Calvinist Historian Herman Bavinck

Predestined

Well-known member
Herman Bavinck



  1. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend, vol. 2, God and Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 348. He references Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian among the ante-Nicene fathers, and John of Damascus among the later Eastern teachers.

Cited from Desiring God website

This Calvinist historian admits the early church did not teach absolute predestination and irresistible grace but taught free will to accept the grace proffered by God
In the three centuries from the Apostles to Augustine the early Church held to NONE of the five points of Calvinism, not one. The writings of the orthodox Church, for the first three centuries, are in stark contrast to the ideas of Augustine and Calvin. They taught that man is fully responsible for his choice to respond to or reject the Gospel.

Justin Martyr (AD 110-165)
“But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Justin, First Apology, XLIII)
 

fltom

Well-known member
In the three centuries from the Apostles to Augustine the early Church held to NONE of the five points of Calvinism, not one. The writings of the orthodox Church, for the first three centuries, are in stark contrast to the ideas of Augustine and Calvin. They taught that man is fully responsible for his choice to respond to or reject the Gospel.

Justin Martyr (AD 110-165)
“But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Justin, First Apology, XLIII)
That is a true statement

It took Augustine and Manichean influence before those Calvinist ideas could be developed
 
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guest1

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In the three centuries from the Apostles to Augustine the early Church held to NONE of the five points of Calvinism, not one. The writings of the orthodox Church, for the first three centuries, are in stark contrast to the ideas of Augustine and Calvin. They taught that man is fully responsible for his choice to respond to or reject the Gospel.

Justin Martyr (AD 110-165)
“But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Justin, First Apology, XLIII)
free will as you know was the early churches doctrine
 
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guest1

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Here are some ( 8 Calvinist theologians ) who deny mans Free will:

Free will is nonsense (Spurgeon, Free Will a Slave, 3).
Free will is the invention of man, instigated by the devil (David Wilmoth, The Baptist Examiner, September 16, 1989, 5).
Free will makes man his own savior and his own god (Tom Ross, Abandoned Truth, 56).
The heresy of free will dethrones God and enthrones man. … The ideas of free grace and free will are diametrically opposed. All who are strict advocates of free will are strangers to the grace of the sovereign God (W. E. Best, Free Grace Versus Free Will, 35, 43).
To affirm that [man] is a free moral agent is to deny that he is totally depraved (Pink, Sovereignty of God, 138).
In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater and lesser evil, which is not properly free will… As the bird with a broken wing is ‘free’ to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able (Boettner, Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 62).
Inasmuch as Adam’s offspring are born with sinful natures, they do not have the ability to choose spiritual good over evil. Consequently, man’s will is no longer free (i.e., free from the dominion of sin) as Adam’s will was free before the Fall. Instead, man’s will, as the result of inherited depravity, is in bondage to his sinful nature (Steele & Thomas, Five Points of Calvinism, 19).https://redeeminggod.com/no-free-will-in-calvinism/

the non calvinist correcting the calvinist about calvinism ....

oops

next

hope this helps !!!
 
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guest1

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He believes in free will but denies a Christian can freely choose to walk away from the faith. He also denies the will is free.
Who is the he and can you quote him saying the above ? Isn't that against the "rules " here ?
 

Sketo

Well-known member
Here's the actual context of Desiring God that the OP did not provide...



The earliest Christian writers after the close of the New Testament canon did not stress God’s predestination of his elect. In fact, until the days in which Augustine (354–430) felt compelled to respond to the heretical ideas of Pelagius (who, among other things, denied the biblical truth of original sin) and the later semi-Pelagians (who taught that, though persons inherited sin from Adam, they were still able on their own to do some spiritual good to which God would respond in grace), the church did not stress the gracious predestinarian chords of Paul or Jesus.

Why did some great thinkers in the history of the church (people like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius), who thought deeply and wrote thoughtfully, not address a doctrine that seems so apparent throughout both the Old and the New Testaments? Several reasons may contribute.

Augustine: “God’s grace does not find but makes those fit to be chosen.”
First, even though many Christians thought deeply during this period of time, Christians faced intermittent and sometimes empire-wide persecution up until the reign of Constantine as the emperor of Rome. Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 finally granted Christians freedom of religion. Believers fighting for their lives are deprived of the luxury to reflect as deeply on God’s word as they wish they could. In addition to this pressure from persecution, Roman authorities sometimes destroyed Christian writings, especially believers’ copies of the Scriptures.

