Saturday, May 24, 2008

Calvinism Refuted by Origen

Origen, along with the early Catholic Church, insists on the basic necessity for a totally free will even unto the point of cooperation with or on the other hand rejection of salvation itself whereby we can justly say that each man has the ability to either have faith in Christ or reject it. In other words, salvation is earned not by man but is given by the grace of God as a free gift; it is heretical however to say that man has no interaction in the matter. The Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity does not restrict man's free will in his ordinary course of life; only in the course of his salvation. That is, he is either granted salvation as a gift from God or he isn't and he is not able to seek God on his own. The doctrine of Irresistible Grace moreover teaches that this gift of God cannot be rejected by man - if one ends up being one of the select few chosen by God, the grace is "irresistible". Along with Unconditional Election, this doctrine flies squarely in the face of the brunt of Scripture with very few exceptions . Calvin wasn't the first to teach these doctrines though:

Let us begin, then, with those words which were spoken to Pharaoh, who is said to have been hardened by God, in order that he might not let the people go; and, along with his case, the language of the apostle also will be considered, where he says, Therefore He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardens. For it is on these passages chiefly that the heretics rely, asserting that salvation is not in our own power, but that souls are of such a nature as must by all means be either lost or saved; and that in no way can a soul which is of an evil nature become good, or one which is of a virtuous nature be made bad. - De Principiis 3.1.8
As I have said before, every doctrine which deviates from Catholic teaching is either a heresy already dealt with by the Church or a derivation of one. And for those of you who don't know, I am a former Calvinist who was predestined to become Catholic.

22 comments:

George Weis said...

Tim, Curious... what do they do with "election" and "predestined". Both scriptural words. What is the Catholic Explanation of such a thing?

-g-

Tim A. Troutman said...

Well, I have wondered that myself. The problem is though, in this case we are between a rock and a hard place. If we embrace those words "election" and "predestined" (in the Calvinistic way) then we have to jettison so many other words and passages in Scripture.

But that God called certain people out to Christianity is beyond dispute. This "election" or "predestination" doesn't mean that we can't reject His will, it only means that we have been put in a unique situation to respond to His grace. It does not mean that the poor Hindu in India is Hell bound simply because God didn't predestine him.

I also like what Origen says later:

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain” . By which words he does not indeed indicate that we should cease from building or watching over the safe keeping of that city which is within us; but what he points out is this, that whatever is built without God, and whatever is guarded without him, is built in vain, and guarded to no purpose. For in all things that are well built and well protected, the Lord is held to be the cause either of the building or of its protection.

But you're not even a Calvinist right? How do you deal with those words?

Kim said...

I have nothing to add, but I just had to say how funny it looks with you two BOTH lounging around in your pictures! ;D

R. E. Aguirre. said...

Good post. Lucidius has also been called Jean Calvin 1000 years early and he was squarely condemned at the Council of Arles by the Catholic Church. Soteriology is trickier than most other doctrines in the early fathers (especially pre St. Augustine)since there was no definitive comprehensive statement on the doctrine of salvation (this of course is not to say that the patristic testimony was not unified).

One thing I am absolutely sure of, is that it was not what modern Protestants adhere too - via their confessional standards.

As Tim has cited, we see a transparent doctrine on the reality of free will among the majority of the early fathers( i.e, St. Epiphanius (Adversus haereses panarium. 64, 49), St. Athanasius (Oratio contra gentes. 4, 31-33), et al). And yet, other times we see statements of the fathers that predicate our relationship with God based on His movement upon our will, ( i.e, Barnabas (Letter. 16, 7-9), St. Clement of Rome (Letter. 32, 4, 33, 2, 7-8), et al).

I agree with those scholars who have explained this apparent tension not as a case of an "either/or" but as an "both/and". St. Clement of Rome cited above is a classic example of this. He can state confidently that it is left to the will of man to choose correctly,

"Let us note what is good, what is pleasing and acceptable to Him who made us. Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ and let us realize how precious it is to his Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world. Let us go through all the generations and observe that from one generation to another the Master "has afforded an opportunity of repentance" (Wis 12:10) to those who are willing to turn to him. Noah preached repentance and those who heeded him were saved. Jonah preached destruction to the Ninevites; and when they had repented of their sins, they propitiated God with their prayers and gained salvation despite the fact they were not God's people" (Epistula ad Corinthios. 7, 3-7).

