Archive for the ‘Arminius’ Category

Of Predestination – by Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641)

April 24, 2010
Of God’s Predestination
(extracted in various parts from Arminius’ answer to this treatise, in the Works of Arminius, volume 3, pages 521-658, 1875 edition)

I. Since the difference between those who are to be saved and those who are to be damned, and God’s Predestination, is set forth by Prophets (Exodus 33:19; Malachi 1:2; Isaiah 10:22), Christ (Matthew 25:34, 41; John 6:43), and by Apostles (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1; 1 Peter 1; Jude 4),for the instruction and consolation of the Church; and since it is a principal part, as it were, of Divine Providence, and subject-matter of the Gospel; we affirm that it may usefully be taught in Schools and Churches, and ought so to be, with reverence, truth, [and] prudence.

II. With reverence; that we may handle sacred mysteries with a sacred mind and tongue religiously and with constancy, nor carp at what we do not understand; but, as if about to ascend the mount of God, with Moses, let us put off the impure shoes of prejudice and affections. (Exodus 3:5) With truth; that we may sincerely follow the canon of Scripture and the measure of faith (Deuteronomy 4:2; Galatians 6:16); in order that we may be able “not to think more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly.” (Romans 12:3) With prudence; that – regard being had to the edification of the hearers – synthetically, for the more advanced, more solid and generous food, as it were, may be provided; but for the more tender, analytically, by leading up little up little by little from the lowest and middle grades to the highest, more sparing diet, and such as excels, as it were, in perspicuity. Being about to rehearse this doctrine from the beginning, under the guidance of God, for the understanding and glory of His predestination, we will begin with the words.

III. Ὁριζειν properly notes to “limit, define”: whence the metaphor derived from it, ἀπὸ τῆς ὁροθεσίας, “from fixing limits or boundaries,” (Acts 17:26) sometimes in Sacred Scripture signifies to “declare.” (Romans 1:4; and Chrysostom on the same place) More often, however, it is transferred to a purpose of the mind, a destination and decree (Acts 11:29) – just as by similar transfer τιθέναι, “to lay down” (in the mind), (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Peter 2:8) and τάττειν, “to ordain,” (Acts 13:48 & 15:2) ἑτοιμάζειν, “to prepare.” (Matthew 25:34, 41) And as both the place of a thing is said to be “determined” by an agent, and a thing to be “bounded” by the place containing it, so both the decreed and destined purpose of God, and the thing decreed and destined, is said to be ὡρισμένον, “determined,” but in a a quite different degree. (Luke 22:22; Acts 15:42) For the former is determined by the will, and therefore ὡρισμένη Βουλή, “determinate counsel;” (Acts 2:23) but the latter, by the action and decree of the former, which therefore is commonly accustomed to be called ὁρισμός, “limitation” or “appointment.”

IV. Hence is deduced, in the same sense, but with expression of the circumstances of the relative time, προορίζειν, “to determine beforehand,” “to prescribe,” or “limit” “to foreknow” “to predestinate” (Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7) – to which agrees προτιθέναι, “to propose” or “purpose” (Romans 1:13; Ephesians 1:19), and προτάττειν, “to preordain” (Acts 17:16), προετοιμάζειν, “to prepare” (Romans 9:23; 1 Corinthians 2:9 and 7) – from which the ancients, for the sake of teaching, formed the word προορισμόν, “predestination;” to which answers πρόθεσις τῆς καρδίας, “purpose of heart” (Acts 9:23).

V. But as, by virtue of the diversity of the efficient will, there is one destination and predestination which belongs to the Creator, and another which belongs to the rational creature (Acts 11:29); the former, on account of its infinite excellence, is deservedly sometimes denoted synechdochically by the general word. (Luke 22:22)

VI. Then again, as all predestination is distinguished by its object and its subject, so also that of God; which either regards generally any things whatever, and signifies universally God’s eternal decree (Acts 2:23, 4:28, 17:26; 1 Corinthians 2:7); or regards specially rational creatures solely, and their supernatural ends, and the means thereto belonging, and is related to part of God’s decree and providence.

VII. And this in some measure we define as the purpose of God (Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9), whereby out of rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, He preordained certain ones, of His own right and good pleasure (Romans 9:15, 18; Ephesians 1:5, 11; Matthew 11:26), to their own supernatural ends, and to creation in the upright state of original righteousness (Genesis 1:27, 31) and His other means; to the glory of His saving grace, wisdom, and most free power. (Romans 9:21-23)

VIII. The purpose of God is as it were the remote genus, indicating at once the efficient and the perfecting cause: whence these general attributes of predestination necessarily follow. First, eternity (Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9); because it is an internal action of God, in which there is nothing temporal, nay, and, on account of its supreme simplicity, nothing which is not Himself. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18) Then again, immutability, which flows forth from eternity (in which there is no change), and which belongs to Him by His simple and unchangeable nature and counsel. (Numbers 23:9; Malachi 3:6; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 14:27, 46:10; James 1:17) From the certain supposition of which, and of the destined end, arises the certainty of the predestinated, and the necessity ἐξ ὑποθέσεως, “from hypothesis,” and of the consequence (which, according to the correct and perpetual consent of philosophers and divines, can come with absolute contingency and with that of the contingent).

IX. But in order that this remote genus may become proximate, we restrict according to the matter, as they say, both the objects and the subjects by this common difference – “whereby, out of rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, [He foreordained] certain ones.” (Revelation 17:8) They differ in order and number.

X. In order: because the object is antecedent, but the subject proceeds from its predestination. In number: because the former is the whole, the latter part of it. For the object presented to the predestining will by the boundless foreknowledge of the Divine intellect – which is the knowledge of things possible and not yet defined, whether they are future, or not to be – is, all rational creatures that can be saved and created: but the subject of predestination is, certain ones out of them. For as God was able to destine innumerable other creatures also and otherwise, and to create them, by virtue of His omnipotence (1 Timothy 6:15), and offered that as an object to His will, by virtue of His infinite and unbounded knowledge (1 Timothy 1:17), so He predestinated only a certain number of them, and certain persons, by the purpose of His will, by virtue of His liberty. (Matthew 20:15)

XI. The mystery of which number, and of the particular persons in it, He alone knows who predestinated them without counselors. (Romans 11:34; 2 Timothy 2:19) Wherefore the Gospel may be styled the Revelation and Book of Predestination, not absolutely, but only relatively (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9, 3:9); since it denotes absolutely neither the matter nor the form of the number: that is, it does not declare whom severally He would predestinate, (with the exception of a very few, John 17:12) nor how many, but only in general of what sort. (Romans 8 and 9; Ephesians 1)

XII. The form of the predestination of rational creatures consists in preordination to their supernatural ends, and eternal state, and the creation thereto belonging, and other means. (Acts 13:48; Matthew 20:23; Matthew 25:34, 41; Jude 4) To which since God leads them in time, it is evident from the event, the Divine wisdom, constancy, and eternity, that He has predestinated them to the same from everlasting. (Matthew 25:34, 41) Whence there is a twofold predestination, as is evident: one, to supernatural ends (Revelation 21:27; Romans 9:21-22) (which, although it be coincident with duration of eternity, yet precedes in the order of nature; since the end on account of which a thing is, is first in the intention of the wise man); the other, to the creation in the upright state of original righteousness, and other means. (Genesis 17:31 [? 1:27, 31]; Proverbs 16:4; Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 2:8) And therefore predestination cannot be called “conditional” without a contradiction in terms. Inasmuch as the end has been ordained before the means, so the means are certainly subordinate to it.

