Friday, August 7, 2015

So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on Predestination

Young(er) John Calvin
[I just want you to read John Calvin himself and make up your own mind. God's Word is forever remain the Truth above all truths] The doctrine of predestination is of major important to Calvin. In this mature statement of his views, Calvin declares that some people are predestined to eternal life, and others to eternal death. This doctrine, known as “double predestination,” affirms that only those who are elected to salvation will, in fact, be saved. Notice how Calvin draws a clear distinction between “predestination” and “foreknowledge.” He writes:

The covenant of life is not preached equally to all people, and amongst those to whom it is preached, it does not meet with the same acceptance either constantly or in equal degree. In this diversity the unsearchable depths of God’s judgment are made known. For there is no doubt that this variety is subordinate to the will of God’s eternal election. If it is clear that salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it, on account of God’s pleasure, this raises some major and difficult questions.

They can be explained only when election and predestination are rightly understood. Many find this a puzzling subject, in that it seems to be nothing less than capricious, that out of the human community some should be predestined to salvation, others to destruction. But it will become clear in the following discussion that such confusion is needless. In any case, the complexity of this matter makes known both the usefulness of this doctrine and also the very sweet fruit which it brings. We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from God’s free mercy until we come to know his eternal election, which casts light on God’s grace by this comparison: he does not indiscriminately adopt all to the hope of salvation but gives to some what he denies to others…

Predestination, by which God adopts some to the hope of life, and sentences others to eternal death, is denied by no-one who wishes to be thought of as pious. But there are many, especially those who make foreknowledge its cause, who surround it with all kinds of petty objections. Both doctrines are indeed to be located within God, but subjecting one to the other is absurd. In attributing foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things always have been, and always will be, under his eyes, so that there is nothing future or past to his knowledge, but all things are present – present in such a way that he not only conceives them through ideas, as we have before us those things which our minds remember, but he truly looks upon them and discerns them as things placed before him. And this foreknowledge is extended throughout the universe to every creature. We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he determined with himself what he willed to become of each human being. For all are not created in equal condition (non enim pari conditione creantur omnes); but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any person has been directed (conditus) to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him or her as predestined to life or to death.”

So you want to be a Calvinist?
Please reread what John Calvin himself wrote and other writings.

1) Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxi.1, 5; in Joannis Calvini: Opera Selecta, ed. P. Barth and W. Niesel, vol.4 (Munich:Kaiser, 1931), 368.33-369.14; 373.33-374.17
2) The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister E. McGrath (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1995) pg. 232-233.

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