Second, as early Christians struggled to define themselves in a hostile environment, they strove to avoid many of the errors of their day. They opposed Stoicism, which was fatalistic, in addition to other fatalistic religions and philosophies. John Hannah is certainly correct in noting that “as arguments are shaped by opponents, causing a perpetual imbalance, and as doctrine is formulated only at points of conflict and not holistically, the Gnostic and Manichaen accusation of Christian fatalism led to a counterdenial [by the church] that resulted in an unbiblical stress on freedom.”9

Third, and related to their concerns about the fatalism of Gnostics and others, early Christians stressed the importance of obedience in the Christian life. They had reason to fear that one of the errors of the Manichees, for instance, was an “I couldn’t help myself” kind of attitude about sin. Going hand in glove with the fatalism of these groups was a push to approve licentious living. Reacting to licentiousness (right), they turned away from a strong affirmation of God’s sovereignty in salvation (wrong).

Herman Bavinck summarized the previous two concerns well:

In the early church, at a time when it had to contend with pagan fatalism and gnostic naturalism, its representatives focused exclusively on the moral nature, freedom, and responsibility of humans and could not do justice, therefore, to the teaching of Scripture concerning the counsel of God. Though humans had been more or less corrupted by sin, they remained free and were able to accept the proffered grace of God. The church’s teaching did not include a doctrine of absolute predestination and irresistible grace.10

Fourth, dare I suggest that perhaps some early Christians were just wrong in their interpretation of the biblical text and the conclusions they drew from it?...

 

fltom

Well-known member
Here's the actual context of Desiring God that the OP did not provide...



The earliest Christian writers after the close of the New Testament canon did not stress God’s predestination of his elect. In fact, until the days in which Augustine (354–430) felt compelled to respond to the heretical ideas of Pelagius (who, among other things, denied the biblical truth of original sin) and the later semi-Pelagians (who taught that, though persons inherited sin from Adam, they were still able on their own to do some spiritual good to which God would respond in grace), the church did not stress the gracious predestinarian chords of Paul or Jesus.

Why did some great thinkers in the history of the church (people like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius), who thought deeply and wrote thoughtfully, not address a doctrine that seems so apparent throughout both the Old and the New Testaments? Several reasons may contribute.


First, even though many Christians thought deeply during this period of time, Christians faced intermittent and sometimes empire-wide persecution up until the reign of Constantine as the emperor of Rome. Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 finally granted Christians freedom of religion. Believers fighting for their lives are deprived of the luxury to reflect as deeply on God’s word as they wish they could. In addition to this pressure from persecution, Roman authorities sometimes destroyed Christian writings, especially believers’ copies of the Scriptures.

Second, as early Christians struggled to define themselves in a hostile environment, they strove to avoid many of the errors of their day. They opposed Stoicism, which was fatalistic, in addition to other fatalistic religions and philosophies. John Hannah is certainly correct in noting that “as arguments are shaped by opponents, causing a perpetual imbalance, and as doctrine is formulated only at points of conflict and not holistically, the Gnostic and Manichaen accusation of Christian fatalism led to a counterdenial [by the church] that resulted in an unbiblical stress on freedom.”9

Third, and related to their concerns about the fatalism of Gnostics and others, early Christians stressed the importance of obedience in the Christian life. They had reason to fear that one of the errors of the Manichees, for instance, was an “I couldn’t help myself” kind of attitude about sin. Going hand in glove with the fatalism of these groups was a push to approve licentious living. Reacting to licentiousness (right), they turned away from a strong affirmation of God’s sovereignty in salvation (wrong).

Herman Bavinck summarized the previous two concerns well:



Fourth, dare I suggest that perhaps some early Christians were just wrong in their interpretation of the biblical text and the conclusions they drew from it?...

Excuse making for why none of the early fathers before Augustine who was involved in various pagan determinative cults did not hold to Calvinist theology
 
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guest1

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Herman Bavinck



  1. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend, vol. 2, God and Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 348. He references Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian among the ante-Nicene fathers, and John of Damascus among the later Eastern teachers.

Cited from Desiring God website

This Calvinist historian admits the early church did not teach absolute predestination and irresistible grace but taught free will to accept the grace proffered by God
Can’t argue against the historical facts . Fatalism / determinism was introduced into the church by Augustine and his gnostic and pagan influence .
 
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