Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation/Predestination


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Part I... An Introduction to Doctrines of Grace, or Predestination (Aka Calvinism)

Carol Brooks.

Index To All Sections

You Are Here 001orange Section 1: An Introduction to John Calvin and his Doctrines of Grace
Section 2: Total Inability... The Cornerstone
Section 3: Unconditional Election
Section 4: Limited Atonement
Section 5: Irresistible Grace
Section 6: Perseverance of The Saints and Death Before Sin
Section 7: When the Gospel Becomes a Lie and Assurance of Salvation...
How Can Any Calvinist KNOW He is Saved?
Section 8: God.. God’s Sovereignty and Omnipotence. Hypocrisy Unlimited
Section 9: Conclusion
Section 10: Calvinism and The First 1500 Years. The Sins of Augustine


On This Page

Introduction To Doctrines of Grace
Meet John Calvin

Unfit To Be Called A Church Leader
The Historical Record
Exaggerated or Understated?
Character Vs. Theology?

The Institutes of the Christian Church Was Written by a Novice
Calvin's "Conversion"

Polluted Streams
"Principal Theological Creator of the Latin-Catholic system".


The Canons of Dordt

An Unsettled Theology

Proof Texts Vs. The General Tenor of Scripture


The underlying theme of Doctrines of Grace or Calvinism, as it is commonly called, is that from beginning to end, God alone is responsible for every aspect of salvation. Man contributes absolutely nothing to his own salvation and, in fact, has no choice in whether he is saved or not.  Calvinism is based on five key teachings supposedly found in the Bible. The Calvinist Corner says [Emphasis Added]

    The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on Gods word. It focuses on God's sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation. [1]

If Calvinism is a very "high view" of Scripture, then it is no wonder that God first proclaimed his message of salvation to peasants tending their sheep. Once the highly 'educated' got a hold of the extremely straightforward and uncomplicated message of salvation, they turned it into a highly philosophical ideology tainted by bits and pieces of other religions and philosophies, to say nothing of man's assumptions and presumptions. The resulting concoction bearing little resemblance to the original message. I have often wondered if the angels who delivered the message are even now scratching their heads in perplexity wondering if this was the same 'glad tidings' they were sent to announce.

In view of the fact that God 'wrote' one book that not only detailed His plan of salvation, but threw in the entire spiritual history of man from beginning to end, how could anyone in their right mind believe that the volumes of writings that John Calvin devoted to various facets of this one topic, not to mention the complicated tangle of ideology noted below (under An Unsettled Theology) could possibly have anything to do with the simplicity of the Bible's message. Why have we forgotten the following warning? [Emphasis Added]

    "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" [2 Corinthians 11:3].

Why do Calvinist scholars have to resort to complex and intricate distinctions between electing grace and common grace, and the various "wills' of God including, but perhaps not limited to, perceptive will, preferential or desiderative will, permissive will, decreed will etc.

Would I be dismissed as too dumb to comprehend these elaborate arguments? Perhaps! But I am not dumb enough to miss the fact that all too often people who resort to these tortured and convoluted rationalizations often fall prey to the same mistakes other teachers of false doctrine do.. They pull verses totally out of context.

    [A Note On Context] No Biblical author simply strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another. Since each verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make, no one should read, much less base their beliefs on stand alone verses. The reader can only be accurately informed by God's Word the way it is written… in its context. Understanding what the author meant comes not only from the words he wrote, but also by what the overall message of the chapter is intended to convey.

    Since virtually all verses in the Bible can only be fully understood and assessed as part of the surrounding verses, which form the setting, or the big picture, you should ignore verse numbers and read at least several paragraphs, if not the whole chapter more than once... perhaps several times. This will almost always result in the discovery of a very clear theme and distinct message, which will often illuminate or throw a different light on a particular verse. In other words the verse may not mean exactly what you had been lead to believe, or thought it meant.

    But, since this takes a little more time, study and effort, most Christians are content with allowing a verse to be wrested from it's context, and used to convey whatever meaning the speaker/author wishes it to convey which, all too often, is nothing but a corruption of the truth. This perversion of Scriptures is done (whether intentionally or unintentionally) in order to persuade men that everything the false teacher says is based on Biblical truth.