XIII. Therefore, also, the object of predestination to its own ends – to speak accurately and without prolepsis (which, when used in this argument, begets obscurity) – are rational creatures, not as actually about to be saved or lost, to be created, about to fall or stand fast, or about to be restored; but, so far as remote and indefinite ability goes, savable, damnable, creable [creatable], liable to fall, restorable. And that is proved, beyond controversy, by the nature and order of the object and of the cause both efficient and final. For the object, in the order of nature, precedes the operation of the power attached to it and occupied about it, and therefore also the object of predestination precedes predestination itself; nay, and exceeds it in extent also, as we have shown (in Thesis X): but being about to be saved, to be created, to fall, to be restored, does not exceed nor precede predestination, but follows it: Therefore it is not the object of it. For, as the creable depends on the indeterminate and absolute omnipotence of God, so what is to be created depends on that omnipotence determined to creation by predestination of the will; and therefore cannot come before predestination, which is its efficient cause.

XIV. From which it is necessarily proved that, since those who are to be created are not the object of this predestination to their own ends, the efficient impulsive cause also is not external – that is, one that will follow the worthiness of those to be created, or the condition of obedience or disobedience – but internal – the antecedent, and on no condition suspended, good-pleasure of God about creables (Romans 9:11-13, 15-16, 18; Ephesians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:9): which, although it has not in the object a cause beyond God, yet is not without a right reason, because the supremely and solely Wise Author of reason cannot act without reason. (James 1:5, 17; 1 Timothy 1:17; Romans 11:33, 16:27) But the cause of predestination to the means is also their end, by whose favor they exist.

XV. The end of the predestination of rational creatures is the glory of Divine and saving power, and (in the destined diversity of vessels belonging to this great house of the world) wisdom, and grace (Romans 9:21-23, 11:36; 2 Timothy 2:20; Proverbs 16:4); not internal glory, for the perfection of God – because he is in need of none (Acts 17:25), שַׁדַּ֔י “the Almighty” (Genesis 17:1), “the blessed and only Potentate” (1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15) – but external, for the due manifestation of it amongst the creatures. (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 11:36)

XVI. The effect of predestinated things in God is definite prescience: not as prescience, but as definite. For God’s prescience is as it were a book, on which God’s will for predestinating has inscribed the things predestinated. (Revelation 17:8; Jude 4) For God foreknows definitely future things, because He has fore-ordained them by decree.

XVII. Moreover, there are two species of predestination, on account of the opposition both of its special form and of its contrary terms. The one is to eternal life and glory, and the means thereto (Matthew 25:34, 41; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Timothy 2:20; Augustine Enchiridion, Chapter 100; Fulgentius, Book I, Chapter 27); which, as being prior in order of nature and κατʹ ἐξοχήν, “by pre-eminence,” is called predestination (Romans 8:30): the other is to eternal death and ignominy. As, also, is clear a posteriori and from the event: because God does nothing in time which He has not decreed from eternity. The former predestination is named election – which noting adoption and separation relatively, according to the proper nature and use of the word, has reference partly to God’s purpose, partly to its opposite, the residue and the rejected (Romans 11:7); and therefore cannot be called absolute and universal – the latter, casting away and reprobation (Romans 11:2); and in both way by synechdoche.

XIII. For, since the one election of God is internal and eternal and of design, the other external, temporal, and actual; and both again are either to the offices and benefits, civil or ecclesiastical, of this life – as Saul and David were called to the kingdom (1 Samuel 16 & 10:24); Judas, with the Eleven, to the Apostolate (John 6:70); the Israelitish people to the visible society of the Church for a time, by the formula and symbol of a covenant (Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 105:6; Romans 11:5, 20) – or to the inheritance of eternal life, which is called election “to salvation” (2 Timothy 2:13); it is this latter, indeed, and not the temporal and actual, which is efficacious calling (1 Peter 1:2; John 15:19), but the eternal and of design (Ephesians 1:4), which is understood, whose subject is called metonymically by the same name. (Romans 11:7) Similar is the ratio of reprobation opposed to election. (1 Peter 2:4; Isaiah 7:15)

XIX. [Definition of Election] But this election is God’s predestination; by which He has fore-ordained, from among rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, certain individuals, in virtue of His own right, good-pleasure, and gratuitous love (Matthew 20:15; Romans 9:23, 11:35-36; Ephesians 1:5-6 & 11), to life and eternal glory (Romans 8:30, 9:23), and the way thereto (Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 103:21), as well as creation in an upright state of original righteousness, as the obedience of holiness; to the glory of His power, wisdom, and saving grace. (Romans 9:21, 23; Ephesians 1:6, 3:10)

XX. The impulsive cause is the good-pleasure of God’s will, and His gratuitous love. (Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; Romans 9:16) Wherefore the election is said to be “of grace” (Romans 11:5-6, 9:11), that is, gratuitous; and is opposed to the consideration of works; nay, it is ordained as the fountain of good things (Ephesians 1:4, 2:10); and is called “love.” (Malachi 1:2) For men choose, or elect, those whom they deservedly love – whence a “chosen” man, by metonymy, for “a good man, worthy of choice” (2 Corinthians 13:7); as opposed to ἀδόκιμος, “a bad man, deserving rejection” (ibid.; and Jeremiah 6:40; Hebrews 6:8; 1 Corinthians 9:27) – God, on the contrary, loves from eternity those whom He choose without merit. For to love is to wish good to any one, and, in this instance, to will eternal salvation and its means; but to elect is to will this good in preference to others. Therefore the good-pleasure here is twofold – towards the thing and the person; because God approves of both: and therefore the elect are called ὄντες αὐτοῦ, “they that are His.” (2 Timothy 2:19; John 17:9) Which love is, by metonymy, designated “foreknowledge” (Romans 8:29, 11:2; Psalm 1:6) – whence the Sophists, incorrectly, oppose the foreknown to the predestinated and elect, contrary to the usage of Scripture – and, by synecdoche, “purpose” (Romans 8:28; 2 Timothy 1:9), namely, the gratuitous purpose of blessing; and, in like manner, is opposed to the worthiness and consideration of works in effecting salvation. (2 Timothy 1:9)

