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The

History
And
Theology
Of
Calvinism
Curt Daniel
This material is a collection of the notes that the author used
to teach a class in a church in Texas in the 1980s.
The notes were scanned for this edition, please forgive any
errors since this material has not been closely proof read.

The History
And
Theology Of Calvinism
Curt Daniel
Table of Contents

Chapter 1. What is Calvinism? ................................................................................... 18


1. Introduction to the Question.................................................................................. 18
2. Delineation of the Subject..................................................................................... 18
3. Synonyms of Calvinism. ....................................................................................... 19
4. Varieties of Calvinism. .......................................................................................... 20
5. The Definition of Calvinism. .................................................................................. 22
A General Bibliography On Calvinism........................................................................ 24
Chapter 2. Augustine and Pre-Calvinism. .................................................................. 30
1. Introduction. .......................................................................................................... 30
2. Did Calvinism Come from Stoicism?..................................................................... 30
3. Did Calvinism Come from, Islam?......................................................................... 31
4. The Early Church Fathers..................................................................................... 32
5. Pelagius and Pelagianism. ................................................................................... 32
6. Augustine.............................................................................................................. 33
7. Semi-Pelagianism and Augustinianism................................................................. 34
8. Gottschalk............................................................................................................. 35
9. The Medieval Schoolmen. .................................................................................... 36
10. Bibliography on Augustine and Pelagius. ........................................................... 37
Chapter 3. The Reformation....................................................................................... 38
1. Martin Luther......................................................................................................... 38
2. Historic Lutheranism. ............................................................................................ 39
3. The Anabaptists.................................................................................................... 40
4. The Swiss Reformation......................................................................................... 40
5. The German Reformed Reformation. ................................................................... 41
Chapter 4. John Calvin............................................................................................... 45
1. Biography. ............................................................................................................ 45
2. Calvin and Luther.................................................................................................. 46
3. Misconceptions About Calvin................................................................................ 46
4. Calvin and Servetus.............................................................................................. 47
5. Calvins Writings. .................................................................................................. 48
6. The Institutes of the Christian Religion. ................................................................ 49
7. Calvins Theology. ................................................................................................ 49
8. Predestination....................................................................................................... 50
9. Conclusion............................................................................................................ 50
Chapter 5. Chapter The Spread of Calvinism............................................................. 52
1. Introduction. .......................................................................................................... 52
2. Theodore Beza (1519-1605)................................................................................. 52
3. The Palatinate of Southern Germany. .................................................................. 53
4. The French Reformed Church. ............................................................................. 54

5. Holland. ................................................................................................................ 55
6. England. ............................................................................................................... 55
7. Scotland................................................................................................................ 56
8. Elsewhere............................................................................................................. 57
9. Calvin versus the Calvinists. ................................................................................. 57
Chapter 6. The Synod of Dort. ................................................................................... 59
1. Jacob Arminius. .................................................................................................... 59
2. The Arminians....................................................................................................... 60
3. The Remonstrance. .............................................................................................. 60
4. The Calvinists. ...................................................................................................... 61
5. The Political Situation. .......................................................................................... 61
6. The Synod of Dort................................................................................................. 61
7. The Canons of the Synod of Dort. ........................................................................ 62
8. The Aftermath. ...................................................................................................... 63
Chapter 7. The Puritans. ............................................................................................ 65
1. Introduction. .......................................................................................................... 65
2. Origins of English Puritanism................................................................................ 65
3. Cambridge Calvinism............................................................................................ 65
4. Presbyterian Puritanism........................................................................................ 66
5. Congregational Puritanism. .................................................................................. 67
6. The King James Version....................................................................................... 67
7. The Pilgrim Fathers. ............................................................................................. 67
8. English Arminianism and Anglican Anti-Puritanism. ............................................. 68
9. Scottish Calvinism. ............................................................................................... 69
10. The Puritan Revolution. (1640-1660).................................................................. 69
11. The Restoration (1660)....................................................................................... 70
12. Toleration of Restricted Puritanism..................................................................... 70
13. The Final Stage of Puritanism............................................................................. 71
14. Epilogue.............................................................................................................. 71
Chapter 8. The Westminster Assembly. ..................................................................... 73
1. Events Preceding the Assembly. .......................................................................... 73
2. The Westminster Assembly. ................................................................................. 73
3. The Leading Westminster Divines. ....................................................................... 74
4. Major Theological Issues. ..................................................................................... 75
5. The Westminster Documents and Related Documents. ....................................... 75
6. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). ...................................................... 77
7. The Westminster Catechisms (1647).................................................................... 78
8. The Aftermath. ...................................................................................................... 79
Chapter 9. Covenant Theology. ................................................................................. 82
1. Introduction. .......................................................................................................... 82
2. 16th Century Origins.............................................................................................. 82
3. 17th Century Covenant Theology. ......................................................................... 83
4. Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669). ......................................................................... 83
5. Herman Witsius (1636-1708). ............................................................................... 84
6. Later Federalists. .................................................................................................. 84
7. Definition of Covenant......................................................................................... 84

8. The Covenant of Redemption. .............................................................................. 85


9. The Covenant of Works. ....................................................................................... 85
1O. The Covenant of Grace...................................................................................... 87
11. The Later Covenants. ......................................................................................... 87
12. Further Ramifications.......................................................................................... 88
13. Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism........................................................ 88
Chapter 10. High Calvinism.......................................................................................... 93
1. What is High Calvinism? ...................................................................................... 93
2. Supralapsarianism. ............................................................................................... 94
3. Assurance of Salvation. ........................................................................................ 96
Chapter 11. Amyraldism............................................................................................... 99
1. Moyse Amyraut..................................................................................................... 99
2. Hypothetical Universalism. ................................................................................. 100
3. Other French Amyraldians.................................................................................. 100
4. The Anti-Amyraldians. ........................................................................................ 100
5. The Formula Consensus Helvetica..................................................................... 101
6. British Parallels of Amyraldianism....................................................................... 101
7. British Limited Atonement................................................................................... 102
8. Later Advocates of Non-Limited Atonement. ...................................................... 103
9. Calvin and the Extent of the Atonement. ............................................................ 103
10. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 104
Chapter 12. Calvinistic Antinomianism. ...................................................................... 106
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 106
2. The Antinomian Controversy of the 1630s......................................................... 106
3. The English Antinomian Controversy of the 1640s. ........................................... 107
4. Neonomianism..................................................................................................... 109
5. The Gospel Standard.......................................................................................... 110
6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 111
Chapter 13. Hyper-Calvinism. .................................................................................... 112
1. The Origins of Hyper-Calvinism. ......................................................................... 112
2. John Gill (1697-1771). ........................................................................................ 112
3. The Gospel Standard.......................................................................................... 113
4. The Earthen Vessels. ......................................................................................... 113
5. The Primitive Baptists. ........................................................................................ 114
6. Arthur W. Pink..................................................................................................... 115
7. The Protestant Reformed Church. ...................................................................... 115
8. Problems in Defining Hyper-Calvinism. .............................................................. 116
9. Hyper-Calvinism and the Free Offer................................................................. 116
10. The Question of,Duty Faith............................................................................. 117
11. The Debate over Common Grace..................................................................... 118
12. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 118
Chapter 14. Eighteenth-Century Calvinism. ............................................................... 121
1. The Scottish Presbyterians. ................................................................................ 121
2. The English Independents. ................................................................................. 122
3. The Anglican Calvinists. ..................................................................................... 123
4. The Evangelical Awakening................................................................................ 124

5. The Great Missionary Movement........................................................................ 125


6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 126
Chapter 15. Jonathan Edwards and New England Calvinism. ................................... 127
1. Biography of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). ................................................... 127
2. Edwards as Theological Writer. .......................................................................... 128
3. The Great Awakening. ........................................................................................ 128
4. The Halfway Covenant Controversy. .................................................................. 130
5. The Freedom of the Will. .................................................................................... 130
6. Original Sin. ........................................................................................................ 131
7. Edwards Last Days, ........................................................................................... 132
8. The Further History of New England Theology. .................................................. 132
Chapter 16. The Princeton Theology.......................................................................... 135
1. Origins. ............................................................................................................... 135
2. Charles Hodge (1797-1878). .............................................................................. 136
3. The Hodge Dynasty. ........................................................................................... 137
4. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921). .................................................... 137
5. Miscellaneous Princetonian Theologians............................................................ 138
6. The Two Presbyterian Divisions of the 19th-century............................................ 138
7. The Split at Princeton Seminary. ........................................................................ 139
8. J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937). ...................................................................... 140
9. Other Westminster Faculty. ................................................................................ 140
10. Westminster Today........................................................................................... 141
11. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 141
Chapter 17. Nineteenth-Century Calvinism. ............................................................... 143
1. Southern Presbyterianism. ................................................................................. 143
2. Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898). .................................................................... 143
3. The Revival in the Confederate Army. ................................................................ 144
4. James Henley Thornwell (1812-1862). ............................................................... 144
5. Other Southern Presbyterian Theologians of Note. ............................................ 145
6. The Mercersburg Theology................................................................................. 145
7. William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894). ....................................................................... 146
9. Scottish Low Calvinism, or the New Light. ........................................................ 147
10. The Disruption. ................................................................................................. 148
11. The Free Church of Scotland Theologians. ...................................................... 149
12. Nineteenth-Century English Calvinism. ............................................................ 150
Chapter 18. Calvinistic Baptists.................................................................................. 152
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 152
2. The Anabaptists.................................................................................................. 152
3. 17th Century English Calvinistic Baptists............................................................. 153
4. The Strict and Particular Baptists........................................................................ 154
5. Hyper-Calvinist Baptists...................................................................................... 155
6. Abaptist Hyper-Calvinists.................................................................................... 155
7. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)............................................................. 155
8. Baptist Calvinism in America. ............................................................................. 156
9. Southern Baptist Calvinism................................................................................. 157
10. Miscellaneous Calvinistic Baptists. ................................................................... 158

11. Conclusion. ........................................................................................................ 158


Chapter 19. Dutch Calvinism...................................................................................... 160
1. Background......................................................................................................... 160
2. Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). ........................................................................... 160
3. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). ............................................................................ 162
4. G.C. Berkouwer (1903- )..................................................................................... 163
5. Other Contemporary Dutch Calvinists. ............................................................... 165
6. Dutch Calvinism in America................................................................................ 165
7. Louis Berkhof (1873-1957). ................................................................................ 166
8. William Hendriksen (1900-1981)......................................................................... 167
9. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 167
Chapter 20. Calvinistic Philosophy. ............................................................................. 168
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 168
2. Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977). .................................................................... 168
3. Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987). ........................................................................... 170
4. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. (1895-1975)....................................................................... 172
5. Gordon Clark (1902-1985).................................................................................. 172
6. John Gerstner (1914- ). ...................................................................................... 173
7. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984). .......................................................................... 174
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 175
Chapter 21. The Theonomy Movement...................................................................... 177
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 177
2. Rousas J. Rushdoony......................................................................................... 177
3. Gary North. ......................................................................................................... 178
4. The Tyler Theonomists. ...................................................................................... 179
5. Greg Bahnsen..................................................................................................... 179
6. Southeastern Theonomists................................................................................. 180
7. Postminenialism.................................................................................................. 180
8. Theonomy and the Reformed Doctrine of the Law. ............................................ 181
9. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 182
Chapter 22. Neo-Orthodoxy. ...................................................................................... 184
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 184
2. Karl Barth (1886-1968). ...................................................................................... 184
3. Barth on Scripture............................................................................................... 185
4. Barth on God. ..................................................................................................... 186
5. Barth on Election. ............................................................................................... 187
6. Barth on Hell. ...................................................................................................... 187
7. Emil Brunner (1889-1966). ................................................................................. 188
8. Brunner on Scripture........................................................................................... 188
9. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 189
Chapter 23. 20th-century British Calvinism. ................................................................ 191
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 191
2. Thomas F. Torrance (1913- ).............................................................................. 191
3. 20th-century Scottish Historic Calvinism.............................................................. 193
4. W.H. Griffith Thomas (1861-1924)...................................................................... 193
5. J.I. Packer (1926- ). ............................................................................................ 194

6. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981).............................................................. 195


7. The Banner of Truth............................................................................................ 197
8. R.T. Kendall (1935- ). ......................................................................................... 198
9. Miscellaneous British Calvinists.......................................................................... 198
Chapter 24. 20th-century American Calvinism. ........................................................... 200
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 200
2. 20th-century American Presbyterianism. ............................................................. 200
3. Calvinist Scholars in the UPCUSA and PCUSA. ................................................ 202
4. Dispensational Calvinists.................................................................................... 202
5. Philadelphian Pre-Millenial Calvinism. ................................................................ 203
6. PCA Calvinists. ................................................................................................... 203
7. Loraine Boettner (1900- ).................................................................................... 204
8. Arthur C. Custance (1919-1986) and Annihilationism......................................... 204
9. Roger Nicole (1915- ) and French Calvinism...................................................... 205
10. Miscellaneous Calvinists................................................................................... 205
11. Miscellaneous Sources and Resources for 20th-century American Calvinism. . 206
Chapter 25. The Sovereignty of God.......................................................................... 208
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 208
2. The Godness of God. ......................................................................................... 208
3. The Self-Existence of God.................................................................................. 209
4. The Perfection of God......................................................................................... 209
5. The Transcendence of God. ............................................................................... 209
6. The Independence of God. ................................................................................. 210
7. The Sovereignty of God...................................................................................... 211
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 212
Chapter 26. Predestination......................................................................................... 214
1. Introduction......................................................................................................... 214
2. What is Predestination?...................................................................................... 214
3. The Purpose of God. .......................................................................................... 215
4. The Program of God. .......................................................................................... 217
5. Eternal Predestination. ....................................................................................... 217
6. Absolute Predestination...................................................................................... 217
7. Predestination of All Means and Ends. ............................................................... 218
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 219
Chapter 27. Foreknowledge. ...................................................................................... 220
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 220
2. The Omniscience of God. ................................................................................... 220
3. Absolute Foreknowledge. ................................................................................... 220
4. Foreknowledge and Foreordination. ................................................................... 221
5. Eternity. .............................................................................................................. 222
6. Foreknowledge and Prophecy. ........................................................................... 222
7. How Does God Know? ....................................................................................... 223
8. The Theory of Middle Knowledge. ...................................................................... 223
9. Various Theories of Limited Omniscience and Foreknowledge. ......................... 224
10. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 225
Chapter 28. Objections to Predestination................................................................... 227

Introduction.............................................................................................................. 227
1. Absolute predestination is fatalism. .................................................................. 227
2. Things just are.................................................................................................. 228
3. The idea of absolute predestination renders history meaningless.................... 228
4. Predestination is linear, but the universe is a cycle. ......................................... 229
5. God limits His sovereignty. ............................................................................... 229
6. God changes His mind, therefore predestination is not unalterable. ................ 230
7. The universe is a game of cosmic chess between God and Satan. ................. 231
8. History is a battle between God and Satan. ..................................................... 231
9. Predestination leaves no place for chance....................................................... 232
10. Miscellaneous Cheap Objections...................................................................... 233
11. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 234
Chapter 29. The Providence of God........................................................................... 235
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 235
2. God Provides and Sustains the Universe. .......................................................... 235
3. Nature................................................................................................................. 236
4. Causality and Concurrence. ............................................................................... 237
5. Ordinary Providence. .......................................................................................... 238
6. Extraordinary Providence. .................................................................................. 239
7. Providence with a Purpose. ................................................................................ 239
8. Conclusion........................................................................................................... 240
Chapter 30. The Will of God....................................................................................... 242
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 242
2. The Secret Will of God........................................................................................ 242
3. The Secret Will is Unconditional. ........................................................................ 242
4. The Revealed Will of God................................................................................... 243
5. Contrasts Between the Secret Will and the Revealed Will.................................. 244
6. The Paradox of the Two Wills. ............................................................................ 245
7. The Two Words for Will. ................................................................................... 245
8. Problems with the Paradox. ................................................................................ 246
9. The Providential Will of God. .............................................................................. 247
10. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 247
Chapter 31. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. ...................................... 249
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 249
2. What is Human Responsibility? .......................................................................... 249
3. God Intervenes in the Human Will. ..................................................................... 250
4. Four Verses from Proverbs................................................................................. 251
5. God Intervenes in Human Wills for Good Motives. ............................................. 251
6. God Also Works in the Sinful Hearts of Man to Accomplish His Purpose. .......... 252
7. Divine Preservation of Human Responsibility. .................................................... 252
8. The Grand Paradox. ........................................................................................... 252
9. Three False Explanations of the Paradox........................................................... 253
10. The Proper Attitude Towards the Paradox........................................................ 254
Chapter 32. Prayer and the Sovereignty of God. ....................................................... 256
1. The Problem. ...................................................................................................... 256
2. What is Prayer? .................................................................................................. 256

3. Is God Ever Obligated to Answer Our Prayers? ................................................. 257


4. Four Common Misconceptions About Prayer and the Will of God. ..................... 258
5. Does Prayer Change Gods Mind? ..................................................................... 258
6. Prayer and the Secret Will of God, ..................................................................... 259
7. Divine Sovereignty is an Incentive to Prayer. ..................................................... 260
8. Prayer as a Weans of Providence. ..................................................................... 260
9. The Stoic Reaction. ............................................................................................ 261
10. Thy Will Be Done............................................................................................ 261
11. Why Pray? ........................................................................................................ 262
Chapter 33. The Glory of God. ................................................................................... 263
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 263
2. What is Glory? .................................................................................................... 263
3. The Revelation of Gods Glory............................................................................ 263
4. The Reflection of Gods Glory............................................................................. 264
5. The Paradox of Glory.......................................................................................... 264
6. The Inevitability of Glory. .................................................................................... 265
7. Some Objections. ............................................................................................... 266
8. Christ logical Glory.............................................................................................. 267
9. Soli Deo Gloria.................................................................................................... 267
Chapter 34. The Origin of Sin..................................................................................... 269
1. The Problem Stated............................................................................................ 269
2. God is not the Positive Author of Sin. ................................................................. 269
3. Is Satan the Author of Sin?................................................................................. 270
4. Divine Foreordination.......................................................................................... 270
5. Augustines Theory. ............................................................................................ 271
6. God Permitted Sin to Come into Existence......................................................... 271
7. Why Did God Decree to Permit Sin to Exist?...................................................... 272
8. Some False Theories Exploded.......................................................................... 273
9. Some Final Cautions. ......................................................................................... 274
Chapter 35. Providence and the Problem of Evil........................................................ 276
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 276
2. Providence and Temptation. ............................................................................... 276
3. Concurrence with Moral Evil. .............................................................................. 277
4. The Case of Job. ................................................................................................ 278
5. The Problem of Natural Evil. ............................................................................... 278
6. The Problem of Pain. .......................................................................................... 279
7. Theodicy. ............................................................................................................ 280
Chapter 36. Original Sin. ............................................................................................ 282
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 282
2. The Nature of Original Sin. ................................................................................. 282
3. Biblical Proofs for Original Sin. ........................................................................... 283
4. How is Original Sin Transmitted?........................................................................ 284
5. Mediate Imputation. ............................................................................................ 285
6. Immediate Imputation. ........................................................................................ 285
7. The Major Objection. .......................................................................................... 286
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 287

Chapter 37. Total Depravity. ...................................................................................... 288


1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 288
2. What Total Depravity is Not. ............................................................................... 288
3. The Total Depravity of Human Nature. ............................................................... 288
4. Sinful Bodies....................................................................................................... 289
5. Depraved Emotions. ........................................................................................... 290
6. Depraved Minds.................................................................................................. 290
7. Depraved Consciences....................................................................................... 290
8. Depraved Wills.................................................................................................... 291
9. Totally Depraved All of the Time......................................................................... 291
10. Is Man as Sinful as He Can Be? ....................................................................... 292
11. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 293
Chapter 38. The Bondage of the Will. ........................................................................ 295
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 295
2. The Bondage of the Will. .................................................................................... 295
3. Spiritual Death and Slavery. ............................................................................... 296
4. The Nature of Inability, or the Inability of Human Nature. ................................... 296
5. Moral Ability and Natural Ability. ......................................................................... 297
6. The Myth of Free Will.......................................................................................... 298
7. The Four Phases of Mans Will. .......................................................................... 298
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 299
Chapter 39. Total Depravity and Human Responsibility. ............................................ 300
1. The Objections.................................................................................................... 300
2. The Nature of Human Responsibility. ................................................................. 300
3. The Myth of Moral Neutrality............................................................................... 301
4. Degrees of Responsibility. .................................................................................. 302
5. The Law and Human Inability. ............................................................................ 302
6. Inability Does Not Negate Responsibility. ........................................................... 303
7. Inability Compounds Culpability.......................................................................... 304
8. Addressing the Ungodly...................................................................................... 304
9. Is it Fair?............................................................................................................. 305
Chapter 40. Unconditional Election. ............................................................................ 307
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 307
2. The Biblical Terminology. ................................................................................... 307
3. Election and Salvation. ....................................................................................... 308
4. Election is Eternal. .............................................................................................. 309
5. A Definite Number of Elect. ................................................................................ 309
6. Individual Election............................................................................................... 310
7. Election is Definite and Irrevocable..................................................................... 311
Chapter 41. The Election of Grace. ............................................................................ 313
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 313
2. The Book of Life.................................................................................................. 313
3. Sovereign Election.............................................................................................. 314
4. Election by Grace. .............................................................................................. 315
5. Election by Sovereign Grace in Romans 9. ........................................................ 316
6. Election by Sovereign Grace in Ephesians 1...................................................... 317

10

Chapter 42. Election and Foreknowledge. ................................................................. 318


1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 318
2. Foreknowledge as Foresight. ............................................................................. 318
3. I Peter 1:1-2. ....................................................................................................... 319
4. Romans 8:29-30. ................................................................................................ 319
5. Election is Not by Foreseen Faith. ...................................................................... 320
6. Foreknowledge and the Knowledge of God. ....................................................... 321
7. God Knows His People....................................................................................... 322
8. Foreknowledge is Not Universal. ........................................................................ 323
9. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 323
Chapter 43. Election in Christ..................................................................................... 325
1. The Trinity and Election. ..................................................................................... 325
2. Election in Christ................................................................................................. 326
3. Christ as the Elected One................................................................................... 327
4. The Arminian Misunderstanding of Election in Christ. ........................................ 328
5. The Barthian Theory. .......................................................................................... 329
6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 329
Chapter 44. Objections to Election............................................................................. 331
1. The Calvinist doctrine of election kills evangelism............................................. 331
2. Whosoever will may come, not merely the elect............................................... 332
3. Calvinism makes God turn away repentant sinners because they are not elect.
................................................................................................................................. 332
4. If election were true, then the non-elect never have a chance of salvation. ..... 332
5. Election is like this: God votes for you, Satan votes against you, and your vote
decides the election................................................................................................ 333
6. Doesnt the Bible say that God is no respecter of persons?............................. 333
7. But the idea of privilege is wrong...................................................................... 334
8. Election is unloving........................................................................................... 334
9. Election is not fair. ............................................................................................ 335
Chapter 45. The Destiny of the Elect.......................................................................... 336
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 336
2. Salvation and Eternal Life................................................................................... 336
3. Holiness.............................................................................................................. 336
4. Conformity to Christs Image. ............................................................................. 338
5. Glorification......................................................................................................... 338
6. The Glory of Gods Grace................................................................................... 339
7. Heaven is a World of Love. .............................................................................. 340
Chapter 46. The Practical Implications of Election. .................................................... 342
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 342
2. Assurance........................................................................................................... 342
3. Humility. .............................................................................................................. 344
4. Holiness.............................................................................................................. 345
5. Praise. ................................................................................................................ 346
6. Love.................................................................................................................... 346
7. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 347
Chapter 47. The Doctrine of Reprobation................................................................... 348

11

1. What is Reprobation? ......................................................................................... 348


2. Reprobation in Romans 9. .................................................................................. 349
3. Other Texts on Reprobation. .............................................................................. 350
4. Objections........................................................................................................... 352
5. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 353
Chapter 48. The Hardening of the Reprobate. ........................................................... 355
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 355
2. Isaiah 6:9-10. ...................................................................................................... 355
3. God Blinds the Minds of the Reprobate. ............................................................. 356
4. God Hardens the Hearts of The Reprobate. ....................................................... 357
5. The Case of Pharaoh.......................................................................................... 357
6. God Gives the Reprobate Up. ............................................................................ 359
7. God Withholds Grace. ........................................................................................ 359
8. God Turns Their Hearts. ..................................................................................... 360
9. God Uses Satan and the Demons, ..................................................................... 360
10. The Bottom Line. .............................................................................................. 361
Chapter 49. The Destiny of the Reprobate................................................................. 362
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 362
2. Hell is Eternal...................................................................................................... 362
3. The Reprobate Will Actively Give Glory to God. ................................................. 364
4. The Glory of Gods Wrath. .................................................................................. 365
5. The Echo of Glory in the Elect and the Reprobate.............................................. 366
6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 366
Chapter 50. The Relation of Election and Reprobation. ............................................. 368
1. Are the Elect and the Reprobate in Any May Related?....................................... 368
2. Could God Have Reversed the Subjects of Election and Reprobation? ............. 369
3. Are There More Elect or Reprobate?.................................................................. 371
4. Are the Elect and the Reprobate Equal? ............................................................ 373
Chapter 51. The Order of the Decrees. ...................................................................... 375
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 375
2. What is the State of the Question? ..................................................................... 377
3. Amyraldianism. ................................................................................................... 378
4. Supralapsarianism. ............................................................................................. 379
5. Infralapsarianism. ............................................................................................... 380
6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 381
Chapter 52. The Election of Angels............................................................................ 383
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 383
2. The Elect Angels................................................................................................. 383
3. The Reprobate Angels........................................................................................ 384
4. Angelic Supra!apsarianism? ............................................................................... 386
5. The Elect Angels and Christ. .............................................................................. 387
6. The Relation Between Elect and Reprobate Angels and Elect and Reprobate Men.
................................................................................................................................. 387
7. The Predestined Destinies of the Elect and Reprobate Angels. ......................... 389
Chapter 53. The Election of Dying Infants.................................................................. 390
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 390

12

2. Original Sin. ........................................................................................................ 391


3. The Question of Baptism. ................................................................................... 391
4. The Roman Catholic View. ................................................................................. 392
5. Protestant Views Similar to Romanism............................................................... 392
6. The Question of Infant Faith. .............................................................................. 393
7. The Age of Accountability. .................................................................................. 393
8. Dying Infants are Saved. .................................................................................... 395
9. Some Misused Texts. ......................................................................................... 396
9. Problems. ........................................................................................................... 397
10. How Are Dying Infants Saved? ......................................................................... 397
11. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 398
Chapter 54. The Destiny of the Unevangelized.......................................................... 400
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 400
2. All Men Are Already Under Gods Wrath. ........................................................... 401
3. The Answer of Romans 10. ................................................................................ 402
4. Objections........................................................................................................... 403
5. Election............................................................................................................... 405
6. Missions.............................................................................................................. 406
Chapter 55. The Covenant of Redemption................................................................. 407
1. What is the Covenant of Redemption? ............................................................... 407
2. Three Key Scripture Passages. .......................................................................... 408
3. The Fathers Part in the Covenant. ..................................................................... 409
4. The Sons Part in the Covenant. ......................................................................... 409
5. The Spirits Part in the Covenant. ....................................................................... 411
6. The Covenant of Marriage. ................................................................................. 412
7. The Covenant of Glory........................................................................................ 412
Chapter 56. The Active and Passive Obedience of Christ.......................................... 414
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 414
2. What Saith the Scriptures? ................................................................................. 414
3. The Sinlessness of Jesus. .................................................................................. 415
4. The Active Obedience of Christ. ......................................................................... 416
5. Some Unusual Variations on the Reformed Doctrine. ........................................ 417
6. The Dual Obedience and Justification. ............................................................... 418
7. The Passive Obedience of Christ. ...................................................................... 419
Chapter 57. The Extent of the Atonement. ................................................................. 420
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 420
2. History of the Controversy. ................................................................................. 420
3. The Dual Aspects of the Atonement. .................................................................. 422
4. The Balance of the Dual Aspects........................................................................ 424
5. The Infinite Value of the Atonement.................................................................... 424
6. Universal Benefits of the Atonement................................................................... 425
7. Concluding Comments. ...................................................................................... 426
Chapter 58. Limited Atonement.................................................................................. 429
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 429
2. Election and the Atonement................................................................................ 429
3. Special Grace and the Atonement. ..................................................................... 430

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4. The Shepherd Dying for the Sheep. ................................................................... 431


5. The Atonement and Christs Special People. ..................................................... 431
6. Romans 8:32. ..................................................................................................... 432
7. Miscellaneous Arguments................................................................................... 433
8. The Double Payment Argument.......................................................................... 433
9. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 434
Chapter 59. Objections to Limited Atonement............................................................ 435
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 435
2. The Perishing Passages. ................................................................................. 435
3. 2 Peter 2:1. ......................................................................................................... 435
4. The World Passages. ....................................................................................... 436
5. The All Passages. ............................................................................................ 437
6. The Many Passages......................................................................................... 439
7. The Free Offer. ................................................................................................... 439
8. Faith and Assurance........................................................................................... 440
9. The Objection Based on Majority Opinion. ......................................................... 440
Chapter 60. Irresistible Grace. .................................................................................. 442
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 442
2. Special Calling. ................................................................................................... 442
3. The Drawing Influence of the Holy Spirit............................................................. 443
4. Power Grace....................................................................................................... 444
5. The Wooing of Irresistible Grace. ....................................................................... 445
6. Objections........................................................................................................... 445
7. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 446
Chapter 61. The New Birth........................................................................................ 448
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 448
2. John 3................................................................................................................. 449
3. I John.................................................................................................................. 449
4. Three Parallel Metaphors. .................................................................................. 450
5. Qualities of the New Birth. .................................................................................. 450
6. The Means of Regeneration. .............................................................................. 451
7. God is Active, Man is Passive............................................................................. 452
8. Regeneration Precedes Faith. ............................................................................ 453
Chapter 62. The Gift of Faith...................................................................................... 455
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 455
2. Ephesians 2:8-9.................................................................................................. 455
3. What Saith the Scriptures? . .............................................................................. 456
4. The Gift of Repentance....................................................................................... 458
5. How Faith is Given.............................................................................................. 459
6. Objections........................................................................................................... 459
7. Conclusions. ....................................................................................................... 460
Chapter 63. The Order of Salvation............................................................................ 462
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 462
2. The Roman Catholic Order of Salvation. ............................................................ 463
3. The Lutheran Order of Salvation......................................................................... 464
4. The Arminian Order of Salvation......................................................................... 464

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5. Preparatory Stages............................................................................................. 465


6. Regeneration and Adoption. ............................................................................... 465
7. Calling and Justification. ..................................................................................... 466
8. Justification and Faith. ........................................................................................ 466
9. Faith and Repentance. ....................................................................................... 467
10. Conclusion. ....................................................................................................... 468
The Order of Salvation ................................................................................................ 471
Chapter 64. Common Grace. .................................................................................... 472
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 472
2. Common Grace in Nature and Providence. ........................................................ 472
3. Restraining Grace............................................................................................... 473
4. Common Grace and Culture............................................................................... 474
5. Common Grace and Salvation............................................................................ 474
6. Prevenient Grace................................................................................................ 476
7. The Rejection of the Doctrine of Common Grace. .............................................. 477
Chapter 65. The Preservation of the Saints. .............................................................. 479
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 479
2. Preservation by God. .......................................................................................... 479
3. Preservation and Predestination......................................................................... 481
4. Preservation and Eternal Life.............................................................................. 482
5. Miscellaneous Proofs for the Preservation of the Saints..................................... 483
Chapter 66. The Perseverance of the Saints. ............................................................ 486
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 486
2. Perseverance in Faith and Repentance.............................................................. 486
3. Perseverance in Holiness. .................................................................................. 487
4. The Inevitability of Perseverance........................................................................ 487
4. Perseverance in I John. ...................................................................................... 488
5. Perseverance in James 2. .................................................................................. 489
6. Mistaken Notions About Perseverance............................................................... 489
7. Perseverance to the End. ................................................................................... 490
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 491
Chapter 67. Objections to Eternal Security. ............................................................... 492
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 492
2. Objections from Old Testament Texts. ............................................................... 492
3. Objections from the Gospels............................................................................... 493
4. Objections from Pauls Epistles, ......................................................................... 495
5. Objections from the Book of Hebrews. ............................................................... 496
6. Objections from the Catholic Epistles. ................................................................ 497
7. Objections from Examples.................................................................................. 498
Chapter 68. The Reformed Doctrine of Scripture. ...................................................... 500
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 500
2. The Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit............................................................ 500
3. The Perspicuity of Scripture................................................................................ 502
4. The Analogy of Faith and the Analogy of Scripture............................................. 503
5. Providential Preservation of Scripture................................................................. 505
Chapter 69. The Two Natures of Christ...................................................................... 509

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1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 509


2. Jesus Christ, Very Man and Very God................................................................ 509
3. The History of Christian Theology of the Hypostatic Union................................. 510
4. The Historic Lutheran Theory. ............................................................................ 511
5. The Reformed View of the Incarnation. .............................................................. 512
6. The Extra Calvinisticum.................................................................................... 513
7. The Ascension. ................................................................................................... 514
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 515
Chapter 70. The Reformed Doctrine of the Church.................................................... 517
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 517
2. What is the Church? ........................................................................................... 517
3. The Visible and Invisible Church......................................................................... 519
4. The Marks of the Church. ................................................................................... 519
5. The Regulative Principle..................................................................................... 520
6. Church Government. .......................................................................................... 522
7. Church-State Relations....................................................................................... 523
8. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 523
Chapter 71. The Reformed Doctrine of Communion. ................................................. 525
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 525
2. The Four Non-Reformed Views of Communion. ................................................. 525
3. Spiritual Communion with Christ......................................................................... 527
4. Word and Spirit. .................................................................................................. 529
5. The Rightful Participants of the Table................................................................. 530
6. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 532
Chapter 72. Reformed Evangelism. ........................................................................... 534
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 534
2. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God............................................................. 535
3. Evangelism and the Five Points.......................................................................... 536
4. Arminian Abuses Which Calvinism Avoids. ........................................................ 538
5. Special Weaknesses Which Calvinists Face. ..................................................... 539
6. Why Evangelize? ................................................................................................. 540
7. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 541
Chapter 73. The Practical Applications of Calvinism. ................................................. 543
1. Introduction. ........................................................................................................ 543
2. A Reformed Worldview. ...................................................................................... 543
3. Pitfalls Peculiar to Calvinists. .............................................................................. 545
4. The Truly Reformed Attitudes. ............................................................................ 547
Chapter 74. The Future of Calvinism.......................................................................... 550
1. Reformed Eschatology. ...................................................................................... 550
2. Future Calvinist Debates. ................................................................................... 552
3. The Rediscovery of Calvinism. ........................................................................... 554
4. Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 555
Heroes of The Reformation ......................................................................................... 557
An Introduction to Calvinism........................................................................................ 567
Introduction.............................................................................................................. 567
The Sovereignty of God........................................................................................... 568

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Total Depravity ........................................................................................................ 569


Unconditional Election ............................................................................................. 570
Limited Atonement................................................................................................... 571
Irresistible Grace...................................................................................................... 572
Perseverance of the Saints...................................................................................... 573
Conclusion............................................................................................................... 574

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Chapter 1. What is Calvinism?


1. Introduction to the Question.
A. While the term Calvinism is well known both inside and out of Christianity, there is an
abundance of ignorance of what it means. Some people - including both Christians and nonChristians - reject it outright without knowing what it really is. Others call themselves Calvinists
without knowing what it is, and their explanations are deficient and suspect.
B. This plethora of ignorance is equaled perhaps only by the intense emotions raised when the
subject is brought up. Heated tempers are let loose on both sides. Calvinism is by any definition
a highly controversial topic.
C. Among the popular but incorrect definitions or descriptions of it are these:
(1) It is the teaching that God wont save a man if he isnt one of the elect, even if he
repents and believes the same as one who is elect.
(2) It teaches that Christians should not evangelize the lost (Calvinism is against
missions!).
(3) It teaches that God is an unloving tyrant and the author and approver of sin.
(4) It teaches infant baptism and therefore salvation by water rather than by Christs
blood.
(5) It is a certain form of church government, namely Presbyterianism.
(6) It was the theological excuse for the Puritans witch hunts.
D. There is a definite answer to the question, What is Calvinism? It cannot be answered by
personal opinion, as if everyone who says he is a Calvinist truly is one. Nor is every suggested
definition correct. On the other hand, it is also true that defining it is not as simple as some
persons think.
E. Actually, this introductory lesson only sums up the definition. The chapters that follow fill in
the details. Our pattern will more or less follow the popular 5 Questions of Journalism, viz:
(1) Who? Who was John Calvin and who are the more well known Calvinists?
(2) What? What is Calvinism, its constituent doctrines and varieties?
(3) Where? Where did it come from and where has it prospered the most?
(4) When? When did it begin and what are the stages of its historical development?
(5) Why? Why do we believe in Calvinism?

2. Delineation of the Subject.


A. Mutual Doctrines. Calvinism is a kind of Christianity. Calvinists accept all the fundamental
doctrines of true Christianity. Thus, it shares a mutual faith in the Gospel with non-Calvinistic
Christians, with whom they join in fundamental agreement in opposing the varieties of pseudo-

18

Christianity which reject one or more of the essential Christian truths.


Let it be underscored at the outset that we do not say that a person needs to be a Calvinist to
be a Christian. Only a very few Calvinists have said that. This is true, for example, regarding
Calvinism's chief rival and errant child, Arminianism. On the other hand, Calvinists have differed
regarding another system which claims to be a form of Calvinism, namely Neo-Orthodoxy. The
Calvinists of the 16th and 17th centuries would all agree that those holding to Neo-Orthodoxy
are in fact denying essentials of both Christianity
In general and Calvinism in particular, their protestations notwithstanding. (More will be said
about these two systems later.)
The differences between Calvinists and other true Christians are mainly over secondary
doctrines, not the primary tenets of the faith (cf. I Cor. 15:1-4). On the other hand, this does not
mean that the doctrines of Calvinism are trivial. As a matter of fact, they are quite important and
have significant implications on Christian living, the Christian world-view, and other areas.
Moreover, the differences between Calvinism and, say, Arminianism are far more important than
the differences which Christians have over other secondary doctrines such as speaking in
tongues, the order of the Rapture and the Millennium, church government, and even water
baptism. Unfortunately, the average Christian is more interested in those issues than the issues
of Calvinism.
So, in order to correctly define Calvinism, one must not concentrate on the doctrines which it
shares in common with other Christians.
B. Distinctive Doctrines. Calvinism must be defined, discussed and explained primarily in terms
of its distinctive beliefs - those truths which it alone holds, or which it gives special prominence
to. This is where one must draw the line, by discussing what is in the Calvinist circle rather than
what is outside of it but which it holds in common with others. And that is what a definition is all
about - drawing the lines of distinction.
For example, this is the best way to discuss the cults. One best understands the cults not by
reviewing what they hold in common with true Christians, but by focusing on what they teach in
contradistinction to the others. The same is true regarding Catholicism, Liberalism, other
religions, etc. Thus, our examination of Calvinism focuses on those truths which it alone
believes, but which other forms of Christianity does not hold to.

3. Synonyms of Calvinism.
A. Reformed. In one sense, the term Reformed applies to the doctrines and churches of the
entire Protestant Reformation. Reformed simply means re-forming truth and the churches to
conform to the Bible. But in the technical sense of the term, it refers only to one of the 3 main
branches of the Reformation:
(1) Lutheranism was the earliest branch and was mainly in Germany and Scandinavia.
This branch is also called Evangelische (Evangelical). It is named for its main
proponent, Martin Luther.
(2) Anabaptist was the next earliest branch. It prospered mainly in the Netherlands. Later
it branched into the Baptists and the Mennonites, named for its main proponent, Menno
Simons.

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(3) Calvinism began slightly later. It began in Switzerland and southern Germany, and
later prospered in the Netherlands, England and Scotland. It is named for its main
proponent, John Calvin. Properly speaking,Reformed refers to this branch.
Though most scholars equate the terms Calvinism and Reformed, some do not.
These usually have strong affinities with the Anabaptist wing. For example, Kenneth
Good (a Baptist) has written two useful books, entitled Are Baptists Calvinists? (he
answers yes) and Are Baptists Reformed? (he says no). This arises from defining
Reformed in terms of subjects such as baptism, church government and church-state
relations. Historically speaking, the Lutherans and Calvinists shared more in common
with each other at the Reformation than either shared with the Anabaptists. Actually,
they ganged up on the Anabaptists. In time, however, most Baptists came to agree with
the Calvinists on the doctrines known as Calvinism. (More on this in a later study.)
In these studies, then, we will use the terms Calvinist and Reformed interchangeably
as synonyms. Reformed theology is Calvinist theology.
B. The Doctrines of Grace. This is a phrase generally used only by Calvinists. It refers
specifically to the Five Points of Calvinism, especially the second and fourth. We will use it
interchangeably with Calvinism, but usually in this narrowed sense.
C. Sovereign Grace is another term more or less synonymous with the above. For example, a
Sovereign Grace Baptist means a Calvinistic Baptist. Occasionally other schools of theology
employ the term for their own ideas of grace, but in most cases it occurs within Reformed
theology. It brings out two of the central distinctives of Calvinism:
Divine sovereignty, especially the emphasis and descriptions given by Calvinists as opposed to
others. This applies to such areas as divine transcendence, predestination, providence, ultimate
glory, etc.
Divine grace, covering such areas as election, regeneration, calling, etc.

4. Varieties of Calvinism.
Just as there are varieties of Christians, so there are varieties of Calvinists. All Christians have
certain things in common and other things distinctive. The same is true with those who are
Calvinists. There are some things that all Calvinists have in common with each other, but there
are also shades of variation between the branches of Calvinism. This sheds much light on the
essential tenets which they all hold to. In systematic and Biblical theology this principle is called
Unity and Diversity (or The One and the Many).
It needs to be added that these differences are ever so slight when compared with differences
all Calvinists have with Lutherans, Arminians, and other true Christians, and even more so with
pseudo-Christian and non-Christian groups. For example: Calvinism is red. High Calvinism is
crimson; Low Calvinism is scarlet. But Lutheranism is orange, Arminianism is yellow, etc.
A. Pre-Calvinism. The truths of Calvinism are explicitly stated in the Bible. But they are usually
only implicit in most of the early Church Fathers (100-600 AD). Some, in fact, completely
rejected them. They were most explicitly re-discovered by Augustine. Thus, Augustinianism is
basically Pre-Calvinism, or conversely, Calvinism is simply a purification of Augustinianism.
After Augustine, the system of truth was developed by Prosper of Aquitaine and Gottschalk,
then lay dormant until Luther. Then Calvin and his associates refined it even further. As we shall
see later, the original Lutherans and Calvinists were in virtual agreement on these doctrines. But

20

they have different emphases - the Lutherans tended to stress Sola Fide (justification by faith
alone), while the Calvinists tended to stress Sola Gratia (by grace alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to
God alone be the glory). In time these emphases were developed into substantial differences in
their followers.
B. Calvins Calvinism. Linguistically, this is Calvinism in its purest form. Technically, Calvin was
the only Calvinist. But that begs the question that we are attempting to answer. Still, since the
name comes from him, all later variations must be gauged in terms of his theology, whether by
expansion or distortion.
Incidentally, let me lay to rest a popular error. Calvin did not invent Calvinism. He did not make
up these doctrines any more than Augustine. Rather, Calvin discovered them (to be sure, he rediscovered them and thereby re-formed theology and the churches). He found them in
Scripture.
C. Reformed Calvinism. History shows that Calvin did not hold these thingsal1 by himself. He
was no Reformed Pope, and he did not dominate their formed branch as much as Luther did the
Lutheran branch. Thus, true Reformed theology is not just that which Calvin held, but that which
he held in common with other leaders of the Reformed branch (Bucer, Vermigli, Bullinger, etc).
Much of the debate in subsequent years was over which succeeding branch was truest to the
heritage of Reformed Calvinism. Hence, one sometimes hears the phrase Truly Reformed
(TR) in current debates.
D. Confessional Calvinism. One of the best ways to discuss and define true Reformed theology
is by comparing the official Reformed statements of faith. Host were mainly the work of one
theologian, but in most cases they were assisted by others. These joint efforts were concise
formulations and were frequently adopted as creeds within certain Reformed churches. One
sees a common thread in them all, but also national and historical variations at crucial stages.
Anyone interested in a serious study of Calvinism must read them. Among the more important
ones:
(1) The Major Reformed Confessions.
(A) The Belgic Confession (1561) was mainly the work of Guy de Bres, most popular in the
Netherlands. It was revised by the Synod of Dort in 1619.
(B) The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) was written by Caspar Olevianus
and Zacarias Urslnus, in question-and-answer form. Southern Germany.
(C) The Second Helvetic Confession (1566) was mainly from the pen of Heinrich Bullinger of
Switzerland. One of the longest Reformed confessions, it became the major standard in the
Reformed churches of Hungary.
(D) The Canons of Dort (1618-1619). These were composed by many delegates from several
European nations at the Synod of Dort in the Netherlands. It consists of series of positive
affirmations and negative rejections. This was the origin of the TULIP formula.
(E) The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647). This was the chief product of the Westminster
Assembly in England and became the main doctrinal standard of Presbyterianism, especially in
Scotland and America.
(F) The Westminster Larger Catechism (1648) Probably the longest Reformed catechism, it.
was abbreviated as the Shorter Catechism for children. It covers all main doctrines, the Lords
Prayer and the Ten Commandments.

21

(2) Minor Reformed Confessions.


(A) The Geneva Catechism (1541). Written by Calvin. Swiss.
(B) The Scots Confession (1560). Written mainly by John Knox. Scottish.
(C) The Thirty-nine Articles (1563)-. Though not consistently Reformed, it shows how most
founders of the Church of England were Reformed.
(D) The First London Confession (1644). This was the first major Baptist confession and
represents a significant turning from the doctrines over which the Anabaptists differed from the
Calvinists regarding the Reformed Faith. Two later Baptist confessions are even more
Calvinistic: the Baptist Confession of 1689 (which reproduced the Westminster Confession
verbatim, with only slight variations on baptism and church government. The same was done
with the Shorter Catechism) and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833 (the former 2
were more popular in Britain, the third in America).
(E) The Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675). The last major Reformed confession. Mainly by
Francis Turretin and J.H. Heidegger forth French and Swiss Reformed churches to counter
Amyraut.
(F) Miscellaneous: The First Helvetic Confession, the Irish Articles,Craigs Catechism, the Sum
of Saving Knowledge, the Practical Use of Saving Knowledge, the Solemn League and
Covenant, and many more.N.B. The Barmen Declaration and the Confession of 1967 purport
tube Reformed, but are Neo-Orthodox counterfeits.
E. Higher Calvinism. These variations began shortly after Calvin. They include High Calvinism,
Supralapsarianism, Calvinistic Antinomianism, and Hyper-Calvinism. They tended to stress
divine sovereignty and weaken human responsibility.
F. Mainstream Calvinism. This continued and more or less correctly expanded on the Reformed
theology of Calvin and the other original Reformers. Variations include Covenant Theology and
Moderate Calvinism.
G. Lower Calvinism. These moderated original Reformed theology somewhat lower than the
original Reformers in certain areas, especially the atonement and the conditionality of election.
Variations include Amyraldianism, Low Calvinism, Neonomianism, and Four-Point-Calvinism.
H. National Variations. Various emphases can be seen in the Calvinism of Switzerland, France,
the Netherlands, Scotland, England and America, especially as the centuries progress.
I. Ecclesiastical Variations. Calvinists can be found among Presbyterians, Congregationalists,
Anglicans and Baptists. The closest thing to Calvinism within Roman Catholicism after the
Reformation was Jansenism (17th century).
J. Calvinistic Heresies. These are those extreme variations which cannot legitimately be called
Reformed, but arose from within Reformed circles. Arminianism is the main one; Neo-Orthodoxy
is more recent and worse.

5. The Definition of Calvinism.


A. Consistent Christianity. Some Reformed writers contend that Calvinism is nothing more and
nothing less than the Gospel, or the essentials of true Christianity. Others say Calvinism is
Paulineism. These assessments are not precisely correct. They insinuate that unless one is a
Calvinist, he is not a Christian. It is better to say that it is Consistent Christianity. This raises
several problems and rejoiners:

22

(1) Some non-Calvinists contend that Calvinism is unbiblical because the terms
Calvinism and Reformed are not found in Scripture. I would remind them that neither
are the terms Rapture and Trinity found in the Bible. The truths of these, however, are
found quite often.
(2) Other critics say, I follow Christ, not Calvin, sometimes appealingto I Cor. 1. They
have a good point. But we would refer them to I Cor.11:1. We follow Calvin only as far as
he follows Christ. We worship Christ, not Calvin. Andrew Fuller said, I do not believe
everything that Calvin taught, nor any thing because he taught it; but I reckon strict
Calvinism to be my own system because it was truest to Scripture.
(3) By the same standard, we need to be careful lest we make the doctrines of Calvinism
more important than the Gospel. Spurgeon noted: Calvinism to some is of more
importance than Scripture.
(4) Still others say, Just study the Bible. This neglects the Biblical teaching that God
raises up teachers (Eph. 4:11) and that Biblical theology has a certain form or system to
it (Rom. 6:17, 2 Tim. 1:13). We study Reformed theology only that we may better
understand Scripture.
B. The Five Points of Calvinism. One of the most popular ways of defining Calvinism is in terms
of the Five Points, viz: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible
Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (= TULIP). Since these were explicitly formulated at Dort
at a critical time in the development of Calvinism, they must be taken into account in any
definition of Reformed theology. However, one problem is with point #3. Many Calvinists have
moderated or rejected limited atonement; whether they are true or inconsistent is debated, but
they are nevertheless Calvinists. The 5 do not stand and fall together, but the 4 certainly do.
(More on this later).
C. Predestination. When one thinks of Calvinism, the word predestinationimmediately comes
to mind - and that is no coincidence [pardon the theological pun], Calvinism certainly gives more
prominence to predestination and election than any other system. But one should not define
Calvinism solely in terms of election or other soteriological truths, vital as they are.
D. Sovereign Grace. This is closer to the truth. Reformed theology has a distinctive doctrine of
the sovereignty of grace, both in its source and its end. One good thumbnail definition would be
the title of the excellent book by Tom Nettles: By His Grace and For His Glory.
E. The Sovereignty of God. This is the root of the TULIP. Understand it and the TULIP grows
logically and naturally out of it; reject it and one cannot accept TULIP or be considered a
Calvinist. It is the final sine qua non. To be precise, it is not sovereignty per se, nor even the
Reformed view of it as a distinct attribute of God that is determinative. Rather, it is the way in
which Calvinists describe it in relationship to the other attributes of God. Other systems either
minimalize or deny this attribute, while Calvinists give it the proper place - both in relation to the
other attributes and Man as creation and sinner.
Key chapters in defining Calvinism are Eph. 1 and 2, Rom. 8 and 9, John 6 and 10. But the key
verse which sums up Calvinism best is Rom. 11:36, For of Him and through Him and to Him
are all things, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Reformed theology alone teaches a
God-centered theology - that God is absolutely sovereign in creation, redemption and
glorification. That in a nutshell is Calvinism. The rest of this series will be merely elaborating on
it as relates to its history, related doctrines and varieties.

