Thursday, January 10, 2013

John Calvin's View Of Predestination And Of God's Character

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

John Calvin's View Of Predestination And Of God's Character
    I have several books by the Protestant Reformer,  John Calvin. Some are commentaries, some are sermons, and two are books on theology. 
    It might surprise some readers to know his view of predestination, which he expounds on in depth in his famous books on theology. His view of predestination reveals his twisted view of the character of God.
    What follows (in red) is a quote from volume two of his two-volume theology set called "Institutes Of The Christian Religion." It is from the chapter on "Eternal election." Here is some of what Calvin wrote on this subject: "We call predestination God's eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death."
     Do you really grasp his point that he believed God has created some to eternal life, and some to eternal damnation? This means he believed God determined who will and who won't become saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ! Individuals, then, become mere puppets doing what God makes them do.
     Perhaps some readers might think I have have  misunderstood Calvin's point. The following quotes from the same chapter by Calvin show he has not been misunderstood: "The fact that the reprobate do not obey God's Word when it is made known to them will be justly charged against the malice and depravity of their hearts, provided it be added at the same time that they have been given over to this depravity because they have been raised up by the just but inscrutable judgment of God to show forth his glory in their condemnation." And yet later in the same chapter Calvin made this statement: "God is said to have ordained from eternity those whom he wills to embrace in love, and those upon whom he wills to vent his wrath. Yet he announces salvation to all men indiscriminately. I maintain that these statements agree perfectly with each other. For by so promising he merely means that his mercy is extended to all, provided that they seek after it and implore it. But only those whom he has illumined do this. And he illumines those whom he has predestined to salvation."
     But this is a great misrepresntation of the character of God, for God wants all persons to be saved, but leaves the choice in their hands. An open-minded reading of the New Testament leads one to reject John Calvin's view of God's character.
Calvin's view of God's character led James Arminius to dogmatically oppose it.
     In volume 2 of "The Works Of James Arminius" we read his essay called "On Predestination To Salvation, And on Damnation, Considered In The Highest Degree." Here (in red) is some of what he wrote on the subject: "8. It is a horrible affirmation, that 'God has predestined whatsoever men He pleased not only to damnation, but likewise to the causes of damnation.' ---(Beza, vol. 1, fol. 417.)  9. It is a horrible affirmation that 'men are predestined to eternal death by the naked will or choice of God, without any demerit [proprium] on their part.' (Calvin's Inst. l. 1, c. 2, 3.) 10. This also is a horrible affirmation, 'Some among men have been created unto life eternal, and others unto death eternal.' "
Something related to this subject is Calvinism's subjectivism.
     Five-point Calvinists say Jesus Christ died to save only certain persons. But they have no objective basis by which to put themselves among the group whom they claim Christ died to save.Their claim to be among this group is merely subjective, for no Biblical statement says he died to save them, specifically. Where, for example, does the Bible say that Jesus Christ died to save John Calvin? 
     Calvinistic claims to be among those whom God has elected to save, in exclusion of others, is also subjective, for no Biblical statement says who are the elect. Where, for example, does the Bible say John Calvin is one of the elect?
     Calvinists will claim, however, that the proof of their election to be saved is their Christian behavior and beliefs. But what if they do not persevere in the faith? What if they backslide? What if they come to have doubts about some Biblical teachings? How can they, at those times, know they are among the elect? 
    Subjective claims are not a good nail on which to hang one's faith. What we need is the nail of objective, Biblical truth on which to hang our faith. And that, praise the Lord, is exactly what we find in the Bible.

1 comment:

  1. Very good article. I never could understand how people can believe in predestination when it is not in the Bible. The Bible says Jesus died to save ALL mankind.