XXI. The form consists in preordination and separation to eternal life – on which account it is called “ordaining to eternal life” (Acts 13:48), “preparation of the kingdom” (Matthew 20:23; 25:34), “good pleasure of giving the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), “inscription in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 21:27), “appointing to the obtainment of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:9); and the elect are termed “blessed of God” (Matthew 25:34), “prepared unto glory,” and “vessels to honor” (Romans 9:21, 23) – and to its way; as well creation in an upright state of original righteousness, as the obedience of holiness due to God (Ephesians 1:4); whence, according to Augustine, it is commonly named “the predestination of the saints.” From which form, and from the immutability of the Divine counsel, it follows, that these elect never become reprobates and perish. (Matthew 24:24; Romans 8:28-30, 35; John 10:28; 2 Peter 3:9)

XXII. The end, indeed, of election to life is the glory of saving power, wisdom, and grace (Romans 9:22-23; Ephesians 1:6): but the end of election to the means is holiness (Ephesians 1:4, 2:10): just as the end of this, the terminus of election, is life. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

XXIII. But casting away, or reprobation, is God’s predestination by which He has foreordained certain from among rational creatures indefinitely foreknown, in virtue of His own right and good-pleasure, from eternity rejected from eternal life (Revelation 17:8; Matthew 7:23), to death and eternal ignominy (Romans 9:21-22), and to its way (Proverbs 16:4; Romans 9:21-22) – creation in an upright state of original righteousness, permission of falling into sin and loss of original righteousness (Matthew 10:29); being forsaken therein – to the glory of His power, wrath, dominion over the reprobate, and of His saving grace towards the elect. (Romans 9: 18, 21-23)

XXIV. The termini of reprobation are two: the first, from which its beginning is taken, eternal life; the last, to which it tends, eternal death. Whence arise two – not species, but as it were – parts and degrees; destination of rejection, first from life eternal, and then to death. Of which the former is commonly accustomed to be called negative reprobation; the latter, affirmative and positive: the former is properly non-election, contradictorily to election; but the latter, including the former – whence it is also by synecdoche called by its name (Revelation 17:8, 20:15) – is opposed contrarily [to election], and ought to be understood in this place. Because non-election, since it is a simple negation, appertains also to those not to be created, not predestinated: and then, on the other side, reprobation, since it is predestination, necessarily puts forth and marks out a certain scope.

XXV. [The Form of Reprobation] The form of reprobation consists in the pre-ordination of rejection from life to eternal death, and the way thereto – creation in an upright state of original righteousness, permission of lapsing into sin, loss of original righteousness, the being left therein. Hence it is called non-inscription in the book of life from the beginning of the world (Revelation 17:8), designation to damnation (Jude 4), preparation of eternal fire (Matthew 25:41 with 33), appointing to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9); and the reprobate are styled “vessels of wrath,” and “unto dishonor,” “fitted to destruction.” (Romans 9:21-22) Wherefrom it is also concluded that the reprobate never can become elect, and partakers of righteousness and life.

XXVI. The impulsive cause is God’s good-pleasure toward the thing, which He approves (Matthew 11:25-26); not towards the person, whom He reprobates. Wherefore reprobation is also called hatred (Romans 9:13); and the reprobated are named “never known” and “cursed.” (Matthew 7:23, 25:41) The justice of which depends on the right and wisdom of God, the heavenly Potter, and supreme Lord of all, and debtor to none. (Romans 9:20, 11:35-36; Matthew 20:15) Right: because (as it is said in a most apposite allegory about God), “Hath not the potter power over the clay, to make of the same lump one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” (Romans 9:21) Wisdom: as well because a variety of vessels, to honor and dishonor, appertains to the ornament of the world, as if it were the house of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:20; Ephesians 3:10); as because He does not lead them down to their destined destruction, except by permitting the desert of the reprobated, as a subordinate means. For “willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, He endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” (Romans 9:22) So that the cause and matter of perdition, efficient and sufficient, may be found in the reprobate.

XXVII. Wherefore, if God has destined and created any to destruction, He cannot be accused of injustice, on a twofold account and right: first, absolute, that of dominion: next, subordinate and related (as it regards sins), that of judgment. Wherefrom a twin sufficiency of justice shines forth; whose splendor is so great that its rays are reflected with luster in the confession of Papal adversaries and Lutheran Doctors; who, though they contend with our Churches about the will and the deed, yet acknowledge the justice of the free power. For so Dr. Chrys. Javellus (Tome 2, Question: Of the Cause of Predestination): “As the potter does not err not act unjustly in willing that this vessel be made to honor, but that to disgrace; so God would not sin, if He should will to save all, or to damn all; or to save this man according to his merits, and to damn that one absolutely.” Dr. Viguerius (Institutes, Chapter 20, Section 5, 8, vers. 2): “‘Shall the thing formed,’ &c. By these words the Apostle wished to intimate, that if God, of His own power, predestinated any one to glory, and reprobated any one to torments, He would not have regard to punishment, without previous guilt, but only to penality [cupability]; nor could the man complain of God.” The same sentiments are taught by the Lutherans, Dr. Jacobus Andreas (In the Mompelgart Conference, p. 508), Dr. David Rungius (On the Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 9, p. 196), and Dr. Georgius Major (On the Epistles to the Romans, Chapter 9, p. 76).

XXVIII. The subordinate and proximate end of destination to death is, the glory of the Divine power, wrath, and dominion over the reprobate (Romans 9:22; Proverbs 16:4): the preordained and ultimate end is, the glory of grace, bringing salvation to the elect, and immeasurable, reflected back with the greater lustre from comparison with the reprobate. (Romans 9:23) Of which so great is the dignity, that the elect, being seized with it in a holy contemplation, have desired to redeem the salvation of the reprobates of the Jewish people even by their own destruction and condemnation (Romans 9:3; Exodus 32:32), if that that might have been (Exodus 32:33; Romans 8:28, 35, 39): and so much the more ought the reprobate to acquiesce in it. (Romans 9:20-21)

XXIX. And so we have explained the nature of predestination, and of its species: which, on account of the diversity of the object and subject – the rational creature – is properly no further divided into species, because they are not of contrary form; but is distinguished into its circumstances. For the predestination of incorporeal creatures, or angels, is one kind; that of corporeal creatures, or men, is another kind: and both are distinguished by election and reprobation.