23

A General Bibliography On Calvinism


Most of the following are still in print. Older out-of-print books are omitted. Inclusion, of course,
does not imply complete endorsement. These are general, introductions; books on more
detailed areas will be mentioned in relevant chapters to follow.
1. The History Of Calvinism
McNeil] ..John T. The History and Character of Calvinism. New York: Oxford
University Press. (A standard work, though McNeill tends to Neo-Orthodoxy.)
Sell, Alan. The Great Debate: Calvinism, Aminianism and Salvation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book
House. (A superb, concise history.)
Dakin, Arthur. Calvinism. New York: Associated Faculty Press.(Concise)
Leith, John H. An Introduction to the Reformed Tradition. Atlanta: John Knox Press. (Mainly
Presbyterianism; Leith definitely tends to Neo-Orthodoxy.)
Wells, David, ed. Reformed Theology in America. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Essays on
Princeton, Westminster, Dutch, Southern and Neo-Orthodox Calvinism.)
Cunningham, William. Historical Theology. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
(History of theology from the Reformed perspective; centers on controversies.)
2. The Five Points Of Calvinism
Boettner, Lorraine. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Phi Hipsburg: (The standard work;
lengthy; also covers related issues.)
Custance, Arthur C. The Sovereignty of Grace. Phi Hipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. (Also
lengthy and in-depth, more recent than Boettner.)
Gill, John. The Cause of God and Truth. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (A full, scholarly
treatment; old and Hyper-Calvinist, but a standard on TULIP.)
Steele, David; and Thomas, Curtis. The Five Points of Calvinism. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and
Reformed. (A very popular, short book; good bibliographies.)
Spencer, Duane Edward. TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of
Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker. (A short book hardly bigger than a pamphlet.)
Palmer, Edwin. The Five Points of Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Baker. (Includes a very useful
chapter on reprobation.)
Hanko, Herman; Hoeksema, Homer; and Van Baren, Gise. The Five Points of Calvinism. Grand
Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association. (Hyper-Calvinist.)
Girod, Gordon. The Deeper Faith: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort. Grand Rapids: Baker.
(Concise, sound, but somewhat dry and unoriginal.)
Coles, Elisha. Divine Sovereignty. Grand Rapids: Baker. (Old Puritan work.)

24

3. Miscellaneous Studies On Calvinism.


The Confession of Faith; The Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the Scripture Proofs at
Large. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, c/o Banner of Truth. (The best edition of the
Westminster standards and other related documents.)
Pink, Arthur. The Sovereignty of God. Carlisle: Banner of Truth- (Short and nontechnical; used
more than any other to introduce others to Calvinism. Superb.)
Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Discusses the Calvinist
world-view of art, politics, etc. By former Dutch Prime Minister.)
Shedd, William G.T. Calvinism Pure and Mixed. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Machen, J. Gresham. The Christian View of Man. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Belcher, Richard. A Journey in Grace. Columbia: Richbarry Press. (A fascinating semiautobiographical novel tracing how a Baptist student became Calvinist.)
Girardeau, John. Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism.Harrisonburg: Sprinkle. (Lengthy,
detailed study by a major 19th century Southern Presbyterian.)
Coppes, Leonard. Are Five Points Enough? The Ten Points of Calvinism. Denver: Leonard
Coppes. (Expands the definition of Calvinism into ecclesiology.)
Clark, Gordon. Predestination. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.
Ness, Christopher. An Antidote Against Arminianism. Edmonton: Still Waters Revival.
Bolt, John. Christian and Reformed Today. Jordan Station: Paideia, c/o Baker.
Hesse!ink, I. John. On Being Reformed: Distinctive Characteristics and Common
Misconceptions. Ann Arbor: Servent Books. (Tends slightly to Neo-Orthodoxy.)
Cheeseman, John; Gardner, Philip; Sadgrove, Michael; and Wright, Tom. The Grace of God in
the Gospel. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (4 Oxford student??]
4. Pamphlets On Calvinism.
Seaton, Jack. The Five Points of Calvinism. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Boettner, Lorraine. The
Reformed Faith. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. De Wit, John R. What is the
Reformed Faith? Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Gerstner, John. A Predestination Primer. Winona
Lake: Alpha Publications. Spurgeon C.H. Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace. Pasadena:
Pilgrim Pubns. Spurgeon, C.H. A Defence of Calvinism. Canton, GA: Free Grace Publications.
Martin, Albert. The Practical Implications of Calvinism. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
5. Systematic Theologies.
Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. 2 vols. Philadelphia:
Westminster Press. (The theological masterpiece of Calvinism. This is the best edition.
Eerdmans publishes the first edition in one volume, which is a fourth the size of this the last.
This has notes, introduction, indexes.)

25

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (The largest and best
full systematic theology from a truly Reformed perspective.)
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Best 1-vol theology)
Heppe, Heinrich. Reformed Dogmatics. Grand Rapids: Baker. (A large volume on the finer
nuances of theology, mainly in translations from Reformation and post-Reformation sources
otherwise unavailable in English. A must for specialists.)
Gill, John. A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity. Paris, AR: Baptist Standard
Bearer. (Large, excellent, Baptist, Hyper-Calvinist._)
Hoeksema, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free. (Hyper-) Dabney,
Robert Lewis. Systematic Theology. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
6. Collected Works Of Major Calvinists.
Owen, John. The Works of John Owen. 16 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner.
Thornwell, James Henley. Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell. 4 vols. Carlisle:
Banner of Truth.
Murray, John. The Collected Writings of John Murray. 4 vols. Carlisle: Banner.
Warfield, Benjamin B. The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield. 10 vols. Grand Rapids:
Baker.
Plus Bible commentaries by Calvin, Pink, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, William Hendriksen,
Gill, Hodge, J.C. Ryle and D.M. Lloyd-Jones.

26

The 5 Points Of Calvinism vs The 5 Points Of Arminianism


The Five Points Of Arminianism
1. Free Will or Human Ability

The Five Points Of Calvinism


1. Total Inability or Total Derpravity

Although human nature was seriously affected


by the fall, man has not been left In a state of
total spiritual helplessness. God graciously
enables every sinner to repent and believe,
but He does so in such a manner as not to
interfere with mans freedom. Each sinner
possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny
depends on how he uses it. Mans freedom
consists of his ability to choose good over evil
in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to
his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to
either cooperate with Gods Spirit and be
regenerated or resist Gods grace and perish.
The lost sinner needs the Spirits assistance,
but he does not have to be regenerated by the
Spirit before he can believe, for faith is mans
act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the
sinners gift to God; it is mans contribution to
salvation.
2. Conditional Election

Because of the fall, man Is unable of himself to


savingly, believe the gospel. The sinner is
dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his
heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His
will Is not free, It Is in bondage to his evil
nature, therefore, he will notIndeed he
cannotchoose good over evil In the spiritual
realm. Consequently, It takes much more than
the Spirits assistance to bring a sinner to
Christit takes regeneration by which the Spirit
makes the sinner alive and gives him a new
nature. Faith is not something man contributes
to salvation but Is itself a part of Gods gift of
salvationit Is Gods gift to the sinner, not the
sinners gift to God.

Gods choice of certain Individuals unto


salvation before the foundation of the world
was based upon His foreseeing that they
would respond to His call. He selected only
those whom He knew would of themselves
freely believe the gospel. Election therefore
was determined by or conditioned upon what
man would do. The faith which God foresaw
and upon which He based His choice was not
given to the sinner by God (it was not created
by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit)
but r e s u lte d solely from man's will. It was
left entirely up to man as to who would believe
and therefore as to who would be elected unto
salvation. God chose those whom He knew
would, of their own free will, choose Christ.
Thus the sinner's choice of Christ, not God's
choice of the sinner, is the ultimate cause of
salvation.

Gods choice of certain individuals unto


salvation before the foundation of the world
rested solely in His own sovereign will. His
choice of particular sinners was not based on
any foreseen response or obedience on their
part such as faith, repentance, etc. On the
contrary, God gives faith and repentance to
each individual whom He selected. These acts
are the result, not the cause of Gods choice.
Election therefore was not determined by or
conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act
foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly
elected He brings through the power of the
Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ Thus
Gods choice of the sinner, not the sinners
choice of Christ, Is the ultimate cause of salvation.

3. Universal Redemption or General


Atonement

3. Particular Redemption or Limited


Atonement

2. Unconditional Election

27

Christs redeeming work made it possible for


everyone to be saved but did not actually
secure the salvation of anyone. Although
Christ died for all men and for every man, only
those who believe in Him are saved. His death
enabled God to pardon sinners on the
condition that they believe, but it did not
actually put away anyones sins. Christs
redemption becomes effective only if man
chooses to accept it.

Christ s redeeming work was intended to save


the elect only and actually secured salvation for
them. His death was a substitutionary
endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of
certain specified sinners. In addition to putting
away the sins of His people, Christs redemption secured everything necessary for
their salvation, including faith which unites
them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied
by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby
guaranteeing their salvation.
4. The Efficaciout Call of the Spirit or
Irresistible Grace

4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually


Resisted
The Spirit calls Inwardly all those who are
called outwardly by the gospel invitation; He
does all that He can to bring every sinner to
salvation. But Inasmuch as man is free, he can
successfully resist the Spirit's call. The Spirit
cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes;
faith (which is man's contribution) precedes
and makes possible the new birth. Thus,
man's free will limits the Spirit in the
application of Christ's saving work. The Holy
Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow
Him to have His way with them. Until the
sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life.
God's grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can
be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by
man.

5. Falling from Grace

In addition to the outward general call to


salvation which is made to everyone who hears
the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect
a special inward call that inevitably brings them
to salvation. The external call (which is made
to. all without distinction) can be, and often is,
rejected; whereas the internal call (which is
made only to the elect) cannot . be rejected; it
always results in conversion. By means of this
special call the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners
to Christ. He is not limited in His work of
applying salvation by man's will, nor is He dependent upon man's cooperation for success.
The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to
cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely
and willingly to Christ. God's grace, therefore,
is invincible; it never fails to result In the salvation of those to whom it Is extended.
5. Perseverance of the Saints

Those who believe and are truly saved can


lose their salvation by failing to keep up their
faith, etc. All Armlnians have not been agreed
on this point; some have held that believers
are eternally secure in Christ' that once a
sinner is regenerated, he can never be lost

All who were chosen by God, redeemed by


Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally
saved. They are kept in faith by the power of
Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

According to Arminianism:

According to Calvinism:

Salvation is accomplished through the


combined efforts of God (who takes the
initiative) and man (who must respond)
man's response being the determining factor.
God has provided salvation for everyone, but
His provision becomes effective only for those
who, of their own free will, choose to

Salvation is accomplished by the almighty


power of the Triune God. The Father chose a
people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit
makes Christ's death effective by bringing the
elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing
them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire
process (election, redemption, regeneration) is

28

cooperate with Him and accept His offer of


grace. At the crucial point, man's will plays a
decisive role; thus man, not God, determines
who will be the recipients of the gift of
salvation.

the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus


God, not man, determines who will be the
recipients of the gift of salvation.

Rejected by the Synod of Dort


This was the system of thought contained in
the Remonstrance (though the five points
were not originally arranged in this order). It
was submitted by the Armin-ians to the Church
of Holland in 1610 for adoption but was
rejected by the Synod of Dort in 1619 on the
ground that it was unscriptural.

Reaffirmed by the Synod of Dort


This system of theology was reaffirmed by the
Synod of Dort In 1619 as the doctrine of
salvation contained in the Holy Scriptures. The
system was at that time formulated into five
points (in answer to the five points submitted
by the Armlnians) and has ever since been
known as the five points of Calvinism.

This chart is taken from Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestinatin and David
Steele and Curtis Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism (both published by Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Company).

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Chapter 2. Augustine and Pre-Calvinism.


1. Introduction.
A. We have already said that Calvin did not invent Calvinism and the doctrines of grace, but
rather discovered them. He was not the first. He was merely one who discovered more about
these doctrines and polished and developed them. In this he was greatly influenced by several
who went before him. Since they shared these doctrines in common with him one could also call
Calvinism Purified Augustinianism.
B. The debate over the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is old,
very old. It was debated among the ancient Greek philosophers and among the ancient Eastern
religions. Post-Christian Jewish rabbis discussed the problem. The problem underlies much of
Pauls debates regarding justification by faith without works. His Judaizing opponents put too
much stress on human responsibility, resulting in a salvation by faith and works rather than faith
and grace. The N.T. doctrine of sovereignty is very high, and its doctrine of human responsibility
is that Man is responsible but unable to obey.
C. The question boils down to this: Who initiates salvation? There are varieties of answers, but
all come down basically on 2 sides. One side contends, Man initiates, God responds. The
other side says, God initiates, Man responds.
As we shall see, in the first category belong the Judaizing Galatians, Pelagius, John Cassian
and the Semi-Pelagians, Hincmar, Erasmus and Arminius. In the latter category, Paul,
Augustine, Prosper and the Augustinians, Gottschalk, Luther and Calvin.
D. Remember, the question ultimately gets back to a correct doctrine of God.This applies to the
above question as regards the sovereignty of God. Observe the extremes on both sides of the
correct middle ground:
Atheism

Epicureanism

Pelagianism

Calvinism

Islam

Stoicism Pantheism

God is
Nothing

God is
Chance

Man
Decides, not
God

God
Sovereign,
Man Unable
but
Responsible

God is
Caprice
and Cruel

Fate
and
Apathy

God is All

2. Did Calvinism Come from Stoicism?


A. Some critics suggest that the doctrines of grace actually came from Stoicism, not Scripture.
They sometimes point out that John Calvin studied Stoic philosophy before his conversion and
wrote his only pre-conversion book on Senecas De Ciementia. It is implied that he simply
baptized Stoicism just as Thomas Aquinas borrowed heavily from Aristotle.

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B. By the time of the N.T., there were 2 main Greek philosophies: Stoicism and Epicureanism.
Both are mentioned in Acts 17:18. The leading Stoics included Seneca, Zeno, Marcus Aurelius
and Epictetus. Stoicism stressed fate, Natural Law, providence, cosmic determinism, virtue - as
opposed to the Epicurean ideas of cosmic chance, indetermimsm, and lifestyles that led to vice.
C. But there are fundamental differences between Stoicism and Calvininistic Christianity.
Stoicism was basically pantheistic. God was basically impersonal and impassible - He had no
emotions of joy or anger, therefore of neither love nor wrath against sin. True, the Stoic God
determined all things, but Stoic fate is not Christian predestination or providence. In early
Stoicism, even God is under fate; later, God is fate, Natural Law and providence. This
eliminated the possibility of miracles (hence the skepticism mentioned in Acts 17). And there
was no special revelation either, such as Scripture. Since God is all, matter is eternal. There are
no second causes
This distorted human responsibility as well. Because divine sovereignty was over-emphasized,
human responsibility simply meant that virtue was attained by resignation to the inevitable. The
Stoics called this APATHEIA (apathy), or passivity of emotions and will. There was no place for
original sin. Man may become perfect by this APATHEIA, but he may also lose it. And there is
no life after death. None of this can be considered Christian or Calvinistic.
D. How, then, do we explain at least a semblance of similarity? Did the Christians borrow from
Stoicism? No. John Gill has suggested that the founder of Stoicism, Zeno, was actually a
Hellenistic Jew - who simply baptized the O.T. into Greek philosophy. That might be correct, but
hard to prove. It would be more precise to explain it like this: Eph. 2:13 says that Gentile
unbelievers were afar off, but some were further off than others. Stoicism simply was one of
the Greek philosophies that were closer to truth than the others. This is not to go as far as Justin
Martyr and Thomas Aquinas, who basically suggested that Plato and Aristotle were more or less
Pre-Christian Christians.
E. Suffice it also to say that the debates between Stoicism and Epicureanism were similar to
the debates between Augustine and Pelagius, Calvin and Arminius, etc. The Bible never
borrowed from Stoicism, but there are strong indications that Pelagius and Arminius
unconsciously borrowed from Epicureanism, Stoicisms rival Gordon Clark has made the astute
observation that Epicureanism and its children tended to produce licentiousness, while Stoicism,
Calvinism and Augustinianism have tended to produce virtue and holiness.

3. Did Calvinism Come from, Islam?


A. Just as there are similarities of a sort between Calvinism and Stoicism in Greek philosophy,
so there are alleged similaries between Calvinism and Islamin Eastern religion. Dr Samuel
Zwemer, often called the apostle to the Mohammedan world*, said, Islam is indeed in many
respects the Calvinism of the Orient. Actually, the very name Islam means submission - to
the overriding fate of Allah. Islamic faith confesses Tis the will of Allah. This is rather similar to
Stoic APATHEIA.
B. How do we explain the apparent similarity regarding a strong doctrine of divine sovereignty?
Well, Islam was one of the closer Eastern religions. Any comparison of religions will indicate that
it is far closer to the truth than, say, Hinduism is. Actually, Islam borrowed some from
Christianity, Judaism and various old Arab sources. Neither Paul nor Augustine could have
borrowed from Mohammad, for he lived well over 100 years after Augustine and over 500 years
after Paul. Calvin never appealed to the Koran, but to Scripture.

31

C Islam is basically a religion of works, not grace. Allah may often be described as the
Almighty, the Merciful, but Allah has no love. He is basically cruel, neither just nor merciful,
more like Satan than Jehovah. The Moslem Allah is more the author of evil than the Christian
God, for Islam tends to blur the essential difference between good and evil, even from their own
perspective. Allah is not Elohim; Allah is a false god.
D. [There is a useful section on Islam in Boettner, pp. 318-323.]

4. The Early Church Fathers.


A. The early church fathers did not discuss the issues of divine sovereignty and human
responsibility at length. They usually wrote on practical matters or on apologetic matters
concerning the Trinity and the deity of Christ. They had more to say about Gnosticism than
Stoicism.
B. Various heresies began to enter the ranks of the churches: baptismal regeneration,
sacramental ism, monastic asceticism, papal ism, etc. This provided fertile soil for the rise of a
new heresy: Pelagianism.
C. [John Gill has a very useful and large section in The Cause of God and Truth, Section 4,
where he collects hundreds of quotations from pre-Augustinian fathers, to show that they
usually accepted the doctrines of grace.]

5. Pelagius and Pelagianism.


A. Pelagius (c.370-c435) was a British monk who traveled and taught in Rome, North Africa
and Palestine. Among his followers: Gelestius (who was more extreme than Pelagius), Rufinius
the Syrian and Julian of Eclanum. Eventually his views were condemned at the synods of
Carthage (418) and Ephesus (431), but Pelagius himself went unpunished.
B. Pelagius was an ascetic; he strove for salvation through the extremes of denial of food,
comfort, etc. This was part of the growth of monasticism, though lesser than the extremes of the
hermits. It was legalistic to the core. It reacted against the popular Antinomianism of the day that
excused sin in ones life.
C. Pelagius said more about Man than about God, but his exalted views of human responsibility
indicates a weakened view of divine sovereignty. His views centered on mans state as regards
sin. Pelagius taught that Adam was created morally neutral - neither good nor evil. And the Fall
did not affect the ability of his will, only changed his destiny.
D. Consequently, Adam sinned only for himself. Pelagius denied all kinds of Original Sin. We
are born in the same morally neutral state as that in which Adam was created. Why, then, do
men sin? Because they follow the examples of other humans. Christ alone never sinned, but we
inherit no more sin, propensity to sin, or guilt than Christ did and He had none. Incidentally,
some of Pelagius opponents asked why it was that Christ did not sin, for He had the same
examples.
E. Theoretically, a man might live his whole life without sin. In some places, Pelagius said
Christ alone never sinned, but in other places he qualified this. No man since Christ was sinless;
there were several men in the O.T. who lived and died sinless. As for infants, they have no sin,
but learn it by example. Some persons go longer in childhood without sin than others, and once

32

men sin some go deeper into it than others. But this does not affect their free wills:
All therefore have a free will to sin and not to sin. It is not free will if it requires the aid of
God; because every one has it within the power of his own will to do anything or not to
do it. Our victory over sin and Satan proceeds not from the help, which God affords but
is owing to our own free will... Whether we will or whether we will not, we have the
capacity of not sinning.
F. One of his favorite maxims was If I ought, I can. God never commands that which is
impossible for us. Man is able because he is responsible. Grace is given only that we may be
able to do more easily that which we are already able to do. Man initiates, God responds.
Christs atonement is simply the moral influence that provides the perfect example; by following
it we will not sin but be saved.
And of course, God chooses man only because He foresaw that man would choose God. All
grace is universal and resistable, and Christians can lose their salvation.

6. Augustine.
A. Aurelius Augustinus (354-430) had a Christian mother and a non-Christian father. He spent
his youth in dissolute licentiousness, and then joined the Manichean cult. After sitting under the
preaching of Ambrose of Milan, he was dramatically converted. He never forgot how deep into
sin he had sunk both externally and internally, contra Peiagius who never indulged in gross
external sin.
B. Augustine was the most important early church father. He was also the most prolific writer:
The Confessions, The City of God, On the Trinity, Enchiridion (a systematic theology),
ftetractationes, many commentaries (especially on John and Psalms), hundreds of theological
letters, and dozens of theological treatises - including several against Pelagius and
Pelagianism.
C. Original Sin. Augustine staunchly defended the Biblical doctrine of Originals in. He taught
that all men, except Christ, have inherited Adams sin, the necessary propensity to sin, and
even the guilt of Adams sin. Because we were physically in Adam, we sinned when he sinned
and therefore share his guilt. This is called Traducianism in theology, and he appealed to Rom.
5:12. Adam had a totally free will before the Fall, but it underwent a fundamental change after
the Fall - it became unable to obey. Adams sin is passed on to all men through the
concupiscence of sexual relations. Thus, Christs Virgin Birth exempted Him from Original Sin.
But all other men are born in the fallen state of Adam, not in his created or redeemed state.
D. Total Depravity. Men add Actual Sin to their inherited Original Sin. We can do no other. Man
is spiritually and morally dead, not alive as Pelagius taught. Moreover, he is dead in both mind
and will. Thus, he cannot initiate a single good motive towards God. Sure, Man can do external
good, but he does so with impure motives. Man can never merit any good whatsoever from
God, even when later assisted by Gods grace. Man can only sin. He can sin more, but he
cannot sin less, nor can he stop from sinning or reverse himself and do good, much less make
up for the sins of a lifetime. To use an old analogy, he is riding a wild horse; he does not hold
the reins, he only holds a whip. To update the analogy, he is at the wheel of a car without
brakes, and he can only accelerate. Augustine further taught that even when man attempts to
will anything, he only makes things worse. Yet for all this hopeless state, Man is still
responsible. He is responsible because God says so, not because he is able to obey.
E. Salvation. Scholars disagree whether Augustine taught limited or universal atonement, but

33

he certainly taught substitutionary atonement and payment. He tended to teach infusion rather
than imputation - Adams sin is infused into us, not imputed to us. Thus, he tended to teach that
Christs righteousness is infused into us in justification, not imputed to us.
F. Salvation and the Church. Here we see Augustines weakest area. The early Augustine
stressed the sacraments. Baptism was essential for salvation, and a saving grace is irresistibly
given through it. Therefore, infants dying in Original Sin without baptism go to Hell. Pagans who
never hear the Gospel also go to Hell. Salvation is through the true Church, namely the Roman
Catholic Church. The later Augustine did not stress all this, and it is likely that he would have
greatly modified these views had he lived longer. Benjamin B. Warfieldobserved that the
Reformation was a battle between Augustines early views ofthe Church versus his later views
of grace.
G. Election. God chose only some sinners to be saved through grace. Election is based solely
on Gods sovereign, gracious will, not on foreseen faith. A man is saved because God chose
him, not because he chose God. He is unable to choose God, and chooses God only because
God does something in his will to do so.
H. Grace. Grace is always totally undeserved. Moreover, it is freely given, not in response to
Man asking for it. The early Augustine taught that Man does his part in asking for it and God
does His part in giving it, but Augustine later retracted this. Man is unable to do his part, so
God does it for him. One of his favorite maxims irritated Pelagius: Give what thou commandest
and command what thou wilt. There are several kinds of grace, such as prevenient, preparatory
and restraining - these may precede actual conversion. Then there are the special and
particular kinds of grace that effect regeneration, enlightenment, etc.
I. Perseverance. Regeneration and perseverance are dependent on God; since God has
immutably promised grace in election, those who receive grace will always persevere to the
end. Justification is irreversible. The elect are not only preserved, but they persevere - God
brings them out of sin in their lives. Perfection in this life is impossible, for redeemed Man still
has the old nature in his body together with the redeemed nature.
J. Predestination. God is absolutely sovereign and predestination is unconditional. It extends to
all things. Augustine was slow to apply this to the origin of sin. Rather, he defined sin as the
absence of good. Good has substance, but evil is a shadow; it has no existence of itself (in later
theology one would say that evil is not a Ding an sich or thing in itself). Still, even the
existence of sin is not outside divine predestination. Augustine was also slow to explore the
predestination of the non-elect, or Reprobation. It is more implicit than explicit in his writings.
And consequently he did not explore the question of the order of the decrees.
K. So, while Pelagius placed the emphasis on Man, Augustine had a Biblical theology that made
God totally sovereign and Man totally sinful, unable but guilty.

7. Semi-Pelagianism and Augustinianism.


A. John Cassian (c.360-435) was the leader of the Semi-Pelagians. Others included Vincent of
Leeriness and Faustus of Riez. Semi-Pelagianism developed mainly in Gaul (France). They
contended that Augustine went too far and encouraged the very licentiousness, which Pelagius
opposed. Yet they felt that Pelagius was too extreme in his praises of human ability and lack of
Original Sin.
B. So they taught a modified form of Original Sin: men inherit the tendency to sin, but neither
the necessity nor the guilt of sin. Mans will is not dead, nor is it healthy, but sick and dying. Man

34

is half-good, half-evil. He cannot save himself; he needs grace. But he must ask for it first. It is
necessary to complete what he cannot do by himself. All men have been given
prevenient(preceding) grace whereby their wills are enabled to ask for saving grace. Yet, grace
is not irresistible or particular. Man still initiates, God replies.
C. The Semi-Pelagians claimed to be midway between Pelagius and Augustine. But on careful
examination, they are closer to Pelagius than Augustine. Their idea of the will leaves Man alive sick, but still alive. Man still does not inherit the guilt or hopeless inability of Original Sin.
D. Prosper of Aquitaine (c.390-c.463) was the leader of the Augustinians. In some respects he
modified Augustine, but in others he elaborated them and went further. Semi-Pelagianism was
condemned at the synods of Orange and Valence(529). There were several loopholes, such as
non-acceptance of double predestination. Many took advantage of these loopholes. While
claiming to be Augustinian or Semi-Augustinian, they were in fact really Semi-Pelagians.

8. Gottschalk.
A. Gottschalk (c.804-c.869) was a German monk who traveled extensively preaching the
doctrines of Augustine. He was also a poet. Among his followers and defenders: Ratramnus,
Prudentius and Remigius. Among his opponents: Rabanus, John Scotus Erigena, and
especially Hincmar. He wrote an interesting little book on the Trinity, in which he stressed the
differences between the three Persons more than their unity. But it was especially his
predestinarianism that got him into trouble.
B. His teaching was strict Augustinianism. In retrospect, one could even refer to Calvinists as 5
Point Gottschalkians. His preaching was summarized in the following of his propositions:
Before all worlds and before whatever God did from the beginning, he foreordained to
the Kingdom whom He willed and He foreordained to death whom He willed; that those
whom have been foreordained to death cannot be saved, and those who have been
foreordained to the Kingdom cannot perish; that God does not wish all men to be saved,
but only those who are saved; and that what the apostle says, Who desires all men to
be saved is said of all those only who are saved; that Christ did not come that all might
be saved, nor did he suffer for all, but only for those who are saved by the mystery of his
passion; and that after the first man fell by free will, no one can employ free will for doing
good but only for doing evil.
C. Original Sin. Man not only inherits Original Sin, but total depravity of will and mind. He is
incapable of willing good unless efficaciously enabled by divine grace. He is able only to sin, not
to do good. He is never neutral.
D. Salvation. Like Augustine, Gottschalk taught that baptism was essential for salvation, but he
did not stress its place as means of irresistible grace. Infact, there are indications that he may
have even denied its place as means of saving grace - his opponents certainly accused him of
that. He further agreed with Augustine, that unbaptized dying infants and pagans who never
hear the Gospel go to Hell, and that all believers persevere to the end. He seems to have
agreed with Augustine on infused grace rather than imputed righteousness. But unlike
Augustine, Gottschalk was clear that Christ died only for the elect.
E. Predestination. Gottschalk followed Augustine in teaching that God ordained all that
happens, and this is based on sovereignty nor foresight. He tended to stress divine immutability
and omnipotence. On a fine technical point, he said that foreordination and foreknowledge
(prescience or foresight of future events)are both eternal, but the logical order is that

35

foreordination precedes foreknowledge. Election is particular and not based on foreseen faith.
One can know if he is one of the elect. The true Church consists only of the elect.
F. Double Predestination. As seen in the above quotation, Gottschalk explicitly taught what
Augustine only implicitly taught: reprobation of the non-elect. This necessitates that God does
not will all men to be saved. If He did, then all would be saved; since all are not saved, it is
because God did not will all to be saved. God does not change His mind or His will. He may
have been the first to speak of this as double predestination:
Predestination, whether of the elect to life or of the reprobate to death, twin... There is a
twofold predestination, of the elect to blessedness and of the reprobate to death.
G. One scholar has commented: The doctrine of Gottschalk stands forth, rugged and strong. It
is built upon the one thought: God is supreme, and man in comparison is nothing. Another
added, To Gottschalk, God is just in all His ways, though those ways are past finding out .
Hincmar, on the other hand, says God is just in all his ways; therefore his ways must conform to
our ideas of justice. Thus, Gottschalk had God at the center of his theology.
H. Both his doctrines and Gottschalk himself were condemned at the synods of Mainz (848) and
Quiercy (849). He accused Rabanus of Semi-Pelagianism, and was right in this but
outnumbered. He staunchly refused to recant and was convicted of heresy. He was forced to
throw his writings into a fire and then was severely flogged with a whip, causing an outcry from
all around Europe. His was further condemned to spend the rest of his life locked up in the
dungeon of a Roman Catholic monastery. After 20 years of imprisonment, he apparently had a
nervous breakdown and died soon after, without ever recanting.
Those who love the doctrines of grace taught by Scripture and Augustine have been angered by
the hypocritical judgment on this man of God. His accusers claimed to be following Augustine,
but were blatantly Semi-Pelagian. Their descendants owe an apology to him and his
descendants. Thus, this was the crucial stage at which Roman Catholicism made the break
from Augustine while claiming to follow him. This set the tone for centuries to follow.
I. [Because his writings were burned, few survived. An extensive defence with quotations has
survived and has been translated in part in Early Medieval Theology, Library of Christian
Classics, vol. IX, trans, and ed. by George McCracken, pp. 148-175, Philadelphia: Westminster
Press. Good, extensive discussions may be found in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition,
vol.3, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; and Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church,
vol. IV, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.]

9. The Medieval Schoolmen.


A. Most medieval schoolmen were Semi-Pelagian. Some higher, some lower. Few admitted it;
most claimed to be some kind of Augustinian. Among the higher ones were Anselm, Bernard,
Duns Scotus and Thomas Bradwardine. John Wycliffe and John Hus were almost pure
Augustinians, but they didnt get off as lightly as Gottschalk: they were convicted by the
Inquisition and burned at the stake.
B. The mainline Catholic doctrine became that of Thomas Aquinas: Mans mind is slightly
tainted by sin, and so also his will; but they are not dead. Election is based on foreseen sight of
faith, works and sacraments, through which grace is given. But just as Augustine rediscovered
Paul on grace and made a quantum leap forward, so an Augustinian monk would make the
same rediscovery. When he coupled that with justification by faith according to imputation rather
than infusion, a radical revolution happened that was more powerful than that of Augustine. That

36

revolution was the Reformation and that monk was Martin Luther.

10. Bibliography on Augustine and Pelagius.


Most of Augustines writings have been translated and are currently in print in the Select Library
of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, 8 volumes, Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans. Vol. 5 contains the bulk of his anti-Pelagian writings. Unfortunately - or
perhaps fortunately -virtually none of Pelagius writings have been translated, and only a few
remain in Latin.
Warfield, Benjamin B. Calvin and Augustine. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Marshall, Michael. The Restless Heart: The Life and Influence of St. Augustine. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans.
Smith, W. Thomas. Augustine: His Life and Thought. Philadelphia: Westminster. Ferguson,
John. Pelagius: A Historical and Theological Study. New York: AMS. Rees, B.R. Pelaqius: A
Reluctant Heretic. Wolfeboro: Longwood Pub. Group.
Arthur Custance, Sovereignty of Grace, pp.13-50, has a good survey of Pre-Calvinism for the
laymen. Full discussions of the controversy can be -found in the standard church histories
(Schaff, etc) and historical theologies (e.g., Cunningham, volI).

37

Chapter 3. The Reformation.


1. Martin Luther.
A. Though there were several precursors of the Reformation (John Wycliffe, John Hus,
Savonarola), the Reformation proper began with Martin Luther of Germany(1483-1546). After
becoming a Doctor of Theology and an Augustinian monk, Luther had his Tower Experience
around 1515 through reading Augustine, John Tauler, the Theologia Germanica and especially
the Bible. Rom. 1:17 was the key verse: The just shall live by faith.
B. The Reformation then began on Oct. 31, 1517 when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of
the Wittenberg Church, thereby publicly challenging the Popes sale of indulgences through one
Johann Tetzel. Other writings followed. Luther would face disputations and trials at Leipzig,
Worms, Augsburg and elsewhere. He knew that he faced death at the hands of the Inquisition if
found guilty. But certain German princes protected him in the Wartburg Castle for 8 months.
Then he was excommunicated on Jan. 3, 1521. Originally Luther felt Roman Catholicism could
be salvaged; in time he and the movement saw this was hopeless and branched out - with
Gods blessings. Later he married his beloved (Catherine(Kitty, my rib) and fathered 6
children.
C. Martin Luther was one of the most prolific writers of all time, and among the top 5 Christian
writers in output. He wrote dozens of theological treatises, hundreds of letters, numerous
commentaries on the Bible, many hymns, and more. His friends copied down his informal
discussions at the dinner table, entitled Table Talk. His translation of the complete Bible from
Greek and Hebrew united and revolutionized the German language forever. He wrote no formal
systematic theology per se, but his views are summed up in his Short and Larger Catechisms.
His commentaries on Romans and Galatians were his expository masterpieces. But most
germane to our study is his theological masterpiece: The Bondage of the Will
D. Luthers theology revolved around the doctrine of justification by faith alone, without works of
the Law. This had been taught by several before him, but Luther stressed one detail: imputation
rather than infusion. That is, God justifies sinners by putting Christs righteousness to their
account, not by infusing righteousness into them and then justifying them. Even Augustine was
weak on this point. This doctrine became known as Sola Fide (only by faith). The cither 4 of the
5 Points of the Reformation were held by the other Reformers as well: Sola Scriptura (only by
Scripture, not by Popes, the Church, reason or feelings), Sola Gratia (only by Gods grace, not
human merit), Solo Christo (only by Christ, not self or priests), and Soli Deo Gloria (to God
alone be the Glory).
E. Luther was greatly influenced by Augustine, as seen in his masterful defence of original sin
and total depravity in The Bondage of the Will. This was written in 1525 to refute Diatribe on the
Freedom of the Will (1524) by Erasmus of Rotterdam. Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536) was the
chief Roman Catholic scholar of the day. He revolutionized Christian publishing, wrote many
important books, and published the first Greek New Testament (1516) - which Luther used. His
wanderings around Europe typified his somewhat skeptical, disenchanted theology. He was, as
it were, the last burnt out medieval scholastic theologian. He doubted Rome before Luther, but
waffled over supporting the Lutheran movement. He was basically a Semi-Pelagian and, in true
Renaissance fashion, taught a Humanism that could not accept Augustines pessimistic view of
Man.

38

F. Erasmus basically taught as follows. Mans salvation comes by education. He needs to


cultivate his mind. Religiously, Man needs to imitate Christ.. The human will is sick, not dead.
Man is responsible, therefore he is able. The imperative You must implies the indicative You
can. If this were not so, Erasmus argued, then Antinomianism is encouraged; men are no more
than stocks and blocks without wills Reserving neither merit nor punishment; and God is unjust.
G. Luther replied with vigor and gusto. Man is responsible but not able; he has squandered
away free will and cannot even begin to pay God back. The bondage of the will is in the will
itself and is absolute. The will is a slave, not free. It is born in Original Sin and, a la Augustines
theory, can never will a single motive towards God unless carried by divine grace. Hence, good
works can never merit good from God, for Man never does a truly good work in whole orin part.
Religious works before conversion have neither merit nor effect on justification. Even after
regeneration, the will is never fully free per se.
H. This implies certain things about God. God is sovereign. Luther accused Erasmus of
Epicureanism and indeterminism regarding God. Semi-Pelagianism is not only heresy, but
blasphemy and atheism. God is ultimately never moved by Mans will, but by His own justice
and mercy. The balance of those 2 attributes is seen in the freedom of God. This was the
Lutheran way of developing the doctrines of predestination and election and divine sovereignty.
So, Man has free will regarding neither morality (sin) or deity (sovereignty).

2. Historic Lutheranism.
A. Philip Meianchthon (1497-1560) was Luthers right-hand man. Though not a Doctor of
Theology, he was Luthers superior in scholarship. He wrote the first systematic theology of the
Reformation, the Loci Communes (Common Places).Less a preacher than Luther, he was also
more moderate and tended to water down Luthers theology. He strove for reunion with Rome
more than Luther; heals strove for unity with the non-Lutheran Reformers, too. His main
weakness was on the human will. He gave it a little more life than Luther did, opening the door
back to a mild form of Semi-Pelagianism called Synergism - Man cooperates with God in faith
and justification. He also was controversial intoning down Luthers views of the Lords Supper,
for which he was accused by the hardliners of Crypto-Calvinism (Calvinism in disguise).
B. Martin Chemnitz (1522-1637) was Melanchthons main advocate; Among-his many writings
was trie massive Loci Theoiogici, an enormous theology based on the Loci of Melanchthon. It
was the major theology of the Golden Age of Lutheran Orthodoxy (c.1550-1600).
C. Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) and John Andrew Quenstedt (1617-1688) also wrote
systematic theologies based on Melanchthon, even larger than Chemnitz- They were the
leading lights in the Silver Age of Orthodoxy (c.1600-1700).
D. Andreas yon Carlstadt (1480-1541) was originally one of Luthers closest allies, but he
diverted in another direction from both Luther and Melanchthon. He later linked up with the
Anabaptists and other Swiss radicals bordering on fanaticism.
E. The major Lutheran Confessions of Faith: The Augsburg Confession (1530),Luthers Short
and Larger Catechisms (both 1529), the Smalkald Articles (1537)and the Formula of Concord
(1577). These remain the doctrinal standards of historic Lutheranism. They were collected in
The Book of Concord (1580).
F. After the Silver Age, a cold orthodoxy set in. Pietism under Phillip Jakob Spener reacted
against this into a more feelings-based religion. In turn, thisled to the Moravianism of Count
Nikolas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a somewhat mystical movement with ties to Wesleys

39

Methodism. Then 18th-century German Rationalism arose, followed by 19th-century German


Liberalism, and then a form of Ecumenism that leads full-circle back to Rome. Pockets of
historic Lutheranism continue, but they are in the small minority.

3. The Anabaptists.
A. Anabaptism is sometimes called the Radical Reformation or the Third Reformation. It was
part of the Reformation but felt that Luther didnt go far enough from Rome. The Anabaptists
stressed that water baptism is only for believers, not infants. They did not argue over whether it
should be by immersion or sprinkling; most of them favored pouring. Underlying this was their
emphasis on internal spirituality over external ceremony. To them, this was the main doctrine. In
turn, they advocated another doctrine of the Lords Supper, one of a mere memorial (a la
Zwingli). And they also differed on Church-State relations. Since they were persecuted
everywhere they went, they advocated complete separation of the two. Some were militant and
violent, but most were pacifist.
B. Pertinent to our study is their basic Semi-Pelagian theology. Justification by faith and
imputation was accepted but not stressed. They accepted the other Sola doctrines, but did not
develop them. Some were more Semi-Pelagian than others; some even were mildly
Augustinian. Only after 100 years did some of them make major advances -towards
Augustinianism and Calvinism.
C. Thomas Muntzer (1490-1525) and the Zwickau Prophets were revolutionaries in southern
Germany. Muntzer led the Munster Uprising known as the Peasants Revolt. He and it were
strongly condemned by Luther as fanatical.
D. Jacob Hutter and the so-called Hutterites (or Hutterians) formed another branch of
Anabaptism in southern Germany, Moravia and Bohemia. Then there were the Swiss Brethren,
such as Balthazar Hubmeier and Conrad Grebel, who were much influenced by Zwingli. Like
most Anabaptists, they were pacifists and somewhat apolitical. They were similar to the
Anabaptists of Holland, such as Menno Simons. This branch continued as the Mennonites,
whereas the other branches have continued mainly as Baptists.
E. The last major faction was the most dangerous: the Non-Trinitarian_Anabaptists.Two names
rise,to the top of this movement like scum in a swamp. First, Faustus Socinus, founder of
Socinianism. He rabidly opposed the Trinity and deity of Christ. His movement became the
Polish Brethren; their standard was the RacovianConfession. Second, Michael Servetus was an
itinerant Spanish Anabaptist physician. He agreed with Socinus; was persecuted by Roman
Catholics, Swiss and Lutherans alike. Eventually he was executed in Geneva for heresy.

4. The Swiss Reformation.


A. Ulrich Zwingli (1484) was originally the Luther of Switzerland. At one time he tolerated the
Anabaptists, but then drastically opposed them. With John Oecolampadius, he led the Swiss
Reformation along similar lines to Luther and Melanchthon in Germany, but with certain
important differences. First, be taught that the Lords Supper is primarily a memorial. Second,
the State should not have authority over the Church. As expected, these led to a falling out with
Luther at the Colloquy of Marburg (1529). Luther argued that This is my Body was literal. In
typically dramatic fashion, Luther wrote the words in large letters on the floor with chalk, threw
down the chalk and defied Zwingli as a heretic. Zwingli died in 1531 as a chaplain in battle.

40

B. The German Swiss Reformation followed Zwingli closely and was based in Zurich Zwinglis
immediate successor was Heinrich Bullinger (1505-1575). More systematic and scholarly than
Zwingli, Bullinger was also less innovative. But he wrote much, including a large N.T.
commentary, a history of the Swiss Reformation, and 2 systematic theologies, of which The
Decades was the fullest and more important. He is probably to be credited with laying the
foundation for Covenant Theology, a Reformed theology of the history of salvation. Zwingli was
in turn succeeded by Wolfgang Musculus, who developed this theology at Zurich.
C. The French Swiss Reformation was based in Geneva. Its leaders included Guillaume Farel.
More influential for his preaching and organizing than his writing, he was the one who brought
the other main leader to Geneva. This new young preacher quickly was recognized as a
theological genius. His name was John Calvin. However, Calvin did not become the
overwhelming leader of the Swiss Reformation. He didnt lead it like Luther in Germany or even
Zwingli in Switzerland before him. Calvin was not a Reformed Pope. He tended to look at
Bullinger and Fare! as equals, not as subordinates like Luther did Melanchthon. This fact is
absolutely crucial to a proper understanding of the rise of Calvinism.

5. The German Reformed Reformation.


A. Martin Bucer (1491-1551) was the initiator of this movement in southern Germany, mainly
centered in Strassbourg on the French border. Originally brought into the Reformation by his
admiration for Luther, he felt the need to modify Lutherin certain ways similar to, but not
identical, either Melanchthon or Zwingli. Technically, Bucer was not a Lutheran, but Reformed.
He had more in common with Zurich and Geneva than with Wittenberg.
B. Like Melanchthon, Bucer was known for his attempts at conciliation between the German
and Swiss branches of the Reformation. It was he who organized the Colloquy at Marburg that
failed. As with all the other leaders so far named, he was an extremely prolific writer. But unlike
most, he did not write a formal systematic theology, but rather extensive theological
commentaries on Romans and Ephesians. This is the way he thought theology should be done.
C. Bucer developed his theology along the principle of Word and Spirit. Avoiding the merely
symbolic nature of Communion advocated by Zwingli and the Anabaptists,Bucer taught that the
sacrament without the Spirit and the Word is nothing. Even the Word of God itself remains a
dead letter unless the Spirit moves and activates through the gift of faith. Yet the Spirit never
works in salvation or sanctification apart from the Word, and does so especially in joint work
with both Word and Sacrament. This was one of Bucers main contributions. It had great
influence on Calvin. Incidently, Bucer was younger than Luther and Zwingli, but older than
Bullinger and Calvin.
D. His influence was even further a field than Switzerland and southern Germany. Late in life
he moved to England and greatly influenced the English Reformation. He taught for a while at
Cambridge University. Six years after his death, his body was exhumed and publicly burnt in
England by a renewed Catholic crown.
E. Peter Martyr Vermigli (1500-1562) was more or less Bucers successor at Strassbourg. An
Italian by birth, he was forced to leave for safer pastures to the north of the Alps. He worked
awhile in Zurich and Basel, and like Bucer went to Cambridge to teach. And like Bucer, Luther
and many other Reformers, Vermigli was a former Catholic priest. (Interestingly, the Reformers
who were formerly priests usually married ex-nuns, while non-priests like Calvin and Beza
usually did not.)

41

F. Vermiglis importanctis greatly ignored. He was the contemporary with whom Calvin had the
most theological affinity - even more than Bucer and Bullinger. Calvin always spoke highly of
him, probably higher than any other. Vermigli is quoted in Calvins Institutes more than any
other contemporary, and more than any other of any age except Augustine. His Loci Communes
(Common Places) was as large as Calvins Institutes and nearly as influential in its day.
G. His major contribution was a continuation of Bucer.s principle of Word and Spirit. The Lords
Table is a visible Word of God. Also, though the Table is not a sacrifice of Christ by men, it is an
opportunity for a sacrifice to Christ by believers - this was part of the faith that truly receives the
spiritual presence of Christ in the Word of God at Communion.
5. The Major Points of Difference Between the Lutherans and the Reformed.
A. All were in agreement on the 5 Solas. Yet there were differences of emphasis on them. For
example, the Lutherans tended to stress Sola Fide more than the others, while the Reformed of
all kind tended to emphasize Sola Gratia and Soli Deo Gloria more. All Reformed agreed on
depravity, election, grace, etc.
B. The 20 main points of difference may be charted as follows:
Lutheranism

Reformed

(1) The spiritual presence of Christ is really in,


with and under the bread and wine
[Consubstantiation], Unbelievers do partake of
the Real Presence.

(1) The spiritual presence is in the Word of


God and communicated by the Holy Spirit
alone, not in the physical elements.
Unbelievers do not partake of spiritual
presence.

(2) Saving grace may be literally given through


Baptism, which is virtually essential for
salvation.

(2) Though infants may be regenerated, it is


through the Covenant promise. Baptism never
essential for salvation.

(3) Christ is everywhere present in both His


deity and humanity, and physically present in a
form in Communion. [Ubiquitarianism]

(3) Christ is omnipresent only in His deity, for


His humanity and risen body are especially in
Heaven. [The Extra Calvinisticum]

(4) Only what is explicitly stated or forbidden in


Scripture is binding. The rest are Adiaphora
[Things Indifferent].

(4) Implicit principles can be legitimately


inferred from explicit statements and
prohibitions, and are binding. Yet some neutral
things are Adiaphora.

(5) Worship is, primarily via liturgy. Hymns


may be composed and sung.

(5) Worship is non-liturgical per se, but joint


hearing of Word and Sacrament. Most
Reformed allowed only psalms.

(6) The State has authority over the Church.

(6) Church and State are related in some


respects, separate in others, but still equal.

(7) The main use of the Law is to convict of


sin and so lead to Christ. It is It is used in a
lesser way for civil restraint and in the
believers life.

(7) The main use of the Law is to instruct


Christians in the will of God. It is also used in
civil restraint of sin and to lead to Christ by
conviction.

(8) Law and Gospel are fundamentally


contradictory.

(8) Law and Gospel are fundamentally


complementary.

42

(9) Pictures of Christ are allowable as


Adiaphora. (Lutherans also number the 10
Commandments like Rome: 1 against idolatry,
2 against coveting.)

(9) Pictures of Christ are forbidden by the 3rd


Commandment.(Reformed number the 10
differently: 2 against idolatry,1 against
coveting.)

(10) Holy Days such as Christmas are


allowable as Adiaphora. Sabbath is nonbinding Adiaphora (some Lutherans
disagreed).

(10) Holy Days are not allowed, except for


Sunday. (Some Calvinists say it is Sabbath,
others Lords Day.)

(11) Christ died equally for all men.

(11) Some Calvinists teach universal


atonement, others limited, others dual
intention.

(12) The Passive obedience of Christ (death)


is imputed to us.

(12) The Passive and also the Active


obedience (holy life) are imputed.

(13) Predestination is only of good acts.

(13) Predestination includes good and evil.

(14) Reprobation is by foresight and is not


predestined by God per se.

(14) Reprobation is predestined by God,


though not as primarily as election.

(15) Grace is universal and resistable inmost


cases. (Some Lutherans accepted particular
irresistible grace, most did not.)