    Is that a lot of work? Certainly. But, the Bible does NOT say "sit back and let your beliefs be determined by someone who has arrived at his or her own conclusions and quotes verses at you to back them up". What the Bible says is "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth". [2 Timothy 2:15].

    The ONLY place you can go to rightly handle the Word of Truth is in the Word of Truth. [See Context Is Crucial]

In short Calvinism, built more upon human logic and philosophy than upon the plain teaching of God's Word, contradicts way too many Scriptures, emphasizes God's sovereignty to the point of severely downplaying what the Bible says about His love and mercy. It totally ignores plain teachings about man’s responsibility and God-given free will.  As David Servant perfectly expresses it

    Calvinists dive into a haystack to find a needle, and when they are pricked by something sharp, they exclaim, “This isn't a stack of hay, its a stack of needles, just as I suspected!” [2]

Yet so many churches teach it, so many books and online articles are written about it that, to the average person exposed to this avalanche of argument, it must seem inconceivable that Calvinism is not Biblical.  It certainly looks and sounds like it came straight from the mouths of the apostles and prophets themselves. But those that have not been overawed and brainwashed by man's much speaking and seven syllable words and willing to read what the Bible itself has to say, will find otherwise.

The apostle Paul said, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." [2 Timothy 2:15]. It cannot be stressed how important it is to rightly interpret or "divide" the Scriptures since this will determine if we are mature in our thinking, or if we are "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" [Ephesians 4:14].

But first, a little history..

John Calvin
Calvinism is named after the 16th century (1509 – 1564) John Calvin, who was an influential French theologian during the Protestant Reformation. While Calvin’s contemporary Martin Luther was also essentially in agreement with the major points of the doctrine, it was John Calvin that was the principal figure in the development and articulation of this doctrine and it's best known proponent.

Loraine Boettner, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and a well known and oft quoted reformed theologian and author made the comment that...

    Augustine had taught the essentials of the system a thousand years before Calvin was born, and the whole body of the leaders of the Reformation movement taught the same. But it was given to Calvin with his deep knowledge of Scripture, his keen intellect and systematizing genius, to set forth and defend these truths more clearly and ably than had ever been done before. [3]

Apparently, apart from Augustine, the first 1500 years of church history was filled with ignoramuses who, in spite of their deep devotion to the Word of God, never managed to figure out that predestination was a basic tenet of the Bible. Somehow this foundational and critical doctrine managed to elude the grasp and understanding of men like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Gaul, Clement of Alexandria and countless others. [See The First 1500 Years of Church History] It took one and a half centuries before Calvin and the Reformers came along and 'discovered', then fully developed, this doctrine which, until then, had only been endorsed by Augustine, who was wrong about almost everything else he believed and taught [See The Sins of Augustine].

(Note: This is almost an identical situation to that of the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, which was not believed by anyone in the church until about two hundred years ago. [See The Rapture]

Anyway, Calvin's magnum opus was a massive and extremely philosophical account of Protestant doctrine called The Institutes of the Christian Church, which remains highly influential in the Western world and, even today, widely read by theological students. An article on the Grace Online Library web site says

    "Calvin was the name of a man, a great servant of God" and "every professing Protestant could profitably read" his Institutes. [4]

Exactly how skewed can we get? According to the Scriptures John Calvin was not even worthy to be considered a Christian leader, leave alone be "a great servant of God".

Dr Loraine Boettner also made the following statement

    "in the cogency of his logical analysis he possessed a weapon which made him terrible to his enemies". [3]

Unfortunately there were a few other things slightly more threatening than "logical analysis" that made Calvin "terrible to his enemies".

Unfit To Be Called A Church Leader

The Historical Record
When Calvin was invited to Geneva to build the new Reformed church, he attempted to impose such a strict moral code on the people that they saw his reforms as another version of the papacy. In April 1537, at Calvin's instigation, city officials were commanded to go from house to house to ensure that the inhabitants subscribed to his Confession of Faith. Many who opposed him were either imprisoned, flogged, banished, or put to death. The story of Michael Servetus is probably the best known, although far from the only example of Calvin's ruthlessness.