And yet in the same letter we see the paradox (a paradox that is also seen everywhere in the New Testament), it is God that acts upon our will to choose,

"And we therefore, who by his will have been called in Jesus Christ, are not justified of ourselves or by our wisdom or insight or religious devotion or holy deeds we have done from the heart, but by that faith by which almighty God has justified all men from the very beginning" (Ibid. 32, 4).

This tension continued correctly understood in the living tradition of the early church since no heretical attack had forced the orthodox church to explicate the doctrine (as was the usual manner of elucidation). It was left to the great St. Augustine defending the Catholic position contra the heretical Pelagians who best construed the historical position.

Again though, turning to St. Clement in the same letter to the Corinthians, he gives us the full flower of the Catholic position (and thus demonstrates the continuity of the regula fidei, since this is the same formulation given by St. Augustine later against the heretics),

"Why was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because of his deeds of justice and truth, wrought in faith?" (Ib. 31, 2).

______________

R.E. Aguirre
regulafide.blogspot.com

Moonshadow said...

Before I knew much about Reformed theology, a Calvinist friend in the PCA church referred me to the canons of the Council of Orange. I didn't have a problem with any of the canons and told her so, but I added that council was local in scope, not universal.

She was (and is) pretty sure that Catholics are at least semi-Pelagians, if not full-blown Pelagians because the role sacraments play in our salvation.

Rereading the canons of Orange now, again, it is probably this one that would be expected to stick in the Catholic's craw:

if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle

---------

Catholics use the language of election and predestination, especially of adult converts in RCIA.

I heard Dr. John Bergsma on The Journey Home (3/24/08) explain the Catholic understanding of predestination. Essentially, our understanding isn't definitively spelled out - there's some leeway of convictions - with the exception of those aspects we are forbidden to hold, namely, the belief that God consigns any souls to hell as a matter of course.

R. E. Aguirre. said...

Well Moon, you can assure you're friend that Catholics are not in any way shape or form "semi-Pelagians" (at least not in official dogma).

The official teaching of the Catholic Church (and that of the fathers) is that the initiation in salvation is sola gratia (grace alone)- every single time without exception. Thus, the first step is taken by the Triune God to help us miserable sinners. It's what happens after this first step that is so contentious in Christian theology.
________________

R.E. Aguirre
regulafide.blogspot.com

George Weis said...

Tim, I will reply to you, since you were directly speaking to me... but there are many thought provoking additions to this post.

I did at one point consider myself a Calvinist, but shortly thereafter found to much scripture speaking of the free will of man. Also the language of God "wishing none should perish".

My personal (sounds very protestant doesn't it) stand is that this portion of our salvation is a mystery, and is best left to God's perfect plan. Is there a form of predestination/election absolutely. Is there free will... no doubt about it. How do the two co-exist and cooperate I have no idea!
Rick's statement is an interesting one.

However, I can't see eye to eye at this time with a pluralistic view point that allows people who "haven't heard" the opportunity of salvation. However, God does reveal himself through nature in a very general way, and so could God in his mercy draw some to Himself without any knowledge of Christ? I will leave that in His hands. All I know, is that Faith comes by hearing the Word. If faith in Christ is essential to salvation (as we all agree), than to me I have a bleak view for the unbeknownst hindu. May the Lord in His infinite grace and mercy draw many to Himself... yet, we must go to them and also present the gospel of Christ.

Blessings to each of you!

-g-

Tim A. Troutman said...

Mr. Aguirre and Moon Shadow, thanks for the additions. I had never heard of either Lucidius or the Council of Orange.

George, your take on it really sounds more Catholic than Protestant to me.