XXX. The difference between the election of angels and men is in regard of the means – that the former have regard to the perpetual obedience of holiness; the latter, to obedience begun and to be renewed: and therefore, in the former there is grace preserving in the upright state of original righteousness; in the latter, permission of the fall, and grace liberating from misery, by the communion of Christ (by the Spirit of the covenant in some persons, and in the adult by faith), and by justification, adoption, sanctification, flowing forth therefrom – begun in this life, in which we cannot keep the law perfectly (Catechisis Belgica, Question 114; Proverbs 20:9; Psalm 143:2; 1 John 1:8; Matthew 6:12); perfected after this life – and by conformity with Christ. By reason of which means (which distinguish the end), the elect are called “vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23); and we are said to be “elect” in Christ to holiness (Ephesians 1:4), and “predestinated to adoption by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5), “predestinated that we might be conformed to the image of the Son of God” (Romans 8:29); just as Christ also was “foreknown” (as Mediator, and as the destined subordinate cause for salvation) “before the foundations of the world were laid.” (1 Peter 1:20)

XXXI. The difference between the reprobation of angels and that of men is that Christ was to be offered to the former never, but to many of the latter more often – outwardly by the word (Matthew 20:16), or inwardly also, in the mind, by the Spirit (Hebrews 6:4-5; Matthew 13:21) – in order that, when convicted of unbelief and stubbornness of heart, they might be thereby rendered the more inexcusable. (Luke 12:47; 2 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 6:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 12)

XXXII. The particular election becomes known ordinarily to the elect when grown up, in these lands, from a twofold revelation of God: partly external, by the Gospel; partly internal, by faith and the Holy Spirit. For the Gospel teaches, from the proper effects, what kind of men God has chosen to life, to wit, believers and penitents: (Romans 8:28-29): the sense of faith and repentance (2 Corinthians 13:5; John 6:39-40), and the consent of the Spirit (Romans 8:14, 16; Ephesians 1:13), sealing our hearts with His witness, confirm us that we are believers and penitents. From which, as from the antecedent proposition and assumption of a practical syllogism, by far the most certain, this conclusion is put together in our minds by the Holy Spirit, that we have been elected to life. Whence the Holy Spirit, “the earnest of our inheritance,” (Ephesians 1:14) and good works, are said to confirm our election. (2 Peter 1:10) Reprobation, however, ordinarily [becomes known] only to those who are reprobated on account of the sin against the Holy Ghost – because that cannot be remitted (Matthew 12:31) – and on account of unbelief and impiety lasting to the end of life; because the reprobate cannot believe; because faith does not belong to all, but to the elect. (2 Thessalonians 3:2; Titus 1:1; John 6:44, 39, 10:26)

Corollary: Inquiry is made, whether that blasphemy follows from this doctrine – that God is the author of sin. For so indeed Castellio (Dialog regarding Election), and his follower Cornhart (Dialog regarding Predestination), and the the Lutherans (Jacob, Andreas, Colloquio Mompelgart; Aegidius Hunnius, &c.), are accustomed to object to our Churches, especially to Calvin and Beza (who have deserved very well of the Church and of the truth of predestination against the Pelagians), in order that, having brought those illustrious restorers of the Churches into odium, they may wound the truth through their sides, and the more easily sow tares of their own errors in the minds of men. We, however, with the Reformed Churches, with justice deny that; and do not in the least doubt that the truth and sanctity of this opinion will endure, in spite of the gates of hell.

Arminius’ Supposed Impact on Calvinism

December 5, 2009

Dan (aka GodIsMyJudge) has provided a post alleging another impact of Arminius on Calvinism (link to his post). The first part of his post I’ll pass over, since I feel my previous post (link to my previous post) has adequately addressed that issue.

However, Dan states:

TF notes well the WCF is open to supra, but WCF is also open to unlimited atonement. It was written such that both 5 point Calvinists and 4 pointers would be satisfied. TF himself has noted Arminius’ influence on Amyraldianism. So that’s another way in which Arminius impacted Calvinism.

No, the WCF is not open to unlimited atonement. The WCF states:

To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

– Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 8, Paragraph 8

Similarly, the Westminster Larger Catechism explains:

Q. 59. Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?

A. Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

– Westminster Larger Catechism, Question/Answer 59

So, no. While Arminius may have been an influence on Amyraut and the school of Saumur, the Amyraldian position is excluded by the Westminster Confession of Faith.


Misquoting Matthew 23:37 or Luke 13:34

November 12, 2009

The following texts get misquoted amazingly often. First, here are the texts.

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

Notice how in both cases, the text states: “would I have gathered thy children together,” not “gathered thee” or “gathered you.” But it gets misquoted many many times.

I have collected some examples. I leave Spurgeon at the top of the list, not just because he is so famous and yet so prolific in making this error, but because people routinely don’t believe me when I say he is one of the folks who misquote this passage. Some of the other examples, will be less surprising, Wesley, Arminius, and Finney all have an axe to grind. Matthew Henry misquotes it too, very briefly and obliquely. That leaves Tillotson, who many readers will not recognize, but who was a noted Anglican preacher and Archbishop of Cantebury toward the end of the 17th Century.


We have no eyes now like the eyes of the Saviour, which could weep over Jerusalem; we have few voices like that earnest impassioned voice which seemed perpetually to cry, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not.” If ministers of the gospel were more hearty in their work of preaching; if, instead of giving lectures and devoting a large part of their time to literary and political pursuits, they would preach the Word of God, and preach it as if they were pleading for their own lives, ah! then, my brethren, we might expect great success; but we cannot expect it while we go about our work in a half-hearted way, and have not that zeal, that earnestness, that deep purpose which characterized those men of old.

(Spurgeon, Sermon 76)


And now, dropping the similitude while the clock shall tick but a few times more, let us put the matter thus—Sinner, thou art as yet without God and without Christ; thou art liable to death every hour. Thou canst not tell but that thou mayest be in the flames of hell before the clock shall strike ONE to-day. Thou art to-day “condemned already,” because thou believest not in the Son of God. And Jesus Christ saith to thee this day, “Oh, that thou wouldest consider thy latter end!” He cries to thee this morning, “How often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not.” I entreat you, consider your ways. If it be worth while to make your bed in hell do it. If the pleasures of this world are worth being damned to all eternity for enjoying them, if heaven be a cheat and hell a delusion, go on in your sins. But, if there be hell for sinners and heaven for repenting ones, and if thou must dwell a whole eternity in one place or the other, without similitude, I put a plain question to thee—Art thou wise in living as thou dost, without thought,—careless, and godless? Wouldest thou ask now the way of salvation? It is simply this—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” He died; he rose again; thou art to believe him to be thine. Thou art to believe that he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him. But, more than that, believing that to be a fact, thou art to cast thy soul upon that fact and trust to him, sink or swim. Spirit of God! help us each to do this and by similitude, or by providence, or by thy prophets, bring us each to thyself and save us eternally, and unto thee shall be the glory.

(Spurgeon, Sermon 206)


Secondly,—We have further proof of human depravity from the aversion of sinners to come to Christ. They are invited to come, persuaded to come, and are assured that they shall find pardon, acceptance, and salvation. But they cannot be induced to come to him; and why will they not come? Is it because he is not willing to receive them, or because there is anything in him to prevent them? No, but it is because of the deep-rooted depravity in their hearts. The heart is averse to all that is good, and therefore rejects the Saviour and turns away from him. Hence he complained when in our world, “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” What more needed to be added? Man turns away in proud disdain from all the blessings of the gospel, and the glories of heaven brought before him, and rushes on with steady purpose to damnation. “Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” Oh, to how many in this land may it be said, “They hate knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of his counsel, they despised all his reproof.”