(15) Some grace is universal and resstable,


but saving grace is particular and irresistible.

(16) There is not necessarily a logical order of


salvation in regeneration and justification.

(16) Regeneration precedes faith and then


justification in logical but not chronological
order.

(17) Man receives Original Sin because he


was organically in Adam [Augustinianism or
Traducianism].

(17) Calvinists teach immediate Creation of


souls of men; or Federal Imputation; or
sometimes Traducianism.

(18) Redeemed Man never fundamentally


changes in sanctification, for grace is more
imputed than infused.

(18) Redeemed Man is regenerated and


grows in sanctification, for grace is both
imputed and infused.

(19) The Church is governed by Bishops.

(19) The Church is governed by Elders.

(20) Following Melanchthonian Synergism,


historic Lutheranism tended to weaken divine
sovereignty and exalt human
responsibility/ability.

(20) Following Bezan High Calvinism,


Reformed Theology often tended to weaken
human responsibility by over-emphasizing
divine sovereignty.

43

Select Bibliography
Cunningham, William. The Reformation and the Theology of the Reformation. Carlisle: Banner
of Truth.
George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. Nashville: Broadman Press.
DAubigne, J.H. Merle. History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House.
Bainton, Roland. The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Steinmetz, David. Reformers in the Wings. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Bainton, Roland.
Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Preus, Robert D. The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism. 2 vols. St. Louis: Concordia
Publishing House.
Williams, George. The Radical Reformation. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
Luther, Martin. Luthers Works. 56 vols. St. Louis: Concordia. (vol. 25 is Commentary on:
Romans, vols. 26-27 Commentary on Galatians, vol. 33 is Bondage of the Will.)
Pauck, Wilhelm, ed. Melanchthon and Bucer. (Library of Christian Classics, vol. XIX)
Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
Bromiley, G.W., ed. Zwinqli and Bullinger. (Library of Christian Classics, vol. XXIV) Philadelphia:
Westminster Press.
Melanchthon, Phillip. Melanchthon on Christian Doctrine. (Eng. trans, of the Loci Communes.)
Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Bucer, Martin. The Common Places of Martin Bucer. Ed. by David Wright. (Translations of
excerpts from commentaries on Romans and Ephesians). Appleford: Sutton Courtney.

44

Chapter 4. John Calvin


1. Biography.
A. When Gerard Calvin and his wife Jeanne became parents of a little boy in northern France in
1509, they could not have known that he was destined -or should we say predestined - to
become one of the truly great men of all time. They named him Jean. In French his name is
Jean Calvin; in the Latinized form, Joannes Calvinus; but we know him as John Calvin.
B. John Calvin was born July 10, 1509 in Noyon in Picardy, 60 miles northeast of Paris. Upon
reaching his teenage years, he began formal studies towards becoming a Roman Catholic
priest. He studied theology at Paris from 1523 to 1528, and did quite well. But he became
increasingly disillusioned with the corrupt Catholicism of the day, and decided to study law
instead. So he transferred to Orleans and Bourges for studies towards becoming a lawyer (1528
to 1532), Soon after finishing formal studies he wrote his first book, -a detailed commentary on
Senecas De Clementia. In effect this was his doctoral dissertation.
C. But his heart was still restless, until at last it found its rest in God through true conversion in
1533. He left Roman Catholicism forever. But these were dangerous days for those who left
Rome. Heavy persecution dogged the French Protestants, and Calvin himself was imprisoned
for a short time from 1534 to 1535. So he decided to leave France.
D. His goal was to move to Basel, Switzerland, and take up a quiet and secluded life of study
and writing. It ---never to be. Passing through Geneva, he met the leader of, the Swiss French
Reformation, Guiilaume Farel, who was immediately so impressed with young Calvin that he
cautioned him with Gods punishment if he did not stay in Geneva to preach and teach. Calvin
stayed.
E. In 1536 Calvin published the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. It was
immediately hailed throughout Europe as the finest systematic theology by a Protestant
Reformer. It was to be his literary masterpiece as he later edited and expanded it several times
through his lifetime (see below).
F. Calvin and Farel immediately began the reformation of the church in Geneva. They proposed
a Confession and oath for the city and its citizenry. All citizens were required to take the oath of
faith or leave Geneva. Virtually all Genevans accepted/But when in 1538 Calvin called for the
church to have authority to fence the Lords Table by excommunicating all those living in public
sin, both he and Farel were exiled by the City Council.
G. So Calvin went to Strassbourg in southern Germany near France. There he pastored the
French-speaking congregation and lectured in the theological academy. He became a close
friend of Martin Bucer, who would have a profound influence on Calvins theology. Calvin would
stay in Strassbourg for 3 years until the Geneva City Council changed its mind and agreed that
Calvin and Farel were right after all. Yet it would be nearly 20 years until the church formally had
the right to excommunicate citizens living in known sin.
H. It was in Strassbourg that Calvin met his wife. Actually, Bucer and Farel had twice tried to
match Calvin with a prospective wife, unsuccessfully. A certain Anabaptist had converted to
Reformed thinking under Calvins theology, but he soon caught and died of the Plague. Some
time later, his widow would become Mrs. John Calvin. Her name was Idelette de Bure. She
brought 2 children with her, a teenage boy and a young girl. John and Idelette had only one

45

child themselves, but he died shortly afterwards. Idelette herself was constantly in ill health
herself, and she died in 1549 after only 9 years of marriage. Calvin never remarried. And he too
was in continual ill health.
I. From 1541 Calvin spent almost all of his life in Geneva. In addition to his preaching and
teaching duties he organized a school system for the children of Geneva, a system of charity for
the poor and elderly; Calvin even designed the public sewer system of Geneva when the City
Council couldnt agree on a plan.
J. One of his main goals was a truly godly society. He viewed the Church and State on equal
levels - separate in some areas, related in others. Before Calvin, Geneva was notorious
throughout Europe for its profligacy; after Calvin, it became one of the godliest cities the world
has ever known. Calvins theology of the godly society gave rise to the modern ideas of the
democratic republic, the Free Enterprise economic system popularly called Capitalism, and the
Protestant Work Ethic. They were put into practice in Geneva. The plan worked.
K. In 1555, Geneva became the refuge of Protestant refugees from all around Europe,
particularly Great Britain. These English and Scottish leaders sat under Calvins teaching and
brought that theology back with them when they returned to solidify the English and Scottish
Reformations. Another major milestone in Calvins life was the establishment of the Academy of
Geneva in 1559, which later became the University of Geneva. But for all this, his main calling
was pastor-theologian.

2. Calvin and Luther.


A. Calvin in Switzerland and Luther in Germany were the 2 main forces in the Reformation. If
one were to assembly a Reformation menagerie, Luther would be a bull and Calvin would be an
owl. Luther was forceful and outgoing; Calvin was introverted and pensive. They complemented
each others personalities. Calvins personality was more like that of Phillip Melanchthon.
B. Yet they never met face to face. You must remember, Luther was 25 years older than Calvin
- old enough to be his father. In fact, Calvin was only 8 years old when Luther posted his 95
Theses in 1517. In some respects, Melancthon was the go-between. We know of only one letter
between them. In 1545, the year before Luthers death, Calvin wrote to him and began: To the
very excellent pastor of the Christian Church, Dr. Martin Luther, my much respected father. He
concluded, Adieu, most renowned sir, most distinguished minister of Christ, and my everhonored father.
C. Luther rarely mentions Calvin in his writings. When Calvin refers to Luther, it is almost
always with a high degree of respect. Luther tended to look down on Calvin, suspicious of his
ties with the deceased Zwingli, In a letter to a friend, Calvin wrote that, in spite of his admiration
for Luther, he felt that the German has a certain weakness: You have reason to be offended
that Luther retracts nothing, palliates nothing, but stubbornly maintains all his opinions.

3. Misconceptions About Calvin.


A. One popular misconception is this: Calvin was a dour old Stoic, secluded like Scrooge in an
ivory tower. This is incorrect. True, Calvin preferred solitude (I am by nature timid, mild and
cowardly), but he never found the solitude, which many think he had. Even after Idelette died,
he lived most of his life with relatives and their children. He certainly was no Scrooge, for he had

46

very few possessions and declined raises in pay. And he definitely was not a cold Stoic he
enjoyed a kind of bowling every Sunday afternoon and a certain game involving the throwing of
keys; in a letter he wrote I shall soon come to visit you, and then we can have a good laugh
together; and he confessed to weeping long and hard after the deaths of Idelette, their son, and
several friends.
B. Another misconception: Calvin was a superstitious reactionary and the Pope of Switzerland.
Well, he certainly was not superstitious, for he opposed many of the superstitions of Romanism.
Reactionary? Hardly, Calvin was one of the intellectual giants of his day. A Pope? That
overlooks Calvins estimation of Bucer, Bullinger, Farel and Vermigli as his equals, not inferiors.
Moreover, the Libertine party of Geneva succeeded in having him kicked out of town more than
once, and he never was formally on the City Council. He was so unpopular in some quarters
that some people named their dogs after him to show their contempt. No, Calvin was not a Pope
or folk-hero.

4. Calvin and Servetus.


A. Those who oppose Calvin and his theology are quick to point to the incident of Servetus,
usually without ever reading Calvin and having no facts on the case. Here are the pertinent
facts. Miguel Serveto, or in Latin Michael Servetus (1511-1553), was a Spanish Anabaptist
physician. He taught a host of unorthodox heresies, such as astrology, pantheism, NeoPlatonism, Semi -Pelagianism, and more. But it was especially his vigorous rejection of the
Trinity and deity of Christ that got him into trouble.
B. Servetus had already been denounced to the Inquisition in France. After his conviction but
before sentencing, he managed to escape. Though Calvin had already warned him not to come
to Geneva, Servetus went there in hopes that the Anabaptist Libertine party would rally to his
support and overthrow the Reformed system of a godly Church-State. In effect, this was an act
of revolution against the State.
C. Now the Geneva City Council believed that some of the O.T. civil laws were still in force,
among them Lev. 24:16, He that blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to
death. This was the charge on which Servetus was arrested and tried in Geneva. Calvin was
the main witness for the State - he was not judge, jury and executioner. Moreover, the 2-month
trial was fair and in accordance with accepted legal standards around Europe - not at all like the
Inquisition.Servetus pleaded innocent. He even demanded that Calvin be banished from
Geneva and his property given to Servetus as reparations. Incidently, many of those on the
Council were Libertines at this time, and even they were against Servetus, and of course they
opposed Calvin on many other things.
D. Servetus was convicted. The Council called for him to be burnt at the stake, but Calvin
pleaded for a painless execution by decapitation. On Oct. 27, 1553,Michael Servetus was burnt
at Champel, near Geneva. All the other Reformers and even the Catholics approved. Only some
of the Anabaptists voiced disapproval.
E. There are 3 major opinions among Christians on the case. First, there are a few who give
unqualified support to the Councils actions. Second, there are many who give unqualified
opposition to the execution. In 1903, an expiatory monument was erected on the site of the
execution in apology for the act.
F Third, some voice a qualified reinterpretation as follows. For one thing, even if one disagrees
with the Council, it was they and not Calvin who convicted and executed Servetus. True, Calvin

47

was the main witness for the prosecution, but he would have been convicted anyway. Moreover,
he would have been executed even had Calvin opposed any kind of capital punishment. Also, it
is pointed out that Servetus was not a Genevan citizen. He knew what to expect - he had been
explicitly warned to stay away. Some think Servetus had a death wish in going_ anyway.
Further, even when he got to town, he could have taken the oath of faith or left town. More to
the point is the overlooked fact that Servetus was the only heretic ever executed for blasphemy
in Geneva under Reformed auspices. This needs to be contrasted with the hundreds of
thousands of totally unjust executions without trial under the Roman Catholic Inquisition, which
was still going on. Rather than blame Geneva, say some, one should praise Geneva for
enormous restraint. The tide was turning. Strange, but the liberals who carp at Calvin somehow
manage to be silent on the horrors of the Inquisition. Lastly, some suggest that this was an
isolated case, and thus cannot be used against Geneva, Calvin or Reformed theology They
point out that it was a case of haste and anger that was soon regretted only one toe over the
line and then retracted, as opposed to the Catholic Inquisition that jumped with the whole body
over the line and has never apologized.

5. Calvins Writings.
A. Calvin usually preached in French and wrote in Latin. His literary career lasted only 33
years, but he remains one of the three most prolific Christian writers of all time (with Luther and
Spurgeon). On average, he wrote about 1,000 pages a year. This is astounding when one
considers that he did not write simple religious pabulum but only solid and scholarly theology.
And before the typewriter and word processor were invented, too. He wrote more than we read
in a year.
B. Moreover, only about two-thirds of his writing were ever published. Geneva still has
thousands of unpublished sermon manuscripts. And there are others that have never been
translated into English. Thankfully, there are international teams working to publish the
manuscripts and to translate all that was never translated.
C. His massive Commentary on the Bible was his largest undertaking. In fact, it is one of the
largest Bible commentaries ever written by a single man - 45 large volumes of over 400 pages
each. They were usually based on his lectures. They have been translated and reprinted
several times, and scholars of all stripes consult them. Calvin managed to write commentaries
on every book of the Bible except Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2
Chronicles, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, 2 and 3
John, and Revelation - 75% of the Bible was covered. Romans was first and he never finished
Ezekiel. (He also published sermons on Job and 1 Samuel, but no comments).
D. Calvins first book, as we said, was a commentary on Senecas De Clementia, a Stoic
treatise on civil clemency. He also wrote over 4,000 letters - usually of a theological nature, not
the Wish you were here kind. He wrote these to the other Reformers, kings and dukes, the
Catholic hierarchy, friends, and even to some Protestant women imprisoned in Paris for their
faith. 686 have been translated.
E. Then there were dozens of theological treatises. Some were against the Libertines and
Anabaptists, such as his first one entitled Psychopannychia, refuting the Anabaptist notion of
soul-sleep between death and resurrection. Then there were several important treatises on the
Reformation of the Church: church-state relations, whether Roman Catholicism could be
salvaged, Catholic relics, a refutation of the Council of Trents decrees, etc. Calvin also wrote
several pieces on the Lords Supper and Baptism, avoiding Rome and Lutheranisms excessive

48

literalism on the one hand and the Zwinglian and Anabaptist mere symbolism on the other.
F. He wrote some treatises on predestination as well: A Treatise on the Eternal Predestination
of God (1552) and A Defense of the Secret Providence of 6od~Tl558). These have both been
translated into English in the aptly named volume, Calvins Calvinism. Calvin also authored the
Genevan Catechism, a couple of short confessions of faith, the Gallic Confession (the main
confession for the French Reformed Church), the Consensus TigurinusTwith Bullinger, thus
uniting the 2branches of the Swiss Reformation), and others. But lest one think that he wrote
only advanced theology, one should read the delightful little devotional The Golden Booklet of
the True Christian Life. He also wrote a hymn, a poem, and several paraphrases of the Psalms
to be sung in worship.
G. Thousands-of his sermons were taken down and published. Calvin preached an average of
5 times a week, plus lectures. His sermons are masterpieces of exposition. The sermons of
some preachers are timely; Calvins are timeless. He stayed close to the text, preached
consecutive series in French in a slow voice without notes. Among the many series that have
been translated and are currently in print: Deuteronomy (200 sermons), the Pastoral Epistles
(134), Ephesians (48), the Saving Work of Christ (20 selections).

6. The Institutes of the Christian Religion.


A. The Institutes was Calvins masterpiece. It is the most important book to come out of the
Reformation. It is a sort of systematic theology, though not coldly organized like a dictionary. It
flows. It is personal. The theme is the true knowledge of God through the gracious salvation of
Christ, whereby we now truly know ourselves and glorify God. The overall structure is
Trinitarian, and Calvin expounds the Lords Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles
Creed, and also covers the sacraments, church government and church-state relations.
B. One thing that is especially amazing is that Calvin published the first edition when he was
only 26 years old - meaning he began work on it when only 24! He continued to expand it in 5
other editions, so the last 1559) is five times the size of the first (1536). Both editions have
been translated into English.
No study of Calvin, Calvinism or the Reformation is complete without reading the Institutes.

7. Calvins Theology.
A. Calvins theology was thoroughly orthodox. He accepted the Apostles Creed, the Nicene
Creed, the Atnanasian Creed, the Chalcedonian Formula, and all 5 of the Reformation Solas. It
was also comprehensive: Biblical, exegetical, theological, but also practable in forming a
Christian worldview, and truly spiritual.
B. More than most other theologies, Calvins was emphatically God-centered, specifically in his
emphasis on the glory of God and the restoration of divine sovereignty to its rightful place
among the divine attributes. As to Scripture, Calvin stressed Sola Scriptura, Biblical inerrancy,
and the internal testimony of the Spirit in authenticating the inspiration of Scripture. He thus
warned against Roman papal ism and Tradition on the one hand and Anabaptist mysticism on
the other.
C. As for the doctrines of grace, Calvin stressed the deadening effects of Original Sin more
than even Luther and Augustine had. As for grace, Calvin posited 2 kinds: Common Grace

49

(which is universal, resistable but non-salvific) and Special Grace (which is for the elect alone,
irresistible and salvific). Saving faith, of course, was a gift of God in sovereign regeneration (the
new birth precedes faith, not produces it). One can not only have assurance that he is justified
(as the Lutherans posited), but he can even know he is one of the elect and therefore can know
that he will certainly persevere to the end (on which the Lutherans wavered). This assurance
comes through the internal testimony of the Spirit - not mere subjectivism, but the quality of faith
that matches the authenticating testimony of the Spirit in Scripture. Assurance is an echo.

8. Predestination.
A. It is the advanced doctrine of predestination for which Calvin is most well known. First, he
taught the absolute sovereignty of God. God is first cause and last end of all things, the Creator
and designer of all things. His revealed will in Law and Gospel is our standard, but he also has a
hidden will that always comes to pass. God has foreordained all that comes to pass.
B. Second, all things will bring glory to God in one-way or another. Calvin gave the highest
possible expression of Soli Deo Gloria. Third, God will be glorified in His grace through the
elect, who are chosen by Gods sovereign grace, not by foreseen faith. Fourth, other sinners are
non-elect (reprobate) and, being as guilty as the elect, will glorify Gods wrath in Hell. Lastly,
even the means of election and reprobation are predestined by God: the Incarnation, the
atonement and Resurrection, the gift of faith and perseverance, but also the entrance of sin.

9. Conclusion.
Calvin died on May 27, 1564 at the age of 55 in the arms of his successor, Theodore Beza. As
per his request, there was no gravestone or monument. Though often ill, it is more accurate to
say he worked himself to death and burned out for God. The greatest theologian since the
Apostles was once mocked because he had no children. His reply: God gave me a little son
and took him away; but I have myriads of children in the whole Christian world. How true.

Recommended. Bibliography.
Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion. The short 1536 edition is published by
Eerdmans. The 1559 edition is in print in 2 volumes: one translation by Henry Beveridge
(Eerdmans) and the definitive translation by John T. McNeill and Ford Lewis Battles, with
introduction, notes and indexes (Westminster). Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne have published a
greatly abridged edition (Baker Book House). Battles wrote An Analysis of the Institutes of the
Christian Religion of John Calvin (Baker).
Calvin, John. Calvins Commentaries. 45 volumes bound in 22. (Baker Book House). The N.T.
has been retranslated: Calvins New Testament Commentaries, 12 volumes (Eerdmans). The
O.T. commentaries are currently being retranslated by an international team.
Calvin, John. Selected works of John Calvin. 7 vols. (Baker Book House) 3 volumes are
theological treatises, 4 volumes are letters. Vol. 1 has Bezas biography of Calvin.
Calvin, John. Calvin: Theological Treatises. Ed. by O.K.S. Reid. (Westminster).

50

Calvin, John. Calvins Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Kregel. 2 treatises on predestination, one of
which is also in Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God (Attic Press).
Calvin, John. Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines. (Baker).
Calvin, John. Sermons on Deuteronomy. (Carlisle: Banner of Truth). 16 of these were
retranslated and published as John Calvins Sermons on the Ten Commandments (Baker).
Calvin, John. Sermons on Timothy and Titus. (Banner of Truth).
Calvin, John. Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians. (Banner of Truth).
Calvin, John. Sermons on the Saving Work of Christ. (Evangelical Press, c/o Presbyterian and
Reformed Pub. Co.).
Bouwssma, William J. John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait. NY: Oxford University Press.
(The most recent full biography of Calvin)
Ganoczy, Alexandre. The Young Calvin. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
Wendel, Francois. Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thought. Durham:
Labyrinth Press.
Wallace, Ronald S. Calvin, Geneva and the Reformation. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Warfield, Benjamin B. Calvin and Augustine. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. Murray,
John. Calvin on Scripture and Divine Sovereignty. Presbyterian and Reformed. McKim, Donald,
ed. Readings in Calvins Theology. (Baker Book House) A series of essays. Parker, T.H.L. John
Calvin. Batavia: Lion Pub. Co. By worlds leading Calvin scholar.
McNeill, John T. The History and Character of Calvinism. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pp. 93-234 covers the life and theology of Calvin.
Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Vol. 8 covers the
Swiss Reformation; pp. 223-844 cover all aspects of Calvins life and theology.
Calvin Seminary publishes the Calvin Theological Journal semi-annually. Most of the articles
are on topics other than Calvin, but there is usually an article every issue on some aspect of
Calvin. Once a year it has a large update of new books and articles on all facets of Calvin and
Calvinism.
The Meeter Center for Calvin Studies is based at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.
It is the international center for all studies regarding John Calvin. It publishes a newsletter,
sponsors seminars, and is overseeing the translation of the remainder of Calvins works into
English.

51

Chapter 5. Chapter The Spread of


Calvinism.
1. Introduction.
A. The Reformation was the greatest revival of Biblical Christianity since the days of the
Apostles. Like the N.T. period, it too had its phases and leaders. The first phase of the
Reformation stretched from 1517 to about 1560. The most prominent names of that period were
Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin.
B. The second phase lasted from about 1560 to about 1600. The leading lights of this
generation were Theodore Beza, Jerome Zanchius, Zacarias Ursinus (all Reformed) and Martin
Chemnitz (Lutheran).

2. Theodore Beza (1519-1605).


A. Theodore de Besze, or Beza, was born in Burgundy, France. Like Calvin, whom he knew
briefly in his youth, he studied law. But he left it and wandered for a few years as a
disenchanted poet. Eventually in 1548 he renounced Romanism and joined the Reformed
movement. The next year he became professor of Greek at Lausanne, Switzerland, and later
professor at the Academy of Geneva from 1558 til his death.
B. Though 10 years younger than Calvin, Beza lived much longer - 40 years, in fact. He was
the obvious choice to succeed Calvin, for he was one of his closest friends and associates.
Beza wrote an important biography of Calvin a year after Calvins death in 1564. His central role
as leader of the French Swiss Reformation after Calvin became obvious in his dual role as one
of the pastors of Geneva and as Moderator of the pastors for 16 years (1564-80).
C. Like his predecessor, Theodore Beza was a man of many talents. For one, he was active in
several conferences to unify the German and Swiss Reformations. He aided the French
Reformation. He was involved in politics. Several of his writings were on Christian political
theory, and Beza was probably the first Reformer to say that Christians may resist and even
overthrow tyrannical rulers.
D. It was especially his scholarship that stands out. Like Erasmus, Beza translated the New
Testament into colloquial Latin. He edited and published 9 editions of the Greek New
Testament. As such, he was one of the 3 great textual critics of the 16th-century. His last Greek
N.T. was the one used for the King James Version of 1611. Moreover, he discovered the
famous manuscript that bears his name: -Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, which he later gave to
Cambridge University.
E. He also wrote many important Bible commentaries, writings on church-state relations,
several short confessions and systematic theologies. He also wrote over 100 separate
theological essays on issues in dispute. These Tractationes Theologicae (1570-1583) summed
up his contributions to Reformed theology.
F. Unfortunately, Beza has often been given a bad press by critics for his views on Calvinism.
For one, he was more systematic than Calvin, perhaps due to the influence of Aristotle and
logic. He was also the first Reformer to explicitly teach limited atonement. There is dispute

52

among scholars whether Calvin held to particular or universal redemption, but nobody denies
that Bezanot only taught limited atonement but stressed it in his system.
Beza was also the first to stress, if not actually teach first, the doctrine called
Supralapsarianism. That is, in the logical order of the decrees, God first chose some men and
rejected others before He decreed that they would sin. Similarly, Beza gave more prominence to
the predestination of sin than others had.

3. The Palatinate of Southern Germany.


A. Youll remember that Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli were the 2 leading Reformed
lights, in southern Germany in the period 1530-1560. They were based in Strassbourg on the
French border. Their non-Lutheran branch of the German Reformation prospered after their
deaths mainly to the east in the area called the Palatinate, just south of Frankfort. It reached its
height from 1560 to 1600.
B. The movement centered on the theological school at Heidelberg called The College of
Wisdom. The movement is sometimes called the Second German Reformation, but usually it is
referred to as the Palatinate Theology (or Heidelberg Theology),
C. Jerome Zanchius (1516-1590) was the main teacher at Heidelberg during this time.
Zanchius had been an Italian Augustinian monk who was led into the Reformation especially
through his fellow Italian Vermigli. Upon moving to the Palatinate, he became to Heidelberg
what Beza was to Geneva. He urged a more systematic approach to theology than Bucer and
Vermigli had done. But, again like Beza, it was his emphasis on predestination that he is known
for. He chose to discuss predestination and election under the head of the doctrine of God
rather than under the doctrine of salvation. Calvin had done that in the Institutes until shifting the
discussion to the area of salvation in his last edition. To Beza and Zanchius, predestination is
more cosmic than Christ logical, more deterministic than soteriological. Yet Zanchius shied back
from Bezas high Supralapsarianism and limited atonement.
D. When the aging Vermigli declined the invitation to become professor at Heidelberg, he
recommended a young theologian named Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583} to the post. Ursinus
was younger than Zanchius but made equally significant contributions to Reformed theology.
The third member of the Palatinate triumphirate was another up-and-coming theologian named
Caspar Olevianus (1536-1587). One of his contributions was his emphasis on the development
of the Biblical covenants. He learned much of this from 3ullingerand was an important part of
the foundation of Covenant Theology.
E. But by far the greatest contribution of the Palatinate Theology was the Heidelberg Catechism
(1563). It was written by Ursinus and Olevianus while they were still in their 20s. It was destined
to immediate popularity, and remains one of the most important official statements of Reformed
theology. In fact, it is probably the most influential Reformed catechism, even more than the
Westminster Shorter Catechism. It is a concise presentation of Palatinate Calvinism, but as in
the geography from which it came, it has a moderate and even slightly Lutheran flavor to it. It
became the basis of several large Reformed systematic theologies, such as those by Ursinus
and Herman Hoeksema.
F. One of the beautiful characteristics of the Heidelberg Catechism that has endeared it to so
many is its personal approach to theology. The questionnaire asked from the teacher to the
student, who is addressed as You, and the answers are worded in the first person I, me
and my. This contrasts with other catechisms, which are impersonal and distant. Take, for

53

instance, the well-known first two questions and answers, which form the outline for the whole:
Q.l What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
A. That I belong, body and soul, in life and in death, not to myself but to my faithful
savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and
has completely freed, me from the dominion of the Devil; that he protects me so well that
without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that
everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also
assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on
to live for him.
Q.2 How many things must you know that you may live and die in the blessedness of
this comfort?
A. Three. First, the greatness of my sin and wretchedness. Second, how I am freed
from all my sins and their wretched consequences. Third, what gratitude I owe to God
for such redemption.
G. Two more Palatinate theologians bear brief mention. David Pareus (1548-1622) was the
leading disciple and successor of Ursinus. He is known for his efforts to effect unity of doctrine
with the Lutherans. Then there was Johannes Piscator (1546-1625), who taught for a short
while at Heidelberg. Art extremely prolific theologian and Biblical commentator, his contribution
lay in the relation between Christoiogy and justification. That is, he disagreed with most of his
Calvinistic brethren over the imputation of Christs active obedience in justification. To Piscator,
only Christs passive obedience (that is, His substitutionary death on the Cross) is imputed to
the elect in justification. Host of the others taught that both the active and the passive obedience
of Christ is imputed. Piscator argued that to teach Christs vicarious active obedience ignores
Christs humanity; Christ had to actively obey because He was fully Man as well as God.
H. This movement became known as the German Reformed Church and continued for
centuries. It is still in southern Germany, though much weaker and infected by later German
liberalism. It migrated to America in colonial days, and continues today in the German Reformed
Church and in its amalgamation into the United Church of Christ. Both are far from the original
Palatinate Theology.

4. The French Reformed Church.


A. Jacques Lefevre DEtaples (1455-1536) was to France what Erasmus was to Holland. Both
were disillusioned with Romanism; neither joined the Reformation. Lefevre was an excellent
scholar who wrote important Bible commentaries and called for a measure of re-evaluation
within Rome, for which he was condemned by the Sorbonne and the French government in
1521. So he left for Strassbourg, later returning to France. He stands out mainly for his influence
on those other disillusioned Catholics who did in fact join the Reformation.
B. Peter Ramus (1515-1572), or Pierre de la Ramee, was such a one. Ramus was from
Picardy, very near to Calvins own home. In a way, he picked up where Lefevre left off. He
attacked the prevailing influence of Aristotle in Catholic theology. Ramus offered a muchsimplified logic that fit within Scriptural limits. Two points bear mentioning. First, Ramus stressed
dichotomism - everything can be divided into equal but opposite pairs. This means that in turn
everything can be defined by its opposite: A cannot equal non-A. Second, Ramus retained the
use of the syllogism without Aristotles complicated additions. The syllogism is the basis of all
logic and deduction: a major premise, a minor premise, and a necessary conclusion. Example:

54

All dogs have 4 legs; this animal is a dog; therefore this animal has 4 legs. Ramus had
enormous impact on Reformed theology in the area of method. Eventually he abandoned
Romanism and became a Calvinist in 1562. He was martyred in 1572.
C. The Huguenots were the French Protestants, or French Calvinists. Lutheranism never
caught on in France, but Calvinism did. Yet they never numbered more than5% of the
population; almost all the rest were Catholics. And because Huguenot Calvinism presented a
threat to the decadent lifestyles and political tyranny of 16th-century France, the Huguenots were
severely persecuted.
D. The persecution reached its zenith at the St.Bartholomews Day Massacre (Aug.24,1572).
The Catholic majority had had enough of these Calvinists, and their hatred burst forth in a single
night. There had been mass religious murders before in France (such as the 3000 Waldensian
Protestants martyred in 1545), but within 3 days close to 70,000 Huguenots were slaughtered in
the name of Rome..Of course, Rome downplays the numbers to less than 10,000 and has
never formally apologized. Among the martyrs was Peter Ramus.
E. The Edict of Nantes (1598) gave a measure of religious toleration to the Huguenots, but in
the 17th-century many were forced to leave France. French Calvinism continued, especially in
the southeast sections. This area became the center of the Amyraldian controversy in the mid1600s. But French Calvinism declined after that, so that it is almost non-existent today. One
wonders why there were no major French Reformers, until he realizes that they were all driven
out by persecution. They helped France from Geneva: Farel, Viret, Beza, Calvin.

5. Holland.
A. Holland had always been a haven for out-of-the-mainstream Catholics. For example,
mysticism of the better variety flourished there in the closing stages of the Middle Ages and
Renaissance. Then there was Erasmus of Rotterdam. Many Anabaptists found haven in Hoi
land, among whom Menno Simons was the most well-known. Lutheranism never took off in
Holland, even though Holland bordered on Germany. But in time, Calvinism began to enter and
take root.
B. Calvin tried to assist these Dutch Reformers by his letters and treatises. One of them was
entitled, A Short Treatise Showing What a Faithful Man Knowing the Truth of the Gospel Ought
to Do When He is Among the Papists (1543). It was most appropriate, for Calvinists never
numbered more than 102! there until towards the end of the century.
C. Yet God in His providence worked some interesting things. Persecution was notas intense
as in France. Calvinists were few but tended to be in influential positions in government and
education. The big breakthrough came in 1573.William the Second of Orange (1533-1584) had
been a Catholic, but to protectHolland from Spains fanatical imperialism and Catholicism, he
was moved to embrace Calvinism. There is evidence that his conversion was also spirirual. He
granted toleration to the Calvinists and helped promote it. During this period, Dutch Calvinism
began to formulate its own theology. The Belgic Confession (1561) had been the main standard
and defined Dutch Calvinism until the Arminian controversy at the end of the century.

6. England.
A. John Wyciiffe (1329-1384) and William Tyndale (1494-1536) were early lights in attempts to

55

reform England. They were greatly within the Augustinian tradition, and they concentrated their
efforts on Bible translation.
B. God used an unusual providence to bring reform to the churches of England. In Germany,
several princes and dukes sided with Luther out of spiritual reasons, and thereby helped
promote the Reformation. It was different in England. Henry VIII was certainly no Protestant
Reformer, but he wanted an heir - which his Queen was unable to give him. Nor would the Pope
give him dispensation to divorce her for another. So Henry pulled the churches out from Rome
so he could divorce her, marry another and be head of his own church. It was a ragged affair,
and was not as spiritual as on the Continent. It got bumpy for awhile. But God used it.
C. Hugh Latimer (1485-1555) and Nicholas Ridley (1500-1555) picked up whereTyndale left off
at his martyrdom. They too were martyred together. But they were more or less Calvinistic. At
the beginning, Lutheranism had more impact among English Reformers, but by the 1640s this
was eclipsed by the Reformed wing. This continued so that there have been very, very few
Lutheran churches in England at any time. But Calvinism has prospered.
D. Thomas Cranmer, John Hooper and John Bradford were early English Reformers with a
decidedly Reformed approach, even if it was within the confines of Henrys semi-Roman Church
of England. We have already mentioned how Bucer and Vermigli lived and taught for awhile in
England, and their influence was large. Bullinger also helped out by a series of lengthy
correspondences.
E. Then there were the Genevan exiles. When persecution arose in England, many fled for
refuge in Geneva, There they studied under Calvin and brought Calvinism back with them.
While in Geneva, they translated the Scriptures into English: The Geneva Bible. In the margins
were extensive study notes of a decidedly Calvinistic nature. It was the most important English
Bible until the King James Version of 1611.
F. Reformed thinking can be seen in the Thirty-Nine Article of the Church of England, the
official doctrinal standard of Anglicanism and Episcopalism(though today only nominally so).
The same is true with the Book of Common Prayer. Yet they were obviously less Reformed and
Calvinistic than similar statements in Switzerland, Holland and France, partly due to the nature
of Henrys semi-Roman Church of England. For example, they were more sacramental than
their Reformed counterparts on the Continent. When later English Reformers tried to modify this
situation and purify the Church of England of the remaining vestiges of Romanism, Puritanism
was born. The Puritans were Calvinists.(Much more will be said about Puritan Calvinism later)

7. Scotland.
A. In the 16th-century, England and Scotland were two independent countries sometimes united
by a mutual monarch. They were often at war with each other. Scotland sometimes got aid from
France, and ties with France were always stronger than in England. Religiously, the
Reformation began earlier in England, but the Scottish Reformation was on more spiritual
ground and solidified quicker. Among the Genevan exiles were several from Scotland.
Edinburgh became the Geneva of the British Isles.
B. John Knox (1514-1572) was one of those Genevan exiles in 1555. He stands out among the
Scottish Reformers. He was particularly notable as a fiery, uncompromising preacher against
Romanism. Knox was in regular battles with a series of monarchs named Mary (Mary Tudor,
Mary of Guise, Mary Stuart). Among his writings was a piece entitled, The First Blast of the
Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women - arguing that women monarchs were

56

unnatural and a curse.


This did not endear him to them, nor to Elizabeth I of England. Scotland rallied around the
Calvinist Reformation and the revival was astounding.
C. There were, of course, difficult times over the next century. Occasional Catholic monarchs
brought back intense persecution. The Scottish Covenanters were Calvinists who had to hide in
the mountains for their lives, which many forfeited rather than forfeit their faith and kneel to
Rome.
D. The Scots were influenced by Bezas teachings that Christians may resist and even
overthrow ungodly tyrants. As to ecclesiology, it was in Scotland that Calvinist church
government was finely polished into Presbyterianism. Then there was the Scots Confession
(1560), mainly the work of John Knox. The popular story is that he wrote it in only 4 days. It is a
lovely and powerful confession, full of both beauty and strength. It is second only to the
Westminster standards in influence in Scottish theology. Of all the countries in Europe, except
for possibly Holland, Scotland received Calvinism the most and the longest.

8. Elsewhere.
A. Lutheranism tended to spread north into Scandinavia and, in time, America. Calvinism
spread northwestward into parts of southern Germany, France, Holland, England, Scotland and
eventually America. Neither branches of the Reformation had much impact south of the Alps
(Italy, Spain, Greece, etc).
B. Both branches did, however, have some success in eastern Europe. There were small but
distinct Calvinist movements in Poland, Bohemia (Czechoslovakia)and especially Hungary. But
the problem was competition with Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. The Reformation
spread most where Eastern Orthodoxy was not.
C. And Switzerland? The Swiss Reformation continued to have success for 100 years before
going downhill. A cold, complacent orthodoxy set in, unrelieved by the Pietism that rejuvenated
German Lutheranism in the 17th and 18th-centuries. Today, there is very little Calvinism in
Switzerland. The State Church is non-confessing - it has no confession of faith. That means
that the extremist liberals can fill the pulpits of Calvin, Zwingli and Beza. Even atheists can.

9. Calvin versus the Calvinists.


A. A few words must be said about a certain controversy regarding the post-Calvin
development of Calvinism. As theologians began to multiply, so did the variations of Reformed
theology. Some took national variations, others more by way of emphasis. The question was,
which of them were in the true line of Calvin? Thesis a major issue in the historical study of
Calvinism. To question ones Calvinistic purity is virtually as vital as knowing the purity and
legitimacy of ones ancestry.
B. Which systems were correctly building on Calvins foundation and which were erecting new
foundations? Who were detracting and who were merely expanding? Most claim to be true
Calvinists, merely making explicit what is implicit in Calvin. Charges are leveled from all sides.
By and large, the schools fall down into 2 camps: the High Calvinists who went higher than
Calvin (Bezais usually held responsible) and the Low Calvinists who went lower.

57

C. As we shall see in later chapters, there were certain theological issues in these disputes,
among them: theological method (Ramus, Aristotle, scholasticism, etc), the assurance of
salvation (is it essential to faith or not), the nature of faith (was it active or passive?), the extent
of the atonement, the place of the Covenants, the uses of the Law, the order of the decrees,
and the like.
D. A final comment: though historically Calvinism must be measured in terms of Calvins own
theology, all theology must ultimately be weighed from Scripture alone. We follow Calvin where
he follows Scripture; we must not make him a Pope. Calvin would agree.

Recommended Bibliography
Reid, W. Stanford, ed. John Calvin: His Influence in the Western World. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan. (A series of scholarly articles on Calvinism in individual nations)
Prestwich, Menna, ed. International Calvinism, 1541-1715. Oxford and New York: Oxford
Clarendon Press. (A series of essays like the above, only more historical.)
Muller, Richard. Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology
from Calvin to Perkins. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House; and Durham: Labyrinth Press.
Muller, Richard. Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatic. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (A
projected 3-volume series)
Hope, Heinrich. Reformed Dogmatic, Set Out from the Sources. Grand Rapids: Baker. (Copious
quotations from Calvin, Vermigli, Bui linger, Musculus, Beza, Zanchius, Ursinus, Olevianus,
Piscator, others; usually the sources have never been translated.)
Kendall, R.T. Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. New York: Oxford University Press. Helm,
Paul. Calvin and the Calvinists. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.(a reply to Kendall) Knox, John. The
Reformation in Scotland. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. DAubigne, J. Merle. The Reformation in
England. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Ursinus, Zacharias. Commentary on the Heidelberg
Catechism. Phillipsburg: Pres.& Reformed.
Zanchius, Jerome. Absolute Predestination. Grand Rapids: Baker. Also bound in The
Complete Works of A.M. Toplady, the translator. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications.

58

Chapter 6. The Synod of Dort.


1. Jacob Arminius.
A. Who was this, the father of Arminianism? Friend or foe? Because Arminianism is the chief
rival within Protestantism of Calvinism, it is fitting that we look at Arminius himself and the rise of
the controversy itself.
B. In Dutch, his name is Jacob Hermandx-oon, or Herman. It is usually Latinized as Arminius,
and his first name is sometimes Anglicized as James. He is best known as Jacob Arminius
(1560-1609). Dutch by birth, he studied theology at the University of Leyden, then under Beza at
Geneva, and finally took his doctorate back at Leyden under Francis Gomarus in 1603. He was
professor of theology at Leyden from 1603 till his death in 1609, but those were controversial
years.
C. Arminius was originally a staunch Calvinist. He had no problem with the 5Sola doctrines of
the Reformation. But he began to waver. In a debate with Dirk Coornhert, he found himself
unable to successfully defend his views, so he began to re-evaluate and reform them. This
serves as an example and warning to all who believe in such-and-such a doctrine but are not
able to defend it from Scripture. Those holding unsciptural doctrines should reform their
theology to fit Scripture; those holding to Scriptural doctrines had better be able to substantiate
their views or they will be tossed to and fro by winds of error.
D. First he began with a re-interpretation of Romans 7:14-25. Contra orthodox Calvinism,
Arminius said that Paul was describing his pre-conversional life. Thus, the unconverted man
does sometimes will in the direction of God. If so, then his will is not totally depraved and unable
to seek after God. Further, man inherits the bent to sin from his parents going back to Adam, but
this doesnt mean that he necessarily sins, nor does he inherit Adams guilt.
E. Then Arminius moved on to Romans 8:29-30. He rejected the Calvinist teaching that election
is based on sheer sovereign grace. Instead, he said it was based on our foreseen faith. Then
Arminius went to Romans 9 and rejected the Reformed doctrine of reprobation, or non-election.
He strenuously opposed the Supra-lapsarianism of Theodore Beza and William Perkins of
Cambridge, but he also rejected the more mainstream Reformed doctrine of infralapsarian
election. When one reads his writings, one notices that Arminius is battling more with Beza and
Perkins than with Calvin. But he did not call for a return to Calvin. He was not a Low Calvinist
against the High Calvinists. Rather, Arminius overreacted into something that was not Calvinist
at all. Moreover, since the Dutch Reformed Church used the Belgic Confession and the
Heidelberg Catechism as doctrinal standards, he called for a revision of them to suit his
theology.
F. Of course, Arminius was accused of being a Pelagian. But he was not. He strenuously
denied the charge. To be more precise, his theology was that of Semi-Pelagianism. He also had
much in common with the theologies of Erasmus, Castellio (one of Calvins detractors), certain
Anabaptists (such as Socinus), and the prevailing Roman Catholic theology on the doctrines in
question. But his overall theology was better than theirs. He was still basically within the circle of
orthodoxy, even if somewhat to the side of the circle. Later Calvinists often forget this and make
Arminius a grotesque monster or extreme heretic, when in fact he was closer to Calvinism than
almost all of his later followers. All of his writings have been translated into English; most have
to do with the doctrines in dispute. And then at the height of the controversy, Arminius died.

59

2. The Arminians.
A. Simon Episcopius (1583-1643) was the assumed name of Simon Bischop. In 1612, he
succeeded Gomarus as professor of theology at Leyden. When Arminius died, he became the
leading Arminian. He systematized Arminiuss theology and was more Arminian than Arminius
had been, meaning that he went further than he predecessor. Episcopius began marshalling
others and organized the Remonstrance group of 12 at the Synod of Dort. However, he was
more interested in right living than right doctrine - a touchstone for later Arminians who would
take the signal and depart into Liberalism. Also, Episcopius was somewhat influenced by
Socinus. Socinus had rejected the Reformed and Lutheran doctrines but also denied the deity of
Christ. Episcopius did not deny Christs deity, but taught a form of Subordinationism - Christ was
God, but less so than God the Father.
B. Johannes Uytenbogaert (1557-1644) also studied under Beza at Geneva, where he met
Arminius, Later he became chaplain to Maurice of Orange, who supported the Calvinists.
Eventually he threw in his lot with the Arminians, joined the Remonstrants and drew up the
document known as the Remonstrance.
C. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) had been a precocious child who entered university at12. Even
his opponents recognized that he had one of the greatest genius minds anywhere on the
Continent. He was primarily a jurist - he was a philosopher of civil law. In fact, he is usually
considered The Father of International Law. Among other views, he taught that civil and
international law should be based primarily on natural revelation in Nature rather than on
supernatural revelation in Scripture. Grotius was also a notable theologian and father of the
Governmental Theory of the atonement. This taught that because of the atonement, God is now
justly able to relax the requirements of the Law so that he can forgive sin without unjustly
affecting the laws of the universe or His nature.

3. The Remonstrance.
A. The Arminians rallied around a 5-Point document drawn up by Uytenbogaert, known as the
Remonstrance. Thus, they were also known as Remonstrants, or opponents of the prevailing
theology. These 5 points in turn became known as the 5 Points of Arminianism. Now this
Remonstrance went further than Arminius had, though it is probable that he was moving in this
direction and would have been able to sign it.
B. In sum, these articles taught as follows:
(1) God decreed to save those who would believe in Christ and to leave in sin those who
did not believe. This implied either that election was indefinite or that it is based on
foreseen faith.
(2) Christ died equally for all men, though only believers obtain its efficacy.
(3) Man has free will but is not able of himself to do any spiritual good in himself, but
needs to be born again.
(4) All good Man ever does is ascribed to Gods saving grace, but this grace is resistable
by fallen Man.
(5) Unless Man continues in the faith, he will not ultimately be saved; but it is not yet
certain from Scripture that all who truly believe now will always do so.

60

C. The Calvinists rejected these articles and drew up the Counter-Remonstrance of 1611.
Ironically, the Lutherans tended to support the Arminians, though it was apparent that Calvinism
had far more in common with historic Lutheranism than did Arminianism. However, by this time
Melanchthonian Lutheranism had diluted much of historic Lutheranism.

4. The Calvinists.
A. Francis Gomarus (1563-1641), or Franciscus Gomar, studied at Strassbourg, Oxford,
Cambridge, Neustadt (under Zanchius) and took his doctorate at Heidelberg. Thus, he was well
rooted in historic Reformed theology, especially of the Palantine variety. He taught with
Arminius for 6 controversial years at Leyden.and resigned when Conrad Vorstius (an Arminian)
was chosen to succeed Arminius. Gomarus was the leader of the Contra-Remonstrants and the
dominant theologian at the Synod of Dort. His followers were sometimes called Gomarists.
Gomarus upheld the Reformed interpretation of Romans 7 (that it speaks of a regenerate Man),
Romans 8 (unconditional election based on sovereign grace, not foreseen faith), and Romans 9
(reprobation). However, like Beza and Perkins, he taught Supralapsarianism.
B. William Ames (1576-1633) was a Calvinist Englishman from Cambridge who had been much
influenced by Peter Ramus, Beza and Perkins. He went to Holland for the same desire for
religious toleration that led the Pilgrim Fathers there. Hepastored an English church in Holland
and later became a professor of theology at Franeker. He was not a formal delegate at Dort, but
an observer. However, his influence was second only to that of Gomarus, with whom he
agreed on Supralapsarianism. Ames agreed that Arminianism is an error, but it did not
necessarily contradict the fundamentals of the Gospel. An Arminian is not necessarily a heretic,
but he does open the door for others to go through in apostatizing from the faith.
C. John Davenant (1576-1691) was another Englishman, the Bishop of Salisbury and a
Cambridge Calvinist. He was one of the more moderate delegates to Dort and would be an
important interpreter of the Canons of Dort in later years.
D. Other Calvinists included: John Bogerman (1576-1637, a former student of Bezaand
President of the Synod of Dort), Pierre Du Moulin and Andreas Rivetus (2of the French
delegates not permitted by France to attend), and Johannes Maccovius and Jacobus Triglandus
(both Supralapsarians).

5. The Political Situation.


A. The Remonstrants sided with John van Oldenbarneveldt, the Advocate-General of Holland
and Friesland. He advocated religious toleration and political toleration through decentralization.
B. The Counter-Remonstrants stood with Maurice of Orange, who called for more central
authority and less toleration of religious diversity.

6. The Synod of Dort.


A. There had been several attempts to harmonize the differing factions, all unsuccessful. The
controversy was not confined to the academic ivory towers of the universities. The common
man was interested. There is a story of a blacksmith chasing Episcopius down the street with a

61

red-hot branding iron, literally attempting to brand him as a heretic.


B. The Synod was called by the Estates-General to meet at Dort, or Dordt or Dortrecht. 84
delegates would be present - 58 chosen by the churches of Holland, 18 secular commissioners,
and the rest from England, Switzerland, the Palantinate, etc. It would be the most international
gathering of Calvinist theologians yet. They met for 154 sessions from Nov. 13, 1618 to May 9,
1619. Since delegates were chosen by the churches, the Remonstrants were not selected as
delegates but as defendants of the new theology.
C. The Synod was also given the tasks of compiling a large commentary on the Bible
(commonly known as the Dutch Annotations), overseeing a revision of the Dutch translation of
the Bible, and a revision of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, if necessary.
But its main purpose was to uphold orcondemn the doctrines of Arminius and the
Remonstrance.
D. The Remonstrants argued that the Synod should alter the confessions to suit their theology,
or at least permit it. The Contra-Remonstrants argued that the confessions were valid; if
anything, they needed strengthening in the very areas touching the topics in question so as to
leave no room for Arminianism in Holland. The many discussions were on Scripture and
ecclesiology.
E. Eventually the Remonstrants were dismissed from the Synod on a point of order. The
delegates condemned the Remonstrance Unanimously and signed the document known as the
Canons of the Synod of Dort. The Remonstrants and any who agreed with them over against
the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons would be exiled or
imprisoned (some 200 were so punished).