The Catholic Church acknowledges that there is a predestination and that salvation itself is a great mystery. The Church, in fact, is careful only to make judgments here and elsewhere when she deems it necessary to protect from error. The Church may even have preferred to leave certain mysteries more open were it not for heretics (like Calvin in this case) teaching things which were almost true but wrong enough to cause dangerous error.

On the issue of personal opinions - this isn't something exclusive to Protestants; Catholics have opinions too of course. The difference in thought is that the Protestant says "where my opinion comes into conflict with other viewpoints, only the Scripture can trump it" and the Catholic says that the Church or the Scripture may trump his/her opinion. The real problem is that our understanding of Scripture is so wrapped up both in personal ignorance and personal opinion that we can in effect, create our own version of Christianity by allowing only "the Scripture" to trump our opinion.

Because while we think it is "the Scripture" trumping our opinion and thereby are we being obedient to Christ; in reality, it is our personal interpretation of Scripture coupled with (again) our ignorance. That ignorance may take various forms but the point I'm trying to make here is that the world's top biblical scholar cannot extract 100% infallible truths from the Scriptures since he himself is ignorant of some things and has a personal agenda to go along with it. Case in point, Protestant scholar NT Wright, widely recognized as among the top NT scholars on the planet has done a lot of great work recently; but he has only been discovering for Protestants, in many ways, what the Church has taught all along. And even he, with his scholarly credentials (not to mention his theological ones following Lightfoot's position as the Bishop of Durham in the ecclesial community of England) has made some serious theological blunders - most notably on women's ordination.

Now again, one may accuse Catholics of something similar but it is invalid. You could say "well Catholics can only interpret Church teachings through their own personal opinions too". But the Church is a living voice with living authority and that is absolutely key. One may misunderstand the Church as easily as he may misunderstand the Scriptures if one were so inclined. (Just take a look at all the liberal Catholics out there who scarcely know the first thing about Catholic teaching). Hans Kung is a great example. He misunderstood the Church as badly as mainstream Protestants have misunderstood the Scriptures (actually much worse since the Church is so much clearer on issues). But the difference is that Hans Kung has been silenced by the Magisterium and is no longer allowed to teach Catholic doctrine in any official capacity because he
has unequivocally misrepresented her teaching. The Church can rise up and say with authority "you misunderstood me" whereas the Scripture cannot and does not. This is protection from schism which is why the Catholic Church remains one. Protestants have only one tool to deal with supposed misunderstandings of Scripture and that is schism hence > however many denominations now exist.

On the pluralistic view of salvation - this is another area where we must be careful of our sources (and I don't know yours so I'm not condemning them at all). But it is important to remember that when the Catholic Church allows for the possibility of non-Christians escaping damnation, she isn't saying "Hindus, Muslims and Jews are all going to Heaven with us" she is saying that God, as He has revealed Himself to us, has given us absolutely no indication that He is the type of God who would require from someone what they are literally incapable of producing. Someone who had never heard of Christ could not possibly believe in Him. Furthermore, she (the Church) has also stated that as they are without the sacraments, they are at a profound disadvantage for salvation - hence the continued need for evangelism.

Thos said...

It may be presumptuous to add to R.E.'s view: "I agree with those scholars who have explained this apparent tension not as a case of an "either/or" but as an "both/and"." I'm a lowly learner about Catholicism, so I mean this humbly (what I mean is, he doesn't need me agreement by any means) -- I think he's got it dead-on. I JUST read the part in Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's book, "Predestination", covering Thomas Aquinas, where he says that it is "both/and" (free will and God's divine choice). He analogizes these to two yoked horses pulling a heavy cart (which is the working out of our salvation).

At any rate, this book has made clear to me (though I realize it's from the pro-Predestination end of the permissible spectrum that our dear John Bergsma (of *Calvin* Seminary) mentioned) that Catholicism truly isn't semi-Pelagian, even if many Catholics live their faith out in a way that smells like it. These are deep and nuanced matters, so I am trying to be careful before faulting an individual Catholic for slipping into semi-Pelagian tones. I'm sure if I were Catholic I would slip into Predestinarian (the opposite heresy) tones.