In about 1553, Calvin "asked the councils of Geneva to arrest Michael Servetus that he considered a heretic, since Servetus criticised the doctrine of the Trinity, opposed infant baptism and rejected the doctrine of Original Sin. Calvin brought charges against him, carried on the debate to prove that his heresy was threatening the Church of Christ, and approved of the verdict to put him to death (although he urged beheading instead of burning at the stake)". [5]

Yet note what Calvin himself said about "ecclesiastical discipline", some six years after he had Servetus killed...[Emphasis Added]

    First, the object in view is to prevent the occurrence of scandals, and when they arise, to remove them. In the use two things are to be considered: first, that this spiritual power be altogether distinct from the power of the sword; secondly, that it be not administered at the will of one individual, but by a lawful consistory (1 Cor. 5:4). Both were observed in the purer times of the Church. For holy bishops did not exercise their power by fine, imprisonment, or other civil penalties, but as became them, employed the word of God only. For the severest punishment of the Church, and, as it were, her last thunderbolt, is excommunication, which is not used unless in necessity This, moreover, requires neither violence nor physical force, but is contented with the might of the word. [5]

In a sidebar to the above comment, The Christian Classics Ethereal Library which carries Calvin's entire Institutes online says

    "It is truly unfortunate that these sound sentiments were not heeded by Calvin himself" and "Calvin even wrote a small book defending the death sentence upon Servetus". [5]

Exaggerated or Understated?
Modern defenders often claim that the charges against Calvin are highly exaggerated ... made by those that "hate" him. (we must have some peculiar affinity to the word hate, since we so freely apply it to anyone who disagrees with, or points out a problem with another person). In this regard I found an article on biblestudying.net especially interesting, since they, in their words... [Emphasis Added]

    "wanted to present an accurate picture of his (Calvin's) character as reflected by his activities", and "assemble only those events that can easily be found in the historical record". [6]

For this purpose they chose a biography of Calvin written by Bernard Cottret [7], who is described on Amazon as "more historian than theologian" who "brings a useful objectivity to this study". [All Emphasis Added]

    With section headings like "Neither Dictator nor Fundamentalist," Cottret seems to want to present Calvin in a neutral yet also favorable light as a man of deep conviction with both good points and bad, timid and yet powerful. Cottret always somehow avoids condemning Calvin even at points in the book where he is forced to cover the darkest history of Geneva.

    Cottret attempts to paint a fair and at the same time reverent view of John Calvin. The two most dramatic criticisms against Calvin are probably the claims that he ruled Geneva as a dictatorial theocracy and that he was a cruel, vengeful man who murdered his enemies by means of public executions. Cottret denies both of these criticisms.

    Cottret prefers to view Calvin as a moderate in comparison to the culture and times in which he lived. Cottret cites the Spanish Inquisition as an example. And while his book does discuss a number of executions, Cottret prefers to view them with isolating language in isolated contexts, which has the seemingly intentional effect of minimizing the force of these events.

They go on to say that Cottret's refusal to paint Calvin in negative terms actually makes his book a "perfect selection" for their article

    ".... It is precisely Cottret's favorable portrayal of Calvin that gives credit to the reality of the no less than 38 executions recorded in his book (despite Cottret's careful downplaying)... Make no mistake, history clearly records that Calvin both directly and indirectly had both men and women jailed, tortured, and executed. He not only approved of such practices, but instigated them" [6]. [Emphasis Added]

Here is a partial list of the sins of Calvin taken from Cottret's biography [7]...

    "9. (page 180) February 1545 - "Freckles" Dunant dies under torture without admitting to the crime of spreading the plague. His body was then dragged to the middle of town and burned.

    10. (page 180) 1545 - Following the incident with Dunant, several more men and women were apprehended including a barber and a hospital supervisor who had "made a pact with the devil."

    11. (page 180) March 7, 1545 - Two women executed by burning at the stake (presumably for the crime of sorcery, i.e. spreading the plague). CALVIN INTERCEDED apparently to have them executed sooner rather than later after additional time in prison. The Council followed his directive happily and urged the executioner to "be more diligent in cutting off the hands of malefactors."