7. The Canons of the Synod of Dort.


A. These are perhaps the most precise and detailed official statements on their formed points in
question anytime in Reformed history. No serious study of Calvinism is complete without them.
They are, of course, not exhaustive confessions, but short statements on the issues in dispute
by the Remonstrant Arminians. They are filled with Scripture references. Naturally, they assert
and assume the 5 Sola doctrines of the Reformation.
B. The Canons fall under five heads of doctrine, each answering the five articles of the
Remonstrance. Under each head is a series of positive affirmations and negative rejections.
They frequently accuse Arminianism of either Pelagianism or opening the door to Pelagianism.
One curious thing is that, though these were origin of the Five Points of Calvinism, they were
not in the commonly accepted order of TULIP. And, being in Dutch and Latin, they did not use
the TULIP acrostic.
C. The first head was on election and reprobation. It asserts both doctrines astound in both the
Old and New Testaments, though election has more importance than reprobation. Election is by
sovereign grace, not foreseen faith. The number of the elect and reprobate cannot be increased
nor diminished, nor is there any changeover from-one to the other. One can know if he is a
elect, but this leads to holy living and not licentiousness. Reprobation does not make God the
author of sin. Godly parents ought not to doubt their childrens election and conversion. Though
many of the delegates were Supralapsarian, the Canons tend to be more Infralapsarian, though
phrased so that the Supras could sign them.
D. The second head was on the death of Christ. Christ died a substitutionary death for sinners
and it is to be preached to all. The cross was deliberately planned by God for a specific

62

purpose, not an indefinite purpose. The Governmental Theory is unscriptural. The atonement
has infinite value and is sufficient for all, but is specifically intended for the elect alone, to whom
alone it is applied.
E. The third and fourth heads are combined and deal with Mans sin and Gods grace. They
uphold the Reformed doctrine of Original Sin and total inability of the fallen will. There is no free
will, though a common grace allows men to do the outward acts of religion and social good.
Conscience tells all men there is aged and that there is- a difference between right and wrong.
The Law cannot save. There is an external call of the Gospel to all, but a special call by the
Spirit. only to the elect, and this is irresistible and efficacious. Regeneration precedes faith and
repentance, and God is not obligated to give these to any. But by the election of grace, He gives
them to the elect alone.
F. The fifth head is on the perseverance of the saints. Once one of the elect has-been
regenerated, he will always be so. True, saints sometimes fall into sin, but regeneration does
not allow him to stay in continual sin. Scripture teaches both perseverance and preservation of
the saints, for the Spirit always continues to supply grace and faith. One can know he is elect
and also that he will certainly persevere to the end and make Heaven.

8. The Aftermath.
A. The Arminians felt that they got a raw deal. Most left Holland, but returned under a measure
of toleration when Maurice died in 1625. Immediately after the Synod, Oldenbarneveldt was
executed on a charge of high treason (not heresy).Grotius had been imprisoned before the
Synod, but escaped in a box of books in an ingenious plot organized by his wife. He spent most
of the rest of his life in France. The other leading Arminians continued to preach and teach.
B. Later developments in Arminianism tended to go downhill into Socinianism, Deism and
Liberalism. Few got closer to Calvin than Arminius. Among the later Arminian theologians were
Phillip Limborch, J.J. Wettstein and John Goodwin. Evangelical Arminianism was greatly revived
by John Wesley and John Fletcher. Still later and conservative Arminian theologians have
included Richard Watson, Marvin Pope, John Mi ley, Orton Wiley and Robert Shank.
C. There have been several varieties of Arminianism as there have been of Calvinism. Some
have been Perfection!stic. Some lead into Pent costal ism. Others go downhill into Liberalism.
Currently, the most popular form of Arminianism is akin to Arminius. It accepts the preservation
but not the perseverance of the saints and is otherwise in agreement with the other points of the
Remonstrance and historic Arminianism. Strangely, many of these consider themselves
Calvinists, when they are really 4i point Arminians. But we usually know them by the name of
Fundamentalists.

Bibliography
Hoeksema, Homer. The Voice of Our Fathers. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing
Association. (A massive commentary on the Canons, with a history and introduction.)
Arminius, James. The Writings of James Arminius. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Bangs, Carl. Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Tyacke, Nicholas. Anti-Calvinism: The Rise of English Arminianism, C. 1590-1640. Oxford:

63

Clarendon Press.
Cunningham, William. Historical Theology, vol. 2, pp. 371-513. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Ames, William. The Marrow of Theology. Durham: Labyrinth Press.
Owen, John. A Display of Arminianism. In Works, vol. 10. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Girod, Gordon. The Deeper Faith: An Exposition of the Canons of Port. Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House.

64

Chapter 7. The Puritans.


1. Introduction.
A. Who were the Puritans? To some people, the Puritans were a group of superstitious witchburners, a throwback to medieval anti-intellectual ism. To others, they were revolutionaries
against the throne of England, out for all the political power they could get by any means,
including religion. To still others, the Puritans were legalists who went too far with their
Protestantism.
B. In truth, the Puritans were the leading intellectuals and godliest Christians in England for
several generations. But pertinent to our study is the fact that they were Calvinists. Some were
Anglicans, Presbyterians, Independents, or Baptists.Theologically, some were High Calvinists,
others Low Calvinists; some were Supralapsarian, Antinomian, Neonomian or Covenantal. But
they were still Calvinists,
C. It is well to keep in mind that we will be concentrating on English Puritanism. American and
Scottish Puritanism will be mentioned only briefly. It is also vital to note the phases of
Puritanism. In general, Puritanism lasted from 1570 to 1700.

2. Origins of English Puritanism.


A. We begin by picking up the status of the Church of England in 1553. Queen Mary Tudor
became Queen of England and re-established Catholicism as the official religion of the realm.
This meant stomping out the Protestant leaders of the Church of England, who by this time were
mainly Calvinists. Over 300 of them were slaughtered. 800 more fled for refuge in Geneva.
B. In 1558, Elizabeth I succeeded as Queen and re-established Anglicanism (the Church of
England founded by Henry VIII) as the state church. Her churchmen and Parliament passed the
first Act of Uniformity of 1559, making High Church Anglicanism the only official church in
England; all others were suppressed.
All preachers must subscribe to the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, etc. It was not
Catholicism, but it was meant to halt a return to the progress of Anglicanism towards the
Calvinism of Geneva and Edinburgh.
C. When the exiles returned from Geneva, they brought back what Calvin and Bezahad taught
them. They feared that Elizabeths reforms were a step back, which could eventually undo the
English Reformation and lead England back to Romanism. They further believed that the
Reformation in England was not progressing as smoothly and rapidly as in Switzerland,
Germany or even Scotland and Holland. This led to the Vestments Controversy - the Low
Church Calvinists objected to High Church clerical vestments, the sign of the cross, etc.

3. Cambridge Calvinism.
A. Cambridge University became the center for the Low Church Calvinist Anglicans. Bucer
and Vermigli had taught there briefly, and Bui linger supported the Cambridge faculty with
dozens of letters. Beza donated the celebrated Codex Bezae to the University. Many of the

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Genevan exiles settled there. Thus, it was the logical place for the revival of Calvinism.
B. William Perkins (1558-1602) became the Cambridge Calvin. To be more precise, hews the
Beza of Cambridge. Perkins closely modeled his theology after Beza. They were both
Supralapsarian, as seen in Perkins many books, especially The Gold enchain with its famous
chart of the order of the decrees and salvation. Though notas well known today, Perkins
exercised far more influence among the later Puritans than anyone else. His books sold like
theological hotcakes. His closest disciple was William Ames, also Supralapsarian, who became
influential at the Synod of Dort. Amess The Marrow of Theology became the standard
theological textbook.
C. Other Cambridge Calvinists of later years include Richard Sibbes and John Preston. John
Davenant, who would be an official delegate to Dort, was another one, but he attempted to
modify Perkins theology in two areas: he rejected Supralapsarianism and the strict view of
limited atonement (Davenant taught that Christ died for all men, especially the elect).
D. Archbishop James Ussher, though not in or from Cambridge, paralleled Davenant. An
Irishman, he was a top scholar in many fields: theology, church history (he wrote an important
book on Gottschalk), and Bible chronology (his dates are still popular, such as dating Creation
at 4004 B.C.).
E. Cambridge Calvinism can be characterized by two aspects. First, a kind of Scholasticism. It
tended to be very logical and ordered in structure. Much of this was due to the influence of Beza
and Ramus on Perkins. Thus, Cambridge Calvinism explored the details of the order of the
decrees, the order of salvation, whether assurance was of the essence of faith, and similar
technical issues.
F. Secondly, it gave rise to Experimental ism, or the practical application of this high theology.
Experimental preachers and writers were very searching in the thoughts and intents of the
heart. Perkins and Ames both wrote influential books on casuistry, or the application of general
laws to specific cases of ethics. In turn, this produced a whole new outlook on Christian living.
Puritanism is nothing if not a Christian and Calvinist worldview of the family, work, etc.

4. Presbyterian Puritanism.
A. Most of the Cambridge Calvinists simply wanted to purify the Church of England. Thus, they
were ridiculed as Puritans. Others felt that the Reformation in Anglicanism needed to go further
and change the episcopal structure of church government. They wanted something more like
Geneva and Edinburgh. They rejected the idea of church rule by bishops (Episcopalism) and
the notion that the Churches under the authority of the monarchy (Erastianism). And these
objected most offal to liturgical ism and High Church worship.
B. Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603) was the first major English Presbyterian. He was another
Cambridge Calvinist professor, but he was fired for advocating Presbyterianism. From there he
helped organize Presbyterian churches. In later years, the Presbyterians were the major
advocates of Covenant Theology, a slight variation of Cambridge and Bezan Calvinism. John
Ball became one of the early proponents of this within Presbyterianism. It took its roots more
from Bullinger than from Beza.
C. Another important, though much later, Presbyterian was Richard Baxter (1615-1691).He
attempted to harmonize the best of all ecclesiastical systems. Baxter was one of the most
important and influential of all Puritans. For one thing, he wrote far more than any other Puritan:
A Call to the Unconverted, The Reformed Pastor, The Saints Everlasting Rest and his

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autobiography were best-sellers among his more than 100 books, not counting pamphlets and
sermons. Like Davenant and Ussher, he taught a kind of 44 Point Calvinism.

5. Congregational Puritanism.
A. Still other Puritans felt that Presbyterianism did not go far enough from Rome. The roots for
this movement go back to the Anabaptists church polity, yet the earliest English
Congregationalists (or Independents) were not usually Baptistic. Robert Browne was a
Cambridge Calvinist, but very low in his Calvinism. He taught complete independency of the
churches. These Separationists, or Brownists, fell into 2 later categories.
B. First, the Independents taught congregational government via elders, no liturgy, no
presbyteries, no bishops. Two names stand out in the later development of the Independents:
John Owen and Thomas Goodwin. John Owen (1616-1683) was second only to Perkins in
overall influence, but second to none in scholarship. He both pastored and became ViceChancellor of Oxford University. Among his many writings: Exposition of Hebrews (7 vols), The
Death of Death, and The Holy Spirit. Thomas Goodwin was next to Owen in Congregational
influence. Unlike Owen, he was at the Westminster Assembly, but both were the leading lights
in the Savoy Declaration. Also, Goodwin was Supralapsarian, but Owen was not.
C. Second, the English Baptists were another branch of Congregationalism. John Smyth was a
Cambridge Calvinist who shifted to Independency like Browne. He then was persuaded of the
truth of Believers Baptism as opposed to infant baptism. Naturally, he could not find anyone to
baptize him, so he baptized himself - and became the first Se-Baptist (self-baptizer). He
founded the first English Baptist Church. However, in time he came to reject Calvinism for
Arminianism.
P. Someone has commented that between 1600 and 1700, Anglicanism prospered mainly
among the upper class, Presbyterianism among the middle class, and Independency among the
lower class. The Baptists did not really begin to grow much until the latter stages of Puritanism,
and initially were usually Arminian.

6. The King James Version.


A. In 1603, James I became King of England. The Puritans met with him at the Hampton Court
Conference in 1604 in hopes of gaining his approval for their petitions. However, he did not go
along with them. On the other hand, he felt the need for a new translation of the Bible.
B. Thus, the King James Version was born in 1611. The British call it the Authorized Version.
One of its aims was to replace the Geneva Bible, which was the most popular version at that
time in England. But the Geneva Bible was strongly Calvinistic and gave ammunition to the
Puritans. Host of the KJV translators were Anglican High Churchmen, such as Lancelot
Andrewes. In time, however, it became the standard Bible in English, even among the Puritans.

7. The Pilgrim Fathers.


A. Some of the Separationists at the beginning of the 17th-century became impatient for church
and state Reformation. Moreover, they became severely persecuted. Most fled to pre-Dortian

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Holland for refuge. Soon they were joined by John Robinson, who became their pastor.
B. They came upon an idea. Rather than settle permanently in Holland or return to England,
why not move to this new continent called America? Before that time, America was little more
than an unexplored continent used only for occasional stops by merchant seamen. So they took
off on the Mayflower and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on Nov. 11, 1620. Robinson,
howev-er, stayed behind to pastor those who chose to stay in Holland.
C. Emigration began to increase. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was established. In time,
other refuges came directly from England. Now it is absolutely important to note that these were
not only Protestants, but also Puritan Calvinists. Initially most were Independents, which is why
Congregationalism became the dominant church polity (and still is) in New England, as it
eventually became known as.
D. Among the leading American Puritan churchmen were the following: John Cotton (who was
already an important theologian and preacher back in England), Thomas Hooker and Thomas
Shepard (both strongly Experimental), Mrs. Anne Hutchinson (whose mystical Antinomianism
caused the first major theological controversy in America), Roger Williams, and Cotton Mather.
Others include Samuel Willard, Increase Mather, William Bradford and John Winthrop. All were
Calvinists, though Williams was somewhat less so than the others because of Anabaptist
influences.

8. English Arminianism and Anglican Anti-Puritanism.


A. Several names stand out in the development of Arminian anti-Puritanism. Henry Hammond
was sympathetic to many Puritan ideals, but opposed its Calvinism. He was a major Arminian
Anglican between 1620 and 1650. Later, Jeremy Taylors semi-Catholic devotional approach
rivaled Puritan Experimental ism, but he went dangerously close to Pelagianism. His influence
on the later history of High Church non-Puritan Anglicanism was enormous. Then there were
the Latitudinarians, who were Anglican Arminians who downplayed the need for doctrinal
allegiance, thus opening the door for the later rise of Deism and Liberalism. And in the last
stage of Puritanism, Daniel Whitby became a leading Anglican Arminian. He wrote an influential
commentary on the whole N.T. and a book defending the Remonstrance articles (which John
Gill later attacked from the Calvinist view). However, Whitby exemplified a dangerous tendency
in Arminianism: he reacted so much against Calvinism that he denied the deity of Christ and
became an Arian.
B. But it was Archbishop William Laud (1573-1645) who had by far the most influence in
attempting to stop Calvinist Puritanism in England. After becoming Archbishop of Canterbury in
1633, he set out to erase all the gains made by previous Puritans both in and out of the Church
of England. He was very High Church, and his Romanizing tendencies were obvious. For
example, he denied that Rome was the only true Church, but he admitted that it was still a_ true
Church on the essential doctrines of the faith. To the Puritans, this was worse than even
Arminianism.
C. Charles I had become King in 1625 and worked together with Laud to stamp out Puritanism
through both ecclesiastical and civil measures. One of them was aimed specifically at the
Puritans. Now Puritan Calvinists at that time were almost all strongly Sabbatarian. The
Declaration on Sports (1637) was a civil measure allowing sporting activities on Sunday. This
outraged the Puritans. They also knew that other measures would follow - undoing civil and
social godliness on the one hand, and strengthening High Church Arminian Anglicanism on the
other. They sensed a Laudian Inquisition in the works. The late 1630s became very tense.

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9. Scottish Calvinism.
A. To understand more of that situation, we need to back up a little in time and look north of the
border to see how Presbyterian Calvinism had become the established religion of Scotland.
After John Knox and Andrew Melville had successfully brought in Presbyterianism, other leaders
followed, such as Robert Roilock and Alexander Henderson.
B. But Catholicism hammered away at these subscribers to the Scottish Covenant. They were
known as Covenanters. They also received no small discourtesy from the Anglicans. Many were
executed at the Grass market in Edinburgh. These Scots were theologically in agreement with
the English Puritans, but there was also a rivalry between them.
C. Samuel Rutherford was the most important Scottish Calvinist of the Puritan era. Among his
many writings were his Letters (usually devotional) and Lex Rex (which developed the
Reformed idea that Christians may and should work to overthrow ungodly rulers). He was also
Supralapsarian. He is* still dearly loved by Scots. D. Other Scottish Calvinists of the period
include George Gillespie, James Durham, Robert Leighton, David Dickson, Robert Baillie and
George Hutchesoh.

10. The Puritan Revolution. (1640-1660).


A. As the tension built up, Charles I summoned the Long Parliament in 1640. He and Laud
hoped to persuade it to endorse their measures against Puritanism. However, in Gods
providence, the Parliament turned them down on crucial measures.
B. Soon the Civil War broke out as a result. The two main factions were the Cavaliers
supporting Charles I and the Roundheads, who mainly supported the Puritan cause. Of course,
not all Roundheads were Puritans, but they wanted to overthrow the monarchy for other
reasons. And, likewise, not all Puritans supported the Roundheads, though most did. The Scots
provided an awkward ally for either side. The Scots disliked the Royalists, but had mixed
feelings about the Roundheads.
C. The determining factor was an unusually gifted leader whom God raised up at this time:
Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was a Member of Parliament representing Cambridge. He was also
an Independent Puritan. He and the New Model Armyled the way for the defeat of the Cavaliers.
Now Cromwell was a leader rightout of the book of Judges. He was sort of a combination of
Gen. George Patton and Jerry Falwell - a strong military and political leader who could marshal
support and rally the troops, but with a divine call to help establish a godly government and
society. Among his many chaplains were John Owen and Richard Baxter.
D. The Civil War ended in 1646. Laud and Charles were executed for treason. The Crown was
offered to Cromwell by Parliament, but he humbly refused. Instead, he became known as the
Lord Protector - an unelected office, but not royalty.
E. The Westminster Assembly was convened by Parliament in 1643 to advise it ontheological,
social and civil matters. Many Puritans regularly preached before Parliament. Among the many
delegates were 6 Scottish Commissioners, including Rutherford. William Twisse was Prolocutor
of the Assembly. Dozens of famous Puritans were in the Assembly. Although it was dominated
by Presbyterians, there were also Anglicans and Independents among the delegates. The
Assembly produced a number of important documents, such as the Westminster Confession of

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Faith and the Shorter Catechism. They tended to Presbyterian Covenant Theology.
F. The Commonwealth of non-monarchial England in these years was one of the godliest
societies the world has ever known. It rivaled Calvins Geneva and Knoxs Edinburgh, only on a
much larger scale. Gross sin allowed by the Laudians was stopped, both civilly and religiously.
Puritanism was in full blossom.
G. The Puritans allowed more religious toleration than had their predecessors. While the
established Church of England was no longer the state church, it was still tolerated in a
diminished capacity. Presbyterianism grew enormously. Independency grew perhaps the most,
including certain theologically eccentric varieties. For example, it was during this time that
Calvinistic Antinomianism began to spread through Puritans such as Tobias Crisp, John Eaton
and John Saltmarsh. Also, a host of independent sects arose: the Quakers, the Familists, the
Ranters, the Fifth Monarchy Men, and others of a fanatical nature. One man seems to exemplify
in himself this situation: John Milton. Milton, the famous poet, was originally an Anglican, then a
Presbyterian, then an Independent. Along the same path, he went from being a Calvinist to an
Arminian to an Arian. He remains something of a sad anomaly among the English Puritans of
the period.
H. The Independents met in 1658 and revised the Westminster Confession and Shorter
Catechism. This Savoy Declaration became the doctrinal standard for Independents and
Congregationalists in England and America. It was only a very slightly modified version of the
Westminster documents. Owen and Goodwin were prime movers.

11. The Restoration (1660).


A. After Cromwell died in 1658, the government began to splinter and fall apart. Pro-royalist
groups began to gather momentum fast. Soon they were able tore call the monarchy in the form
of Charles II, who had been in exile in Europe. With the Restoration of the monarchy, the
Puritan Commonwealth ended.
B. The Act of Uniformity of 1662 quickly and strongly re-established High Church Anglicanism
as the official and only church in the realm. It required all ministers to subscribe to the Book of
Common Prayer and such statements. Those who did not (Non-Conformists) could not enter
Cambridge or Oxford universities. A host of other measures aimed at eradicating all vestiges of
Puritanism followed.
C. The Great Ejection followed. More than 2000 Non-Conformist ministers were thrown out of
their churches. These included Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and even some of the
more moderate Anglicans who resented the High Church heresies of the re-established
Church of England.
D. Among those noble Puritans who were ejected was John Bunyan. Bunyan spent some 12
years in jail for refusing to conform. During that time he wrote a number of books, such as
Pilgrims Progress, the second best-selling Christian book of all-time. Bunyan was a 4-point
Calvinist and was influential in leading the Baptist movement into Calvinism. But the Restoration
cooled that for a time.

12. Toleration of Restricted Puritanism.


A. In 1688, William and Mary became King and Queen of England. This Glorious Revolution felt

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that Puritanism had learned its lesson and could again be allowed within certain limitations.
B. The Act of Toleration of 1688 more or less overturned the Act of Uniformity of1662. The
Church of England was still to be the only official state church,and High Church principles
prevailed. But the Non-Conformists were allowed back into their pulpits and churches with some
limitations. For example, they would be considered second-class citizens and could not hold
civil office. Still, the Puritans rejoiced. Their political hopes were dashed, but they now turned to
rebuilding the churches.
C. Benjamin Keach was the most important Baptist at this stage. Like Owen and Goodwin with
the Savoy Declaration, Keach modified the Westminster Confession and Shorter Catechism in
the areas of baptism and church government. This Baptist Confession of 1689 quickly became
the standard of the Particular Baptists. Keach also was the main proponent of congregational
hymn-singing -an important change within Puritanism, for most before then had only sung
psalms.

13. The Final Stage of Puritanism.


A. In the 1690s one last major theological controversy arose among the Puritans. Richard
Baxter had taught that the Gospel was a new Law, obedience to which was accepted as
righteousness before God together with the work of Christ. This became known as
Neonomianism. Though Baxter taught this in a modified form in his controversial Aphorisms of
Justification, he was an old man by this time and died in the initial stages of the controversy.
The leader became the more extreme Daniel Williams. Opponents of this error included Isaac
Chauncy and Robert Trail! both Supralapsarians. In reply, the Neonomians accused them of
being sympathetic to Crisp and Calvinistic Antinomianism. Soon this High Calvinism would give
rise to an even higher form of Calvinism: Hyper-Calvinism.
B. After the Act of Toleration, the Presbyterians did not prosper much in England. Most filtered
back to Anglicanism or over to Independency. Theologically, post-Restoration English
Presbyterianist tended to slide into Deism, something even worse than Arminianism.
C. The last great Presbyterian Puritan was Matthew Henry. Henry is famous mainly for writing
the best-selling Bible commentary on the whole Bible in history. It is a devotional classic,
combining the best of all aspects of Puritanism.
D. Strangely, English Calvinism was left in the hands of the Independents and Baptists. Often
churches included both groups. It is a very unusual providence that these were the most
persecuted at the beginning and slowest to get started, but they outlasted the Anglican and
Presbyterian Calvinists in popularity and fervency and doctrinal purity. And that was what
Puritanism was all about.

14. Epilogue.
A. There has been a revival of interest in the English Puritans in recent years. The collected
works of Owen, Flavel, Bunyan, Sibbes, Brooks, Trail!, Clarkson, Charnock and others have
been reprinted. Christians, and especially Calvinists, have rediscovered these mines of gold that
were buried by their theological ancestors. Slowly but surely their impact is being felt again.
B. No, the Puritans were not superstitious, witch-burning political zealots. They were spiritual
giants, compared to whom most Evangelicals today are but religious pygmies. 0, for a revival of

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20th-century Puritanism!

Recommended Reading (in addition to the works of the Puritans themselves)


Ryken, Lei and. Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were. Foreword by O.I.
Packer. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. (The best overall introduction. Hundreds of quotes.)
Adair, John. Founding Fathers: The Puritans, in England and America. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Meal, Daniel. The History of the Puritans. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. (The
standard reference source on the Puritans.)
Reid, James. Memoirs of the Westminster Divines. 2 vols in 1. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Wallace, Dewey. Puritans and Predestination. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Murray, Iain, ed. The Reformation of the Church: A Collection of Reformed and Puritan
Documents on Church Issues. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Kendall, R.T. Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Loane, Marcus. Makers of Puritan History. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Kevan, Ernest.
The Grace of Law. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Miller, Perry; and Johnson, Thomas, eds. The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings. 2 vols.
Magnolia: Peter Smith.
Wallace, Dewey. The Spirituality of the Later English Puritans: An Anthology. Macon: Mercer
University Press.
Thomas, I.D.E. A Golden Treasury of Puritan Quotations. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Mather, Cotton. The Great Works of Christ in America. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (The
standard work on American Puritanism, in 2 large volumes.)
Tyacke, Nicholas. Anti-Calvinism: The Rise of English Arminianism C.1590-1640. New York and
Oxford: Oxford Clarendon Press.
Elniff, Teriill. The Guise of Every Graceless Heart: Human Autonomy in Puritan Thought and
Experience. Vallecito: Ross House Books.
Lewis, Peter. The Genius of Puritanism. Haywards Heath: Carey Publications. (The best short
introduction to Puritanism, fully documented with quotes and pictures)

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Chapter 8. The Westminster Assembly.


1. Events Preceding the Assembly.
A. In the late 1630s, the religious situation in Scotland and England had grown very tense. In
addition to certain political factors, there were specific religious factors, which arose and
eventually led up to the Westminster Assembly. Some were in England, such as the Book of
Sports controversy. Others were in Scotland.
B. One of these bears mentioning. Archbishop Laud, with the power of Charles Ibehind him,
attempted to enforce the use of the new Book of Common Prayer in the churches of England
and Scotland. This was in 1637. The Scots in particular were incensed by this move back
towards Rome. The dynamite had been laid; it only took a spark to set off the controversy in a
massive explosion.
C. That explosion came on July 23, 1637. The Bishop of Edinburgh, Scotland, brought this
prayer book with him into the pulpit and began to read from it in the liturgy preceding the Lords
Supper. Oenny Geddes, a local vegetable-seller and Calvinist Presbyterian, objected. Throwing
at the bishop the little church stool on which she was sitting, she cried out, Youll nae say Mass
in my lug! (an old Scots word for ear). Something of a riot began. This was in St. Giles
Cathedral, the high kirk of the Church of Scotland. Someone has commented that throwing that
stool eventually led to the collapse of the English throne. Old John Knox would have been proud
of Jenny Geddes.
D. This eventually led to the National Covenant (1638). Scots everywhere signed this pledge to
stand by the true Reformed faith of Scripture against all Romanizing innovations, such as the
new prayer book. It was aimed at Laud and Charles in particular. The Scots claimed Scriptural
support for such national covenants (Josh. 24:25, 2 Kings 11:17, Isa. 44:5). This covenant was
akin to our own Pledge of Allegiance, except more theological in nature.

2. The Westminster Assembly.


A. Within a few years. Civil War broke out and Parliament gained the upper hand. By this time,
Parliament was dominated by Puritans and those sympathetic to Puritan ideals- Then on June
.12, 1643 Parliament passed the following act setting up the Westminster Assembly: An
Ordinance of the Lords and Commons in Parliament, for the Calling of an Assembly of Divines
and others, to be Consulted with by the Parliament for the Settling of the Government and
Liturgy of the Church of England, and Clearing of the Doctrine of said Church from False
Aspersions and Interpretations.
B. The Westminster Assembly, then, had no legislative power but was entirely called to advise
Parliament on religious issues, especially concerning the continuing reformation of the churches
in England, particularly the Church of England. It met from July 1, 1643 to Feb. 22, 1648 (5
years, 6 months,22 days) in 1,163 sessions in the, Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey.
Delegates, called divines (churchmen or theologians), were chosen and called from all the
counties. Of the 151 members, 121 were divines and 30were lay assesors (20 from the House
of Commons, 10 from the House of Lords).
C. Most of these delegates were Presbyterians. 5 were Independents. A few dozen were
Anglicans (such as James Ussher), but out of deference to the King they almost never attended.

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The Church of Scotland sent 5 divines as Commissioners, including Samuel Rutherford,


George Gillespie and Alexander Henderson).
D. Average attendance was about 70. Every member took the following vow, which was read
aloud every Monday morning: I do seriously promise and vow, in terseness of Almighty God,
that in this Assembly whereof I am a member, I will maintain nothing in point of doctrine but
what I believe to be most agreeable to the Word of God; nor in point of discipline, but what may
make most for Gods glory and the peace and good of His church.
E. There were occasional days given wholly over to prayer and fasting. Some of the divines
would pray aloud and extemporaneously for as much as 2 hours. Several of the members would
comment that these times were the highest points of their spiritual lives so far as communion
with God is concerned. Incidently, none of the members were ejected for heresy, though one
was ejected because contrary to the binding agreement of attendance he divulged the
proceedings to someone not there.

3. The Leading Westminster Divines.


A. This was one of the most august bodies of theologians in the history of the Church.
Rutherford, Gillespie, Henderson and Bail lie were the cream of the Scottish churchmen of the
century. Rutherford in particular had a powerful influence at Westminster, and as a team the
Scottish delegation had more influence than any other single group of like size.
B. William Twisse (1575-1646) was the Prolocutor, or moderator of the Assembly. Originally an
Anglican, then Presbyterian, he took an important role in the proceedings, but was by no means
the leader, like Gomarus at Dort orAthana5ius at Nicea. Twisse was of German ancestry and
was by all accounts one of the most respected minds in England. He was also the leading
advocate of Supralapsarianism, a minority reformed view that took its definitive expression in
Twisses The Riches of Gods Love Unto the Vessels of Mercy. He died a little over halfway
through the Assembly, and two other divines alternated as Prolocutor.
C. Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680) was another Supralapsarian divine at Westminster. He was
also the leading member of the Independent delegation. Like the Scots, it was only a handful
but had influence beyond its proportions. Even though they were overruled in advocating
Independency, they helped modify the Westminster statements so that the middle course of
Presbyterianism was endorsed rather than something midway between Anglicanism and
Presbyterianism.
D. John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was among the three or four most influential divines. He was
also the most influential of the Erastians (who were basically Anglican but said that the civil
government had authority over the churches, with bishops only in limited ecclesiastical
authority). Lightfoot, who should not be confused with the 19th-century Cambridge Bible scholar
J.B. Lightfoot, reportedly attended every session of the Assembly. Lightfoot was also the
greatest Hebraist of the century, and he often discussed a theological point by referring to the
manners and customs of the ancient Jews.
E. Other important divines include John Arrowsmith, Thomas Gataker, William Gouge, Anthony
Burgess, Jeremiah Burroughes and Edward Reynolds. Also, a number of notable Puritan
theologians were not present at Westminster, either because they were of the same district as
others or because they were otherwise too involved in other matters (such as education at
Oxford or Cambridge). They include John Owen, Richard Baxter, Thomas Watson, Thomas
Brooks, Stephen Charnock, and Thomas Manton (who served briefly as a scribe at

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Westminster).There were no Baptists, either.

4. Major Theological Issues.


A. There were no Arminians at Westminster, but some of the divines were higher in their
Calvinism than others. Yet the official standards that were issued are noticeably irenic on their
statements on issues that divided Calvinists, such as Supralapsarianism and limited atonement.
This may well have been because there were so many of each party present.
B. This was not quite the same when it came to church government. For example, about of
the divines were Infralapsarian, Supralapsarian. About2/3 were for limited atonement, 1/3 for
either universal atonement or a dual approach. The standards are not strong on these. Yet,
about were Presbyterian, the other being Anglican and Independent- yet the standards are
quite explicitly Presbyterian.
C. The Confession and Catechisms taught the predominant view of Presbyterianism. It avoided
Erastianism and Anglicanism on the one hand and Independency on the other. It avoided
complete separation of church and state on the one hand, and a strict theocracy on the other. It
posited 2 related kingdoms: church and state, with separate but related dominions. The Church
of England was no longer to be the official state church; Presbyterianism was to be encouraged.
D. The place of the Law was another issue, as seen in the lengthy expositions of the 10
Commandments in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Calvinistic Antinomianism was at its
height in those years, and the Assembly specifically rejected it. Still, the Assembly did not deny
toleration to the host of independent churches and cults that arose in the days of the
Commonwealth.

5. The Westminster Documents and Related Documents.


A. The Solemn League and Covenant (1643) was based on the Scottish National Covenant.
Written by Alexander Henderson, this covenant was a joint effort between the General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the English Parliament. It is often thought that
Parliament signed it in order to gain Scotland as an ally in the Civil War against Charles I. More
a religious alliance than an international treaty, it agreed that Presbyterianism would be officially
endorsed as the true religion of both countries. When the Westminster Assembly was called on
to swear the Covenant, the Independents began to decline in influence and the proceedings
became emphatically Presbyterian.
B. The Sum of Saving Knowledge was written by David Dickson of Scotland and was basically
a Scottish document based on the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. Thus, it had more
effect in Scotland than in England. It is a relatively short summary of the basics of Christian faith
and shorter than the Confession. It teaches the 3 Biblical covenants (Redemption between
Father and Son, Works between God and Adam, and Grace between God and Adam and the
elect in history).The lengthiest section is called The Practical Use of Saving Knowledge and
applies the preceding to the area of evangelism and assurance. It gives 5 Evidences of True
Faith, and also 4 Warrants to Believe (i.e., why sinners should believe the Gospel):
(1) Gods hearty invitation.
(2) The earnest request that God maketh to us to be reconciled to Him in Christ.

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(3) The strait and awful command of God, charging all the hearers of the Gospel to
approach to Christ in the order set down by Him, and to believe in Him.
(4) Much assurance of life given, in case men shall obey the command of believing, and
a fearful certification of destruction in case they obey not.
C. The Presbyterian Form of Church Government (1645) was based on the Solemn Leagueand
Covenant and provides the constitution for church government. It covers the following: the
Church, officers, pastors, teachers, other offices, deacons, particular congregations,
presbyteries, synods, examination and ordination, etc.
D. The Directory for the Public Worship of God (1645) was the closest to a prayer book within
true Presbyterianism. The Assembly produced this to replace the Anglican Book of Common
Prayer, and it was officially accepted by both the English Parliament and the Church of
Scotland. But it was not forced on the Anglicans and Independents. It covers: the Assembly of
the Congregation, public reading of Scripture, public prayer before and after the sermon,
preaching of the Word, the sacraments, the Lords Day, marriages, funerals, visitation of the
sick, fasting, public days of thanksgiving, the singing of psalms, and whether holy-days are
permitted.
E. The Directory for Family Worship (1647) was a devotional manual for use in private family
devotions rather than public congregational worship. It was produced by the Church of Scotland,
but received unofficial endorsement by many at Westminster.
E. The Westminster Annotations (1651) was an unofficial Bible commentary by many of the
Westminster divines. It was mainly the work of Ley, Gouge, Gatakerand Featley, though the
authors are not named as such. It serves as both a useful commentary from the Puritan
perspective and explication of the texts marshaled by the Westminster Assembly for support in
the Confession and Catechism.
F. The Metrical Psalter of Rouse was endorsed for use in the Presbyterian churches, there
have been many such Psalters, for historic Presbyterians have tended to sing psalms rather
than hymns. These psalters are paraphrases of the 150 Psalms in meter and rhyme. Some
Psalters also paraphrase other portions of Scripture for singing. The most famous is that of the
23rd Psalm:
The Lords my shepherd, Ill not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green, He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul he doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
Even for his own names sake.
Yea, though I walk in deaths dark vale,
Yet will I fear none ill;
For thou art with me; and thy rod
And staff me comfort still.
My table thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes.
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life

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Shall surely follow me;


And in Gods house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.
G. The National Covenant brings a lump to the throat of every Scot, but the metrical23rd Psalm
brings tears. Yet there are three other documents, which took precedence over all of the above:
The Westminster Confession and its 2 Catechisms.

6. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646).


A. The Assembly was originally directed by Parliament simply to revise the Thirty-Nine Articles
so that Romanizing interpretations would be nullified. But after the Solemn League and
Covenant was passed, the Scottish commissioners successfully lobbied to have a completely
new confession of faith drawn up on definite Calvinistic and Presbyterian lines.
B. Most previous Reformed confessions and catechisms were the work of only one or two men.
The Canons of Dort were a notable exception. But like a Bible translation, the best confessions
are the product of committees to ensure ...balance and eliminate personal bias. The
Westminster Confession was written by a committee of 25, of whom Gouge, Gataker, Tuckney,
Goodwin and the Scots were most influential. The Confession is to a large extent based on the
Irish Articles (1615) by James Lfssher.
C. After submitting it to Parliament, the Assembly was handed it back with the stipulation that
Scripture proofs be added. Then it was approved by Parliament, the unanimous Assembly, and
ratified by the Church of Scotland. It contains33 chapters of various lengths. Among its most
important or distinctive:
(1) Chapter 1 - Scripture. The Confession has one of the best sections on Scripture of
any confession of faith ever written. Among other things, it emphasizes the place of the
Internal Testimony of the Spirit in the Bibles inspiration, authentication to readers, the
assurance of faith, and assistance in interpretation. Paragraph 6 is another important
section:
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, mans
salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and
necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time
is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
(2) Chapter 3 - Of Gods Eternal Decree. The Confession teaches both election and
reprobation, but does not comment on the order of the decrees (though it tends more to
Infralapsarianism). Paragraph 8 warns that these high doctrines are to be handled with
special care. Paragraph 1 contains what many consider to be the best summary of
Calvinism ever written:
God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and
unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the
author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or
contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
(3) Chapter 7 - Gods Covenant with Man. This chapter is the most explicit statement of
Covenant Theology ever embodied in a major Reformed Confession. It teaches that God
made a conditional covenant with Adam and his posterity(the Covenant of Works); after

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it was broken, God than made the Covenant of Grace with him and for his elect
posterity, which is gradually revealed in history and culminates in the New Covenant.
(4) Chapter 8 - Christ the Mediator and Redeemer. This is one of the earliest
confessions to specify the threefold offices of Christ (prophet, priest and king). Also, it
does not directly teach limited atonement, though the more limited view of the extent of
redemption may be deduced from para. 8.
(5) Chapter 19 - The Law. The Law was first given as a Covenant of Works to Adam,
then re-issued after the Fall and at Sinai in the 10 Commandments. It has 3 parts: the
Ceremonial Law only for Israel, now abolished; the Civil Law, basically only for Israel,
but its general equity applicable to all societies; and the Moral Law, which continues to
restrain sin and instruct in godliness.
Chapter 21 - The Sabbath. This chapter sums up the predominating Puritan doctrine,
namely, that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath and a continuing part of the 10
Commandments. This was enforced in the English Commonwealth.
Chapter 23 - The Civil Magistrate. God has ordained civil rulers, and Christians may
themselves become such rulers. But the civil magistrate may not execute the offices
reserved only for the Church, such as Word and sacrament or church discipline. Still, he
should promote civil righteousness by civil law.
(8) Chapter 25 - The Church. The Confession explicitly teaches the division of visible
and invisible Church. Moreover, the Papacy is the Antichrist.
(9) Chapters 27-29 - The Sacraments. The Confession teaches infant baptism. However,
it does not teach baptismal regeneration. Churchmen have debated for centuries
whether the 39 Articles taught baptismal regeneration. This is important to note for
Baptists. The Confession is not opening the door to baptismal regeneration, but closing
it. But from the perspective of those who hold to Believers Baptism, it does not actually
shut the door. Still, historic Presbyterians holding to the Confession have not taught
baptismal regeneration, and Baptists should bear that in mind.

7. The Westminster Catechisms (1647).


A. The Catechisms were mainly the work of Antony Tuckney and John Arrowsmith, assisted by
a committee. The Shorter Catechism has 107 questions and answers, the Larger Catechism
has 196. However, the Larger Catechisms answers are much longer and detailed; as such, it is
one of the longest and best catechisms of Reformed theology.
B. Both cover the 10 Commandments, the Lords Prayer and important heads of doctrine. They
are less personal than the Heidelberg Catechism, but are masterpieces of theological precision.
Also, all of the answers embody the question in the answer, making for a useful memory device.
They are eminently quotable. The Larger Catechism in particular, in its lengthy exposition of the
10 Commandments, employs the positive-negative principle, viz: That as, where a duty is
commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is
commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where
a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included. (A.99, sect. 4)
C. The Shorter Catechism is more well known. It is an indictment against the shallowness of
modern religious instruction that it appears so weighty. This catechism was an abridgement of
the Larger Catechism for use with children, but it is above the heads of most adult Christians

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today. Among the more notable questions and answers are the following:
(1) #1. What is the chief end of man? Mans chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him
forever.
This is one of the most famous and oft-quoted theological statements ever written.
Glorifying God is the Reformation principle Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory),
and is the special emphasis of Calvinism. In his recent book, Desiring God: Meditations
of a Christian Hedonist, the Reformed writer John Piper has expounded what it means to
enjoy God.
(2) #4. What is God? God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being,
wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
This is one of the best and concisest definitions of God ever composed. The story goes
that it was written following an extemporaneous prayer by one of the divines, who used
virtually these very words. Notice that it mentions the three incommunicable attributes
and applies each of them to the seven communicable attributes. Thus, God is all 3 in
each 7. So, God is infinite in His power, eternal in His truth, and so forth. Goodness
includes the love, mercy and grace of God.
(3) #14. What is sin? Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the Law of
God.
This is another famous definition, remarkable for its conciseness. It defines sin in terms
of its object - the Law of God. Notice that it includes both positive and negative
infractions.
(4) #33. What is justification? Justification is an act of Gods free grace, wherein he
pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the
righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. This teaches both
Sola gratia (only by grace) and Sola fide (only by faith). It also teaches the positive
and negative aspect of justification: negatively, our sins are forgiven; positively, the
righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. Reformed theology teaches that these are both
essential and inseparable.

8. The Aftermath.
A. The Westminster Assembly was never formally dissolved or dismissed. Rather,
it continued in a lesser manner in the form of a committee for the examination of prospective
ministers. It used the Confession and Catechisms in particular for this purpose. But though
these and the other documents were emphatically Presbyterian, Presbyterianism never caught
on in the English Commonwealth as expected. One of the main reasons was the rise of
Cromwell, who was an Independent.
B. In 1658, the Independents met and revised the Confession to suit their polity of Independent
government. This Savoy Declaration is virtually word-for-word the same and has continued as
the main doctrinal standard of historic Congregationalists in England and America. John Owen
and Thomas Goodwin were the leaders of the 200 Independents who gathered to approve this
revision.
C.
After the Restoration (1660), the Scottish Covenanters were severely persecuted for
their allegiance to the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant. They were

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hunted and hounded, imprisoned and often martyred. Eventually, William III restored
Presbyterianism as the state religion of Scotland in 1690.
D.
The Restoration drove Presbyterianism and Independency underground for a number of
years. These English Dissenters were also severely persecuted. After the Act of Toleration
(1688), they were allowed a measure of religious freedom. The Baptists took special advantage
of this. Under the leadership of Benjamin Keach, they revised the Westminster Confession
slightly in the areas of church government and sacraments. This Baptist Confession of 1689
(sometimes called The Baptist Westminster) became the most important Baptist confession of
faith. There was also a slight revision of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
E.
Over the centuries, the Confession and Catechisms have undergone other slight
revisions. Some of these revisions were to suit American practicalities. One of them was aimed
at furthering the ecumenical movement - it deleted the section in the Confession that taught that
the Papacy is the Antichrist. Unfortunately, for most Presbyterian denominations, the
Confession and Catechisms remain only as interesting historical documents with no binding
authority. Worse than that, they often serve no more purpose to liberal Presbyterian seminaries
than as examples of what not to believe. They are held up to regular ridicule by those who claim
to be Reformed.
But the revival of interest in Calvinism among Christians of various denominations has brought
with it the desire to read, study and admire these amazing documents. May God use them to
teach us more of the Word of God. And may we be as godly as the men who wrote them.

Recommended Bibliography
The Confession of Faith; The Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the Scripture Proofs at
Large. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications. Distributed in America by Banner of Truth.
(The best available edition of the Confession, Catechisms, and most of the documents listed
above. No study of Calvinism is complete without it.)
Paul, Robert S. The Assembly of the Lord. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark. (The fullest recent
treatment of the Westminster Assembly.)
Reid, James. Memoirs of the Westminster Divines. 2 vols. in 1. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
(Lengthy, edifying biographies of the Westminster divines.)
Shaw, Robert. An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith. C/0 Banner of Truth.
Williamson, G.I. The Westminster Confession of Faith: A Study Guide. Phillipsburg:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.
Williamson, G.I. The Shorter Catechism: A Study Manual. 2 vols. Presbyterian and Reformed.
Hodge, A.A. The Confession of Faith. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Warfield, Benjamin B. The Westminster Assembly and Its Work. Vol. VI of The Works of
Benjamin B. Warfield. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Watson, Thomas. A Body of Divinity. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (An excellent Puritan systematic
theology based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.)
Shedd, W.G.T. Calvinism Pure and Mixed. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (Defends the Confession
and Catechisms against the calls by liberals for revision.)
Heron, Alisdair I. C, ed. The Westminster Confession in the Church Today. Edinburgh: St.

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Andrews Press. (Essays for and against revision of the Confession by theologians . in the
Church of Scotland.)
Schaff, Philip. Creeds of Christendom. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (This / set
includes translations of all the major creeds and confessions. Vol. 1, pp. 701-816 has a most
useful history of the Assembly and survey of the Confession and other documents. Vol. 3
contains the Confession and Shorter Catechism.)
Clark, Gordon. What Presbyterians Believe. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. (An
exposition of the Westminster Confession.)

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Chapter 9. Covenant Theology.


1. Introduction.
A. Covenant Theology is a subset of historic Calvinism. All Covenant Theologians are
Calvinists, but not all Calvinists are Covenant Theologians. The system developed within
Calvinism in its most crucial stages (the 16th and 17thcenturies). Hence, it is meet that we
discuss it in our series on Calvinism.
B. We will limit the discussion to Calvinism. In a broad sense, all Christian theologies are
covenantal in that all say something about covenants. Yet in the technical sense of the term,
Covenant Theology-is Calvinistic. The term Federal ism or Federal Theology is synonymous
with Covenant Theology. Both terms come from the Latin word foedus, or covenant.
C. The system goes back in seed-form to the origins of Reformed theology. But it began to
blossom as a rival or modification of the somewhat scholastic High Calvinism of Theodore Beza.
Other strands of Calvinism modified it even further.
D. Federalism attempted to explain Gods progressive plan in history, specifically regarding
salvation. It was less interested in the fine points of the order of the eternal decrees on the one
hand and the order of salvation in the life of the believer. Yet it commented on these in the
course of the system.

2. 16th Century Origins.


A. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) laid the foundation for Federal Theology, He was the first
Reformer to use the idea of the Covenant to refute the Anabaptists on the question of infant
baptism. His argument: Christian parents baptize their children because they are heirs of the
Covenant. Zwingli taught that God made a covenant . with Adam, but he does not specify
whether this was before or after the Fall (probably the latter). This covenant was then developed
in history.
B. Heinrich BuHinger (1504-1575) built on this foundation in his Of the One and Eternal
Testament or Covenant of God (1534). He polished the doctrine that the covenants of Scripture
are all organically related, especially related to Christ. Thus, the New Covenant was new in the
sense of being the fulfillment of all the others. The idea of covenants was closer to the center of
Bullingers theology than it was in the theologies of Zwingli or Calvin.
C. John Calvin (1509-1564) also taught an organic unity of the covenants. He compared them
to the stages in the day: the first glimmers of light were revealed to Adam, more to Abraham, full
light of the sun through Christ. Calvin also discussed the differences between these stages of
the one Covenant of Grace. Still, scholars debate whether Calvin should be considered
Federalist.
D. Caspar Olevianus (1536-1587), Heidelberg theologian and co-author with Ursinus of the
Heidelberg Catechism, made the next major step in the development. Not only did he teach the
one Covenant of Grace gradually revealed, but he stressed that it was made between God and
Christ. It is made with the elect by Christ being their representative, or Federal Head. It is
entirely of grace to us, for even the condition of faith is a gift of Gods grace. Olevianus was also
the first to posit 2 other important covenants: the eternal inter-Trinitarian Covenant of

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Redemption and the pre-Fall Covenant of Works with Adam. These 3covenants form the basic
foundation for Covenant Theology. Olevianus views were summed up in his Concerning the
Nature of the Covenant of Grace Between God and the Elect (1585).
E. Robert Rollock (1555-1598) of Edinburgh developed the system further in his Questions and
Answers Respecting the Covenant of God (1596). He taught that all that God does or says to
Man is by way of covenant. Rollock honed down the finer points of the Covenant of Works with
Adam before the Fall. He taught that the conditions of that Covenant was complete obedience
to the Moral Law of God summed up in the Ten Commandments, revealed to Adam implicitly on
his heart. This covenant is developed in later forms in history, such as at Mt. Sinai, when its
conditions are made most explicit. Rollock also developed the relationship between the
covenants and the sacraments.

3. 17th Century Covenant Theology.


A. Cambridge Calvinism was originally more Bezan than Federal, but the two began to merge.
Perkins was more Covenantal than Beza, and then Ames was even more so. Ames paralleled
Federalism on the continent in teaching the stages of the Covenant of Grace: from Adam to
Abraham to Moses to Christ. Ames would have a big influence in New England Federalism.
John Preston discussed the covenants mainly in the Experimental ism of Cambridge Calvinism
in his The New Covenant, or The Saints Portion (1629). In his very influential Treatise on the
Covenant of Grace (1645J John Ball completed the merger of Bezan-Perkins High Calvinism
and Covenant Theology.
B. Back on the Continent, other modifications were being made. Francis Gomarusspoke of the
2 main covenants: the Covenant of Works is natural, the Covenant of Grace is supernatural.
Francis Turretine developed a French version of Federalism to counter the teachings of
Amyraut.
C. James Ussher taught a lower form of the system, but his incorporation of it in the Irish
Articles (1615) and his Body of Divinity greatly influenced the Westminster Assembly.
Consequently, the Westminster Confession and Catechisms were quite explicitly Federalist and
became the first major Reformed confessions to teach Covenant Theology. The related Sum of
Saving Knowledge (1650) was even more explicit and detailed. The last major modification of
Federalism came through the so-called Calvinistic Antinomians. They denied that there are any
conditions to the Covenant of Grace. Faith is a gift and a blessing, therefore not a condition.
Mainstream Federalists strongly disagreed, though they agreed that faith is a condition, which
God meets through us in grace. Moreover, these Antinomians stressed that the Covenant of
Grace was one and the same with the eternal Covenant of Redemption, an equation others
were slow to make.

4. Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669).


A. Johann Koch, Latinized as Johannes Cocceius, is credited with fine-tuning Covenant
Theology to its definitive shape. He is wrongly named by some as the father of Federalism.
Cocceius was born in Bremen, Germany, but studied under and succeeded liliiam Ames at the
University of Franeker, Holland. He also taught at Leyden, where the Arminian controversy
reached fever pitch a generation earlier.
B. Cocceius specialized in Hebrew, rabbinics, philology and typology. He was an extremely

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prolific writer. Now Cocceius was more interested in developing a Biblical rather than a
systematic theology, and was disgruntled with the predominant Bezan scholasticism he found
in his day. He wished to modify this High Calvinism and saw in Covenant Theology the answer.
His major work on the subject was entitled Doctrine of the Covenant and Testaments of God
(1648).
C. Cocceiuss Federalism became the standard form from then on, except in one muchdebated point. He taught that in the former administrations of the Covenant of Grace, sins were
covered but not forgiven, as they are now. Except for this point, most of what is said below is
an exposition of Cocceian Federalism.

5. Herman Witsius (1636-1708).


A. In Witsiuss The Economy of the Covenants (1677), Covenant Theology reached its high
water mark. He did not substantially change what Cocceius wrote, but he was more systematic.
In fact, the Economy was something of a full systematic theology revolving around the
covenants. Thus, it represents the final harmony between Bezan scholastic High Calvinism and
Federalism.
B. Witsius was Dutch and thus schooled in Cocceian Federalism. However, he had more
influence in Britain and America for one reason: the Economy was translated from Latin into
English, whereas Cocceiuss Doctrine was not. Granted, all the scholars read Latin, but they
preferred English. So did the lay theologians. Moreover, the Economy was reprinted several
times over the next few centuries. It is currently very scarce, but a small American publisher has
announced plans to reprint it.

6. Later Federalists.
A. In America, Federalism took immediate root through John Cotton and Peter Bulkeley. In the
18th century, Jonathan Edwards was basically Covenantal, but made some important
modifications which influenced New England Theology to gradually become increasingly less
Federalists. In the 19th century, Charles Hodges Systematic Theology was explictly Covenantal
according to Westminster andTurretine, and its influence was unmatched. More recently, Louis
Berkhofs Systematic Theology, textbook to thousands of seminarians, has also been very
influential in keeping the Federalist flame burning in America.
B. After the Acts of Toleration (1688), English Particular Baptists became more and more
Federalist, in spite of their differences with mainstream Federalists over baptism. Curiously, this
represented the full circle of the first roots of Covenant Theology - Zwinglis argument against
the Anabaptists. Also, the Hyper-Calvinists were almost all extremely Federalist after the order
of the Antinomians. John Gills massive Body of Divinity is the definitive expression of HyperCalvinist Covenant Theology. In the 20th century, A.W. Pinks The Divine Covenants represents
the most recent lengthy treatment of ^he subject from this perspective.

7. Definition of Covenant.
A. The Hebrew word for covenant is BERITH, a cutting. This is almost always translated in the
Greek Septuagint by the word DIATHEKE, which is used often in the Greek N.T. Some scholars

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differentiate DIATHEKE and SUNTHEKE, saying that the former is unilateral and the latter is
bilateral. Others say the 2 are basically synonyms, and whether they are unilateral bilateral
depends on use and context.
B. In the literature on the subject these words are translated by 3 main Latin words: FOEDUS
(hence, federal), PACTUM (hence, pact) and TESTAMENTUM(hence, testament). The last
two are clearly somewhat different, but scholars differ as to whether FOEDUS is more a
testament or a pact. Federalists usually say that the ideas of BERITH, DIATHEKE and FOEDUS
are basically that of a contract or pact. Only in a lesser sense is it a TESTAMENTUM, or last
will.
C. Thus, a covenant is a contract between two parties. One stipulates certain conditions, with
promises attached, and the other restipulates in agreement. Thus, it is basically conditional.
When it takes the form of a testament, it is basically unconditional. When it is conditional, it is
bilateral, when unconditional, it is unilateral. This is the basic pattern, though there are slight
variations within the outworking of these terms in Federal Theology.

8. The Covenant of Redemption.


A. This first of the 3 major covenants is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, but its essential
element* are here and there, especially in certain Messianic Psalms (e.g., 2:7-9, 40:7-9, 89:3.
Cf. Heb. 10:5-7.). God the Father stipulated certain conditions. He gave the Son a work to do
(John 5:36). Christ is the surety, or the one who fulfils this Covenant (Heb. 7:22). For Christ, it
was something of a Covenant of Works - not for salvation, but for added glory. He was also
made the Federal Head of those whom God had elected.
B. The Covenant of Redemption took place, then, in eternity and is the plan by which election
would be effected. God would give certain persons - the elect -to Christ (John 6:39, 17:2, 4, 6, 9,
24), He agreed to the plan. He would become their representative head, become a man, live a
perfect life, die for them and rise again. In return, the Father would highly exalt the Son (Phil.
2:9-11).The Holy Spirit was also in the Covenant as witness and the one who would apply the
work of the Son to the elect in time.
C. Writes Louis Berkhof: The covenant of redemption may be defined as the agreement
between the Father, giving the Son as Head and Redeemer of the elect, and the Son,
voluntarily taking the place of those whom the Father had given Him.
D. The earliest Calvinists and many later ones did not teach that there was such a Covenant of
Redemption as such. Instead, they said that election was by mere sovereign grace, not an
inter-Trinitarian covenant. However, even they admitted that the Son came and did the will of
the Father for the elect, for which He is highly exalted and the elect redeemed.

9. The Covenant of Works.


A. This is the first covenant. in time. It has been variously termed the Edenic Covenant, the
Covenant of Nature, the Covenant of Life* the Covenant of Creation, etc. Except for one text, it
is not specifically called a covenant in Scripture, but Federalists contend that we can see in
Scripture all the essential elements of a covenant regarding Adam in Eden.
B. The one disputed text is Hosea 6:7, They, like, Adam, have transgressed the covenant.
Non-Federalists contend this should read like men (though it is singular) or at Adam (though

85

the word is a comparison not a location, and no such place as Adam has been located or
mentioned anywhere else).
C. Federalists also a use that Rom. 5 and I Cor. 15 require Adam to be a covenant head just as
Christ was a covenant head. Christ had a covenant; Adam must have had one, else Pauls
argument breaks down. Paul insinuates that Adam did not keep his covenant obligations,
whereas Christ did. Adam was the Federal representative of all men, except for Christ (for
Christ did not have a human father). Those whom Christ represented were the elect in the
Covenant of Redemption.
D. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to
Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience
(Westminster Confession, VII:2). Most Federalists posit that Adam was placed in this covenant
for a probationary period. If he passed, the test would be over, there would be no more
temptation, and he would receive eternal life. Others said it was perpetual, not temporary,
probation.
E. Adam agreed to the covenant imposed on him. That it was imposed brings out the aspect of
Law in it. Some theologians said that there had to be a seal to this covenant; they usually say it
was the Tree of Life, which Adam never partook of because he did not keep the covenant. This
was the first sacrament.
F. Of course, Adam had to fulfill certain conditions of this covenant. Some Federalists say it
was simply obedience to the command not to eat the forbidden fruit. Others say that he was to
follow the Moral Law written on his heart by nature (Rom. 2). Others say this comprehended the
10 Commandments in an implicit though not explicit way. In any case, Adam did not obey.
G. It was a Covenant of Life in that if he had obeyed, he would live. If not, he would die (Gen.
2:16-17). Adam died spiritually at that time and physically later on. Since he was head for all his
posterity, all humans inherit this guilt and penalty. We call this Original Sin (Rom. 5:12, Psa.
51:5, etc).The earliest Calvinists, following Augustine, usually said that we receive Sin and
death because we were physically in Adam (a la Heb. 7:10). But as Federalism grew, so did a
developed doctrine of Original Sin: Immediate Imputation. The theory that we were physically in
Adam and thereby physically inherit his sin and guilt and punishment is called Realism or
Traducianism. This teaches that we receive Original Sin mediate. The Federalist doctrine goes
one step further: Adams sin is imputed to us immediately, even as Christs righteousness is
imputed to us immediately (i.e., we were not literally in Christ nor is He literally in us). Scholars
differ as to whether Calvin taught the one or the other theory. And of course Arminians and
Roman Catholics strongly reject this Federalist doctrine.
H. When Adam sinned, the Covenant was abrogated, at least in certain aspects. Some
Federalists say it continues as a broken covenant for all men. That is, all men are born
covenant-breakers deserving death and are still called on by God as Creator to fulfill the Moral
Law. In this sense, we are to preach the Law as a repetition of the Covenant of Works to remind
men of their need of a Savior.
I. Federalists differ somewhat also on the historic progression of this covenant. Some say it was
repeated at Mt. Sinai in a form for Israel. In any case, it is pure Law as a Covenant of Works,
summed up in the principle Do this and you will live, or conversely, Disobey and you will die
(cf. Luke 10:28, Rom. 10:5, Gal. 3:12, Lev. 18:5, Ezek. 18:4-9, 20:11, 13, 21, etc.). Most
Federalists say it is further summed up in the 2 love commandments (Matt. 22:34-40). All men
have this condition written on their hearts by Nature. But of course, no man except Christ has
ever kept it.

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1O. The Covenant of Grace.


A. Some Covenant Theologians equate this with the Covenant of Redemption, but the
mainstream view is that it is based on it, not equated with it. Though some Federalists do not
believe in the Covenant of Redemption in eternity, all Federalists by definition believe in the
Covenant of Grace in time.
B. Like the previous two, this covenant is more implicit than explicit in Scripture, at least in its
initial revelation. Just as Adam was head of a people, so Christ was head of a people - the new
humanity, the elect. Christ fulfilled the Covenant of Works, but also the Covenant of Redemption
and of Grace for us.
C. Thus, it is primarily a covenant between God and Christ, though He is our Head. The first
revelation of this covenant was soon after Adam sinned - Gen. 3:15.This pointed to the future
sin-bearing Messiah. By faith in that, Adam was forgiven. The slain lamb was both the first
sacrifice and the first sacrament that was partaken of.
D. Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant [Works], the Lord was
pleased to make a second, commonly called the Covenant of Grace: whereby he freely offered
unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be
saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life His Holy Spirit, to make
them willing and able to believe. (Westminster Confession, VII:3).

11. The Later Covenants.


A. Most Federalists believe that both the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace are
repeated and developed in various mixtures in the other covenants mentioned in Scripture.
Some were more gracious (such as Abrahams), others more of works (Moses). They usually do
not comment much on the Covenants with Noah and David.
B. Following Calvins analogy, Federalists believe that the Covenant of Grace has-been
repeated and administered throughout history in these later covenants. This is how Covenant
Theology explains Gods purpose in history. The Westminster Confession comments (VII:5-6):
This covenant was differently administered in the time of the Law, and in the time of the
Gospel; under the Law it was administered by promise, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the
paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all fore
signifying Christ to come, which were for that time sufficient and efficacious, through the
operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by
whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation... There are not therefore two
covenants of grace differing in substance, but one and the same under various dispensations.
C. The great promise of this Covenant of Grace variously revealed: I will be your God and you
will be my people. Faith was always the condition; it was never by works. Moreover, this faith
was a gift of God by the Spirit. And Covenant Theology is emphatic: O.T. believers came under
the Covenant of Grace by faith in the coming Messiah, specifically one who would be theirs inbearer. This was essential to their saving faith and the revelation of the Covenant of Grace in
their dispensation.
D. The Covenant of Grace received its fullest revelation when the Messiah Himself came and
died for the elect. This fulfilled all previous covenants, and therefore the others are abrogated.
The Covenant of Works continues mainly in the form of the natural state of sin and responsibility
of mankind. Lastly, Christ Himself was the object of all the covenants and prophecies. He was

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the promised seed to Adam (Gen. 3:15) and to Abraham (Gal. 3:16), the antitype and fulfillment
of the Mosaic Covenant. Thus, for Covenant Theology, the history of salvation is both
covenantal and Christocentric.

12. Further Ramifications.


A. Even from the time of Zwingli, Federalists have tied in covenants with the sacraments.
Hence, the popular argument from Covenantal Calvinists: since in the O.T^ circumcision was
the sacrament of the Covenant of Grace for believers and their children, so in the N.T. baptism
is the sacrament for believers and their children. Most Federalists have therefore been paedobaptists. However, many Calvinistic Baptists (such as John Gill) have been Federalist Baptists.
They contend that in the N.T. era of the Covenant of Grace, it is not baptism but the Holy Spirit
that is the seal of the Covenant (Eph. 1:13). Water baptism is only for those who evidence that
they are in the Covenant by faith.
B. Another issue was church membership and covenants. Originally, some said that
membership in the church covenant was only for those who could give credible evidence of
regeneration and a Biblical profession of faith. In time this was diluted to only the latter - the
Half-Way Covenant. This caused problems in the paedo-baptists churches, for they admitted
that covenant children were to receive the first sacrament (baptism) but not the second
(Communion and membership) until they evidenced regeneration in a, holy life. The debate still
continues today, for example, in those Calvinists advocating infant Communion.

13. Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.


A. One of the leading rivals of Covenant Theology within Evangelicalism is Dispensationalism.
Space does not allow a detailed discussion. An accompanying chart lists the major differences
between the mainstreams of each (and of course there are variations in both schools).
B. All Federalists have been Calvinists, but not all Dispensationalists have been Calvinists. It is
highly significant that a Dispensationalist may be either Calvinistic or Arminian. This is not
comparing apples and oranges. There are several similarities between Dispensationalism and
the Arminian alternative to Covenant Theology. Many Dispensationalists, however, contend that
their system is simply an alternative to Federalism; both may be Calvinistic. But of course, rare
is the Dispensationalist who would aver that the 16th and 17th century Calvinists were
Dispensational. Most were Federalists.
C. Historically, they are separate systems. One began in the 16th century, the other in the 19th.
Both claim to be Biblical. It is not appropriate here to comment which one is truly Biblical. But we
must say which one is Reformed. Also, the two should be seen as rivals. Almost no theologian
has suggested they are complimentary halves, and no major theologian has claimed to be a
Dispensational Federalist or a Federalist Dispensationalist. It is also significant that most
Calvinists who are not Covenantal still shy away from Dispensationalism. There has always
been suspicion in Reformed Theology that Dispensationalism is not only non-Calvinist, but nonReformational.
D. The differences are not mainly on matters of eschatology. All Dispensationalists have been
Pre-Millennial and usually (if not always) Pre-Tribulation. On the other hand, most Federalists
have been Amillenial, but some have been Post-Millennial (such as Warfield) and others have
been Pre-Millennial (such asHoratius Bonar). But even the Pre-Millennial Covenanters usually

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are not Pre-Tribulational. These areas do not touch the pith and marrow of the question.
E. Closer to the real issue is whether there is a major difference between literal Israel and the
Church. This is partly a matter of how literal ones hermeneutics are. Dispensationalism
stresses the literal and posits an essential difference between physical Israel and the Church.
Covenant Theology, of course, sees the Church as spiritual Israel. But how does this question
touch the matter of Calvinism? Dispensationalism contends that God has 2 peoples with 2
destinies, while Federalism is consistently Calvinist in going back to election and positing only 1
people of God with 1 destiny (election to salvation and glory).
F. Probably the greatest problem between Dispensationalism and both Federalism and
Calvinism concerns Gods saving purposes in the O.T. Some Dispensationalists have said that
some men were saved by works in the O.T. These may be merely unguarded statements, but to
the Federalist they are the logical conclusion of Dispensational theology. Thus, such an error
would contradict the essential Reformation doctrine of Sola Gratia - salvation is not only now
by grace alone, but has always been by grace alone.
G. More mainstream Dispensationalists have suggested that sinners in the O.T. were saved not
by works but by faith. This sounds like Sola Fide. However, on closer inspection, a deep
problem arises. Dispensationalism almost always says that the content of this O.T. saving faith
was substantially and materially different from the content of saving faith in the N.T. That is,
sinners in the O.T. were not justified by faith in the Gospel of Messiah as sin-bearer (thatis,
Christ crucified). Their faith was in promises peculiar to their individual and separate
dispensations. They may have received the occasional Messianic prophecy, but that was not
essential to their saving faith per se. Logically, then, O.T. saints were not in Christ nor part of
Christs Body or Bride.
H. Now it is precisely at this point where the problem is greatest, it seems to me. Not only
Federalists, but all the Reformers - Lutheran or Calvinist or even Anabaptist - taught something
quite different. They all taught that O.T. believers were justified by faith in the coming Messiah
as their sin-bearer. They heard the Gospel through prophecies and scarifies and types.
Therefore, the essential content of their faith was materially the same in all ages, including the
N.T. No man has ever been justified except by faith in Christ crucified. This was of the essence
of the Reformation doctrine of Sola Fide . Thus, when Dispensationalism disagrees, it is not
merely differing with Federalism but with the Reformational principle of Sola Fide. In this light, it
is most difficult to harmonize Dispensationalism and Calvinism. Moreover, Calvinism has always
held that saints in both O.T. and N.T. are all in Christ and part of the Body and Bride of Christ
because of election. To Mainstream Calvinism, Dispensationalism threatens the second point of
Calvinism..
I. Is it possible, then, to be a Dispensational Calvinist? Granted, there have been many who
have claimed to be such. But in the unanimous opinion of Federalists and most non-Federal
Calvinists, Dispensational Calvinism is something of a contradiction in terms. In other words, it
might be a form of Calvinism, but only an inconsistent or greatly modified variety.
J. Calvinistic Dispensationalists usually do not see the inconsistency. When they see the
logical conclusions of the problem, they are faced with several options. Some stay in that
modification and claim it is the most Scriptural one. That may be right. Others dispense with
their Dispensationalism and attempt to be more consistently Reformed on the points in question.
Still others jettison their Calvinism for Arminianism or something else. The controversy is not
likely to be resolved in the near future.

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Recommended Bibliography
Von Rohr, John. The Covenant of Grace in Puritan Thought. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Murray,
John. The Covenant of Grace. Phi 111psburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. Hendrikson,
William. The Covenant of Grace. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Neilands, David. Studies in the Covenant of Grace. Phi Hipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.
Stoever, William. A Faire and Easie Hay to Heaven: Covenant Theology and Antinomianism . in
Early Massachusetts. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.
Robertson, 0. Palmer. The Christ of the Covenants. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Fuller, Daniel P. Gospel and Law: Contrast or Continuum? The Hermeneutics of
Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Belcher, Richard. A Comparison of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. Columbia:
Richbarry Press.
Gerstner, John. A Primer on Dispensationalism. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. Chafer,
Louis Sperry. Systematic Theology. 2 vols. Wheaton: Victor Books. All is, Oswald. T. Prophecy
and the Church. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. Campbell, Roderick. Israel and the New
Covenant. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. Robertson, 0. Palmer. Covenants: Gods
Way. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
The following sections in standard Federalist systematic theologies: Heinrich Heppe, Reformed
Dogmatics, pp. 281-447, 581-589 (contains many large excerpts of previously untranslated
discussions from early continental Federalists); Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 211218, 262-301; John Gill, A Body of Divinity, pp. 214-250, 345-377 (the standard discussion of
Baptist Federalism).

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Dispensationalism And Covenant Theology


The following are the major differences between these two systems of theology. They represent
the mainstreams of both systems, though there are variations in each. Representative
systematic theologies are those of L.S. Chafer and Charles Hodge.
Dispensationalism

Covenant Theology

1. May be Arminian or modified Calvinist.


Almost never 5-point Calvinist.

1. Always Calvinist. Usually 5-point.

2. Stresses literal Interpretation of the Bible.

2. Accepts both literal and figurative


interpretation of the Bible.

3. Usually does not accept the idea of the


Analogy of Faith

3. Almost always accepts the idea of the


Analogy of Faith.

4. . Israel always means only the literal,


physical descendants of Jacob

4. Israel may mean either literal, physical


descendants of Jacob or the figurative,
spiritual Israel, depending on context.

5. . Israel of God in Gal. 6:16 means physical


Israel alone.

5. Israel of God in Gal. 6:16 means spiritual


Israel, parallel to Gal.3: 29, Rpm. 2:28-29,
9:6, Phil. 3:3.

6. God has 2 peoples with 2 separate destinies:


Israel (earthly) and the Church (heavenly).

6. God has always had only 1 people, the.


Church gradually developed.

7. The Church was born at Pentecost.

7. The Church began in the O.T. (Acts7:38)


and reached fulfillment in the N.T.

8. The Church was not prophesied as such in


the O.T. but was a hidden mystery until the N.T.

8. There are many O.T. prophecies of the


N.T. Church.

9. All O.T. prophecies for Israel are for literal


Israel, not the Church

9. Some O.T. prophecies are for literal Israel,


others are for spiritual Israel.

10. . Gods main purpose in history is literal


Israel.

10. Gods main purpose in history is Christ


and secondarily the Church.

11. The Church is a parenthesis in Gods


program for the ages.

11. The Church is the culmination of Gods


saving purpose for the ages.

12. The main heir to Abrahams covenant was


Isaac and literal Israel.

12. The main heir to Abrahams covenant


was Christ and spiritual Israel.

13. There was no eternal Covenant of


Redemption within the Trinity.

13. The eternal Covenant of Redemption was


within the Trinity to effect election.

14. There was no Covenant of Works with


Adam in the Garden of Eden.

14. God made a conditional Covenant of


Works with Adam as representative for all his
posterity.

15. There was no Covenant of Grace


concerning Adam.

15. God made a Covenant of Grace with


Christ and His people, including Adam.

16. Israel was rash to accept the Covenant at

16. Israel was right to accept the Covenant at

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Mt. Sinai.

Mt. Sinai.

17. The New Covenant of Jer. 31:31-34 is only


for literal Israel and is not the New Covenant of
Lk.22:20.

17. The New Covenant of Jer. 31 is the


same as in Lk. 22; both are for spiritual Israel
according to Heb. 8.

18. Gods program in history is mainly through


separate dispensations.

18. Gods program in history is mainly


through related covenants.

19. Some Dispensationalists have said that O.T. 19. No man has ever been saved by works,
sinners were saved by works.
but only by grace.
20. Most Dispensationalists teach that men in
the O.T. were saved by faith in a revelation
peculiar to their Dispensation, but this did not
include faith in the Messiah as their sin-bearer.

20. All men who have ever been saved have


been saved by faith in Christ as their sinbearer, which has been progressively
revealed in every age.

21. The O.T. sacrifices were not recognized as


the Gospel or types of the Messiah as sinbearer, but only seen as such in retrospect.

21. O.T. believers believed in the Gospel of


Messiah as sin-bearer mainly by the
sacrifices as types and prophecies.

22. The Holy Spirit indwells only believers in the


Dispensation of Grace, not O.T. and not after
the Rapture.

22. The Holy Spirit has indwelt believers in all


ages, especially in the present N.T. era, and
will not be withdrawn.

23. Jesus made an offer of the literal Kingdom


to Israel; since Israel rejected it, it is postponed.

23. Jesus made only an offer of the spiritual


Kingdom, which was rejected by literal Israel
but has gradually been accepted by spiritual
Israel.

24. O.T. believers were not in Christ, nor part of


the Body of Bride of Christ.

24. Believers in all ages are all in Christ and


part of the Body and Bride of Christ.

25. The Law has been abolished.

25. The Law has 3 uses: to restrain sin in


society, to lead to Christ, and to instruct
Christians in godliness. The ceremonial laws
have been abolished; the civil laws have
been abolished except for their general
equity; the moral laws continue.

26. O.T. Laws are no longer in effect unless


repeated in the N.T.

26. O.T. laws are still in effect unless


abrogated in the N.T.

27. The Millennium is the Kingdom of God


Dispensationalists are always Pre-Millennial
and usually Pre-Tribulational.

27. The Church is the Kingdom of God.


Covenanters are usually Amillenial,
sometimes Pre-Millennial or Post-Millennial,
rarely Pre-Tribulational.

28. The O.T. animal sacrifices will be restored in 28. The O.T. sacrifices were fulfilled and
the Millennium.
forever abolished in Christ.
29. The Millennium will fulfill the Covenant to
Abraham. Israel has a future.

29. Christ fulfilled the Covenant to Abraham.


Some Covenanters believe in a future for
literal Israel, most dont.

30. David will sit on the Millennial throne in


Jerusalem.

30. Christ alone sits on the throne. Saints


rule under Him.

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Chapter 10. High Calvinism.


1. What is High Calvinism?
A. The first generation of Reformed theologians were in basic agreement on the issues of
Calvinism. These included Calvin, Bucer, Bullinger, Vermigli and others. Most of these men died
within a few years of each other, and the leadership fell to their younger assistants.
B. This Second Generation Calvinism began to expand on the doctrines of their
predecessors. Scholars are divided whether they legitimately built on the foundation or not. In
the areas where some of the Second Generation Calvinists went where their predecessors had
not and would not go, variations took place. Scholars often refer to the 2 main variations as
High and Low* Calvinism.
C. The variations were on a variety of subjects, but they generally revolved around the
questions of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The first Calvinists rediscovered this
balance, which had been lost for many years. Medieval theology was basically Semi-Pelagian
and therefore laid greater stress on human responsibility. Calvinism simply reset the proper
balance. But then the later Calvinists argued among themselves over the balance.
D. Basically the situation was this: the High Calvinists tended to over-emphasize divine
sovereignty and the Low Calvinists tended to over-emphasize human responsibility. But this
needs further clarification. For example, none of the Lows taught a view of human
responsibility as low as the Arminians or even the Lutherans.
E. Similarly, the differences between these two tendencies were minor when compared with
their mutual agreement on doctrines where they disagreed with Romanism, Socinianism,
Arminianism and Lutheranism. These were in-house debates. They were the ebbs and flows
and tides in the River of Calvinism.
F. High Calvinism was different from Low Calvinism, however, in one important aspect: it
went in a direction where no man had gone before. The Lows tended to move in the direction of
Lutheranism, and so this was territory between two existing theologies. But the Highs went into
brand new territory, for no theologian had so stressed divine sovereignty as to weaken human
responsibility.
G. One other point merits mention. The proper balance of sovereignty and responsibility is not
that Calvinism has the right view of sovereignty and Arminianism has the right view of human
responsibility. Even the lowest of the lows did not suggest that. However, many of the Highs
thought that the Lows were semi-Arminian. Epithets of Pseudo-Calvinist! were hurled. The
debates were primarily theological; but theologians being human, personality conflicts often
entered the arena.
H. In a related way, this typifies all controversies. The Highs came first. The Lows arose as a
reaction against them, calling for a return to the original balance. Then the Highs reacted
against the Lows and some of them went even higher. And naturally some of the Lows reacted
against that and went even lower. It became a chain of over-reactions. Many of the following
chapters show how these later reactions went far beyond not only the original Calvinists, but
even the original Highs and Lows.
I. This analysis is important to the correct understanding of the development of Reformed
theology. We have often pointed out that though there is a common unifying thread among all
Calvinists, there are many varieties and sub-varieties. These did not all arise at once. Most

93

arose as reactions and counter-reactions and over-reactions against previous varieties. The
major ones can be charted like this:
Hyper-Calvinism
Calvinistic Antinotnianism

High Calvinism

Supralapsarianism
Strict 5-Point Calvinism
Moderate Calvinism

Mainstream Calvinism

Amyraldism
Neonomianism

Low Calvinism

4-Point Calvinism
Late New England Calvinism

J. The question that was often asked in determining in which direction one was moving was
this: Which is more important to maintain, the sovereignty of God or the responsibility of Man?
This was related to other questions: Which is more important, the secret will of God or the
revealed will of God? Which is the more fundamental attribute of God, sovereignty or holiness
[or love]? All Calvinists today should ask themselves these questions.
K. They are trick questions. In a way, they are unfair. The proper answer should be that both
are equal. Divine sovereignty is an attribute of God, but no attribute takes precedence over
another or else there is an imbalance in the Godhead. Human responsibility is based on the
revealed will of God, which in turn is based on the holiness of God. Oust as true beauty consists
in giving proper balance, so true theology (and Calvinism in particular) consists in giving the
proper balance to its doctrines and their ramifications. The further above or below Mainstream
Calvinism one gets, then, the more imbalanced he is on the doctrines in question, in this lesson,
we will examine two of the earliest doctrines developed by the Highs. Next lesson will cover the
initial Low reaction, and so forth.

2. Supralapsarianism.
A. Whenever one discusses the questions of election, reprobation and the origin of sin, the
question naturally arises as to the order of these decrees in the predestination of God. And thus,
Supralapsarianism arose as one answer.
B. Let me at once add that it did not arise early in the Reformation. This was not the theory of
Luther, Melanchthon or any of the Lutherans. Nor was it held by Zwingli, Bucer, Vermigli,
Bullinger or the other First Generation Calvinists. A few scholars have attempted to see it in
Calvin, but I agree with most in saying that it arose in Second Generation Calvinism and was
not held by Calvin. And it need hardly be said that Augustine or Gottschalk did not hold it. The
closest one can find it before the Reformation was in a few unusual theories of Duns Scotus, a
Catholic theologian who reacted against the prevailing theology of Thomas Aquinas, but he did
not move back to Augustine but in a new area.

94

C. Theodore Beza was probably the first Calvinist to hold to Supralapsarianism. No scholar
denies that Beza taught it, though there is debate whether he was the first. Some see it in
Zanchius at Heidelberg, but even that would be concurrent with Beza. In any case, it is difficult
to find it before about 1560.
D. Supralapsarianism prospered mainly where Bezan theology grew, such as at Cambridge.
William Perkins and William Ames were both early English Supralapsarians. About the same
time, Francis Gomarus and Johannes Maccovius accepted and developed the scheme.
Somewhat later, it was taught by Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Goodwin and William Twisse,
who wrote the definitive book on the subject: The Riches of Gods Love unto the Vessels of
Mercy.
E. Still later it was taught by Isaac Chauncey and Robert Traill. More recently,
Supralapsarianism has been advocated by Abraham Kuyper, Herman Hoeksema, Cornelius
Van Till, Gordon Clark and Arthur W. Pink. Two salient point need to be made. First, the theory
was held by every Higher Calvinist on the above chart. That is, all the Calvinistic Antinotnians
and Hyper-Calvinists have accepted Supralapsarianism. For example, John Gill was
Supralapsarian.
F. Second, and this is crucial, this has always been the minority view amongst Calvinists. No
more than about 5^ of Calvinists have been Supralapsarians.The system is not taught in any of
the major Reformed confessions; indeed, several of them imply other theories. Moreover, it is
mainly a variation of the past. Few hold it today, and no major Reformed theologian today is
such.
G. Before defining just what it is, let me say what it is not. It is not the doctrine that God did not
choose some people to be elect. That is the doctrine of Reprobation and is held by virtually all
Calvinists. Secondly, it is not the doctrine of unconditional election, for all Calvinists believe in
that. Third, it is not the doctrine that God predestined the existence of sin, whether by active
fore-ordination or passive permission. All Calvinists accept that.
H. Rather, Supralapsarianism is one of the 2 or 3 theories within Reformed theology on the
question of which of the above three decrees of God came first. Of course, this assumes they
are eternal. Therefore, it is not a matter of chronological order, but of logical order. This only
makes the theories all the more difficult to understand. Even the question itself is deep.
I. The question is this: In the logical order of the eternal decrees, did God ordain election and
reprobation before or after the decree to allow Man to fall into sin? Supralapsarianism says
before. Supra is Latin for above or before, the majority of Calvinists have opted for forms of
the other main theory, called Infralapsarianism. Infra is Latin for after or later.
Infralapsarianism is also sometimes called Sublapsarianism (sub meaning below and thus
basically synonymous with infra).
J. Those holding to this theory usually back into it in reaction to either Arminianism or Low
Calvinism. They think that it gives greater glory to Gods grace and sovereignty. To them, this is
Super-Calvinism or the purest form of the Reformed doctrine of election.
K. One of the major arguments is this: What is first in intention is last in execution. That is,
means precede ends in execution, but ends precede means in the plans. For example, a man
plans to build a house. That is the end. So he then makes plans on the details: I will need walls,
therefore I will need wood. I need wood, therefore I need nails. I need nails, therefore I need
hammers. I need hammers, therefore I need carpenters. Thus, the Supralapsarian says that
the logical order of the decrees is the exact opposite of the historical order of fulfillment. Men
are saved after they fell into sin, therefore the decree to elect to salvation must have logically
preceded the decree to allow men to fall into sin. Q.E.D.

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L. In a later lesson we will examine the Scriptural data on the order of the decrees. Suffice it
here to point out the 3 main arguments against Supralapsarianism. First, the Infralapsarians say
that the Supras have it all backward. The theory is basically that the end justifies the means,
and that can have terrible implications.
M. Secondly, Supralapsarianism essentially denies that election is of grace. At best it can only
be election by love. But Scripture teaches election by grace (Rom. 11:5, KJV). Grace is Gods
unmerited favor to sinners. Supralapsarianism makes God showing favor to men not seen as
sinners, therefore it can be love but not grace.
N. Thirdly, Supralapsarianism has an unfair doctrine of election that reflects harshly on the true
doctrine of justice. The theory would teach that God planned to reject men without any regard
for their sin. If they were not viewed as sinners in the decree of reprobation, then God is hating
them without a cause. Thus, Supralapsarianism distorts both the grace and the justice of God.

3. Assurance of Salvation.
A. Question: Is assurance of the essence of faith? Just as theologians debated the order the
decrees, they debated the order of what occurs when one of the elect believes. One of the finest
points of this issue is whether a true Christian can believe with all his might but still not know
whether he is saved, elect and will persevere to the end.
B. First lets examine Calvins concept of faith as it relates to assurance. In his famous
definition of saving faith, Calvin wrote: It is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine flavour
toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and
sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit (Institutes, 111:2:7).
C. For Calvin, faith is first of all enlightenment. It is not a blind leap of faith into the fork, but a
step into the light. Moreover, assurance comes through this enlightenment, not through the step
itself. Therefore, Calvin tended to say that assurance was. of the essence of faith. Faith is selfauthenticating.
D. Calvin was one of the first theologians to develop the doctrine called theTestimonium
Internum Spiriti Sancti, or the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. Now many previous writers
had commented on this testimony of the Spirit, but most were Catholic mystics. They tended to
make it subjective, a deeper experience for a select few who were well along the mystic path to
perfection. Calvin rejected that concept.
E. Rather, Calvin said that the internal testimony is the echo of the Spirit speaking through
Scripture. Therefore, it was not subjective (arising from self) but objective (arising from
Scripture). The same Spirit that inspired Scripture uses Scripture to give the gift of faith to the
elect. There is neither regeneration nor faith without Scripture, To Calvin, this was the greatest
aspect of faith and assurance. He appealed to Rom. 8:15-17, Gal. 4:6, I John 3:24, 4:13. This
testimony is primarily positive.
F. Of course, there are other contributing things to assurance, such as the evidence of a holy
life, but these are secondary and primarily negative. That is, if one does not have them, he
cannot conclude he is saved. Their presence alone is not enough. Furthermore, faith and
assurance grow. No believer has total assurance any more than he has total faith. He grows.
But even in the original seed there is assurance.
G. Theres more. For Calvin, Christ is the mirror of election and He Himself is the ground of
assurance even as He is of faith. To really believe in Christ is to know that Christ is for you.

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Calvin agreed with the other Reformers on the importance of Christ pro me, that Christ is for
me. They agreed that this wasnt a later development of faith but the very essence of faith, as
seen in Calvins definition above. Believing Christ was for people in general is not enough (nor
is it true). One must know Christ is for me in particular. But how?
H. Calvin explained that assurance comes through the knowledge that Christ died for me. The
atonement is the core of the Gospel, and the Gospel is that which gives faith and assurance.
Assurance comes something like this: Christ died for me. Christ is for me. If He is for me, who
can be against me? God will give me all things with Christ. This means that God planned it that
way, so I was elected and will persevere. Assurance begins in the present and then moves
backwards and forward.
I. The above should not be confused with the idea that would say: Christ died for me.
Therefore, I must be one of the elect, because He died only for the elect. Calvin points men
straight to Christ crucified, then and only then to the counsels of eternity.
J. The High Calvinists usually modified this way of describing faith and assurance. For example,
the Westminster Confession (XVIII:3): This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the
essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before
he be partaker of it.
K. Of course* the. Highs accepted that the internal testimony of the Spirit was essential 0 true
assurance, together with the external works, which accompany faith. The main difference was of
emphasis. The Highs said less about the internal testimony that did Calvin. They tended to
speak of the external accompanying works as more important. This meant that assurance was
not essential to faith.
L. High Calvinism usually theorizes that assurance is a reflex of faith. And that reflex is not
immediate or necessarily near to faith. One can have faith and not assurance. Calvin preferred
to speak of those lacking assurance as those lacking faith. Rather than encourage men to strive
to do more works to develop assurance, as the Bezans usually did, Calvin pointed men straight
to Christ in order to inculcate faith and its accompanying assurance.
M. The Bezans and other High Calvinists developed the notion called the Practical Syllogism.
The Iogic was this: Only believers have good works; I have good works; therefore I must be a
believer. By examining oneself for the effects, one can deduce that he has the cause.
Consequently, High Calvinism led to Experimental ism of a very introspective nature. The
problem was whether these works had good motives.
N. Moreover, another problem arose. The Highs denied that essential to saving faith was the
knowledge that Christ died for oneself. That was the highest form of assurance, and therefore
not of the pith and marrow of faith. This was mainly because the Highs developed a rather rigid
doctrine of limited atonement. Thus, one does not gain assurance by believing Christ died for
him, for he cannot know that directly by Scripture or the Gospel. He must deduce it from
election. That is, one must reason like this: I have good works. Only believers have good
works. Therefore I am a believer. All believers were elected. Therefore I am elect. Christ died
only for the elect. Therefore Christ died for me.
O. Now the difference is apparent. Calvin pointed men straight to Christ crucified for them as the
object of faith and assurance, and then to election. The. Highs reversed this. They pointed men
first to themselves, then to election, and then to the atonement. Obviously this has great bearing
on the question of the extent of the atonement. The Low Calvinists were quick to see that, and
so they reacted against the High Calvinists. We will explore that controversy in the next lesson.
P. This also raises the controversial question: what did Calvin believe about the extent of the

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atonement? That too will be discussed in the next lesson. Lastly, is there any relationship
between the question of assurance and the question of the order of the decrees? Yes, there is.
The higher one ascends on the ladder of High Calvinism, the less he sees assurance being of
the essence of salvation. This has implications for the free offer of the Gospel, a subject hotly
debated by the Hyper-Calvinists. Furthermore, if one is not Supralapsarian, does one hold to a
kind of Hypothetical Universal ism in the order of the decrees?

Recommended Reading
Beza, Theodore. A Little Book of Christian Questions and Responses. Allison Park:
Pickwick Publications. (Virtually the only translated writings of Beza in print. This sums up
Bezas whole theology, but is very brief.)
Perkins, William. The Work of William Perkins. Edited with an introduction by Ian Breward.
Appleford, England: Sutton Courtney. (Large selections of the major writings of Perkins,
especially on predestination.)
Kendall, R.T. Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. New York and Oxford: Oxford University
Press;
Muller, Richard. Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology
from Calvin to Perkins. Durham: Labyrinth Press; and Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Shepherd, Victor. The Nature and Function of Faith in the Theology of John Calvin. Macon:
Mercer University Press.
Helm, Paul. Calvin and the Calvinists. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Discussions on Supralapsarianism can be found in all the major Reformed systematic
theologies, such as Berkhof, Hodge and Dabney. Heppe gives extensive quotes from the
earliest Supralapsarians, and includes Bezas chart of the order of the decrees. The systematic
theologies of Herman Hoeksema and John Gill defend and present Supralapsarianism from the
Hyper-Calvinist perspective. There is an incisive discussion of the question in Herman Bavineks
The Doctrine of God (Bavinck comes out neither Supra nor Infra). G.C. Berkouwer also has a
discussion in Divine Election, but it has a slightly Barthian flavour.

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Chapter 11. Amyraldism.


1. Moyse Amyraut.
A. Moyse Amyraut (1596-1664), or in Latin Moses Amyraldus, was not the founder but was the
most influential member of a school of Low Calvinism called Amyraldism (or Amyraldianism).
Others in this school are often referred to as Amyraldians.
B. Amyraut was Professor at the French Protestant Academy at Saumur, France, from 1633 to
1664. During that time he had an enormous influence on the French Reformed Church. He
wrote dozens of books, several having thousands of pages. His largest effort was Christian
Ethics, containing some 4,600pages in 6 large volumes. But his most important and
controversial work was his Treatise on Predestination (1634).
C. Amyraut had switched from law to theology through reading Calvins Institutes. Throughout
his life he was one of the major Calvin scholars of the century. This is apparent in all his
writings. Amyraut was displeased with the prevailing High Calvinism of his day. He felt it was
becoming too cold and scholastic, losing the warmth of Calvin. Amyraut began to develop a
system, which he considered to be in the pure line of Augustine and Calvin, and compatible with
the Synod of Dort. He urged a return to Calvins Calvinism. For example, he said that
predestination should be discussed under the head of salvation (as it had been in the last
edition of Calvins Institutes), not under the doctrines of God or Creation, as it usually was in
High Calvinism.
D. Amyraut also wanted a kind of reunion of Calvinists and Lutherans. He felt that the Calvinists
were becoming too High and the Lutherans too Low, and so he urged a return to true
Reformation balance. Amyraut also wanted to protect the Huguenot church from the continuous
assaults of Romanism, and felt that High Calvinism made the situation worse. Mind you,
Amyraut was not an Arminian. He explicitly believed in the Reformed view of the points of the
Synod of Dort.
E. Still, he had reservations and called for modifications in certain areas. For one, Amyraut and
the Amyraldians usually taught that Adams sin was mediately transferred to Mankind through
the physical unity of the race, as opposed to the increasingly popular theory of immediate
imputation by Adams Federal headship. As for human depravity, Amyraut developed a view
that differentiated natural and moral inability. Man was morally unable to will good, but not
naturally so. Even so, God must sovereignly give specialgrace and faith.
F. Amyraut also proposed a variation to Federalism. He taught there were three covenants.
First, the Covenant of Nature with Adam, demanding obedience to the Law revealed in Nature.
Second, the Covenant of Law with Israel, demanding obedience to the written Law. Third, the
Covenant of Grace. This has two parts: a conditional part between God and all Mankind based
on universal grace, and an unconditional part between God and the elect based on
specialgrace. He taught little about an eternal Covenant of Redemption or the historical
unfolding of the Covenant of Grace after Eden.
G. Amyraut then posited that Christ died for all men because of universal grace. Christ died
equally for all in order to provide a basis for the universal part of the Covenant of Grace. This
provision was universal, but the application was particular and limited to the elect. Amyraut felt
that this was the view of Calvin and the early Reformers. He also knew that this was at variance
with the prevailing High Calvinism of the day.

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2. Hypothetical Universalism.
A. If the above were not controversial enough, Amyrauts Hypothetical Universal ism blew the
controversy wide open. The theory basically is as follows. There are two kinds of grace:
universal grace for all men and special grace only for the elect. Because of universal grace and
the universal aspect of the Covenant of Grace, it is hypothetically possible for the heathen to be
saved without hearing the Gospel. However, Amyrautadded, in fact none of these have ever
been saved because it is only through the Gospel that saving faith is given. He developed these
views in several writings, such as A Treatise on Religion (1631).
B. Further, God is said to have two wills: a universal conditional will and a particular
unconditional will. The former desires the salvation of all men on condition of faith. This is
revealed in Nature only partially, but fully in the Gospel.
C. Amyraut also developed this division into two kinds of grace. Objective grace is universal
and offers salvation to all on condition of faith and repentance. Subjective grace is for the elect
only and alone is saving.
D. These theories necessitated a corresponding view of the decrees of God in eternity. Hence,
one decree is that God ordained universal salvation on condition of faith. This idea of a
conditional decree troubled most Calvinists. Moreover, Amyraut said that the order of the
decrees is like this: universal grace, universal atonement for all, particular election, particular
and efficacious grace to apply the atonement to the elect alone. Sometimes he spoke of the
decrees as one simple decree, not as subordinate decrees that follow a logical order (as in
prevailing Reformed theology).
E. Thus, said Amyraut, the provision for salvation was universal but the application was
particular. He considered this the true meaning of the old formula, Christ died sufficiently for all
but efficiently only for the elect. Amyraldianism taught an ideal universalism and a real
particularism. This universal ism was only hypothetical, not actual. Only the elect will be saved,
because election is particular and not based on foreseen faith. Amyraut also taught the doctrine
of reprobation.

3. Other French Amyraldians.


A. John Cameron (1579-1625) was a Scotsman who taught at Saumur for three years and laid
much of the foundation on which Amyraut built his theories. Jean Dai He (1594-1670) was an
extremely prolific writer and excelled especially in collecting a mass of quotations from the
church fathers, medieval theologians, and especially the 16th-century Reformers to show that
Amyraldianism was not a new theology but had a good ancestry.
B. David Blondel, Paul Testard and Josue de la Place were also at the center of the movement.
Slightly later, Claude Pajon would develop the theology even further into a form of universalism.
Louis Cappel was another major Amyraldian, a Hebrew scholar who taught the thencontroversial view that only the Hebrew consonants were inspired, not the later Massoretic
vowels.

4. The Anti-Amyraldians.

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A. Francis Turretine (1623-1687), also spelled Turretin or Turretini, was an Italian theologian
teaching at Geneva. He sounded the alarm against Amyraldianism and was its leading
opponent. He is usually considered the best representative of 17th-century Reformed
scholasticism, as seen in his massive and precise Institutio Theoloqicae Elenchthicae (3 vols.),
a very important Reformed systematic theology. Turretine more or less was a strict particularism
denying Hypothetical Universalism and teaching a strictly limited atonement.
B. Four other names stand out: Pierre du Moulin (who accused Amyraut of Romanizing
tendencies ), Andre Rivet, Friedrich Spanheim, and Johann Heuirich Heidegger. All wrote
massive books against all aspects of Amyraldianism.

5. The Formula Consensus Helvetica.


A. At the National Synod of Alencon (1637), Amyraut was admonished but not condemned. The
same occurred at the Synod of Charenton (1645). Later at the Synod of Loudun (1659), they
were cleared. To some, this meant that Amyraldianism had gained the upper hand in the French
Reformed Church.
B. The French Calvinists just over the border in Switzerland were not pleased. So there
appeared the Formula Consensus Helvetica in 1675 to explicitly condemn the distinctives of
Amyraldianism. This was the last major Reformed confession of faith of the formative years of
Reformed theology. It was written by Turretine, Heidegger and Louis Gernler*
C. The Formula taught that Adams sin is transmitted to all men both mediately through physical
lineage but especially immediately because he was our covenantal representative. Natural
revelation is universal but is only partial and does not reveal salvation, only condemnation.
Therefore, it is incorrect to speak of a hypothetical salvation of the heathen who never hear the
Gospel.
D. The atonement is limited to the elect alone. True, it is infinite in value and sufficiency, but its
intent is particular and limited to the elect alone. The decree of election logically precedes the
decree of atonement. Christ is not the mediator of all men, but only of the elect. Moreover,
Christ is the chief elect one. Even further, at the Cross Christ merited both salvation and the
means of salvation for the elect, namely regeneration and the gift of faith.
E. The Formula is explicitly Infralapsarian on the order of the decrees. It rejected the notion of a
hypothetical universal grace for salvation and the Amyraldian idea of a universal will of God to
save all men on condition of faith.
F. The Formula is not an exhaustive confession like the Westminster Confession. Rather, like
the Canons of Dort, it was drawn up to address specific problems. For example, it condemned
Cappels view that only the Hebrew consonants were inspired. Later, of course, Cappels view
became accepted everywhere, even among High Calvinists. On the other hand, Calvinism of all
stripes began to disintegrate in Switzerland and France in the 18th and 19th centuries. Oddly,
one of the main opponents of the Formula was Turretines own son.

6. British Parallels of Amyraldianism.


A. John Davenant (1576-1641) was an Anglican Bishop and a delegate to the Synodef Dort. He
was troubled by the High Calvinism that was developing and sought a return to the Reformers
theology. After the Synod, he taught that the Canons did not teach a strictly limited atonement,

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but a dualist kind. Davenant wrote A Dissertation on the Death of Christ on the subject. Like
Davenant would do in later years, Davenant collected dozens of quotations to show that his
views were those of the fathers and Reformers, especially Calvin.
B. Davenant argued that the formula sufficient for all, efficient only for the elect is meaningless
unless there was some sense in which Christ died for all. On the other hand, unlike Amyraut,
Davenant posited that the atonement still reflected a particular intent for the elect alone. Christ
died for all, but especially for the elect. It is applied to all but not to all with the gift of saving faith.
Only non-saving benefits are applied to the non-elect. No man is saved until he believes, and
faith is a gift only for the elect. To Davenant, a strictly limited atonement would save the elect
before they believed.
C. Ussher (1581-1656) was another Anglican Bishop who cautioned against High Calvinism..
He was a Westminster divine who never attended the actual Assembly itself. Ussher taught a
view similar to Davenant: In one respect he may be said to have died for all, and in another
respect not to have died for all. This theory is sometimes called the Double Reference Theory
of the atonement, or simply Dualism as opposed to strict Particularism fa la Turretine and the
High Calvinists} or Universal ism (a la the Amyraldians). But neither Ussher not Davenant - nor
any other British theologian - went for the theory of Hypothetical Universal ism, at least not as
per Amyraut.
D. Richard Baxter (1615-1691) was another of this school. He taught that Christ therefore died
for all, but not for all equally, or with the same intent, design or purpose. Baxter claimed that
half the theologians in Britain agreed with this. Baxter did not get into Hypothetical Universal
ism, but spearheaded another variation of Low Calvinism called Neonomianism, which we will
examine later,
E. John Bunyan (1628-1688) tended towards a more universal atonement. In his Reprobation
Asserted, he argued that the atonement underlies the Gospel offer. Therefore, we preach to all
because Christ died for all. If the atonement was limited to the elect alone, then the reprobate
who hear and reject the Gospel deserve no extra punishment. Furthermore, if the atonement
were limited, then no man could know that Christ had died for him and, consequently, saving
faith could not contain the essential assurance that Christ died for me.

