Friday, June 29, 2007

Protestant Errors On The Doctrine Of Predestination

Part 3 of a 3 part series: Calvin

"He surpasses Luther and Zwingli in the force of his logical conclusions. The fundamental thesis of his doctrine is that some are freely predestined, and the rest are freely and positively damned. According to his theory, God urges man to sin, which is, however, freely committed, in the sense that there is no exterior influence compelling man to commit sin. There is no fatalism in this, says Calvin, but a mysterious and just will of God, although this is beyond man’s comprehension. On this point he writes: ‘We say, therefore, as evidently attested by the Scripture, that once for all God has decreed by His eternal and immutable plan, whom He willed to accept for eternal salvation and whom He willed to consign to eternal perdition. We say that this counsel, as regards the elect, has its foundation in God’s mercy, without any consideration of man’s dignity. On the contrary, admittance to eternal life is foreclosed to all those whom He wills to deliver up to eternal damnation; and this is the result of His secret and incomprehensible judgment, although it is according to strict justice.’ The corresponding Latin text does not differ from this except by the addition of ‘gratuitous’ to the word ‘mercy.’ It reads as follows: ‘The plan, as regards the elect, has its foundation in His gratuitous mercy.’ This doctrine admits, of course, a certain necessity of good works for the salvation of adults; but it does not acknowledge them to be meritorious.

The antilapsarians, who were disciples of Calvin, said that even before Adam’s sin was foreseen, God did not will to save all mankind. On the contrary, the infralapsarians said that, as a consequence of this foreseen sin, God does not will to save all mankind. Calvin, following up the stand taken by Wyclif, added that those who come under the sentence of reprobation are purified only externally by baptism, not receiving the grace of this sacrament. In the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the predestined do not receive the body of Christ, but merely a divine power that emanates from Christ’s body present in heaven. The Church is invisible, consisting of the assembly of the predestined.

This Calvinist doctrine on predestination was not accepted by those of moderate views. One of their distinguished leaders since 1588 was James Harmensz, who was called Arminius. He was appointed in 1602 a professor in the University of Leyden, where the stern Gomar already held the same position. Arminius attacked Calvin’s and Beza’s system, on certain points attracting the attention of several Catholic theologians. Arminius’ theory of liberty aroused the anger of some, and he had to engage in a very spirited argument with Gomar, who defended the following thesis: God’s free good pleasure alone is the impelling antecedent cause of reprobation from grace and glory to a just damnation. This doctrine left no trace of the distinction between negative reprobation which permits sin, and positive reprobation which punishes it. This doctrine was imposed, however, by the Synod of Dordrecht. It maintained with the infralapsarians that at least after original sin God no longer wills the salvation of all mankind, and that Christ died only for the elect. This doctrine, which at first was optional among the Calvinists of the Low Countries, was later on made obligatory."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

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