Refuting Calvinism

John Calvin’s doctrine of double predestination is a hallmark of Calvinism. It’s the belief that God predestined his elect to eternal life and the rest to hell. “For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others (Institutes 3.21.5; Calvin 1960:926).”

This concept is not biblical. God never predestines anyone to hell or heaven as this would negate free will and the Bible never speaks of this concept. The Calvinist relies on faulty reading of scripture, a denial of church history, and a misinterpretation of God’s sovereignty.

If Gods free gift of grace (Jesus Christ dying for us) is based on compulsion of whom He wills that makes it not free. Love cannot be forced, true love arises from choice. If you have no free will, you have no love, if you have no love you have no genuine faith. A fatal flaw in the “total depravity” portion of Calvinism, it’s also Monotheletism but that’s another discussion in itself.

2138920-C-S-Lewis-Quote-If-a-thing-is-free-to-be-good-it-is-also-free-toOne argument will be that Calvin did believe in free will, but his writings say otherwise. “For I stay not to consider the extravagance of those who say that grace is offered equally and promiscuously to all.” As well as, “In this way, man is said to have free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily…” (John Calvin; Institutes 2:2:7).

This would depend on how you define free will, Calvin adheres to that man acts voluntarily, but that he cannot choose between good and evil. Calvin argued necessitation by external forces (God) would be coercion but necessitation by internal forces (ourselves) is not. In this his argument self defeats itself, for he recognizes that our actions are fully determined by our nature (these internal forces), therefore common sense dictates if our actions are necessary & unable to be changed by our nature, then they are not free.

The acronym they use is T.U.L.I.P. – Total Depravity. Unconditional Election. Limited Atonement. Irresistible Grace. Perseverance of the Saints.

1. Total Depravity – Man is so sinful that only God can will him to Himself. God does all the work, we have no choice in the matter. This is easily debunked by free will and many verses in the Bible that talk about our own choice. (John 7:17, Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 24:15, Mark 8:34, Genesis 2:16, Isaiah 55:6-7, Revelation 3:20, and so many more).

A plethora of 2nd and 3rd century Church Fathers and apologists affirmed (almost unanimously) the existence of our free will. Such as St. Irenaeus of Lyons,”Now all such expression demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith (Against the Heretics 4.37.2; ANF Vol. I p. 520).”

Gregory of Nyssa, “For He who holds sovereignty over the universe permitted something to be subject to our own control, over which each of us alone is master.  Now this is the will: a thing that cannot be enslaved, being the power of self-determination (Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism, MPG 47, 77A; in Gabriel 2000:27).”

Justin Martyr, “For the coming into being at first was not in our own power; and in order that we may follow those things which please Him, choosing them by means of the rational faculties He has Himself endowed us with, He both persuades us and leads us to faith (First Apology 10; ANF Vol. I, p. 165).”
2. Unconditional Election – This states because people are dead in sin/flesh, they are unable to indicate a response to God. God elects certain people to be saved and others to be condemned, this is once again refuted by free will and the Bible. (1 Timothy 2:4, Psalm 98:3).

This Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election is at odds with the Church Fathers, such as Gregory of Palamas, who wrote: “Therefore, God does not decide what men’s will shall be.  It is not that He foreordains and thus foreknows, but that He foreknows and thus foreordains, and not by His will but by His knowledge of what we shall freely will or choose. Regarding the free choices of men, when we say God foreordains, it is only to signify that His foreknowledge is infallible. To our finite minds it is incomprehensible how God has foreknowledge of our choices and actions without willing or causing them.  We make our choices in freedom which God does not violate. They are in His foreknowledge, but ‘His foreknowledge differs from the divine will and indeed from the divine essence.’ (Gregory of Palamas’ Natural, Theological, Moral and Practical Chapters, MPG 150, 1192A; Gabriel 2000:27).”
3. Limited Atonement – Jesus Christ only died for the sins of the elect, once again dismissed by John 3:16, Acts 2:21, 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:4. Christ died for the entire world, the four point Calvinists also deny this portion and agree Christ died for all.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Just as 1 Timothy 2:4 emphasizes “all men.
4. Irresistible Grace – God brings His ‘elect’ to salvation through an internal call they are completely powerless to resist. Noticing a theme? Free will topples this house of cards.

Letter to Diognetus, “He sent him as God; he sent him as man to men.  He willed to save man by persuasion, not by compulsion, for compulsion is not God’s way of working (Letter to Diognetus 7.4; Richardson 1970:219).”
5. Perseverance of the Saints – These ‘elect’ cannot lose their salvation no matter what. It implies salvation changes a person so much that apostasy (abandoning the faith) is impossible. However apostasy is possible, even in the hearts of those who once said they believed. Judas Iscariot being a primary example, if an apostle could fall away, anyone can. This doctrine leads Christians to believe/imply they can live an unrepentant life abhorrent to God and still be saved, simply because they claimed Christ as the savior. Matthew 15:8 “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

St. Irenaeus stated, “…but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One.  ….  Now it was necessary that man should in the first instance be created; and having been created, should receive growth; and having received growth, should be strengthened; and having been strengthened, should abound; and having abounded, should recover [from the disease of sin]; and having recovered, should be glorified; and being glorified, should see His Lord (Against the Heretics 4.38.3; ANF Vol. I p. 522).”

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