    12. (page 180) 1545 - more executions, tortures carefully watched to prevent death. Most of the tortured refused to confess. Means of death varied a little to include decapitation. All under the crime of spreading the plague. Some committed suicide in their cells to avoid torture, afterward the rest were handcuffed. One woman then threw herself through a window.

    13. (page 208) 1545 - CALVIN HAD the magistrates seize Belot, an Anabaptist (against infant baptism) for stating that the Old Testament was abolished by the New. Belot was chained and tortured.

    14. (page 180) May 16, 1545 - The last execution concerning the plague outbreak, bringing the total dead to 7 men and 24 women. A letter from CALVIN attests to 15 of these women being burned at the stake. CALVIN'S only concern was that the plague had not come to his house. 

    16. (page 190) July 1546 - Jacques Gruet was accused of writing a poster against Calvin. He was arrested and tortured until he admitted to the crime. He was then executed. [6]

[Full List Available at www.biblestudying.net/johncalvin.html]

It seems painfully obvious that John Calvin was a hard and inflexible man, who used demeaning language to denigrate all who did not see eye to eye with him. As I understand it, there is not one mention of God's love for the lost in all volumes of his Institutes. So the possibility that John Calvin created a god in his own image has to be taken very seriously.

Character Vs. Theology?
I recently read somewhere that even Calvin were as bad as some people make him out to be, it would not mean that his exegesis and theology were wrong, it would just mean that he was a "bad and violent leader"... which is the proverbial load of manure. While it may be true that a person's theories can not always be evaluated based upon their character, character is...

    "relevant to a man's qualifications for a position or office. We would not want to select a convicted child abuser as the new kindergarten teacher. The historical record of their character does invalidate their worthiness to be considered for that position... The point is that not only can and should we evaluate Calvin's doctrine based upon scripture and reason, but we can and should also evaluate John Calvin's personal character and history to determine whether or not he is qualified to hold the position of Christian teacher and leader. [Emphasis Added] [6]

While defenders of Calvin say

    "every age must be judged according to its prevailing law; and Calvin cannot be fairly accused of any greater offence than that with which we may be charged for punishing certain crimes with death." [8]

    although "it is true that Calvin and his fellow pastors in Geneva were involved in the death of Servetus"... "it would be difficult to find any church leader in the 16th century who advocated a more gentle approach". [9]

While the second comment above does not seem to accord with the historical data, the first one is absolute nonsense. God Himself prescribed death for certain offenses and did not hesitate to carry out the sentences without hesitation. Besides which the death penalty happens to be the price for ALL sin for ALL people for ALL time who have not accepted God's offer of mercy. Moreover the crimes we condemn people to death for are violent ones that usually involve the taking of life... we do not prescribe the death penalty for those that disagree with our religious views or that we consider heretics. 

Remember the New Testament's list of required characteristics for a leader of the Christian community.

    This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous [I Timothy 3:1-3]

    For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; [Titus 1: 7-8]

Calvin was far far worse that a brawler or striker which, in itself, would have disqualified him as a Church leader. The man that so many in the modern Church treat with reverent respect was a torturer and an executioner ... unfit to be called a Church leader

The question also has to be asked that if John Calvin made such a thorough study of the Scriptures that enabled him to come up with vast writings on God's salvation plan, how did he miss the verses in the New Testament that very clearly list character requirements for leadership in the Christian church. And if, as it seems, his study of the Scriptures was not quite as thorough as is made out to be, where did he get his version of Christianity? 

This question is actually quite easily answered.

The Institutes of the Christian Church Was Written by a Novice
Eventually Calvin was chucked out of Geneva and moved to Strasbourg in France where he began writing commentaries on the Bible. As said before, his magnum opus was a massive and extremely philosophical account of Protestant doctrine called The Institutes of the Christian Church, which remains highly influential in the Western world and, even today, widely read by theological students.