To George and Tim's early exchange in this combox, if I grasp this complex matter to any extent, I'm pretty sure Aquinas does not use election and predestination interchangeably. One leads to the other in the divine order of salvation (but I forget which comes first!). Anyway, this pro-Predestination camp, I think it's often seen as the Dominican perspective, runs head-long into Romans 8, 9 et al. Thomas Aquinas was *unapologetic*. He did not try to avoid those verses at all. The only impermissible thing seems to be to take that last step Calvin took, which was to say that while God predestined some to salvation, He predestined others to perdition/damnation. God gives grace sufficient to attain salvation to all, and those who fall are justly punished for their own hard-heartedness. But on the other hand, those who have soft enough hearts have only God's grace to thank for it. This is predilection: where one person is saved and another is not, it is because they were given (not earned) MORE grace, and that only because God loved the saved person *even more* (the reason for which is the MYSTERY at the root of the matter, but cannot be based on God's foreknowledge of the person's merits). He gives them a grace that is sufficiently efficacious to achieve His will (their salvation).

Does anyone know this: are Calvin and Aquinas really *that* far off in the way they describe the salvation of the elect? I believe they are not that far off, but their difference on the other end (the non-elect), simple as the difference may be, probably cannot be overstated in its consequences. The half that seems so similar, if I'm not missing something from Thomas Aquinas, would make sense to me because Calvin would have developed his own (individual) interpretations from the Augustine-Aquinas chain of thought. I hope I'm not saying something offensive to the Catholic view.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

Thos said...

I just stumbled across this resource that seems pretty thorough: http://www.romancatholicism.org/jansenism/thomism-ignorance.htm.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

R. E. Aguirre. said...

Tim,

The Council(s) of Orange were called to battle and define certain doctrines, not the least, the heresies of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11266b.htm

In like manner, the Synods of Arles- http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01727b.htm were called to discuss some heresies/issues. One was to condemn the Gallic Priest Lucidus whose views were as follows,

"...whose views were condemned at the Council of Arles (473 A.D.). Of particular importance are his assertions that Christ did not die for all men, (Limited Atonement), that the divine grace is irresistible (irresistable grace), and that those who are lost, are lost through God's will (double-predestination)."

(Anglican scholar) Alister McGrath, "Iustitia Dei", p. 129 (paraphrases mine).

Imagine what the early church would have done with either Luther or Calvin (Lucidus was a wateredown version).
_______________

R.E. Aguirre
regulafide.blogspot.com

Tim A. Troutman said...

Thos, that post is interesting. I didn't have time to read it all thoroughly but I wanted to point out a couple things. I haven't studied Aquinas yet so I'm pretty ignorant in that area. I find it interesting how this thought compares with the early fathers.

For Origen, there exists an eternal egalitarianism of sorts. God created everything equally - even the angels because He would have no reason to do otherwise (in Origen's mind) and by acts of their own free will, they became differentiated. Origen may be taking it to an extreme but he isn't altogether out of line with early Christian thought here. Most readings of Romans 9 (especially from a Calvinist point of view and perhaps now even from a Thomist point of view) would have no issue stating God plainly made some for honor (salvation) and others for dishonor (damnation). The same could easily be said of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart that we saw in Exodus. But what Origen argued in De Principiis (Book 3) is that Pharaoh, by free will, made himself the victim of God's wrath.

Chrysostom echoes this line of thought in his commentary on Romans 9:

"What he means is somewhat as follows. Pharaoh was a vessel of wrath, that is, a man who by his own hard-heartedness had kindled the wrath of God. For after enjoying much long-suffering, he became no better, but remained unimproved. Wherefore he calleth him not only “a vessel of wrath,” but also one “fitted for destruction.” That is, fully fitted indeed, but by his own proper self."

Tim A. Troutman said...

BTW, be careful what info you get off of that site. It's a fringe site (I'm not disputing that particular link) but I saw a link on the main page to some various questionable material including a denial of the Holocaust.

The only reason I was suspicious to begin with was that a supposed Catholic site was using the Protestant term "Roman Catholicism".

