Question: ...the faith which was once delivered unto the saints…1. Was it through a correct interpretation of the double decrees of predestination and the election mankind is redeemed? Or, 2. is it those who “confess with [the] mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in [the] heart that God hath raised him from the dead” whom Christ came to save? Is the latter an act or a work mankind performs in his own behalf?
Proponents of Calvinism (Actually it was Theodore Beza not Calvin who defined strict Calvinism “supralapsarianism”) say, (R.C Sproul in “The Pelagian Captivity of the Church”), “all people, in order to be saved, are totally dependent, not ninety-nine percent.”
I concede his point. What I do not concede is that confession and repentance is work; it is a response of the will to pure grace.
The Calvinist will reply, “How can a dead man respond?”
I counter, “How did the prophets of God raise the dead? How did Jesus raise the dead in His earthly ministry?”
God through Jesus made it possible through His perfect willing sacrifice, The Holy Spirit, who teaches us all things and calls them to remembrance, by determinate council did it all.
(Calvinists themselves can’t decide whether the correct interpretation of Predestination is supralapsarian, 1 sublapsarian2 or infralapsarian3.) These verses come to mind from 1st Corinthians 13:12-13 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Since no one knows “all the council of God” it seems only proper to afford a little leeway (charity) for scriptural understanding before we chastise or castigate others.
(One proponent of Calvinism put it this way,”Give them a little time, they will come around to our way eventually.”)
“I was dead unto sin once,” the Apostle said; “the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” The law is good he says but it can only condemn it can not save. “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (spiritual warfare).” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” In the atonement of Christ alone is that which is necessary to meet the requirement (full price - Mr. Sproul’s 100%) for redemption.
Reduced to its simplest form this appears to be the condemnation Calvinists pronounce on the rest of Protestantism, they do not correctly understand predestination. Mankind is totally depraved, dead in sin, incapable of anything at all. God will save the few he chooses to redeem (the elect), the remainder He chooses to reprobate by His double decrees, through unconditional election, limited atonement, irrestable grace and perseverance of the saints.
In an effort or attempt to remove works entirely from the act of God in redemption they present predestination in such a way as to make mankind automatons (#2 Webster’s Intercollegiate Dictionary, an apparatus that automatically performs certain actions by responding to preset controls or encoded instruction).
It is in the power of The Almighty God to do this should he choose. Arminius, Uitenbogaert and Simon Episcopius who lead the opposition, the Remonstrants, in the Reformation struggle in the 14th through the 17th centuries agreed to this point entirely. They disagreed on the definition and mode of dispersing grace by God in that act. Mr. Sproul quotes Martin Luther in his piece mentioned above. It seems strange that he should, Gomarus, Lubbertus and Plancius who led the supralapsarians in the destruction of Arminius condemned the Lutherans along with Melanchthon and Zwingli. Calvinists persecuted the followers of Hess as well.
It is true; salvation is an act which God alone effects. The human being is incapable of any part of his redemption. Through original sin Adam brought corruption to his entire race. He was created in the image and likeness of God. He was instructed by God and knew only that which was good until he was tempted “to become as gods” and succumbed to it. Disobedience of God’s law plunged humankind into darkness.
This brings it down to grace. Grace is unmerited favor which flows out from God, who is love. He offers mercy and forgiveness to Adam’s lost and dieing race through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. How does it act and what part does it play in the redemption of humankind? Which understanding of grace brings more glory to The Almighty God? If humankind is a puppet or automaton how is the moral law of God fulfilled? Indeed why should there be a moral law if it is never to be tested in mankind in some way? If mankind is totally depraved and is not aware of a need to seek redemption how is anyone redeemed?
Is a correct interpretation of the prior mode above required for salvation or the latter? If the prior is true then was the thief on the cross not saved; Jesus said “today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Does one suppose Lazarus knew the complete doctrine of Beza on Predestination? Tell, if you are able, was the world in darkness until Theodore Beza was born to receive that doctrine and expound it?
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” [(The Apostle Paul), I Timothy 1:15-16] Where are Calvin and Beza in this verse? They appear only in the word, sinners. [Emphasis by editor]
According to the word of God, there is only one genus inhabiting the earth (sinners). There are two species (redeemed and lost). All humankind fall in to the specie categories named. The Word of God also concludes the world was corrupted by that which made the specie corrupt i.e., rebellion of the creature against his Creator in the form of disobedience. The rebellion takes the form of the creature attempting to “improve” on the original to conform it to suit his own personal pleasure and desires.
In effect in Scriptural terms the vessel in the potter’s hand wants to dictate to the Master Potter how to make it and to determine for itself what it shall be used for. To the vessel, that makes it free i.e., self determining. There is a problem with that plan, it is not the only vessel made. Every other vessel wants to be a dictator of what it will be as well. Conflict arises and anarchy results from the desire of every one to determine his own destiny with out order to determine how it will take place.
What is meant by order are laws, an equable method of enacting them as well as a means of enforcing them. Without laws mankind is as beasts of prey in the world. The strong or the wily will prey upon the weak and naive. Humanity without Divinity sinks to bestiality! Or simply put, humanity is such that without a higher power who certainly acts upon it for good will revert to the law of the jungle. The Biblical example here is the world after the fall of man and before the flood. Self preservation becomes the only viable law without God (See Genesis 4:23-24).
The Creator chose to make man in His “image and likeness.” Place him in an habitation where all his needs were met and give him a law to follow in order to establish moral boundaries in order “that I may prove them [free will], whether they will walk in my law.”