(Evan Probert, among Spurgeon’s Sermons, Sermon 386)


But, now, I am sorry to be so brief, but I must conclude by speaking, of THE IMPORTANCE THAT FAITH SHOULD COME TO US BY HEARING. I will let my words drop rapidly without any ornament, and remind you, dear friend, that if you have been a hearer and faith has not come to you, you are, this moment, in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity. You believe not in Christ, and you make God a liar, because ye have not believed in his only-begotten Son. The wrath of God abideth on you. You are dead while you live. Without God, without Christ, and strangers to the covenant of promise. My soul pities you—will you not pity yourselves? Hearers only; faithless, graceless, Christless! Christ died, but you have no part in his death. His blood cleanses from sin, but your sin remains upon you. Christ has risen, and he pleads before the throne,—you have no part in that intercession. He is preparing a place for his people, but that place is not for you. Oh, unhappy soul! oh, wretched soul! out of favor with God, at enmity with eternal love, destitute of eternal life! Truly, if Jesus were here he would weep over you, as he did over Jerusalem, and say, “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.”

(Spurgeon, Sermon 1031)


We may observe likewise, hence, how great a sin they are guilty of who persecute the righteous, and how terrible a vengeance from God waits on them. Particular examples of this have been in all ages: but as the guilt of this sin never went higher than at this time foretold by our Saviour, when God sent to the Jews such “prophets, and wise men, and scribes,” and such a number of them as never upon any occasion were sent into the world, and they used them in that bloody and barbarous manner; no wonder, if the vengeance that came upon them was such as never had been before; and if, after they had filled up the measure of their sins, by crucifying the Lord Jesus, and persecuting his apostles, and stoning and killing all the prophets that were sent unto them, “the wrath of God came upon them to the utmost,” and such a terrible destruction from the Lord, as never befel any people; insomuch that our Saviour, upon the foresight and mention of it, forty years before it happened, could not but weep over them, and express himself in those compassion ate words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.”

(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 80)


And it is, likewise, contrary to the constant tenor of the Bible, which supposeth that men do very frequently resist the grace and Holy Spirit of God. It is said of the pharisees, by our Saviour, (Luke vii. 30.) that “they rejected the counsel of God against themselves;” that is, the merciful design of God for their salvation. And of the Jews, (Acts vii. 51.) that “they always resisted the Holy Ghost. So that some operations of God’s grace and Holy Spirit 374are resistible, and such as, if men did not resist them, would be effectual to bring them to faith and repentance, else why are the pharisees said to reject “the counsel of God against themselves,” that is, to their own ruin? implying, that if they had not rejected it, they might have been saved; and if they had, it had been without irresistible grace; for that which was offered to them, was actually resisted by them. Other texts plainly shew, that the reason of men’s impenitency and unbelief is not any thing wanting on God’s part, but on theirs; as those known texts, wherein our Saviour laments the case of Jerusalem, because they obstinately brought destruction upon themselves: (Luke xix. 42.) “Jf thou hadst known in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace:” intimating, that they might have known them, so as to have prevented that desolation which was coming upon them, and was a forerunner of their eternal ruin: “but now they are hid from thine eyes;” intimating, that then God gave them up to their own blindness and obstinacy; but the time was, when they might have “known the things of their peace;” which cannot be upon the supposition of the necessity of an irresistible act of God’s grace to their conversion and repentance; because then without that they could not have repented, and if that had been afforded to them, they had infallibly repented. So likewise, in that other text, (Matt. xxiii. 37.) “Oh! Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not.” And, in John, v. 40. “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” He “would have gathered them,” and they “would not;” he would have given them life, but they would not come to him. Are these serious and compassionate expostulations and declarations of our Saviour’s gracious intention towards them, any ways consistent with an impossibility of their repentance? which yet must be said, if irresistible grace be necessary thereto; for then repentance is impossible without it, and that it was not afforded to them is plain, because they did not repent. The same may be said of that solemn declaration of God, (Ezek. xxxiii. 11.) “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Can it be said that God hath no pleasure in the death of sinners, and yet be true, that he denies, to the greatest part of them, that grace which is necessary to their repentance? Upon this supposition, how can it be true, that, “if the mighty works that were done in Chorazin and Bethsaida had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented,” (Matt. xi. 21.) since irresistible grace did not accompany those miracles? for if it had, Chorazin and Bethsaida had repented, and without it Tyre and Sidon could not repent.

(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 106)


Consider that the patience of God will have an end. Though God suffers long, he will not suffer always; we may provoke God so long, until he can forbear no longer without injury and dishonour to his wisdom, and justice, and holiness; and God will not suffer one attribute to wrong the rest: his wisdom will determine the length of his patience; and when his patience is to no purpose, when there is no hopes of our amendment, his wisdom will then put a period to it; then the patience of his mercy will determine. “How often would I have gathered you, and you would not? therefore your house is left unto you desolate.” And the patience of God’s judgments will then determine. “Why should they be smitten any more? they will revolt more and more.” Yea, patience itself, after a long and fruitless expectation, will expire. A sinner may continue so long impenitent, till the patience of God, as I may say, grows impenitent, and then our ruin will make haste, and destruction “will come upon us in a moment.” If men will not come to repentance, “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,” as it follows in the next verse after the text; the judgment of God will suddenly surprise those who will not be gained by his patience.

(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 149)


That God doth really and heartily desire the happiness of men, and to prevent their misery and ruin. To express this to us, God doth put on the vehemency of a human passion: “Oh that they were wise!” &c. The laws of God are a clear evidence of this; because the observance of them tends to our happiness. There is no good prince makes laws with any other design, than to promote the public welfare and happiness of his people: and with much more reason may we imagine, that the infinite good God does by all his laws design the happiness of his creatures. And the exhortations of Scripture, by which he enforceth his laws, are yet a greater evidence how earnestly he desires the happiness of his creatures. For it shews that he is concerned for us, when he useth so many arguments to persuade us to our duty, and when he expostulates so vehemently with us for our neglect of it, saying to sinners, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will you die, O house of Israel?” “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,” says our blessed Saviour, with great trouble to see men so obstinately set against their own happiness; and again, “How often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” and to satisfy us yet further, that it is his real desire, by our obedience to his laws, to prevent our ruin, God doth frequently in Scripture put on the passions of men, and use all sorts of vehement expressions to this purpose: (Deut. v. 29.) “Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” And, (Psal. lxxxi. 13.) “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.” (Jer. xiii. 27.) “O Israel! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?” And, to name but one text more, when our blessed .Saviour wept over Jerusalem, how passionately does he wish that “she had known in that her day the things that belonged to her peace!”

And if, after all this, we can doubt whether the faithful God means as he says, he hath for our farther assurance, and to put the matter out of all doubt, confirmed his word by an oath: (Ezek. xxxiii. 11.) “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his ways and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” So that if words can be any declaration of a hearty and sincere desire, we have no reason to doubt, but that God does really desire the happiness of men, and would gladly prevent their ruin and destruction.