Thos said...

Tim,

Egatz. I went and linked to a "fringe" sight (that's a polite way to refer to them, my friend). Do forgive.

When I talk about Predestination, I realize I am a fish swimming in a barrel, waiting to be shot. It's a nice swim, but I'm fully prepared to be picked off by you or anyone more knowledgeable.

Re: Origen and his view that "God created everything equally... and by acts of their own free will, they became differentiated", I think this is at logger-heads with Aquinas (but not necessarily impermissible as a Catholic view - not for me to say, of course). From what I've gathered out of Fr. G-L, Aquinas would say that, while God may have created all men equal, whatever is good in man is from God. Therefore, when one man has more good in him, that is, is able to orient his will to God more than the next man, it is from (or of) God. And what God gives, He gives because He loves us, therefore Him who has more (grace, goodness) has been loved more. I repeat that I think that this is all consequent to the proposition that whatever we have that is good is *gratuitously* from God.

How could God create us "equal" in one sense, and yet choose to love some more than others, to make some for good and others as objects of wrath? I think (I hope I have this right) that's precisely what Aquinas identified as the unanswerable mystery (along with Paul).

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Thos, I hope I didn't come across as disagreeing with you, I think you're right in your estimation of Aquinas and I think he and Origen (and even Chrysostom) do see it quite differently. I don't think Origen's egalitarianism necessarily extends to humanity in the same way that we're talking about - I'm sort of reading that into his statements here and elsewhere in book 3 of De Principiis.

He is quite explicit about the angels being created that way and I think at least the second part of his principle applies here (for him I mean): that men (like Pharaoh) had their heart hardened by God at least in part due to their free will. IE> God didn't control them like a robot and make them have a hard heart against Him.

Aquinas does seem to say otherwise and the apparent reading of Romans 9 is clearly different here. It's a difficult mystery to be sure. I think the Church is fairly open on the concept of Predestination. The only clear dogma I know of is that we cannot say that God predestines anyone to Hell.

If I was the coach of a soccer team of 11 players and the bench represented hell, I could predestine each player to a specific position before the game. When it came time to play though, each player would have the ability to cooperate with my predestination or reject it by sitting on the bench. This helps in understanding how one could be predestined to Heaven and not get there and in admitting that God predestines to Heaven while not admitting that He predestines to hell; yet it leaves the difficulty of why bother having predestination at all? If everyone is predestined to Heaven, then no one is predestined to Heaven. Kinda like if everyone is special then no one is special.

I think you are right to speculate on the nearness of Calvin to Catholic soteriology in some respects. I mean a good Calvinist would make a better Catholic than most Catholics and a good Catholic would make a better Calvinist than most Calvinists! :P This isn't to say that there aren't significant differences. The main issues I thought Origen was refuting here (and the Catholic Church continues to I'm sure of this much) is the "Irresistible Grace" & "Unconditional Election". Unconditional election is probably ok with Catholic doctrine if by "election" we mean "predestination". But I think Calvinists (at least the modern ones) tend to think of election as the salvation process. That salvation itself happens before we even know about it - really before we're born. This sort of doctrine cannot be tolerated for obvious reasons. But if we say "predestination" is unconditional, then that is fine - God is no respecter of persons.

But salvation itself is considerably conditional. So we cannot mean "the salvation process" when we say "election" here and I think most Calvinists do mean that (whatever the official doctrine may or may not say).

I have to cut this short - gotta take my son to soccer practice!

One thing, I'm not sure how to take some of your reply, I hope I didn't come across in the wrong way. And I appreciated the link I think its a good one, I didn't mean to say it wasn't. I hope you're not offended by anything I said and if I came across condescending or as if I'm trying to "pick you off" please accept my apology. I don't even think I'm disagreeing with you.

Peace

Moonshadow said...

The only clear dogma I know of is that we cannot say that God predestines anyone to Hell.

To be quite fair, I'd add Calvinists aren't obliged to accept this conclusion, either. 'Though some may.

Calvinists ... tend to think of election as the salvation process.