Perhaps the endless commentaries Calvin wrote may have been intended to explain scriptural writings but, in reality, they were arguments for his own theology, or what he believed were the basic tenets of Christianity. All the central principles of Calvinism are contained within these commentaries, which are "less an explanation of the Bible than a piece by piece construction of his theological, social, and political philosophy". [10]

But what is truly astounding is that at the time Calvin wrote The Institutes, he was a brand new convert. Brought up a devout Catholic, he had just recently been converted to Protestantism. While there is little doubt that Calvin was determined that Scripture be his sole authority, and that he was convinced that what he taught was true to God's word, how can anyone believe that even an unusually bright convert can became, in a few short months, mature enough in the Christian faith to write tomes on some of the deepest subjects in all Christianity.

Let's hear what Calvin himself said in the Preface of the 1557 Commentary on the Psalms [Emphasis Added]

    I was quite surprised to find that before a year had elapsed, (from his "conversion") all who had any desire after purer doctrine were continually coming to me to learn, although I myself was as yet but a mere novice and tyro (A beginner in learning something). [11]

A miniscule amount of common sense would have one agreeing with Dave Hunt who said...

    "Unquestionably, his Institutes could not possibly have come from a deep and fully developed evangelical understanding of Scripture. Instead, they came from the energetic enthusiasm of a recent law graduate and fervent student of philosophy and religion, a young genius devoted to Augustine and a newly adopted cause. … He sought with his brilliant legal mind to make up for what he lacked in spiritual maturity" [12]

Although he had scarcely begun to walk with the Lord when he wrote it, The Institutes has remained important to Protestant theology for almost five centuries. Tim Perrine, CCEL Staff Writer says it is

    Written to "aid those who desire to be instructed in the doctrine of salvation" [13]

That's odd! For some strange reason I thought we already had a book that instructed us in the doctrine of salvation.

"Calvin's Conversion"
Much has been made of Calvin's supposed conversion experience. However nowhere in his voluminous writings does Calvin make more than a passing reference to this experience, therefore one cannot be certain if the "conversion" he fleetingly refers to is even the New Birth. In the preface of the Commentary on the Psalms (1557) Calvin says that his father put him in the study of law since this profession usually made wealthy men, but God gave him a different direction. However he was still devoted to Catholicism until a "sudden conversion" which he does not elaborate on.

    And first, since I was too obstinately devoted to the superstitions of Popery to be easily extricated from so profound an abyss of mire, God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected from one at my early period of life. Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off other studies, I yet pursued them with less ardor. [11]

What is nothing short of amazing is that The Institutes was published in Latin in 1536, yet regarding his conversion experience, "most biographers of Calvin can be divided into two groups .. some of them believe that it occurred during the early period of his studies at University in Paris. Secondly, others argue that it took place at a much later stage. Hence a precise date could vary from 1528 to 1539". [Emphasis Added] [14].

In other words, no one is even sure whether Calvin was even converted when he wrote the Institutes.

Be that as it may, what is truly damning is that Calvin was supposedly converted when he had Michael Servetus killed in 1553. So it is more than feasible to wonder if his "conversion" was nothing more than a realization that there were indeed problems with Catholicism. However ...

Polluted Streams

...  there is ample evidence that Calvin never freed himself from the Catholic church, apparently considering himself a Christian from the time he was baptized as an infant in the Roman Catholic church. In his words... [Emphasis Added]

    We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though, when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it wipes and washes away all our defilements. [15].

One has to wonder whether he believed he was one of the "elect" because of this baptism. But there is more..

Many leading Calvinists agree that the writings of Augustine were the actual source of most of what is known as Calvinism today. Both Martin Luther and Calvin basically followed Augustine (A.D. 354–430) in areas of predestination and the sovereignty of God [16] and could very well have rightly have been called Augustinians.

The basic foundation for Calvin's extreme theology that denied the human will were inspired by Augustine who taught that foreknowledge was the same as predestination. He said

    "Consequently sometimes the same predestination is signified also under the name of foreknowledge" [17]

As said in a 1986 article in Time Magazine called The Second Founder of the Faith, "Long before Calvin, Augustine championed predestination; before Luther, he taught salvation by God's mysterious grace, not by good works. [18] Certainly, in his Institutes Calvin quotes Augustine some 400 times, perceiving him as "the best and most faithful witness of all antiquity Note the following 11 positive references to Augustine in one chapter of Volume III. [19]

    For Augustine, rightly expounding this passage, says that where power is united to endurance, God does not permit, but rules

     I at least hold with Augustine that when God makes sheep out of wolves, he forms them again by the powerful influence of grace, that their hardness may thus be subdued, and that he does not convert the obstinate, because he does not exert that more powerful grace, a grace which he has at command, if he were disposed to use it (August. de Prædest. Sanct., Lib. 1, c. 2).

    I say with Augustine, that the Lord has created those who, as he certainly foreknew, were to go to destruction, and he did so because he so willed. Why he willed it is not ours to ask, as we cannot comprehend, nor can it become us even to raise a controversy as to the justice of the divine will. Whenever we speak of it, we are speaking of the supreme standard of justice.

     If your mind is troubled, decline not to embrace the counsel of Augustine,

    This question, like others, is skillfully explained by Augustine:

    I will not hesitate, therefore, simply to confess with Augustine that the will of God is necessity, and that every thing is necessary which he has willed;

    Here the words of Augustine most admirably apply:

    The great odium to which Augustine was at one time subjected on this head he wiped away in his treatise De Correptione et Gratia

     “But why (says Augustine) have some ears, and others not? Who has known the mind of the Lord? Are we, therefore, to deny what is plain because we cannot comprehend what is hid?” This is a faithful quotation from Augustine; but because his words will perhaps have more authority than mine, let us adduce the following passage from his treatise, De Bone Persever., cap. 15.

    Therefore, Augustine not undeservedly orders such, as senseless teachers or minister and ill-omened prophets, to retire from the Church.

and, as another example, there are 13 such references to Augustine in Chapter 5 of Book 2. [23]

So who was Augustine?
Philip Schaff, Protestant theologian and a historian of the Christian church, called Augustine the “principal theological creator of the Latin-Catholic system [(History, Vol. 3, page 1018)]. While the Time Magazine article quoted above says of Augustine... "Only a handful of thinkers have had equivalent influence over such a span of years", and "Augustine more than any other writer defined Roman Catholic teaching on the Trinity, conditions for waging a "just war" and the "original sin" of Adam and Eve that corrupts all humanity". They go on to quote some very prominent Catholics..

    St. Jerome, the translator of the Latin Bible who wrote approvingly, "Catholics revere you and accept you as the second founder of the ancient faith, and -- which is a mark of greater fame -- all the heretics hate you."

    Pope John Paul II, in an anniversary pronouncement, terms Augustine the "common father of our Christian civilization." [This was the 1600th anniversary of Augustine's conversion]

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican's doctrinal overseer, says that through Augustine "I learned to believe, to know faith and to love the church." [18]

That's quite a Who's Who of the Catholic world yet Calvin, a prominent theologian of the reformation, was in almost complete agreement with Augustine, saying [All Emphasis Added]

    In a word, Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fulness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings. But that I may not, on the present occasion, be too prolix, I will be content with three or four instances of his testimony, from which it will be manifest that he does not differ from me one pin's point. And it would be more manifest still, could the whole line of his confession be adduced, how fully and solidly he agrees with me in every particular. [20]

In view of the endorsements by prominent Catholics, an examination of some of Augustine's beliefs and teachings should not really bring any surprises. For example Augustine believed that salvation is not to be found outside of a 'pure'  Catholic Church, which is the supreme teaching authority because of apostolic succession. He believed that the Catholic Church can forgive sins and that tradition is on par with the authority of the Scriptures. Furthermore he believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, to say nothing of purgatory and praying for the departed. [For Details See The Sins of Augustine].

In view of the fact that Augustine's belief system was so skewed on the major points of doctrine listed above, it seems to me that we should be eyeing with deep suspicion anything that he wrote. Why are we not proceeding with the underlying assumption that a man who's theology was so completely off base, may not be right about anything?  Instead Evangelical Protestants consider him "to be in the tradition of the Apostle Paul as the theological fountainhead of the Reformation teaching on salvation and grace". [21]

What exactly is wrong with us?

Anyway the upshot of all this is that Calvin, the supposed Catholic convert, learned from Augustine who was the “principal theological creator of the Latin-Catholic system".

And what this unholy alliance hatched was what eventually came to be known under the acronym...