If any now ask, Why then are not all men happy? Why do they not escape ruin and destruction? And particularly, why the people of Israel, for whom God here makes this wish, did not escape those judgments which were threatened? the prophet shall answer for me, (Hos. xiii. 9.) “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself,” And David, (Psal. lxxxi. 11.) “My people would not hearken to my voice, Israel would none of me.” And our blessed Saviour, (Matt. xxiii. 37.) “How often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” and, (John v. 40.) “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” You see what account the Scripture plainly gives of this matter; it rests upon the wills of men, and God hath not thought fit to force happiness upon men, and to make them wise and good whether they will or no. He presents men with such motives, and offers such arguments to their consideration, as are fit to prevail with reasonable men, and is ready to afford them all necessary assistance, if they be not wanting to themselves; but if they will not be wise and consider, if they will stand out against all the arguments that God can offer, if they will “receive the grace of God in vain, and resist his blessed Spirit, and reject the counsel of God against themselves,” God hath not, in this case, engaged himself to provide any remedy against the obstinacy and perverseness of men, but “their destruction is of themselves,” and “their blood shall be upon their own heads.” And there is no nicety and intricacy in this matter; but if men will consider Scripture and reason impartially, they will find this to be the plain resolution of the case.

(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 171)


Our Saviour’s general prediction of the siege of Jerusalem, and of the total destruction of the city. This our Saviour foretells, (Luke xix. 41-44.) “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side; and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee: and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” So Josephus tells, lib. vi. that Titus raised a wall round about Jerusalem, and kept them in on every side; so that none could come out, though many thousands were famished with hunger; which was so sad and dismal a calamity, that our Saviour, though he knew how just a cause there was for it, yet, out of very humanity and tenderness of nature, he could not but, upon the foresight of so sad a destruction, weep over it. He, indeed, expresseth his vehement desire that this might have been prevented; (Matt. xxiii. 37.) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Therefore, having brought this ruin wilfully upon themselves, he pronounceth the sentence of their desolation, (verse 38.) “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!” And at the beginning of the next chapter, when the disciples were shewing him the beautiful structure of the temple, he foretells, that “there should not one stone be left upon another, which should not be thrown down.”

(Dr. John Tillotson, Sermon 287)


This is an exclamation of disappointment; of thwarted love. The good which He purposed has been missed by man’s fault, and He regards the faulty Israel with sorrow and pity as a would-be benefactor balked of a kind intention might do. O Jerusalem! ‘how often would I have gathered thee.’ ‘If thou hadst known . . . the things that belong unto thy peace!’

(Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Isaiah and Jeremiah, at Isaiah 48:18)


37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, &c.—How ineffably grand and melting is this apostrophe! It is the very heart of God pouring itself forth through human flesh and speech. It is this incarnation of the innermost life and love of Deity, pleading with men, bleeding for them, and ascending only to open His arms to them and win them back by the power of this story of matchless love, that has conquered the world, that will yet “draw all men unto Him,” and beautify and ennoble Humanity itself! “Jerusalem” here does not mean the mere city or its inhabitants; nor is it to be viewed merely as the metropolis of the nation, but as the center of their religious life—”the city of their solemnities, whither the tribes went up, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord”; and at this moment it was full of them. It is the whole family of God, then, which is here apostrophized by a name dear to every Jew, recalling to him all that was distinctive and precious in his religion. The intense feeling that sought vent in this utterance comes out first in the redoubling of the opening word—”Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” but, next, in the picture of it which He draws—”that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee!”—not content with spurning God’s messages of mercy, that canst not suffer even the messengers to live! When He adds, “How often would I have gathered thee!” He refers surely to something beyond the six or seven times that He visited and taught in Jerusalem while on earth. No doubt it points to “the prophets,” whom they “killed,” to “them that were sent unto her,” whom they “stoned.” But whom would He have gathered so often? “Thee,” truth-hating, mercy-spurning, prophet-killing Jerusalem—how often would I have gathered thee! Compare with this that affecting clause in the great ministerial commission, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem!” (Lu 24:47). What encouragement to the heartbroken at their own long-continued and obstinate rebellion! But we have not yet got at the whole heart of this outburst. I would have gathered thee, He says, “even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.” Was ever imagery so homely invested with such grace and such sublimity as this, at our Lord’s touch? And yet how exquisite the figure itself—of protection, rest, warmth, and all manner of conscious well-being in those poor, defenseless, dependent little creatures, as they creep under and feel themselves overshadowed by the capacious and kindly wing of the mother bird! If, wandering beyond hearing of her peculiar call, they are overtaken by a storm or attacked by an enemy, what can they do but in the one case droop and die, and in the other submit to be torn in pieces? But if they can reach in time their place of safety, under the mother’s wing, in vain will any enemy try to drag them thence. For rising into strength, kindling into fury, and forgetting herself entirely in her young, she will let the last drop of her blood be shed out and perish in defense of her precious charge, rather than yield them to an enemy’s talons. How significant all this of what Jesus is and does for men! Under His great Mediatorial wing would He have “gathered” Israel. For the figure, see De 32:10-12; Ru 2:12; Ps 17:8; 36:7; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Isa 31:5; Mal 4:2. The ancient rabbins had a beautiful expression for proselytes from the heathen—that they had “come under the wings of the Shekinah.” For this last word, see on Mt 23:38. But what was the result of all this tender and mighty love? The answer is, “And ye would not.” O mysterious word! mysterious the resistance of such patient Love—mysterious the liberty of self-undoing! The awful dignity of the will, as here expressed, might make the ears to tingle.

(Jamieson, Brown, and Fausset, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, at Matthew 23:37)


Sixthly, you say that the foundation being destroyed, the edifice falls. But the foundation of that opinion in reference to the antecedent will, which desires the salvation of all men and of each, is the passage in 1 Timothy ch. 2, which has been already discussed by us, and that is incorrectly understood by Damascenus. I reply, first; — Not only that passage, but many others, most clearly sustain that distinction of the will into antecedent and consequent. “How often would I have gathered you together,” is an example of antecedent, and “your house is left unto you desolate” of consequent will (Matt. xxiii. 37-38). “And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding,” is a case of antecedent will, “they which were bidden were not worthy” and were destroyed, of consequent will. He, also, was invited, according to antecedent will, who, being afterwards found, not having on a wedding garment, was cast out, according to consequent will (Matt. xxii. 3, 7, 8, 12 and 13). According to antecedent will, the lord commanded his servants to reckon their talents, and to use them for gain for their master; by consequent will, the talent, which he had received, was taken from the wicked and slothful servant (Matt. 25). By antecedent will, the word of God was first offered to the Jews; by consequent will, the same word was taken from them and sent to others (Acts 13). The same distinction is proved by a consideration of the attributes of God; for since God is good and just, He can not will eternal death to His own creature, made in His image, without reference to sin; He can not but will eternal salvation to His creature. The immutability of God necessarily requires the same thing. For since His providence has given to all His creatures means, necessary and sufficient, by which they can attain their designed end, but the designed end of man, made in the image of God, is eternal life, it hence follows that all men are loved by God unto eternal life by antecedent will; nor can God, without a change of His own arrangement, deny eternal life unto men, without reference to sin; which denial, being consequent on the act of man, pertains to consequent will.