And this would be the "perseverance of the saints."

On another post, you mention total depravity. I wanted to add that the Reformed teaching of "common grace" softens total depravity so that, in the end, it doesn't differ much from the Catholic view of fallen humanity.

I heard a PCA minster refer to common grace on Easter Sunday; he said, without it, there wouldn't be enough door locks in the world to keep you safe. Chilling. To engage God's creation from a Reformed perspective must be a sober and somber experience. I'm too wimpy for it.

Thos said...

Tim,

Ew, sorry, no your reply was in no way offensive. Maybe, to drag you down with me, I could say that you and I talking about the scholarly elements on predestination are like two fish in a barrel, enjoying the swim, but a real Thomistic scholar or two could blow us out of the water... I was just trying to act humble :). This topic like none other makes me feel like I could put my foot in my mouth at any instant.

Re: the soccer analogy, what in player A makes him play the position you assigned while player B does not? If playing the position is good, and all good comes from God, then the player's good comes from God.

Re: the only boundary in Catholicism (about double election), I believe you meant implicitly that there is an opposite boundary, that of semi-Pelagianism. I understand that the Catholic must affirm he is saved not through his own merits, but through God's grace (which brings him to faith, works, et al.).

I need to finish this book to find out if he says more on Calvinism, but the one section I know of is disappointingly short (it was not the scope of his work though). I would *love* to talk to a Thomistic scholar about how Thomas would handle irresistible grace and unconditional atonement. He *does* have some surprisingly straightforward language about God electing some, giving them the grace need to make that will occur, and God's grace never failing to achieve its purpose. So I wonder if he is saying that for some it really is irresistible, and for others the possibility is open? I'll have to keep plugging away to find out. That part (about the unconditional efficacy of grace) really stood out as similar to Calvin.

But then you raise an excellent point of distinction that I can attest to in the lived experience of a Calvinist. I was saved, we say, at the cross of Calvary, not at my baptism or during my life. It was all set in stone, we would say. I am not even certain that is completely false, but I do know that it tends to eviscerate the meaning of "make your calling and election sure".

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

Thos said...

Moonshadow,

Hey neat! I was just thinking the other day about total depravity and common grace, how they seemed at odds in the Reformed scheme.

Peace,
Thos.

Moonshadow said...

If playing the position is good, and all good comes from God, then the player's good comes from God.

Let's not leave out the Catholic notion of virtue. Lewis devoted chapters to them but summarizes their significance like this:

There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action and being a just or temperate man. Someone who is not a good tennis player may now and then make a good shot. What you mean by a good player is the man whose eye and muscles and nerves have been so trained by making innumerable good shots that they can now be relied on. They have a certain tone or quality which is there even when he is not playing, just as a mathematician's mind has a certain habit and outlook which is there even when he is not doing mathematics. In the same way a man who perseveres in doing just actions gets in the end a certain quality of character. Now it is that quality rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of a 'virtue'.

And please let's not forget the Catholic concept of "merit". I've heard R. C. Sproul explain this with characteristic erudition in the context of justification, specifically regarding the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation.

-----------

I'm curious about this:

I was saved ... at the cross of Calvary

You mean, the cross in history, right? Not a re-presentation of Calvary for you at the moment of regeneration? But, redemption before you were born?

I've been struck lately with the apparently enduring nature of Christ's blood, seemingly available post-Calvary:

1 Pet. 1:18-19 (ESV) knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ,

I emphasized "perishable" in that verse because I think a contrast may be implied.

Rev. 7:17 (ESV) "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

I read a post on your blog, Thos, and would just offer that there's nothing wrong with being a skeptical Catholic. My two cents.

Thos said...

Moonshadow,

I admit that I did not read the entire article on merit (as it was quite lengthy). I did note this quote from Trent: "the Lord . . . whose bounty towards all men is so great, that He will have the things, which are His own gifts, be their merits." I guess I mean that any merit of the believer is ultimately attributable to God's grace. I did not mean to say the Christian is not personally meritorious at the same time. I think the right view is that ultimate causation is of God by His grace, and the meritorious Christian can lay claim to a "but for" causation by his free participation (in obedience, works).

