Sunday, January 02, 2011

Young Restless Reformed and Their Denials

I have been having a fascinating exchange with a challenged fellow recently or at least one passing himself off as such. We have been discussing the anathemas of the 2nd Council of Orange particularly with regard to that body's concern with those who promoted an extended version of Augustine's determinism commonly called double predestination today. As I noted in a previous post Orange dealt primarily with the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian errors. They also found themselves having to address a hard determinism that was bringing schisms into the church. Philip Schaff has a definitive summary of these events in his History of the Christian Church. The apparently offending passage from the Canons of Orange is We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. Now this is a fairly straight forward comment that has been well understood for nearly the past 1,500 years as addressing strict determinism. When I related that the strict determinism of these earlier fellows surfaced as the double predestination of Calvinist soteriology, it was met with further denials. Well, the wonderful thing about Calvinist theology is that several of its articulate adherents graced us with an abundance of written evidence to help explain these beliefs to their later followers who apparently do not read what they profess to believe. One of those adherents of this theology is the namesake himself, John Calvin. He offered the following comment from his Instituters of the Christian Religion.

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 of other of these ends, we say that he as been predestinated to life or to death - John Calvin, Institutes book III ch 21

Now, I underlined the clarifying portion of the passage to emphasize to the young, restless Reformed fellow to help him see what he was missing in his understanding. He further astounded me with the following reply ...

Please point out in that quote of Calvin where he claims that "men are predestined to wickedness, evil, sin with that end being determined before hand by God".

Maybe this is a new trick that James White or Phil Johnson have come up with to confound Christians into wild eyed lunacy or perhaps the fellow really is as dense as he seems. I had to leave off with him as he has taxed my patience.

The discussion thread to this can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Where does he say that man was predestined to evil, or such? He just said predestined to a particular end.

A.M. Mallett said...

The comment by Calvin states he was created for that end. If this was a matter of being predestined as a result of being foreknown through God's omniscience, there would be little objection nor would the council of 2nd Orange objected. However, determinism has God creating, purposefully creating, men for eternal damnation.
Perhaps you could explain how Calvin was not expressing hard determinism (and please do so with a valid account or proper name, thanks).

Anonymous said...

As a result of being foreknown? Which color glasses would I have to wear to engage in this discussion?

A.M. Mallett said...

If you cannot engage the subject matter, feel free to move on.