[God offers grace (unearned merit) to those who disobey by providing a substitionary sacrifice (Jesus Christ) to those who will confess (deny self- righteousness), repent (acknowledge and accept God’s righteousness) and turn back from selfishness toward God.] I reject the proposal of Sproul that he believes the Arminian has a “little island” he keeps for himself. Not even Arminius believed that.
A law has two parts, it has in its primary order the thing that is to be done or the thing to avoid which is not to be done. The second part is the penalty when the law is disobeyed. There may be intent to be merciful in the law but there is no grace. In common parlance “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” The law can only pronounce guilt and punish.
To the first couple created it was one simple law but it carried in it the intent and purpose of God for all people for all time. In its simplest form it was obey my Word and walk upright before me because “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” In actuality it said, “…the LORD God commanded the man, saying,  Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it;  for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die [spiritually at once, physically in time].” [Genesis 2:16-17]
There is, was and will be only one “innocent” man free of sin, perfect in all His aspects that is Jesus the “God-man,” the Christ. In this composition all other men and women are sinners and lack perfect knowledge as well as perfect wisdom and therefore need help and guidance i.e., grace (unearned, unmerited favor). God provided this through His Word, His word which became flesh, and His Holy Spirit who indwells each believer as a teacher and guide. “No man is an island unto himself; each is a piece of the whole, a part of the main.” He went on to say when the death bell tolls, “ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” (John Doane)
Plancius and Gomarus remind one of the Pharisees who “sought to trap Jesus.” Their attempts to find cause to accuse Arminius through his students as well as his public and printed orations and condemn him in the synod are the same methods.
These men either through actual conspiracy or by some gravitational method, as the sun which holds the planets in orbit, used willing agents or surrogates to stifle all dissent or eliminate dissenters.
Where this could not be done through the church they were perfectly willing to do it through politics or society in general. They were not above spreading gossip, taking what was written or spoken out of context, or even using family relationships to achieve their nefarious ends.
Study of the printed works of all those involved in Calvinist ecclesiastical circles (particularly in the 13th through the 17th century) reveals the effort to separate Church leaders from civil authority; place them sacrosanct from civil infringement on ecclesiastical matters of both polity and doctrine with Calvinistic doctrine as the model. Theodore Beza was his chosen successor.
Predestination was the canon of purity and Geneva the new Rome. Strict Calvinists replaced the “Jesuits,” milder forms of Calvinists were tolerated as were the “Franciscans” and “Dominicans” (in The Roman Church) and everyone else (Lutherans, Arminians, as well as those who followed Hess, Savonarola, Melancton, Zwingli etc. were all heretics.)
The Church and Christians are to be the salt to keep life savory and preserve that life style. They were not to be leven which corrupts.
(The government of Oliver Cromwell in England during that period is an example or model with which there was an attempt to create a Kingdom of God on earth with Calvinist doctrine as the constitution for governing manners and morals. Of course, the clerical leader of the Calvinist movement was to be the titular head of both ecclesiastical and federal government. This is after the Roman Catholic pattern or model.)
In at least two instances it appears they were willing to use efforts of Church officials, who operated as “peace makers” in the war between The Netherlands and Spain, to further their prospects in order to make that nation and all Europe a Calvinistic empire. One member (Oldenbarnevelt) of the church hierarchy was accused of heresy and beheaded in these efforts. It appears they may not have been above using murder cloaked in the guise of doctrinal purity to achieve their ends.
There is a proverb. Where it began or who was the originator of it was, is unknown, Machiavelli perhaps or Caesare Borgia. It is as follows: “When error is in power we will tolerate error. When truth is in power we till tolerate no error.” In practice and doctrine strict Calvinists will tolerate no error in their own ranks now. What they have done there will only be multiplied if they ever gain complete control.
At this time, it is not fixed in my mind; however, it appears (whether by intent or by some form of supposed innocence) John Calvin (or his surrogates) were drawn to duplicate the “Papal Court” but with a reformed doctrine. It may be they were, as it were, innocent in intent however the result was to eliminate all dissent against them.
What is my personal attitude toward those men? I offer them what they deny me, the benefit of the doubt. “Offenses must needs come; but, woe unto those through whom offenses comes.” “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” [Matthew 5:16-17 see also Luke 6:26]
The indwelling Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” [I John 5:11-12]
1 & 2SUPRALAPSARIANS: The way in which they understand the divine decrees has produced two distinctions of Calvinists, viz., Sublapsarians and Supralapsarians. The former term is derived from two Latin words, sub, below, or after, and lapsus, the fall; and the latter from supra, above, and lapsus, the fall. The Sublapsarians assert that God had only permitted the first man to fall into transgression, without absolutely predetermining his fall; their system of decrees concerning election and reprobation being, as it were, subsequent to that event. On the other hand, the Supralapsarians maintained that God had from all eternity decreed the transgression of man. The Supralapsarian and Sublapsarian schemes agree in asserting the doctrine of predestination, but with this difference, that the
former supposes that God intended to glorify his justice in the condemnation of some, as well as his mercy in the salvation of others; and for that purpose decreed that Adam should necessarily fall, and by that fall bring himself and all his
offspring into a state of everlasting condemnation. The latter scheme supposes that the decree of predestination regards man as fallen, by an abuse of that freedom which Adam had, into a state in which all were to be left to necessary and unavoidable ruin who were not exempted from it by predestination. (O. T. Summers Systematic Theology vol. 2) back
3INFRALAPSARIAN: One of that class of Calvinists who consider the decree of election as contemplating the apostasy as past and the elect as being at the time of election in a fallen and guilty state; -- opposed to Supralapsarian. The former considered the election of grace as a remedy for an existing evil; the latter regarded the fall as a part of God's original purpose in regard to men. back