(Arminius, Works, Volume 3, Allegation 4)


If you ask, “Why then are not all men saved?” the whole law and the testimony answer, First, Not because of any decree of God; not because it is his pleasure they should die; for, As I live, saith the Lord God,” I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” (Ezek. 18:3, 32.) Whatever be the cause of their perishing, it cannot be his will, if the oracles of God are true; for they declare, “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;” (2 Pet. 3:9; ) “He willeth that all men should be saved.” And they, Secondly, declare what is the cause why all men are not saved, namely, that they will not be saved: So our Lord expressly, “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life.” (John 5:40.) “The power of the Lord is present to heal” them, but they will not be healed. “They reject the counsel,” the merciful counsel, “of God against themselves,” as did their stiff-necked forefathers. And therefore are they without excuse; because God would save them, but they will not be saved: This is the condemnation, “How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37.)

(John Wesley, Sermon 128)


What will you say? I’ll go on still in my sins? Again all we can say is that the bowels of divine love are deeply moved for you—that God has done all to save you that He wisely can do. God’s people have felt a deep and agonizing interest in you and are ready now to cry, How can we give them up? But what more can we do—what more can even God do? With bleeding heart and quivering lip has Mercy followed you. Jesus Himself said, “How often would I have gathered you— O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I would have saved you, but ye would not!” Shall Jesus behold and weep over you, and say, “O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day—but now it is hidden from thine eyes?” What, O dying sinner, will you say? Shall not your response be, “It is enough—I have dashed away salvation’s cup long and wickedly enough; you need not say another word, O that bleeding hand! those weeping eyes! Is it possible that I have withstood a Saviour’s love so long? I am ready to beg for mercy now; and I rejoice to hear that our God has a father’s heart.”

(Finney, Sermon 8, Remarks)


Here, I. God sends Moses the second time to Pharaoh (v. 11) upon the same errand as before, to command him, at his peril, that he let the children of Israel go. Note, God repeats his precepts before he begins his punishments. Those that have often been called in vain to leave their sins must yet be called again and again, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, Ezek. iii. 11. God is said to hew sinners by his prophets (Hos. vi. 5), which denotes the repetition of the strokes. How often would I have gathered you?

(Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, at Exodus 6:10-13)

Catholic or Roman?

October 27, 2009

John Z at The Boar’s Head Tavern writes:

[Francis] Beckwith seems to think that his particularly vocal Protestant apologist detractors are using the prefix “Roman” as a pejorative instead of being merely descriptive. This is probably true to a certain extent, because I’m sure many of them have no use for the word “catholic” themselves.


I certainly can’t speak for all of Beckwith’s detractors, but many of us take being catholic (in the true sense of the term) seriously. For us, to be “catholic” means to have the universal (that’s what “catholic” means) faith. It means to believe in the gospel. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. Rome is not a part of that church. The Roman church is not a catholic church because it has anathematized the gospel. The way of salvation that Rome teaches will not lead one to heaven, but to hell. It is, therefore, misdescriptive to call the church of the pope, “the catholic church.”

John Z continued:

I have no problem if Beckwith and other Roman Catholics want to identify themselves as just simply “Catholic.” The terminology has evolved in such a way that it’s the first thing people think of when they hear the word. However, in the comment box, people are gently pushing back, reminding him that the creed talks about the “holy catholic church” and that there are plenty of Protestants (myself included) that are perfectly comfortable using the term for themselves in the sense that it means in that context. In this sense the “Roman” prefix would not be a pejorative but would rather be descriptive of what sort of “catholic” you are talking about.

There seems to be something of a dichotomy here. We don’t use the term “Roman” to specify which sort of “catholic” a person is, but to indicate that the term “catholic” is not being used in its ordinary sense, but as part of a sectarian designation.

There are other ways we can designate members of that sect: “Romanist” and “papist” are two that have been in common use among the Reformed churches for centuries. Both of those terms are descriptive labels relating to the ecclesiology of Rome (“papist” referring to being an adherent to the papacy, and “Romanist” referring to being an adherent of the bishop of Rome). When folks like Beckwith complain that there are many rites of Roman Catholicism and that the Latin rite is just one of those rites, it encourages folks like me to use the term “papist” to avoid any confusion over the fact that I don’t mean “Latin rite” by the term “Roman.”

Of course, the term “papist” tends to ruffle the feathers of Roman Catholics worse than any other descriptive term, so we sometimes try to minimize needless (even if it is unjustified) offense by using the term “Roman Catholic” or “Romanist” instead of “papist.”

After a brief quotation from Beckwith (which we’ll address last) John Z concludes:

Beckwith is my brother in Christ (internet apologists send in the attack dogs!), but I think this is kind of an immature response. In my opinion, he ought to be pleased that more and more Protestants are seeing the necessity to call themselves “catholic” with all it entails (first and foremost that we don’t think that centuries went by without any true church).

Francis Beckwith is an apostate evangelical. We have no good reason to think that he has saving faith in Jesus Christ. Folks who view Beckwith as their “brother in Christ” seem to have either a different notion of the gospel itself (which I am inclined to suspect is the majority of the cases), a very different notion of who should be called a brother in Christ (perhaps some of the Federal Vision folks would fit in here), or perhaps a different experience with Beckwith (after all, just because someone is a member of an apostate church does not guarantee that the person themselves is a full adherent to their church’s teachings).

I doubt many folks would be willing to call Bart Ehrman, another and more famous apostate evangelical, their “brother in Christ.” But if you claim to be an evangelical Christian, why would you accept one apostate and not the other? Do you think that the legalism of Rome saves? Do you think that adherence to the Roman pontiff is a true way to the Father?

I realize that John Z may be a very kindhearted person who does not like to judge someone. Yet there are some times when judgment is necessary and appropriate:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Furthermore, I think John Z must be a bit naive. Why would Beckwith be pleased that those he must view as “heretics” (though perhaps Beckwith does not view them as Trent did) want to consider themselves “catholic”? We who view Rome as a proponent of heresy are not happy that Rome is attempting to call herself “catholic” – why would Rome be happy to have heretics apply that label to themselves? But John Z does not view Rome as heretical, so it is not so obvious to him. Hopefully, he recognizes that Mormonism is heretical. If so, is he happy when Mormons refer to themselves as Christians? I would hope not.

But it is worse than simply being a misdescription or simply a matter of Beckwith being grousy over a term that he should be happy for evangelicals to appropriate. Here is the final piece of John Z’s comment including his blockquotation of Beckwith:

Beckwith concedes this point but doesn’t seem to take it too seriously, finally saying:

I guess it should not surprise me that a Protestant would not only protest against the Catholic Church but also the Catholic Church’s use of the word Catholic. He’s not pleased with just leaving our church and having his own church; he wants to take our name and give us a new one. So much for the “priesthood of all believers.” :-)

Does Francis Beckwith really think we consider him a believer? We don’t. Surely Beckwith is aware of this.