7. British Limited Atonement.


A. John Owen (1616-1683) wrote the definitive Puritan treatise defending the strict view of
limited atonement, entitled The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. This was meant to
counter the Arminian view of universal atonement, bat it also said some things to refute the
Dualism of Davenant et al i
B. Owen marshalls dozens of arguments, but the two most important are these. First, he
argued that is the atonement were universal and some for whom Christ died went to Hell, then
God would be demanding double payment. This would be unjust. Turretine also relied heavily
on this argument.
C. Secondly, there is Owens famous Triple Choice, viz:

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Triple Choice

Christ died either for:

(1) all the sins of all men.

But if so, why are not all men saved?


Does God demand more?

(2) some sins of all men.

But if so, then some sins, are not atoned


for, and these will damn all men.

(3) all sins of some men.

This is the correct view, says Owen.


Christ died only for the elect.

D. Owen allowed virtually nothing in the atonement for the non-elect. And likeTurretine his
continental counterpart, he argued that election preceded atonement in the order of the decrees
and Christ purchased both salvation and the means of salvation at the Cross. Lastly, Owen
argued that it is not of the essence of saving faith to believe Christ died for me.

8. Later Advocates of Non-Limited Atonement.


A. Many important 18th-century English Independents denied limited atonement, such as Isaac
Watts and Phillip Doddridge. In America, most New England theologians after Jonathan
Edwards also taught forms of universal atonement. Among them were Joseph Bellamy, Timothy
Dwight, Samuel Hopkins and, indirectly, Albert Barnes.
B. Thomas Scott and J.C. Ryle were major 19th-century Anglican Low Calvinists. A movement
began in early 19th-century Scotland along similar lines, including James Morison, Ralph
Wardlaw and John MacLeod Campbell. More recently, there, have been variations of Low
(sometimes extremely Low) Calvinism on the extent of the atonement, as for instance, the
systematic theologies of A.H. Strong, H.C. Thiessen and Millard Erickson. Several important
Dispensationalists have been 4 Point Calvinists, such as Lewis Sperry Chafer and Robert
Lightner.
C. Even more recently, Norman Douty has represented the Dualism of Davenant and Ussher
almost point for point in his The Death of Christ. R.T Kendall has espoused a Calvinistic
universal atonement in his writings in England. Kendall has also opened up the old discussion:
Did John Calvin teach universal, limited or dualist atonement?

9. Calvin and the Extent of the Atonement.


A. Luther and all the Lutherans believed in universal atonement. There is no real disagreement
on this. Also, all of the first-generation Reformed theologians taught universal atonement- this
includes Zwingli, Bullinger, and the others. Universal atonement is explicitly taught in many of
the earliest Calvinist confessions, such as the Heidelberg Catechism and the Thirty-nine
Articles.
B. Some scholars say Calvin did not address the question. Most say he did but notas directly
as did his successors. Scholars are just about equally divided over whether Calvin was
particularist or universal on the atonement. Those whose he was particularist (limited) are
usually particularist themselves. Sometimes it appears they are trying to have Calvin on their

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side for support. Those who say Calvin taught universal atonement also tend to appeal to his
great name for support. There are, however, a few variations. A few Arminians claim Calvin as
universal, others make him limited (perhaps so they can throw theological rocks at him). Then
there are a few Dualists who say Calvin was universal and therefore not quite high enough on
the particular aspect. My own view is similar. The evidence shows that Calvin taught universal
atonement. I have yet to find a single explicit quote from Calvin that explicitly teaches a
limitation in the atonement.
C. There are dozens of places where Calvin speaks of the atonement as being universal by the
sacrifice of his death all the sins of the world have been expiated. He bore all the wickedness
of all the iniquities of the world. the blood of that sovereign redeemer, shed for the sins of the
human race. Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and is offered by the goodness
of God without distinction to all, yet not all receive him. to the places where Christ died for
many, Calvin says that Many means some (as the limited advocates contend). Some for
whom Christ died do in fact perish. Why? Not because Christ did not die for them, but because
they were not elected and consequently they did not believe. Moreover, Calvin often says that
saving faith necessarily contains the assurance that Christ died for me, which necessitates a
universal atonement. If there is a contradiction with Calvins strong view of election, perhaps
Calvin did not see it.
Others did see a contradiction. It has been debated just who was the first Calvinist to teach
limited atonement, but those who say that Calvin did not usually contend that Beza was the first.
In any case, the debate still goes on. Some suggest re- interpretations of quotations such as
those above. Others point out that strictly limited men such as Owen could not have written
such words.
F. Be that as it may, nobody seriously suggests that Calvin held to Amyrauts Hypothetical
Universal ism. Though Amyraut held to election and reprobation, his over-reaction to High
Calvinism and strict limited atonement forced him lower than Calvin himself.

10. Conclusion.
A. In subsequent centuries, the debates continued. There have been representatives of all
these variations. One of the main ones has been slightly Tower than Owen (High) and slightly
higher than Davenant (Low). Respecting the extent of the atonement, this moderate school
would agree that there are benefits in the atonement for the non-elect, such as common grace.
This universal aspect is said by some to underlie the universal offer of the Gospel. Still, there
are benefits of the atonement only for the elect, namely salvation and faith. This is basically the
position of Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd and R.B. Kuiper. It probably does best justice to the
Reformed view of election and those Biblical passages pointing to the special intent of the
atonement.
B. Amyraldians and other Low Calvinists are still Calvinists. Highs might printout that they are
inconsistent Calvinists. Perhaps that is so, especially when they toy with Hypothetical Universal
ism. On the other hand, there are many who consider themselves Four Point Calvinists who
are not even that high. Many who say they are 4-Point are 3-point or less. In the final tally, what
matters is, What saith the Scriptures?

Recommended Reading

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Armstrong, Brian. Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
(The fullest available treatment of the subject in English, with copious quotations in English
translation.)
Nicole, Roger. Moyse Amyraut: A Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing Co.
Owen, John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Also contained in vol.10 of The Works
of John Owen. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Beardslee, John, ed. Reformed Dogmatics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (Contains over
100 pages translated from Turretine on predestination.)
Cunningham, William. Historical Theology, vol. 2, pp. 323-370. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Douty,
Norman. The Death of Christ. Irving; Williams and Watrous.
An English translation of the Formula Consensus Helvetica can be found in A.A. Hodge,
Outlines of Theology, pp. 656-653 (Carlisle: Banner of Truth). Most of the literature on Amyraut
is in French and Latin. Only a few of his writings have been translated, all long out of print and
rare. His Treatise on Predestination is currently being translated for publication, as is Turretines
Institutio.

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Chapter 12. Calvinistic Antinomianism.


1. Introduction.
A. To use the words Calvinist and Antinomian in the same sentence is, to many, offensive or
at the least contradictory. Has not Calvinism stood fast against the tide of licentiousness and
misuse of Christian liberty? Does it not stress the holiness of God? Yes, these are true. But in
the 17th-century,an unusual variety of Calvinism arose which has been termed Calvinistic
Antinomianism. But what is it?
B. The word Antinomian simply means against Law . It is the view that says that Christians
are not bound by the Moral Law of God in their Christian life. This may be only theoretical or it
may be practical. When it becomes practical, it is known as licentiousness - misuse of Christian
liberty.
C. The Calvinistic Antinomians reacted against the standard Reformed teaching that Christians
are to obey the Moral Law of God. They moved in this direction because they thought they were
exalting the grace of God, In particular, they were over-emphasizing divine sovereignty and
weakening human responsibility. Since all heresies get back to a wrong view of God, it can be
further said that they placed more emphasis on divine sovereignty than on divine holiness.
Likewise, they stressed the 7,ecret will of God over the revealed will of God.
D. This movement began as a reaction against Low Calvinism, which threatened the balance in
the opposite direction. In turn, these produced yet further over-reactions on each side. In this
study we will examine the three major controversies of Calvinistic Antinomianism and its main
opponent from Low Calvinism, namely, Neonomianism.

2. The Antinomian Controversy of the 1630s.


A. This was the first major theological controversy in the American colonies. Within 20 years of
the first Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, the churches of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
were in an uproar. Remember, almost all of the Pilgrim churches were Puritan and Calvinistic.
B. At the center of the controversy was Mrs. Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), an English pilgrim
to America. Not a preacher per se, she was a midwife who held weekly meetings for women in
her home, at which she taught her views of grace and salvation. She wrote no books; her views
are recorded in the official writings of the day and quoted in the works of her opponents.
C. First, Mrs. Hutchinson taught that not only does regeneration precede faith in the order of
salvation, but also real union with Christ preceded faith. Faith was in no sense a condition of
justification. To make faith a condition would turn the Covenant of Grace into a Covenant of
Works, for faith is a work. Therefore, in the order of salvation, justification precedes faith.
D. She also taught a different view of assurance. The standard Reformed view was that there
are at least two essential elements: the internal witness of the Spirit and the external witness of
sanctification. Calvin placed more stress on the first, and the Puritans increasingly placed more
emphasis on the second. But both accepted each as necessary. Not Anne Hutchinson. She
Totally rejected what was known as the Practical Syllogism, viz: He that is truly sanctified is
justified. But I am truly sanctified. Ergo, I am justified.
E. Instead, she posited that assurance was gained only through the internal testimony of the

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Spirit. However, in this she departed from the Reformed view again. She made this testimony
entirely subjective. Reformed theology said the testimony comes to the elect through Scripture
alone; thus it is objective in its source. Mrs. Hutchinson did not include Scripture as the means.
F. This reflects other aspects of her mysticism. She claimed, for instance, that God had given
her the ability to distinguish true Gospel ministers from false ones, who were of the spirit of
Antichrist. She even claimed the ability to predict certain events. These were extra-Scriptural
and direct revelations.
G. Similarly, she argued, Christians do not need the Law. They only need to be led by the Holy
Spirit. A Christian is not bound to the Law as a rule of his Christian walking. To say that
Christians are bound by the Law as a rule is to put them back under the Covenant of Works.
They needed only Spirit, not Law.
H. John Cotton (1584-1652) was the next important figure in the controversy. He had already
been a notable Puritan preacher and theologian back in England before immigrating to America
in 1633. He fled England to avoid arrest for not kneeling before the Sacrament of the Lords
Supper, which he considered Romanistic. Cotton immediately became the most popular
preacher in the colonies. Something of a revival broke out in his Boston church. He wrote many
important theological books and treatises. Thus, John Cotton became the first major American
preacher and theologian.
I. Now, Mrs. Hutchinson knew Cotton back in England. It is probable that she moved to Boston
to follow her favorite preacher. When she held her home meetings, she would expound Cottons
sermons to her ladies, with her extra revelations and comments. Cotton wasnt at first aware of
these added messages, so he defended her when the churches became alarmed at her
teachings. When she was brought in to church court on charges of heresy, Cotton saw the real
nature of her mystical Antinomianism and became one of her opponents.
J. Two other opponents should be mentioned. Thomas Hooker (1656-1647) was, like Cotton, a
major theologian. Both would later be invited as delegates to the Westminster Assembly (both
declined). He would later help found Connecticut. Hooker served as one of the Moderators at
Mrs. Hutchinsons trial. Among his several books were the influential The Poor Doubting
Christian Drawn to Christ and The Souls Preparation for Christ.
K. Then there was Thomas Shepard (1604-1649), who helped found Harvard College. Among
his writings was the popular The Parable of the Ten Virgins. Hooker and Shepard were the
major exponents of an American variety of the Experimental ism of Cambridge Calvinism. It
became known as Preparationism. This theology taught the Practical Syllogism whereby one
could ascertain his justification by the marks of sanctification. It also taught the detailed steps of
experience which one undergoes before justification. These did not include just saving faith, but
mourning for sin, repentance, and so on. Preparationism went just a bit further than the
mainstream Reformed view, and it was partially against it that Mrs. Hutchinson reacted.
L. The controversy lasted from 1636 to 1638. Mrs.- Hutchinson was condemned and rebuked at
her trial, and exiled from the colony. She left for Rhode Island and later New York. She and
most of her children were killed by Indians in 1643. The controversy ended, for she did not have
enough supporters to carry on her views, and none of them were theologically able to refute
Cotton, Hooker and Shepard

3. The English Antinomian Controversy of the 1640s.


A. This controversy may have actually preceded and influenced the one in America, but it did

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not come to a head until the time of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. Being a
Congregationalist (Independent), Cromwell allowed considerable religious toleration in England.
This led to the rise of many groups and theologies, many of a divergent or heretical nature.
B. Certain of these groups were Enthusiastic, an old word for fanatical or mystical.
Enthusiasm was a sort of super-spirituality. Several of these sects were both theoretical and
practical Antinomians. Among them were:
(1) The Familists (or The Family of Love). This sect was started in Holland by Hendrik Nicholas
(1501-1580). It was the largest of the Antinomian groups, but was mainly underground until the
Commonwealth. Nicholas claimed to have received visions. He taught a kind of mystic
pantheism that virtually denied the transcendence of God. God was so united to men that they
were incapable of sin. Whatever they did was good.
(2) The Fifth Monarch Men were more like political anarchists. They believed the Millennium
was near and could be brought in by political means, generally of a violent nature. They claimed
to be prophets and said that Christs Fifth Kingdom of Daniel 2:44 was near. At first they
supported Cromwell, but forsook and opposed him when they realized he wasnt the fulfillment
of their prophecies. Many of them were arrested and executed by both Cromwell and King
Charles II.
(3) The Ranters were probably the most licentious of all. Like the Familists, they believed in the
Inner Light* and a form of pantheism. Some said Christians were perfect and could not sin.
Others said that we should-sin more in order to glorify Gods grace. Others still were virtually
atheists. Their licentiousness included sexual immorality, drunkenness, open blasphemy, and
other degradations. They said that prayer and preaching were unnecessary. They did, however,
engage in an emotional nonsensical shouting calling ranting.
(4) Others groups include the Levellers (who were basically political socialists), the Loists, and
the Seekers. The Quakers also began out of this milieu and, though they were theologically
similar to the pantheistic mysticism of the above, they were not usually considered Antinomian.
C. None of these groups were Calvinistic by any means. However, they were often lumped
together with certain extreme Calvinists who taught doctrines similar to those of Mrs. Anne
Hutchinson. Tobias Crisp (1600-1643) was the most well known of them. Originally a legalistic
Arminian, Crisp swung to another extreme. Like the other Antinomians, he was a
Congregationalist Independent. He was one of the few Puritans to earn a Doctor of Divinity
degree (Oxford). He was independently wealthy and propagated his views mainly in sermons,
which were collected and published as Christ Alone Exalted,
D. John Eaton (1575-1642) was much older and was perhaps founder of the loosely associated
movement. His main work was The Honeycomb of Free Justification. Then there was John
Saltmarsh (d.1647), who at one time served as Chaplain in Cromwells New Model Army.
Saltmarsh was more eccentric than Crisp and Eaton, but none of the Calvinistic Antinomians
were ever accused of licentiousness, nor did they approve of it. His main work on the subject at
hand was Free Grace.
E. Now these Calvinistic Antinomians were all Supralapsarians. Thus, they were the highest
Calvinists up to that time. But they made several significant alterations. First, they equated the
eternal Covenant of Redemption with the Covenant of Grace in time. The Gospel was basically
just a transcript of this one Covenant. Hence, it was totally unconditional upon man. Faith was
not a condition of the Covenant; it was a blessing of the Covenant.
F. This led to their doctrine of eternal justification before faith. Mrs. Hutchinson only touched on
this slightly, but the English Antinomians went further, especially Eaton. They taught that

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justification is as eternal selection. There are three stages of justification: eternal justification in
the Covenant of Redemption, virtual justification when Christ rose again, and actual justification
when the Spirit applies it to the elect.
G. When it is applied, they argued, it is before faith. Faith is a work; justification is without
works; therefore justification is without faith. Works and conditions belong only to the Covenant
of Works. Further, Scripture says that God justifies the ungodly; one who has faith is godly;
therefore God justifies a man before he has faith. Crisp explained:
He is first justified before he believes, then he believes that he is justified. We do not believe
that we may be justified; but we believe when and because we are justified.
H. Faith, then, is simply the realization that one has already been justified freely by God. But
though justification precedes faith (at which stage it is without faith), faith always follows as the
result. One cannot be justified and not believe it. Though this does not follow immediately.
I. When one comes to that realization, he gains assurance. Like Mrs. Hutchinson, the English
Antinomians taught that assurance was by the Holy Spirit, not by looking at external marks of
sanctification. However, they allowed a larger place for Scripture in this than did Mrs.
Hutchinson. In any case, examining oneself is important - not examing ones sanctification, for
that leads to deception, but ones heart to listen to the voice of the Spirit.
J. As to the question of the Law in the life of the Christian, they tended to use bold language
which could mean blatant heresy when taken out of context. However, in context they were
basically orthodox but imbalanced and injudicious in language. Among their extreme formulas
would be the following:
God sees no sin in a believer. (God knows it is there but does not annul justification because
of it. To forgive is to overlook.)
God never punishes a believer for sin. (God chastens believers from sin, but because of
justification He will not punish them in Hell.)
Sin can do a believer no harm. (It cannot damn his soul, for he is justified. But it can affect his
fellowship with God.)
Christians need not fear sin. (Sin cannot damn you. You are justified.)
K. Their safeguard was that the Holy Spirit keeps a Christian from perpetual sin. His inner
workings work holiness in ones life. Yet the Antinomians gave a very small place to the use of
the Law in the hand of the Spirit. Sanctification was more mystical than objective. To Crisp, the
greatest incentive to holiness is not the Law, but the Gospel. The Law only makes one sin more.
The real incentive to holiness is the realization that one is already forgiven.

4. Neonomianism.
A. As one would expect, the Puritans were in an uproar over these views. They contended that
the Calvinistic Antinomians were opening the door to the Antinomianism of the Familists and
others. Samuel Rutherford wrote a large volume entitled The Spiritual Antichrist against them, in
which he lumped all varieties together. Thomas Gataker wrote against them too.
B. The Westminster Assembly proposed to burn the writings of these Calvinistic Antinomians,
especially those of Crisp. Yet some Puritans saw that the problem was more semantic than
substantial. William Twisse, Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly, argued that Crisps
writings were basically orthodox, but unwise in choice of language.

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C. The major opponent to Calvinistic Antinomianism was a theology called Neonomianism. This
was the brainchild of Richard Baxter. Baxter was a Low Calvinist. Though higher than Amyraut
on the extent of the atonement, Baxters Calvinism was so low that many do not consider it
Reformed at all. Baxter himself sometimes argued for a middle course between Calvinism and
Arminianism. His major work on the subject was Aphorisms of Justification. (His practical
writings, we may add, were not so tinged with these errors and basically remain in the
mainstream of Puritan thought.) However, Baxter died in 1691 when the controversy was
reaching fever pitch.
D. Baxter was succeeded by Daniel Williams (1643-1716), an independently wealthy
Welshman. His book entitle Gospel Truth became the main text on Neonomianism. Among the
opponents of Neonomianism were several Puritans who could not legitimately be considered
Antinomian. Yet they were usually Supralapsarians. Isaac Chauncey (1632-1712) was the
leader of these Anti-Neonomians . Others included Robert Trail! And Samuel Crisp, son of
Tobias. Among the more moderate Calvinists who moderated in the dispute were Herman
Witsius and John Howe. The controversy lasted only about ten years (1690-1700), but it left
repercussions throughout English Calvinism. It has resurfaced only here and there since then.
E. Neonomianism was similar to Preparationism, but more extreme and with significant
deviations from mainstream Calvinism. Basically its theology is as follows. God can change the
conditions of salvation, for salvation is based on His moral government (the divine will) rather
than directly on His nature. And God has changed the standard of acceptance.
F. In the Covenant of Works, God required complete obedience. Adam failed, as have all his
posterity. So God has instituted a New Law, the Gospel. In this Covenant, Christ died for our
salvation to make it possible for God to accept a lessened form of obedience. This lesser form
of perfect obedience is faith. But this faith must be accompanied by repentance and good
works. Sometimes the Neonomians spoke of justification being conditional and progressive,
contingent upon the good works that followed. In sum, the theory appeared to make faith,
repentance and works part of the essence of justifying righteousness.
G. The Anti-Neonomians rejected all this. The Gospel is not a new or lesser Law. Rather, it is
the Covenant of Grace. Faith is a condition, but it is a gift of God. Works are only important as
evidence, not as essence, of justification. God never accepts less than perfection; we are
accepted only because of the perfect work of Christ.

5. The Gospel Standard.


A. The third major controversy of Calvinistic Antinomianism was the Gospel Standard
Movement. This went a little further than the English Antinomians of the 1640s. This movement
can be traced back to William Huntington (1744-1813). Huntington was an Independent
paedobaptist minister in London. He wrote far more than any previous Calvinistic Antinomian.
He was also somewhat eccentric in behavior. He gathered many followers and rivals, so the
movement did not die with him by any means.
B. William Gadsby (1773-1844) merged Huntingtons views with his own brand of HyperCalvinist Baptist theology. He was the moving force behind the Gospel Standard branch of the
Strict and Particular Baptists. Other notable leaders in the movement include J.C. Phil pot, John
Warburton, J.K. Pophamand S.F. Paul.
C. This was the first denomination espousing Calvinistic Antinomianism. It continues to this
day, mainly in England, and devolves around the magazine founded by Gatsbys son William,

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entitled The Gospel Standard.


D. The Gospel Standard theology is as follows. The Gospel, not the Law, is the rule and
standard for the Christian. The Law was both a Covenant of Works and rule until the Covenant
of Grace was instituted. Therefore, when one believes in Christ, he is under the Covenant of
Grace and not the Covenant of Works. Hence, the Law is not binding on Christians.
E. This theology is based on one fundamental disagreement with orthodox Reformed theology.
Orthodox Calvinism says that the Law has been abolished as a Covenant of Works for
believers, but it continues as a rule of practice. It no longer condemns, but it still instructs
Christians in the will of God. Of course, this pertains only to the Moral Law; the Ceremonial Law
has been abolished and replaced by new ceremonies, namely the 2 ordinances of baptism and
Communion.
F. The Gospel Standard doctrine rejects what is called the Third Use of the Law. This use is
for instruction in righteousness to the believer. If there were no such, instruction, then one is left
to flounder in sheer mystical subjectivism. Gadsby and the others do not advocate practical
Antinomianism. Nor do they exclude Scripture from the Spirits leading. But they eliminate the
Law as normative in the life of the believer. This stems from their inability to distinguish the Law
as a rule of instruction and a Covenant of Works.
G. The Gospel Standard Baptists follow earlier Antinomians in teaching justification before faith
and in insisting on the inner testimony alone for assurance. Yet they admit that one cannot be
perpetually sinful. The principle of grace does something in a believer that forbids that.

6. Conclusion.
A. None of the branches of Calvinistic Antinomianism have been accused of practical
Antinomianism. Their critics, however, have charged them with several errors. First, theoretical
Antinomianism opens the door to practical Antinomianism. Second, it inculcates an unhealthy
introspection and feelings-based mysticism. It gives more place to internal leadings than to
Scripture. This in turn produces a lethargic passivity in ones Christian life. And lastly, historically
it leads to Hyper-Calvinism, which is the subject of the next study.

Recommended Reading
Kevan, Ernest. The Grace of Law. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (The best work on the
Puritan-Reformed doctrine of Law contra Antinomianism and Neonomianism.)
Stoever, William. A Faire and Easie Way to Heaven: Covenant Theology and Antinomianism in
Early Massachusetts. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.
Adams, Charles. The Antinomian Controversy. Jersey City: Da Capo Press. Ramsbottom, B.A.
The History of the Gospel Standard Magazine, 1835-1985. Carshalton: Gospel Standard
Societies.

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Chapter 13. Hyper-Calvinism.


1. The Origins of Hyper-Calvinism.
A. What is Hyper-Calvinism, anyway? The term has been used and abused for years. In this
study, we will define the term by examining the who what, where, when and why. The first half
will look at the historical development (who, where, when); the second half will delve into the
exact nature of it (what and why).
B. The origins can be traced indirectly back to High Calvinism. We saw earlier that Calvinists
such as Beza and Perkins went further than Calvin in certain areas, most notably
Supralapsarianism. This began a trend that culminated in Hyper-Calvinism.
C. The next stage was Calvinistic Antinomianism, which served as the bridge between High
and Hyper-Calvinism. This extra-High Calvinism went even further. Crisp was higher than
Beza. In late 17th-century England, the Antinomian-Neonomian controversy caused reactions
and over-reactions. Some of the Neonomians over-reacted into Arminianism, Arianism and even
Deism. On the other hand, some of the anti-Neonomians went in the opposite direction. They
became Hyper-Calvinists.
D. The leading anti-Neonomian was Isaac Chauncey. He himself did not move into Hyperism,
even though he was Supralapsarian and moderately Antinomian. When the controversy moved
into Northamptonshire, England, it took on anew color. Richard Davis, a Congregationalist
evangelist, began developingCrisps views in a new way. Davis eventually so stressed the
sovereignty of God that he felt that true evangelism meant that one cannot Biblically give a free
offer of the Gospel to all. Thus, Davis was probably the first Hyper-Calvinist.
E. Joseph Hussey was another Congregationalist evangelist to move to then on-offer position.
He was also the first one to go into print with this view, first in The Glory, of Christ Unveiled
(1706) and then in the definitive book on the subject, Gods Operations of Grace, But No Offers
of Grace (1707).
F. John Skepp was one of Husseys disciples. He further explained the special work of the Holy
Spirit that precludes our giving a free offer in his book Divine Energy. Skepp was an important
figure at this stage for two reasons. First, he assumed the pastorate of a church in London,
moving the center of Hyper-Calvinism from Northamptonshire to London. It would continue as
the hub of Hyperism well into the 20th-century. Second, he was the first Baptist Hyper-Calvinist.
As we shall see, most Hyper-Calvinists have been Baptists. Less than a third have been
paedobaptist Anglicans, Presbyterians or Congregationalists. Hyperism has especially
prospered among the Strict and Particular Baptists, the major Calvinistic Baptist association of
England. Skepp was succeeded by John Brine, another important 18th-century Hyper. But the
towering figure in the movement was another Northamptonshire Baptist who pastored in
London: John Gill.

2. John Gill (1697-1771).


A. Dr. John Gill was the archetypal Hyper-Calvinist. Throughout his 51-year pastorate in
London, he reigned as the undisputed leader among both the Baptists and the Hyper-Calvinists.
No study of Hyper-Calvinism is complete without a look at Gill. Hyper-Calvinism was sometimes
called Gillism.

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B. With the exception of Jonathan Edwards, Gill was the most important Calvinist theologian of
the 18th-century. Of all the Hyper-Calvinists who have ever lived, Gill was certainly the most
scholarly. He was also their most prolific writer. Among his more important works, all of which
have been reprinted many times (including recently), are the following:
(1) The Cause of God and Truth was one of his first books. It is a careful and complete
discussion of all the texts adduced by both sides in the Calvinist-Arminian debate over
the five points of the Synod of Dort. It remains one of the best books ever written on the
subject.
(2) An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments is probably the longest commentary
on every book of the Bible written by a single author. It fills 9 massive volumes (reprinted
in 6). Gill especially excelled in using quotations from the ancient Jewish rabbis to
illustrate the Biblical text, for which he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree. Even
today it is consulted as one of the best of Calvinist commentaries.
(3) A Body of Practical and Doctrinal Divinity was Gills last effort. It was a complete
systematic theology - the largest by both a Hyper and a Baptist ever written. It is still one
of the best by a Calvinist.

3. The Gospel Standard.


A. William Huntingdon, a late-18th century London Congregationalist, became the next major
leader. As we saw in the last study, Huntington was an unabashed Calvinistic Antinomian as
well as something of an eccentric. He started a movement, which branched into two parallel
directions.
B. The first was the Gospel Standard Baptists. William Gadsby began this branch within the
Strict and Particular Baptists. It especially grew under the leadership of Joseph Charles Phil pot.
Other important figures in this group include John Warburton, John Gadsby, J.K. Popham and
B.A. Ramsbottom. It continues unto today as one of the few Hyper-Calvinist denominations. It is
also one of the few Calvinistic Antinomian denominations.
C. The other branch that can be traced back to Huntington is a loosely associate group of
paedobaptist Hyper-Calvinists. Joseph Irons of the Grove Chapel, London, was the first leader
in this faction. Most would be Congregationalists, but a few would be Anglicans. Others of this
group include Robert Hawker and William Parks. Early in the 20th-century, this faction got a shot
in the arm under the leadership of Henry Atherton, another pastor of the Grove Chapel, who
founded the Sovereign Grace Union. The SGU was originally predominantly Hyper-Calvinist, but
today it is somewhat more moderate. Incidently, this faction became decreasingly Antinomian in
its Calvinism.

4. The Earthen Vessels.


A. John Stevens was an early 19th-century Hyper-Calvinist pastor (London) who was
emphatically non-Antinomian. He started a rival group to Gatsbys, centered around The
Earthen Vessel magazine. Among the issues in dispute between these two groups was the
eternal sonship of Christ. Gadsbys Gospel Standard Baptists held to the orthodox view that
Christ was the eternally begotten Son of God the Father. He was thus Son of God and God the
Son from eternity. Stevens did not deny Christs deity, but differed on Christs sonship. He

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argued that Christ was not begotten by the Father until the Incarnation. On the other hand,
Stevens taught that Christ had both an eternal deity and an eternal humanity.
B. James Wells pastored the enormous Surrey Tabernacle not far from the Metropolitan
Tabernacle pastored by C.H. Sturgeon (which had previously been pastored by Gill).
Sometimes Spurgeon humorously referred to him as King James. Wells was an extremely
popular preacher, but he had a knack for controversy. While rejecting the Gospel Standard form
of Calvinistic Antinomianism, he developed another form in the midst of the Rahab
Controversy of the 1860s. Wells argued that Rahab was right to lie to the Canaanite pagans in
order to protect the Israelite spies. Most Calvinists disagree. But Wells went further and stated
that this was part of her justifying faith. Behind this lay Wells contention that Gods will somehow
takes a certain precedence over His nature. Orthodox Reformed teaching is that Gods nature
underlies His will.
C. Later Earthen Vessels included W.J. Styles and John Hazelton. Only a few broken
potsherds remain of the Earthen Vessel today.

5. The Primitive Baptists.


A. One of the factors unifying all British Hyper-Calvinists was their opposition to the Great
Missionary Movement led by Andrew Fuller and William Carey. This opposition crossed the
Atlantic early in the 19th-century to start the first major branch of American Hyper-Calvinism.
B. This movement can be traced indirectly back to John Leland, an influential Baptist of the
period. Soon some ultra-Calvinists in Kentucky joined the opposition td the Missionary
Movement and became known as Primitive Baptists. In some ways they are the American
counterpart to the Strict and Particular Baptists of England, including the Gospel Standard
Baptists.
C. Only a few of its leaders bear mentioning. Gushing Hassell wrote a large History of the
Church of God, an unusual history of tithe Church since the New Testament from the
perspective of Baptist Calvinists. It has recently been reprinted. Hassell takes many
opportunities in this work to state and defend the views of the Primitive Baptists. Other
influential leaders include R.H. Pittman and W.J. Berry.
D. Virtually all Primitive Baptists have been Hyper-Calvinists. They not only reject the idea of
free offers but also the need for foreign mission societies; among the more extreme are the
Absolutists (also called Necessitarians). Some of these teach that God can save His elect
without the Gospel. Thus, they teach immediate regeneration. Orthodox Calvinism, however,
has always taught mediate regeneration - God gives regeneration through the Word of God,
especially the Gospel.
E. Another obscure wing was the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Primitive Baptists. This is traced back
to Daniel Parker in the 1820s, who taught a perversion of Supralapsarianism that said that the
elect are born with the seed of election in them biologically. Similarly, the reprobate are born
with the seed of reprobation in them. The elect will blossom without the need for evangelism,
for they were never under wrath. Parker based this on a strange interpretation of Gen. 3:15.
Virtually no Two-Seeders remain, but therere tens of thousands of Primitive Baptists in
America, mainly in the South. Incidently, this group is sometimes referred to as Hardshell
Baptists, a name which they dislike. Because of their anti-missions stance, they also oppose
Sunday Schools

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6. Arthur W. Pink.
A. A.W. Pink is one of the most well known of the Hyper-Calvinists, but he doesnt fall into any
one of the preceding categories. Pink was born in England, but ministered in America, Australia,
England and finally Scotland. At first he was a semi-Arminian Dispensationalist, then a
Calvinistic Dispensationalist, then he dropped Dispensationalism completely. He was a Baptist,
but never a Calvinistic Antinomian.
B. In the second half of his ministry, he was in and out of the Strict and Particular Baptists.
Though a prolific writer, it is not so well known that he wrote few of these books during his
lifetime. Most of those under his name were posthumous collections of articles he had written in
his monthly Studies in the Scriptures magazine.
C. Pink has enjoyed far more popularity after his death in 1952 than before. His many books
sell very well. His most important book is entitled The Sovereignty of God, a medium-sized book
which has been twice abridged. This was one of his first undertakings, and we see his
ambivalence towards Hyper-Calvinism in its pages. Throughout his ministry, Pink was an onand-off Hyperist. In some places, he castigates the Gospel Standard Baptists for denying free
offers. Often he defends free offers. Yet in other places, Pink agrees with them that free
offers are unbiblical and incompatible with Calvinist theology. He used many of the most
popular Hyper-Calvinist arguments. So, though he was sometimes a Hyper, Pink was a mild
one. Most of his writings are extremely readable masterpieces of deep theology compressed
into a few words which anybody can understand and enjoy. His books, especially The
Sovereignty of God, have done much to revive Calvinism in the 20th-century.

7. The Protestant Reformed Church.


A. In the early 1920s, the Christian Reformed Church was in the midst of a major controversy.
It surrounded common grace. The CRC had just issued an official statement endorsing
common grace as a Reformed doctrine. A small contingent disagreed with considerable force.
B. They were led by Herman Hoeksema, a popular but scholarly young Grand Rapids
preacher. Hoeksema was thrown out of the CRC, but he led the others in forming the Protestant
Reformed Church. The PRC and the CRC looked to their Dutch Calvinist heritage for
inspiration. While the CRC is one of the largest Presbyterian denominations in America, the
PRC has only a couple of dozen churches.
C. Hoeksema was an apt scholar and writer. His magnum opus was his Reformed Dogmatics,
a thick systematic theology that defends his strict Dutch form of Hyper-Calvinism. He also wrote
an important exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism, The Triple Knowledge in 3 large volumes,
plus several other works.
D. Hoeksemas son Homer picked up his mantle after his death in 1966, but hasnt equaled him
in influence. He did, however, write a large commentary on the Articles of the Synod of Dort,
The Voice of Our Fathers. David Engelsma is another Protestant Reformed pastor and writer
who has addressed these subjects. In his Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel,
Engelsma has argued that Hoeksema and the PRC are not Hyper-Calvinist like Gill.
E. Engelsma, however, is incorrect. Hoeksema and the PRC reject free offers for almost the
exact same reasons, as did all other Hyper-Calvinists. In some ways, they are the highest of all
Hypers, for unlike most they reject all notions of common grace.

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8. Problems in Defining Hyper-Calvinism.


A. There are many misconceptions about Hyper-Calvinism that fog a correct definition. On the
one hand, there are those such as John R. Rice and Norman Geisler who would say that all 5
Point Calvinists are Hyper-Calvinists. This is not true. On the other hand, few would ever admit
to being Hyper-Calvinist, for the term is rather odious. Still others deny that there even is such
a thing as Hyper-Calvinism.
B. Then there is the popular jingle that says, A Hyper-Calvinist is just someone who is more
Calvinist than you are. That too is incorrect. Others say, Hyper-Calvinism is Calvinism carried
to its logical conclusions. That too is incorrect, for Hyper-Calvinism is rather Calvinism carried
to illogical conclusions. It arrives at its extreme position by bad logic and by adducing certain
premises which most Calvinists reject.
C. Sometimes we find synonyms used: Ultra, extreme, high, etc. These to-do not define the
term in question. Still, they point to one obvious fact: Hyper-Calvinism is the most extreme form
of Calvinism around.
D. As we said at the beginning of this study, Hyper-Calvinism is the extension of a trend that
can be traced back to Theodore Beza. All Hyperists have been more than High Calvinists, but
they share something in common: Supralapsarianism. However, it is important to make a
distinction. While all Hyper-Calvinists have been Supralapsarians, not all Supralapsarians have
been Hyper-Calvinists. For example, Beza and Perkins were High, not Hyper-Calvinists. The
difference is small but important.
E. Then also there is a relationship between Hyper-Calvinism and Calvinistic Antinomianism.
All Hyper-Calvinists have held to some form of justification before faith some more than others.
On the other hand, only about half have taught that Christians are bound only to the Gospel and
not to the Law. And yet, almost all Hyper-Calvinists have appreciated Crisp and the other
Calvinistic Antinomians, Gill, for example, had Crisps works reprinted with notes exonerating
him of heresy and giving orthodox Reformed interpretations.
F. All this does not get at the heart of the question. Hyperism goes further than the above in
one specific area, which shows them to be highest of all.

9. Hyper-Calvinism and the Free Offer.


A. All Calvinists before 1700 believed in the free offer of the Gospel. The word offer and its
cognates can be found in Calvin, the Reformers, the Reformers, and even in the
Supralapsarians (like Beza) and the Calvinistic Antinomians (like Crisp). There were no HyperCalvinists before 1700,except possibly Davis and Hussey in the last couple of years of the
1690s.
B. It is specifically the rejection of the idea of free offers that defines Hyper-Calvinism. There
is just something about the word offer that sticks in the craw of the Hypers. It just sounds too
Arminian. It just wont do to offer the Gospel, grace, Christ or anything else that only God can
give. Likewise, the word free sounds like Arminian free will. Hypers usually reject the idea of
offers that are free, serious, sincere, serious or well meant. To some extent, the controversy is
semantic. But not entirely.
C. With the exception of a few extreme Primitive Baptists, all Hyper-Calvinists have believed

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that we are to preach the Gospel to all, but offer it to none. Preach, explain, command -yes.
Offer - no. Some have also quibbled over the word invite, arguing that we can only invite
sensible [convicted] sinners, not sinners in general. All this is related to anti-missionism.
D. The following are the main Hyper-Calvinist arguments against free offers, with the historic
Calvinist reply:
(1) We never find the word offer used in Scripture concerning the Gospel. But: This is
true of the King James Version, but several modern versions employ offer together with
the Gospel, such as the NASB of I Cor.9: 18, What then is my reward? That, when I
preach the Gospel, I may offer the Gospel without charge. One might even argue that
without charge could be translated free - thus, a free offer.
(2) We do not offer what is not ours to give. God gives, not offers. But: God gives
through the offer of the Gospel. Moreover, God offered David three choices in I Chiron.
21:10 (KJV). God gives faith through the Word of God and the preaching of Christ (Rom.
10:17).
(3) Free offers imply universal supply, but the atonement is limited. But: Most Reformed
theologians argue that there is a universal aspect of the atonement which underlies the
universal offer of the atonement. Others say it is a paradox, and still others say that the
extent of the atonement has nothing to do with the question.
(4) Free offers imply that God wishes all men to be saved. This contradicts the doctrine
of election. It also implies that grace is universal. But: The Reformed doctrine of the
revealed will of God is that there is a sense in which God certainly does will the salvation
of all who hear the Gospel, just as He wills all who hear the Law to obey. He has no
pleasure in the death of the one who rejects either Law or Gospel. True Reformed
theology keeps the balance between the secret will (election) and the revealed will
(Gospel), but Hyperism over-emphasizes the secret will. Similarly, special grace reflects
election and the secret will, but there is also common grace for all men, as creatures in
the revealed will.

10. The Question of,Duty Faith.


A. Hyper-Calvinism also rejects the idea of Duty Faith. In the mid-18thcentury, there was a
controversy called The Modern Question, viz, Is it the duty of all who hear the Gospel to believe
savingly in Christ? All mainstream Calvinists answer Yes, while virtually all Hypers answer
No. This is because Duty Faith corresponds to free offers in theology.
B. Their arguments and the orthodox Reformed replies are as follows:
(1) The idea of Duty Faith implies that sinners have the ability to believe. Free offers also imply
that sinners are able to accept the offer. But sinners are totally depraved and unable.
Responsibility and duty implies ability; they are not able; therefore they have no duty to believe.
But: True Reformed theology argues that inability does not negate responsibility. Sinners cannot
obey Gods Law, but they are still duty-bound and responsible to do so. The same is true when
they hear the Gospel. Otherwise, there would be no additional penalty for not believing the
Gospel (some Hypers such as Styles said that very thing).
(2) Faith is a gift. Therefore, faith cannot be a duty, for duty is works. But: True Reformed
theology argues that it is not inconsistent for the same thing to be both a duty and a gift. As
Augustine said, Demand what thou whilst, 0 Lord, and give what thou demandest. And He

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does.
(3) Salvation is unconditional. A duty is a condition. If faith were a duty, (it would be a condition
of salvation. But faith is a blessing, not a condition. But: It is not inconsistent for faith to be both
a duty and a blessing. This does not mean salvation by works. There is a sense in which faith is
a condition, but it is a condition which God meets with the gift of faith.

11. The Debate over Common Grace.


A. Most Hyper-Calvinists admit that there is a small remnant of mercy for the non-elect, called
Common Grace. This pertains to them as creatures, not as elect or non-elect. Some say it
postpones their judgment. Most say it has to do with the bounties of Providence. This is in
agreement with the best of truly Reformed theology.
B. However, they greatly de-emphasize it. It sounds too Arminian. Herman Hoeksema and the
Protestant Reformed Church completely reject all notions of Common Grace. Hoeksemas logic
is an extreme based on a distorted kind of Supralapsarianism. He argues that because of the
double-decree of election and reprobation before the decree of the Fall, God has only love for
the elect and only hatred for the reprobate.
C. This necessitates two corollaries, argues Hoeksema. First, the elect have never been under
the wrath of God, for that means hatred. Second, the non-elect have never been under the love
of God. Never the twain meet.
D. Mainstream Calvinists have great difficulty with this. First, Eph. 2:3explicitly says that
believers were once under the wrath of God even as the rest. Second, Scripture often speaks
of Gods general love to all men as creatures (Psa. 145:9, Matt. 5:43-48, etc.). God commands
us to love all men; does He command us to do what He Himself does not do? Mind you, this
does not mean that Common Grace is saving - saving grace is special and particular.
E. Hoeksema had great difficulty with Calvins formula. Calvin said that it is not true that God
had only love for some and only hatred for others. Rather, God had love and hatred for all men,
but in differing ways. God hated all men because of sin, but had Common Grace on all because
they were His creatures. Yet God had a special love for His elect, leaving the reprobate in the
hatred their sins deserved. The real mystery, said Calvin, is that God could both love and hate
the elect. But He did.

12. Conclusion.
A. Why do men become Hyper-Calvinists? The answer takes several forms. Many turn Hyper
because they have over-reacted against Arminianism. Many were once Arminians themselves.
Then they became Reformed. They soon looked askance at Arminianism and Arminians. Most
Hyper-Calvinists do not think that Arminians are true Christians at all (Gadsby felt Wesley died
unsaved). Therefore they have backed into Hyper-Calvinism out of over-reaction. But most
mainstream Calvinists accept Evangelical Arminians as brothers - weak brothers, but still
brothers.
B. Together with this, in their love for the doctrines of grace some young Calvinists get the
notion that the higher one goes in Calvinism, the better. To them, Hyper-Calvinism is SuperCalvinism, the best there is. Actually, hyper and super are related in etymology they fail to
heed the warnings of more mature Calvinists, such as the Puritans, who warned against being

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too high. To change the metaphor, Hyper-Calvinists are high on their excesses; they are
intoxicated on an imbalance and consider it the pinnacle of spirituality/But their critics know
better. It is obvious that the Hyper-Calvinists spirituality is dry and moribund. As someone said,
They go down deep, stay down long, come up dry. But they never go out to bring anyone in to
the Kingdom of God. Most Hypers are evangelistically dead.
C. This is related to what I call the spirit of Hyper-Calvinism. One can be a Hyper-Calvinist in
spirit though not in letter. One can believe in free offers, but if he does not give them, he has the
spirit of Hyper-Calvinism. This crops -up in an overly passive approach to evangelism and
prayer. Like the lazy man who says, Let George do it, the Christian bitten by the Hyper bug
offers this excuse: Let God do it. But God commands us to preach the Gospel to every
creature. If we do not, we are practical Antinomians with the Great Commission. Worse than
that, we have the blood of sinners on our hands and invite Gods chastening.
D. At root, Hyperists over-emphasize the sovereignty of God over the responsibility of Man.
Since our responsibility is based oh divine holiness, this means that they have an imbalanced
doctrine of God - sovereignty is more important than holiness. They likewise exalt sovereignty
over divine love, as when Hoeksema denies all Common Grace to men as creatures. Further,
they exalt the secret will over the revealed will, which they virtually abolish.
E. But Hyper-Calvinism is a distinct minority. No more than 1% of Calvinists have been HyperCalvinists. They are not the cream of Calvinism. The best Calvinists are those who keep the
beautiful balance within the Godhead and the divine attributes. They balance the revealed and
the secret wills. And they live true Christian lives in that balance. Hyper-Calvinism is not as bad
as Arminianism, true. But it has stupefying effects which stunt the growth. Keep the Scriptural
balance, brethren, and thereby render more glory to God.

Recommended Reading
Gill, John. A Body of Divinity. Paris, AR: Baptist Standard Bearer.
Hoeksema, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Assoc.
Hoeksema, Herman. The Triple Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Pub. Assoc.
Engelsma, David. Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free
Publishing Association.
Brine, John. A Treatise on Various Subjects. Paris, AR: Baptist Standard Bearer. Philpot, J.C.
Letters and Memoir of Joseph Charles Philpot. Grand Rapids: Baker. Philpot, J.C. Sermons. 10
vols. Harpenden, Eng: Gospel Standard Trust. Hassell, Cushing. History of the Church of God.
Ellenwood: Old School Hymnal Co.
Pink, Arthur W. The Sovereignty of God. Grand Rapids: Baker (unabridged edition). Carlisle:
Banner of Truth (abridged edition).
Pink, Arthur W. The Atonement. Swengel: Reiner. (Has Pinks non-offer views)
Murray, Iain. The Life of A.M. Pink. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Belcher, Richard. Arthur W. Pink: Predestination. Columbia: Richbarry Press.
Ramsbbttom, B.A. The History of the Gospel Standard Magazine, 1835-1985. Carshalton, Eng:
Gospel Standard Societies.
Ross, Bob. The Killing Effects of Calvinism. Pasadena: Pilgrim Publications. (A Calvinist rebuttal

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of Hardshell Primitive Baptist Hyper-Calvinism)


Nettles, Tom. By His Grace and For His Glory. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Van Til, Cornelius. Common Grace and the Gospel. Phi Hipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Murray, John. The Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. I, pp. 59-85. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
(Contains Murrays excellent article on the free offer)

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Chapter 14. Eighteenth-Century


Calvinism.
1. The Scottish Presbyterians.
A. Throughout the eighteenth-century, Calvinism prospered in Scotland. There were, however*
a few controversies which illustrate how the Reformed faith had to deal with specific issues,
B. The first of these controversies concerned the great Thomas Boston (1677-1732). Boston
was a leading scholar and popular preacher. Among his many important writings are his Human
Nature in Its Fourfold State and a systematic theology based on the Westminster Shorter
Catechism. His theology was in the mainstream of the best of Puritan Calvinism.
C. The controversy began when Boston discovered an old copy, of a little book entitled The
Marrow of Modern Divinity. This curious book had been written in 1645 by one E.F., evidently
Edward Fisher. The book presented Puritan Covenant Theology in an unusual way. The Marrow
collected dozens of quotations from the leading Reformers and Puritans, and strung them
together in a series of imaginary dialogues between several characters, mainly Evangelists,
Nomologista and Antinomista. It often employed theological paradoxes.
D. Boston arranged for the book to be republished. This began what is known as the Marrow
Controversy. As the book sold well, the flames of controversy rose higher. Eventually Boston
wrote explanatory notes to the Marrow to show that its teachings were orthodox. Other Scottish
Calvinists defended the Marrow, and so came to be called the Marrow men. There were 12
main defenders, so they were also called the 12 Apostles by some detractors. Among their
number were James Hog and the brothers Ralph and Ebenezer rskine. The controversy lasted
mainly from 1718 to 1723.
E. On the other side were the anti-Marrow men, lad by Principal James Hadow. They
suspected the Marrow of both Arminianism and Calvinistic Antinomianism. This faction was also
quite orthodox in their Calvinism, but it had degenerated into a cold, dry orthodoxy. More than
that, it had backed into an odd combination of a kind of Neonomianism and something akin to
Hyper-Calvinism. This dry orthodoxy was reluctant to give a full free offer of the Gospel, but
strenuously emphasized repentance and Preparationism.
F. The main issues were these. First, was the Covenant of Grace the same as the Covenant of
Redemption? The Marrow men said yes, the others no. Also, was faith a condition of the
Covenant of Grace? The Marrow men preferred to speak of faith as a blessing, but accepted it
as something of a condition. Their opponents stressed that it was a condition together with
repentance (and sometimes this stress reeked of Neonomianism). Next, was the atonement
universal or particular? The Marrow as accused of teaching universal atonement. Lastly, was
assurance of the essence of faith? The Marrow men tended to say that it was, the others denied
this.
G. The Marrow was condemned by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Members
were warned not to read it. Boston and the others left or were picked out and formed the
Secession Church, which continued for quite sometime as a minority Calvinist denomination in
Scotland.
H. The other major controversy concerned Sandemanianism. This heresy was the dual product
of John Glas (1695-1773) and his son-in-law Robert Sandeman (1718-1771). Glas was expelled

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from the Church of Scotland and started a movement of semi-associated Independent


churches. Sandeman took the movement to England and then to America. Hence, some
adherents became known as Giassites, others as Sandemanians. But they taught the same
thing.
I. Glas and Sandeman were basically orthodox in their Calvinism, except in one vital area: the
nature of faith. What they did was simply carry to logical conclusions the dry orthodoxy of antiMarrow Calvinism. Sandemanianism, then, is basically this: saving faith is nothing more than
mental assent to the truths of the Gospel. Perhaps later it produces personal trust and hearty
repentance. This notion was arrived at by reacting against the doctrine that assurance is of the
essence of faith. Sandemanianism produced a dry lifeless faith that had no assurance and
therefore was only mental and not really personal. Fortunately, the movement later died out, but
vestiges of the heresy still linger here and there.

