine of reprobation but are willing to accept that of predestination of the elect. According to him there can be no election without reprobation.
Those therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children.
He adds immediately that no one who is reprobated can blame God
Nor is it possible to tolerate the petulance of men, in refusing to be restrained by the word of God, in regard to his incomprehensible counsel, which even angels adore.
Why, says Calvin, should reprobates refuse to follow the laws of God or His counsel? If they cannot, then they actually deserve to be punished and be destroyed for Jesus Himself said
Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not panted shall be rooted up (Mt xv. 13). This means, according to Calvin, ‘that all whom the heavenly Father has not been pleased to plant as sacred trees in his garden, are doomed and devoted to destruction. If they deny that this is a sign of reprobation, there is nothing, however clear, that can be proved to them.’
The above argument is not consistent. If God had planned in eternity past to destroy the reprobate then He has no reason to blame him for the actions which he commits, since he is unable to do otherwise. Moreover, there is no place in the Bible where it is stated that some people are destined for destruction. The passage cited to mean this in Rom 9 in which Pharaoh’s heart was hardened was for service and not reprobation. God allowed Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened in order to make sure he would not let the people go and then give Him opportunity to apply His power at the parting of the red sea. But Pharaoh started the ball rolling by first hardening his own heart. This talk by Pauline Rom 9 cannot be for salvation but for specific earthly service. See below for a more critical analysis. Aside from this, we had already mentioned the Jewish Monism which was the pre-exilic paradigm in Judaism. The narrator did not say Satan hardened the heart of Pharaoh because he and his audience knew nothing about Satan.
Section 2. Objection 1. Why Should God Treat Reprobates So
According to Calvin, this is no objection at all; a non question. For
We deny that he (God) is bound to give an account of his procedure; and we moreover deny that we are fit of our own ability to give judgment in such a case. Wherefore, when we are tempted to go farther than we ought, let this consideration deter us, Thou shalt be “justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (Ps li. 4).
Section 3. Objection 1. Further Answer. God Is Not Answerable To Man.
What do you imagine God owes to man, if he is pleased to estimate him by his own nature? As we are all vitiated by sin, we cannot but be hateful to God, and that not from tyrannical cruelty, but the strictest justice. But if all whom the Lord predestines to death are naturally liable to sentence of death, of what injustice, pray, do they complain.?
Calvin is saying that since man all have imputed original sin from Adam, no man is justified before God to say he is holy. If God decides to save just a little of the number of condemned men, then He is not responsible for any injustice for He only saved a little out of the wretched bunch for his own glory.
If man is saved only by the providence of God in calling him to salvation and damning others, then God is not just, unless there is another meaning of the word ‘just’. But if he actually lays a Stone in Zion (Rom 9:33); a rock of offence for which men must stumble in order to be damned, and most believe in order to be saved, then there is Divine justice, the kind that can only be found for both Jews and Gentiles alike without any respecter of person (Rom 2:11).
Section 4. Answer To Objection 1./ Elect Angels
Because all men fell because of the disobedience of Adam, men are now under the control of the divine will to do as he pleases, the cause of which is hidden. To prove the point of about reprobation, the Bible also talks of elect angels ‘who maintained their integrity.’
If their stedfastness was owing to the good pleasure of God, the revolt of the others proves that they were abandoned. Of this no other cause can be adduced than reprobation, which is hidden in the secret counsel of God.
It is difficult to agree that angels and men have similar redemptive process. Indeed the Holy Book does not make such admission. How come then we have elect angels just as we have men? Does it mean God also ordained that some angels should fall? That is to say, He had ordained in eternity that Satan should be Devil and his adversary and that of the elect? If this is not the case, then we need a different meaning for the word elect- eklektos -eklektos. See below
Section 5: Authority Of Augustine On Election
The doctrine of election was borrowed by Calvin from Augustine. We cannot ask God why he has elected some people. Man cannot question God. Indeed Augustine said this
You a man expect an answer from me: I also am a man. Wherefore, let us both listen to him who says, ‘O man who art thou?’ Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge. Seek merits; you will find nought but punishment. O the height! Peter denies, a thief believes. O the height! Do you ask the reason? I will tremble at the height. Reason you, I will wonder; dispute you, I will believe. I see the height; I cannot sound the depth. Paul found rest, because he found wonder. He calls the judgments of God ‘unsearcheable;’ and have you come to search them? He says that his ways are ‘past finding out, and do you seek to find them out.
The passage under reference on reprobation i.e. Rom 9 is referring unfortunately to call to service and election of Israel rather than reprobation of individuals. It is election to service because election to salvation cannot lead to rejection. Yet Paul talks in the next chapter of the rejection of the same elect Israel! Jacob was called for service in order to elect Israel (equally for service) but, through him, provide salvation to men. This was denied Esau but no one knows if Esau ultimately became saved; or indeed Ishmael. Some of us are bound to have some surprises coming in heaven!
Section 6: Objection 2/ God Cannot Be Blamed For Reprobation
Because the Bible says ‘The Lord has made all things for himself; yea even the wicked for the day of evil (Prov xvi 4) it is impossible to blame God for reprobation of individuals. Also there is a great defence for prescience which has inherent in it pre-ordination, for God can only see what He himself has predetermined. Calvin argues against foreknowledge without ordination
If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.
The Lord works out everything for his own ends- ‘even the wicked for a day of disaster.’ Prov 16:4. We admit this because this was exactly what God did with Pharaoh. Since Pharaoh hardened his heart, God allowed him to harden it more so that He would demonstrate His power at the red sea. It is possible for God to use the devices of the wicked to carry out his plan of glory, it is not something that has been decreed from eternity past for according to Sirach, God does not need the wicked to carry out his own plans. Here again, we talk about monist paradigm in Judiasm.
God had decreed from eternity past that Adam (and therefore the whole human race should fall. Calvin refutes the argument of free- will that Adam suffered (and indeed the whole human race) as a result of the improper use of his free will which he abused and therefore was ejected from the garden. Calvin says, God decreed that Adam should fall and then decreed how to rescue Adam and the elect from the fall and damn the rest as reprobates.
Scripture proclaims that all were, in the person of one, made liable to eternal death. As this cannot be ascribed to nature, it is plain that it is owing to the wonderful counsel of God….I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy, unless that it so seemed meet to God? Here the most loquacious tongues must be dumb. The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. (emphasis added).
Calvin ended the section by quoting from Augustine.
Supralapsarianism originating from proper induction of Calvinistic data made by Beza had been jettisoned even by enlightenment Calvinists. It is presently more acceptable to propose an infralapsarianism by which is meant that the fall of man occurred before the decree to save man through Jesus Christ. But Beza did not misquote Calvin at all as is held by some modern scholars; he got him right. However, is Calvin’s view of supralapsarianism correct doctrine? I doubt it. Even Augustine Calvin cites does not seem to agree with this view. Augustine admits free will of man and the angels ab initio, before grace for man.
Section 8: Will & Permission Of God For Evil
Calvin says clearly that man’s evil brought through the disobedience of the fall, upon himself is not just through the permission of God but by a direct will of God. He says clearly
The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should: why he deemed it meet, we know not. It is certain, however, that it was just, because he saw that his own glory would thereby be displayed.
He adds that glory of God admits the justice of God- ‘ when you hear the glory of God mentioned, understand that his justice is included.’
Calvin then discusses what was later to become an important pillar of Calvinism- total depravity of man
Whence then the depravity of man, which made him revolt from God? Lest it should be supposed that it was from his creation, God had expressly approved what proceeded from himself. Therefore, man’s own wickedness corrupted the pure nature which he had received from God, and his ruin brought with it the destruction of all his posterity.
While it is very possible to agree with Calvin that man’s whole nature became corrupted by the fall of Adam and that of his posterity, because it is biblical, it is difficult not to see the inconsistency in the arguments in this section. Firstly, Calvin begins by proving clearly that God ordained the fall of man. Next he determines to say that the fall was from man’s wickedness and not from God’s creation, which was said to have been good at the end of the finished process. If God decreed the fall, how can it originate from man at the same time? Finally, he concludes that we should not ask any questions at all. ‘Ignorance of things which we are not able, or which it is not lawful to know, is learning, while the desire to know them is a species of madness.’  This is plain contradiction and anti-scholarship.
Section 9: Where Is The Evil In Man From?
by the eternal providence of God, man was formed for the calamity under which he lies, he took the matter of it from himself, not from God, since the only cause of his destruction was his degenerating from the purity of his creation into a state of vice and impurity.
It is difficult to follow this argument. Man cannot be free and at the same time be under a decree to fall. It is difficult to admit this duality.
Section 10: God Is No Respecter Of Persons.
God cannot respect person, although he had decreed from eternity that some men be saved and others damned. Since God in exercising his ability to call individuals, has avoided many wise, mighty and noble as stated clearly in I Cor 1:26, but nevertheless has no respect for persons. Calvin says
Therefore, when God elects one and rejects another, it is owing not to any respect to the individual, but entirely to his own mercy, which is free to display and exert itself when and where he pleases.
Section 11: Equal Justice Of God.
Despite the seeming unequal decree of reprobation and election, ‘it is false and most wicked to charge God with dispensing justice unequally.’
Calvin again cites Augustine as authority to prove that God could not be seen as being unjust in admitting some of fallen humanity into eternal happiness. Augustine says
Since in the first man the whole human race fell under condemnation, those vessels which are made unto honour, are not vessels of self-righteousness, but of divine mercy. When other vessels are made unto dishonour, it must be imputed not to injustice, but to judgment.
From the citation from Augustine, it is clear that the doctrine which Calvin has found to be associated with his name originated from Augustine. He only carried the argument to its logical conclusion. Even though it is customary to call Augustine’s predestination system single while that of Calvin double, the above passage of Augustine only needs a little propping to make it double.
Section 12. Blasphemies Against Doctrine Of Predestination
Fatalism must be discouraged in the use of predestination doctrine. Those who say they do not have to become anything since God had decreed from eternity what they must do must be careful for Paul himself said that ‘we should be holy, and without blame before him’ Eph 1:4.
Section 13. Holy Living
Election is not to riotous living and licence but to ‘good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’ (I Thess iv. 4:7; Eph 2:10)
Section 14 Irresistible Grace
Calvin and Augustine argue in this section that salvation for the elect is irresistible. Augustine says
When (God) is pleased to save, there is no free-will in man to resist.
Calvin concurs with Augustine who also is cited as saying that ‘our desire ought not be that all may be saved; and hence every person we meet, we will desire to be with us a partaker of peace. But our peace will rest upon the sons of peace.
Augustine provides a good system that appears very single in its predestination doctrine. This provides a propelling force for evangelism. But unfortunately the Calvinistic system is too wooden and unbending and therefore easily discourages evangelism. But strangely, Calvin was quoting Augustine!
Fourth Chapter- 24.
Calvin in this chapter expands the material on the elect and the reprobate.
Section 1: Election is secret
God only calls those whom he had chosen; that are the elect. Calvin appeals again to Augustine who says
This grace which is secretly imparted to the hearts of men, is not received by any hard heart’ for the reason for which it is given is, that the hardness of the heart may first be taken away. Hence, when the Father is heard within, he takes away the stony heart, and gives a heart of flesh. Thus he makes them sons of promise and vessels of mercy, while those whom he teaches not he teaches not in judgment? For he pities whom he will, and hardens whom he will.
The whole process of election remains hidden in God according to Calvin and Augustine.
Section 2. Ordained To Eternal Life
Calvin argues from Acts 13:48- ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.’ He concludes
How can we deny that calling is gratuitous, when election alone reigns in it even to its conclusion?
Here Calvin makes the only statement in the NT corpus that may suggest evidence in support of the unconditional election of the individual to salvation, which we deny in this discourse. The evidence of Acts 13:48 argues strongly for election without condition and belief because of election. But again, it is impartial induction to dig out only this text and build a strong theology upon it. For me this text is simply saying the election of the Gentiles is part of the universal church of Christ. Election to salvation has now shifted from Israel (the context of the chapter -13 shows clearly) to the church of Gentile believers. For how else can we resolve an antinomy within a great corpus of texts to the contrary?
Section 3: Man’s Suffrage
Here Calvin refutes the doctrine that election depends on man’s suffrage and his own faith. Faith is imparted into the heart of the believer who can only be an elect and not the other way round. He also doubts the fact that only the power of belief is given to men. Hear him
As if Scripture taught that only the power of being able to believe is given us, and not rather faith itself. Others, although they do not so much impair the grace of the Holy Spirit, yet, induced by what means I know not, make election dependent on faith, as if it were doubtful and ineffectual till confirmed by faith.
The Bible is clear that man needs to believe before God can reach out to him. But I will agree with Calvin that faith is imparted in the believer; it is nothing inherent in him.
Objection 4: Assurance Of Salvation
Calvin agrees that many doubt the salvation which has been given to them as elect. How do I know I am even an elect? This is why it is clear in the Scriptures that an elect cannot fall from grace. Calvin cites Bernard to prove his point about reprobates.
It is true there is a great need for assurance of salvation. But all a man needs is not proof from scripture but signs from within.
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Rom 8:14-16.
Another passage talks of the wind blowing ‘wherever it pleases. You hear its sound. But you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ Jn 3:8.
It is clear that the above testifies of the signs to be given to the believer, including fruits of the spirit which manifest in his life (Gal 5:22). There is no way a believer would ever doubt himself, because he has objective evidence from his subjective experience. It does not require having to appeal to passages in the Bible which mean nothing! No text of the Bible can give assurance for salvation; only the internal witness of the spirit can do this, and the Bible is clear on this. ‘You, however are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.’ (Rom 8:9).
Section 5: Election In Christ Jesus
Election of the adopted must be in Christ. And it is through Christ that we must contemplate our election. Christ must be the mirror of election. Because it is clearly written ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Jn 3:16.
The text quoted by Calvin did not assume the importance it now has in evangelical circles until the time of the Arminians. It was John Wesley and his followers who popularized this text to refer to the unconditional means to salvation-‘whosoever wills’. It is therefore surprising that Calvin should quote this text which is the major stumbling block to his doctrine of predestination.
Section 6: Anxiety As To
Again Calvin examines the means by which elect would allay his fears as to whether he is elect or not. Calvin quotes several texts which tend to suggest that there is a need for perseverance on the part of the elect e.g. Mt 22:14 ‘many are called, few are chosen,’ or the Pauline text which says ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall’ (I Cor 10:12). But he argues that God has assured the believer that he will keep him safe for any one who cannot persevere could not have been in the fold in the first place. He quotes ‘If they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us (I Jn 2:19).
Section 7 Perseverance
But we have elsewhere seen, that our hope extends into the future, even beyond death, and that nothing is more contrary to its nature than to be in doubt as to our future destiny.
Section 8: ‘Many Are Called’ Interpreted
This text ‘many are called, few are chosen’ is misinterpreted. This is because there are two calls- one is universal and the other is special call. Universal call is for everyone both elect and reprobate, while special call is for only the elect. But there is a small group God calls for only a short while, because they are not in the company of elect. Hear Calvin on this
Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness.
This is a strange doctrine indeed.
Section 9: Judas’ Loss Of Salvation
(Christ) had chosen him (Judas) to the office of apostle. But when he speaks of election from salvation, he altogether excludes him from the number of the elect. “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen” (John xiii. 18).
It is difficult to say that Jesus did not choose Judas. But Judas was chosen for the office of Apostle and not for salvation which Calvin rightly agrees with. In the same vein, no one is elected unconditionally to salvation; we are elected to service just like Judas! Here Calvin contradicts himself.
Section 10. Life Of The Elect Before Conversion
It is an error, according to Calvin to assume that the elect knows he is elected because of the unblemished life he leads before he is called and converted. He says
Those who dream of some seed of election implanted in their hearts from their birth, by the agency of which they are ever inclined to piety and the fear of God, are not supported by the authority of Scripture, but refuted by experience.
Section 11: Seed Of Righteousness In The Elect
Was there any seed of righteousness in the harlot Rahab who was counted amongst the believers? Calvin asks. Calvin replies by saying that the Scriptures says “all we like sheep have gone astray” (Is 53: 6).
Section 12. Hiding Light Of Salvation.
About 4000 years passed before the advent of Jesus. This, according to Calvin is evidence of election before those who lived in darkness prior the advent of Christ were not elected.
How do we answer this? Paul said clearly that conscience would be the means of judging those for salvation based on their inability to have heard the gospel
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. THIS WILL TAKE place on the day when God will judge men’s secret through Jesus Christ.’ Rom 2:14-16.
Section 13. What Is The Cause Of Reprobation?
Calvin refutes the statement of Chrysostom ‘that he draws him who is willing, and stretching forth his hand.’ It is also said that the reprobate cannot understand the mysteries of heaven. Why teach them then? Calvin answers
What, you will ask, does our Lord mean, by teaching those by whom he is careful not to be understood? Consider where the fault lies, and then cease to ask. How obscure soever the word may be, there is always sufficient light in it to convince the consciences of the ungodly.
If the word contains enough to enlighten the heart of the ungodly, can he change seeing he is reprobate and has been ordained to be so from eternity past?
Section 14 Reprobate Cannot Obey God
Calvin says of the reprobate
The refusal of the reprobate to obey the word of God when manifested to them, will be properly ascribed to the malice and depravity of their hearts, provided it be at the same time added, that they were adjudged to this depravity, because they were raised up by the just and inscrutable judgment of God, to show forth his glory by their condemnation.
Section 15. Objections To Reprobation In Bible.
Calvin agrees there are clear cut text in the Bible in which God denies that he wishes the wicked to perish though his ordination. “have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Saith the Lord: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” (Ezek xviii. 23).’
But hear the reply of Calvin himself on this important question.
Let us therefore hold the doctrine of the prophet, that God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner: that the godly may feel confident that whenever they repent God is ready to pardon them; and that the wicked may feel that their guilt is doubled, when they respond not to the great mercy and condescension of God. The mercy of God, therefore, will ever be ready to meet the penitent; but all the prophets, and apostles, and Ezekiel himself, clearly tell us who they are to whom repentance is given.
Section 16: Universalism Countered
Paul says ‘God will have all men to be saved.’ (I Tim ii. 4). This statement does not mean that.
Section 17: Further On Universalism
There is no contradiction between the passages that hold universalism and predestination for ‘we know that promises are effectual only when we receive them in faith, but, on the contrary, when faith is made void, the promise is of no effect.’ In responding to those who claim universalism, Calvin says
They object, moreover, that God does not hate any of the things which he has made. This I concede, but it does not affect the doctrine which I maintain, that the reprobate are hateful to God, and that with perfect justice, since those destitute of his Spirit cannot produce anything that does not deserve cursing.
It is clear the hatred Calvin has for reprobates.
Predestination System Of Calvin
In discussing the system of Calvin on predestination, we shall examine the following- Predestination, election, reprobation, calling, grace, foreknowledge, faith, prayer, supralapsarianism and human responsibility. After extensive discussion on the above, a post-Calvinistic system, popularly known as TULIP will be examined briefly and finally propositions would be made on the doctrine of Biblical predestination that would attempt to synthesize all objections with all approvals of the Calvinistic system, bearing in mind objections from Arminianism and other schools.
Definition: We owe it to Calvin the modern definition of predestination taken previously. The Greek word translated in the Bible as predestination is proorizw - proorizo- which means to ‘limit in advance, predetermine, determine before’. It does not suggest the modern definition that takes into consideration the Calvinistic system which is that the election of certain individuals by God for eternal happiness and the rejection of others (Advance Learner’s Dictionary) having been decreed from eternity past.
When in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. If you want to, you can keep the Lord’ commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not. He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take which ever you want. You have a choice between life and death; you will get which ever you choose. The Lord’s wisdom and power are great and he sees everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him. He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin. Sirach 15:14-20.
Although the Book is non-canonical and its inspiration is doubtful; it nevertheless contains Jewish thought at least in the intertestamental period. Sirach contains a lot of Greek philosophies mixed with Jewish thought and morals for the hellenistic period extending from 333 BC to the time of Christ (AD 1). Hence it provides us details of Jewish beliefs. It is rather interesting that ‘Calvinistic’ thought had already taken root in Jewish philosophy long before the time of Calvin. People had thought it was necessary to question the provision of salvation by God as being unfair and completely laden with secret plans to save certain peoples and damn others even amongst the ‘elect’ Jews. But the text discusses that man is totally free and is capable of doing what he wants. It emphasizes that all God does with man is to note what each person is doing for the day of reckoning. Man is free to choose life or death; i.e. salvation or damnation. It ends-, God has not willed or permitted anybody to sin in his name. The conclusion is anticipating or pre-empting Calvin close to about 2000 years.
Only Paul follows the line of history of predestination thought in Jewish literature. Paul argues from Scripture that there is a foreknowledge (proginosko -Gr) by which God calls and predestines certain individuals. Paul says
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (remember a similar theme in Sirach above), who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, and that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Rom 8:28-30.
Obviously Paul is talking about a form of salvation offered for certain categories of people. These people have been predestined (proorizo) but how, he does not elaborate. Calvinistic system, initially popularized by Augustine says that the individuals involved in this predestination were foreknown because they were originally preordained. But unfortunately the text is not saying anything of the sort. Another system (known in modern parlance as Arminian) but nevertheless beginning in the early patristic times, hold that foreknowledge just means what it says. God looked into His ‘horoscope’ to see who would love him and so He then predestined them. Calvinists say this is not possible. How can you ordain what is contingent? I admit that it is not clear what Paul meant by predestined in this very controversial text. This is where the analogy of faith comes in. We use clearer texts to examine and interpret difficult ones. But nevertheless Paul set the ball rolling for modern debates on predestination which began with the time of Augustine.
We shall use the example of Origen (c. 185-c. 254) to represent patristic interpretation of predestination and foreknowledge. Origen seems to have an explanation of predestination similar to those being held today by Arminians (see below). This is primarily due to the fact that a certain man called Celsius attacked the Church at the time of Origen and built a pseudotheology around the doctrine of predestination in which he said that Jesus forced one of his disciples (Judas) to betray him and then punished him after the betrayal; an allegation which holds true for Calvinistic doctrine of predestination today. Origen replied in a lengthy report.
Pelagius (c 400).
Pelagius was a British monk who taught ascetism in the 5th century BC contemporaneously with Augustine who himself died in 430 AD. Pelagius took interest in justification and taught that man could be justified by works after infant baptism and that there was no original sin inherited from Adam. This doctrine does no justice to biblical data.
Augustine (354-430) countered the principles of Pelagianism. He held to the principle of predestination which was mainly of the elect. It was his system that influenced the Calvinistic system with only one major difference. Augustine did not emphasise reprobation; he seemed to be more interested in espousing the doctrine of original sin and the prevenient grace of God by which He calls the elect to believe without any good thing being found in them for the human depravity is such that nothing good can come out of it. But Calvin seems to be more interested in reprobation which Augustine hardly ever mentioned. It can be however said that Augustine built the foundations of modern Calvinism.
Prosper of Aquitane (c. 390-c.463) is the main figure in this system before Calvin. Prosper had rejected predestination to evil and that man needed the grace of God to fulfill his will, but it was later extended to include an assault on fixed quota of the elect theory of Augustine and also the perseverance of saint theory of the same Augustine. Prosper also denied the irresistibility of grace. In a way, semi-pelagianism is similar to the modern version of Arminianism, except that Arminianism is more coherent in its thought and quite systematic. Initially, semi-pelagianism was called semi-Augustianism in the period before the reformation. The system was presented by Wright as follows
Although Augustine feared a recrudescence of Pelagianism proper, these ‘semi-Augustinians’ affirmed original sin and the necessity of grace for salvation, but sought a balanced antinomy between grace and freedom, disliked the resort to God’s hidden counsels in election and doubted whether a just predestination could avoid being based on foreknowledge.
It is therefore clear from the above that most of the doctrines which is developed on predestination in the reformation and post-reformation age (Calvinism and Arminianism) were not new at all. They have been with the church from ages and even have their roots in Hellenistic Judaism.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Martin Luther began again the doctrine of justification by faith; a theme long forgotten after Augustine. He revived the doctrine and propounded the principle by which God justifies the sinner without any merit and this was to form the beginning of modern understanding of single predestination. Luther never commented on the reprobate. But he never failed to make his bold assertion, ‘The just shall live by his faith.
Calvin, developed a system of thought first conceptualized by Augustine. He clearly taught that man was fully depraved and therefore incapable of saving himself. He further agreed that God provides a universal call for mankind and that the call become particularized only in the elect whom he said had been ordained to eternal life from eternity. Those not ordained are the reprobates who will not be able to repent and will continue in ungoldy behaviour and perish in their sins and later be punished for their sins by a just God. God is in no way indictable for their evil since He is under no obligation to save any one at all. He had condemned every one in the first place as a result of Adam’s fall but now he wishes to save only a few predetermined numbers who will go to paradise. Those not saved will be punished for their sins because they refused to heed the call of repentance. But they cannot yield to that call for they are reprobates. God decreed from eternity past that man should fall and also decreed the means by which man must be saved even before the foundations of the earth. He equally decreed the fall of the angels and the demise of Satan because of his own free pleasure.
Of course this system has come under very heavy attack since it was first put up in the 16th century as part of the reformation process and revival of religion from the shackles of Roman Church. But because of the initial excitement of reformation, it went unnoticed until the 16th century when a Dutch professor of theology at Leiden, Holland, attacked the very foundation of the doctrine. Later his successors put up five remonstrance articles by which modern Arminianism is known.
Jacob Arminius (1560-1609)
Jacob Arminius attacked the very foundation of predestination theory by suggesting that predestination of the elect is grounded in God’s foreknowledge and dependent on the individual believing. Although the individual cannot save himself, God promises to save anyone who believes in Jesus by providing him the necessary grace for salvation and good living. He denied this process of salvation is pelagianism for man is still not able to save himself except by the grace of God but man must believe in order to become elect. Arminius appealed to very many Greek patristic figures and argued that the doctrine of double predestination as presented by Calvin was never in the church before the 16th century. The remonstration which followed Arminius rent the reformed church apart.
Theodore Beza (1519-1605)
Theodore Beza was the man who actually helped to develop the theology of John Calvin into a systematic and philosophical thought which was very unassailable. But nevertheless, some felt he did much to discredit the system built by Calvin himself for by the 17th century, revolt against his method of applying Calvinism had begun in Europe and led mainly by Heinrich Heppe (1820-1879)
It was charged that he, developed the doctrine of a wooden supralapsarian doctrine, and he popularized most of the difficult areas of Calvinism for he was successor of Calvin in Geneva as Professor of Theology (1559-1599) and Rector of the Academy (1559-1563). But, examining Calvin’s writings would see clearly that Beza was only true to what Calvin had written. True, he emphasized the most difficult areas of Calvinism, like predestination and Sovereignty and Providence of God as opposed to the harmless parts of Calvin’s systematic theology which included cosmology, Christology and theology proper.
During the enlightenment period, the doctrine of Calvinism took a different understanding, loosing its force to persuade and the beginning of the 20th century saw Karl Bath (1886-1968) interpreting Calvin in new and refreshing way. He found reprobation and election in what Christ underwent in order to provide salvation for all mankind.
Modern Calvinists are mostly scholars in seminaries and colleges. The whole doctrine of Calvinism has been almost jettisoned from the church dogma and the lay men are mostly unaware of it, unless of course, a scholar again awakens them. But there are many scholars who are impressed by the wooden dogmatism of Calvinism and his neat theology. Such include Grudem who says
When we understand election as God’s sovereign choice of some persons to be saved, then there is necessarily another aspect of that choice, namely, God’s sovereign decision to pass over others and not to save them. This decision of God in eternity past is called reprobation. Reprobation is the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save then, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.
Modern charismatic movements do not harbour a single Calvinist. Indeed the early and later 19th century revivalist of religion were non-Calvinists. That includes the neo-pentecostal groups and even the modern New Age Movements condemn Calvin with a great voice.
What is the Calvinistic concept of original sin? The system followed by Calvin is essentially Augustinian. Calvin holds to the total depravity of man as a result of the fall of man- the original sin.
The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should: why he deemed it meet, we know not. It is certain, however, that it was because he saw that his own glory would thereby be displayed. When you hear the glory of God mentioned, understand that his justice is included. For that which deserves praise must be just. Man therefore falls, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault. The Lord had a little before declared that all the things which he had made were very good (Gen 1.31). Whence then the depravity of man, which made him revolt from God? Lest it should be supposed that it was from his creation, God had expressly approved what proceeded from himself. Therefore, man’s own wickedness corrupted the pure nature which he had received from God, and his ruin brought with it the destruction of all his posterity.
The Bible supports this
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned - for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. Rom 5:12.
The word predestination means in Calvinism the divine decree made in eternity past by God to save some and reject some individuals before they were born to eternal life and eternal damnation respectively. This counsel of God is said to be secret and although some say it should not be mentioned, Calvin insists that it must be mentioned in order that it might glorify God.
He defines predestination as follows
By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, according, as each has been created for one or the other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.
We shall never feel persuaded as we ought that our salvation flows from the free mercy of God as its fountain, until we are made acquainted with his eternal election, the grace of God being illustrated by the contras- viz. that he does not adopt promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what he denies to others.
Critical analysis of predestination
The Biblical use of predestination is different from the one favoured in Calvinism. Calvinistic definition stems from philosophy, mostly of Stoicism and philosophical determinism. The Bible does not follow the definition used in current English including the one which say that ‘God has decreed everything that comes to pass.’ It is clear that Calvinism has influenced modern usage of the word predestination so much that once it is seen in the Bible the only meaning that comes to mind is the Calvinistic meaning or its philosophical antecedent. The meaning of predestination in the Bible is ‘foreordain’ simple! It is taken from the Greek proorizo which means to predetermine or ordain, and its synonyms include ‘decree, destine, foreordain and predestine.’  This word has therefore been abused in modern parlance and has been bedevilled with Calvinism. It does not mean God has decreed EVERYTHING but it means God has decreed the particular thing under reference.
Examples of biblical usage include
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. Rom 8:29.
Hence the understanding of biblical predestination must always go hand in hand with the understanding of the meaning and interpretation of the biblical word ‘foreknew’. See below.
And those he predestined he also called. Rom 8:30.
In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ. Eph 1:5.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Eph 1:11.
Only in the above texts is the word prorizoo used in the entire Bible. Then what does it signify? It signified that God had planned something, or decreed something in the past. Which means, in the context of which we are talking, God had planned that some should do some particular things. We deny that this plan is for salvation. And we shall argue this below. But the plan was before the foundation of the world, before we were born and God foreknew this plan
Because God cannot contradict himself, and because God has given us free will (we are free moral agents) we cannot be predestined to enter heaven; that would be incoherent. But we can be predestined for service and we believe it is in this context that Paul uses the word prorizoo in Ephesians 1:5 and 11. But the usage is accompanied with the word foreknowledge in Rom 8:29. And also the context of the usage is clearly salvation and not service. Hence the usage in Rom 8 is not for service but for salvation qualified by the word foreknew.
Calvin argues that foreknowledge simply follows pre-ordination. God knew about the predestination because He did it Himself- He made the decree. The argument of foreknowledge and what Paul meant by it is as old as Christianity. Origen spent considerable time refuting the Calvinistic interpretation which scoffers of Christianity at his time (Celsius specifically and we had interacted with his opinion earlier) used. He represents the opinion of most patristic figures, excepting Augustine.
Calvin says of forknowledge
We indeed, ascribe both prescience and predestination to God; but we say it is absurd to make the latter subordinate to the former. When we attribute prescience to God, we mean that all things always were, and ever continue, under his eye; that to his knowledge there is no past or future, but all things are present, and indeed so present, that it is not merely the idea of them that is before him (as those objects are which we retain in our memory), but that he truly sees and contemplates them as actually under his immediate inspection. This prescience extends to the whole circuit of the world, and to all creatures.
Hence to Calvin, God foreknew because He foreordained. He concludes on foreknowledge of God
If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amount to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.
But is this the way the Bible puts it? I doubt it. If we apply Occam’s razor in the analysis of Paul’s argument of foreknowledge, we can only come to one full conclusion- God knew those who would believe and therefore preordained them for salvation. This makes sense since He (God) had leased out the freedom of choice to mankind as He laid the stumbling block in Zion which would be the test of those to be the future elect or reprobates. He says clearly about this stone ‘and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ Rom 9:33. This is how Paul ended his argument on election of Israel for service. In this Pauline argument, he began with how God unconditionally selected Israel over Esau for service and how this same Israel has been rejected for the sake of the precious corner stone in Zion which is to be a stumbling block for Jews or Gentiles. A rock that will determine who will enter the eternal kingdom and who would not. Hence God can only see the future of those whom he has given the right to select what they want; he cannot by ordinary logic ordain what He has already given out as free. But he is omniscient and omniscience includes prescience. This system is logical and coherent and seems so more than the understanding that prescience is due to predetermination.
Calvin holds that because of the original sin which man has inherited from his ancestor Adam, no one can save Himself. Only God can save if He so wishes. And He (God) had decreed from eternity past that man should be saved by the blood of the Lamb that was shed on the cross and that this salvation is for the unconditionally elected individuals only. Emphasis is on the unconditional election. By elect, Calvin refers to those categories of people whom God had chosen, without any merit in them, who are to enjoy the fruit of salvation. They were not chosen for any reason at all except it was the pleasure of the Father to so elect them. Calvin says of this election
When God elects one and rejects another, it is owing not to any respect to the individual, but entirely to his own mercy, which is free to display and exert itself when and where he pleases. For we have elsewhere seen, that in order to humble the pride of the flesh, “not many wise men after the flesh, not many might, not many noble, are called” (I Cor i. 26); so far is God in the exercise of his favour from showing any respect to persons.
Also Calvin emphasizes that this election is in Christ Jesus. He says
Those whom God has adopted as sons, he is said to have elected, not in themselves, but in Christ Jesus (Eph i.4); because he could love them only in him, and only as being previously made partakers with him, honour them with the inheritance of his kingdom. But if we are elected in him, we cannot find the certainty of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we look at him apart from the Son.
Critical evaluation of doctrine of election.
What actually does the word ‘elect’ mean? The word is derived from Greek- eklektos which is a combination of English ‘chosen-favourite’. Hence when we elect somebody, we make a choice based on our interest and our best! Elect does not mean choice without merit, for that would no longer be elect. It is from the Greek that we obtain election. It is one of the haul-marks of Greek democracy inherited world-wide, that we elect the best for ourselves. So when the American President is elected, it is assumed that the American citizens appointed their favourite to the position; they did not just select anyone to the position without merit. It is therefore a wonder that election is used in theology with so much confusion despite the fact that its root in Greek means nothing to which it is imputed in English (and probably French for Calvin is coming from the French language).
The use of eklektos which is a verbal adjective (L. Coenen) since Plato has the following characteristics
1. It means a person or thing which the choice has been placed on.
2. Together with the noun ekloge they exclusively mean choosing
3. It means there are several things upon which selection is to be made.
4. The person to make the choice is absolutely free.
5. The person to make the choice has the thing to choose or person at his/her disposal.
6. The chooser is required to make a choice based on preference which may require appeal to objective or subjective criteria or feeling. Hence, it is amazing how the meaning of such a simple word has been changed in theology.
We see the following categories of elect in the Bible
1. Conditional election
2. Unconditional election which is a contradiction in terms and best rendered unconditional choosing.
1. Conditional election:
These are the groups of people who are called elect based on a condition. The condition which the Bible stipulates clearly is ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 16:31) because they have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as a precondition and are still working in his faith. They are usually individuals, although church and Israel may be included in the group after adequate definition for they are also favourite communities of God’s people. It is conditional because they are favourites only due to their belief. There are 21 places in the NT corpus in which the word elect is used and all except a few (non-human) are reserved for conditional election as a result of some merit in the individual. Only one place it talks of elect according to foreknowledge (1 Pet 1:2).
Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones (eklektos), who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. Lk 18:7.
This text is referring to favourite in the context; it cannot be those elected for salvation For if it were salvation, what else does an elect expect from a just God?
Therefore I endure every thing for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.’ II Tim 2:10.
Here Paul is making a class distinction. Who are this elect that must obtain salvation too? If the salvation was already for them, why should it be ‘too’ and why should Paul make sacrifice to aid them in obtaining salvation? Is Paul God? NO! The salvation for elect is not automatic. It is conditional- on their continual obedience in faith and submission.
Other passages of eklektos in the NT are as follows -
2. Unconditional election’
This does not exist for it is a contradiction in terms. No one can be unconditionally elect as the Calvinistic system suggests, for you are picked as elect based on your belief in the Lord. But there are several individuals that are elected for service and not for salvation. These, by the very nature of their selective process cannot be chosen based on any merit. Such a selection is based on the preference of choice by the maker for any one is capable of performing such task of service with superintending of the Holy Spirit and such is irresistible. You cannot but perform the task that the Holy Spirit has set in front of you. The example of Jonah is too lucid for us not to understand that basic fact. There are several people selected for service in the Bible and have been therefore erroneously designated as being selected, for salvation for the election to service is unconditional. Because the word unconditional election is contradiction in terms, we prefer to examine its Greek (original) equivalent). The Greek Bible prefers chosen -eklegomai for this category of people rather than eklektos. When the word ‘chosen’ is used, it may have preference for inanimate object or for any person selected for service, without any form of favourite. Hence it is unconditional, but it is not designed for salvation but for service.
Some examples of eklegomai are as follows
‘For the sake of the elect (eklektos) whom he has chosen (eklegomai).’ Mk 13:20.
This text proves that eklektos and eklegomai are used differently, eklektos is for the favourite who has been given conditional election, but eklegomai is for those commissioned for special service. Hence here Jesus is referring to those who have been specially commissioned and not just the conditionally elected individuals. It does not in any way connote those chosen or elected for salvation, but for a special service probably for that eschatological period.
Other texts in which eklegomia is used for service are as follows
It is clear from the last text above that Jesus did not mean choose for heaven and He is putting in an irony to the disciples for service (see the context)- that they could not have appointed Him for any service. It cannot mean just simple eklektos choice of favourite, since it is clear disciples decided by their own volition to work with Him. True, they were superintended by the Holy Spirit in making that choice but it was not forced on them. It was their own will also. Other texts having eklegomai are
See the great text of Calvin
Alas! This great Calvinist text is for service after all? The Apostle (or his apprentice) is talking, beginning from 1:4-1:13, about service of the apostolic office, and not about salvation or election of believers. From v 13 he begins to talk about the Ephesians themselves, but hear him
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of his glory. Eph 1:12-14.
Paul is saying to his audience that they believed before they were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, and not the other way round. The seal will continue until the full redemption of those who are God’s possession (i.e. those who will persevere). The system does not contradict itself and it is not any form of antinomy. Paul changes from ‘we’ in 1:4-13 to ‘you’ suddenly in v 13 showing he was initially talking about the service of the Apostles before he jumped to the Ephesians. They were called to be holy; that is a form of service. That service will end when they have their full redemption at the point of their death and subsequent glorification. For why else will Christ say, I have chosen you and one of you is a devil, if it is not possible to be able to fall from the choice for service?
Election Of Israel/Church
Example of the type of election for Israel or the Church community is found in Rom 9. Calvin agrees that there is election of Israel and church different from election for individuals. We agree with the two kinds of election which are said to be unconditional in the Calvinistic system. We say only election for service (which we have called chosen) is unconditional and that includes service of the nation Israel and the church, but not individuals. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob were called for service of given birth to the nation Israel. Esau was not called. It was unconditional choice which is the real translation of ekloge, wrongly translated ‘election’ in English. Since it is unconditional choice for service, it can be temporarily suspended and that was what happened with Israel and Paul is reporting in Rom 9-10. It is unfortunate that people use these text to support unconditional election (which is contradiction in terms) when Paul himself stated clearly that Israel has been abandoned for the Church of believers. If they were actually unconditionally elected for salvation, how can they be abandoned!
Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad- in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls. Rom 9:11.
This is obvious call to service. Those whom he had called earlier for service include the Jews through whom the light will shine round the whole earth. But if they be rejected, then God will call them my people ‘who are not my people.’ Rom 9:15.
It is because the promised (called, chosen, elect) people were rejected, that is why we Gentiles have access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ whom we believe.
Paul said about them before his discourse on election
I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Rom 9:3-4.
But conditional election can be lost while unconditional for service can end- as in the case of Israel.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election (ekloge) sure. For if you do these things you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. II Pet 1:10-11.
How can an election which is unconditional and confirmed be said to be made sure by Peter? The only reason is that this election (ekloge) is for service and not salvation in this context; service to carry the light of salvation to all and sundry. Peter is saying that the election should be made sure by the individual through doing things that will assist him to continue steadfastly in the Lord. I would however agree that the text could also have a meaning of conditional election, i.e. favourite. But then the use of eklego, being a derivative of eklektos seems eclectic. And the context should clearly determine its meaning but its primary meaning has nothing to do with favourite or preference based on some selected parameters of the choice maker and the translation into ‘election’ in English is therefore faulty. In fact it is rendered ‘chosen’ by Louw and Nida while eklegomai is rendered ‘election’ instead.
What do you imagine that God owes to man, if he is pleased to estimate him by his own nature?…Should all the sons of Adam come to dispute and contend with their Creator, because by his eternal providence they were before their birth doomed to perpetual destruction, when God comes to reckon with them, what will they be able to mutter against this defence?
Critical evaluation of reprobation doctrine
History: While agreeing that Augustine actually made allusion to reprobation, only Calvin made a point of systematizing it into a full doctrine. In the history of Judaic thought and Christian doctrine, no single person has mentioned it except Calvin. It may be mentioned only in opposition by the ungodly (just like in Sirach) who make excuses for their own wickedness, but certainly not by theologians who try to refute such allegations against God. Indeed, Origen attempted to answer Celsius who was of such disposition although he was not a Christian. The question to ask is then, what was Calvin hoping to gain by this argument? Is it biblical, or even logical? Calvin agrees that the doctrine is horrible but he is says that it must nevertheless be preached for to hide it would be to do injustice to God.
The system of reprobation is not coherent. How can God punish a sinner who has been born a sinner? It is a violation of natural justice, conscience and equity, the three pillars of modern justice. Who was the architect of modern justice? God! How can He violate his own principles? Or, is justice different in our language than those of the angels and God? If this is so, no Christian then should ever accuse the Devil of injustice for the Devil preys on human souls to destroy them when they have done him no evil and this is why the Bible condemns him as the ‘accuser of our brothers’ (Rev 12:10), lion (1 Pet 5:8), serpent (Gen 3:1), dragon (Rev 20:2), leviathan-dinosaur (Is 27:1) etc. Is there a different type of justice for God and another for the devil? If God had made the reprobate wicked by the act of omission in not electing him to holiness, he cannot now punish the same reprobate for wickedness. No! Calvin is saying God is not punishing the reprobate for wickedness but punishing the whole human race for the sin of Adam by punishing a part of that race. Again, that principle is repugnant to modern justice. Why would God punish innocent people for the sin of Adam? No!
There is nowhere in the Bible that the doctrine of reprobation is taught. Every one in the Bible we see the instruction, Believe and be saved. There is nowhere it says be elected and then believe. This doctrine is not biblical!
Author of sin/ collusion with sin
Sirach had already mentioned long ago that God does not need the cooperation of sinners to achieve his goal. To say he does is a form of heresy and irreverence and it nevertheless makes no sense. For if He is sovereign, he can select anything to reach his goal, He then does not need the cooperation of evil to achieve this objective.
What does call mean? To the Calvinist, it means two things- the general call by which all men are called to the salvation of God and the particular call which is reserved only for the elect. Calvin says
There is a universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savour of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts.
He also says
In regard to the elect, we regard calling as the evidence of election, and justification as another symbol of its manifestation, until it is fully accomplished by the attainment of glory. But as the Lord seals his elect by calling and justification, so by excluding the reprobate either from the knowledge of his name or the sanctification of his Spirit, he by these marks in a manner discloses the judgment which awaits them.
There is the last group who have what we might call pseudo-call
Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and who afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness.
Critical evaluation of call
This, then, is no call at all. God simply is deceiving the sinner and God cannot be a deceiver of his own creation! It is true God calls everyone and the Bible is clear about this. But the so called ineffective call (pseudo-call) does not make sense. It is either the call is appropriated or not.
The order of salvation in Calvinism is election followed by, calling, belief, regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. The call and election are said not to be dependent on faith. What concerns us in this order is that call comes before belief for the elect while for non elect or reprobate, the order is as follows- reprobation, calling, non-belief, destruction. The general thrust is that call is made for everyone but only the elect must answer the call (see below). Belief follows call for the elect, but the non elect will not believe.
Critical analysis of Calvinistic ordo salutis
If belief follows only after election then man is not a free moral agent! Man is a robot being pushed about by the divine will of God. This is Stoicism. Then man can no longer be accused of any sin or transgression for the transgression comes from the maker who has made man like this. True this objection appeared to have been first advanced by Paul himself while defending the act of God in selecting Jacob against Esau but Paul was talking of service (Rom 9).
If I make a set of robots who have been predetermined (or programmed) to perform certain tasks, I still have the right to pick any of them for great service than the others, e.g. the first robot, the leading robot, the last robot and the robot fit for casting away, i.e. destruction. That is my prerogative. But I cannot blame any robot that is not free for doing the wrong things. This theory makes God the author of sin (as was first mentioned by Sirach 200BC). There is nowhere this doctrine is taught in the entire canon and even non-canon.
If God is sovereign, then He must determine every move and everything in life. This is the argument of Calvin which he has carried over from his doctrine of Providence into that of predestination. Yes, this is correct, but sovereignty does not mean impossibility of free will. If God made man to be free, then He cannot overrule his own making! Indeed, this was our proposition in the section under Providence of God. Everything in this world is predetermined excepting the will of man which has been made in the image of God; i.e. absolutely free. If that be the case, continuing with our robot theory- if I make robots to be determined, but gave them freedom to do as they choose with the hope that the built system will continue to prosper, then I am still sovereign over the robots, but I have conceded by liberty for a purpose; and that purpose is my own good pleasure. Then I can easily decree that any robot found unable to perform and make the system to progress will be eliminated and destroyed so that the system may not be corrupted. Am I still sovereign or not?
Man is free: The Bible is clear about this good pleasure of God or the freedom of man to select good or evil.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God. Listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Dt 30:19-20.
To further buttress the argument of the freedom of man the word whoever is used in KJV 181 times; 79 in OT and 102 NT. In NT the distribution is as follows-Matthew - 29; Mark - 15, Luke - 18, John - 11, Acts, 4, Romans, 5, I Corinthians, 2, Galatians 2, James 2, I John 9, II John 1, Revelation 4. It shows clearly the freedom of man and the emphasis of the NT writers. Matthew seemed to have the greatest emphasis on this followed by Luke, then Mark and then John. Matthew was writing for Jews, and he was conscious of the stone (Jesus) the rock of offence in Zion and he seems to emphasize their freedom to choose him and live.
In the Calvinistic system, God decreed that man should fall and then decreed that Jesus should die for man’s sins. How can this be logical? How can you decree a fall for your own good pleasure. The Bible does not say anything of the sort.
Therefore if man is free then he is able to determine whether he was to live a holy life or not. If he appropriates the so called general call by God (which in modern soteriology is termed common grace) then that becomes a particular call for him. He is then given, through the grace of particular call, the ability to repent. This can only be activated by his voluntary interest to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That belief is a special sense of religious experience in Greek. For the word pisteo means to appropriate a deity and make him all in all. The very best example of the meaning of believe is found in John 6, where Jesus rebuked those following him for not believing in him despite the fact that they believe that he could do miracles of making bread (food) which was why they followed him in the first place. Was He not interested in proving his deity by doing miracles? Why is He now complaining that they are following him when it is clear they are following him for the miracle of bread? Hear Jesus on this.
You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man give you. Jn 6:26-27.
Again in the same vein He says to the same group
But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. Jn 6: 36.
According to Michael Grant (see above), believe on in Greek thought is a profound acclamation; a form of sincere acknowledgement requiring something in return. He used the term ‘do ut des’ I give you so that you shall give me. This could not explain better the principle of belief on Christ. Let us examine the gospels, we shall see John used the word ‘believe on Jesus’ more than any other writer in the whole of the NT corpus, demonstrating his own thematic priority.
The two words “believe” and “Jesus” appear together in 45 places in the NT corpus using computer electronic analysis with the following distribution. Matthew- 2, Mark -2, Luke -1, John- 23, Acts- 6, Romans- 4, Galatians- 2, I Thessalonians,- 1, I Timothy- 1, and I John -3. It is clear that John used this to convey a particular message to his audience who included several of the grown up Jews of Jesus time and children born after the exit of the Christ. They would need to know what to do to be saved. Other gospel writers had their occasion completely implicit in their writing. But John was to make himself explicit. You must believe in order to obtain eternal life. He made himself clear in these words.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Jn 20:31.
John is very clear about the function of belief. That by believing, you may have life in his name! Salvation only comes from belief, and because man is a free moral agent he has been given the ability to believe if he wants to. But anything beyond belief, in ordo salutis, is imputed to him- justification, regeneration, sanctification and glorification. Paul made that clear in his discourse to the Romans (Rom 8: 28f). If you wish to eat, all you need is swallow what is in your mouth. It only becomes functional food when it passes your throat. Before then you can spit it out. Once it reaches the throat, you have no more control over the food which is then passed to stomach and digested before absorption and then the remaining is dumped into the anus, without your being actively involved. Hence it is easy to argue that election (which is conditional upon belief) is made after belief and not before, according to the Calvinistic system. Hence the ordo salutis which is biblical is calling- belief- election- regeneration- justification- glorification (Rom 8:30; Jn 20:31).
Antinomy of believe-elect.
Our system of ordo salutis is considered biblical but there is just one objection. There seems to be a reverse of the order in only one text of the Scripture.
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.’ Acts 13:48.
For a Bible scholar, this represents a prooftext for Calvinistic predestination, but because it stands alone, it cannot represent a system and therefore must be rejected in its ordinary interpretation. There are too many overwhelming evidence to the contrary and in theology we do not build a system based on one text just like in science, one experiment does not prove anything. Obviously, Luke means more than meets the eye here for this is the ONLY text in the whole OT and NT corpi that may represent a reverse ordo salutis in which election precedes belief. Luke obviously meant something more than is being conveyed here and when we examine his context, we see that he had already emphasized the need for Jews to exercise their free will to believe- ‘We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.’ Acts 13: 46. The Jews exercised their own moral free will. They rejected the gospel which the Gentiles accepted because it has been so appointed.
But some argue that the texts which talk of believe and be saved is just a way of saying that only the elect can believe; after afterall Jesus said it clearly “yet there are some of you who do not believe….This is why I told you that none can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.’ Jn 6:64,65. But one can see clearly from the context that he was talking to his disciples who at the time still did not believe him for John said ‘For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.’ (64). When the Spirit enabled them they believed on him and were elected. The Spirit did not force them, for one of them refused, and perished!
This is the doctrine that God first decreed that man should be created after which He decreed that man should fall and that man should then after the fall, be saved by Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross.
Calvin says simply
The decree I admit is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree….Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it.
In this particular argument, Calvin appeals to Augustine for support
Let us confess with the greatest benefit, what we believe with the greatest truth, that the God and Lord of all things, who made all things very good, both foreknew that evil was to arise out of good, and knew that it belonged to his omnipotent goodness to bring good out of evil, rather than not permit evil to be, and so ordained the life of angels and men as to show in it, first, what free-will could do; and, secondly, what the benefit of his grace and his righteous judgement could do (August. Enchir ad. Laurent).
Critical evaluation of supralapsarianism
We should note a Jewish literature objection to this view. But then where is the devil in this whole affair? Why is it that Calvin, being obsessed with the decrees of a Sovereign God forgets that the same God had clearly said in the Bible that the Devil destroyed his good world. Hear the parable of the Weeds- ‘An enemy did this’ Mt 13:28.
Therefore God did not decree that mankind should fall. The simple explanation is in the Bible. The devil deceived man and man fell. It is a different kettle of fish as to whether God foreknew this would happen. If he did, he may not have prevented it since his first decree was to make man a free moral agent and so leave him to do what He wished. I believe this was the concern of Augustine and it has nothing to do with the doctrine which Augustine himself developed.
Lord of all things,…rather than not permit evil to be, and so ordained the life of angels and men as to show in it, first, what free-will could do; and secondly, what the benefit of his grace and his righteousness could do.
It would not do for Calvin to appeal to Augustine for as we can see clearly, Augustine was not talking about supralapsarianism. He was in fact talking about the decree to God to free will which was later changed to decree for grace after man could no longer save himself because his free will failed him.
Perseverance /Assurance Of Salvation
Not one of those whom Christ has once ingrafted into his body will he ever permit to perish, for in securing their salvation, he will perform what he has promised; that is, exert a divine power greater than all (John x. 28). For when he says, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition.” (John xvii. 12), the expression, though there is a catachresis in it, is not at all ambiguous. The sum is, that God by gratuitous adoption forms those whom he wishes to have for sons; but that the intrinsic cause is in himself, because he contented with his secret pleasure.
Critical evaluation of assurance of salvation /perseverance of saints
Perseverance is sometimes confused with assurance of salvation in the system of Calvin. The truth is, they are not the same thing. Assurance of salvation is always with the conditionally elect. Anyone who is in Christ must feel new as a new creature (II Cor 5:17). Not to feel new is to have a problem. Hence the term assurance of salvation is tautologous, because your spirit must agree with the Spirit of Christ that you are His own (Rom 8:14-16) without necessarily appealing to scripture for hope as Calvin had suggested for it could be false hope if you think you are elect and you are not!. This is the meaning of the texts in which Christ made clear no believer can leave Him for He will guide the believer through the narrow path that leads to salvation. ‘All that the Father has given me will come to me.’ No one can come to us unless he is provided the saving efficacious grace by God. ‘And whoever comes to me I will never drive away.’ Again, whoever is used here to demonstrate the human responsibility involved in the whole process. Christ has promised He will never drive away any who comes. But also He said clearly ‘And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.’ Jn 6:39. But those who cite this text to prove that Jesus means he will force anyone who comes to him to continue with him forget quickly the next verse
For my father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 6:40.
‘Anyone’ is another example of antinonym of determinism. ‘Anyone’ means ‘anyone’ who is free to believe will be raised on the last day. When the person stops believing, the promise fails for him for Peter said clearly (and we cited it previously)
Be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Pet 1:10.
Peter is clear here that even the elect can fall. If not, why would he take a whole letter, without talking about justification by faith, to talk about perseverance, if it was that easy or simple? Or why would our Lord talk to the 7 churches in Asia Minor about their need for perseverance or else the problem of having their names taken off the register of the elect? Hear him
To Ephesus- ‘To him who overcomes, will give the right to eat from the tree of life. Rev 2: 7.
To Smyrna ‘He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.’ Rev 2:11.
To Pergamum ‘To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.’ 2:17.
To Thyatira ‘To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.’(2:26).
To Sardis - ‘He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life.’ (3:5). Does this mean a man’s name already in the book of life can be blotted out suddenly?
To Philadelphia- ‘Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.’ (3:12).
To Laodicea- ‘To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne’ (3:21). Also to Laodicea he speaks - ‘Because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’ (3:16).
There is enough overwhelming evidence that people can fall from grace and have fallen in the past. God is no respecter of person. This was what Christ came back to tell John in the Revelation. That there is need for conscious effort of perseverance without which no one shall see God.
The same Jesus who said no one can take those who come to him from him said the following
Not everyone who say to me, Lord Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.’ Mt 7:21-22.
No one can perform miracles in the name of Jesus without first being able to believe in and probably also believe on Jesus; why would he use a name he does not believe in? It is therefore possible to make the following propositions based on biblical data.
1. Since election of the saints is conditional, it is conditional to the ‘elect’ walking on the straight and narrow path to heaven. If they fall they become reprobates, unless of course they repent (and even then, ‘to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Heb 6:6).
2. Assurance of salvation is a positional phenomenon. So long as you are in Christ and you have His Spirit you will have assurance of salvation from that Spirit. Once you leave Christ, the assurance disappears for it is the Spirit who has left you that provides this assurance (Rom 8:14-16) and not the doctrine of Calvin.
3. Perseverance of the saints is a two way process. Jesus helps, you hold onto him. No one can receive perseverance he does not want.
4. When Jesus says no one can take any from his hands, he means it! But that does not stop the person from leaving himself. All humans including believers are free moral agents. When they walk in the Spirit they are ruled by the Spirit of God and by that token they are really not free. But once they deviate from the Spirit, they go back to the free world ruled by chance and fortune and are no longer in the hands of the Saviour. At that point they are free agents to do whatever they will and have become voluntary reprobates.
5. The above proposals are conditional to the effect that election to salvation is conditional and not irresistible.
6. But election to serve is irresistible and cannot be stopped. Election to service always stops once the service period is over. That means, the individual is now a free moral agent once again. He can decide to backslide if he so wishes and this is what happened in the case of Judas. He became reprobate by his own free choice. John gives us a very wonderful insight into this phenomena which a lot of people have seen practically - men who were considered great in the service of God backsliding and sometimes not recovering at all.
When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted (freedom); but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (determinism). Jn 21:18.
Calvin argues that despite the Sovereignty of God in determining every thing in life including the reprobation of the sinner before the foundation of the world and before he (the reprobate) was born, the sinner is still judged based on his own responsibility. Equally, those elect have full responsibility to perform their task. While God is sovereign and no one can question him pertaining to His decrees, man is equally responsible for his own actions. Thus the reprobate cannot blame God because he was made a reprobate and he cannot blame God for his inability to repent and believe in the gospel because he was given the chance to repent by being told. Calvin says
Man, therefore fall, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault….Therefore man’s own wickedness corrupted the pure nature which he had received from God, and his ruin brought with it the destruction of all his posterity.
Critical evaluation of human responsibility
Calvin says in the same section on 23:8
Nor, indeed, is there any probability in the thing itself- viz. That man brought death upon himself, merely by the permission, and not by the ordination of God; as if God had not determined what he wished the condition of the chief of his creatures to be.
This is obvious contradiction. How can man be responsible and at the same not be responsible because the decree had been made for him to fall? Hear Calvin again
‘Moreover, though their perdition depends on the predestination of God, the cause and matter of it is in themselves.
It is impossible to be responsible for something an at the same time not be responsible for the same thing. Man is either responsible or not for his reprobation and his predicament.
Calvin & Temperament
Calvin was a lawyer by training. He is versed in logic of argument and evidences for legal suit. He is versed in convictions and criminal legal proceedings. No wonder he used his vast knowledge in condemning his reprobates. Hear him again
For if predestination is nothing else than a dispensation of divine justice, secret indeed, but unblameable, because if it is certain that those predestinated to that condition were not unworthy of it, it is equally certain, that the destruction consequent upon predestination is also most just.
But this logic is very faulty. Calvin seems to dwell on things that ordinary minds will find repulsive. Why waste so much time on the punishment to be meted out to reprobates even if it is true, and forget to talk about the glorious hope of the elect who will inherit heaven?
It is impossible to reconcile two conflicting views on predestination. How can God predestine and at the same time the individual is held responsible? There is something wrong with this system.