I did mean the cross in history. I think that's a 'mature' Reformed view, and those Reformed who don't agree often refuse to agree on account of Arminian-Baptistic sympathies (semi-Pelagian, perhaps?). That is a broad statement, so of course many individual exceptions exist. But I have heard many a true-blue Calvinist sermon discuss our salvation as having occurred (past tense) at the cross (historically). As in, Jesus had us in mind when he substitutively suffered for us, and there was no losing us from that point on.

Peace in Christ,
Thos.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Moonshadow:
To be quite fair, I'd add Calvinists aren't obliged to accept this conclusion, either. 'Though some may.

That is fair. In his epistle to the bishop of Spain Pope Hadrian I wrote:

"He has prepared rewards for those who are to be glorified; but for the wicked He has not prepared evil wills or evil works, but He has prepared them just and eternal punishments. This is the eternal predestination of the future works of God, which as we have always acknowledged to be taught to us by apostolic doctrine, so also faithful we proclaim..."

It seems awfully close to Calvinism. But as Thos was admitting, Calvinists tend to view all this as a past tense event. Salvation for a Christian isn't a past tense event until life is over. It is always in the future or else we could do away with the Kyrie in mass. The saved have no need for mercy.


And this would be the "perseverance of the saints."


I don't think so, I've never heard of that. Calvinists do not think of a salvation process at all. As I said, it was a past event. To Calvinists (and here to all Protestants really), justification and sanctification are two separate things. The perseverance of the saints is the process of sanctification. For Calvinists, this has no salvific outcome. You either go to heaven or hell based on election and becoming saintly is being conformed to the image of Christ while here on earth. It's not so according to the Church. The non-distinction between justification and sanctification is a decisive point of separation between Catholic & Protestant soteriology.

Thats a good point about the enduring nature of Christ's blood.

Daniel N said...

I am not a Catholic, nor a Calvinist. True that it is Romans 9 that is the main text used by Calvinists, however, it is this text that causes problems for the Calvinist.

Lets look at the fact that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. At first, reading this sounds consistent with a doctrine of predestination. Where God is exercising his sovereignty in order to cause Pharaoh not to be saved.
However, if God hardened Pharaoh's heart, that means beforehand his heart was - not hardened. Following the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, Pharaoh's heart should have allready been hardened by his "Total Depravity".

The Calvinist only has one way out of this delema:
to say that God had previously regenerated his heart. In turn, Pharaoh must have turned and been saved. (To deney this would be to deney "Irresistible Grace".)

This causes another delema for the calvinist:
If Pharaoh was saved, and God later hardened his heart, this would be to say that Pharaoh lost his salvation - which is in conflict with the Calvinist doctrine of "Perseverence of the Saints".

Seeing that there is no scriptural evidence to say that Pharaoh was ever saved, the only conclusion is that the doctrine of "Total Depravity" is a false doctrine.

Without "Total Depravity", the entire Calvinistic doctrine of predestination falls apart.

To those of you who ask "What about the texts that talk about Election or Predestination?"

Firstly, Arminians, and other non-Calvinist protestants dont deney Election and predestination. If you read the bible carefully, instances where the word "predestined" is used (eg Eph 1, Rom 8) the predestination is not on an individual level, and is not referring to salvation. Rather, the Christian's destination is sanctification, and to be made sons of God.
However it is not a predestination to become a Christian, nor to be saved, nor to have faith.

In regards to election. The Arminian would argue that election (Or "Choosing") is based off God's foreknowledge of who would respond in faith.
I personally think that Election is conditional apon faith.

One final thing. When Calvinists claim that their doctrine is based off the fact the God is sovereign - this is rubbish. Arminians dont deney God's sovereignty. To say that God cannot give his creation the ability to choose faith would be to deney God's sovereignty. Both sides agree that God is sovereign. It is only what God chooses to do with his sovereignty that is in question.

I could go on, but I think I've said enough for now.

God Bless.