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Re-post: Historical Calvinism, i.e. Predestination and Election…(from the Wiki)

December 19, 2016

Historical Calvinism, i.e. Predestination and Election
Historical Calvinism so-called, (Predestination & Election).
August 28, 2014

Predestination and Election (Historical Calvinism)
From the Wiki… I put this up for the information. And I only share a bit of the Lutheran position, for it is not uniform with all Lutherans.

‘The doctrine of predestination in Calvinism deals with the question of the control God exercises over the world. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God “freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass.”[1] The second use of the word “predestination” applies this to the salvation, and refers to the belief that God appointed the eternal destiny of some to salvation by grace, while leaving the remainder to receive eternal damnation for all their sins, even their original sin. The former is called “unconditional election”, and the latter “reprobation”. In Calvinism, people are predestined and effectually called in due time (regenerated/born again) to faith by God.


1 Confessional statements
2 Double predestination
2.1 Calvin’s writings
2.2 Reprobation: active decree, passive foreordination
2.3 Equal ultimacy
3 Non-Calvinist views

Confessional statements…

On predestination, the Belgic Confession of Faith (1561) states:

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 Westminster Confession of Faith (1643) states:

God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

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 — Articles I, III, VI and VII)

The Westminster Confession also states in Chapter X:

All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

Double predestination

Calvinistic predestination is sometimes referred to as “double predestination.”[2] This is the view that God has determined the eternal destiny of every human being. He has chosen some to eternal life and foreordained others to everlasting punishment. Chapter 21 of Book III of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is called “Of the eternal election, by which God has predestinated some to salvation, and others to destruction”.

Predestination is treated by Calvin himself and by later Calvinists.
Calvin’s writings

Calvin’s belief in the uncompromised “sovereignty of God” spawned his doctrines of providence and predestination. For the world, without providence it would be “unlivable.” For individuals, without predestination “no one would be saved.”[3]

Calvin’s doctrine of providence is straightforward. “All events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God.” Therefore, “nothing happens but what [God] has knowingly and willingly decreed.” This excludes “fortune and chance.”[4] Calvin applied his doctrine of providence concerning “all events” to individuals and their salvation in his doctrine of predestination.

Calvin opened his exposition of predestination with an “actual fact.” The “actual fact” that Calvin observed was that even among those to whom “the covenant of life” is preached, it does not gain the same acceptance.”[5] Although, “all are called to repentance and faith,” in actual fact, “the spirit of repentance and faith is not given to all.”[6]

Calvin turned to the teachings of Jesus for a theological interpretation of the diversity that some people accept the “covenant of life” and some do not. Pointing to the Parable of the Sower, Calvin observed, “it is no new thing for the seed to fall among thorns or in stony places.”[7] In Jesus’ teaching in John 6:65 that “no one can come to me unless it has been granted him by my Father,” Calvin found the key to his theological interpretation of the diversity.[8]

For Calvin’s biblically-based theology, this diversity reveals the “unsearchable depth of the divine judgment,” a judgment “subordinate to God’s purpose of eternal election.” God offers salvation to some, but not to all. To many this seems a perplexing subject, because they deem it “incongruous that . . . some should be predestinated to salvation, and others to destruction.” However, Calvin asserted that the incongruity can be resolved by proper views concerning “election and predestination.”[9]

Thus, Calvin based his theological description of people as “predestinated to life or to death” on biblical authority and “actual fact.”[10] Calvin noted that Scripture requires that we “consider this great mystery” of predestination, but he also warned against unrestrained “human curiosity” regarding it.[11] For believers, knowing that “the cause of our salvation did not proceed from us, but from God alone” evokes gratitude.[12]
Reprobation: active decree, passive foreordination

Calvinists emphasise the active nature of God’s decree to choose those foreordained to eternal wrath, yet at the same time the passive nature of that foreordination.

This is possible because most Calvinists hold to an Infralapsarian view of God’s decree. In that view, God, before Creation, in his mind, first decreed that the Fall would take place, before decreeing election and reprobation. So God actively chooses whom to condemn, but because he knows they will have a sinful nature, the way he foreordains them is to simply let them be – this is sometimes called “preterition.”[13] Therefore this foreordination to wrath is passive in nature (unlike God’s active predestination of his elect where he needs to overcome their sinful nature).
Equal ultimacy
See also: Free will in theology § Calvinism

The WCF uses different words for the act of God’s election and reprobation: “predestinated” and “foreordained” respectively. This suggests that the two do not operate in the same way. The term “equal ultimacy” is sometimes used of the view that the two decrees are symmetrical: God works equally to keep the elect in heaven and the reprobate out of heaven. This view is sometimes erroneously referred to as “double predestination”, on which see above. R. C. Sproul argues against this position on the basis that it implies God “actively intervenes to work sin” in the lives of the reprobate.[14] Robert L. Reymond, however, insists on equal ultimacy of election and reprobation in the divine decree, though he suggests that “we must not speak of an exact identity of divine causality behind both.”[15]