TULIP, which eventually became the cornerstone of Reformed theology came into being when some of Calvin's followers attempted to simplify some of his theology and writings by using an acronym, where each letter stood for one of the five fundamental tenets of Calvinism (all of which are found in Calvin’s Institutes). TULIP is a more comprehensible, but accurate representation of Calvin's views.

    Total Depravity/Inability. As a consequence of Adam' sin (also called The Fall), every person born into the world is so morally corrupt, and so enslaved to sin that he is incapable of repenting and believing the Gospel, and worthy of nothing but everlasting damnation. It is only God's grace that enables him to choose to follow God, repent and have faith in Christ for salvation. [See Original Sin.. Fact or Fable]

    Unconditional Election. Before the creation of the world God selected a portion of humanity to be saved. This election is not based on God looking into the future and seeing that the person would have some particular virtues or faith, but is a decision based solely upon God's will. (Or as some Calvinists like to put it.. His good pleasure).

    Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement). Jesus on Calvary bore the full punishment due his elect, ensuring their final salvation. He did not die for the non-elect, who are excluded from the Atonement.

    Irresistible or Efficacious Grace. (Efficacious means successful in producing a desired or intended result). God draws the sinner to Christ before he himself has a single thought of responding to the good news. In other words, faith is a gift imparted to the sinner, who is entirely passive in this act, therefore regeneration (the new birth) occurs before belief in Christ. (Efficacious means successful in producing a desired or intended result).

    Perseverance of the Saints, which is similar to the doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved, states that everyone truly regenerated by God's grace will never fall away and perish.

The Canons of Dordt:

Some years after John Calvin died, Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points, with his followers presenting their views in the Remonstrance of 1610. (I would like to make one thing absolutely clear, and that is that I have absolutely no idea what Arminianism believes or what it teaches and, at this precise point in time, I don't really care).

The Synod of Dordt was therefore held in Dordrecht in the Netherlands to settle these controversies. Although a Synod is an assembly of the clergy (and sometimes includes the laity) in a diocese or other division of a particular Church, this synod had not only Dutch delegates but twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries. The judicial decisions that they arrived at regarding the five main points of dispute were supposedly the true view "agreeing with God's Word", and have ever after been known as the Canons of Dordt.

However it doesn't seem that they settled anything with any degree of finality. Calvinism was and continues to be...

An Unsettled Theology
Note the following points made by David Cloud of The Fundamental Baptist Information Service [Emphasis Added]

    Calvinists are seriously divided among themselves and always have been. There is Supralapsarianism vs. Sublapsarianism vs. Infralapsarianism. “The Supralapsarians hold that God decreed the fall of Adam; the Sublapsarians, that he permitted it” (McClintock & Strong). The Calvinists at the Synod of Dort were divided on many issues, including lapsarianism. The Swiss Calvinists who wrote the Helvetic Consensus Formula in 1675 were in conflict with the French Calvinists of the School of Saumur. There are Strict Calvinists and Moderate Calvinists, Hyper and non-Hyper (differing especially on reprobation and the extent of the atonement and whether God loves all men), 5 pointers, 4 pointers, 3 pointers, 2 pointers. In America Calvinists were divided into Old School and the New School. As we have seen, the Calvinists of England were divided in the 19th century.

    Whenever, therefore, one tries to state TULIP theology and then refute it, there are Calvinists who will argue with you that you are misrepresenting Calvinism. It is not so much that you are misrepresenting Calvinism, though. You might be quoting directly from various Calvinists or even from Calvin himself. The problem is that you are misrepresenting THEIR Calvinism! There are Calvin Calvinists and Andrew Fuller Calvinists and Arthur W. Pink Calvinists and Presbyterian Calvinists and Baptist Calvinists and many other sorts of Calvinists. Many Calvinists have never read Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion for themselves. They are merely following someone who follows someone who allegedly follows Calvin (who, by his own admission, followed Augustine).