2. The English Independents.


A. After the Puritan era (c. 1570-1700), Calvinism among Presbyterians took a nosedive- Host
drifted into Socinianism, Arianism, Deism or Arminianism. There were few English Presbyterians
in the 18th-century, and fewer still who were true to the (mainly Presbyterian) Westminster
Confession of Faith.
B. On the other hand, Calvinism continued to prosper among the Baptists and the
Independents. Sometimes a congregation would include both groups. These Independents, also
called Congregationalists, were paedo-baptists but this was not the main issue at stake.
Calvinism and Evangelicalism were the issues.
C. Two names stand out among the Independent leaders of the 18th-century. The first was
Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Watts was the assistant and then successor of Isaac Chauncey, the
leading Anti-Neonomian. This church had previously been pastured by Joseph Caryl and John
Owen. It was a bastion of Calvinism.
D. Poor Watts was in constant ill health. This produced a pale pallor in his countenance that
made him rather unattractive. Once he was matched to marry a certain young lady who had
never seen him. When she first saw him, she cancelled the engagement. Watts remained a
bachelor.
E. Yet Watts was more than blessed in another area: hymnology. He collected hymns and
published them in an immensely popular hymnbook. Once in a battle in the field, a British army
needed paper to stuff their muskets with gunpowder. They ran out. So the general commanded
them to requisition the hymnbooks from the nearby church, with the battle cry Giveem Watts,
men! Watts hymnbooks were in churches all over England.
F. Watts also wrote many of the most beloved hymns of all time, such as When I Survey the
Wondrous Cross, Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, I Sing the Mighty Power of God, Alas!
And Did My Savior Bleed?, Jesus Shall Reign, Come Ye That Love the Lord, Were
Marching to Zion, There is a Land of Pure Delight, and the Christmas favorite Joy to the
World.
G. Before the 18th-century, most Calvinist churches sung only psalms set to music. Watts did
not abolish them, - but added hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19). The 18th-century was a
veritable revival of Evangelical hymnody. Not only were there the Arminians John and Charles
Wesley, but Calvinists such as Watts and others we will discuss below,

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H. Watts, however, was a very Low Calvinist, and increasingly lower. For one thing, he thought
that one need not believe in the Trinity in order to be a Christian. This led to serious
modifications of the orthodox doctrine. Some have said he was Arian or Sabellian, but he really
moved in another area. He taught a form of the odd and rare doctrine known as PreExisterianism. This strange doctrine taught that Christ had a human soul and a divine nature
before the Incarnation. Some taught that Christ was eternally the God-Man; others, that Christ
took on a human soul in the eternal Covenant of Redemption. In either case, Witts felt that
Christ only took on a human body at the Incarnation, for he already had a human soul. Several
later Hyper-Calvinists held to this view, such as John Stevens and some of the Earthen
Vessels. It is, of course, nowhere taught in the Bible.
I. The other leading Calvinist Independent was Philip Doddridqe (1702-1751), who paralleled
Watts in many ways. He too taught a kind of Pre-Existerianism. He too wrote many popular
hymns, such as 0, Happy Day and Grace! Tis a Charming Sound. And like Watts, he was
often in ill health, mainly going back to infancy (he was the twentieth child of his parents and
was first thought to be still-born, but barely survived).
J. Doddridge pastored in Northampton England. While there, he wrote many best-selling books,
such as his semi-autobiographical spiritual classic The Rise and Progress of Religion in the
Soul. He also wrote The Family Expositor, a combination paraphrase and commentary of the
New Testament for use in family devotions. It top was a best seller for over 100 years.
K. But it was mainly his work as Principal at the Northampton Academy that Doddridge is most
well known. Non-Anglicans could not study at the English universities, so they went to private
academies (seminaries). The one at Northampton became the leading Independent and
Calvinistic one, with an average of 200 students; Academic standards were high. For example,
Doddridge required all students to learn shorthand so that they could copy down the classroom
lectures entire and verbatim.
L. Doddridge strived for harmony between the churches This was good, but it became his
weakness. Eventually he downplayed dogmatic theology. This affected his teaching style.
Rather than saying, This is the truth and that is error, he tended to simply explain all the
different theories and let the students discover for themselves which was true. It didnt work. It
never has. Most of his students became liberals, Arians and Deists, even though they entered
as Evangelical Calvinists. Twentieth-century seminaries should learn a lesson from this
bad/example,

3. The Anglican Calvinists.


A. Calvinism was originally popular in, the English Reformation, Many of the leading Puritans
were members of the Church of England. But then it went downhill in the 18th-century. Still,
there were a few notable exceptions.
B. Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) was originally an Arminian, then became a
staunch Calvinist. Like Watts and Doddridge, he wrote many great hymns, such as Rock of
Ages, A Debtor to Mercy Alone, and A Sovereign Protector I Have.
C. Toplady went in the opposite direction of Watts and Doddridge. .That is, Toplady went
higher and higher, even verging on Hyper-Calvinism (he was Supralapsarian and a close friend
of John Gill). Like Gill; he had a running controversy with John Wesley, writing and exchanging
increasingly bitter tracts and treatises. At one point, Wesley wrote, Your God is my Devil. And
Toplady replied in like manner. It was a poor example of how to defend the truth. Still, Toplady

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did much to revive Anglican Calvinism.


D. Toplady wrote two influential works on the matter: The Historic Proof of the Doctrinal
Calvinism of the Church of England and The Church of England Vindicated from the Charge of
Arminianism. Toplady may have been correct that the English Reformers were Calvinists. So
were the Thirty-nine Articles. But by this time, the Articles were not truly used to measure
doctrine any more, and Anglican Calvinism suffered greatly after the. Puritan era. After all,
Puritanism led to the overthrow of the monarchy and took away the Church of Englands
privileged status as State Church. Toplady died, at the young age of 38..
E. John Newton (1725-1807) was another leading Anglican Calvinist. Newton was the son of a
shipmaster. When he came of age, he entered the English Navy, then became a merchant
seaman, then a slave-trader. Because of debt and other circumstances, he himself became
virtually a slave himself to the wife of another slave-trader. And then he was dramatically
converted during a storm at sea.
F. Newton was an Anglican pastor with a wide ministry of letters. They were not simply the
usual correspondence ( Wish you were here), but a unique combination of devotions and
theological exhortation. Many of these we recollected and published in the volume entitled
Cardophonia (voice of the heart). They make excellent reading.
H. Newton also wrote several popular hymns, such as Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds, and what became probably the most popular hymn o
all time, Amazing Grace. The grace of which Newton wrote and sung was particular, electing,
irresistible grace.
I. Newton was also friend and pastor to William Cowper (1731-1800). Poor William Cowper was
a sad case of chronic depression. He was in and out of mental hospitals and sometimes
attempted suicide. He was sometimes a Calvinist, which gave an odd twist to his melancholy.
Often he thought he was elect; then he thought he was surely one of the non-elect. Cowper
penned yet more of the great hymns: There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, 0 For a Closer
Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, and others. Newton was one of the few who
could console this poor man who was half-mad and half-genius.

4. The Evangelical Awakening.


A. Above all the names above stands a preacher who was the greatest preacher of the century
and certainly one of the two or three greatest preachers since the days of the Apostles. His
name was George Whitefield (1714-1770). He was an Anglican. But most germane to this
study is that he was a Calvinist.
B. Whitefield met John and Charles Wesley while studying at Oxford. The three of them formed
the Holy Club, which in some respects was the beginnings of Methodism. But none of them
were as yet truly converted. Within a. few years, all three were converted. But the Wesleys
became Arminians - John was the most important Arminian since Arminius himself.
C. Whitefield never was an Anglican priest in a local church. Instead, he mainly traveled as an
evangelist. He saw true, Biblical revival virtually everywhere he preached - not the phony sort of
revival which others speak of. At first he spoke in churches, but then the crowds became too
large. So he took to open-air preaching. Crowds numbered as many as 60,000. And this was
before the days of public address systems. Whitefield had an exceedingly strong voice.
Benjamin Franklin measured that Whitefield could be heard distinctly a mile away! His favorite
text: You must be born again (John 3:7).

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D. Whitefields preaching was unparalleled. His sermons usually lasted about 2 hours in length.
Unlike many Calvinist preachers, he threw his whole self into it, usually weeping in every
sermon. He preached at least once a day, often 6 times daily, with an estimated total of 18,000
sermons. And then there were the usual hecklers in the open-air. Whitefield once wrote in his
famous Journals, Today while preaching I was honored by rocks, mud, filth and pieces of a
dead cat.
E. He traveled several times to preach in the American colonies. In Britain, it was known as the
Evangelical Awakening and in America as the Great Awakening. Whitefield became fast
friends of the great Jonathan Edwards. On one famous occasion Whitefield preached at
Edwards church while Edwards sat there listening - and weeping.
F. Now Whitefield was a Calvinist. Naturally this led to a falling out with Wesley, Eventually
they parted ways. In time they became friends again, but they would not work as closely
together as in the peak of the Evangelical Awakening (1739-1742). This in turn led Whitefield to
associate with some other great Calvinist preachers, such as Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland
and William Williams. Together they organized Calvinistic Methodism. To some today, that
sounds like a contradiction in terms, but only because of the propaganda that the Evangelical
Awakening and the first Methodists were all Arminian. Not so. Half was Arminian (the Wesleys,
John Fletcher, etc), the other half was Calvinistic. Calvinistic Methodism was organized at a
meeting in 1743 at which Whitefield presided. The movement was predominantly Welsh and
eventually split from the Church of England and continued as the Welsh Presbyterians (such as
Lloyd-Jones). Whitefield himself stayed in the Church of England. In time, the Arminian branch
split from the Church of England and became the more well known Methodist Church.
G. The point needs to be underscored that true Calvinism is not adverse to evangelism.
Whitefield and Edwards were staunch Calvinists. So was Spurgeon. In fact, theirs was a truer
evangelism than the Arminian variety. Also remember that the Evangelical Awakening took
place in the heyday of Hyper-Calvinism. But as much as Edwards and Whitefield did to stress
evangelism, it took a later Calvinist movement to counter-balance the deadening effects of
Hyper-Calvinism.

5. The Great Missionary Movement.


A. Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) pastored the little Baptist Church in Kettering, England, which
had produced John GIII 50 years earlier. Fuller was raised under Hyper-Calvinism and was
originally a Hyper-Calvinist himself, through the influence of Edwards and Whitefield, Fuller
discovered the importance of the Great Commission and rejected Hyperism forever. In fact, it
was probably Fuller who first coined the term Hyper-Calvinism.
B. In 1785 Fuller published The-Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation specifically to counter HyperCalvinism. But it did more. It was the inspiration for what became known as the Great
Missionary Movement. True, there were foreign missions before then, but they were few and
far between. They were but a trickle; Fuller produced a flood (or to use a Baptist pun, what was
once but a sprinkling now became an immersion). These first great missionaries were not
merely Baptists. They were all Calvinists. They included Fuller, John Rippon (Gills immediate
successor), John Ryland and Samuel Pearce. They organized missions. But who actually
went?
C. William Carey (1761-1834) was the first missionary sent out by the newly formed Baptist
Missionary Society, founded in 1792. Carey was a plain old shoe repairman, but he had three
important character traits: he had an uncanny ability to learn languages (eventually he

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mastered dozens), head a fervent desire to evangelize the lost, and he was a Calvinist who
believed that the sovereign God of election uses evangelism to call in His elect. Carey used to
say to Fuller, Ill go into the mine if you hold the rope. Fuller stayed in England and spread the
vision.
D. Carey had written An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the
Conversion of the Heathen (1792). With Fullers Gospel Worthy it became the theological
manifesto for the Great Missionary Movement. Carey then went to India where he preached,
taught, translatedand furthered foreign missions of all sorts. His motto: Expect greatthings from
God. Attempt great things for God, This reflected his Reformed theology of the balance of
divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

6. Conclusion.
The 18th-century was not the Dark Ages of Calvinism that some think it was. If nothing else, it
showed indubidible truth and unforgetable illustrations that historic Calvinism has contributed to
the front ranks of theological literature, spiritual hymnology and evangelistic zeal. May 20thcentury Calvinists emulate their examples in these areas and thereby put to silence the slanders
and misrepresentations of Arminians and liberals.

Recommended Reading
Boston, Thomas. Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Boston, Thomas. Memoirs of Thomas Boston. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Lachman, David. The Marrow Controversy, 1718-1723. Edinburgh: Rutherford House.
Toplady, A.M. The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady. Harrisanburg: Sprinkle Publications.
Lawton, George. Within the Rock of. Ages: The Life and Work of Augustus Montague Toplady.
Cambridge: James Clarke.
Newton, John. The Works of John Newton. 6 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Whitefield, George.
George Minefields Journals. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Dallimore, Arnold. George Whitefield. 2
vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Fuller, Andrew. The Works of Andrew Fuller. 3 vols.
Harrisonburg: Sprinkle. Ryle, O.C. Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century. Carlisle:
Banner of Truth;

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Chapter 15. Jonathan Edwards and New


England Calvinism.
1. Biography of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
A. The popular image of Jonathan Edwards is that of a witch-burning fanatical preacher who
sadistically enjoyed roasting his congregation over the flames of Hell. Though the popular image
remains, among scholars there is a vastly different appreciation, even among those who
strenuously disagree with him. Among those who have read his writings, there is an almost
universally held estimation that Jonathan Edwards was both the greatest theologian and the
greatest philosopher that has graced the American scene. Others would say he was also the
greatest preacher as well. And still others would rank him among the half-dozen greatest
theologians of any country in any era. Among students of the history of Calvinism, there is no
doubt that he ranks among the first class Reformed theologians. He deserves to be studied well.
B. Edwards was born in 1703 in Connecticut, the only son of 11 children. He came from a
Christian family; both his father and his grandfather were pastors. Young Jonathan showed
himself something of a prodigy at a young age. By the age of 13 he had learned Latin, Greek
and Hebrew and had written several insightful essays on philosophy, metaphysics and biology
(including his famous Of Insects about spiders). He thus entered Yale College at age 13and
graduated at 17. About this time he underwent a marvelous conversion, followed by 3 more
years of theological study at Yale.
C. Most of his ministry was spent as pastor of a Congregational church in Northampton,
Massachusetts. As such, he believed in paedo-baptism, Biblical inerrancy, infralapsarianism,
and Post-Millennialism. If Edwards was anything, he was a staunch Calvinist. Yet he had some
distinctive perspectives. He discussed a subject in new ways. Though in substantial agreement
with, say, the Puritans, Edwards was an original thinker with new insights; He did more than
repeat the Puritan theology of the Colonial Calvinists. He founded what is known as New
England Theology (or New England Calvinism).
D. Some scholars accredit these new perspectives to Edwards appreciation of John Locke, an
early Deist. Though Edwards liked Locke, there were notable differences. Locke was a Deist
and influential in the Enlightenment, which stressed the ability of human reason for solving the
problems Man faced. Edwards, however, stressed divine revelation over reason. Still, he
accepted the view that revelation does not contradict right reason. He tended to seek
reasonable explanations for things revealed in Scripture, where most previous Calvinists
admitted paradox or mystery.
E. Of the many stories which could be told about Edwards the Christian, perhaps most
illustrative would be his Resolutions. Within the first three years of his conversion, Edwards
composed some 70 private resolutions concerning private religion. These were something
along the lines of a vow to keep his heart pure and dedicated to Christ. He would read each of
them aloud once a week for the rest of his life. Among them are the following:
Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it. Were the last hour of my
life.
Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom and of Hell.
Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

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Resolved, to examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me
in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
F. Edwards came from a large family and in turn produced a large family - 12 children (9
daughters, 3 sons). Someone once did a survey of his descendants and compared them with
one of his opponents. While his opponent produced numerous and notorious thieves, traitors,
murderers and such, the Edwards line became famous for hundreds of preachers, statesmen,
educators and such. One unusual twist was that one of his daughters married Rev. Aaron Burr,
Sr., co-founder of the College of New Jersey and its second president. His son Aaron Burr, or,
became the notorious Revolutionary politician who fled into exile after killing Alexander Hamilton
in a duel. One story is that it was the house of Burr that produced the line of disreputable
persons.

2. Edwards as Theological Writer.


A. Jonathan Edwards spent virtually his entire ministry as a pastor, or to be precise, a pastortheologian. He never formally taught at a seminary or academy, except for a few friends in his
home and for a few days at the end of his life.
B. And so he became a prolific writer. His writings covered many areas of theology, especially
the sinfulness of the human will [which well look at below]. His first publication was entitled God
Glorified in the work of Redemption, By the Greatness of Mans Dependence Upon Him in the
whole of It. This would be the keynote to his literary career. Another work showed how, in the
best Reformed tradition, he always ascribed the glory to God: Dissertation Concerning the End
for Which God Created the World, namely, that God would reveal His glory.
C. He wrote many books on the subject of human affections, or the desires of the heart and
will, such as A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. In Edwards theology, the deepest part
of man can be discerned by his affections, or what he loves the most. Whether these were godly
or not was discussed in great depth in his The Nature of True Virtue.
D. Then there was A History of the Work of Redemption. This was originally a series of sermons
on Gods progressive work of redemption in history. At the end of his life, Edwards had plans to
use this as the basis for his magnum opus, a complete systematic theology. In this he would
break from the usual fashion of formulating theology in a system according to topics. Rather, he
would discuss all that needed to be discussed in the order in which it was revealed in the history
of redemption according to Scripture.
E. Though he published much in his lifetime, yet more came after his death. He left behind
many unpublished works, many of which were brought into print by his son. Then there were his
Miscellanies, the large notebooks filled with notes, which he planned to develop into books for
publication. And there were scores of written sermons, letters, an annotated Bible, and more.
There remains as much unpublished as published. Fortunately, Yale University Press is bringing
most of this material into print. AIT in all, Edwards deserves to be read. The reader, however,
should bear in mind that though he is often quoted, Edwards is not the easiest writer to read.
His style is so precise it is usually difficult to follow. Moreover, he is so penetrating that the
reader instantly senses that his own heart is being examined.

3. The Great Awakening.

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A. The start of the Great Awakening can be traced to a series of sermons on justification by
faith, which Edwards preached to his Northampton church in1734-35. Revival broke out. At first
dozens were converted, then hundreds. Some of it spread to other churches.
B. This had a big influence on Edwards for the rest of his life. The idea of revival is always
associated with everything he wrote. Now, what do we -and Edwards - mean by revival? We do
not mean an evangelistic campaign, much less the attempts of modern revivalists to stir up
emotions without true doctrinal content. Instead, true revival is but the acceleration of the normal
work of God in the church and in the conversion of sinners. God always follows this pattern, but
in revival it is sped up drastically. Christians repent of their backsliding and the elect are
converted. Though this sometimes becomes emotional, Edwards stressed that emotions
themselves are not a true sign of revival or conversion. Rather, one must examine whether the
affections have been transformed according to Scripture.
C. Remember, this was before either Wesley or Whitefield were even converted yet. If the
Evangelical Awakening in Britain was half-Arminian and half-Calvinist, the Great Awakening in
America was 100% Calvinistic.
D. The next wave of the Awakening came in 1740 when Whitefield, by then quite converted,
came to New England to preach. He immediately befriended Edwards, who took him aside and
instructed him in Reformed teachings. At this point in the Awakening, the fire began to spread
rapidly through the colonies. And it was not only Edwards and Whitefield. There were, for
example, theTennents - William (1673-1746) and his four preacher sons: Gilbert (1703-1764),
William, Jr. (1705-1777), John (1706-1732) and Charles (1711-1771). The Tennents were
Presbyterians and would be very influential in the spread of Presbyterian Calvinism at this time.
For example, Gilbert founded the Log College, which would later become the College of New
Jersey, a center of Presbyterian Calvinism.
E. As the Awakening spread, it affected Edwards eschatology. He was a Post-Millennialism; he
believed in a great end-time revival which would spread worldwide and usher in a long period of
the display of the Kingdom of God on Earth before the return of Christ. Edwards thought that the
Great Awakening would be the torch that would ignite the fires that would spread worldwide. He
deeply felt that the Millennium was at hand.
F. Then there was the famous revival when Edwards preached his Sinners in the Hands of An
Angry God sermon. Curiously, this was not in his own church, nor was he the scheduled
substitute preacher when he preached at Enfield, Connecticut that Sunday of July 8, 1741. His
text was Deut. 32:25, Their foot shall slide in due season. This is one of the most famous
sermons ever preached and is probably the most-reprinted. Edwards had preached the very
same sermon only a short time before in his own church, but when he delivered it in Enfield, an
intensely powerful revival broke out in the middle of the message. People began moaning and
screaming for mercy as Edwards read his manuscript. They were under deep conviction for their
sins and saw that they deserved Hell. This was no example of a cheap preacher playing on
mens emotions - this was the work of God! Reading the accounts of it stirs the heart, and
reading the sermon convicts the heart. All Calvinists, indeed all Christians and non-Christians,
should read it and heed it.
G. Revival and evangelism usually go together with missions. And sure enough, there were a
few missionaries who came out of the Great Awakening, one in particular. David Brainerd
(1718-1747) was engaged to marry one of Edwards daughters. He went as missionary to
several tribes of American Indians in New England. This eventually took its toll on his health,
and he contracted consumption. He was taken to live in the Edwards home, where he died at
the young age of 30. His great godliness and missionary vision had a -powerful impact on
Jonathan Edwards, who published Brainerds Journal and wrote An Account of the Life of the

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Rev. David Brainerd (1749). In a very short time this would have an even more powerful impact
on churches in Britain - the Calvinists who started the Great Missionary Movement.
H. Edwards wrote several works on revival: A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God
(on the 1730s revival); Some Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England; The
Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (to discern whether revival was genuine in
the hearts of those who claimed it in themselves); and An Humble Attempt to Promote Visible
Union of Gods People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion (with special attention
to foreign missions).

4. The Halfway Covenant Controversy.


A. As the Great Awakening began to dissipate, Edwards began to work on further implications
of revival and church life. He wrote An Inquiry Concerning Qualifications for Communion to air
his views on which persons should be church members and eligible for Communion and which
should not. The heated controversy which followed was reminiscent of the one between John
Calvin and the Geneva elders and city council, which led to Calvins expulsion from Geneva
(only at the end of his life did Calvin win the issue).
B. Edwards rejected the theory made popular by his own grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. This
view said that all persons not in open sin are eligible for admittance to the Lords Table, even
those who do not make a profession of faith. Some said that Communion was a converting
sacrament; others said that we cannot judge who are true Christians, so admit anyone who
wants to partake - it is between them and the Lord. Edwards strongly disagreed with this HalfWay Covenant. It only bred false assurance.
C. Edwards argued that Communion was only for true Christians, and the visible Church had
the duty to screen false Christians from the Table for their own good. Thus, he contended,
Communion was open only to those who made a valid profession of faith and displayed the
marks of true conversion, such as a godly lifestyle of submission to the Bible. In this he was only
being consistent with his theology of revival and affections and conversion. But he was accused
of going too far.
D. This reached a head in 1750 when the church dismissed him by popular vote. Imagine, the
very church that was used of God to start the Great Awakening now dismissed the man whom
God used most in that Awakening for teaching the necessary conclusions of the revival! In
effect, they were disowning the revival and the Awakening. Students of revival know that this
has often happened - as the fires cool, those who were once warmed in it pour on coldwater.
Edwards filled the pulpit until a replacement could be found.
E. From there, the great Jonathan Edwards became pastor of a small church in Stockbridge,
Massachusetts. There he also served as missionary to the nearby Indians, just as Brainerd had.
The winds of providence blow where they will. It would appear that locked in obscurity; the
name of Jonathan Edwards would be lost. But instead, the solitude of the location afforded him
the opportunity to write even more. There were two books in particular that were written in this
period, 1751-1758.

5. The Freedom of the Will.


A. While at Stockbridge, Edwards wrote his most important book: A Careful and Strict Enquiry

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into the Prevailing Notions of Freedom of the Mill, Which is Supposed to Be Essential to Moral
Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame (1754).
B. Edwards exalted divine sovereignty more than most, but he also brought down human
depravity more than most. This did not minimize human responsibility (as in Hyper-Calvinism)
rather, it compounded it. Edwards expounded as follows.
C. First, before the Fall, Adam had the ability to ask for grace which would sustain him. He
chose not to ask for it, and so fell. This sin is passed onto all of Adams family, but also his fallen
nature. Fallen men are like fallen Adam - they no longer have the ability to ask for sustaining
grace. Consequently, from their perspective, they are not given it and so are not sustained.
They live in constant sin. In conversion, God imparts saving grace, which makes them able to
ask for sustaining gace, and they do just so.
D. Edwards made much of the differences between natural and moral inability. Men have the
natural ability to believe and obey; they have the constitutional parts and faculties. But they lack
the nature and life to do so. This is moral ability, the desire and nature to will properly.
E. The will (or affections) is not in a neutral state, as argued by Arminians. That would be a
state of indeterminism. But the universe acts on the principle of determinism - for every effect,
there was a cause. This means that the immediate cause for acts of the will is to be found in the
nature of a man. The order is this: fallen man has a sinful nature; therefore he always sees
things from a sinful perspective; therefore he always wills according to the way he sees things sinfully.
F. This underlay Edwards' idea of regeneration of the will. First, God imparts a new nature,
which results in spiritual enlightenment and then the will to believe. When he believes, he is
justified.

6. Original Sin.
A. Edwards took this further in his last major book, also written at Stockbridge but published
posthumously: The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (1758). He wrote this as a
reply to John Taylor, an Arminian.
B. In this masterful work, Edwards gave many proofs for original sin. One main one was that all
men are sinners. They act according to their nature. Thus, they have a common nature that
necessitates sins. If the Arminian or Pelagian theories were correct, we could expect to find at
least one person who did not ever follow the bad examples of others. But there are none.
C. Then the fact that many infants die in infancy proves original sin. Death is the effect of sin;
some infants die even in the womb; therefore sin is as early as one is an infant. Moreover, the
fact that God commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanite infants proves that these infants
were guilty, for the righteous God does not kill the innocent.
D. The root of original sin can be detected from its fruit. Men consciously sin as soon as they
are able to realize it, and they continue to progress in sin from then on. Men actively hate God
by nature. Since Gods nature is holy, He hates them also - it is a mutual loathing. Men get
worse unless converted, even if they hear Scripture. The civilized persons were worse than the
Indians they conquered. Lastly, Edwards preferred to speak of mediate imputation of Adams
sin. We inherit it because we were, really and literally in Adam. In this he differed from most
other Federalists.

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7. Edwards Last Days,


A. After several years at Stockbridge, he was invited to be the next President of the College of
New Jersey. At first he declined, then accepted. He began in January 1758. But within a short
time he had a reaction to smallpox vaccination. He died after serving only 5 weeks as President
of what would later be renamed as Princeton University.
B. His legacy lives on through his writings. His immediate impact continued through the New
England Theology which he founded.

8. The Further History of New England Theology.


A. New England Theology continued for well over 100 years after Edwards. It especially
prospered in the Congregationalism of New England, even when the colonies became the
United States and spread westward. Most of it centered at Yale, but the seminaries at Andover
and Hartford also were influential.
B. The movement, sometimes known as Consistent Calvinism or The New Divinity, claimed
organic affiliation with Edwards. However, within a generation, noticeable differences arose
which Edwards would have opposed. This movement became Low Calvinist and went lower and
lower until it wasnt Calvinist at all.
C. The main point of departure was the freedom of the will. It has been suggested that they
exploited certain logical weaknesses in Edwards arguments. In any case, inability of the will
and original sin were eventually watered down and rejected. The movement developed in the
face of several rival (and heretical) theologies of the era. First, there was Unitarianism, the
extreme form of Socinianism that rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Like Deism, it denied
miracles, supernatural revelation, etc. Second, there was Universalism. Some strands of this
All will be saved heresy were an extremely aberrant form of Calvinism. They argued: If Christ
died for all and his atonement is applied to all and grace is efficacious and irresistible, then all
men will be saved. Oddly, towards the end of the 19th century, these two heresies came to
dominate Congregationalism in the form of Liberalism. Today, what is left of the movement is
mainly the extremely liberal United Church of Christ.
D. Joseph Bellamy (1719-1790) was Edwards closest protg and heir apparent. His main
book was True Religion Delineated (1750). Bellamy taught an explicitly universal atonement, as
did all subsequent New England Theologians (Edwards taught limited atonement). Bellamy had
been a popular preacher in the Awakening and, like Edwards, preached to mens responsibility
to believe. Bellamy developed this to downplay moral inability and emphasize natural ability.
This set the tune for the downgrade in what followed. Still, Bellamy agreed with Edwards over
the Half-Way Covenant. His emphatic Calvinism is seen in his Wisdom of God in the Permission
of Sin (1758) - God allowed sin to come into existence, because it would be overruled to
produce a happier universe.
E. Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803) was another protg of Edwards who modified things in a
similar direction. His theology became known as Hqpkinsianism. In his large System of
Doctrines and other works, Hopkins weakened original sin and allowed vestiges of moral ability
to the will, for the will has to choose. Hopkins also taught that repentance precedes faith.
F. Jonathan Edwards, Jr. (1745-1801), sometimes referred to as Jonathan Edwards the
Younger or Dr. Edwards (his father was President but never Doctor) taught much the same
doctrines as Bellamy and Hopkins where they differed, from his father. For example, he

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emphasized the universality of the atonements much that it became the old Arminian
Governmental Theory of the Atonement taught by Hugo Grotius. He also modified divine
sovereignty. The pattern of New England Theology was set in this generation: lower divine
sovereignty and raise human responsibility, specifically human ability.
G. Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) was a grandson of Jonathan Edwards. He was a notable
preacher but was especially influential as President of Yale College for 22years. During his time
there and as a result of his preaching, a revival broke out known as the Second Great
Awakening. One-third of the student body were converted. As a result of his preaching to the
responsible wills of the students, Dwight followed the pattern of ascribing more ability to fallen
wills than had Edwards in the first Great Awakening. His repeated series of sermons were
collected and reprinted as Theology, Defined and Defended, one of the largest systematic
theologies of New England Theology.
H. Nathaniel William Taylor (1786-1858) studied under Dwight and with Dwight formed the New
Haven Theology, the new variety of New England Theology based at Yale. Yale now started a
seminary, the Yale Divinity School, and Taylor was its first professor of theology. Among his
teachings was the notion that responsibility implies ability. This in turn implies power to the
contrary. If a sinner is condemned for sin, he must have been able to the contrary, which is
faith. Moreover, Taylor turned sin and sins around. Sinfulness comes from acts of sin. Man is a
sinner because he sins, not (as most Calvinists had taught) Man sins because he is born a
sinner.
I. A host of others followed. Edwards Amasa Park (1808-1900) propagated similar views at
Andover, Semi nary and co-founded the popular Bibliotheca Sacra theological journal. Nathaniel
Emmons (1745-1840) rejected the inability of the will even further. For Emmon5, man is active
in regeneration, not passive. This is another way of saying that faith precedes regeneration.
J. Lyman Beecher (1775-1863) was a Presbyterian in the New England Theology and a
popular preacher in the Second Great Awakening. Since much of New theology applied their
views of human responsibility to the field of ethics, many such as Beecher applied this to certain
social evils, such as slavery and drunkenness. Then there was Asahel Nettieton (1783-1844),
another popular preacher in the Second Great Awakening. Nettleton was more conservative
than the rest of the New England theologians. In some regards, he called for a return to the true
theology of Edwards for a proper understanding of human nature and revival. Otherwise, revival
is subject to the worst abuses.
K. Some of the worst abuses did in fact materialize at this time within an offshoot of New
England Theology, known as the Oberlin Theology. This was based at Oberlin College and was
the child of Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875). Finney was a lawyer before a dramatic
conversion. He used some of those legal arguments to stress the moral nature of the universe.
Man must be able to respond, argued Finney. Whats more, a true evangelist is able to help him
respond. Finney developed the idea of the Anxious Bench, a chair at the front of the church. At
the close of a sermon, Finney invited sinners to sit in the chair while he and others prayed over
them for conversion. This was the origin of the altar call (going forward). In his popular
Lectures on Systematic Theology and Lectures on Revival, Finney wasnt even a Calvinist
anymore. He was downright Pelagian in most areas.
L. From the middle of the 19th-century on, New England Theology rapidly gave way to
Liberalism. For example, Horace Bushneil (1802-1876) stressed morals over dogma, morality
over conversion. His theories of the atonement tended to water-down substitutionary atonement
and propitiation of divine wrath. He made atonement more an illustration of divine love in
forgiveness. And since Man wasnt that bad, by education he could gradually be converted, not
suddenly through regeneration. About this time, New England Theology died.

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M. Still, Christians are rediscovering Jonathan Edwards and true revival. The discerning
Christian will observe those weaknesses in Edwards theology that were exploited by his
followers in the downgrade that went into Arminianism and Liberalism. By a correct appreciation
of the theology of Jonathan Edwards, we come to a deeper knowledge of true Calvinism and
Biblical Calvinism.

Recommended Reading
Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. This
edition contains most of his writings and is the fullest edition in print. However, the print is small
and makes difficult reading.
Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. New Haven: Yale University Press. 9
volumes have appeared in this edition, which plans to publish most of his unpublished
manuscripts and all of his previously published books. The print is larger, but each volume costs
as much as the complete 2 volume edition above. Moreover, it is a long-term project.
Gerstner, John. Jonathan Edwards: A Mini-Theology. Wheaton: Tyndale House. (An excellent
summary of Edwards theology, with many quotations on all main areas of theology. Gerstner, a
leading Edwards scholar, is presently at work on a massive muti-volume Theology of Jonathan
Edwards, planned for publication in the early 1990s.)
Storms, C. Samuel. Tragedy in Eden: Original Sin in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards.
Lanham: University Press of America. (Storms doctoral dissertation.)
Murray, Iain H. Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (The fullest
biography in print and one of the few that is sympathetic.)
Jenson, Robert W. Americas Theologian: A Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards. New York:
Oxford University Press.
Pope, Earl. New England Calvinism and the Disruption of the Presbyterian Church. New York:
Garland Publishing Co.
Bellamy, Joseph. The Works of Joseph Bellamy. 2 vols. New York: Garland Pub. Co. Hopkins,
Samuel. The Works of Samuel Hopkins. 3 vols. New York: Garland Pub. Co.

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Chapter 16. The Princeton Theology.


1. Origins.
A. The origins of both Princeton University and Princeton Seminary can be traced back to the
year 1735. In that year, William Tennent (1673-1746) built a log cabin for the purpose of
instructing three of his sons tube preachers. Soon several more aspiring preachers wanted
theological instruction, so the work grew. It was called The Log College. In time, other courses
of study were added.
B. This little college moved twice until it settled in Princeton, New Jersey, and assumed the
name The College of New Jersey. Jonathan Dickinson, Aaron Burr, Sr., and Jonathan Edwards
were the first three presidents - all preachers. Though it moved to Princeton in 1756, it would
not be renamed Princeton University until 1896.
C. Another early president bears mentioning. John Witherspoon (1723-1794) was president
from 1768 to 1794, important years during which the American colonies became the United
States of America. This put Witherspoon in a curious dilemma. He was a Scotsman by birth.
Would he rebel against Great Britain? He chose to align himself with the Revolutionary forces
and was very influential in the founding of the new nation. For example, he was the only
clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate to the Continental
Congress. He also personally taught hundreds of the first congressmen, senators, governors,
educators, doctors and preachers. And, of course, Witherspoon was a Calvinist. He was a good
example of a Christian influencing society for the good.
D. As the College of New Jersey grew, it became less a preachers college anymore a general
university. So the need was felt for a college specially for preachers, that is, a seminary along
the lines of the old Log College. In 1812, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
voted in favor of establishing such an institution to work closely with the College of New Jersey.
Thus was established Princeton Theological Seminary,
E. Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) was chosen to be the first professor. He was one of the
most popular preachers of the day, but he is most known for teaching at Princeton Seminary for
the next 39 years. During that time, he started The Biblical Repertory theological journal and
wrote a number of excellent books, mainly on Scripture and apologetics.
F. Alexander stressed that learning and piety must go together. There is no place in the
ministry for dry scholarship or unlearned religion. This was a keynote at Princeton Seminary
from the beginning, as seen in Alexanders influential Thoughts on Religious Experience.
Alexander should also be credited with founding what is called the Princeton Theology. As New
England Theology was declining in Calvinistic orthodoxy, so God raised up the Princeton
Theology to carry the banner. For more than 100 years, it would be the bellwether for Calvinism
in America. Someone has commented that the Princeton Calvinism was Calvinism with an
American accent.
G. Two of Alexanders sons also taught there: James W. Alexander (1804-1859) and Joseph
Addison Alexander (1809-1860). The latter became one of the best scholars in the world,
proficient in 20 languages, and wrote important commentaries on Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew,
Mark and Acts. Samuel Miller (1769- Was the second teacher at the seminary? He taught
church history and church government and ministry. He wrote several books on these subjects
which are still consulted, some of which have been reprinted.

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2. Charles Hodge (1797-1878).


A. Charles Hodge studied under Alexander and was the obvious choice to be one of the next
professors. His influence would tower over Princeton Seminary or the next 56 years, during
which he instructed some 3,000 students. He was a Mr. Princeton of sorts. He edited the
Biblical Repertory and combined it with a new organ, the Princeton Review. He edited them for
some 50 years.
B. If Jonathan Edwards was the most brilliant and original American theologian, Charles Hodge
was the greatest systematizer and anchor of Calvinistic orthodoxy. His scholarship was
unequalled and covered all areas of theology. In a word, he epitomized the Princeton Theology:
Covenant Theology, Biblical inerrancy, unquestioned orthodoxy, appreciation of the historic
Reformed confessions (especially, the Westminster Confession), and reference to thereat 16th
and 17th-century Reformed theologians (especially Turretine). Hodge sometimes confessed that
he was proud that he never had an original thought. Historical orthodoxy is more important than
new theories, most of which are erroneous. However, this did not mean that he lived in the past.
C. Hodge was somewhat influenced by the Philosophy of Common Sense, which was mainly of
Scottish origin. This philosophy was generally associated with Thomas Reid (1710-1796). It was
formulated against the inroads of philosophic skepticism and Deism. In essence, it taught
common sense -all men basically think alike and can normally interpret the information that
their senses receive. This philosophy was indirectly influenced by Sir Isaac Newton s theories of
science. It was reasonable without being rationalistic. Hodge fitted it into the framework of
Calvinism.
D. This great theologian - certainly one of the greatest half-dozen Calvinist theologians of all
time - was also very involved in the affairs of Presbyterian church government and its various
controversies. Hodge was an anchor against the New Haven Theology and the inroads of
Liberalism. For example, he wrote What is Darwinism? To counter the growing agnostic effects
of Darwinian Evolution. He wrote much against Finneys approach to revival. If an important
issue arose, Hodge tackled it and wrote on it.
E. In addition to all this, he wrote thousands of pages in books. Some were ecclesiastical (The
Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church in the united States and Discussions in
Church Polity, both massive tomes). Others were Bible commentaries. His commentaries on
Romans, Ephesians, First and Second Corinthians are still in print and are among the best ever
written on these epistles.
F. But his magnum opus was his Systematic Theology in three large volumes By common
consent among Calvinists, this is the best all-round systematic theology ever written. Because it
was more systematic, it excels Calvins Institutes as a workable theological reference work, and
as such has been the basic textbook to thousands of seminarians. Recently an abridgement in
one volume has been published under the same title. Hodge would not have approved, else he
would have written one. He did, however, write The Way of Life, a small book on the basic
doctrines of Christianity to be used in teaching little children (most adults today could profit from
it).
G. Hodge was a theologian to the end. His last words were: To be absent from the body is to
be present with the Lord. To be with the Lord is to see Him. To seethe Lord is to be like Him.

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3. The Hodge Dynasty.


A. Two of Charles Hodges sons and a grandson later taught at Princeton Seminary. His oldest
son, Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823-1886), was named after the seminarys eminent founder.
A.A. Hodge was at first a missionary to India for 3 years, but returned stateside due to ill health.
Eventually he succeeded his father to the chair of systematic theology (1877-1886). The
younger Hodge wrote a number of excellent books, such as his one-volume Outlines of
Theology (a systematic theology in the form of questions and answers), The Atonement (one of
the best on the subject), a biography of his father, and others.
B. Caspar Wistar Hodge (1830-1891) was another son who taught at Princeton (1860-1891), as
did his son Caspar Mi star Hodge, Jr. (1870-1937), who was the successor of the successor of
A.A. Hodge. That successor was equalled in genius only by Charles Hodge himself. His name:
B.B. Warfield.

4. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921).


A. B.B. Warfield was professor of systematic theology at Princeton Seminary from 1887 to
1921. Unlike his two predecessors of the House of Hodge, he never wrote a systematic
theology, at least not a major one. He felt that he could not surpass the large one of Charles
Hodge. He did, however, write many books and hundreds of articles which brought Hodges
work up to date.
B. Warfield is especially remembered for his heroic defence of the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.
German Liberalism was chipping away at this great truth on many fronts, and Warfield
answered their arguments masterfully and successfully and Calvinistically. In 1881 he coauthored Inspiration with A.A. Hodge. Many of his other articles on the subject have been
collected in the volume entitled The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. This book remains,
one of the best expositions and defenses of Biblical inerrancy.
C. B.B. Warfield wrote on other controversies, such as his 1,000 pages on Perfectionism (the
current edition is an abridgement). In this he countered the Wesleyan Perfectionist error, the
Keswick Higher Life movement, and the orgins of the Pentecostal-Holiness movement.
Warfield also wrote Counterfeit Miracles to disprove the claims of Roman Catholicism,
Pentecostal ism and others to their alleged miraculous powers. It is still in print, as are many of
his books.
D. Then theres the little book, The Plan of Salvation, one of the best, concisest books on
soteriology. Other articles on soteriology and Christology were collected and published in the
volume entitled, The Person and Work of Christ (in print). Then there were books and articles on
Augustine, Calvin, the Westminster Assembly, and other aspects of the historical theology of
Calvinism. Thus, Warfield had depth and breadth on a host of subjects. Most theological writers
have either quality or quantity; few have both. Warfield and Charles Hodge had both.
E. Two other points should be made about Warfield. First, he was an emphatic Post-Mi
11enialist and wrote much on the subject. In all discussions of Post-Millennialism, the name of
B.B. Warfield is sure to occur. Actually, quite a few Calvinists have been of this persuasion, and
though I myself do not adhere to it, Warfield illustrates that not all Post-Millenialists are Liberals.
F. On the other hand, Warfield did not follow Charles Hodge in fighting Darwinian Evolution.
Warfield joined a number of leading scholars who argued that Evolution per se did not contradict
the Bible. This opened the door to Theistic Evolution. Few Evangelicals, and still fewer historic

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Calvinists, have accepted that theory. But sadly, Warfield was one who did.

5. Miscellaneous Princetonian Theologians.


A. James McCosh (1811-1894) was president of Princeton University (1868-1888) and was the
major American proponent of the Scottish Philosophy of Commonsense. William Henry Green
(1825-1900) was one of the greatest Old Testament scholars in history. Francis L. Patton (18431937) was the last one to be President of both Princeton University and Princeton Seminary. He
wrote Fundamental Christianity, as the Fundamentalist-Madernist controversy was raging
across America in the early 20th-century.
B. Gerhards Vos (1862-1949) was one of the earlist Dutch theologians to teach at Princeton
Seminary. Among his many books still in print are The Pauline Eschatology and Biblical
Theology. William Park Armstrong (1874-1944) And especially Charles Erdman (1866-1960)
taught more practical theology at the seminary. Erdman was one of the most popular preachers
of the day, but taught for 30 years. He served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in 1925
and was a leading modifier of the Old Princeton Theology. He was something of a forerunner of
the later Neo-Evangelicalism that would not force liberals out of the church nor leave churches
dominated by Liberalism. This was crucial to the demise of Prince in the 1920s. Erdman wrote
dozens of books, mainly his many expositions of the New Testament.

6. The Two Presbyterian Divisions of the 19th-century.


A. The two major Presbyterian divisions indirectly affected Princeton Seminary. The first one
concerned New School Presbyterianism (or New School Calvinism). This was more or less the
counterpart to the New England Theology of the Congregationalists of the 1820s and 30s. This
movement was active in the Second Great Awakening and weakened its Calvinism to further
revival and unite with other revivalist groups. Moreover, it called for more social action (such as
anti-slavery abolitionism) than the Old School, such as Princeton. This was related to its
emphasis on political democracy, which naturally affected its weakened views of divine
sovereignty.
B. Among the leaders of the New School were Albert Barnes (1798-1870), a 4-point Calvinist
wrote an extremely popular Bible Commentary that still sells well today; Henry B. Smith (18151877); and Lyman Beecher (1775-1863), who was especially active in the Second Great
Awakening. Barnes and several others were dismissed from the Presbyterian Church when the
controversy reached its height in 1837. Many others left and formed anew School denomination.
In 1869, the New and Old Schools were reunited.
C. Scholars differ over the nature of the New School with reference to the controversial
theologies that later arose. Some see it as a tendency towards Liberalism. In a way, this was
true. Some New Scholars did in fact turn liberal. Others see it as the precursor of 20th-century
Fundamentalism. This has some truth to it as well, such as parallels between the Second Great
Awakening (especially Finneyism) and the Fundamentalist approach to evangelism. However,
early Fundamentalism was not as socially active as the New School. In any case, the correct
analysis is that both Liberalism and most Fundamentalism share something in common: a
dislike of historic Calvinism. And it was against historic Calvinism that the New School was
reacting and departing.
D. The second and greater division was between Presbyterian churches in the north and those

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in the south. With the exception of the New-Old School division, Presbyterianism in America had
been relatively united in one denomination. Then the issue of slavery arose. The Old School
tolerated it (even Charles Hodge argued that the Bible doesnt explicitly condemn it, so it can be
permitted if used wisely and mercifully). The New School opposed slavery, and in time this had
repercussions even in the Old School.
E. In 1861, the General Assembly pledged support for the Union. The Presbyterian churches in
the south, which almost all supported slavery, pledged their support to the Confederacy. Thus
came the major split in the history of American Presbyterianism. This Southern Presbyterian
Church (as it is popularly known) took the name Presbyterian Church in the United States
(PCUS). Though smaller than the Northern Presbyterians, it stayed more historically Calvinist
longer. The two groups reunited in 1982. [More will be said about Southern Presbyterianism in
the next study.]

7. The Split at Princeton Seminary.


A. Princeton University and Princeton Seminary enjoyed a long and close association. Then
they began to drift apart. Francis Patton was the last man to be President of both. Woodrow
Wilson was President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and later President of the
United States. While he was Princeton President, he wanted a broader scope than the narrower
Calvinistic orthodoxy afforded. This had serious repercussions.
B. Then in 1914, J. Ross Stewenson succeeded Patton as President of the seminary. Like
Wilson, he wanted a breader religious base. Mind you, he was not aliberal nor did he initially
allow Liberalism. But in time he did allow the first steps towards Liberalism at Princeton
Seminary.
C. Two names stand out in the 1920s at the seminary: Charles Erdman and J. Gresham
Machen. Erdman was the leader of the moderates who called for toleration of those faculty
members tending towards Liberalism. Machen was the leader calling for their dismissal.
Obviously, Machen was in the pure line of Alexander, the Hodges and Warfield (who died in
1921). Another leading moderate was Clarence MaCattney (1879-1957). Though he did not
teach at Princeton, he was a leader in the denomination and Moderator in the critical year 1924.
D. The slowdown came in 1929. The Board of Directors was re-arranged, as was the
curriculum and philosophy of education. The moderates had won and Liberalism was officially
tolerated with the approval of the General Assembly. Four faculty members resigned: Machen,
Oswald T. All is, Robert Dick Wilson and Cornelius Van Til. On Sept. 25, 1929 they opened the
doors to a new seminary that was in the pure line of descent from the Old Princeton Seminary. It
took the name Westminster Theological Seminary and had 50 students (apostate Princeton
Seminary had 177). Erdman, Vos, Armstrong and C.W. Hodge, Jr. stayed at Princeton. A year
later, John Murray joined Westminster.
E. Since then, Princeton Seminary has continued to go downhill. It is an apt illustration of the
fact that institutions, Tike water, go downhill. Almost no seminary, denomination or local, church
stays doctrinally orthodox beyond100 years. Most last considerably less. Today, Princeton
Seminary is academically one of the best in the world, with recent scholars such as Bruce
Metzger and James Charlesworth. But doctrinally it has gone the way of all heresy. Since World
War II, only a handful of its faculty have been even broadly Evangelical; none to my knowledge
have been Reformed. The closest to Calvinism at Princeton since the split of 29 has been
Barthian Neo-Orthodoxy, which is no Calvinism at all. Princeton Seminary has been one of the
centers of American Neo-Orthodoxy and Liberalism. It has also been extremely influential in the

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ecumenical movement. All of the great 19th-centuryPnncetonians would abominate the current
Princeton Seminary, but would hail Westminster Seminary.

8. J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937).


A. Machen taught at Princeton from 1906 till the split in 1929. He was an intellectual giant and a
staunch defender of Reformed orthodoxy. There is no doubt that he carried on the mantle of
Alexander, the Hodges and Warfield. Though his life was embroiled in controversy, he was not
so by nature. He was a thorough gentleman and in one sense somewhat quiet by nature. He
was also a lifelong bachelor.
B. Many of his books are still in print. Christianity and Liberalism proves that Liberalism is not
Christianity at all but a separate and false religion. The Virgin Birth of Christ is probably the
fullest and best book ever penned on the subject. His New Testament Greek for Beginners has
been the most popular introductory textbook in America this century. There were yet other
books, some of which are compilations of articles or sermons, including some delivered over the
radio in the early days of Christian radio.
C. Even after the demise of Old Princeton, Machen continued to stand for the truth. Sadly, the
tide had turned in the Presbyterian Church. Things came to a head in 1935. Machen had argued
that Presbyterian missionaries were going liberal and watering down the distinctives of
Christianity. So he promoted the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. His
liberal opponents used this as an excuse to have him charged with insubordination. Machen
was dismissed from the Presbyterian Church.
D. The next year, 1936, Machen and others helped to found what has been known as the
Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This denomination stays very much in the tradition of Old
Princeton and historic Calvinism. Though small, it has much influence in Reformed things and
has a close relationship with Westminster Seminary.