There are obvious cases of non sequitur in the arguments of Mr Calvin, which borders on black and white reasoning. He has categorised several entities either black or white and has excluded any middle from them. Thus there are two classes of the predestined, the elect and the reprobate. The elect have been elected for eternal happiness, while the reprobates are for eternal damnation and there is no single merit in this election. It is only via the providence and justice of God. Glory be to His Name! This is intense legalism and abject non sequitur. No single text in the Bible says anything of the sort!.
Because there is no coherence in the system, there also seems to be a lot of inconsistencies (or contradictions). Take for example
“They shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel.” (Ez xiii.9). The words simply indicate the abandonment of those who seemed to have a chief place among the elect, as is said in the psalm, “ Let them be blotted out of the Book of the Living, and not be written with the righteous.” (Psalm lxix. 28).
It is clear that this does not fit the Calvinistic system. If there is an elect, how is it possible for that elect to be blotted out of the Book of Life?
Another contradiction in the system is the discussion on the rejection of Esau and Ishmael. Hear Calvin
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. 
But he again says of the same Esau
Hence Paul skillfully argues from the passage of Malachi which I quoted (Rom ix. 13; Mal i. 2), that when God, after making a covenant of eternal life, invites any people to himself, a special mode of election is in part understood, so that he does not with promiscuous grace effectually elect all of them. The words, “Jacob have I loved,” refer to the whole progeny of the patriarch, which the prophet there opposes to the posterity of Esau.
Here he is saying Esau was not elected to salvation, so how come it is his fault that he broke the covenant?
Calvin’s philosophy is strong determinism. Even though he repudiates stoicism, his deterministic views seem to reflect that of Stoicism. But today he has his followership formed as a separate school of theistic determinism of which Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a major figure.
In agreement with Popkin and Stroll and on the views of modern philosophy, the problem of determinism is partly linguistic. We have to first define what we mean by free and what we mean by determinism. Only then can we say what is free or who is free or not. It is clear that Calvin belongs to a strong philosophical school of determinism.
Although the reformers did well to reintroduce the grammatico-historical methods of exegesis, Calvin is an example of one who has carried this too far. Calvin seems to read wooden literal meaning to many texts which even the most ordinary mind would find symbolic. How can God create reprobates just for the sake of destroying them in order to appease his wrath and show his justice? How does destruction serve His good pleasure or His justice? Justice means fairness to all considered not punishment to some and bliss to some! The same is just who said
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways ! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’ Ez 33:11.
Calvin’s love for condemning the reprobate, is it sadism? Is it also racism? It certainly smarks of that in certain parts of his book. Does he love non-Europeans, or coloured people? Does he consider them joint-heirs to the kingdom of heaven? This questions we can not answer today.
The acronymn TULIP for T-total depravity, U- unconditional election, L- limited atonement, I- irresistible grace, P- perseverance of the saints was first developed by Calvinistic theologians when they countered the remonstrants led by post-Arminian scholars in Holland in 1618-19 against the five point articles of the remonstrants. The beauty of this mnemonic is that it summarizes very well the essential doctrine of Calvinistic predestination. But it also represents considerable linguistic and theological (to include philosphical) problems. Although the Bible is clear about the sinful nature of man and his total depravity, unconditional election is contradiction in terms; no where in the entire Biblical corpus is limited atonement taught. Christ died for all (the godly and the ungodly) - II Cor 5:14. Irresistible grace is nonsensical; any grace that is irresistible is no grace at all. Perseverance of the saints does not hold, since we have only a conditional election, -conditional upon the perseverance of the individual by his own responsibility holding hand in hand (forming a 50-50 duality) with the grace of God given for perseverance. It is much better to use the 100-100 duality model of the hypostatic union.
Jacobus Arminius was born about 1559, in Oudewater, the same year his father died, in the province of Holland of the Netherlands. He died from tuberculosis and its complications on October 19 1609 having lived for about 50 years. His father was a cutler named Harmen Jacobsz and his mother Engeltje. He lived at a time Dutch provinces were fighting a protracted war of independence from Spain for which they received a 12 year truce in the year Arminius died. During this period, the Dutch states sent four expeditions round the world. The unity of the country was first determined by William of Orange (1533-1584). Hence the event of independence and a serious theological controversy which would shake the whole of the Christian world similar in nature to the Lutheran revolution in Protestantism was to take place at the life time of Arminius. This can be quite aptly be called the second protestant (or Arminian) revolution.
Arminius began his University education at the newly founded University of Leiden begun by Maurice in1576 just 16 years old. He completed his education at Leiden and proceeded to Geneva to study under the great theologian and successor to John Calvin-Theodore Beza where he matriculated in 1582. After a little misunderstanding at Geneva, he proceeded to Basel in 1583 where he did further studies and was invited to obtain a doctorate degree in theology. He turned down this request for, according to him, he was still too young at the time, being only 24 years old. In 1584, he returned to Geneva and completed his education under Theodore Beza in 1586. He married Lijsbet Reael in 1590.
Arminius was considered to be a gentleman and a brilliant scholar. Even his enemies admired him and his theological opponent, who was also his teacher, Theodore Beza praised him. He learnt irenic theology from his old teacher Charles Perrot in Geneva.
Essentially what Arminianism is saying, contrary to what the high Calvinists had proposed after the death of the leader (John Calvin in 1564) is that no man has been predestined to salvation unless he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and repents. Their proof texts include Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31. There are clear cut antecendent beliefs in the Jewish matrix where it was once held immediately the doctrine of resurrection and eternal life emerged in Judaism (corresponds to Dan 12:1) mostly in the post-exilic Jewry of the inter-testamental period.
Don’t blame the Lord for your sin; the Lord does not cause what he hates. Don’t claim that he has misled you; he doesn’t need the help of sinners to accomplish his purposes. The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil. WHEN, IN THE BEGINNING, THE LORD CREATED HUMAN BEINGS, HE LEFT THEM FREE TO DO AS THEY WISHED. If you want to, you can keep the Lord’s commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not. He has placed fire and water before you; reach out, and take whichever you want. You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose. The Lord’s wisdom and power are great and he sees everything. He is aware of everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him. He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin (emphasis added). Sirach 15:11-20.
Also Ezra (or so they say) repeats the themes
Means of salvation
Some people will escape destruction and be saved by their good works (Jews and pre-Christian) or by their faith (Christian). Parentheses added. 2 Es 9:7.
Then those who have ignored my ways and held them in contempt will be surprised when they find themselves in continual torment….It will include all those who scorned my Law during the time they were free to do so and all those who refused to repent when they still had the chance. 2 Es 9:9-11
You should stop asking questions about how the wicked will be punished. Instead, be concerned about how and when the righteous will be saved. The world was created for them and belongs to them….So let them perish-all those people who were born only to be lost. But let my chosen people be kept safe-those for whom I worked to hard to bring them to perfection. 2 Es 9:13, 22.
When I created the world, I supplied it with an abundance of food and a Law of profound wisdom, but the people I created lived corrupt lives. I looked at my world and saw it was ruined. I saw that my earth was in danger of being destroyed by the wicked plans of the people who had come into it. When I saw this, it was very difficult to spare them, but I saved for myself, one grape out of a bunch and one tree out of a great forest. 9:19-21.
It is therefore clear from the above that theological debates on justification did not begin with Paul or Augustine or Calvin or indeed Beza. It had its deep roots in Judaism where Judaic literature had spelt out the controversies before the birth of Christ.
Theology Of Arminius
For his theological history, Arminius was ordained in 1588 and became a Pastor in Amsterdam. He had earlier come into contact with what was later to be known as the Arminian doctrine of predestination in Leiden and later in Geneva. He himself mentioned the influence Coolhaes had on his theology. But he ventured to study further theology under Theodore Beza, the man whom he was later to disagree with. He then returned from Geneva to pastor the church in Amsterdam where he first espoused the seventh chapter of Romans. Later he was to discuss Rom 9 in reply to the pamphlet of William Perkins (1558-1602), a high Calvinist. These were the forerunners of his predestination theories which he was later to expound at Leiden after he became a Doctor of Theology and Professor there. But Bangs summarizes the theological position of Arminius in Amsterdam before he obtained the Chair of Theology at Leiden for us.
1. Evangelical grace is God’s affection to man as sinner.
2. Predestination is subordinate to the appointing of Christ as mediator; believers are predestined in Christ.
3. To fail to restrict evangelical grace to sinful man is to make God the author of sin.
4. Sin is permitted by God in that he suspends the impediments which prohibit sin, but not in that he provides nothing sufficient for the hindrance of sin.
5. Saving grace is not universal; it is given only to those who believe.
6. The distinction between common grace and peculiar (special, efficient) grace is denied.
7. The necessity of a distinction between salvation as sufficient and salvation as applied is affirmed.
8. That which intervenes between sufficient salvation and applied salvation is faith.
9. The promise of salvation and the command to believe are of equal extent.
10. The act of believing is a choice of the free will which has been brought from its addiction to evil to a point of flexibility by grace.
11. The salvation of the free will by grace involves the choice of the free will, or else the free will could not be said to be saved.
12. This doctrine is not Pelagianism, for it attributes every good thing to grace and nothing to man apart from grace.
13. That believers may fall from true faith is a possibility that Perkins had not disproved.
14. By an absolute predestination God wills to save those who believe and to damn those who persevere in disobedience; by a conditional predestination God wills to save those individuals whom he foresees as believing and preserving and to damn those whom he foresees as not believing.
It is the last statement of the foreknowledge of God in predestination that concerns us primarily in here but we first must understand where Arminius is coming from and his context of the theology of predestination before we restrict ourselves to the doctrine of foreknowledge. As Professor of Theology at Leiden, Arminius presented his thesis on predestination in 1604. This led to counterattack by his rival Professor Gomarus. It was the beginning of a long and bitter war of words between him (Arminius) and Gomarus in Leiden culminating in the two Professors being invited to present their cases before the High Court in 1608. Later the case was brought before the States in 1608 and a conference of the two Professors was called in 1609. The conference did not end for in October 19 of the same year, Professor Jacobius Arminius died. Arminius taught the following in his polemic theology during his years in Leiden
Arminius is convinced that the original sin of Adam is inherited by all providing a symptom of actual sin committed as a result of absence of the original righteousness of Adam and Eve. He argues
If some men are condemned solely on account of the sin committed by Adam, and others on account of their rejection of the Gospel, are there not two peremptory decrees concerning the damnation of men, and two judgments, one legal, the other evangelical?….We think it much more probable that this absence of original righteousness, only, is original sin itself, as being that which alone is sufficient to commit and produce any actual sins whatsoever.
Arminius says of justification
To a man who believes, faith is imputed for righteousness through grace, because God hath set forth his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a propitiation, a throne of grace, through faith in his blood.
On Assurance of salvation
Such a certainty is wrought in the mind, as well by the action of the Holy Spirit inwardly actuating the believer and by the fruits of faith, as from his own conscience, and the testimony of God’s Spirit witnessing together with his conscience.
Perseverance of the saints
When rigidly and accurately examined, can scarcely be admitted; it being impossible for believers, as long as they remain believers, to decline from salvation….believers and the elect are not taken for the same person.
In discussing predestination, Arminius proposes four divine decrees,
1. Christological decree:
The first precise and absolute decree of God for effecting the salvation of sinful man is that he has determined to appoint his Son, Jesus Christ, as a Mediator, Redeemer, Savior, Priest, and King, to nullify sin by his death, to obtain this lost salvation through his obedience, and to communicate it by his power.
2. Decree of repentance, belief and election:
The second precise and absolute decree of God is that he has determined graciously to receive in favor those who repent and believe, and, the same persevering, to effect their salvation in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, and to leave the unrepentant and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to damn them as strangers to Christ.
3. Decree of Administration
The third decree of God is that by which he has predetermined to administer the necessary, sufficient, and powerful means of repentance and faith, which administration occurs according to the wisdom of God, by which he knows what becomes his mercy and his severity, and according to his justice, by which he is prepared to follow what his wisdom has carried out.
4. Foreknowledge decree/election of individuals: this is the most controversial.
From this follows the fourth decree to save certain particular persons and to damn others which decree rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which he has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such an administration of the means serving to repentance and faith through his preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere.
It is this preknowledge (foreknowledge) or prescience that is the crux of the matter and will be dealt with seriously below.
Arminius then attacks double predestination viciously
(It) prevents…saving and godly sorrow for sins,…it removes all pious solicitude about being converted,…it restrains…all zeal and studious regard for good works,…it extinguishes the zeal for prayer,…it takes away all that most salutary fear and trembling with which we are commanded to work out our own salvation,…[and] it produces within men a despair both of performing that which their duty requires and of obtaining that towards which their desires are directed.
Objections to Arminius
It is very difficult to fault the arguments of Jacobius Arminius biblically and his flare for irenic theology is extremely laudable. He did nothing to encourage the great schism in the reformed world; only his opponents exaggerated the problems beyond measure. Although he was accused of firstly pelagianism and later semi-pelagianism, it is difficult to see that the definitions of the two enterprises are derived from biblical data and not polemic. But nevertheless, Arminius made very serious errors in trying to define preknowledge. It is of course difficult to make such errors in modern times for what is presently written for publication is adequately peer-reviewed if they are worth anything at all. This error however opened Arminius up to severe criticisms by the very astute and careful Calvinists, examples of which included Gomarus for Beza died in1605. But if one were to examine his views on preknowledge properly, it will be easy to assume that he was guilty, like many before him, of theological drift into philosophy without adequate preparedness and therefore fell into the hands of his opponents.
But another area that is lacking in Arminius predestination theory is that he avoids completely the issue of call to service which would be first brought home by Wesley. That way, he lays completely bear his argument on predestination for he does not interact at all with the call of Jacob in Rom 9 or indeed the call made to the Apostles in Eph 1. It was partly because of the inadequate exegesis of these proof texts of Calvinism that Arminianism was not fully respected as a biblical doctrine until modern times. Finally, it is assumed that the fact that man needs to do something, according to Arminius, in order to obtain his salvation (in this case, repent or belief or both), he is not completely depraved, as maintained by Calvinists; he (man) is therefore said, by critics to be semi-depraved rather than completely depraved in the Arminian system. Again, this last objection cannot be said to do justice to the Scripture for the so called Calvinistic proof text of Rom 9 ends with the rock of offence which is laid in Sion. A rock of offence is laid to offend those who stumble on it (i.e. those who refuse to believe) and to glorify those who believe so that they will not be put to shame. The question to ask then is, who determines what is depravity; man or God (through of course Scriptures)? What if God, seeing man totally depraved and drowning, decides to reach a helping hand to those who ask for the help by placing a stumbling block, a rock of offence (for those who wish to be damned) and at the same time a precious corner stone for those who wish to seek its refuge? Would that suggest in anyway the dying are able to save themselves nevertheless? I doubt it.
What later became known as Arminianism was developed after the death of Arminius. A National Synod of the newly formed independent (1609) United Provinces of The Netherlands was called at Dort in 1618-19. But before then in 1610, five theses of the so called Remonstrant articles were developed largely by the leadership of Simon Episcopius (1583-1643) who stepped into the shoes of Arminius and was leader of the Remonstrants at Dort. R.W.A. Letham listed the articles as follows
1. Predestination is conditional on a person’s response, being grounded in God’s foreknowledge;
2. Christ died for each and every person but only believers are saved
3. A person is unable to believe and needs the grace of God, BUT
4. This grace is irresistible
5. Whether all the regenerate will persevere requires further investigation.
Objections to Remonstrantism
Several remonstrant Arminians went over board. They slid down the slippery slope and developed new theologies in an effort to discredit Calvin completely. It is a common notion in theology that once a leader or concept-formulator is disproved on any count, every part of his theology become suspect and may be jettisoned. But unfortunately the truth is not like that. Most brilliant people espouse a lot of truth and get dragged into some falsehood probably because they are too impatient to study the falsehood thoroughly or they are so drunk with their successes in other areas that they become arrogant and incorrigible. The very first example of this is Calvin himself. Aside from his view on predestination and providence, every other aspect of his systematic theology cannot be faulted! The great Hugo Grotius went down with his governmental theory of atonement, jettisoning the reformed substitution position which unfortunately for him, is the orthodox evangelical position today. Even Simon Episcopius, Remonstrant Professor of Theology who took over as leader of the remonstrants had his own dinner with heresy. Their general behaviour after the exit of Arminius did very little to assist in the promotion of the doctrine for which Arminius stood. But this unfortunate situation quickly corrected itself and today remonstrants are highly respected world wide.
But the remonstrants also missed the discussion on the call to service first espoused by Wesley. They did not interact with such passages as Rom 9 and Eph 1. Just like Arminius, they were also accused of semi-pelagianism and semi-depravity anthropology.
John Wesley (1703-1791), leader of the Methodist movement in England was Arminian. He used the concepts already developed by Jacobus Arminius and expanded it for his own purposes. This led to a great schism between himself and his Methodist colleague George Whitfield who founded the Calvinistic Methodism in England and Wales.
On predestination Wesley gave seven reasons why the doctrine of predestination (i.e. double predestination) is absurd. He has this to say
Ah, poor predestinarian! If you are true to your doctrine (election) this is no comfort to you! For perhaps you are not of the elect number: If so, you are in the whirlpool too. For what is your hope? Where is your help? There is no help for you in your God. Your God! No; he is not yours; he never was; he never will be. He that made you, He that called you into being, has no pity upon you! He made you for this very end-to damn you; to cast you headlong into a lake of fire burning with brimstone! This was prepared for you, or ever the world began! And for this you are now reserved in chains of darkness, till the decree brings forth; till, according to his eternal unchangeable, irresistible will,
You groan, you howl, you writhe in waves of fire,
And pour forth blasphemies at his desire!
O God, how long shall this doctrine stand.
But Wesley defines election as follows
I believe (election) commonly means one of these two things: First; a divine appointment of some particular men, to do some particular work in the world. And this election I believe to be not only personal, but absolute and unconditional. Thus Cyrus was elected to rebuild the temple, and St Paul, with the twelve, to preach the gospel. But I do not find this to have any necessary connexion with eternal happiness. Nay, it is plain it does not; for one who is elected in this sense may yet be lost eternally. “Have I not chosen” (elected) “you twelve?” saith the Lord; “yet one of you hath a devil.” Judas, you see, was elected as well as the rest; yet is his lot with the devil and his angels. I believe election means, secondly, a divine appointment of some to eternal happiness. But I believe this election to be conditional, as well as the reprobation opposite thereto. I believe the eternal decree concerning both is expressed in those words: “He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” And this decree, without doubt, God will not change, and man cannot resist. According to this, all true believers are in Scripture termed elect, as all who continue in unbelief are so long properly reprobrates, that is, unapproved of God, and without discernment touching the things of the Spirit. (emphasis added).
On total depravity of man Wesley says
Our old man- coeval with our being, and so old as the fall, our evil nature; a strong and beautiful expression for that entire depravity and corruption, which by nature spreads itself over the whole man, leaving no part uninfected.
On perseverance of the saints, Wesley lay his greatest polemic theology; his emphasis is curt
It is common thing for those who are thus sanctified, to believe they cannot fall; to suppose themselves “pillars in the temple of God, that shall go out no more.” Nevertheless, we have seen some of the strongest of them, after a time, moved from their stedfastness. Sometimes suddenly, but oftener by slow degrees, they have yielded to temptation; and pride, or anger, or foolish desires have again sprung up in their hearts. Nay, sometimes they have utterly lost the life of God, and sin hath regained dominion over them….But let not any man infer from this long suffering of God, that he hath given any one a licence to sin. Neither let any dare to continue in sin, because of these extraordinary instances of divine mercy. This is the most desperate, the most irrational presumption, and leads to utter irrevocable destruction. In all my experience, I have not known one who fortified himself in sin by a presumption that God would save him at the last, that was not miserably disappointed, and suffered to die in his sins. To turn the grace of God into an encouragement to sin is the sure way to the nethermost hell!