But worse than that, notice that Beckwith claims that “catholic” is “our name.” He’s not only using a term that’s misdescriptive of his sect, but trying to claim exclusive use of the term for his sect. Rome and her pontiff try to claim universal dominion over Christianity. That is, after all, one of the reasons that the Reformers identified the office of Roman pontiff with the man of sin:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Even Arminius understood this:

It is demonstrable by the most evident arguments that the name of Antichrist and of The Adversary of God belongs to him. For the apostle ascribes the second of these epithets to him when he calls him “the man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thess. ii. 3-8.) It was he who should arise out of the ruins of the Roman empire, and should occupy its vacant digaity. These expressions, we assert, must be understood, and can be understood, solely respecting the Roman pontiff. But the name of “The Antichrist” belongs to him pre-eminently, whether the particle anti signifies opposition, or the substitution of one thing for another; not indeed such a substitution as is lawfully and legitimately made by Him who has the power of placing things in subordination, but it signifies one by which any man is substituted, either by himself or by another person through force and fraud. For he is both a rival to Christ, and his adversary, when he boasts of himself as the spouse, the head, and the foundation of the church, endowed with plenitude of power; and yet he professes himself to be the vicegerent of Christ, and to perform his functions on earth, for the sake of his own private advantage, but to the manifest injury of the church of Christ. He has, however, considered it necessary to employ the name of Christ as a pretext, that under this sacred name he may obtain that reverence for himself among Christians, which he would be unable to procure if he were openly to profess himself to be either the Christ, or the adversary of Christ.

– Arminius, Disputation 21, Section 12

These days, however, folks have lost sight of what matters – of the importance of affirming sola fide against the legalism of Rome. Arminius was wrong to treat faith as he did – and his errors were serious errors. Dordt was right, but Arminius looks positively orthodox against the backdrop of the broad landscape of contemporary evangelicalism and especially the “ecumenical” segments thereof.


Arminius’ Impact on Calvinism

October 20, 2009

Dan (“GodIsMyJudge”) has an interesting post in honor of the 400th anniversary of Arminius’ death (link). One criticism I have, is that I think he overstates the significance of the infralapsarian wording of Dordt’s discussion of election. In fact, one could walk away from GodIsMyJudge’s post thinking that Arminius was an infralapsarian Calvinist who prevailed at Dordt against the supralapsarians, rather than having his errant views condemned by that synod. In context, the point of Dordt is to deny foreseen merit, something upon which both supralapsarians and infralapsarians agree.


Arminius – Closer Than You Might Think

July 15, 2008

We frequently refer to non-Calvinist evangelicals as “Arminians,” in very broad sweeping terms. This is partly for simplicity, and partly because we view them as having some historical connection to Arminius. When one actually goes and reads what the historical Arminius wrote, one finds him to be much closer to the Reformed views than many of those to whom we attach the label “Arminians.” The following is just one example:

The Essence of God is that by which God exists; or it is the first cause of motion of the Divine Nature by which God is understood to exist.

The Life of God, which comes to be considered under the second [momentum] cause of motion in the Divine Nature, is an act flowing from the Essence of God, by which his Essence is signified to be in action within itself. (Psalm xlii. 2; Heb. iii. 12; Num. xiv. 21.)

This [i.e. the Will of God] is the second faculty in the life of God, [§ 29,] which follows the Divine understanding and is produced from it, and by which God is borne towards a known good. Towards a good, because it is an adequate object of his will. And towards a known good, because the Divine understanding is previously borne towards it as a being, not only by knowing it as it is a being, but likewise by judging it to be good. Hence the act of the understanding is to offer it as a good, to the will which is of the same nature as the understanding, or rather, which is its own offspring, that it may also discharge its office and act concerning this known good. But God does not will the evil which is called that of “culpability;” because He does not more will any good connected with this evil than He wills the good to which the malignity of sin is opposed, and which is the Divine good itself. All the precepts of God demonstrate this in the most convincing manner. (Psalm v, 4, 5.)

Works of Arminius, Volume 1, Disputation 4, “On the Nature of God, Paragraphs VII, XXV, and XLIX.

One may note that Arminius’ views changed over time. Evidently this disputation is taken from the time when Arminius “stood for his degree of D.D.” I don’t quote these paragraphs to endorse what Arminius had to say, but only to illustrate the apparent difference between Arminius and some of those who are viewed as Arminians.

I would particularly ask Godismyjudge (Dan) with whom I’ve been having a dialog, and who considers himself an Arminian, whether he accepts the description of God’s nature, essence, life, and will of God provided by Arminius, or whether he distinguishes his position from that which Arminius evidently held.


UPDATE (16 July 2008): Godismyjudge (Dan) has provided a response (link) in which he suggests at least the following:

1) That there is some doubt that the work from which these quotations come are part of the true Arminian corpus (i.e. it’s possible this work was actually the work of someone other than Arminius) – Dan nevertheless concedes that Arminius probably wrote it;

2) That there is a translation issue with respect to “first cause of motion” and “second cause of motion.” Dan cites Richard Mullener [sp? – transcription from Dan’s audio] who argues that Arminius was trying to refer to a “first logical moment” and a “second logical moment.” Sadly, I don’t have access to Arminus’ original Latin, in order to get into the translation issue. I don’t like having to rely only on a translation, and so if anyone can point me to the original Latin, I’d be happy to dig in further.

3) Dan makes some comment about Arminius’ views evolving (and some theories about why they evolved). Those theories don’t particularly concern me and I was’t trying to hint at them. My point was simply that there was some indication by the editor or translator of Arminius’ works that suggested that this might be one of the earlier works. Given that most men’s views evolve over time, I wouldn’t want someone to assume that Arminius didn’t have the liberty (free will, if you prefer) to change his opinions over time.

4) Dan argues that (in Arminius) the work of making a decision are done by wisdom and reason, and the will simply acts on the final judgment of reason. Dan acknowledges that this sounds like the will is determined by the reason. Dan even acknowledges that this means that freedom attaches not actually to the will itself, but to the final (or last) judgment of reason.

5) Dan recommended the 11th Public Disputation, first paragraph, to explain the connection between the reason and the will in Arminius.

6) Dan argues that the “core” of Arminianism don’t include the “tangled mess” of the relation of reason and the will. Dan defines Arminianism with respect to the TULIP acrostic, such that (in his view) Arminians are those who accept T and who reject U, L, and I. Dan seems to argue that both those who accept and those who reject P are properly designated Arminians.

7) Finally, Dan states that although he’d rather not get into this level of detail (because of the danger of taking such divisions too far), he does agree with Arminius (I presume he means as modified by Mullener [sp?]).

%d bloggers like this: