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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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What is Reformed Christian Theology?

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The Reformed faith is biblical Christianity in its truest and most consistent form. Broadly speaking, Reformed theology includes any system of belief that traces its roots back to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. Of course, the Reformers themselves traced their doctrine to Scripture, as indicated by their credo of “sola scriptura,” so Reformed theology is not a “new” belief system but one that seeks to continue apostolic doctrine. The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only" in English. The five solae articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice.

 

The “five solas” is a term used to designate five great foundational rallying cries of the Protestant reformers. They are as follows: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).

 

These “five solas” were developed in response to specific perversions of the truth that were taught by the corrupt Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Church taught that the foundation for faith and practice was a combination of the scriptures, sacred tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium and the pope; but the Reformers said, “No, our foundation is sola scriptura”. The Catholic Church taught that we are saved through a combination of God's grace, the merits that we accumulate through penance and good works, and the superfluity of merits that the saints before us accumulated; the reformers responded, “sola gratia”. The Catholic Church taught that we are justified by faith and the works that we produce, which the righteousness that God infuses in us through faith brings about. The reformers responded, “No, we are justified by faith alone, which lays hold of the alien righteousness of Christ that God freely credits to the account of those who believe”. The Catholic Church taught that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. The Reformers responded, “No, we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and we come to God through Christ Alone”. The Catholic Church adhered to what Martin Luther called the “theology of glory” (in opposition to the “theology of the cross”), in which the glory for a sinner's salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary and the saints, and partly to the sinner himself. The reformers responded, “No, the only true gospel is that which gives all glory to God alone, as is taught in the scriptures.”

 

Today, the Catholic Church teaches the same essential perversions of truth; and much of Protestantism has seen a regress to many of the same corruptions, in many circles and denominations. It is a pressing need for Christians everywhere to reaffirm and champion anew the “five solas” which underlay and gave impetus to the Protestant Reformation.

 

Authority of Scripture. Reformed theology teaches that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.

Sovereignty of God. Reformed theology teaches that God rules with absolute control over all creation. He has foreordained all events and is therefore never frustrated by circumstances. This does not limit the will of the creature, nor does it make God the author of sin.

Salvation by grace. Reformed theology teaches that God in His grace and mercy has chosen to redeem a people to Himself, delivering them from sin and death. The Reformed doctrine of salvation is commonly represented by the acrostic TULIP (also known as the five points of Calvinism). Calvinism is a rare theology: It can be simply explained using a five-letter acronym. This set of religious principles is the work of John Calvin (1509-1564), a French church reformer who had a permanent influence on several branches of Protestantism. Like Martin Luther before him, John Calvin broke from the Roman Catholic Church and based his theology on the Bible alone, not the Bible and tradition. After Calvin's death, his followers spread those beliefs throughout Europe and the American colonies. The five points of Calvinism can be remembered using the acronym TULIP:

 

T - "Total depravity," also called "total inability," asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person is enslaved to sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God but rather to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as they could be). This doctrine is derived from Augustine's explanation of Original Sin. While the phrases "totally depraved" and "utterly perverse" were used by Calvin, what was meant was the inability to save oneself from sin rather than being absent of goodness. Phrases like "total depravity" cannot be found in the Canons of Dort, and the Canons as well as later Reformed orthodox theologians arguably offer a more moderate view of the nature of fallen humanity than Calvin.

 

U - "Unconditional election" asserts that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, his choice is unconditionally grounded in his mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity to extend mercy to those he has chosen and to withhold mercy from those not chosen. Those chosen receive salvation through Christ alone. Those not chosen receive the just wrath that is warranted for their sins against God.

 

L - "Limited atonement," also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus's death. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power, but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is intended for some and not all. Some Calvinists have quipped, "The atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect," while other Calvinists find such wording confusing rather than helpful. All Calvinists would affirm that the blood of Christ was sufficient to pay for every single human being IF it were God's intention to save every single human being. But Calvinists are also quick to point out that Jesus did not spill a drop of blood in vain (Galatians 2:21), and therefore, we can only be sure that His blood sufficed for those for whom it was intended, however many (Matthew 26:28) or few (Matthew 7:14) that may be. Some Calvinists also teach that the atonement accomplished certain benefits for all mankind, albeit, not their eternal salvation. The doctrine is driven by the Calvinistic concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and their understanding of the nature of the atonement. At the Synod of Dort, both sides agreed that the atonement of Christ's death was sufficient to pay for all sin and that it was only efficacious for some (it only actually saved some). The controversy centered on whether this limited efficacy was based on God's election (the view of the Synod and of later Reformed theologians) or on the choice of each person and God's foreknowledge of that choice (the view of Arminius).

 

I - "Irresistible grace," also called "efficacious grace", asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that this purposeful influence of God's Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, "graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ." This is not to deny the fact that the Spirit’s outward call (through the proclamation of the Gospel) can be, and often is, rejected by sinners; rather, it’s that inward call which cannot be rejected. In fact, every saved person can testify how, at some point in their life, they “felt overwhelmingly compelled” to believe in Christ, as if they “had no choice but to follow Him.” This is what is meant by the effectual calling of God.

 

P - "Perseverance of the saints" (or perseverance of God with the saints) (the word "saints" is used to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not of those who are exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven) asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with (1 John 2:19), or, if they are saved but not presently walking in the Spirit, they will be divinely chastened (Hebrews 12:5–11) and will repent (1 John 3:6–9).

 

The necessity of evangelism. Reformed theology teaches that Christians are in the world to make a difference, spiritually through evangelism and socially through holy living and humanitarianism.

 

Other distinctives of Reformed theology generally include the observance of two sacraments (baptism and communion), a cessationist view of the spiritual gifts (the gifts are no longer extended to the church), and a non-dispensational view of Scripture. Held in high esteem by Reformed churches are the writings of John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, and Martin Luther. The Westminster Confession embodies the theology of the Reformed tradition. Modern churches in the Reformed tradition include Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and some Baptist.

 

Hyper-Calvinism

The Hyper-Calvinist emphasizes the sovereignty of God to such an extent that man's human responsibility is denied. In actuality, Hyper-Calvinism is a rejection of historic Calvinist thought. Hyper-Calvinism denies that the gospel call applies to all; and/or denies that faith is the duty of every sinner; and/or denies the gospel offer to the non-elect; and/or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal; and/or denies that there is such a thing as "common grace"; and/or denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect. Calvinists do not agree with the Hyper-Calvinists.

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Total depravity (also called total inability or total corruption) is a biblical doctrine closely linked with the doctrine of original sin as formalized by Augustine and advocated in many Protestant confessions of faith and catechisms, especially in Calvinism. The doctrine understands the Bible to teach that, as a consequence of the the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation.

 

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV)

 

Summary of the doctrine

 

The doctrine of total inability teaches that people are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, as he requires, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God. Even religion and philanthropy are destructive to the extent that these originate from a human imagination, passions, and will.

 

Total depravity does not mean, however, that people are as bad as possible. Rather, it means that even the good which a person may intend is faulty in its premise, false in its motive, and weak in its implementation; and there is no mere refinement of natural capacities that can correct this condition. Although total depravity is easily confused with philosophical cynicism, the doctrine teaches optimism concerning God's love for what he has made and God's ability to accomplish the ultimate good that he intends for his creation. In particular, in the process of salvation, it is argued that God overcomes man's inability with his divine grace and enables men and women to choose to follow him, though the precise means of this overcoming varies between the theological systems.

 

Biblical evidence for the doctrine

 

A number of passages are put forth to support the doctrine, including (quotations are from the ESV except where noted):

  • Genesis 6:5: "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
  • Jeremiah 13:23 (NIV): "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil."
  • John 6:44a: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."
  • Romans 3:10-11: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God."
  • Romans 8:7-9: "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him."
  • Ephesians 2:3b: "[We] were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
  • 1 Corinthians 2:14: "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

 

Aspects

 

Total inability

 

In John 6 Jesus said that, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him... This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." Apart from Christ, man is foolish, dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3), enslaved to sin (Romans 6:17), and following the spirit of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). "A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Corinthians 2:14). His wisdom is demonic and earthly (James 3:15). He cannot hear the word of Christ and God (John 8:43, 47). He is not able to subject his flesh to the law of God (Romans 8:7-8). Just as people cannot change the color of their skin, those who are accustomed to doing evil cannot do good (Jeremiah 13:23). Every intention of the thoughts of man's heart are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). The intention of man's heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). Surely we were brought forth in iniquity, and in sin were we conceived (Psalms 51:5)!

 

Contrary to the doctrine of universal prevenient grace, all of these passages show that, apart from being in Christ, our total depravity is actual and not hypothetical.

 

Extent and degree

 

Tim Challies writes, "We can put one drop of deadly poison in that glass and it renders that entire glass poisonous so that if you were to drink it, you would quickly drop dead. That one drop extended to every part of the glass even though the entire vessel is not filled with poison. This represents humans after the Fall. While they are not wholly corrupt, the corruption they do have extends to every part. And finally consider a third glass which is filled entirely with poison. From top to bottom there is nothing but deadly poison. This represents Satan, who the Bible portrays as being absolutely corrupt so there is no good left whatsoever, but this does not represent humans here on earth. Humans are not as depraved as they could possibly be."^[1]^

 

Deserving of eternal punishment

 

See Matthew 25:46, Jude 1:7, and 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.

 

"The reality of hell is God's clear indictment of the infiniteness of our guilt. If our corruption were not deserving of an eternal punishment God would be unjust to threaten us with a punishment so severe as eternal torment." – John Piper

 

Common objections

Faith precedes regeneration

 

Some object to the Calvinist understanding (that regeneration precedes faith) and contend that faith comes before conversion. Their position maintains that the Holy Spirit "regenerates" those who have believed; in other words, "I must put my faith in Christ, and then conversion will take place." However, the Bible says that one must first be called/drawn, and then he is able to trust in Jesus. In 1 Cor. 2:14, Paul says that the natural (unregenerate) man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Saving faith is actually the first act of the (regenerate) new creature in Christ. We choose Christ because he first chose us.

 

Libertarian freedom and universal prevenient grace

 

Some affirm that man would be bound by a sinful nature, a kind of depravity in which he is in bondage to and cannot escape. However, they say, to keep with libertarian freedom, God gives man universal prevenient grace in which he is able to escape just enough from his sinful nature and have the ability to choose.

 

Command implies moral ability

 

"Why would we be commanded to follow Jesus if we were not able to do so?" some have asked. The Bible is clear, however, that the law brings wrath and was added "that sin might increase" (Romans 5:20; Romans 7:13-14). Precisely because man cannot obey the law, it was commanded. This was to show our utter dependence on God's grace.

 

The Scriptures do teach that man is responsible, but they also teach that he is unable to turn from sin and trust in Christ if left to himself. The idea that responsibility implies ability is not a scriptural idea. The biblical commands to repent and believe (just like the commands to obey) do not imply ability. The command is based on man’s responsibility (i.e. his duty or obligation) and what he ought to do; and ought does not imply can. Human ability is not prerequisite to responsibility nor implied by the commands of Scripture.

 

Necessarily implies utter depravity

 

Others have objected that if we agree with Total Depravity then we are saying that any unregenerate person is incapable of making good choices.

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Election

 

In Christian theology, election refers to God's choosing of individuals or peoples to be the objects of his grace or to otherwise fulfill his purposes. Most often God's election is associated with his choice of individuals unto salvation. The Calvinist view of election (also known as unconditional election) teaches that in eternity God chose some individuals from the mass of fallen humanity unto salvation without regard to any merit or foreseen faith in them, but solely based on His sovereign intentions.

 

Election and predestination are very similar concepts to the point that the terms can sometimes be used interchangeably. However, there is a difference in the emphasis of the two terms. Election primarily has in view God's sovereign selection, whereas predestination accents the purpose or goal of His election. Scripture clearly teaches both election and predestination; however, there are a variety of views as to who, when, why, and how God does so.

 

Conditional election

 

Jacobus Arminius disagreed with the Calvinist understanding of election, as reflected in the Belgic Confession. Upon his death, Arminius' followers drew up Five articles of Remonstrance, a document opposing some of the prevailing Calvinist views in the Dutch church.

 

Article I. That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ's sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John iii. 36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," and according to other passages of Scripture also. Article IV. That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of an good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting; awakening, following, and co-operative grace, elm neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost, -Acts vii., and elsewhere in many places.

 

Thus in this view, God's choice of individuals for salvation is not unconditional. It is conditioned upon God's foreknowledge of (enduring) faith in individuals which is made possible because of God's prevenient grace. That is, God's prevenient grace enables mankind to make the choice to believe, obey and persevere in faith, but they can resist this grace and choose to be lost. Those that God foresees will believe, obey and endure to the end (as enabled by His grace), are the ones whom He chooses from the beginning for salvation. The choice to be chosen is ultimately based on the individual, not on God, whom they insist wants all to be saved.

 

Arminians use primarily Rom 8:29 ("those whom He foreknew, He also predestined") and 1 Pet 1:1-2 ("chosen according to the foreknowledge of God") to argue that foreknowledge of faith is the basis of election. They also argue from deductive logic based on God's character, and the necessity of free will for man to be morally responsible.

 

Corporate election

 

An alternative understanding of Election found in Arminianism ^[1]^ is that Christ is primarily God's elect, and that through Christ's redemptive work God has purposed to form a people to be His body (who become part of the Elect/ Christ). This election is freely offered to all. Anyone who wants to be identified with Christ, becomes part of the elect, and is assured of salvation. But at the same time they can lose that salvation if they cease to be identified with Christ.

 

An analogy used is that, Christ is the captain of a ship called "elect" (which is the Church), this ship is on a secure journey towards salvation. It is the individual's choice whether he wants to be on this ship or not. If the individual does, he is part of the elect and his salvation is secure, but if he chooses to bail out, then he's no longer part of the elect and he's lost.

 

Thus in biblical passages mentioning/alluding to God's election, the elect refers to an undefined group of elect people in Christ, not specifically chosen individuals. For example,

 

"You did not choose Me but I chose you (plural)..." (John 15:16a NASB) - The Church did not choose Christ but Christ the Church

"What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;" (Rom 11:7 NASB) - believing Jews obtained it, the rest were hardened

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Thess 5:9 NASB)- God did not destine the Church for wrath but for salvation

etc...

 

Calvinist argument

 

Regarding this view, John Piper (a Calvinist theologian) says,

 

First notice what the point of God's choosing is in 1 Corinthians 1:27-30. 27 God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. What this text says very clearly is that God chose particular kinds of people to be in the church. He did not just choose the church and leave its composition to man. He chose foolish individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some weak individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some low and despised individuals and called them into Christ. So that no one might boast in anyone but the Lord.And then to make this crystal clear he said in verse 30 (literally): "From him [God] you are in Christ Jesus." Or as the NASB says, "By his doing you are in Christ Jesus." Or the NIV: "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus." In other words, it is just as though Paul knew that someone would come along some day and say that God does not choose who is in Christ, but only chooses Christ and any who put themselves in Christ. So he says, in verses 27-29, that God chose the individuals who would make up the church in Christ. And he says in verse 30 that it is by God's doing that they are put in Christ.

 

Michael Browne, author of The Biblical Doctrine of Substitution: And a Defence of Divine Sovereignty: including an excursus on Election; Corporate or Individual? If individuals are not involved in God's election but only the Church viewed as a corporate whole, we are at a loss to know how it is possible for God to elect the Church without in any way being responsible for the election of any individual saint who forms a part of it. Christ, on the other hand, states that as the Good Shepherd He calleth His own sheep by name and leadth them out; and as the Door, pictures His own sheep entering one by one ('if any man') through faith in Him unto salvation (John 10:3,7,9).

 

Paul, in Romans 9, sets out to prove that God’s salvation-righteousness was never conditioned upon birth or family privilege, neither upon personal merit or good works (the corporate election argument of the Jew, with his faith in the law). No, salvation has been always on the basis of divine individual election. It is God alone Who, on the ground of His sovereign grace and mercy, unconditionally chooses whom He will for salvation and blessing. Thus, He had opened the flood-gates of salvation now to Gentiles. Paul then gives sound scriptural examples that God had always acted in this way, even from within the privileged elect nation of Israel. He cites three incontrovertible examples of individual and unconditional election: Isaac and not Ishmael (Romans 9:6-9); Jacob and not Esau (Romans 9:10-13); and Moses, not Pharaoh (Romans 9:14-18). In Romans 9 we are on the ground of individual election to salvation.

 

John Calvin

 

For John Calvin (1509-1564), the doctrine of "eternal election" refers to both the predestination of the elect and the reprobate ^[4]^.

 

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, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death...

 

The ultimate cause of both election and reprobation is the secret council of God, and not any cause in the individuals (whether good or bad).

 

They [those who object to "eternal election"] add also, that it is not without cause the vessels of wrath are said to be fitted for destruction, and that God is said to have prepared the vessels of mercy, because in this way the praise of salvation is claimed for God, whereas the blame of perdition is thrown upon those who of their own accord bring it upon themselves. But were I to concede that by the different forms of expression Paul softens the harshness of the former clause, it by no means follows, that he transfers the preparation for destruction to any other cause than the secret counsel of God. This, indeed, is asserted in the preceding context, where God is said to have raised up Pharaoh, and to harden whom he will. Hence it follows, that the hidden counsel of God is the cause of hardening.

 

The elect are saved based on God's free mercy, while the reprobate are excluded from it by God's righteous and "incomprehensible" judgement.

 

...We maintain that this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment...

 

All elect individuals, including those from the O.T. belong to One seed (Jesus Christ), and are ultimately connected to God the Father (not Abraham).

 

These [elect individuals] are considered as belonging to that one seed of which Paul makes mention, (Rom 9: 8; Gal 3: 16, &c). For although adoption was deposited in the hand of Abraham, yet as many of his posterity were cut off as rotten members, in order that election may stand and be effectual, it is necessary to ascend to the head in whom the heavenly Father has connected his elect with each other, and bound them to himself by an indissoluble tie.

 

The evidences of election (today) are calling and justification, while the marks of reprobation are either a lack of knowledge of Jesus Christ or a lack of sanctification.

 

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.

 

Westminster Confession of Faith

 

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[Eph 1:11, Rom 9:15, 18; 11:33; Heb 6:17] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[Jas 1:13, 17; 1 John 1:5] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. [Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; Matt 17:12; John 19:11, Prov 16:33] V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory,[Eph 1:4,9,11; Rom 8:30; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Thess 5:9] out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto;[Rom 9:11, 13, 16; Eph 1:4, 9] and all to the praise of His glorious grace. [Eph 1:6, 12] (italics added) VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto.[1 Pet 1:2; Eph 1:4, 5; 2:10; 2 Thess 2:13] Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,[1 Thess 5:9, Tit 2:14] are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,[Rom 8:30; Eph 1:5; 2 Thess 2:13] and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation.[1 Pet 1:5] Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.[John 6:64-65; 8:47; 10:26; 17:9; Rom 8:28; 1 John 2:19] Thus, God's election is unchangable, it permanently ordains what will happen, but at the same time in a way that does not hinder the individuals' free will or choice, rather it establishes it (election ensures that the choice/possibility is real). It is not based on anything in the individual; neither good motives or good actions, since both are evil continually (in this way it is unconditional). And that there are means God has ordained, by which the elect must be saved. They must be called, justified, sanctified, persevere in faith, etc. to be saved, and they all will be saved and no one else.

 

See Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter III "Of God's Eternal Decree".

 

Notes

 

↑ Arminians are not so much insistent on conditional election as much as they are opposed to unconditional election.

↑ Taken from "God has chosen us in Him before the Foundation of the Earth", sermon by Piper

↑ The Biblical Doctrine of Substitution: And a Defence of Divine Sovereignty: including an excursus on Election; Corporate or Individual? ISBN 1-901193-70-5, Moray Books (1997).

↑ Book 3, Chapter 23 of the Institutes, titled "Refutation of the calumnies by which this doctrine [eternal election] is always unjustly assailed" (brackets inserted)- which he defends both election and reprobation. For Calvin, there is no separate doctrine of reprobation, as it falls under the doctrine of "eternal election."

 

 

 

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Definite atonement

 

The doctrine of definite atonement (or more commonly, limited atonement) addresses the purpose of the atoning death of Christ. It maintains that God's design and intent in sending Christ to die on the cross was to pay for the sins and secure the redemption of those whom God has predetermined to save, namely the elect. Therefore, the primary benefits of his death (especially as an atonement) were designed for and accrue only to believers.

 

As R. L. Dabney has said, "Christ's sacrifice has purchased and provided for the effectual calling of the elect, with all the graces which insure their faith, repentance, justification, perseverance, and glorification."^ [1]^

 

Limited atonement is also one of the "five points of Calvinism" denoted by the "L" in the acrostic TULIP. This doctrine stands in contradistinction to the theory of universal atonement which maintains that whatever Christ accomplished on the cross, he accomplished for all alike—both those who are finally saved and those who are eternally condemned. Limited atonement is a characteristic of Calvinism, just as universal atonement is a characteristic of Arminianism.

 

Terms used

 

The most common term for this doctrine is "Limited atonement." Most Calvinists actually prefer the term "definite atonement." Other terms found in the literature virtually synonymous with the concept are: "particular atonement", "particular redemption", and in a strict sense, "penal substitutionary atonement."

 

John Owen's triple choice

 

The Puritan theologian, John Owen, considering the design of the atonement, suggested the following:God imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent the pains of hell for, either: All the sins of all men. All the sins of some men, or Some sins of all men. In which case it may be said: If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved. If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. But if the first be true, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, "Because of their unbelief." I ask, "Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it is, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!" – John Owen

 

Common misunderstandings

 

This doctrine often finds many objections, mostly from those who think that Limited Atonement does damage to evangelism. We have already seen that Christ will not lose any that the father has given to him (John 6:37). Citing a common argument by Puritan John Owen, some Calvinists insist that Christ's death was not a death of potential atonement for all people. They argue that Limited Atonement requires this. According to this argument, believing that Jesus' death was a potential, symbolic atonement for anyone who might possibly, in the future, accept him trivializes Christ's act of atonement. Christ died to atone for specific sins of specific sinners. If Christ's death is merely potential, then it did not accomplish salvation.

 

On the other hand, many Calvinists take 1 Timothy 2:5-6 at face value when it says Christ died for all, not just all the elect. Examples of Calvinists who say this include D. A. Carson, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and J. I. Packer. How can these two claims be reconciled? First, they say that Christ's death is not merely potential. Instead, it is actual for those who are elect because the elect are the only people whose sins are actually atoned for. On the other hand, it could have covered the sins of those who are not elect, had they been elect. In that sense, it potentially covers all. Furthermore, we do not know who is elect, and therefore when the gospel is preached to all, as it is commanded, anyone who does in fact repent and believe will be saved. In that sense, the gospel can be shared with all, telling people that if they respond in faith they will indeed be saved. This statement is true of everyone, whether elect or reprobate (those who are not the elect). So in this sense Christ died potentially for all, because anyone who does respond will be saved. Since the Bible speaks this way, with such hypothetical language, Calvinists who hold to a doctrine of Limited Atonement while also considering there to be a potential reality for all consider themselves to be more faithful to the Bible's own ways of speaking.

 

Either way, Christ died to make the church holy. This is his death's actual effect, whether there is a potential effect or not. He did not actually atone for all, whether he potentially did or not, because not all are saved. Only universalists truly deny Limited Atonement, so those who use potentiality language still believe Limited Atonement. It's just that some do not realize it. That is the reason some Calvinists believe the potential atonement view is consistent with Limited Atonement, though this is not by any means agreed upon by all Calvinists. On either view, the objection that it undermines evangelism does not stand up, because this doctrine elevates evangelism. Christ died for sinners, and he will not lose any of those for whom his death actually atones! So the evangelist can take comfort in the fact that Christ will save those elected to salvation.

 

"Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect"

 

Among those who generally accept the doctrine of a definite or limited atonement, it is often heard by way of explanation that "the atonement is sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect." In fact this terminology may be found in some of the most respected Reformed theologians such John Calvin, John Owen, Charles Hodge, and others. While no Calvinist would deny the intrinsic sufficiency of Christ's death for the redemption of all men had God so designed and intended it, the casual use of such phraseology can be misleading.

 

William Cunningham (1805-1861) gives insight into potential misunderstanding of the Reformed position, which serves as a call for care in using the "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect" terminology.A distinction was generally employed by the schoolmen, which has often been adverted to in this discussion, and which it may be proper to explain. They were accustomed to say, that Christ died sufficiently for all men, and efficaciously for the elect—sufficientur pro omnibus, efficaciter pro electis. Some orthodox divines, who wrote before the extent of the atonement had been made the subject of full, formal, and elaborate discussion, and Calvin himself among the rest, admitted the truth of this scholastic position. But after controversy had thrown its full light upon the subject, orthodox divines generally refused to adopt this mode of stating the point, because it seemed to ascribe to Christ a purpose or intention of dying in the room of all, and of benefiting all by the proper effects of His death, as an atonement or propitiation; not that they doubted or denied the intrinsic sufficiency of His death for the redemption of all, but because the statement—whether originally so intended or not—was so expressed as to suggest the idea that Christ, in dying, desired and intended that all should partake in the proper and peculiar effects of the shedding of His blood. Calvinists do not object to say that the death of Christ—viewed objectively, apart from His purpose or design—was sufficient for all, and efficacious for the elect, because this statement in the first clause merely asserts its infinite intrinsic sufficiency, which they admit; whereas the original scholastic form of the statement, namely, that He died sufficiently for all, seems to indicate that when He died, He intended that all should derive some saving and permanent benefit from His death.

 

 

 

 

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Irresistible grace

 

Irresistible Grace (or efficacious grace) is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism which teaches that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (the elect), whereby in God's timing, he overcomes their resistance to the call of the gospel and irresistibly brings them to a saving faith in Christ.

 

The doctrine

 

Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God. That is, men are overcome by grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God's will are evidence of God's own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin, and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, sovereign efficacious grace is required to convert him. This is done by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit whereby a fallen man who has heard the gospel is made willing and necessarily turns to Christ in God-given faith.

 

Biblical evidence for the doctrine

 

The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John contains three quotations from Jesus that summarize the view that no one can obey God unless God first regenerates the heart (all quotes from the ESV):

  • John 6:37, 39: "All that the Father gives me will come to me.... And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day."
  • John 6:44-45: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.... Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me."
  • John 6:65: "[N]o one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

 

And the statement of Paul is said to confirm that those whom God effectually calls necessarily come to full salvation: "Those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Romans 8:28, 30).

 

The doctrine is inexorably bound up with the biblical view of man's inability to respond to God and the extent of God's common grace. As Charles Hodge says, "The Arminian and Roman Catholic doctrine is true, if the other parts of their doctrinal system are true; and it is false if that system be erroneous. If the doctrine concerning the natural state of man since the fall, and the sovereignty of God in election, be Scriptural, then it is certain that sufficient grace does not become efficacious from the cooperation of the human will" (3.14.4). Thus the passages discussing those doctrines are also relevant here.

 

History of the doctrine

 

The doctrine is one of the so-called " five points of Calvinism" that were defined at the Synod of Dort (1618) during the controversy with the Arminian party, which objected to the general predestinarian scheme of the Belgic Confession of Faith. The doctrine is most often discussed in comparisons with other salvific schemes and their respective doctrines about the grace of God and the state of mankind after the Fall.

 

Objections to the doctrine

 

Arminians, notably Wesleyans, reject the doctrine of irresistible grace just as they reject the doctrine of unconditional election. Instead, they believe that God gives Resistible prevenient grace overcoming the effects of the fall, thus leaving each individual at liberty to choose to follow God's call or not. In this view, (1) after God's prevenient grace is given, the will of man, which was formerly adverse to God and unable to obey, can now choose to obey; and (2) although God's grace is a powerful initial move in salvation, ultimately it can be resisted and rejected.

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Perseverance of the saints

 

Perseverance of the saints is the Calvinist doctrine that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation. It doesn't mean that a person who is truly saved will never lose faith or backslide at any time. But that they will ultimately persevere in faith (inspite of failures) such as not to lose their salvation.

 

The doctrine of perseverance is rooted in God's unconditional election and predestination. That is, since God is the One who chose and predestined the elect to salvation, therefore the elect will be saved. They might turn away from faith and give appearance of losing their salvation, but if they really are elect they will repent and ultimately return to faith, because God is the One ensuring their salvation.

 

This doctrine is also closely related to the doctrine of justification and adoption. Because God is the One who justifies the elect, no one can bring any condemnation on them. In the same way because those who truly believe in Christ are adopted as God's sons, they cannot be condemned to eternal punishment (although subject to God's loving discipline as a Father).

 

See Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 17.

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William,

 

Understood, but of course we all realize what you are defining as Reformed excludes the great majority of those generally regarded as Protestants, and while your opening point seems to embrace Luther and others, everything that follows excludes all but Calvin - you even seem to revert to the term "Calvinism."

 

Lutherans would regard themselves as embracing Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide in justification (and the overarching Soli Deo Gloria), and certainly Sola Scriptura in epistemological norming - what you first indicate as hallmarks of Protestantism - and of course date to the 16th Century. But Lutherans are not Calvinists and do not accept TULIP.

 

It does raise a number of questions for me.... for example, the forum for Reformed Theology, is Lutheran theology excluded there? Might there be a separate forum for the discussion of Lutheranism? And perhaps the non-TULIP forms of Anglicanism?

 

I sense that no offense is implied and certainly none is taken, but Lutherans (you twice mentioned Luther in passing) are not Reformed in the sense you define and would not label or regard themselves as such: Protestant and Reformational of course, certainly monergists and proponents of the Five Solas - but certainly not Reformed, not Calvinists, not "TULIP." I've found that Lutherans and Calvinists tend to get alone well in the messy, synergistic milieu in which we find ourselves - but Lutherans are not Reformed and Reformed are not Lutherans - they simply are both Protestant, both Reformational, both monergists, both passionate proponents of the 5 Solas.

 

 

My half cent.

 

 

- Josiah

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Hey guys, if I'm not mistaken, Lutheranism teaches depravity but not total depravity, therefore not subscribing to the claims of Calvinism right?

 

Curious and looking forward to the answer.

 

God bless,

William

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In terms of justification (narrow), Total Depravity (the T of tulip) is the only point in TULIP that Lutherans fully agree with. This is simply a fruit of Lutherans being monergists and holding to Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide.

 

But my point is that Lutherans are not Reformed/Calvinists. Thus, my questions.

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The reason I said "depravity" instead of total depravity In my previous post is because if someone believes in total depravity (as defined in Calvinism), then they wouldn't be able to come to God on their own. Not being able to seek God in a deprived sinful state one would need to be elected suggesting "U" for unconditional election.

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The reason I said "depravity" instead of total depravity In my previous post is because if someone believes in total depravity (as defined in Calvinism), then they wouldn't be able to come to God on their own. Not being able to seek God in a deprived sinful state one would need to be elected suggesting "U" for unconditional election.

 

Lutherans accept 1.5 points of the defining 5 "TULIP" points. The one that is fully agreed with is Total Depravity. The one that is half agreed with is the Unconditional Election - accepting that God elects those who are saved but rejecting that God desires to damn most people and proactively does that. The other 3 points are not accepted at all.

 

Yes, Lutherans are monergists (accepting that Jesus is the Savior and does all the Saving.... we can contribute nothing, nor need we) and of course powerfully proclaim Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide (and over all that, Soli Deo Gloria - the monergism emphasis).

 

Thus, Calvinists and Lutherans share MUCH (much of this with Catholics, too).... and yes, both are Reformational, both are solidly monergists, both are passionate proponents of the "Five Solas." But they do not share the 5 Defining Points of Calvinism (Lutherans would be Calvinists and not Lutherans if they did, lol). There are other differences, too (of course) - a different understanding of the communication of attributes in the Two Natures (and thus a disagreement on the Holy Eucharist), a bit of difference on Baptism, the supposed difference between normative and regulative rubrics in praxis to name a few.

 

BOTH are Reformational, monergistic, embracing the Five Solas.... BOTH share very much. BOTH are Protestant. I regard them as brothers - perhaps very close brothers - but not identical twins. Calvinists themselves stress this (as did the opening post here) especially when they define themselves not with the 5 Solas or monergism but with TULIP as the Opening Post chose to do.

 

I hope that contributes something...

 

 

Thank you!

 

 

Pax Christi

 

 

- Josiah

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The one that is half agreed with is the Unconditional Election - accepting that God elects those who are saved but rejecting that God desires to damn most people and proactively does that.

 

I'm actually not aware of that being orthodox, but a distortion of double predestination. Curious though, here's a clip from R.C. Sproul on the subject, I wouldn't mind knowing whether you simply agree or reject after reading this. What you described is a wrongly understood positive positive schema, when Reformed/Calvinist view double predestination in light of a positive negative schema:

 

The Double-Predestination Distortion

 

The distortion of double predestination looks like this: There is a symmetry that exists between election and reprobation. God works in the same way and same manner with respect to the elect and to the reprobate. That is to say, from all eternity God decreed some to election and by divine initiative works faith in their hearts and brings them actively to salvation. By the same token, from all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative. In the case of the elect, regeneration is the monergistic work of God. In the case of the reprobate, sin and degeneration are the monergistic work of God. Stated another way, we can establish a parallelism of foreordination and predestination by means of a positive symmetry. We can call this a positive-positive view of predestination. This is, God positively and actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to bring them to salvation. In the same way God positively and actively intervenes in the life of the reprobate to bring him to sin.

 

This distortion of positive-positive predestination clearly makes God the author of sin who punishes a person for doing what God monergistically and irresistibly coerces man to do. Such a view is indeed a monstrous assault on the integrity of God. This is not the Reformed view of predestination, but a gross and inexcusable caricature of the doctrine. Such a view may be identified with what is often loosely described as hyper-Calvinism and involves a radical form of supralapsarianism. Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.

 

The Reformed View of Predestination

 

In sharp contrast to the caricature of double predestination seen in the positive-positive schema is the classic position of Reformed theology on predestination. In this view predestination is double in that it involves both election and reprobation but is not symmetrical with respect to the mode of divine activity. A strict parallelism of operation is denied. Rather we view predestination in terms of a positive-negative relationship.

 

In the Reformed view God from all eternity decrees some to election and positively intervenes in their lives to work regeneration and faith by a monergistic work of grace. To the non-elect God withholds this monergistic work of grace, passing them by and leaving them to themselves. He does not monergistically work sin or unbelief in their lives. Even in the case of the “hardening” of the sinners’ already recalcitrant hearts, God does not, as Luther stated, “work evil in us (for hardening is working evil) by creating fresh evil in us.”2 Luther continued:

 

When men hear us say that God works both good and evil in us, and that we are subject to God’s working by mere passive necessity, they seem to imagine a man who is in himself good, and not evil, having an evil work wrought in him by God; for they do not sufficiently bear in mind how incessantly active God is in all His creatures, allowing none of them to keep holiday. He who would understand these matters, however, should think thus: God works evil in us (that is, by means of us) not through God’s own fault, but by reason of our own defect. We being evil by nature, and God being good, when He impels us to act by His own acting upon us according to the nature of His omnipotence, good though He is in Himself, He cannot but do evil by our evil instrumentality; although, according to His wisdom, He makes good use of this evil for His own glory and for our salvation.2

 

Thus, the mode of operation in the lives of the elect is not parallel with that operation in the lives of the reprobate. God works regeneration monergistically but never sin. Sin falls within the category of providential concurrence.

 

Another significant difference between the activity of God with respect to the elect and the reprobate concerns God’s justice. The decree and fulfillment of election provide mercy for the elect while the efficacy of reprobation provides justice for the reprobate. God shows mercy sovereignly and unconditionally to some, and gives justice to those passed over in election. That is to say, God grants the mercy of election to some and justice to others. No one is the victim of injustice. To fail to receive mercy is not to be treated unjustly. God is under no obligation to grant mercy to all—in fact He is under no obligation to grant mercy to any. He says, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy” (Rom. 9). The divine prerogative to grant mercy voluntarily cannot be faulted. If God is required by some cosmic law apart from Himself to be merciful to all men, then we would have to conclude that justice demands mercy. If that is so, then mercy is no longer voluntary, but required. If mercy is required, it is no longer mercy, but justice. What God does not do is sin by visiting injustice upon the reprobate. Only by considering election and reprobation as being asymmetrical in terms of a positive-negative schema can God be exonerated from injustice.

 

The Reformed Confessions

 

By a brief reconnaissance of Reformed confessions and by a brief roll-call of the theologians of the Reformed faith, we can readily see that double predestination has been consistently maintained along the lines of a positive-negative schema.

 

The Reformed Confession: 1536

 

Our salvation is from God, but from ourselves there is nothing but sin and damnation. (Art. 9)

 

French Confession of Faith: 1559

 

We believe that from this corruption and general condemnation in which all men are plunged, God, according to his eternal and immutable counsel, calleth those whom he hath chosen by his goodness and mercy alone in our Lord Jesus Christ, without consideration of their works, to display in them the riches of his mercy; leaving the rest in this same corruption and condemnation to show in them his justice. (Art. XII)

 

The Belgic Confession of Faith: 1561

 

We believe that all the posterity of Adam, being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, MERCIFUL AND JUST: MERCIFUL, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable council, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without respect to their works: JUST, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves. (Art. XVI)

 

The Second Helvetic Confession: 1566

 

Finally, as often as God in Scripture is said or seems to do something evil, it is not thereby said that man does not do evil, but that God permits it and does not prevent it, according to his just judgment, who could prevent it if he wished, or because he turns man’s evil into good… . St. Augustine writes in his Enchiridion: “What happens contrary to his will occurs, in a wonderful and ineffable way, not apart from his will. For it would not happen if he did not allow it. And yet he does not allow it unwillingly but willingly.” (Art. VIII)

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith: 1643

 

As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected … are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

 

The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His Sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice. (Chap. III-Art. VI and VII)

 

These examples selected from confessional formulas of the Reformation indicate the care with which the doctrine of double predestination has been treated. The asymmetrical expression of the “double” aspect has been clearly maintained. This is in keeping with the care exhibited consistently throughout the history of the Church. The same kind of careful delineation can be seen in Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Zanchius, Turrettini, Edwards, Hodge, Warfield, Bavinck, Berkouwer, et al.

 

Foreordination to Reprobation

 

In spite of the distinction of positive-negative with respect to the mode of God’s activity toward the elect and the reprobate, we are left with the thorny question of God predestinating the reprobate. If God in any sense predestines or foreordains reprobation, doesn’t this make the rejection of Christ by the reprobate absolutely certain and inevitable? And if the reprobate’s reprobation is certain in light of predestination, doesn’t this make God responsible for the sin of the reprobate? We must answer the first question in the affirmative, and the second in the negative.

 

If God foreordains anything, it is absolutely certain that what He foreordains will come to pass. The purpose of God can never be frustrated. Even God’s foreknowledge or prescience makes future events certain with respect to time. That is to say, if God knows on Tuesday that I will drive to Pittsburgh on Friday, then there is no doubt that, come Friday, I will drive to Pittsburgh. Otherwise God’s knowledge would have been in error. Yet, there is a significant difference between God’s knowing that I would drive to Pittsburgh and God’s ordaining that I would do so. Theoretically He could know of a future act without ordaining it, but He could not ordain it without knowing what it is that He is ordaining. But in either case, the future event would be certain with respect to time and the knowledge of God.

 

Luther, in discussing the traitorous act of Judas, says:

 

Have I not put on record in many books that I am talking about necessity of immutability? I know that the Father begets willingly, and that Judas betrayed Christ willingly. My point is that this act of the will in Judas was certainly and infallibly bound to take place, if God foreknew it. That is to say (if my meaning is not yet grasped), I distinguish two necessities: one I call necessity of force (necessitatem violentam), referring to action; the other I call necessity of infallibility (necessitatem infallibilem), referring to time. Let him who hears me understand that I am speaking of the latter, not the former; that is, I am not discussing whether Judas became a traitor willingly or unwillingly, but whether it was infallibly bound to come to pass that Judas should willingly betray Christ at a time predetermined by God.3

 

We see then, that what God knows in advance comes to pass by necessity or infallibly or necessity of immutability. But what about His foreordaining or predestinating what comes to pass? If God foreordains reprobation does this not obliterate the distinction between positive-negative and involve a necessity of force? If God foreordains reprobation does this not mean that God forces, compels, or coerces the reprobate to sin? Again the answer must be negative.

 

If God, when He is decreeing reprobation, does so in consideration of the reprobate’s being already fallen, then He does not coerce him to sin. To be reprobate is to be left in sin, not pushed or forced to sin. If the decree of reprobation were made without a view to the fall, then the objection to double predestination would be valid and God would be properly charged with being the author of sin. But Reformed theologians have been careful to avoid such a blasphemous notion. Berkouwer states the boundaries of the discussion clearly:

 

On the one hand, we want to maintain the freedom of God in election, and on the other hand, we want to avoid any conclusion which would make God the cause of sin and unbelief.4

 

God’s decree of reprobation, given in light of the fall, is a decree to justice, not injustice. In this view the biblical a priori that God is neither the cause nor the author of sin is safeguarded. Turrettini says, “We have proved the object of predestination to be man considered as fallen, sin ought necessarily to be supposed as the condition in him who is reprobated, no less than him who is elected.”5 He writes elsewhere:

 

The negative act includes two, both preterition, by which in the election of some as well to glory as to grace, he neglected and slighted others, which is evident from the event of election, and negative desertion, by which he left them in the corrupt mass and in their misery; which, however, is as to be understood, 1. That they are not excepted from the laws of common providence, but remain subject to them, nor are immediately deprived of all God’s favor, but only of the saving and vivifying which is the fruit of election, 2. That preterition and desertion; not indeed from the nature of preterition and desertion itself, and the force of the denied grace itself, but from the nature of the corrupt free will, and the force of corruption in it; as he who does not cure the disease of a sick man, is not the cause per se of the disease, nor of the results flowing from it; so sins are the consequents, rather than the effects of reprobation, necessarily bringing about the futurition of the event, but yet not infusing nor producing the wickedness… .6

 

The importance of viewing the decree of reprobation in light of the fall is seen in the on-going discussions between Reformed theologians concerning infra-and supra-lapsarianism. Both viewpoints include the fall in God’s decree. Both view the decree of preterition in terms of divine permission. The real issue between the positions concerns the logical order of the decrees. In the supralapsarian view the decree of election and reprobation is logically prior to the decree to permit the fall. In the infralapsarian view the decree to permit the fall is logically prior to the decree to election and reprobation.

 

Though this writer favors the infralapsarian view along the lines developed by Turrettini, it is important to note that both views see election and reprobation in light of the fall and avoid the awful conclusion that God is the author of sin. Both views protect the boundaries Berkouwer mentions.

 

Only in a positive-positive schema of predestination does double-predestination leave us with a capricious deity whose sovereign decrees manifest a divine tyranny. Reformed theology has consistently eschewed such a hyper-supralapsarianism. Opponents of Calvinism, however, persistently caricature the straw man of hypersupralapsarianism, doing violence to the Reformed faith and assaulting the dignity of God’s sovereignty.

 

We rejoice in the biblical clarity which reveals God’s sovereignty in majestic terms. We rejoice in the knowledge of divine mercy and grace that go to such extremes to redeem the elect. We rejoice that God’s glory and honor are manifested both in His mercy and in His justice.

 

God bless,

William

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When the mind has been refreshed and renewed, truly reformed----and the heart has had a deep and lasting internal change which could only be brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit, and No One else----then that, my friend, is reformed theology in practical terms and on a real level.

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When the mind has been refreshed and renewed, truly reformed----and the heart has had a deep and lasting internal change which could only be brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit, and No One else----then that, my friend, is reformed theology in practical terms and on a real level.

 

I believe that one could have their mind refreshed and renewed by the Holy Spirit and not necessarily define their heart by the unique and distinctive Calvinist distinctive of TULIP. I can respect these 5 unique distinctives of this one subgroup of Reformational thought, this one subgroup of Protestantism, this one subset of monergism, this one subset of those who proclaim Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide, but I don't agree that TULIP is the only possible articulation of ALL such. Perhaps we disagree. Nor do I agree that it is mandated that Lutherans MUST be such for whom the Holy Spirit has not been revealed or worked - "deeply" or otherwise. I think the best way to defined our views is to show such to be true - and if they accept Sola Scriptura as the rubric, to do so from the words of Scripture and not our "logic" or "philosophy" or "conclusions" or "the Holy Spirit mysticially, gnostically told ME cuz I'm deep" Do you agree?

 

 

Just MY perspective....

 

Pax Christi

 

 

- Josiah

 

 

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I'm actually not aware of that being orthodox, but a distortion of double predestination. Curious though, here's a clip from R.C. Sproul on the subject, I wouldn't mind knowing whether you simply agree or reject after reading this. What you described is a wrongly understood positive positive schema, when Reformed/Calvinist view double predestination in light of a positive negative schema:

 

 

 

God bless,

William

 

 

Thanks, William.

 

 

I must take time to absorb that and discover what Calvinists mean by a lot of what seems to be Calvinist terminology there.... I will so attempt.

 

But are you essentially saying that the TULIP view is NOTHING whatsoever more than God elects SOME. Stop. End of teaching? There are some who are not - although NOTHING whatsoever is implied or taught or meant by that, nothing said or taught about that, no teaching about that - only and exclusively and solely that if ALL were Elected, ergo all would be elected? Or is there something being said about God also predestining some otherwise (alhought to NOT believe is not defined as negative)?

 

I will spend time with your quote when time permits it justice. Thank you!

 

 

Pax Christi

 

 

- Josiah

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Josiah said:
But are you essentially saying that the TULIP view is NOTHING whatsoever more than God elects SOME. Stop. End of teaching? There are some who are not - although NOTHING whatsoever is implied or taught or meant by that, nothing said or taught about that, no teaching about that - only and exclusively and solely that if ALL were Elected, ergo all would be elected? Or is there something being said about God also predestining some otherwise (alhought to NOT believe is not defined as negative)?

 

I am content by nodding my head yes to your statements and questions. However, Calvinism addresses those implications. If man is totally depraved we reject Pelagianism. I am confident that if one fails in logic from Total Depravity that it will rear its ugly head in rejection of the other four points that follow - from Scripture.

 

If all were Elected, which is a positive schema, then all men would be saved. However, we know from Scripture that all men are not saved, take for example, John 3:16 and John 3:18. We know some men are condemned already, how are they condemned? They do not believe by nature, a nature wholly at enmity against God apart from Regeneration. We know that God's plan for salvation and Jesus' atonement is totally sufficient for the whole world, yet the plan is only efficient for the Elect - that is, men from all tribes, tongues and nations without distinction but not without exception.

 

The negative in double predestination suggests that man left to himself will perish. I'm sure you agree to this point because you're contending for monergism and reject Pelagianism. Unconditional election is just that, Romans 8:28-30 suggests that before the foundation of the world God set His affections upon some or foreloved which is synonymous with foreknew. There was no prior condition to His election, another words it was unconditional, then it is a matter of whether God loses some whom he foreknew to election?

 

I will be happy to answer any questions you have. But I do not think by you embracing Calvinism that you're anything but Lutheran. Lutherans actually gave us our name historically "those blasted Calvinist". Remember, I believe in the Five Solae, but I am not a Lutheran. Reformed Baptist also believe in Calvinism, but they are far from Reformed Presbyterians. If there is a criticism that I hear often from Lutherans it is that we Presbyterians have taken our soteriology too far. However, it is good to keep these Five Points in historical context, the Five Points of Calvinism were direct responses to the followers of Jacob Arminius which surfaced after his death. This event occurred in the Reformed church which was addressed by the Synod of Dort.

 

John 6:44

 

No man came come to me (T)

Unless the Father (U)

Draws them to me (I)

Then I will raise them up (L)

On the last day (P).

 

God bless,

William

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I'm actually not aware of that being orthodox, but a distortion of double predestination. Curious though, here's a clip from R.C. Sproul on the subject, I wouldn't mind knowing whether you simply agree or reject after reading this. What you described is a wrongly understood positive positive schema, when Reformed/Calvinist view double predestination in light of a positive negative schema:

 

 

 

God bless,

William

 

 

William -

 

 

It seems to ME that Reformed folks seem to speak of this central doctrine in their system in various ways. To ME, the classic Reformed view is this (to quote another post here): Calvin defines predestination as “God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life, and through which God chooses those who will not receive faith." That's what I'd call double predestination - it applies fully and equally to both heaven and hell, to the saved and the damned, to those who believe and those that don't. The reason is equally and fully and in all implications the same - just opposite.

 

 

I think this is what Lutheranism doesn't affirm. The first part - what we are apt to call Election - IS fully affirmed by Lutherans. Election is seen as PURE Gospel (ONLY to comfort and assure) and it applies ONLY to believers, the saved. It is functionally pretty much an outgrowth of monergism (a point that Lutherans and Reformed Christians equally stress). And I think this is solidly biblical. It's the EQUAL position.... the FULL position that "eternal damnation is foreordained for most.... God's will is that some do not receive faith" that Lutherans don't affirm. As equally and fully the case. That, I as a Lutheran believe, seems to be twisting Gospel upside down into Law..... and I question the biblical teaching of such.

 

 

In any case, that is a far cry from saying, "God doesn't choose all." That statement, lthough I think it's saying more than God in Scripture does, is one I'd not debate - if God doesn't choose all then He doesn't choose ALL. I wouldn't debate that. But that doesn't mean He DOES choose all - just some to be blessed in heaven (to His good pleasure and to give Him glory) and equally and just as proactively some to fry eternally in hell (equally to his good pleasure and glory). Both as equal actions.

 

 

Of course, Lutherans don't accept most of TULIP (and I think this view comes out of TULIP, not Scripture). While it's been awhile since I've read Luther's very early "Bondage of the Will", I have read the Lutheran Confessions and a few Lutheran doctrine books. The way Election gets conveyed in Lutheranism is as the Gospel it is, Gospel directed to Christians. To Christians who fear if God loves them (because they wrongly thinks God loves only SOME).... to Christians who think Christ didn't die for them (because He only died for some - leaving no list who those are)... who therefore fear if they are justified, loved, forgiven.... we have the Gospel of Election: God's love for us is not dependent on us.... God's unconditional love is (well) unconditional - and flows from HIS heart: he loving us not because we are loveable but because He is loving.

 

 

I think of it like this, William. My mother's pregnancy with me was very troubled (she lost 3 children in pregnancy before me). Now, I was but not much in her womb - earning, deserving, seeking, meriting NOTHING. But my parents (even my older siblings) LOVED me. My parents went through MUCH (including money) in hopes that I'd not be #4 to die before I was born. My older sister use to tell me how she sang "Jesus songs" to me, over and over, when I was in my mother's womb. How she'd tell me to be strong, how Jesus was taking care of me. My brother told me how every night, he got down on his knees and prayed for me (my sister is 6 years older than me, my brother 4). My mother was hospitalized for the last few weeks..... then they discovered I had a heart defect and lung problems - and likely would soon die. Finally, the doctors said I had to be taken - immediately - by C Section and an emergency surgery done. The "odds" weren't so good. My whole family was there.... my priest was there (he baptized me in that BRIEF time between being born and the surgery begun; they allowed him in the surgery suite)... hundreds of people were praying for me. I was loved.... embraced as son..... before I was born. William.... God gave me an uber "Jimminy Cricket" and I often struggled with guilt (good Catholic boy, I was) .... and Mom or Dad (even older sis or brother) would remind me of those days I was in the womb. My Mom would forgive me, and when I struggled, she'd remind me she loved me more than life itself even before I was born - before I did a thing good or bad. And that love embraced me STILL. William, I think that's the Lutheran understanding of Election, how I've heard it preached and taught. Gospel. For Christians. Who need to hear - deep - God's love, mercy, forgiveness. Now - does that mean that Mom equally, fully HATED some other boy? Equally and fully wanted some other child dead? That Mom desired 3 children before me to burn eternally in hell because she gets off on that? Does love HAVE to have a full and opposite equal? With death and damnnation being more common, more desired?

 

 

My purpose is NOT to debate anything. I lack the ego for that. And I don't think that's what this site (and especially this - the Reformed subforum) is for. I'm a guest in a Reformed community. And I worry NOT for your salvation! But I think here again, we find that Lutherans and Reformed are not always on exactly the same page..... brothers perhaps but not identical twins... STRONG preachers of Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide and of monergism, but not identical preachers on all things (perhaps you'd consider putting up a forum for Lutherans and not lump us with Reformed, LOL?).

 

 

My apologies... (and feel free to move this to some other place)

 

 

Pax Christi

 

 

- Josiah

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John 6:44

 

No man came come to me (T)

Unless the Father (U)

Draws them to me (I)

Then I will raise them up (L)

On the last day (P).

 

God bless,

William

 

 

William -

 

This was "borrowed" from a blog some years ago.. It seems good and I basically agree with the Lutheran understandings here.

 

 

TULIP: A Response from Calvinism, Lutheranism and Arminianism

 

 

Calvinism has summarized its position in the famous acronym TULIP, and this serves as a useful way to approach the issue (being logical Calvinism is, if nothing else, easy to follow):

 

 

T: "total depravity"

 

Calvinism: Man after the Fall has no ability to cooperate with God's grace in conversion

Arminianism: Man after the Fall can cooperate with Gods grace in conversion

Lutheranism: Agrees with Calvinism on total depravity

Relevant Bible passages: Romans 3:9-20; Gal. 3:22

 

 

U: "unconditional election"

Calvinism: Before the world was created, God unconditionally elected some (the elect) for salvation and equally most (reprobates) for damnation.

Arminianism: Before the world was created, God foresaw those who would choose Him of their own free will and elected them to salvation

Lutheranism: Before the world was created, God unconditionally elected some (the elect) for salvation but did not reprobate (chose for damnation) any.

Relevant Bible passages: Romans 9:11-13; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Mat. 25:34, 41.