Wesleyan Arminianism is clearly different from that of Arminius and even that of the later remonstrants. Wesley had an emphasis on regeneration which no other reformer had ever had. It was John Wesley, learning the art from the Moravians, who inspired the world to obtain a definite experience of being born again, i.e. being regenerated even after infant baptism. This phenomenon was denied by the early reformers and it was for this reason that Wesley and his counterpart Whitfield, were thrown out of the churches of England during the revivals on Methodism of the 18th century England. With this new emphasis on evangelical theology, it was now possible to distinguish between the unregenerate who may have been baptised as infant, and the regenerate, who has forsaken his sins and is about to undertake a new life - a life of conversion. With this phenomenon in mind, it was now necessary to revisit the old predestination theory. Why? Because it must now have a different meaning. In Arminius time, all those who have had infant baptism and could appropriate the faith of their baptism in adulthood were saved; but Wesley re-interpreted this to mean those who have had a conscious turning away from sin. It was a lot easier to believe that a man who was born a Christian was born because God had elected him; it was now a difficult model to use in explaining why some would not like to be born again (or regenerated) while others want it in Wesley’s day. Because of this shift in emphasis, Calvinism lost its glamour for most Christian communities for the interpretation in most popular circles (with the exception of scholars) is ‘many are called (including those born into Christian families who may have had infant baptism at birth), but few are chosen (those who consciously allow themselves to repent after becoming adults)’- Mt 20:16. The issue of belief which was first brought to the fore by Arminius, has now become redundant, for the two categories of people( regenerate and unregenerate) are believers in the sense that they believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn 3:16).
Also, there is a clear absence of a strong emphasis on foreknowledge in Wesleyan Arminianism. It was probably not necessary for Wesley, since it was stating the obvious.
It is also necessary to recognize the difference between the emphasis of Wesley on call to service which was completely absent in Arminian exposition. This was later to come to the fore again in 20th century Arminian controversy (see below).
Objections to Wesleyan Arminianism
Wesleyan Arminianism does not do proper justice to the concept of foreknowledge as first espoused by the king remonstrant himself- Jacobus Arminius. Since it already exists in the Scriptures, he should have at least attempted to explain it. Perhaps, his avoidance of it is simply the best way to deal with a difficult problem in philosophy and ontology- which is - can God have a preknowledge of a none entity, something that does not exist and is contingent upon other events?
Objection is also levelled on the concept of being born again as a definite experience different from infant baptism. That objection has suddenly come up with great force in modern evangelicalism. What does it mean to be born again? Can we know exactly what John 3 teaches without error? Therefore the father of Born again evangelicalism, John Wesley himself, was he in serious error? Equally objectionable is the second experience of sanctification, which Wesley claims is mandatory for every Christian who has received the first experience or blessing (regeneration) as it is called today and although Wesley states total depravity of man, Calvinists are not impressed, nor persuaded. He must be labelled a semi-depraved theorist and also a semi-pelagianist just like all other Arminians.
Modern Arminianism has not changed from the older versions. But more emphasis are brought to bear on the arguments to prove that God does not reject any one for others in a system of two classes of the elect and the reprobate.
1. Election to service. This argument is brought more clearly and forcefully by Jack Cortrell who sees the passage Rom 9:18 as a call to service and not to salvation thereby supporting Wesleyan concept of service election.
2. Foreknowledge concept has not been forgotten in the Arminian theological enterprise for Cortrell also says ‘Through his foreknowledge God sees who will believe upon Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and become united with him in Christian baptism; then even before the creation of the world he predestines these believers to share the glory of the risen Christ.
3. But one passage which seems to be a thorn in flesh of modern Arminianists is the passage Acts 13:48 which says ‘When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.’ Osborne says of this passage
While we agree that the basic thrust is divine election, this does not negate the presence of human volition, as seen in the context’
Objections to Modern Arminianism
Grudem presents the following objections
Election to service: On the passage Rom 9:18 and the interpretation of Jack Cortrell (and of course Wesley) Grudem says
This is not a convincing interpretation, however, because the entire context definitely concerns salvation: Paul says, “ I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” and “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race” (Rom. 9:2,3), not because the Jews were not chosen for some particular service, but because they were not saved! He speaks in v. 8 not of those who were chosen for service and those who were not, but of those who are “children of God” and those who are not. And he speaks in v. 22 not of some who missed an opportunity for service, but of “vessels of wrath made for destruction.” Salvation is in view in the entire context.
The argument against the Arminian concept of preknowledge by Grudem will be taken in the next section.
On the section on Acts 13:48, Grudem has this to say on the exegesis of Osborne-
Foreknowledge is an English word translated from Greek proginosko. In English it means ‘know before hand’ in Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
Thesaurus shows the following as synonyms in English (UK) using Microsoft Windows 1995. Foresight, prescience, prevision, prospect
Another Thesaurus of English Language (UK) lists the following- foresight, prevision, review, foreglimpse, anticipation, foretaste, prenotion, precognition, foreknowledge, prescience, second sight, clairvoyancy, premonition, foreboding, omen, prognostication, prediction, forethought. All the above give an idea of knowledge before the fact - i.e. a priori knowledge. They are different from knowledge after the fact which is a posteriori knowledge.
Knowledge, which is the translation of Greek ginosko, has the following synonyms- ken, cognition, cognizance, recognition, realization, apprehension, comprehension, understanding, grasp, mastery, etc.
But foreordained is very different in meaning to foreknowledge. The Dictionary calls it ‘determine or appoint before hand.’ Microsoft thesaurus list the following synonyms -fated, near, predetermined, predestined, forthcoming, impending, destined. It is therefore clear that the two foreordained and foreknowledge operate very differently in conditions. While preknowledge means knowledge before the fact, preordain means action before the event.
Foreknowledge In Semi-Pelagianism
The very first group of people to declare foreknowledge as a means of predestination are the so called semi-pelagians who were originally labelled semi-Augustinians. They included Proper of Aquitaine (c. 390-c. 463), Faustus of Riez (c. 408-c. 490) and Fulgentius of Ruspe (468-533). They believed that predestination is based on foreknowledge and hence opened the door for future pronouncements of Arminius, although they in no influenced the development of the theory of Arminius on pre or foreknowledge.
Relationship Between Foreknowledge And Foreordain On Predestination
We have examined the semantics of the two words previously. Is there really a relationship between them? Calvinists maintain that one must include the other in such a way that predestination is above preknowledge. Calvin says ‘We, indeed, ascribe both prescience and predestination to God; we say that it is absurd to make the latter subordinate to the former.’ That is, predestination must of necessity include foreknowledge but in ordinary language usage do you use foreknowledge only to prove there is foreordination? Arminians insist that foreknowledge just means that! The ability to see the future and know it. It then argues that knowing the future could allow you to talk of a predestination. But you can only predestine what you already have ordained. But one must admit that the two systems cannot do adequate justice to human reasoning on this subject. The two do not fit easily into human logic!
Futurology is the science of prediction. It is used in very many modern scientific enterprises either by the aid of the computer or by mathematical calculations. The very firstly recorded example of scientific futurology was that of Thales, the Greek Philosopher of Miletus of Ionia who accurately predicted the solar eclipse of 585 BC. Today, modern science can predict the weather and several other things, with the assumption being that the universe will continue to obey its physical laws- i.e. uniformitarianism. But it would be absurd to suggest that since we can foreknow the weather or the eclipse, we in any way foreordained it. Foreordination means action. Action can only be on an entity (and not on a non-entity). Therefore pre-action, by the same token can only be on a pre-entity and preknowledge is compatible with pre-entity and knowledge with entity.
Foreknowledge In Arminianism
The concept of preknowledge (or foreknowledge) of God as regards election or indeed reprobation was derived from the following passage
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Rom 8:29-30.
The Greek translation of proginoskw- proginosko- is to know before hand or foresee.
It is therefore very similar in its usage in English as in Greek. What it means in the passage is that God foreknew certain individuals before they were born. But it does not say how. There is nowhere here where the word ‘foreordained’ or ‘predestined’- prorizow- prorizoo- is used for it is not synonymous with foreknowledge. Is the foreknowledge for a specific purpose or just that he knows them as He has decreed them to be His children before they were born? This is the bone of contention between the Calvinists and the Arminians. It is therefore a semantic and ontological dissensus.
Arminians believe this passage (Rom 9) is talking about God knowing believers and non believers before they were born and therefore selecting those who would be believers and calling them elect as in Eph 1.
If we use the passage in Ephesians 1 as the proof text of Calvinism and provide Arminian interpretation of the passage, we shall be able to see clearly Arminian objection to its Calvinistic rendition.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Eph 1:9-10.
Arminius and Karl Bath were right. The first principle of election is Christological. Every one is elected in Jesus Christ.
In him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included…1:11-13.
It is quite obvious here that Paul was not talking of all Christian elect but the Apostles. They were the ‘first to hope in Christ.’ He also did not use eklektos which is ambiguous enough and means an amalgam between favourite-and -elect in Koine Greek. But klerow kleroo- which means to obtain an inheritance by privilege and not right (KJV is right!) erroneously translated as ‘chosen’ in NIV (by Calvinists possibly). The next passage in v. 13 tells us clearly that the Ephesians were not included in the first group that obtained inheritance and that seems they are predestined through this inheritance for firstfruit works- service. Arminians will now show that Paul was in this particular passage definitely talking about call to service!
And you were also included in Christ, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.’ (13).
This passage does not tell us the definite ordo salutis at all. It does not say that the Ephesians were first included in Christ before they heard the gospel but simultaneously as they heard the gospel.
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of his glory.’ 1:13-14.
This passage is clear enough. It says that the Ephesians (and indeed all others who believed after the Apostles, including modern Christians), after they believed were marked with a seal of the Holy Spirit which guarantees their adoption into inheritance- kleronomia, kleronomia which is similar to the first word kleroo. This is exactly what the Arminians are saying! Believe and you will obtain inheritance.
To go back to the Arminian concept of preknowledge, we must examine the writings of Arminius once again. Carl Bangs says of Post-Arminius Arminians who have struggled with the concept of preknowledge as held by Arminius
Most Arminians who have struggled with this problem (preknowledge) have followed Arminius in asserting an absolute divine foreknowledge of future contingent events. Daniel Whitby, a fractious but earnest self-styled Arminian of the seventeenth century, had taken the position that divine foreknowledge, which he affirmed, did not cause an event to happen. The event happened freely, that is contingently. The divine foreknowledge was only what the free decision would be. Jonathan Edwards, also affirming divine foreknowledge, admitted that foreknowledge is not casual, but he held that if there is foreknowledge, that event would occur. Hence it could not be said to be contingent.
Objections to Arminian foreknowledge
The first objection to be put forward is a pre-emptive one by none other than Calvin himself, who on providence said
When Abraham said to his son, God will provide (Gen xxii. 8), he meant not merely to assert that the future event was foreknown to God, but to resign the management of an unknown business to the will of Him whose province it is to bring perplexed and dubious matters to a happy result.
This is summarized by the Calvin scholar Battles on the nature of God’s providence- ‘not mere foreknowledge but active governance of events.’
On predestination itself Calvin said
We, indeed, ascribe both prescience and predestination to God; but we say that it is absurd to make the latter subordinate to the former. When we attribute prescience to God, we mean that all things always were, and ever continue, under his eye; that to his knowledge there is no past or future, but all things are present, and indeed so present, that it is not merely the idea of them that is before him (as those objects are which we retain in our memory), but that he truly sees and contemplates them as actually under his immediate inspection.
Objection to Calvin’s prescience (foreknowledge)
This definition is a philosophical one, hence it is impossible to say it is the closest to the truth. Indeed, several theologians have rejected the concept of preknowledge as put up by Calvin in the so called Process Theology of Whitehead. Although we would not venture to go as far as Whitehead, since the concept of foreknowledge itself is biblical (as contained in Roman 8:29. Only God can define His own prescience. See below.
Classical Calvinistic argument against Arminian foreknowledge.
Although Calvin attacked the doctrine of foreknowledge in predestination, he was only pre-empting the future Arminian position. We shall now look at the normal argument presented against this Arminian position.
Carl Bangs presents two arguments, viz.
The first is that Arminius himself confused foreknowledge with knowledge in trying to philosophically define both. Arminius said
Since foreknowledge is of future things, strictly speaking, there is no indefinite foreknowledge: for it is knowledge that is indefinite, not foreknowledge: for the particle “fore” restricts that knowledge of possible things to the foreknowledge of future things, things that shall be.
Carl Bangs attacks
He has it quite backward. Knowledge is of entities; foreknowledge is of possibilities. The first is certain; the latter, contingent. And to speak of future things that shall be is either a contradiction in terms or a statement of the divine predestination of those things, which would be another kind of contradiction in terms.
The argument of Bangs makes sense in one respect. Knowledge is mostly referred to a posteriori; hence it is the knowing of past events and it therefore must be definite. It is preknowledge that may be said to be indefinite and not the other way round. But what makes Bangs feel that God cannot know the future definitely, without Himself influencing it? That is why He is omniscience. The main reason why Arminians object to the Calvinistic argument on preknowledge is simply because to accept it is to make God the author of sin and evil in the world. Arminians argue that God did not decree evil and I agree with them.
The second Bangian argument against Arminius is that of contingency. Preknowledge is a contingent phenomena; contingent on other events. Thus a man may or may not be converted is dependent on his belief. Is it then possible to have a preknowledge of a contingent event? If, according to Bangs, Arminius says of preknowledge ‘things that shall be’ then he is no longer talking of a contingent event but a fixed one. If God knows then He fixes- is the short form of putting this argument. But we cannot understand the principles of omniscience or indeed prescience of God. We can only put forward philosophical theories and these must be in conformity with the Scriptures. Scripture alludes to a form of preknowledge by God and therefore there must be preknowledge of some sort. But what sort? Modern Calvinists argue that preknowledge is of man and not of his actions. Hear Grudem on Rom 8:29
The passage speaks rather of the fact that God knew persons (“those whom he foreknew”), not that he knew some facts about them, such as the fact that they would believe.
Then he continues
This is the sense in which Paul can talk about God’s “knowing” someone, for example, in I Corinthians 8:3: “But if one loves God, one is known by him.”
But this argument of Grudem cannot be said to be consistent. He seems to equate (knowledge as used in I Cor 8:3) with foreknowledge as used in Rom 8:29 and committing the same error for which Arminius was accused above. The Greek word used ginoskw - ginosko- is different from the one used in Rom 8:29 proginoskw -proginosko and the difference is quite clear- one is preknowledge and the other is sure knowledge.
Contigency Or Reality Of Preknowledge: Occam’s Razor.
The whole of the philosophical argumentation on preknowledge is faulty for we use models we cannot understand. It brings up the arguments of determinism and libertarianism all over. Is man a free agent to do as he wills? If the answer to that is yes then it makes sense to talk of preknowledge by an all knowing God. If the answer is no, then we cannot talk of preknowledge; we must talk of fiat decrees. On the other hand, even if our conjectures are correct, we must appeal to revelation to make us understand. If I am a creator and I have designed by computer to create at specific points something worthwhile, it is my decree and it will come to pass. I can also be said to foreknow that it will perform its function at the right time because I decreed it. But supposing I put a proviso in my computer program contingent on certain events in the environment of the computer? How then can I know those contingent events and determine before hand what would happen to my computer? As a human being, this would be impossible, hence prescience is ruled out. But we are talking about an omniscient God. Can he know the future to the point that he may be able to predict accurately what I would do? The answer is probably yes for we have individuals who predict the future either by using mathematical principles or astronomical ones. Such would not even dream of decreeing the events they predict; yet they predict. If we can see the future, we expect that if He has left His decrees based on free will events in man, we expect Him to know what man is capable of doing when he is faced with the free will option. This argument is consistent with the view that evil came into the world as a result of the free will of man but not by God’s decree, a view which is meaningless. Unless we reduce our argument to the model of prediction in the human sphere of existence and understanding in accordance with Occam’s razor method, we cannot understand this dilemma. Hence the argument of Arminians and Arminius himself are valid even though they may not have been put well because of the temptation to speak about theological items in human philosophical terms.
The best example to use in determining God’s decree versus human freedom is in prayers. When we ask God’s help in prayer are we twisting His decrees? Did He know before hand that we were going to pray and therefore He was going to change His mind? The questions can be endless. Hence they are best reduced to the barest minimum for human comprehension. Prayer works; the Bible says so. How they work we cannot tell. But we still pray despite God’s decrees.
Evaluation Of Arminian Preknowledge
Are the Arminians right that God could not have damned some people while saving some without any merit in them by prevision? Just like Paul said, were certain people made from a lump fit for destruction and others from the same lump but for glory (Rom 9:21) which constitute the preknowledge of God. Beza, says of this clump.
There is no doubt but God takes both sorts out of the same lump, ordaining them to contrary ends. Yet do I say and plainly avow, that Paul in the same similitude mounts up to the said sovereign ordinance to which even the very creation of mankind is submitted in order of causes, and therefore much less does the Apostle put the foreseen corruption of mankind before it. For first, by the term “lump” there is manifestly indicated a substance as yet unshapen and only prepared to work upon afterward. Again, in likening God to a potter and mankind to a lump of clay out of which vessel are afterward to be made, without a doubt the Apostle betokens the first creation of men.
What does the word elect mean? Does it signify vocation, a calling? If it does, does it mean it is a universal call? ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’ suggests that vocation is more than election. Does that passage suggest that some called have refused to heed the call? There are several passages on elect in the Bible but can we see a subtle subdivision in the word elect to mean in some cases, favourites, in others elect to service and yet others election to salvation? I believe so!
The word eklektos eklektos in Greek just does not mean elect as we understand it in English alone. It signifies strongly ‘favourite’. In Yoruba language, the word ‘ayanfe’ translated for elect has the same semantic in Greek but elect in English does not convey any other meaning except ‘chosen’ hence the big polemic in Calvinism and Arminianism. If there were no differences in nuances, the emphasis ‘very elect;’ used in Mt 24;24 would be meaningless. Yet it is the same very elect that Jesus said could be deceived- Mt 24:24.
But when the word eklegomai- eklegomai is used, it refers to choice, a special selection process which may not necessarily refer to anything within the individual to be selected. When this is used directly, I posit it is for service only and not salvation. Take for example- ‘have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ Jn 9:70. He could not have chosen a devil to eternal life. He obviously chose the twelve for service of some sort. After the service, they could decide to become saved or not; that was their prerogative. Judas could have repented before he committed suicide; there is no evidence that Esau did not go to heaven. He was simply not selected for the service of giving birth to the nation of Israel (Rom 9: 13.).
Romans 9/Hermeneutic Chiasm
This leads us to the correct exegesis of Rom 9. Firstly what is its telos? Why did Paul provide this discourse who had earlier averred in several passages that God was ‘unwilling to let anyone perish but that all may come to the saving grace of Christ’ (Rom 10:13). See also I Tim 2:6; I Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9; I Tim 4:10. Why should Paul talk so derogatorily of Esau and later Israel in Rom 9 knowing well that he himself is Jew and elect of God? If Esau is rejected for Jacob how come the elect is now being rejected in the same chapter? Is this not just another example of Pauline duality just as law and grace is of serious controversy in Galatians etc. but nevertheless, almost everyone agrees that the main thrust of Paul is on grace rather than law? Yet it is the same Paul who said fulfill the ‘law of Christ’ in the same Galatians (6:2). To me, the Pauline discourse in Rom 9 is a philosophical essay to show that although God called Israel (unto salvation), i.e. elect, he is willing to call others who were not ordinarily elect in order to show His justice. That is the essential theme of Rom 9. That chapter ends with a purely Arminian touch- ‘ a stone of offence’ that causes men to stumble. That stone was placed in Zion so that who ever believes will not stumble but ‘will never be put to shame’ In other words, he will be saved, while those who do not believe will be damned. This is how Paul concluded his discourse in the same chapter context and it is decidedly Arminian. So what do we say of the central body of the discourse that appears very Calvinist. I believe Paul’s thrust was service and not salvation in the central body. God called Jacob rather than Esau to carry the work of bringing Christ to humanity through Israel so that He can elect those who believe in Him for salvation and damn those who do not. This can be said to be the summary of Romans chapter 9.
Chapter 9 of Romans is also a chiasm. It is sandwiched between two important theological pillars. Law (7-8), Gospel (10-11).
Romans 7 Weakness in the flesh (LAW)
Romans 8 Victory in Christ over Flesh (LAW vs GOSPEL)
Romans 10 ACCEPTANCE OF GOSPEL BY FAITH
Faith alone saves for Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (13).
Romans 11 ACCEPTANCE OF ISRAEL BY FAITH
Israel will be saved on the long run.
Black And White Reasoning: Non Sequitur.
If we study the works of all the predestinarian theorists we see a black and white reasoning amounting to non sequitur in their philosophical arguments beginning with Calvin himself. This only lends wings to the fact that philosophical reasoning when pushed too far finds itself being contradicted. We had earlier noted that of Arminius.
Calvin contradicted his whole system of theology when he said
Adam could have stood if he wished, seeing that he fell solely by his own will.
But he also said
No one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew because he so ordained by his decree….God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in accordance with his own decision.’
How can God decree the fall of Adam and at the same time Adam could have prevented the fall if he so wished?
Beza says of reprobation that it is a decree from eternity past ‘for who can tell, if God has determined to show mercy at the last hour of death to him who has spent all his life past lewdly and wickedly.
How can God show mercy to a reprobate; this is a contradiction in terms.
From the above contradictions, it is clear that the truth is in the middle. In order to understand the concept of preknowledge by God, no one can be dogmatic for as long as we remain dogmatic, we run into problems of incoherence in thought. If we say God decreed that some should be damned and that represents his preknowledge, how do we explain several passages in the Bible which does not say so at all! Again we cannot hold to a principle of single predestination without going into problem of internal coherence. Only double predestination is internally coherent but does the Bible teach this?
Jesus Predestination System
Jesus uses the words ‘elect’ and ‘chosen’ several times but never in a sense that would suggest the election was done before the individual believed (excepting of service of the twelve disciples but even then those did not believe about the time He chose them). His first preaching was Arminian for he went about saying the same thing John the Baptist said before Him ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’ Mk 1:15.
But he made some profound statements which may suggest that those who are elect cannot fall. Take for example
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; none can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. Jn 10:27-30.
Yes, these are very profound words. They however do not exclude the fact that the sheep can snatch itself away without any propping. For it was the same Jesus who spoke to John at Patmos over 60 years later ‘Because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth….To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne…He who hath ear let him hear…’Rev 3:6,2,22. The beloved Jesus was speaking to non other than his followers at Patmos. No wonder Calvin had nothing to say about the Revelation of John.
It is very important, just like in all theological systems to bring out a contradiction in the system and deal with it after proper induction of data. This antinomy can be likened to scientific observation which is found incongruous but nevertheless not statistically significant. Supposing we decided to determine whether insulin reduces blood sugar or not by injecting insulin into 100 mice and measure their blood sugars before and after injection. It is impossible to find all the samples of blood showing that the mice have reduced blood sugar after the injection; some would show even increase. But that does not mean we should discard our conclusion which must be that the average shows clearly that insulin reduces blood sugar not withstanding some insignificant data to the contrary. This is the same with biblical data after induction.
The system presented by Acts 13:48 is a very great thorn in the flesh for Armnianism. It is an antinomy. Even modern Arminians accept this. For example we had earlier mentioned that Osborne agrees the verse is talking about divine election. But let us examine the whole verse more closely
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
This passage seems apparently clear. If the Arminian argument is that you believe and then you are appointed to eternal life, this passage has reversed the order; or so it seems and it is a very strong argument in support of the fact that God had decreed the elect to be appointed to eternal life before they believe and it is the appointment that causes the contingent belief. In fact, I believe this is the only text that can quite easily be said to say such in the entire NT corpus, or shall we venture to include the whole canon and indeed also Jewish literature (as cited above). How shall we then resolve this antinomy?
Firstly, just like Osborne said, look at the context of the verse. It is talking about Jews refusing to accept the ‘Stone’. Paul and Barnabas said to them very clearly
‘We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.’ 13:46.
This seems to be a repetition of the whole theological system designed for Romans 7-11. But shall we say that God had already destined the Jews to believe or shall we apply the verse in Rom 9:33 explaining the use of the rock (stone) of offence, i.e. Jesus whom they have rejected? Who are these people appointed to eternal life? Are they individuals or just the gross number or people? The NIV does great justice to this question for it says ‘all who’ -this could mean number rather than individual and most predestinarians agree number is very vital to the doctrine of election but they disagree on individual. Perhaps this passage is just saying that God has elected a number to believe and they heard the message and because they ‘honored the word of the Lord’ they were counted amongst the number to believe and they believed. What ever be the case, this is a difficult nut to crack for any Arminian just like all passages dealing with free will (whosoever will; those who have ears let them hear; those who persevere etc ) are very many difficult nuts to crack for the Calvinist.
But perhaps we have an illumination in the parable of the Sower. Jesus said
‘When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.’ Mt 13:19. This passage was used to explain the preceding one-
The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ 13:11-12.
Those who are going to damn the word of life are those who refuse to understand after which the evil one will take the little understanding which has been given to them as prevenient grace or vocation and they will then become unbelievers after which they can never understand. If they were denied this prevenient grace, they would not be given the opportunity to hear in the first place as Paul clearly puts it in his grace-faith argument in Rom 10 ‘How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard”? (10:14).
There were so many countries in which the reformed theology of John Calvin and later espoused by Theodore Beza became normative; mostly European countries. Why was the problem of opposition to the doctrine of predestination so severe in Dutch speaking countries when others accepted this theory very well? Aside from the fact that the doctrine is so easy to believe if you are one of those to benefit from it- you are a Christian- or so you think the may be other reasons. Perhaps we can look for other answers in the general demeanour of the Dutch man. Today Holland (The Netherlands) is famous for free will activities. They began euthanasia and have reported more cases of death from physicians since the legalisation in their country. They have no laws banning cloning or any other kind of medical embryology technologies. They are free in terms of morals, sex, etc. In short, The Netherlands, is probably the freest country in the world interested in upholding general freedom and justice. No wonder then, they would not like a doctrine that appears unfree. Preknowledge to damnation or to salvation is obviously not free; it is deterministic. Again Holland houses the International Court of Justice in the Hague suggesting that the world recognizes the interest of that country in freedom and justice, the two principal points of dispute in Arminianism and Calvinism.
But again, why would Calvinism have so much foot hold on European soil and has lost its general flavour in American soil? The reason also may not be so far-fetched. Calvinism had an undertone of racism when it began. It was easy to say only the European race was appointed by God to become elect. This is likely to be responsible for the dearth of missionary activity in the days when hypercalvinism or one of its many varieties held sway in Christian Europe and why the Turks, the only power they seem to recognize in those years, were considered damned for hell, because of course, they are muslims and not Christians and also coloured people. It took the enlightenment and the age of reason to dethrone the concept of preknowledge in predestination leaving room for self determination- a principle which is entrenched in the American tenets of independence. Even the secular encyclopedia recognized the recession of the Calvinistic predestination with the age of rationality and with it the age of missionary enterprises all over the world. It is interesting to note that the Jesuits were the first to begin to send missionaries out in the twilight of the renaissance and not Protestants.
Equally important was the fact that The Netherlands was just beginning to be the centre for cultural and intellectual activity in Europe. It dominated this scene for the better part of the 17th century sending several expeditions round the whole wide world. It was part of this expedition that formed the State of South Africa and probably founded by high Calvinists who immediately instituted a reign of racism on the natives.
The question to ask at our conclusion is- does God see the future or does He not? Every one will say the answer to that is yes? But the next question which should follow is, does God answer prayers or not? If the answer is yes then does He know we are going to pray before He made His decrees to govern the earth or does He leave every thing to contingent events, including the possibility of prayers? That will be a difficult nut to crack for Arminians and Calvinists alike. Only process theologians will be comfortable with this question. Hence the answer for Arminians and for Calvinists would be that the truth is in the middle. God sees and decrees and does not see and changes in answer to prayers. It seems to admit a duality. This is probably the nearest we can get to the picture. It. reminds one of the legendary story of the devil-man who attempted to cause rancour between two villages. He wore a cap that had a white colour on the right side (where a village is) and black on the left side (the side of another village). When he passed through the broad way between the two villages, everyone saw only the cap on his side and naturally a dispute arose. The left village maintained that he had on a black cap while the village on the right said he had a white cap. The effect of this cunning left the two villages destroyed in altercation that arose from bitter accusations. That is usually what becomes of black and white reasoning.
Calvinism has receded; or is it having a resurgence? If there is a resurgence it is amongst scholars and not the church laity many of whom have never heard of it. Everyone seems to accept the simple preknowledge theory of predestination amongst the laity without questioning it. Most of the laity do not question such classical passages of Calvinism like Eph 1 , Rom 9 etc by appealing to a prior understanding of Calvinism. As for pentecostalist and charismatic theologies, they are completely Arminian, and yet these movements form the bulk of addition to the Christian church in the 20th century.
Preknowledge, using Occam’s razor brings predestination to the door step of every one ‘whosoever wills’. History has it that the best behaved and upright amongst Christians are the same Arminians accused of heresy. For example, the remonstrants are still considered the most pious in Holland. Many Calvinists behaved themselves very badly in the past during the 17th -18th century polemics and can be compared in behaviour to Roman Catholics. Although Arminianism may not be the doctrine of the scholars, it is definitely the doctrine of the laity who are the babes of Jesus given full understanding (Mt 11:25). It provides a hope for them of a bright future for which they must persevere.
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Oden, Thomas C. John Wesley Scriptural Christianity. A plain exposition of his teaching on Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
Origen,. In Ante-Nicene Fathers. Rev Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson eds. Vol.
IV. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951.
Osborne, Grant R. Exegetical Notes on Calvinist Texts. In Grace Unlimited. Clark H.
Pinnock ed. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975, pp.167-189.
Peel, J.D.Y. Aladura: A Religious Movement Among the Yoruba. Oxford University
Press/ International Africa Institute. 1968.
Phillips, Timothy R. and Okholm, Dennis L.eds. Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World. Downers Grove: IVP. 1995.
Popkin R. and Stroll, A. Philosophy Made Simple. London: A.A. Allen, 1956.
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David F. Wright eds. Leicester: IVP, 1988, pp. 76-80.
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White, Ellen G. The Great Controversy. 1888. Reprint ed. Phoenix: Inspiration Books,
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Theology. Sinclair B. Ferguson and David F. Wright eds. Leicester: IVP, 1988, pp.
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David F. Wright eds. Leicester: IVP, 1988, pp. 636-637.
 Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
 Cameron N.M. de S, pp 541-542.
 Modern Deists say this.
 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16:1.
 Ibid, 16:2.
 Ibid, 16:3.
 Ibid, 16:4.
 Ibid, 16:5.
 Ibid, 16:7.
 Ibid, 16:8.
 Ibid, 16:9.
 Ibid, 17:1.
 Ibid, 17:2.
 Ibid, 17:3
 Ibid 17:4.
 Ibid, 17:5.
 Ibid, 17:9.
 Ibid, 17:10.
 Ibid, 17:12.
 Ibid, 17:13.
 Ibid, 17:14.
 In the Yoruba traditional Religion, all good and perfect gifts are from the Almighty Supreme Creator but evil is from the demons and other lesser angels. No evil can be perpetrated by God but he allows the demons the free ability to exercise their evil for their own pleasure and He is able to overrule them, although He uses this ability sparingly and most often by side tracking the already laid out track of the evil demon, in order to provide a gift for whom He wills it. See Peel p. 31 and Fuller, p. 16-19.
 Ibid, 16:2.
 Ibid, 16:8.
 Cameron says of chance and providence- ‘Providence asserts the directional and purposeful character of history, and so provides hope to a fallen world. God’s hand, as Calvin says, is at the helm,’ p. 542.
 Microsoft Word, Windows 95, Inc.
 Cameron says of deism in relation to Providence of God.-The deists conceived of God as detached from the present workings of the universe, since he had created it and then left it to operate like a machine. Providence asserts the personal involvement of God in every turn of the human affairs, and his constant upholding of all natural process. Natural law therefore represents merely the constancy and regularity of the divine purposes. The natural order no less than the human expresses God’s personal control, p. 541.
 Of the Yoruba pantheon, Peel has this to say about the belief in the Supreme God in Yoruba ‘Behind these orisa (idols) stands Oludumare, the Supreme Being. Earlier accounts of Yoruba religion have emphasized that Olodumare was a ‘deus remotus et incertus’, who having created the world, does not concern himself with it very much, and is certainly far from the thoughts of the average believer. His will is immutable, and so there is not much point in worshipping him’ pp. 31-32. In a way the last part of this assertion is similar to Calvinistic system of immutability of God but differ in the concept of worship. Calvin says because the will of the Almighty God is immutable, He should be worshipped because He is a great God.
 ‘The Yoruba incline to be fairly fatalistic, at least when they have performed the ritual tasks expected of them. A universal force of much greater practical importance is provided by the system of divination known as Ifa. This gives people directions about how to behave towards the numinous, and is, in a practical sense, anti-fatalistic and salvationist.’ Peel, p. 32.
 ‘This pagan notion is regaining wide currency through popular astrology. While providence personalizes nature, fatalism de-personalizes man. His free actions are free no longer, since the horoscope’s predictions (unlike the prophet’s) make no allowance for personal response. Providence never denies free personal agency, though it asserts a higher order of purpose alongside it.’ Cameron, op. cit.
 John Calvin, I, 17:5.
 John Calvin, I, 17:2.
 Ibid, 17:5.
 Ibid, 17:6.
 According to Bryant, the word ‘Satan means the Chief of the fallen spirits; the grand adversary of God and man.’ In Hebrew dictionary, the name Satan just means an opponent or adversary.
 David Aune says ‘The Jewish conviction that God is absolutely sovereign implies that he is the originator of evil and the resultant dualism of good and evil is neither eternal nor absolute (unlike the dualism of ancient Iranian religion), but limited. Temporal dualism makes a sharp distinction between the present age and the age to come. Ethical dualism is based on a moral distinction between good and evil….Microcosmic dualism is the internalization of the two-age schema which sees the forces of good and evil struggling for supremacy within each individual. Eschatological dualism -the belief in two successive ages, or worlds developed only gradually in Judaism.’ p. 28.
 Monist concept is of one in which there is only one Supreme entity responsible for both good and evil. Dualist concept recognizes that two separate entities are involved in good and evil.
 Moses was obviously not aware of Satan. He even narrated about Pharaoh’s stubbornness attributing it to God, ‘I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…’ (Ex 7:3). But later he says ‘Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go’ (Ex 7:14). Who then hardens Pharaoh’s heart, God or Pharaoh himself? But Paul seems to support the view that God at least in part assisted in hardening Pharaoh’s heart when He said ‘God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and hardens whom he wants to harden’ (Rom 8:18). This could mean (appealing to Mt 13:19) God assisted to harden the already hardened heart of Pharaoh so that Pharaoh obtains indictment for hardening his own heart while God accomplishes his purpose by aiding Pharaoh to continue in that disposition. Also the narrator of I Samuel in explaining the evil spirit that plagued Saul said ‘But an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul’ (I Sam 19:9). Also the narrative of the lying spirit which was sent to deceive prophets in order to lure Zedekiah into his own evil while sparing Micaiah (I Ki 22:24) is an example of a monist apocalypse (or is it monist narration?). According to Bryant, the word Satan means the Chief of the fallen spirits; the grand adversary of God and man. In Hebrew dictionary, the name Satan just simply refers to an opponent or adversary (Bryant, p. 526). This name first appeared in the Bible in I Ch 21:1- ‘Satan arose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. Here, Satan is considered for the first time the agent of sin. The writing of Chronicles was probably done by post-Exilic Ezra at about the latter part of the 5th century B.C. after contact with Zoroastrian dualism. But a parallel text describing the same event before the exile (c. 900B.C.) says ‘Again the angel of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah’ (I Sam 24:1). The contrasting literary features of these two texts describing the same event denote the differences between Jewish monism and dualism. The first writer (Chronicles) is saying Satan enticed David, while the second (2 Samuel) is saying God enticed him. It is unfortunately this stage of Jewish theology that is being marketed by Calvin. It is primitive enough.
 John Calvin, I, 17:11.
 John Calvin, I, 17:9.
 This information has long been in Jewish literature. Sirach or Ecclesiasticus said ‘Don’t blame the Lord for your sin; the Lord does not cause what he hates. Don’t claim that he has misled you; he doesn’t need the help of sinners to accomplish his purposes. The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil. When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. If you want to, you can keep the Lord’s commands.’ Sirach 15: 11-15. If what Sirach is saying, not in so many words is true, then it demolishes the whole foundation of Calvinistic Providence.
 Charles Hodge, pp. 11-12. To quote Hodge fully on the collection of biblical data - ‘This collection must be made with diligence and care. It is not an easy work. There is in every department of investigation great liability to error. Almost all false theories in science and false doctrines in theology are due in a great degree to mistakes as to matters of fact. A distinguished naturalist said he repeated an experiment a thousand times before he felt authorized to announce the result to the scientific world as an established fact. This collection of facts must not only be carefully conducted, but also comprehensive, and if possible, exhaustive.
 Predestination- ‘doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation. Based on the omniscience and omnipotence of God, predestination is closely related to the doctrines of divine providence and grace. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that predestination is consistent with free will since God moves the soul according to its nature. Calvinism rejects the role of free will, maintaining that grace is irresistible.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1999.
 John Calvin, III, 21:1.
 ‘Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). A leader of monastic reform, his spirituality was most clearly manifested in his long series of sermons on the Song of Songs, which had enormous influence in later ages, and which are not the only work of medieval exegesis which is still widely published and read.’ Bray, p. 138. Calvin says of Bernard ‘Do we not here find the very origin of the Church, which, as Bernard rightly teaches (Serm. in Cantic.), could not be found or recognised among the creatures, because it lies hid (in both cases wondrously) within the lap of blessed predestination, and the mass of wretched condemnation? John Calvin, III, 21:1.
 Ibid, III, 21:2.
 Ibid, 21:3.
 Ibid, 21:4
 Ibid, 21:5.
 Ibid, 21:6.
 Ibid, 21:7.
 Ibid, 22:2.
 Ibid, 22:4.
 Ibid, 22:5.
 Ibid, 22:6.
 Ibid, 22:8.
 Probably Thomas Aquinas (1226-1276).
 Ibid, 22:9.
 Ibid, 22:10.
 Ibid, 22:10.
 Ibid, 22:11.
 John Calvin III, 23:1.
 Ibid, 23:2.
 Ibid, 23:3.
 Ibid, 23:4.
 Ibid, 23:5. Augustine taken from August. de Verb. Apost. Serm. 20.
 John Calvin, III, 23: 6.
 Ibid, 23:7.
 Theodore Beza was the systematist and taxonomist of Calvin. He designed the system of Calvinism after Calvin and was said to have formulated the doctrine of supralapsarianism (see below), but the term was not used until the Synod of Dort (1618).
 Calvin quotes Augustine in this section as follows- ‘Let us confess with the greatest benefit, what we believe with the greatest truth, that the God and Lord of all things, who made all things very good, both foreknew that evil was to arise out of good, and knew that it belonged to his most omnipotent goodness to bring good out of evil, rather than not permit evil to be, and so ordained the life of angels and men as to show in it, first, what free-will could do; and, secondly, what the benefit of his grace and his righteous judgment could do.’ (August. Enchir. Ad Laurent).
 Ibid, 23:8.
 Ibid, 23: 9.
 Ibid, 23:10.
 Ibid, 23:11.
 Ibid, quoting from August. Epist. 106, De Praedest. Et Gratia; De Bono Persever, cap. 12).
 Ibid, 23: 14.