    Calvinists believe that they have the right to reject or modify some parts of, or conclusions of Calvin. I agree with them 100%, and I say, further, that we also have the right to reject the entire thing if we are convinced that it is not supported by Scripture! [22]

Proof Texts Vs. The General Tenor of Scripture
In an effort to make it seem Biblical (and I have no doubt that they believe it is), Calvinists focus on certain “proof texts” in the Scriptures, all the while ignoring the huge body of evidence that clearly contradicts their interpretation of these verses.

The problem with proof texts, favorite Scriptural verses and Bible reading plans is that rarely do they give the reader an overall view of the entire book. Focusing on short excerpts and isolated verses can get a person so bogged down in detail that they neglect to see the big picture. As an illustration, someone walking through the woods will see a lot of trees but, beautiful as they may be, he has no idea what the entire forest looks like. Focusing on individual brushstrokes will never give a person the slightest glimpse of what the whole painting is like. And since no artist ever painted a picture that consisted of merely brushstrokes, but used those individual strokes to work together towards the end result, the viewer has to step backwards and let the entire scene come into focus before he can appreciate what the artist is trying to convey.

And herein lies the problem with Calvinism and the Bible... the book of Romans in particular.

Why especially the book of Romans? While stepping back and understanding the big picture is necessary with every single book of the Bible, it is in Romans that Paul makes an extremely detailed defense of the Gospel. Paul did not simply string together a number of statements in some vague sort of order but masterfully built his case, one fact upon another much as an attorney will do in a court of law.

While, during the course of this article, we have addressed certain "proof texts" pulled from Romans to support Calvinism, these verses do not agree with the overall message of Romans. In fact, the case Paul takes so much trouble to build stands in direct contradiction to the Calvinistic doctrine. [For More Information see Calvinism and The Book of Romans].

Part II... Total Inability


End Notes
[1] The Five Points of Calvinism. http://calvinistcorner.com/tulip

[2] David Servant. The Five Points of Calvinism Considered.

[3] David J. Engelsmaon. A Defense of Calvinism as the Gospel.

[4] Loraine Boettner. Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Chapter I.

[5] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), reprinted 1983. Vol. IV. Chapter 11.  Of The Jurisdiction Of The Church, And The Abuses Of It, As Exemplified In The Papacy. Pgs. 2229-2230. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.vi.xii.html

[6] John Calvin: His Life in Geneva. http://www.biblestudying.net/johncalvin.html

[7] Calvin: A Biography, by Bernard Cottret, published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids, Michigan, copyright 2000

[8] William Wileman. Calvin and Servetus. © 2003 Banner of Truth.

[9] H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies. The Servetus Controversy.

[10] Dr. Richard Hooker, General Education faculty member. Washington State University,

[11] John Calvin. Commentary on Psalms - Volume 1. The Author’s Preface.
OR The Book Of Psalms By John Calvin. Translated From The Original Latin, And Collated With
The Author's French Version, By The Rev. James Anderson.

[12] Dave Hunt. What Love Is This?... Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God.” (2002 and 2004, Loyal Publishing), Pgs. 38, 39, 40

[13]Tim Perrine. CCEL Staff Writer. Book Information..Institutes of the Christian Religion

[14] H.B. Lee. Calvin’s Sudden Conversion (Subita Conversio) And Its Historical Meaning.

[15] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), reprinted 1983. Vol. IV. Chapter 15. - Of Baptism. Pg. 2514. 

[16] http://www.theopedia.com/Calvinism

[17] St. Augustine: Anti-Pelagian Writings. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf105.xxi.iii.xlix.html

[18] Religion: The Second Founder of the Faith. By Richard N. Ostling; Daniela Simpson/Rome, with other bureaus. Sep. 29, 1986 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,962430,00.html

[19] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), reprinted 1983. Vol. III. Chapter 23... Refutation Of The Calumnies By Which This Doctrine Is Always Unjustly Assailed. Pgs. 2226-2238. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.v.xxiv.html

[20] John Calvin, “A Treatise on the Eternal Predestination of God”. Calvin’s Calvinism. Page 38.
http://www.reformed.org/documents/calvin/calvin_predest_2.html#A TREATISE#A TREATISE

[21] Augustine of Hippo. From Theopedia. http://www.theopedia.com/Augustine

[22] David Cloud, Calvinism Debate. The Fundamental Baptist Information Service.


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