 

 

L: "limited atonement"

Calvinism: Jesus only died for the elect, objectively atoning for their sin, but he did not die for the sins of the reprobates.

Arminianism: Christ died to give all the possibility to be saved.

Lutheranism: Christs death objectively atoned for all the sin of the world; by believing we receive this objective atonement and its benefits.

Relevant Bible passages: John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:14-15, 19.

 

 

I: "irresistable grace"

Calvinism: In all of God's outward actions (preaching, baptism, etc.) there is an outward call which all receive, yet there is also a secret effectual calling which God gives to the elect alone. This effectual calling alone saves and is irresistable.

Arminianism: God gives in His outward actions the same grace to all; this grace can be resisted by all.

Lutheranism: The question is not answerable; for the elect, grace will irresistably triumph, yet those who reject Christ have rejected that Grace; yet the grace is the same.

Relevant Bible passages: Eph. 2:1-10; Acts 13:48; James 1:13-15

 

 

P: "perseverance of the saints" ("once saved, always saved.")

Calvinism: Salvation cannot be lost.

Arminianism: Salvation can be lost through unrepentant sin and unbelief.

Lutheranism: Salvation can be lost through unbelief, but this legal warning does not cancel the Gospel promise of election

Relevant Bible passages: 1 Cor. 10:12. 2 Peter 2:1, 20-22.

 

 

 

I sometimes think this, perhaps, in a way, could apply to a general approach to such issues.....

 

Calvinism: Our logic answers our questions.

Arminianism: The Holy Spirit teaches my heart

Catholic: Our Tradition answers our questions (just a variation of the Arminian view)

Lutheranism: We are stewards of the MYSTERIES of God, it's best to leave unanswered questions unanswered, tensions as tensions.

 

One of the things that lead me OUT of Catholicism was how I saw things as over-thought, way too much philosophy and "logic" and sometimes secular speculation - creating UNIQUE views. In the words of my Greek Orthodox friend, "The Catholic Church just can't shut up!" I often felt that way in my Catholic days! One of the things that appealed to me about Lutheranism - as I learned such from my pastor and doctrine teacher - was a humility, a sense of MYSTERY, a willingness to admit that not all the pieces are necessarily present - AND THAT'S OKAY.... that Lutherans don't know everything and that's okay.... that Lutherans don't insist that Lutherans (especially ONLY Lutherans) know all the answers. I was drawn to the very humble approach to Scripture and to doctrine. Not saying it's absolute but I found it quite striking.

 

 

Again, no arguments..... no desire to debate.... nothing for me to win (or loose)..... just sharing my perspective. That's it, that's all. And again, I don't sense ANYONE here needs salvation, lol. I accept the Reformed as my full and equal and in every sense equally blessed brothers and sisters in Christ (we just disagree on some few points). And again, my apologies if I come off disrespectful (I AM a guest here in a REFORMED community). Feel free to move this or delete it, as you deem appropriate.

 

 

Thank you.

 

 

Pax Christi

 

 

- Josiah

 

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Hi Josiah, first off, you are most welcome here and I am certainly glad you joined us :) Also, your post above is excellent, well written and well thought-out, so thank you for that. I like your "summations" as well, though I would like to discuss those when I return. Quickly though, I wanted to point out my understanding of two of the points you made.

1)
U: "unconditional election"

Calvinism: Before the world was created, God unconditionally elected some (the elect) for salvation and equally most (reprobates) for damnation.

 

You are correct concerning Calvinism's doctrine of "double predestination", however, Calvin was aware that the Bible speaks of "predestination" in the "singular" sense only, IOW, that Biblically speaking, predestination concerns the saints alone.

 

Calvinism speaks of a "double" predestination though, because in a passive sense, if God does not elect/choose/predestine someone to life, then they will freely continue to walk unchecked on the "broad road", on the road to perdition. So while Calvin's, "Decretum Horrible", speaks in reference to a "double" predestination, he never means that God actively works in the hearts of the reprobate to cause their damnation in a similar way that He works in the hearts of the elect to save them, He simply allows the reprobate to continue on their merry, freely chosen way. (I hope that makes sense! If it doesn't, just let me know and I'll try to explain it another way).

2)
P: "perseverance of the saints"
("once saved, always saved.")

Calvinism: Salvation cannot be lost.

Arminianism: Salvation can be lost through unrepentant sin and unbelief.

Lutheranism: Salvation can be lost through unbelief, but this legal warning does not cancel the Gospel promise of election

 

Most balanced Arminians I know do not believe that their salvation is lost whenever they sin, instead, they believe it can only be lost by choosing to deny/walk away from the faith. That salvation can be lost by sinning seems more RCC/semi-Pelagian to me (though I am know this is not true across the board .. i.e. the Nazarene Church).

 

Also, under "Lutheranism", if salvation can be lost, how can the Biblical promises concerning "election" (cf John 6:37-40) still be true?

 

Thanks!

 

Gotta go. Talk to you soon! (Dv)

 

Yours in Christ,

David

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Hi Josiah, first off, you are most welcome here and I am certainly glad you joined us :) Also, your post above is excellent, well written and well thought-out, so thank you for that. I like your "summations" as well, though I would like to discuss those when I return. Quickly though, I wanted to point out my understanding of two of the points you made.

1)
U: "unconditional election"

Calvinism: Before the world was created, God unconditionally elected some (the elect) for salvation and equally most (reprobates) for damnation.

 

 

 

You are correct concerning Calvinism's doctrine of "double predestination", however, Calvin was aware that the Bible speaks of "predestination" in the "singular" sense only, IOW, that Biblically speaking, predestination concerns the the saints alone.

 

 

LOL... sounds to me like you're saying the Bible agrees with Lutherans, LOL!

 

 

 

 

Calvinism speaks of a "double" predestination though, because in a passive sense, if God does not elect/choose/predestine someone to life, then they will freely continue to walk unchecked on the "broad road", on the road to perdition.

 

 

I wrote of this. To me, saying "Some are elected - some are not" is unrelated to Calvin's position as quoted in my post (a copy/paste from this site as to Calvin's position). As I understand it, and as I see this site teaching, Calvins' position was not: "Some are elected to heaven (period)". It's SOME (a fairly small minority) are predestined to be blessed in heaven and some (most) are EQUALLY, IN THE SAME SENSE, PROACTIVELY predestined to burn in hell.. Am I wrong? Again, here is the stated Reformed position: "“God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life, and through which God chooses those who will not receive faith." "Eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others." I don't see anything passive there. I see both "sides" described equally, actively - in the very same sense.

 

 

 

 

2) P: "perseverance of the saints" ("once saved, always saved.")

Calvinism: Salvation cannot be lost.

Arminianism: Salvation can be lost through unrepentant sin and unbelief.

Lutheranism: Salvation can be lost through unbelief, but this legal warning does not cancel the Gospel promise of election[/indent]

 

Most balanced Arminians I know do not believe that their salvation is lost when they sin, that it can only be lost by choosing to deny/walk away from the faith. That salvation can be lost by sinning seems more RCC/sem-Pelagian to me (though I am know this is not true across the board .. i.e. the Nazarene Church).

 

Also, under "Lutheranism", if salvation can be lost, how can the Biblical promises concerning "election" (cf John 6:37-40) still be true?

 

 

I think Lutherans look at this in terms of Law/Gospel. And see the mixing of this to create OSAS actually destroys Sola Gratia - Solus Christus - Sola Fide. As well as creating a "terror" of uncertainty. Here's how the issue has been explained to me in my Lutheran doctrine class:

 

 

Gospel:

 

 

Romans 8:29-39, 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. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

John 3:16, "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. "

 

Mark 13:22, "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible.

 

John 4:14, "but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

 

John 20:28, I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

 

1 Thess. 5:24, "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

 

Hebrews 10:14, "because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

 

Rev. 3:5, "I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels."

 

 

 

Law:

 

John 15:4-7, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you... If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

 

Revelation 2:10, "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

 

Matthew 10:22, "He who stands firm to the end will be saved."

 

1 Timothy 4:1, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."

 

Luke 8:13, "They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away."

 

John 8:31, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really My disciples."

 

Luke 21:19, "By standing firm you will gain life."

 

Hebrews 8:9, "They did not remain faithful to My covenant, and I turned away from them"

 

Galatians 5:4, "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."

 

Colossians 1:23, "If you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."

 

Hebrews 10:26, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God."

 

2 Peter 1:8-10, "But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure."

 

2 Peter 3:17, "Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position."

 

Revelation 3:5, He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white.

 

Luke 12:8, "He who disowns Me before men will be disowned before the angels of God."

 

 

Gospel is preached to those who need comfort, assurance. Law to those who need warning, correction, reproof. The "rightful distinction of Law and Gospel." The two should not mixed or blended.

 

It has seemed to ME (and I'm just a sinful, stupid, too-often-wrong bloat) that Reformed brothers are quick to insert "logic". Lutherans are more apt to leave the "dots" as are - and refer to mystery (a fave word among Lutherans, lol). In my discussions elsewhere about OSAS, it just strikes ME more than anything as just a terror. I BELIEVE an effort is made to made the Gospel apply (even where faith is absent) essentially rendering all the Law as unnecessary to have been said, but to ME the concern I have is pastoral more than doctrinal. But that's probably beyond the scope here and I don't want to be debative or negative (not my purpose here). My ONLY point in replying to William is to express MY view that Lutherans and Reforms do NOT fully agree on TULIP. One may be right, one way be wrong (and both may be wrong, lol) but they are not the same as William seemed to indicate.