 Ibid, 24:1. Citation of Augustine is from August. De Praedes. Sanct., c. 8).
 Ibid, 24:2.
 Ibid, 24:3.
 Strangely, John Wesley (1703-1791) had dealt with this subject extensively in the past in a rebuttal. He says ‘Ah, poor predestinarian! If you are true to your doctrine (election) this is no comfort to you! For perhaps you are not of the elect number. If so, you are in the whirlpool too. For what is your hope? Where is your help? There is no help for you in your God! No; he is not yours; he never was; he never will be. He that made you, He called you into being, has no pity upon you! He made you for this very end-to damn you; to cast you headlong into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.! This was prepared for you, ere ever the world began! And for this you are now reserved in chains of darkness, till the decree brings forth; till, according to his eternal, unchangeable, irresistible will, you groan, you howl, you writhe in waves of fire, And pour forth blasphemies at his desire! O God, how long shall this doctrine stand, pp. 53-55.
 It is clear why this was a problem in the days of Calvin. Calvin and the reformers maintained that regeneration comes at baptism, and paedobaptism for that matter. Hence to them, salvation is just a process of inheritance. I am born to a Christian family and when I was a baby, I was baptized. So how do I know I will to heaven? What Calvin is saying is that the Bible says you will go to heaven for you have been baptized. Not so, John Wesley and other apostles of born again. They maintain you must have conscious turning away from sin- i.e. true repentance and hence the latter procedure requires greater proof.
 John Calvin, Institutes III, 24:7.
 Ibid, 24:8.
 Ibid, 24:9.
 Ibid, 24:10.
 Ibid, 24:13. Taken from Chrysost. Hom. De Convers. Pauli.
 Ibid, 24:13.
 Ibid, 24:14.
 Ibid, 24:15.
 Ibid, 24: 15.
 Ibid, 24:17.
 This is a fundamental principle of the reformation- According to Bray ‘The key issue which distinguished Protestants from Catholics was whether Scripture was self-interpreting, or whether it requires the teaching authority of the church to make it plain. In this respect, all Protestants, including the Laudians in the Church of England, agreed that the Bible was its own interpreter (sui ipsius interpres)’ p. 192.
 Celsius says, referring to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas having been foretold by Jesus but not prevented by Him even though He is God. ‘These events …he predicted as being a God, and the prediction must by all means come to pass. God, therefore, calls above all others ought to do good to man, and especially of his own household, led on his own disciples and prophets, with whom he was inhabit of eating and drinking, to such a degree of wickedness, that they became impious and unholy men. Now, of a truth, he who shared a man’s table would not be guilty of conspiring against him; but after banqueting with God, he became a conspirator. And what is still more absurd, God himself plotted against the member of his own table, by converting them into traitors and villains,’ p. 439. What Celsius is saying is similar to what Calvin was saying at his own time and Calvinists say today in modern times, excepting it is clothed in a cloak of religious and pseudo-Christian thoughts.
 ‘Celsius argues that an event, predicted through foreknowledge, comes to pass because it was predicted; but we do not grant this, making that he who foretold it was not the cause of its happening, because he foretold it would happen; but the future event itself, which would have taken place though not predicted, afforded the occasion to him, who was endowed with foreknowledge, of foretelling its occurrence. Now, certainly this event is present to the foreknowledge of him who predicted an event, when it is possible that it may or may not happen, viz, that one or other of these things will take place. For we do not assert that he who foreknows an event, by secretly taking away the possibility of its happening or not, makes any such declaration as this “This shall infallibly happen, and it is impossible that it can be otherwise.” And this remark applies to all the foreknowledge of events dependent upon ourselves, whether contained in the Sacred Scriptures or it is the histories of the Greeks….For He who was amongst us, and knew what was in man, seeing his evil disposition, and foreseeing what he would attempt from his spirit of covetousness, and from his want of stable ideas of duty towards his Master, along with many other declarations, gave utterance to this also “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me”’ pp. 440-441.
 Pelagius was condemned by the African episcopate in the 5th century with the Council of Carthage of 418, mainly by the works of Augustine. Together, the following were anathemised-1. ‘the natural, rather than penal, mortality of Adam; the denial of infant baptism, and of original sin derived from Adam and requiring cleansing in baptism for the new-born; the restriction of justifying grace to the remission of past sins, excluding its help against committing future sins; excluding its help against future sins; the restriction of the aid that grace gives against sinning to the enlightening of the understanding, to the exclusion of the implanting of love which enables us to delight in and obey the will of God; the assertion that grace merely enables us to do more easily what we could still do without it, albeit with greater difficulty; and the denial of the plain statements of 1 John 1:8-9 and the implications of the Lord’s Prayer (‘forgive us our debts’) in order to claim that one is in reality without sin.’ D.F. Wright, p. 500.
 D.F. Wright says of Augustinian anti-pelagian doctrine of predestination- ‘An exalted view of the perfections of Adam and Eve, and hence of the disastrous consequences of the fall; the insistence that, because all sinned ‘in Adam’ …, all are bound by the penalties for that sin- spiritual death, guilt and the diseases disordering of human nature; ‘concupiscence’, from which no sexual acts of fallen humanity are free (even within Christian marriage), as the locus of transmission of original sin from parents to children; the impossibility of even ‘the beginning of faith’ without the gift of prevenient grace by whose power ‘the will is prepared’ to turn to God; the restriction of this grace to the baptized, so that infants dying unbaptized are condemned to hell, if perhaps to its milder reaches, and to the ‘fixed number’ of the elect, who receive it by God’s sovereignly free mercy alone, with the rest of mankind left to their just deserts (Augustine rarely speaks of divine predestination to condemnation parallel to predestination to salvation); the denial that God ‘will have all persons to be saved’, and the disjunction of election and baptism, for not all the baptized belong to the elect; the infallibility of the eternal redemption of the elect, in whom God’s grace works irresistibly (but not coercively) and who receive the ‘gift of perseverance; and the conclusive appeal to the inscrutability of God’s judgments when mere man dared to question them’ p. 60.
 D.F. Wright, p. 636.
 References of this are found in both Old and New Testament beginning from Habbakuk (2:4) and the rest of the NT writers quoted Habbakuk (Rom 5:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10-:38). It must have been heavy on Paul for him to have quoted him repeatedly. On this issue Luther himself said, ‘We have all, Paul, Augustine and myself, been Hussites without knowing it,’ (E. G White, p. 123) remembering John Hus (1369-1415) who was burnt at the stake for no less offence 100 years before him. ‘Czech religious reformer. A priest, he was influenced early by the writing of John Wyclif. Huss attacked the abuses of the clergy and was supported by Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslaus, who made him Rector of the University of Prague (1409). Huss, however, incurred the hostility of the Archbishop of Prague, who had him excommunicated in 1410. He then wrote his chief works, including De ecclesia, in exile near Tabor, Because Huss denied the infallibility of an immoral pope and asserted the ultimate authority of Scripture over the church, he is generally considered forerunner of the Protestant reformation. The Emperor Sigismund invited him to defend his views at the Council of Constance (1414-1418) and granted him a safe-conduct. In 1414 Huss represented himself at the council, which refused to recognize his safe-conduct, tried him as a heretic, and burned him at the stake.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Inc.
 Letham listed the five points of the remonstrants as follows- 1. Predestination is conditional on a person’s response, being grounded in God’s foreknowledge; 2. Christ died for each and every person but only believers are saved; 3. A person is unable to believe and needs the grace of God; but 4. This grace is resistible; 5. Whether all the regenerate will persevere requires further investigation.’
 Jacob Arminius said in 1609, ‘From this follows the fourth decree to save certain particular persons and to damn others which decree rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which he has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such administration of the means serving repentance and faith through his preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere,’ p. 352.
 Beza says predestination ‘is God’s everlasting and unchangeable ordinance, going in order before all the causes of salvation and damnation, whereby God has determined to be glorified in some by saving them of his own mere grace in Christ, and others by damning them through his rightful justice in Adam and in themselves. And after the custom of scripture we call the former the vessels of glory and the elect or chosen, that is to say, those appointed to salvation from before all worlds through mercy; and the other sort we call reprobates and castaways, and vessels of wrath, that is to say, appointed likewise to rightful damnation from everlasting: both of which God has known severally from time without beginning.’ Theodore Beza, p. 76.
 ‘Swiss Protestant theologian, one of the leading thinkers of the 20th century Protestanism. A Swiss minister, he became professor (1921-36) in Germany, and opposed the Nazi regime. Deported to Switzerland, he later taught at Basel, where he continued to expound his views, known as dialectical theology or theology of the word. Barth sought to reassert the principles of the Reformation. He saw the central concern of theology as the word of God and His revelation in Jesus, which he thought was the only means for God to reveal Himself to humans, who must listen in awe, trust, and obedience. Among his many works is his Church Dogmatics (vol. 1-10), 1932-62).’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Inc.
 Wayne Grudem, pp. 684-685.
 E G White, one of the leaders of the 19th Century Adventist revivals says ‘(Some) though admitting the perpetuity of the law, declared that it was unnecessary for ministers to exhort the people to obedience of its precepts, since those whom God had elected to salvation would “be irresistible impulse of divine grace, be led to the practice of piety and virtue,’ while those who were doomed to eternal reprobation “did not have it in their power to obey the divine law.” Others, also holding that “the elect cannot fall from grace or forfeit the divine favor,” arrived at the still more hideous conclusion that “the wicked actions they commit are not really sinful, nor to be considered as instances of the violation of the divine law, and that consequently they have no occasion either to confess their sins or to break them by repentance.” Therefore, they declared that even one of the vilest sins, “considered universally an enormous violation of the divine law, is not a sin in the sight of God,” if committed by one of the elect, “because it is one of the essential and distinctive characteristic of the elect, that they cannot do anything which is either displeasing to God or prohibited by the law.,”’ pp. White, 222-223.
 New age is ‘term popularized in the 1980s to describe a wide-ranging set of beliefs and practices. Growing from 1960s and 70s U.S. counterculture, the New Age movement maintains that a spiritual era is dawning in which individuals and society will be transformed. New Age beliefs and practices include the realization of one’s spiritual self, holistic medicine (including the use of crystals for healing), reincarnation, and astrology. In music, the term refers to meditative, relaxing, usually instrument styles.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Inc.
 ‘Calvin and all who followed his lead made the same mistake, and instead of holding before the people the realization that those who recognized their essential divinity did so symbolically on behalf of all developing, incarnating sons of God, they regarded themselves as the Chosen People and all who did not think as they did are regarded as lost. When the Jew and the narrow-minded religious devotees recognize their identity with all other people and express their identity through their right relationship, we shall see a very different world.’ A. A. Bailey, pp. 34-45.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 23:8.
 Calvin, II, 21:5.
 Calvin, III, 21:1.
 Advance Learner Dictionary of English has two definitions- 1. ‘theory or doctrine that God has decreed from eternity that part of mankind shall have eternal life and part eternal punishment. 2 destiny; doctrine that God has decreed everything that comes to pass.’
 Microsoft, Thesaurus.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 21: 5.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 23: 6.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 23:10.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 24:5.
 Calvin says this of elect angels in I Tim 5:21., ‘Paul gives the name of elect to the angels who maintained their integrity. If their steadfastness was owing to the good pleasure of God, the revolt of the others prove that they were abandoned. Of this no other cause can be adduced than reprobation, which is the hidden counsel of God.’ III, 23:4.
 Calvin agrees with this view suggesting he also agrees this is election to service. ‘For Judas was not numbered among the sheep of Christ, because he was one truly, but because he held a place among them. Then, in another passage, where the Lord says, that he was elected with the apostles, reference is made only to the office, “Have I not chosen you twelve,” says he, “and one of you is a devil?” (John vi. 70). That is, he had chosen him to the office of apostle. But when he speaks of election to salvation, he altogether excludes him from the number of the elect., “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen.” (John xiii.18). But this last description is not the correct one for the word eklegomai is used for both ‘chosen.’ No, Jesus has excluded the son of perdition from further service; or further choice and not salvation. He cannot exclude any one from salvation for that would contradict His own saying ‘whoever comes to me I will never drive away.’ Jn 6:37.
 Calvin clearly says of this text ‘If election precedes that divine grace by which we are made fit to obtain immortal life, what can God find in us to induce him to elect us? What I mean is still more clearly explained in another passage: God, says he, “hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph i. 4,5). Here he opposes the good pleasure of God to our merits of every description.’ Calvin, III, 22:1.
 Calvin says of this ‘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.’ Calvin, III, 21:7.
 Calvin says ‘I maintain, that the reprobates are hateful to God, and that with perfect justice, since those destitute of his Spirit cannot produce anything that does not deserve cursing.’ Calvin, III, 24:17.
 John Calvin, III, 23:3.
 In his repudiation of the Calvinistic system of reprobation, Jacobus Arminius gave 20 reasons why it was not coherent in 1608 (see below). Carl Bangs says of Arminius’ views ‘Arminius now comes out fighting. No longer is he content to say merely that many views should be tolerated in the church; he finds this position intolerable, and he says why. Twenty reasons, in fact, are offered. Logic and history come into play. This doctrine is not the foundation of Christianity, for it “is not the decree of God by which Christ is appointed by God to be Savior, the Head, and the Foundation of those who will be the heirs of salvation.” The logic works like this: the certainty of salvation depends on this decree (stated as a syllogism):
They who believe shall be saved;
Therefore, I shall be saved.
But his (Calvin’s) doctrine of predestination contains neither the first nor the second member of the syllogism.
Then the history. The doctrine described “was never admitted, decreed, or approved in any council, either general or particular, for the first six hundred years after Christ.” He does a comprehensive survey: Nicaea, Constantinople I, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople II, Constantinople III, and the local councils of Jerusalem, Orange, and Mela. Furthermore, none of the orthodox theologians of the first six hundred years taught or approved this doctrine. He mentions Augustine, Prosper of Aquitaine, Hilary, Fulgentius, and Orosius. It does not agree with Salnar’s Harmony of the Reformed Confessions published at Geneva, nor does any single confession in the Harmony teach this doctrine. It is not mentioned at all in the confessions of Bohemia, Wurtemburg, and England, nor in the First Helvetic Confession and the Confession Tetrapolitana. The confessions of Basel and Saxony mention it only briefly, in three words. The Augsburg Confession speaks of it in such a manner that the Genevan editors find it necessary to make a warning annotation. The Second Helvetic Confession has to be stretched to accommodate this doctrine, and yet it is approved in Geneva itself’ p. 309.
 Calvin maintains that divine justice is different from human justice and he quotes Augustine- ‘Truly does Augustine maintain that it is perverse to measure divine by the standard of human justice (De Praedest et Gra c ii).’ Calvin III, 24:17.
 John Calvin, III, 24:8.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 21:7.
 John Calvin, III, 24:8.
 Calvin says ‘Others, although they do not so much impair the grace of the Holy Spirit, yet, induced by what means I know not, make election dependent on faith, as if it were doubtful and ineffectual till confirmed by faith.’ Calvin, III, 24:3.
 Other texts referring to the ability of man to choose between good and evil abound in the Bible; a few are as follows- Josh 24:15; Prov 1:29-33; Is 66;3. Jer 18:7-10; Mt 22:1-8; 23:37,38, Acts 7:51; 13:44-46; 10:34,35; Rom 10:13; Rev 3:3; 22:17.
 Michael Grant says clearly of the gods of ancient Greece, ‘But these deities could be savagely dangerous if men and women did not acknowledge them (that is what the Greek term nomizein means- not ‘believe in’) and if they were not placated; this was an anxiety-appeasing religion of formal reciprocity, do ut des, “I give you so that you shall give me.” And as a matter of fact, this was what pisteo came to mean in Koine Greek. And this was why John preferred to use it in explaining the principle of understanding and appropriating Christ. Give to me and I give unto you- believe in me and I will give you power to do greater things and a place in my kingdom. This is the essence of Christianity and this was what Jesus and Paul taught.
 Franklin Electronic Bible- Computer word analysis. Bookman II Model, KJB- 1440, 1999, Burlington: Franklin Electronic Publishers Inc.
 Calvin, in discussing the famous evangelical text Jn 3:16 says of it- ‘We are said to be clothed with him, to be one with him, that we may live, because he himself lives. The doctrine is often repeated , “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John iii. 16)….Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, who is kindly offered to us, and comes forth to meet us: he will number us among his flock, and keep us within his fold.’ John Calvin, III, 24:5, 6. How can we come to Christ if we are reprobates? But Calvin was obviously talking to the elect and he misses the point of that freedom text!
 John Calvin, Institutes, 23:7.
 Theodore Beza also presents the system of supralapsarianism clearly ‘(It was) necessary that man should be so created good that notwithstanding he should be mutable and fall from this degree and that by his own good fault. For if sin had not so entered the world, a god had not found such cause to magnify his mercy in saving those which he has ordained to salvation, nor matter to declare his justice in condemning those which he has ordained to his wrath to the end that he may punish them for their demerits,’ p. 5.
 ‘When I created the world, I supplied it with an abundance of food and a Law of profound wisdom, but the people I created lived corrupt lives. I looked at my world and saw it was ruined. I saw that my earth was in danger of being destroyed by the wicked plans of the people who had come into it. When I saw this, it was very difficult to spare them, but I saved for myself, one grape out of a bunch and one tree out of a great forest.’ 2 Esdras 9:19-21.
 Augustine as quoted in Calvin, III, 23:7 (August. Enchir ad Laurent.).
 John Calvin, III, 22:7.
 Several texts make this allusion in the NT corpus-Mt 5:13; 10:22; Jn 15:6; Rom 8:12, 13; 11:22; I Cor 3:17; 9:27; Gal 5:4; 6:7, 8; I Tim 1:19; 6:9,10; II Tim 2:17,18; Heb 3:12-14; 6:6-4; 10:38,39; 12:14-17, 25-29; Jas 5:19,20; II Pet 2:20-22; 3:17; I Jn 2:4,9, 15-17; 3:8-10, 15; Rev 2:4,5; 3:5,16,21; 22:18-19.
 Calvin argues this point from a different angle. Hear him- ‘When God elects one and rejects another, it is owing not to any respect of the individual, but entirely to his own mercy which is free to display and exert itself when and where he pleases. For we have elsewhere seen, that in order to humble the pride of the flesh, “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (I Cor i. 26); so far is God in the exercise of his favour from showing any respect to persons.’ Calvin, III, 23:10. Calvin here is arguing backwards! How can he say that God had no merit in mind, negative or positive, when He ordained the elect or the reprobate? Now he is saying God deliberately selected the foolish and the down trodden. How can that be devoid of merit, even if its negative merit?
 John Calvin, III, 23:8.
 John Calvin, Institutes, III, 23:8.
 Ezra was commanded to stop asking questions about those who are doomed to fall. ‘You should stop asking questions about how the wicked will be punished. Instead, be concerned about how and when the righteous will be saved. The world was created for them and belongs to them….So let them perish-all those people who were born only to be lost. But let my chosen people be kept safe-those for whom I worked to hard to bring them to perfection.’ 2 Es 9:13,22.
 John Calvin, III, 24:9.
 John Calvin, III, 21:6.
 Ibid, 21:7.
 ‘Modern philosophical techniques have enabled us to see that this perplexity is in part ‘linguistic’, that a solution to it involves clarifying the notions of ‘freedom’, ‘compulsion’, and ‘causal determinism’ Popkin and Stroll, p. 21.
 Calvin says ‘Those who would cast obloquy on this doctrine, calumniate it as the dogma of the Stoics concerning fate….But the dogma itself is falsely and maliciously imputed to us. For we do not with the Stoics imagine a necessity consisting of a perpetual chain of causes, and a kind of involved series contained in nature, but we hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things,- that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, he decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executed what he decreed.’ John Calvin, I 16:8. I wonder what is the difference now, between Stoicism as mentioned above and Calvinism?