Calvinists hold that even if their scheme is characterized as a form of determinism, it is one which insists upon the free agency and moral responsibility of the individual. Additionally, they hold that the will is in bondage to sin and therefore unable to actualize its true freedom. Hence, an individual whose will is enslaved to sin cannot chose to serve God. Since Calvinists further hold that salvation is by grace apart from good works (sola gratia) and since they view making a choice to trust God as an action or work, they maintain that the act of choosing cannot be the difference between salvation and damnation, as in the Arminian scheme. Rather, God must first free the individual from his enslavement to sin to a greater degree than in Arminianism, and then the regenerated heart naturally chooses the good. This work by God is sometimes called irresistible, in the sense that grace enables a person to freely cooperate, being set free from the desire to do the opposite, so that cooperation is not the cause of salvation but the other way around.
Non-Calvinist views

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has criticized Calvinist predestination on the grounds that “God wants all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)”.[16]

There has been much division among Lutherans as to how much of the Calvinist doctrine is correct. In 1912, the question of election became a hurdle to uniting three American Lutheran denominations; the Madison Settlement by which the union was effected declared the question of election to be a mystery that should not be resolved “either in a synergizing or a Calvinizing manner, in other words, [we reject] every doctrine which either on the one hand would deprive God of His glory as only Savior or on the other hand would weaken man’s sense of responsibility in relation to the acceptance or rejection of grace.”[17]

One Comment
  1. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert permalink

    We should note too, that there is a historical position which is called “Neo-Calvinism”, which first came from the Dutch, with Abraham Kuyper, and later Herman Bavinck, but it is now being used by many Calvinists today. Such as John Frame and Vern Poythress. I myself use and like the title and concept!

    *Btw we must note that for many modern (so-called) Calvinists today, there is simply NO change or debate, save just old school TULIP Calvinism! So for them Neo-Calvinism is NOT “Calvinism”! Very sad! For in reality Calvin himself did not teach “Limited” Atonement! This is historical if we read fully Calvin’s position. Calvin taught the Atonement was Sufficient for all, but only Efficient and efficacious for the Elect!

    irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert permalink

    Emphases of Neo-Calvinism…

    Jesus is Lord over all of creation. Jesus’ Lordship extends through every area and aspect of life – it is not restricted to the sphere of church or of personal piety.
    The idea that all of life is to be redeemed. The work of Jesus on the cross extends over all of life – no area is exempt from its impact. All knowledge is affected by the true knowledge of God through redemption in Christ.[5]
    Cultural Mandate. Genesis 1:26–28 has been described as a cultural mandate. It is the mandate to cultivate and develop the creation.[6] There is a historical development and cultural unfolding. Some Neo-Calvinists hold that the Cultural Mandate is as important as the Great Commission.[7]
    Creation, fall and redemption. God’s good creation has been disrupted by the fall. Redemption is a restoration of creation.[8]
    Sphere sovereignty (Soevereiniteit in eigen kring). Each sphere (or sector) of life has its own distinct responsibilities and authority as designed by God – for instance, communities dedicated to worship, civil justice, agriculture, family, etc. – and no one area of life is sovereign over another. Hence, neither faith-institutions nor an institution of civil justice (that is, the state) should seek totalitarian control or any regulation of human activity outside their limited competence.[9]
    A rejection of dualism. Dualisms are (purportedly false) bifurcations, dichotomies, contrasts, or oppositions, such as the dualism between nature and grace that [allegedly] dominated much of Scholasticism. In the Neo-Calvinist view, nature is the God-created and sustained cosmic order, not a “non-supernatural” category, and grace is God’s means of renewing the cosmic order, it is not something “non-creational” added onto nature (albeit eschatological in consummated glorification of bodily resurrection to eternal life and cosmic transformation of the new heavens and earth).
    Structure and direction. Structure denotes created laws and norms for (other) created things. Direction denotes relative deviation or conformity to norms; primarily regarding the central orientation of the human heart toward or away from God in Christ.[10]
    Common grace. God providentially sustains the created order, restraining of possible evils and giving non-salvific good gifts to all humanity despite their fall into sin, God’s curse, and his eventual condemnation of the unredeemed.[11]
    Presuppositional apologetics. The only framework in which any fact about the world is intelligible is the Christian worldview in general, and the theologically Reformed worldview in particular. The principles of logic and the use of reason assume the existence of God. Presuppositionalism is a reductio ad absurdum approach to Christian apologetics, in that it attempts to demonstrate that all non-Christian worldviews are internally inconsistent.
    The antithesis. There is a struggle in history and within every person – between submission to and rebellion against God; between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness; between the age to come (already inaugurated in Christ) and this present evil age (of sin).[12]
    World views. Neo-Calvinists reject the notion that theoretical thought can be religiously neutral. All thinking and practice is shaped by world views and religious ground motives. For the Neo-Calvinist, life in all its aspects can be shaped by a distinctively Christian world view.[13]
    The role of law. For Neo-Calvinists, “Law” is more than the Mosaic Decalogue, or even the entire abiding moral will of God. Law is, rather, the order for creation (or creation ordinances) established by God and includes a variety of types of cultural norms including physiological, psychological, logical, historical, linguistic, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, and faith norms.

    PS.. As I have noted elsewhere, I am surely pressed more towards Neo-Calvinism! But, I am always somewhat eclectic in my mind and approach, for GOD is much more than a mere logician and scholastic! He of course uses it, but HE always transcends His own logic, but He never violates it, by human standards at least. Paul writes: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4: 1, ESV) And for Paul, biblical mystery (Musterion, Gk.) is always outside of natural apprehension, and known only by Divine Revelation!

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