 

I'll share again: While I think there are genuine areas of disagreement (my point with William) - how we understand the Two Natures of Christ for example (a point not a part of TULIP), in MY very, very, very limited comprehension of this - MOSTLY what is at work is Reformed taking Scripture and applying a lot of their logic to fill in the blanks.... Lutherans rather embracing the idea of mystery and at times looking more to the testimony of the church (Tradition) rather than the logic of self-minded. I guess as a former Catholic (who left there in part because I saw too much denominationalism, too much "cuz I think so", too much philosophy and logic) Lutheranism's humility and embrace of mystery appealed to me.

 

This often ignorant, silly and sinful bloat is of the opinion that Lutherans and Reformed are very much kinfolk... brothers (if not identical twins). I know my doctrine teacher referred at times to a Reformed doctrine book - calling it very outstanding (author started with a B.... I'll think of his name). Compared to the MESS of Evangelicalism..... compared to my Catholic roots..... Reformed theology is a breath of fresh air.

 

But to my whole point in this thread: I respectfully and humbly disagree with William. I don't think Lutherans and Reformed are the same and agree on TULIP.

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

 

Gotta go. Talk to you soon! (Dv)

 

Yours in Christ,

David

 

 

Thank YOU! I welcome and look forward to continuing discussions. Especially if we (especially me) can do so respectfully and in a spirit of learning and sharing. We'll all be Lutherans in heaven where everyone else will finally get it right - and that's soon enough for me. (You DO realize I'm kidding!). I do need to learn my way around here and the personalities here... and allow folks to get to know me (warts and all)... that's important to the process.

 

 

Blessings.....

 

 

Pax Christ

 

 

- Josiah

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LOL... sounds to me like you're saying the Bible agrees with Lutherans, LOL!

 

Well, whatever makes you happy I guess .. :)

 

I need to better understand the Lutheran position on this, but from my understanding, I'm wondering if Lutheran belief actually agrees with Lutheran doctrine on this matter? Question, do Lutherans believe that some who are NOT predestined/elect can and will be saved? You continue:

 

As I understand it, and as I see this site teaching, Calvins' position was not: "Some are elected to heaven (period)". It's SOME (a fairly small minority) are predestined to be blessed in heaven and some (most) are EQUALLY, IN THE SAME SENSE, PROACTIVELY predestined to burn in hell.. Am I wrong?

 

Yes, you are wrong about that ;)

 

God "actively" predestines the elect to Heaven (changes the hearts of the elect so that we can and will respond to His call in faith), but He "passes over" the reprobate and simply allows them to continue to make the choice that pleases them. By passing over them, IOW, by not interfering with their free will like He does with the saints, God is "passively" predestining them to Hell.

 

Again, here is the stated Reformed position: "“God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life, and through which God chooses those who will not receive faith." "Eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others." I don't see anything passive there. I see both "sides" described equally, actively - in the very same sense.

 

Hopefully what I just said previously also explains the Calvinist POV here. If not, tell me, and I'll try again. Those who we refer to as "Hyper-Calvinists" (who are not "Calvinists" at all BTW, they just hijacked our name :() believe that God actively works in the hearts of the reprobate to "cause" their damnation, just like He does in the hearts of the saints to cause our salvation. They also believe that God "caused" the Fall. Calvinists do not.

 

I'll stop here and finish up the rest of my reply to you in another post.

 

Yours and His,

David

 

Edited by David Lee
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I need to better understand the Lutheran position on this, but from my understanding, I'm wondering if Lutheran belief actually agrees with Lutheran doctrine on this matter? Question, do Lutherans believe that some who are NOT predestined/elect can and will be saved? You continue:

 

 

IMO, it seems that the quote (I used one presented quite definitively on this site, I THINK by William but I could be mistaken there) and what you are presenting are not only different but seem contradictory to me. And I'm not clear on this "hyper" and normal. Are you suggesting perhaps the quote is "hyper" whereas yours is "normal?"

 

It seems to me that IF the Reformed position is simply: "God elects some" (PERIOD, end of position) then I think Lutherans and Reformed are on the same page. I think you indicated earlier that that is biblical postion.

 

 

To your question: No. Those not elected don't believe. "CAN" - well, since we hold that faith is God's gift, God's activity, the issue of "can" really doesn't exist for Lutherans in this context of justification (narrow). Lutherans, like Reformed, are monergists. I think in terms of the elect, our positions are essentially (maybe fully) the same. It's the damned where we seem to differ, alhough again, IF the actual Reformed position (in spite of what Reformed - including here - seem to indicate) is: "God elects those who believe - PERIOD, end of position, nothin' more said" then William is right and on THIS part of TULIP, we're agreeing. I'd still point out to Willam that there are 5 parts to TULIP. I don't THINK Lutherans and Reformed agree on all 5 (I think we agree on 1.5 of them - all of Total Depravity and half of Election - both IMO solidly biblical and the agreeing being because of our mutual monergism).

 

 

Again, I refer you to the definitive definition of predestination in Reformed theology presented at this site (I need to remember where I copied that from, if it was from William). I'll capitalize the part where I think there's disagreement:

 

 

God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he WILLED to BECOME of EACH [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, ETERNAL DAMNATION FOR THE OTHERS. So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life AND TO THOSE WHO WILL NOT RECEIVE FAITH . Eternal life is FOREORDAINED for some, ETERNAL DAMNATION for others."

 

.

 

I see in those verbatim words no difference - both the saved and the damned are equally, proactively, deliberately predestined. Is the quote mistaken? I'm struggling to read that and get nothing more than: "God elected the saved - period, nothin' more said." Or even God elected some to believe but not all." It says "God foreordained eternal damnation for some" Is that just 'passive?' "God willed for EACH person, some to eternal damnation." Is that 'passive?' "God chose who will not receive faith." Is that passive? Is the quote wrong? Can you see how I understand that the destestination of Reformed is equally and fully and in every sense just a proactive for the saved and the damned? Is it that you just disagree with this quote, posted here as the definition of predestination in Reformed theology?

 

 

 

Does that help?

 

 

 

 

I'll stop here and finish up the rest of my reply to you in another post.

 

Yours and His,

David

 

 

Thank you!

 

 

Pax Christi

 

 

- Josiah

Edited by Josiah

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God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he WILLED to BECOME of EACH [person]. For … eternal life is foreordained for some, ETERNAL DAMNATION FOR THE OTHERS. So predestination is an act of God’s will through which God elects or chooses those whom God calls to faith and thus to eternal life AND TO THOSE WHO WILL NOT RECEIVE FAITH . Eternal life is FOREORDAINED for some, ETERNAL DAMNATION for others."

 

I see in those verbatim words no difference - both the saved and the damned are equally, proactively, deliberately predestined. Is the quote mistaken? I'm struggling to read that and get nothing more than: "God elected the saved - period, nothin' more said." Or even God elected some to believe but not all." It says "God foreordained eternal damnation for some" Is that just 'passive?' "God willed for EACH person, some to eternal damnation." Is that 'passive?' "God chose who will not receive faith." Is that passive? Is the quote wrong? Can you see how I understand that the destestination of Reformed is equally and fully and in every sense just a proactive for the saved and the damned? Is it that you just disagree with this quote, posted here as the definition of predestination in Reformed theology?

 

Hi Josiah, the quote isn't mistaken, but your understanding of it is. To understand what Reformed Calvinism teaches about "double" predestination requires a bit more than the paragraph you posited for us offers.

 

In the end, I always regret doing this (and I'm sure I will this time too ;)), but I'm going to use a simple analogy. PLEASE, do not try to read to much into this. Thank you :)

 

Imagine, let's say, a factory with a conveyor belt, and running down this conveyor belt are freshly-picked oranges. At the end of the conveyor belt is a bin, and any orange that makes it to the bin will be discarded. At work alongside the conveyor belt is a person whose job it is to pick the oranges he likes by plucking them off the belt as they go by. ALL of the oranges are heading toward the bin, but not all of them get there because he "actively" selects the ones he wants to save for market by pulling them off the belt and setting them aside before they reach the bin at the end.

 

In a very real way, he also selects the oranges that end up in the bin at the end of the belt as well by NOT choosing them.

 

Likewise, God "actively" chooses some (the elect) for salvation by changing their hearts, causing them to be "born again", giving them the gift of faith so they can believe, and making them into "new creatures" in His Son. He also "passively" chooses all the rest (the reprobate) by doing nothing at all, by changing nothing about them, by simply letting them go on their merry way unhindered. So God, like the worker next to the oranges on the conveyor belt, "actively" chooses to save some, and "passively" chooses to damn all the rest by NOT choosing them.

 

I hope this has been helpful, but again, please do not try to read to much into this analogy (for obvious reasons).

 

Yours in Christ,

David

p.s. - I'll join you for a discussion on the other threads that concern this same subject matter, but I'll need to do so later today. See you then (Dv) :)

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