 ‘The Stoics held that every event which occurs, whether it is the falling of a meteor or whether it is one’s thinking about having dinner tonight is predestined to occur according to a divine plan. If this doctrine is accepted, then it becomes impossible to alter any of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. If these events were destined to occur, then there is nothing we can do about it. In a very significant sense, we are powerless to alter our lives.’ Popkin and Stroll, p. 20.
 ‘One form of divine determinism has argued that since God is all-powerful and all-knowing, He is able to control everything that takes place. If there were any event, whether a human thought or the movement of a leaf, that God did not know in advance, then there would be a limitation on Divine power. Since (in this theory) such a limitation is unthinkable, prior to the Creation of the world, God must have known all that would take place in the future. This being the case, He must have known every choice that we would ever make in the course of human history. Thus, everything that anyone does is predestined and predetermined by God’s prior knowledge and prior decisions.’ Popkin and Stroll, p. 107.
 Calvin himself denies this charge when he quoted the text Ez 13:9. ‘I deny not, however, that the Spirit sometimes accommodates his language to our feeble capacity; as when he says, “They shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel.” (Ez xiii.9). As if God were just beginning to write the names of those whom he counts among his people in the Book of Life; whereas we know, even on the testimony of Christ, that the names of the children of God were written in the Book of Life from the beginning (Luke x. 20).The words simply indicate the abandonment of those who seemed to have a chief place among the elect, as is said in the psalm, “ Let them be blotted out of the Book of the Living, and not be written with the righteous.” (Psalm lxix. 28). He seems to indicate here that this passage is not woodenly literal. But it is eisegesis for the passage is saying something totally different from the subject of election which he claims is unconditional and impossible to change. III, 24:9.
 Charles Hodge says of this method, ‘Even scientific men are sometimes led to suppress or pervert facts which militate against their favourite theories; but the temptation to this form of dishonesty is far less in their case, than in that of the theologian. The truths of religion are far more important than those of natural science. They come to the heart and conscience. They may allay the fears or threaten the hopes of men, so that they are under strong temptation to overlook or pervert them. If, however, we really desire to know what God has revealed we must be conscientiously diligent and faithful in collecting the facts which he has made known, and in giving them their due weight.’ (Emphasis added), . 13, vol 1.
 John Calvin, III, 24:17.
 For example, when Calvin talked about the Holy Spirit forbidding Paul from going to Asia, but to Europe, he implicitly stated that the call and election is for Europeans and not Asians, and certainly not Africans, ‘And he who, forbidding Paul to preach in Asia, and leading him, away from Bithynia, carries him over to Macedonia (Acts xvi. 6), shows that it belongs to him to distribute the treasure in what way he pleases.’ Calvin, III, 22:10.
 Wesley, was the strongest opponent of Calvinism. He presents seven fold argument against Calvinism on predestination. This is summarized by Thomas C Oden as follows’ 1. Predestination makes preaching unnecessary and absurd. Why should one preach if it is already decided before time by divine decree that about which one is asked to decide. 2. Predestination tends to undermine holiness. 3. Contrary to its claim, the predestinarian premise tends to obstruct the consoling work of the Spirit out of which the comfort of religion flows. ‘Does it not hinder the work of God in the soul, feed all evil and waken all good tempers?” 4. Predestination tends to destroy the zeal for works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry. 5. Predestinarian doctrine tends to have the tendency to undermine the need for an actual history of revelation by trivalizing historical revelation so as to make it absurd and superfluous. Why does one really need any history of revelation if all is settled from the beginning? 6. Furthermore, it is bad exegesis. Oden says “ Wesley was convinced that the origin of this doctrine is not in Scripture but in narrower unecumenical tradition of interpretation that does not account for the fuller witness of Scripture as received by the pre-Augustinian ancient church.”. 7. Predestination is prone to blasphemy, making God a liar and Jesus a hypocrite, by dangling salvation before all, yet allowing only a tiny group of the elect to receive it, misrepresenting Christ as a deceiver in his promise to care for all…By predestination teaching the moral attributes of God are subverted. The Sovereignty of God is supposedly affirmed by destroying other moral attributes of God- mercy, compassion, truth, justice and love’ pp. 257-258.
 Letham says ‘Frequently, the menmonic TULIP (total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance) is used to summarize the Canons of Dort and Reformed theology generally. However, this can present a truncated picture, an abridgement of the panoramic grandeur of the Reformed view of church and cosmos’ p. 570. But this is far from being the case. At least for predestination doctrine, the mneumonic serves very well.
 It is said to have been on October 10 1560 by older accounts- e.g. Bertius, 1609. Bangs, p. 25., who has researched this thoroughly could not find any evidence in support of this date.
 This includes Utrecht, Amsterdam, Batavian Republic (‘name for the United Province of Netherlands (1795-1806) after their conquest by the French in the French Revolutionary Wars’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Electronic) Belgium (was given to Netherlands in the Treaty of Paris (1815.’ Ibid)), Flanders, The Hague, Holland, Nassau, Zeeland, Friesland etc. The Netherlands was ‘settled in Roman times by Germanic tribes, the low countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) passed successively to the Franks (4th-8th century), the Holy Roman Empire (10th century), and the dukes of Burgundy (14th-15th century); they came under Hapsburg rule after 1477. In 1579 the northern provinces under William the silent (or Orange) broke away from Spain and formed the Union of Utrecht. Independence was declared in 1581,but the new nation-the United Provinces-was not formally recognized until 1648, after the thirty years war. The 17th century, the Netherlands’ golden age, was a time of commercial prosperity, colonial expansion, religious tolerance, and cultural achievement In the 18th century, this supremacy was lost to England and France. Conquered by the French during the French Revolutionary wars, the United Provinces were reconstituted (1795) as the Batavian Republic; transformed (1806) by Napoleon I into the kingdom of Holland under Louis Bonaparte; and finally, at the Congress of Vienna (1814-150, united with present Belgium as the Kingdom of Netherlands. Belgium seceded in 1830.’ Ibid. Hapsburg is name of the ruling house of Austria (1282-1918). ‘Otto (d.111) took the name Hapsburg when he was made count. In 1273 Count Rudolf became king of the Germans as Rudolf I.’ Ibid. This territory later became incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire. ‘Through marriage the Hapsburgs gained most of the Low Countries, and Hapsburg power reached its zenith under Emperor Charles V who had inherited (1516) the crown of Spain. Charles was succeeded in Spain by his son, Philip II, and in Austria by his brother, Emperor Ferdinand I. The Spanish Hapsburgs died out in 1700.’ Ibid. Hence by 1559, when Arminius was born, the Netherland provinces were under the control of Spanish Hapsburgs.
 This war began in 1566 when the nobles of Netherlands called ‘Beggars’ resisted Spanish rule. In 1567, the Duke of Alva was sent to suppress the revolt but finally a truce was declared which was never visited and so The Netherlands became de facto independent.
 The first Dutch world expedition was in 1598, followed by another in 1603. The third came in 1605 followed by the fourth in 1606.
 William I (also known as William the Silent), was ‘principal founder of Dutch independence. A member of the house of Nassau, he inherited (1544) the principality of Orange, in South France, and was made (1556) stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht. He opposed repression of the Netherlands by Philip II of Spain and helped for the Gueux party (1566)….In 1576 the provinces of the Netherlands united under William, but in 1580 he was forced to seek the aid of Francis, duke of Alencon and Anjou. Philip put a price on William’s head in 1581, and at a critical stage of the independence struggle he was assassinated.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Electronic.
 Maurice of Nassau (1567-1625), was prince of orange (1618-1625) and ‘son of William the Silent. In the independence struggle of the Netherlands he took the offensive against the Spanish under Alessandro Farnese. His victories led to a 12 year truce, making the United Provinces virtually independent.’ Ibid.
 Beza said of young Arminius ‘..for, among other endowments, God has gifted him with an apt intellect both as respects the apprehension and the discrimination of things. If this henceforth be regulated by piety, which he appears assiduously to cultivate, it cannot but happen that this power of intellect, when consolidated by mature age and experience, will be productive of the richest fruits.’ Caspar Brandt, 1857, pp. 48-49.
 Charles Perrot said to young Arminius who was leaving Geneva for home ‘Never assist in condemning any for not agreeing in every point of religion with the established church, so long as they adhere to the fundamentals of Christianity, and are disposed to maintain the peace of the Church, and bear with others their brethren who do not reject the fundamentals of religion, though a little differing from them. For this is the way to avoid schisms, and to arrive at the pious union and tranquility of the Christian Church.’ Gerard Brandt, Historie der Reformatie, II, 122.
 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ Jn 3:16. ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved-you and your household.’ Acts 16:31.
 A clear speech of resurrection appears in the Second historic book of Maccabees which covers events in Jewry between 180-161 BC. It was composed by Jason of Cyrene. ‘You butcher! You may kill us, but the King of the universe will raise us from the dead and give us eternal life, because we have obeyed his laws….we have the assurance that God will raise us from death. But there will be no resurrection to life for you, Antiochus.’ 2 Mac 7:9, 14.
 The writer of Sirach (otherwise called The Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus) must have made his composition after the closure of the canonical prophets (after Malachi in 430 BC). It was considered deutero-canonical by Augustine and therefore is found in Roman Catholic Bible as the Apocrypha. But reformers rejected its canonical status relegating it to the status of other Jewish literature enjoyable for reading but not inspired in a canonical sense.
 Although by the internal witness of the Book of 2 Esdras, it clearly predates Christianity, the book was widely circulated amongst Christians before the composition of The Revelation of John about 96 AD.
 Bangs reports about the enigmatic Coolheus born in Cologne in 1534 who was to teach Arminius in Leiden. ‘It is appropriate that H.C. Rogge’s great study of Coolhaes should describe him as the “forerunner of Arminius.” Rogge says that the whole controversy within the Dutch Church can be reduced to two topics, the relationship between the church and state and the relationship between God’s foreordination and man’s free will. On both these points Coolhaes took essentially the same positions which were later to be known by the name of Arminius.’ Bangs, p. 52.
 According to Bangs, ‘Even during Arminius’ stay in Geneva there were many students who dissented from Beza’s rigid Calvinism. Uitenbogaert…there were also Joannes Halsbergius, Cornelis Royenburgh, and the moderate Calvinists Franciscus Junius, Werner Helmichius, Jeremias Bastingius, Johannes Becius, Thysius, Adrianus Lymphaius, and Johannes Polyander. Geneva continued to produce opponents of strict Calvinism after Arminius had finished his work there, including Jacob de Graeff, Vorstius, Adriaan van der Mijle, Theophilus Rickwaert, Henricus Leo, Isaacus Diamantius, Nicolas Grevinchovius, Cornelius Burchvliet, Daniel Wittius, the later Remonstrant professor Stephanus Curcellaeus (de Courcelles), Johannes Arnoldus Corvinus, and Niclaes van Sorgen-all in the days of Beza himself. De Vries has called Geneva the “seedbed of Dutch Calvinism.” It is almost fitting to call it the “seedbed of Dutch Arminianism”’ p. 77. But why Dutch? We shall examine this later.
 Ibid, pp. 220-221.
 Jacob Arminius, pp. 381, 71.
 Ibid, p. 264.
 Ibid, p. 255.
 Ibid, p. 281, 385.
 Carl Bangs’ translation of Dutch text, In Bangs, p. 350.
 Ibid, p. 351.
 Ibid, p. 352.
 Arminius, pp. 230-231.
 Pelagianism is a system of belief which does not recognize the original sin in human kind and believes a person can attain salvation with good works and not necessarily faith. Semi-pelagianism on the other hand, also called semi-Augustianism, mainly attributed to Prosper of Aquitane (c. 390-c. 463) ‘affirmed original sin and the necessity of grace for salvation, but sought a balanced antimony between grace and freedom, disliked the resort to God’s hidden counsels in election and doubted whether a just predestination could avoid being based on foreknowledge.’ D.F. Wright, p. 636-637.
 R.W.A. Letham, pp. 45-46.
 Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), strangely is best remembered, not for his theology but for his contribution to International Law since ‘his Concerning the Law of War and Peace (1625) is considered the first definitive text on International Law. Drawing on the Bible and classical history, he argued that natural law prescribes rules of conduct for nations, as for individuals. While not condemning all wars, he maintained that only certain causes justified it, and he devoted much attention to the concept of more humane warfare.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. This no doubt led to the fame of Netherlands in International law so much so that today it houses the World Court at the Hague. No wonder Hugo Grotius became a remonstrant.
 Letham describes theology of Episcopius. ‘Remonstrant leader at Dort, a prominent figure behind the Remonstrant Articles and professor at Leiden, made further developments in his own theology. Reiterating a conditional doctrine of predestination, he held that only the Father had deity of himself, the Son and the Holy Spirit being subordinate not simply in terms of generation and spiration but also in essence. His stress was on Christ as exemplar, with doctrine subordinated to ethics’ p. 46.
 John Wesley reported this schism himself in his own journal dated Saturday, March 28 1742. ‘having heard much of Mr Whitefield’s unkind behavior, since his return from Georgia, I went to him to hear him speak for himself that I might know how to judge. I much approved of his plainness of speech. He told me that he and I preached two different gospels; and therefore he not only would not join with or give me the right hand of fellowship, but was resolved publicly to preach against me and my brother (i.e. Charles Wesley), wheresoever he preached at all. Mr Hall (who went with me) put him in mind of the promise he had made but a few days before, that, whatever his private opinion was, he would never publicly preach against us. He said that promise was only an effect of human weakness, and he was now of another mind.’ pp 88-89.
 Thomas C Oden summarizes the seven arguments of John Wesley against double predestination as follows 1. ‘Predestination makes preaching unnecessary and absurd. Why should one preach if it is already decided before time by divine decree that about which one is asked to decide.’ 2. Predestination tends to undermine holiness. 3. Contrary to its claim, the predestinarian premise tends to obstruct the consoling work of the Spirit out of which the comfort of religion flows. “Does it not hinder the work of God in the soul, feed all evil and waken all good tempers?”4. Predestination tends to destroy the zeal for works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry. 5. Predestinarian tenets have a tendency to undermine the need for an actual history of revelation by trivalizing historical revelation so as to make it absurd and superfluous. Why does one really need any history of revelation if all is settled from the beginning? 6. Furthermore, it is bad exegesis. ‘Oden says ‘Wesley was convinced that the origin of this doctrine is not in Scripture but in narrower unecumenical tradition of interpretation that does not account for the fuller witness of Scripture as received by the pre-Augustinian ancient church.’ 7. Predestination is prone to blasphemy, making God a liar and Jesus a hypocrite, by dangling salvation before all, yet allowing only a tiny group of the elect to receive it, misrepresenting Christ as a deceiver in his promise to care for all…By predestination teaching the moral attributes of God are subverted. The Sovereignty of God is supposedly affirmed by destroying other moral attributes of God- mercy, compassion, truth, justice and love’ pp. 257-258.
 In Compendium of Wesley’s Theology, Robert W Burtner and Robert E Chiles eds. pp. 53-54.
 Ibid, p. 54.
 Ibid, p. 120.
 Sounds like Sirach 15:20.
 Ibid, pp. 186-187.
 Moravian Church which is also called Renewed Church of the Brethren, or Unitas Fratrum- ‘an evangelical Christian communion. It originated in Bohemia among some of John Huss’s followers, who broke with Rome in 1467. Persecution reduced their numbers, but a renewal took place after 1722 at Herrnhut, on the Saxon estate of Graf von Zinzendorf. In America the sect founded (c. 1740) Bethlehem, Pa., which has remained the center of the Moravians in the U.S. They take Scripture as the rule of faith and morals and have a simple liturgy and a modified episcopacy.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Electronic. It was these Moravians who taught John Wesley how to be “born again” and this took place, according to him on Wednesday May 24, 1738, urged on by the Moravian Peter Bohler, ‘I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.’ John Wesley, Journal, p. 64.
 T.R. Albin says of this movement ‘The evangelical stress on a personal experience of salvation by faith alone was considered ‘new doctrine’ and unnecessary by most leaders of the Church of England (who maintained that a person was sufficiently saved by virtue of infant baptism). Established churches were soon closed to the Methodist preachers, forcing them into the open air’ p. 719.
 Jack Cortrell, p. 62.
 Osborne, p. 175.
 Grudem, p. 682, see footnote.
 Grudem, p. 680.
 Microsoft Word, Windows 95, 1983-1995, Inc.
 Roget’s Thesaurus, p. 193.
 Ibid, p. 184.
 John Calvin, III, 21:206.
 Thales (c 636-c. 546 BC), pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Miletus, reputed founder of the Milesian or Ionian school of philosophy. The first recorded Western philosopher, Thales explained the physical world as deriving not from a mythological creation but from a single underlying substance, which he believed to be water. He is said to have introduced geometry into Greece and to have predicted a solar eclipse in 585 BC. His pupils included Anaxagoras, Anaximander, and Diogenes.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Electronic.
 Bath reinterpreted the decrees of election and reprobation as being fulfilled in Jesus who was both elect and reprobate for humankind. See J.B. Webster, pp. 76-80.
 Carl Bangs, p. 354.
 John Calvin, Insitutes of Christian Religion, I, 16:175.
 Battles and Walchenbach, p. 75.
 John Calvin, III, 21: 206.
 ‘Process theology is the theological system that has been developed on the basis of the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. The name itself derives from the central tenet of both of these philosophers that reality is a process of becoming, not a static universe of objects. From this, a unique concept of both God and man is derived, and from that in turn a complete theology.’ W. D. Beck, p. 534.
 Jacobus Arminius, p. 535.
 Carl Bangs, p. 354.
 Proposed by Theodore Beza and not Calvin.
 Grudem, p. 676.
 Beza, pp. 84-85.
 John Calvin, I, 25: 8
 Ibid 3, 23: 7
 Beza, chapter 8; cited in Bangs, p. 70.
 ‘The Netherlands decriminalized (1993), under a set of restricted conditions, voluntary positive euthanasia (essentially, physician-assisted suicide) for the terminally ill.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Electronic. It is said that by 2000 over 1000 people had died from euthanasia in the Netherlands.
 Calvinism ‘stressed that only those whom God elected are saved, and that a person does nothing to effect his or her salvation. The doctrine challenged Lutheranism in Europe, spread to Scotland, and influenced the Puritans of England and New England. It receded under rationalism (18th-19th century),but found new expression in the Reformed theology of Karl Barth.’ The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Electronic.
 South Africa -‘Bantu speaking peoples moved into the region from East central Africa about 1500. The first permanent European settlement, a Dutch East India Company station, was set up in 1652. By 1707 there were about 1,780 freeholders of European descent in South Africa, with about 1,100 slaves. The first of a long series of wars broke out (1779) between the Xhosa people and white farmers, known as Boers, who had moved inland. Britain replaced the Dutch at the Cape in 1795 and was awarded the territory by the Congress of Vienna in 1814. Disturbed by British rule, which accorded legal rights to free blacks and Coloureds and abolished slavery, some 12,000 Boers left the Cape in what is known as the Great Trek (1835-43) into the interior and Natal. Britain annexed Natal (1843), but the Boer republics of Orange Free State and the Transvaal were established (1850s). The discovery of diamonds (1867) and especially of gold (1886), spurred great economic development. Following increasing tension between the non-Afrikaner whites (Uitlanders) and the dominant Afrikaners, the two Boer republics declared war on Britain. The South African war (Boer War; 1899-1902) was won by the British, who established (1910) the Union of South Africa, with dominion status.’ Ibid.
 See J.W. Ward, p. 502.
 Bangs talks of the conference between Arminius and his rival Gomarus (also Professor of Theology at Leiden in the last year of Arminius, 1609- ‘By all accounts the States were offended by Gomarus’ speech. He was acrimonious and too passionate in his attack; Arminius had been soft spoken. Arminius had impressed them with his piety, and they could not believe him to be the two-faced person Gomarus pictured him to be. Arminian historians interpret this as a vindication of Arminius. Calvinist historians, including van Itterzon, attribute it to the gullibility of the States.’ Bangs, p. 320.