9. Other Westminster Faculty.


A. John Murray (1898-1975), born and died in Scotland, taught at Westminster for 36 years and
was the probable heir to Machens mantle. His main book was his magisterial Commentary on
Romans. Smaller but important books include Redemption Accomplished and Applied,
Principles of - Conduct, and The Imputation of Adams Sin. Many of his articles were collected in
The Writings of John Murray (4 volumes). Murray was a bachelor theologian until he retired,
then was married at 69. Within 4 years, he and his wife had two children. John Murray was a
remarkable man, indeed.
B. Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) shared Machens mantle with Murray as the leading
theologian at Westminster. The great Dutchman specialized in apologetics from a distinctively
Reformed perspective. For example, he rejected the Philosophy of Common Sense approach
and stressed what is called Presupposition Apologetics. That is, the Christians fundamental
presuppositions are the truths of Scripture, not the so-called facts discerned by autonomous
reason. The self-attesting Scripture is all we need to defend the faith. Van Til was one of the
greatest apologists in church history, if not the greatest. He was also one of the few
Supralapsarian Calvinists of recent years and also one of the greatest opponents of Karl Barth
and Neo-Orthodoxy. Among his dozens of books, his main work was The Defence of the Faith.
Others include Apologetics, Survey of Christian Epistemology and An Introduction to Systematic

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Theology.
C. Robert Dick Wilson (1856-1930) taught at Westminster only a year after he helped found it.
He was a linguistic genius. By the age of 25, he could read the New Testament in 9 different
languages and by the time he died he is said to have been able to read 45 languages. Then
there was Oswald T. All is (1878-1973), also an Old Testament teacher for a short time. All is
best known for his battles with Dispensationalism, such as in his epochal Prophecy and the
Church. E.J. Young (1907-1968) also taught Old Testament and was a leading scholar for a
generation, as seen in his masterful commentaries on Daniel and Isaiah (3 vols.).
D. R.B. Kuiper taught at both Westminster and Calvin Seminary. John Skilton, Paul Woolley
and Ned B. Stonehouse were other notable scholars who taught at Westminster.

10. Westminster Today.


A. More recently, Westminster has had a host of leading scholars in their fields: Bruce Waltke,
Richard Gaffin, Jr., Moise Silva, Vern Poythress and Sinclair Ferguson. Meredith Kline and
Philip Edgcombe Hughes taught for decades as visiting professors. There was a brief but
intense controversy Westminster in the 1970s over the teachings of Norman Shepherd, who
was accused of teaching something akin to Neonomianism. The Westminster Theological
Journal is a major scholarly journal published by the seminary.
B. In the 1970s, Westminster started a branch in California which in some ways may be even
more in keeping with its tradition than its parent backing Philadelphia. John Frame is carrying on
the tradition of Van Til, as in his large The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (the first of four
volumes has appeared). Robert Godfrey teaches and promotes historic Reformed orthodoxy in
lectures and writings. Jay Adams has taught at both campuses and revolutionized Christian
counseling by his insistence that Christians can be competent to counsel by using the Bible
alone. Among his many books are Competent to Counsel and The Christian Counselors
Manual.
C. Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Louis) and Biblical Seminary (Hatfield, PA) are indirect
offshoots of Westminster. They maintain the Old Princeton approach to education and
Calvinism, though with less influence than Westminster.

11. Conclusion.
A. Westminster Seminary continues to be something like what the Old Princeton Seminary once
was - the center for American Calvinism. But in recent years it has had to relearn the lessons of
the past, which all of us would do well to learn also. We can take a warning from the demise of
Princeton. No church, denomination or seminary is immune to the dangers which infected
Princeton. If it happened there, it can happen anywhere. Calvinist churches need to be ever
vigilant lest the leaven of Liberalism enters and undoes the much good of previous generations.
If any man think he stands, let him take heed lest he fall (I Cor. 10:12).

Recommended Reading
Noll, Mark. The Princeton Theology, 1812-1921: An Anthology. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and

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Reformed. (Selections from Alexander, Charles Hodge and Warfield, with a useful introduction.)
Hoffecker, W. Andrew. Piety and the Princeton Theologians. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and
Reformed.
Wells, David F. Reformed Theology in America. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Section One is on
Princeton, Section Two is on Westminster.)
Kerr, Hugh, ed. Sons of the Prophets: Leaders in Protestantism from Princeton Seminary.
Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Alexander, Archibald. Thoughts on Religious Experience. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. 3 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Hodge, Charles. Princeton Sermons. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Hodge, Charles. Commentary on Romans. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Hodge, A.A. Outlines of Theology. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Warfield, B.B. The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield. 10 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Warfield, B.B. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and
Reformed.
Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Machen, J.
Gresham. The Virgin Birth of Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker.
Stonehouse, Ned B. J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Murray, Iain. The Life of John Murray. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Murray, John. The Writings of John Murray. 4 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (Vol. 3 contains
Iain Murrays biography of John Murray).
Wooley, Paul, ed. The Infallible Word. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. (Contains
scholarly articles on Biblical inerrancy by Westminster professors)
Murray, John. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Van Til, Cornelius. The Defence of the Faith. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.

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Chapter 17. Nineteenth-Century


Calvinism.
1. Southern Presbyterianism.
A. By the time of the nineteenth-century, Calvinism was almost dead in Switzerland, Germany
and France. On the other hand, it was alive and thriving in Scotland, the United States and
Holland. It was fighting for its life in England. In this study, we will examine some of the
developments in Scotland and America, reserving comments on Dutch Calvinism to a later
study.
B. The mainstream Presbyterian Church split in 1861. The Princeton Theology dominated the
North before and after the split. The theology of Southern Presbyterianism needs examination at
this juncture.
C. Much of Southern Presbyterian theology was centered in three colleges and seminaries:
Union Theological Seminary (Richmond, VA), Columbia Theological Seminary, and HampdenSydney College. Someone has labeled Union tne Princeton of the South.
D. Southern culture was somewhat different than in the North, which is reflected in the
churches and the theologians. E, Brooks Hoiifield well describes these theologians as
Gentlemen Theologians - a mint julip in one hand and a Bible in the other. They were of the
middle and upper classes with a desire to maintain the old ways against the influx of new
liberalism. Most tended to be of the Scotch-Irish ancestry predominant in the Carolinas and
Virginia, the heart of Southern Presbyterianism.

2. Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898).


A. Dabney was the major gentleman theologian of the period, the Southern counterpart to
Hodge of the North. He taught at Union for 30 years andlater helped to found Austin
Presbyterian Theological Seminary as hetaught briefly at the newly established University of
Texas.
B. Dabney wrote much excellent theology, such as his Lectures in SystematicTheology, a huge
volume that served as textbook to thousands and is stillin print. In addition to several other
books, dozens of his essays and articles, usually of a controversial nature, were collected in 4
volumes under the title Discussions (again, still in print).
C. One of Dabneys special areas of interest was in the field of true religious feelings. As
Edwards and Alexander had done, so Dabney probed the nature of feelings and emotions, such
as in his book The Practical Philosophy. He sough? to answer questions such as, What are
feelings, how can one discern if his religious feelings are genuine or not, what is the relation
between faith and feelings! and so forth.
D. Dabney posited that feelings evidence the disposition of the heart. In other words! They are
the fruit of the will. The fallen will, however, is deceitful, thus, feelings in themselves cannot be
trusted but must be tested by Scripture. Now Dabney did not say that a Christian must be Stoic.

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Not at all. True religious feelings are to be cultivated. But he also issued warnings. For example,
he warned against reading emotional novels too much, for they affect the emotions in a bad way
and reduce them to mere sentimental ism, which in turn weaken the Christians resolve and
moral ability to properly confront a fallen world.

3. The Revival in the Confederate Army.


A. In 1861, Dabney joined the Confederate Army. As a youth, he initially urged the gradual
emancipation of slaves, but then reversed himself. Like many other gentlemen theologians, he
defended slavery - and even owned several slaves himself. This was a regrettable weakness
(great men have great weaknesses). Even after the Civil War, Dabney protested allowing blacks
to be equal church officers in Presbyterian churches.
B. However, that was not the only reason why he and many others joined the Confederacy.
Some of the reasons were cultural, but others were religious. For example, the South was
generally more Christianized than the North, where Liberalism, Unitarianism and Deism were
growing at a furious pace. This was reflected in their respective armies. Many of the generals
and officers in the Confederate Army were very godly. They did not tolerate rank unbelief,
blasphemy or licentious behavior, in their ranks. On the other hand, few of the Union Army
officers were known for Christian godliness, and many at the top, such as U.S. Grant, were
blatantly ungodly and profligate.
C. Take, for example, the revival in the Confederate Army. This true revival spread mainly in
1862. Prayer meetings were everywhere. Repentance and conversions were the order of the
day among many of the troops. Much of this revival came about. Through the gentlemen
theologians who were now gentlemen chaplains, such as Dabney. They had a Bible in one
hand and a musket in the other.
D. Then there was Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Dabney served as an officer and chaplain under
Jackson, who praised Dabney as the most efficient officer ever knew. In turn, Dabney wrote a
stirring biography of Jackson portraying him as perhaps the godliest general he ever knew.
Dabney also served as Jacksons Chief of Staff. [Much of this is chronicled in
J. William Jones Christ in the Camp and Dabneys biography of Jackson.]
E. Of course, this isnt to agree with their assessment of slavery or even the rights or wrongs of
the Civil War. The point is simply that God used these Calvinist chaplains to usher in a heavensent revival in one of the lowest points in American history.

4. James Henley Thornwell (1812-1862).


A. Thornwell is the other major Southern Presbyterian theologian. He taught at South Carolina
College and Columbia Seminary and became the youngest ever Moderator of the Presbyterian
Church (before the North-South split) at age 35. He published only a few short books, but his
many essays and papers were collected and published as The Collected Writings of James
Henley Thornwell in 4 volumes. They are still in print.
B. Thornwell is especially known for his Calvinist ecclesiology. He fine-tuned Presbyterian polity
during years of major controversy. For example, he defended slavery as follows: the Bible
doesnt condemn it, so neither can any Church, nor can the State. This was related to an
important principle in Presbyterian polity, sometimes called the Regulative Principle This says

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that so far as church polity and worship is concerned, only what is expressly commanded in
Scripture may be practiced. If it not commanded, it lacks warrant and is forbidden. Thus,
parachurch organizations are forbidden. Thornwell even disagreed with Charles Hodge over
whether there should be official missionary boards or only committees. Hodge said boards,
Thornwell said committees.
C. Thornwell also argued for the complete equality among church elders: Presbyterian polity
differentiates Ruling and Teaching elders, the latter alone being the proper pastor and the
one who gives more time and labor to the work of the church, for which he is remunerated.
Some Presbyterians argue that these Teaching elders alone constitute the local presbytery
and alone can lay hands on new elders. Thornwell replied that this would establish a clergy
leading back to Roman prelacy.

5. Other Southern Presbyterian Theologians of Note.


A. John Lafayette Girardeau (1825-1898) was another Confederate chaplain. Hetaught at
Columbia from 1875 till 1895. Among his several books, two are of special note: Calvinism and
Evangelical Arminianism (which deals mainly with election and reprobation) and Discussions of
Theological Questions (mainly on theological method and Scripture). Girardeau was proslavery, but was by no means a racist. He pastored a black church for 8 years and ardently
worked for more evangelization of the blacks, both before and after the Civil War.
B. Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902) was the first Moderator of the Southern Presbyterian
denomination formed in 1861. He spent most of his ministry as pastor of First Presbyterian
Church, New Orleans, LA. In addition to a large biography of Thornwell, he wrote several
excellent books of practical theology, such as The Theology of Prayer and The Family.
C. Robert Alexander Webb (1856-?) was another notable Southern theologian. He wrote
Christian Sa1vation, Its Doctrine and Experience, but is perhaps more noted for writing The
Theology of Infant Salvation. In this important book, Webb dealt at length on a much-discussed
but little written-about topic, namely, whether infants may be saved and if so, how.
D. William S. Plumer (1802-1880) was actually a transplanted Yankee who ministered in the
South. His major contribution was his three large synoptical commentaries on Psalms,
Hebrews and Romans. In these, he not only gives his own comments, but also collects and
presents the major views of the major commentators throughout history.
E. Thomas Cary Johnson (1859-1936) was the last great Southern theologian. He was the
biographer of both Dabney and Palmer and stood for the Old School Calvinism in the crucial
days when the Southern Presbyterians were gradually losing their theological bearings, before
almost losing them completely after World War II.

6. The Mercersburg Theology.


A. Back up North, another unusual deviation from historic Calvinism came to the fore in the
1840s and 50s. This was centered at Mercersburg Theological Seminary, a small seminary of
the German Reformed Church (descended from the Palatinate Calvinists of southern Germany
in the Reformation).
B. This theology reacted against both Princetonian orthodoxy and Finneyian revivalism. Its
alternative? Sacramental ism. Mercersburg Theology de-emphasized Calvinism and dogma and

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argued that they lead only to dry spirituality. True spirituality was only through the Lords
Supper. The Supper was more than a mere remembrance and even more than Calvin had
taught. It contained the Real Presence of Christ in a way reminiscent of High Church
Episcopalianism and Lutheranism. Moreover, this theology strove for ecumenical unity with all
Protestants and even Catholics.
C. John William Nevin (1803-1886) was the originator of this theology. He had studied under
Hodge at Princeton, and then changed to the German Reformed Church. He was joined by
Philip Schaff (1819-1893), who was born in Switzerland and educated in Germany. Schaff came
to Mercersburg in 1844. He was one of the all-time great church historians. His literary output
has been equaled by only a few. He wrote dozens of books, such as ^ History of the Christian
Church (8 volumes). He also edited many more, such as Creeds of Christendom (3 vols), the
Schaff-Hertzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (4 vols, later expanded to 12), plus
supervised the translations of most of the Church Fathers and many important German Bible
commentaries. Later, Schaff would teach at Union Theological Seminary in New York from 1870
to 1893, where yet another battle over Calvinism would take place.

7. William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894).


A. There were and are two Union Theological Seminaries, one in Richmond and one in New
York City. The one in New York was affiliated with the Northern Presbyterians and its leading
Calvinist theologian was the great William G.T. Shedd.
B. Shedd was very similar to Charles Hodge. His Dogmatic Theology in three large volumes is
second only to Hodges, and in some respects is its equal. Shedd also spilt much ink on other
theological topics: History of Christian Doctrine (2 vols.), The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, a
commentary on Romans, and several more.
C. Shedd also wrote Calvinism: Pure and Mixed to defend the Westminster Confessionas the
doctrinal standard of the Presbyterian Church. Certain Northern Presbyterians were arguing that
Westminster was outdated and needed serious revision. Shedd cogently argued that this was a
ruse. They really were attacking Calvinism and Evangelicalism.
D. Take, for example, the case of Charles A. Briggs (1841-1913). Briggs also taught at Union
and was a leading Hebrew scholar. He was co-editor of the definitive Brown-Driver-Briggs
Hebrew lexicon and of the International Critical Commentary series. Now Briggs was growing
increasingly Liberal. He denied Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. He said that Scripture
contained errors. He employed the Historical-Critical Method of hermeneutics.
E. Briggs was opposed by Shedd at Union and Warfield and A.A. Hodge at Princeton. The
result was unusual: Briggs lost the battle but won the war. He was put on trial for heresy and
exonerated by his presbytery, but this verdict was overthrown by the General Assembly. Briggs
was dismissed from the Presbyterian Church, so he became an Episcopalian. Because of the
verdict, Union Seminary pulled out of the Presbyterian church and became independent and
inter-denominational. It then quickly became ultra-liberal, Shedds influence notwithstanding.
Today, both Union Seminaries are by-words for extreme Liberalism. Shedd is either forgotten or
mocked at the one and Dabney at the other. They have gone the way of Princeton.
8. Scottish Calvinism of the 19th-century.
A. Meanwhile, Calvinism back in Scotland was undergoing growing pains as well. In the 19thcentury, we find some of the greatest Calvinists who ever lived. There was, for example, Robert
Murray MCheyne (1813-1843), a Church of Scotland pastor who was a model pastor in all

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respects. Though he was in ill health most of the time, his fervent preaching and exemplary
prayer life showed how true revival can come to a local church. He died at 30, accomplishing
more in those few years than most men do in a longer lifetime. Andrew Bonars Memoir and
Remains of Robert Murray MCheyne is a classic.
B. Then there was John Dick (1764-1833). Dick was in the Secession Church, the Presbyterian
denomination that split from the Church of Scotland at the time of the Marrow Controversy. Dick
wrote a large systematic theology (Lectures in Theology) that was used on both sides of the
Atlantic. Among the several controversies in which he was involved, Dick argued that a church
should have a stated confession of faith. In Scotland, this was the Westminster Confession.
Though these confessions are not inspired, yet they should be employed to give objective
statements of faith and, as such, are essential to the proper governing and teaching of the
Church.

9. Scottish Low Calvinism, or the New Light.


A. In the first half of the 19th-century, a series of theological battles arose in the Church of
Scotland. They had several doctrines in common against the prevailing High Calvinism. They all
taught universal atonement and that assurance was of the essence of saving faith. But from
there the different factions of this Low Calvinism went into different and sometimes strange
directions.
B. Edward Irving (1792-1834) was a Church of Scotland pastor. He started offs Assistant
Pastor to the eminent Thomas Chalmers at the Tron Church in Glasgow. Then he assumed the
pastorate of a Church of Scotland church in London. During that time he became close friends
of several famous writers and poets, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry Drummond and
Thomas Carlyle, whom he had known from his youth.
C. Immediately Irving was a sensation as an extremely popular preacher. Some of this had to
do with his tall, dark and handsome appearance. But most of't had to do with his extraordinary
preaching style and flair for theological eccentricity. Three of these eccentricities bear
mentioning.
D. First, Irving taught the heretical notion that Christ had a sinful flesh but never sinned. At the
Incarnation, Christ took on the nature, which Adam had after the Fall, not the innocent nature
before the Fall. Thus, Christ would be tempted internally as well as externally and thereby would
be able to sympathize with men. Yet Irving insisted that Christ never actually sinned. He
developed these views in The Doctrine of the Incarnation Opened and The Orthodox and
Catholic Doctrine of Our Lords Human Nature. Of course, Irving was wrong. Christ did not
inherit original sin and therefore had neither sinful flesh nor nature, for original sin is passed on
through the father but Christ was born of a virgin (Luke 1:35).
E. Secondly, Irving felt that Christs return was very near. Unlike most Calvinists, Irving was
Pre-Millennial. But that wasnt the problem. Rather, he interpreted events such as the French
Revolution and the rise of Napoleon as fulfillments of prophecy, and concluded that Christ must
return within a very short time. Now most of this was not new. But he added a twist.
F. In 1827, Irving translated a book from Spanish entitled, The Coming Messiah. This book was
purported to be written by one Ben Ezra, a converted Jew, but was in fact written by Diaz Y
Lacunza, a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest. Lacunza in turn derived most of his distinctive
eschatology from Francisco Ribera, a counter-Reformation Jesuit of the 16th-century. Irving
wrote a200 page preface to the book. With a few interesting modifications, he accepted its

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distinctive teaching, namely, that Christ would rapture the Church out of the Earth before the
future Great Tribulation, not after. Ribera and Lacunza taught this to refute the Reformed view
that the Papacy is the Antichrist, But, they argued, if the Church will be taken out before the
Antichrist arrives, then obviously the Papacy isnt the Antichrist. Irving, then, was the first to
promote the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture within Protestantism. Whether this
doctrine is Scriptural is not our point of discussion. In turn, Irving passed on this doctrine to John
Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren.
G. Third, this overlapped with Irvings Pentecostalism. Since the return of Christ was imminent,
Irving argued, there must be a latter-day pouring out of the Spirit and his miraculous gifts as at
Pentecost. The Church Era will end as it began. Soon Irvings church was practicing speaking in
tongues, prophesying and healings. In one famous incident, a young Scottish lassie named
Margaret MacDonald prophesied an imminent Pre-Tribulational Rapture. To be precise, she
also predicted a Partial Rapture. She spoke in a trance.
H. In 1833, Edward Irving was defrocked from the Church of Scotland for his views, mainly over
Christs nature and the charismatic gifts. Some 800 of his church members left with him and
started a new church, later to be affiliated with the so-called Catholic Apostolic Church. But this
new congregation would not have its pastor for long. Irving suffered serious health problems. A
prophecy was given that he would be miraculously healed. Instead, Irving died.
I. Another strange case was that of John MacLeod Campbell (1800-1872). Campbell taught
universal atonement that virtually eliminated penal satisfaction. In its place he taught something
akin to the Moral Influence Theory. His Gospel is that Christ displays the love of God and
completed forgiveness, thus: God loves you. You are already forgiven. This was the
predecessor of the modern Scottish Neo-Orthodoxy of Thomas and James Torrance.
J. Campbell also taught something new: vicarious repentance. Christ not only died for us, but
He also repented for us as the perfect High Priest. This had some things in common with
Irvings ideas, but Campbell insisted that Christ never sinned - He only confessed and repented
of the sins that were imputed to Him. The ChurchF Scotland disagreed and threw Campbell
out in 1831. From 1833 to 1859 Campbell would pastor an Independent church in Glasgow. His
views are summed up in The Nature of the Atonement. Needless to say, this heresy is not even
hinted at in Scripture.
K. James Mori son (1816-1893) was another Low Calvinist. He didnt imbibe the views of Irving
or Campbell, but he did reject limited atonement. With only a few modifications, his theology
gradually degenerated into a high Arminianism. For this he was ejected from the United
Secession Church, and then formed the Evangelical Union (1843), or Horisonianism. When he
was in more Calvinistic moods, he wrote several excellent commentaries on Matthew, Mark,
and portions of Romans.
L. Lastly, Ralph Wardlaw (1779-1853) was the highest of these Low Calvinists. That is, he
deviated the least from historic Calvinism. His Systematic Theology in 3 volumes is the fullest
from a Low Calvinist and has had much influence on later Low Calvinists, such as Lewis Sperry
Chafer. Lesser Low Calvinists of the period include W. Lindsay Alexander and John Brown.

10. The Disruption.


A. The preceding controversies were relatively minor. But during the so-called Ten Years
Conflict (1834-1843), the most major controversy and division in the history of the Church of
Scotland was coming to a head. The Evangelical party opposed the Moderates on three main

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issues:
A. Evangelicalism. A dry orthodoxy had set in, producing a nominalism akin to
Sandemanianism of the 18th-century. The Moderates approved, * the Evangelicals called for
living faith and spirituality, even revival.
B. Patronage. The Moderates accepted the system whereby the wealthy landed gentry and
aristocracy had the deciding vote and veto on the selection of local Presbyterian ministers. The
Evangelicals disagreed.
C. Erastianism. This goes back to John Lightfoot at the Westminster Assembly. Gradually, the
Scottish government had more and more power over and in Church of Scotland ecclesiastical
affairs. For example, the State supported the idea of patronage. Moderates approved of this,
Evangelicals disapproved.
B. It came to a head on May 18, 1843. Thomas Chalmers led some 200 ministers (out of 1,203)
in a walkout of the General Assembly. They then formed the Free Church of Scotland with
Chalmers as the first Moderator. A total of474 ministers would leave or be ejected, who joined
the Free Kirk. A few Evangelical Calvinists stayed in the Church of Scotland, but most left.
C. Eventually, even the Church of Scotland abolished patronage, but its orthodoxy went
downhill. Today, no more than about 5% of the Church of Scotland is Evangelical, let alone
Calvinist in the historic sense of the term. The Free Church had a couple of divisions later on.
Some went back to the Church of Scotland, others formed the Free Presbyterian Church of
Scotland, or the Wee Frees. Both the Free Kirk and the Wee Frees are solidly Reformed to
this day, small as they are. They hold to the Westminster Confession. They also sing only
psalms and without instrumental accompaniment. Another Tasting monument of the Disruption
is the founding of New College, with Chalmers as the first Principal. For years this was a bastion
of Calvinism a la Princeton. In time, however, the Church of Scotland managed to have the
courts turn over New College to them when some Free Churchers returned. As expected, even
New College has apostatized. I studied there for 7 years in the 1970s and 80s. I was 100 years
too late. New College is now part of Edinburgh University.

11. The Free Church of Scotland Theologians.


A. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) pastored at the influential Tron Church, Glasgow, then
taught-at St. Andrews and Edinburgh Universities. He was a powerful preacher, a resourceful
organizer, a model pastor and the leader of the Disruption. He authored some 34 volumes of
books and sermons, such as The Institutes of Theology. But even Chalmers had his
eccentricities: he was the originator of the Gap Theory (i.e., there was a long time period and
geological catastrophe between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2).
B. William Cunningham (1805-1861) was another leader of the Disruption and the second
Principal of New College. He was the Charles Hodge of Scotland so far as scholarship goes.
Among his important writings: Historical Theology (2 vols.) and The Reformers and the
Theology of the Reformation.
C. Robert S. Candlish (1806-1873), another Disruption leader, was the third Principal of New
College. He wrote expositions of Genesis, I John, Ephesians, others, plus several books on the
atonement.
D. James Buchanan (1804-1870) became Minister of the High Kirk, which is St. Giles
Cathedral, the most important church in the Church of Scotland.But he followed Gods call and

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left in the Disruption. He succeeded Chalmers as Professor of Systematic Theology and wrote
several important works, such as The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit and The Doctrine of
Justification. Both are considered among the best in their fields.
E. Patrick Fairbairn (1806-1874) wrote the definitive work on typology (The Typology of
Scripture) and a large work on eschatology (The Interpretation of Prophecy), plus edited a Bible
encyclopedia, wrote on hermeneutics, etc.
F. Time evades us to tell of John Rabbi Duncan (1796-1870), a converted Jew; David Brown
(1803-1897), a major Post-Millenialists; James and Douglas Bannerman; George Smeaton, and
others. Though not at New College, Andrew and Horatius Bonar (1810-1892, 1808-1889) were
influential hymnists and writers.

12. Nineteenth-Century English Calvinism.


A. South of the British border, Calvinism was in decline in most quarters. There were some
important Calvinists in the Church of England, such as J.C. Ryle (1816-1900). Ryle became
Bishop of Liverpool and the leader of the Evangelicals in the Church of England. A four-point
Calvinist, he wrote many books, which are still in print. Among them are his Expository
Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols.), Knots Untied and Holiness. Ryle is practical and
experimental Calvinism at its best. His pen was a knife which opened the heart, exposed sin
and poured in grace.
B. But by this century, there was almost no English Presbyterianism left and even the
Calvinistic Independents were in decline. The real promoters of Calvinists were the Baptists,
such as the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon. In the next study, we will examine Baptist
Calvinism.

Recommended Reading
Dabney, Robert Lewis. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Dabney, Robert Lewis. Discussions. Banner of Truth publishes the first 2 volumes and
selections from vols. 3 and 4 in a third volume. Sprinkle Publications publishes all 4 unabridged
volumes from time to time.
Dabney, Robert Lewis. Life and Campaigns of Lieu.-Gen. Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson.
Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications.
Jones, J. William. Christ in the Camp. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle. (Fullest on the revival in the
Confederate Army ever written)
Jones, J. William. The Life and Times of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Harrisonburg:
Sprinkle. (Shows how Lee was a fine Christian and involved in the revival)
Thornwell, James Henley. The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell. 4 vols. Carlisle:
Banner of Truth.
Johnson, Thomas Cary. The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney. Banner of Truth. Palmer,
Benjamin Morgan. The Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell. Banner. Palmer, B.M.; and
Alexander, J.W. The Family. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle. Johnson, Thomas Gary. The Life and
Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer. Banner. Girardeau, John L. Calvinism and Evangelical

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Arminianism. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle. Girardeau, John L. Discussions of Theological Questions.


Harrisonburg: Sprinkle. Smith, Morton. Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology. Carlisle:
Banner of Truth. Holifield, E. Brooks. Gentlemen Theologians. Durham: duke University Press.
Wells, David, ed. Reformed Theology in America. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (ch.4)
Cunningham, William. Historical Theology. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Cunningham,
William. The Reformation and the Theology of the Reformers. Banner. Buchanan, James. The
Doctrine of Justification. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Daliimore, Arnold. The Life of Edward Irving.
Carlisle: Banner of Truth. MacLeod, John. Scottish Theology. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Bonar,
Andrew. Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray MCheyne. Carlisle: Banner. Ryle, J.C.
Holiness. Old Tappan: Fleming Revel 1. Shedd, William G.T. Calvinism: Pure and Mixed.
Carlisle: Banner of Truth.

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Chapter 18. Calvinistic Baptists.


1. Introduction.
A. Calvinistic Baptists, Baptist Calvinism, Reformed Baptist and such terms are often
considered self-contradictory to both Calvinists and Baptists. Most Calvinists have been paedobaptists; they baptize infants. They sometimes contend that infant baptism is essential to true
Calvinism and, therefore, so-called Calvinistic Baptists are inconsistent or partial Calvinists.
Some even say they are not Calvinistic at all.
B. On the other hand, many Baptists today would agree. They say that Calvinism implies infant
baptism, and therefore to be a historical Baptist one cannot be Calvinistic. One sometimes
hears the slogan, Baptists are neither Calvinist nor Arminian, but Baptist- Then there are those
Baptists who sincerely think they are Calvinist because they believe in eternal security but reject
the other four points of Calvinism.
C. The truth of the matter is that a large number of Calvinists - perhaps as many as a third have been Baptists. Similarly, when one studies Baptist history one learns that up until the
present century, most Baptists have indeed been Calvinistic (and that means far more than
simply accepting eternal security). In this study, we will discuss these issues.

2. The Anabaptists.
A. The Anabaptists arose as a movement early in the Reformation of the 16th century. In a way,
the# preceded the Calvinist movement. The first Anabaptists came from Zurich, Switzerland,
around the year 1521 as an offshoot of the Swiss Reformation of Ulrich Zwingli. The Zwinglian
movement would later produce Calvinism, but not properly until the 1530s.
B. From Switzerland, the movement spread to southern Germany, east to Austria and Poland,
and north to Holland and eventually England. For the record, the leading Anabaptists were the
following: Conrad Grebe, Balthasar Hubmaier, Hans Denck, Menno Simons, Melchior
Hoffmann, Thomas Munzer, Pilgram Marpeck, Jacob Hutter and Kaspar Schwenkfeld. The
movement had several branches. The most extreme branch included heretics like Michael
Servetus and Faustus Socinus and the Zwickau Prophets. The more moderate branches later
produced the Mennonites and what are termed Baptists.
C. Some were visionary mystics; most were not. Some were pre-millennial, others radical postmillenialists. Some were communalists. Most accepted Zwinglis view of the Lords Supper as
opposed to the Roman Catholic, Lutheran or Calvinistic views. But these issues do not touch
the heart of the movement. Rather, there were four main issues, which characterized
Anabaptism:
(1) Believers Baptism. The Anabaptists argued that water baptism was meant only for
believers. Infants cannot believe, therefore infants are not to be baptized, Incidently, the
question of immersion or sprinkling did not yet arise. Most Anabaptists sprinkled or
poured.
(2)Believers Church Membership. Water baptism as a believer was usually considered
essential for church membership. Unbelievers and infants were to be excluded from
church membership and barred from the Lords Table.

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(3) Low Church Ecclesiology. Anabaptism usually advocated the autonomy of the local
church in varying degrees. Even the highest Anabaptists disliked the denominational
structures of Romanism, Lutheranism and Calvinism.
(4) Separation of Church and State. Most Anabaptists were pacifists and did not think
Christians should be involved in civil government. Most did not swear oaths. At root, they
pushed for individual conscience and denied the idea of a State Church.
D. Consequently, the Anabaptists were severely persecuted by the Catholics and mainstream
Protestants alike. Many were put to death, sometimes by drowning. Thus, ever since the
beginning, those advocating Believers Baptism have been held in suspicion by Lutherans and
paedo-baptist Calvinists.
E. Pertinent to our study is their theology of grace. The earliest Anabaptists accepted the 5
Sola doctrines of the Reformation. However, when it came to what would later be termed the
5 points of Calvinism, most Anabaptists were very low down on the scale. Some were what
would later be termed Low Calvinists, while others would be Pre-Arminians. One of the
reasons is that they were not usually theologically oriented. Their Christianity was more practical
and spiritual, and much of their writings and activities concerned, ecclesiastical matters rather
than the issues of the doctrines of grace.

3. 17th Century English Calvinistic Baptists.


A. This state of affairs continued until the middle of the 17th century. It was in England that the
Baptists would grow the most. By the 1640s, half were Arminian, half were Calvinist. Then the
balance began to shift, after which the greater part were clearly Calvinistic.
B. The First London Confession of 1644 was the occasion for this shift. It is quite clearly
Calvinistic. For example, on the extent of the atonement it is more explicit than even the
Westminster Confession: Christ Jesus by His death did bring forth salvation and reconciliation
only for the elect. Yet the Confession took pains to add that the Gospel should be preached to
all men. However, unlike mainstream Calvinism, the London Confession said that the preaching
of the Gospel does not have to be preceded by the preaching of the Law to work conviction of
sin. The Confession clearly teaches unconditional election (Infralapsarianism) and the other
points of Calvinism. Lastly, this was the first major Baptist confession to state that immersion is
the only proper mode of baptism.
C. The Second London Confession, also known as the Baptist Confession of 1689,was a
revision of the Westminster Confession on the articles of baptism, church government and
Church-State relationships. Otherwise, the two are virtually verbatim and identical. It is even
more explicitly Calvinistic than the First London Confession. It is also much longer, more
extensive and more detailed.
D. Now, the main point to realize here is this: the Second London Confession has historically
been by far the most important Baptist confession of faith. It has been used by more Baptists
than any other. It has been more influential than any other. Therefore, if any contemporary
Baptist says to you Baptists have not been Calvinists, then you need to give him a copy of this
Confession. Its Calvinism is explicit throughout, as in the following excerpts:
God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own
will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to pass... Although God knoweth
whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed
anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such

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conditions... By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are
predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious
grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious
justice. (3:1-3)
E. Four 17th century English Calvinist Baptists stand out. First, Benjamin Keach (1640-1704)
was the leading London Baptist responsible for the Second London Confession. He also revised
the Westminster Shorter Catechism for the Baptists (1693). Keach was also the first major
English hymnologist. Before the 1690s, virtually all Calvinistic and Baptist churches sung only
psalms. Keach collected and wrote many hymns and published an extremely popular
hymnbook, which would pave the way for the Wesleys, Watts, Doddridge and Newton. Then
there were William Kiffin (1616-1701), Hanserd Knollys (1598-1691) and the immortal John
Bunyan T1628-1688). All were emphatic Calvinists. Bunyan was the most read of the four, but
the 3 Ks were most influential in organizing the Calvinistic Baptists.

4. The Strict and Particular Baptists.


A. From the latter 17th century on, Calvinistic Baptists were generally known as Particular
Baptists to differentiate them from the General Baptists who were Arminian (e.g., John Smyth,
Thomas Helwys, Dan Taylor). The term Particular refers to particular or limited election,
redemption and grace -the second, third and fourth points of Calvinism.
B. In the 18th and early 19th century England, the leading Particular Baptists included Abraham
Booth (1734-1806, author of The Reign of Grace), Robert Hall, Sr (1728-1791) and Jr (17641831), the four leaders of the Great Missionary Movement which have been mentioned earlier
(Andrew Fuller, William Carey, John Ryland, and John Rippon), and John Fawcette. In
Scotland, Robert and James Haldane were the most influential Particular Baptists of the period.
And then there were the Hyper-Calvinist Baptists (see below).
C. Now the Particular Baptists were divided into 2 further camps. First, there were the Strict
Baptists. Strict here does not mean strict discipline or legalism. Rather, it means that
Communion is to be restricted to those who have been baptized as believers. It is synonymous
with the term Close (or Closed) Communion, which is used more in America than in Britain.
Some General Baptists have been Strict; most have not been. Most, but not all, Particular
Baptists have been Strict. John Bunyan and Robert Hall, Sr, for example, were Open Baptists
on Communion. Strict Communion is more than forbidding the Table to unbelievers; almost all
paedo-baptist Calvinists would agree on that. Rather, Strict Communion means that only
believers who have been baptized after conversion (which usually means by immersion) are
eligible for Communion. Some would make this essential for church membership also. This
makes relations with paedo-baptist Calvinists difficult, for while most paedo Calvinists would
admit Baptist Calvinists to the Table, a Strict Calvinist would bar most paedo Calvinists, even
Calvin himself.
D. The Strict and Particular Baptists (Strict Baptists, for short) continue till today as the largest
group of Calvinistic Baptists in Britain. John Rippon was the great organizer of the Particular
Baptists. He succeeded John Gill as pastor, compiled an important hymnbook, and helped
found the Particular Baptist Union. In time, the term Particular was omitted and General
Baptists were admitted into the present Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland since 1832.
But since around 1880, it has not even been predominantly Evangelical. Today, it is mainly
liberal. When General Baptists were admitted, most Strict Baptists withdrew and formed several
other associations, some of which became Hyper-Calvinist.

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5. Hyper-Calvinist Baptists.
A. John Gill (1697-1771) was the definitive Hyper-Calvinist. He was also the most important
Calvinistic Baptist theologian of all time. Now Gill defended Believers Baptism from a decidedly
Calvinistic Covenant Theology. He argued as follows. Water Baptism is a sign of the Covenant,
but indirectly. Spirit-baptism, not water baptism, is the seal of the Covenant. This occurs at
conversion. Water baptism is the external sign of internal Spirit-baptism. The sign is to be
administered only to those who evidence that they have the internal seal. In other words, water
baptism is only for believers.
B. Gill and other Calvinistic Baptists have used the other major arguments. One is this: all N.T.
commands and examples of water baptism are for believers, while there are no commands or
examples of baptizing infants or known unbelievers. Moreover, infant baptism opens the door to
the heresy of baptismal regeneration. As concerns election, Calvinistic Believers Baptism is
predicated on the presupposition that ones election can be discerned by certain marks, both to
the individual and to the Church. One can discern if he has been converted, and if converted
then elected. The Church is to withhold baptism from those who have not yet evidenced that
they are both converted and elected. Of course, one might be elected but not yet converted, but
the Church has no way of knowing this. Infant baptism does not guarantee either conversion or
election; rather it breeds false assurance.
C. Curiously, most Hyper-Calvinists have been Baptists. Probably three-fourths of all Hypers
have been Baptists, mainly in three groups. The largest has been the Gospel Standard Baptists
(William Gadsby, J.C. Philpot, etc). This is a faction of the existing Strict and Particular Baptists.
All Gospel Standard Baptists are Strict and Particular, but not all Strict and Particular Baptists
are Gospel Standard. Then there are the Earthen Vessels, today mainly defunct. In America,
the largest group of Hypers have been the Primitive Baptists.

6. Abaptist Hyper-Calvinists.
A. Another group, though extremely small, bears brief mention because they have sometimes
been associated with the Calvinistic Baptists. A few Hyper-Calvinists, mainly going back to
William Huntington, have been Abaptist (or Non-Baptist). Of course, not all baptists have been
Calvinist. For example, the Quakers, Salvation Army and Ultra-Dispensationalists (E.W.
Bullinger and others) have been Abaptist but certainly not Calvinistic.
B. The Abaptists argue that water baptism was only for the first century, either only until about
70 AD or only for Jewish Christians. The key verse is Eph. 4:5, There is... one baptism. Of
course, the refutation is simple. Water baptism is in the Great Commission of Matt. 28 and Mark
16. It is not just for Jewish believers until 70 AD, but for Gentile believers as well and until the
end of the age. Now as to the Hyper-Calvinist Abaptists, they are usually of a very mystical,
Experimental variety and often of the same stripe as the early Anabaptists who worried the
Reformers. Fortunately, they are very few and far between.

7. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892).


A. If John Calvin was the greatest Calvinist theologian, Jonathan Edwards the greatest Calvinist

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philosopher, and George Whitefield the greatest Calvinist evangelist, then by common consent
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was the greatest Calvinist preacher. And Spurgeon was a Calvinistic
Baptist. Anyone who says that Baptist Calvinism is a contradiction or non-entity must deal with
Spurgeon. Many Baptists admire Spurgeon without realizing that he was an emphatic Calvinist.
Actually, anyone who says he likes to read Spurgeon and does not know he was a Calvinist has
not really read much of the man.
B. Spug was converted as a boy when a snowstorm led him into a Methodist church rather
than his usual Baptist church. The text of the sermon, Look unto me, all the ends of the earth,
and be saved (Isa. 45:22) wrought salvation in the young man forever. He was baptized and
began preaching while still a teenager. At the age of 19, he became pastor of the church
formerly pastored by John Gill and John Rippon, what came to be renamed as the Metropolitan
Tabernacle. It immediately grew from a few hundred to several thousand. For the next 34 years,
Spurgeon would preach regularly to 5,000 church members. This is remarkable for two reasons.
First, he had no public address system of amplification, and second, a church of that size was
virtually unprecedented in the history of the Church, anywhere.
C. Spurgeon published thousands of sermons, more than any before or since. His Metropolitan
Tabernacle Pulpit series fills 63 large volumes of small print. Then there was his Treasury of
David, his masterpiece commentary on the Psalms in 7 large volumes. Dozens of other books
also came from his prolific pen: Lectures to My Students, All of Grace, a massive
Autobiography, and others. It has been calculated that Spurgeon wrote and published more
words than any other Christian who wrote in English.
D. Theres more. He started an orphanage, a Pastors College and a Col portage Association
for the distribution of Christian literature, plus other endeavours. Spurgeon was regularly
afflicted with gout, which balanced his famous sense of humor and big black cigars.
E. There were two major controversies at which he was the center. First, in1864 Spurgeon
preached a famous sermon (later published) exposing baptismal regeneration. He argued that
the Church of England taught baptismal regeneration in the Thirty-Nine Articles* Spurgeon then
called on Evangelicals to withdraw from the Church of England. Few did, but the controversy
was intense.
F. Second, there was the Downgrade Controversy. The Metropolitan Tabernacle had once
been the center of Hyper-Calvinism, then under John Rippon the center of the Baptist Union.
This Union was originally Calvinist, then just Evangelical, and by 1887 hardly even Evangelical
any more. Blatant liberals occupied many Baptist Union churches. Spurgeon preached and
wrote against this. But few heeded his call. So he pulled out of the Union. Spurgeon believed in
Open Communion and so could not join the Strict Baptists, so he stayed an independent
Particular Baptist.
G. Most of Spurgeons books and sermons are still in print. They deserve a wide readership.
Baptists love them. So do Calvinists. They are especially loved by those who are both
Calvinistic and Baptistic

8. Baptist Calvinism in America.


A. The growth of Baptist Calvinism moved along similar lines in America as in Britain. The early
Baptists, such as Roger Wi11 Jams (1603-1684), were sometimes Calvinist but that was not
their major concern. Religious liberty and the validity of Believers Baptism were the major
issues. In time, it became clear that most were Calvinists, such as the great Isaac Backus

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(1724-1806).
B. The Philadelphia Confession of 1742 was a minor revision of the Second London
Confession by Benjamin Keachs son Elias. It was printed by Benjamin Franklin. It was the first
American Baptist confession and was emphatically Calvinistic. Then there was the New
Hampshire Confession (1833), a completely new and shorter Baptist Confession. It too was
Calvinistic, but somewhat more moderate in order to balance the spread of the Hyper-Calvinist
Primitive Baptists.

9. Southern Baptist Calvinism.


A. Like the Presbyterians, most American Baptists were affiliated with one denomination until
the issue of slavery and states rights caused them to split north and south. The division came
in 1845. The northern branch today is mainly represented by the American Baptist Convention.
As with the Presbyterians, the northern Baptists slipped into forms of Arminianism and liberalism
before the century was over. But the Southern Baptist Convention lasted much longer in its
Calvinistic Evangelicalism.
B. It comes as a great shock to most Southern Baptists today that all of the founders and
leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention were, to a man, all emphatic and explicit five-point
Calvinists. Such included the following:
(1) W. B. Johnson (1782-1862). First President of the SBC.
(2) Patrick H. Hell (1814-1888). President of the SBC for 17 years.
(3) John L. Dago, (1794-1884). The first major SBC theologian. His Manual of Theology was the
standard textbook of theology in all SBC seminaries.
(4) Basil Manly, Sr (1798-1868) and Jr (1825-1892). Leading founders and theologians in the
SBC in its formative years.
(5) John Broadus (1827-1895). The official SBC publisher, Broadman Press, gets its name from
Broadus and Manly.
(6) James Pettigru Boyce (1827-1888). SBC President, founder and first President of Southern
Baptist Seminary. His Abstract of Systematic Theology rivalled Daggs as the leading SBC
official textbook on theology.
(7) B.H. Carroll (1843-1914). Founder of Southwestern Baptist Seminary.
C. These are giants among Southern Baptists. And they were all emphatic Calvinists. They had
no time or patience for Arminianism of any stripe. But what happened? The change happened in
the early 1900s when E.Y. Hull ins (1860-1928) began to disseminate Arminian theology at
Southwestern Seminary and in his The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression, which
eventually eclipsed Dagg and Boyces textbooks in the seminaries. With the FundamentalistModernist Controversy of the 1920s, Arminian Fundamentalism gained the upper hand. Some
of them implied that Calvinism opened the door to Modernism. In any case, Calvinism has been
in retreat in the SBC ever since.
D. Today, there is only a small Calvinist wing in the SBC, mainly through the leadership of
Ernest Riesinger and Tom Nettles. Calvinism and Arminianism are no longer the issues being
fought. Biblical inerrancy is the main issue. If the SBC liberals (Moderates) win the current
battle, there would be no hope of returning to the Baptist Calvinism of its founders. On the other
hand, if the Fundamentalists - almost all of Whom are Arminians - win, then there is a glimmer

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of hope that they will re-examine their roots and rediscover the vibrant, Biblical Calvinism of
their founders. On the other hand, some SBC Calvinists fear that if the Arminian
Fundamentalists win the current battle and drive out the liberals, then they will turn their guns on
the Calvinists and drive them out next. If the history of British Baptists and American
Presbyterians and Congregationalists is repeated, then neither Fundamentalists nor Calvinists
will win. Water runs downhill.

10. Miscellaneous Calvinistic Baptists.


A. The Landmark Baptists, starting from J.R. Graves (1820-1893), were at one time quite
Calvinistic. Landmarkism teaches that there has been an unbroken organic lineage (the trail of
blood) of true Baptist Churches from the time of the N.T. All others are not churches but
societies. Landmarkism. also denies that there is such a thing as a Universal Church. Today,
most Landmarkers are Low Calvinist at best and often quite Arminian.
B. The Regular Baptist Heritage Fellowship was begun by Kenneth Good to bring the General
Association of Regular Baptists Convention back to its Calvinist roots. Good has authored two
very useful books in the debate. In Are Baptists Calvinists? He proves that mainstream Baptists
have always been Calvinists. But in Are Baptists Reformed? he answers in the negative. Good
makes the distinction between Calvinist and Reformed. Baptists are Calvinist in theology and
soteriology, Good argues, but not Reformed in ecclesiology.
C. The Sovereign Grace Baptists can indirectly be traced back to the influence of Arthur W.
Pink during the years he ministered in Kentucky early in the 1900s.Since World War II, the nondenominational movement has grown slowly through the leadership of Henry Mahan, B.B.
Caldwell, L.R. Shelton, E.W. Jones, Ferrell Griswold and especially the fiery Calvinistic
evangelist Rolfe Barnard (1904-1969).
D. The Reformed Baptists started in Britain and have grown in America as well. In Britain, the
leading name is Enroll Hulse, editor of Reformation Today, the unofficial organ of the Reformed
Baptists, and organizer of the Carey Conference. Hulse once worked for the Banner of Truth
and travels around the world assisting and organizing Reformed Baptist Churches. Other
leading British Reformed Baptists include Peter Masters (pastor of Metropolitan Tabernacle,
London), Geoffrey Thomas (Aberystwyth, Wales), and Peter Lewis (Nottingham, the leading
Reformed Baptist semi-charismatic). The Reformed Baptists in Britain overlap to some extent
with the Strict Baptists, but are not always Strict. Some of them have formed the Grace Baptist
Assembly.
E. In America, the two leading Reformed Baptists are Al Martin (New Jersey) and Walter
Chantry (Pennsylvania). Most Reformed Baptists are in the northeast United States. Down
south, the leading names are Don McKinney (Louisiana), Gary Long and Drew Garner (Texas).
McKinney and his son Ron were key movers in the formation of the Continental Baptist
Convention in the early 1980s. The southern Reformed Baptists have disagreed with the
northern Reformed Baptists over such issues as the Law (the northerners have been closer to
the historically Reformed position, while the southerners have modified it).

11. Conclusion.
A. It is my contention that history abundantly shows that it is possible to be both Calvinistic and
Baptistic. While the paedo-baptist Calvinist and Arminian Baptists agree that Calvinistic Baptist

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is a self-contradiction, history shows otherwise. Those who are both Calvinist and Baptist argue
that a large number of Calvinists have been Baptists and most Baptists before 1900 were
Calvinists. But more importantly, they contend that theirs is the position most true to the
Scriptures. They reformed the Reformation in the right direction.

Recommended Reading
Nettles, Tom. By His Grace and For His Glory. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (An
exhaustive study of the history and theology of Calvinistic Baptists.)
Good, Kenneth. Are Baptists Calvinists? and Are Baptists Reformed? Loraine: Regular Baptist
Heritage Fellowship.
Spurgeon, C.H. The Autobiography of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner.
Spurgeon, C.H. A Defence of Calvinism. Canton, GA: Free Grace Publications
Spurgeon, C.H. Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace. Pasadena: Pilgrim Publications.
Selphe, Robert. Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle.
Balke, Willem. Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Riesinger, Ernest. A Southern Baptist Looks at the Biblical Doctrine of Election. Cape Coral: By
the Author.

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Chapter 19. Dutch Calvinism.


1. Background.
A. Thus far in this series we have concentrated on Calvinism in Switzerland, Britain and
America. To set the balance we must examine the growth of the theology of Calvinism in
another land where Calvinism has prospered as mochas anywhere else: Holland.
B. As we saw earlier, Holland came into Reformed thinking early on. It hosted the Synod of
Dort. It produced many of the most important 17th-centuryReformed theologians, such as
Gomarus, Cocceius, Voetius and Witsius. From the start, it has adhered to traditional Calvinism
in its official confessions: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of
Dort. After the Peace of Westphalia (1648), the Reformed faith became the official State religion
of Holland, with the Reformed Church as the State-Church.
C. There were no major theological controversies for 200 years. There were, however, several
tendencies. For example, Milhelmus Brake (1635-1711) accepted the idea of a State-church but
warned against the possibility of State control in the Church, such as in the ordination and
approval of ministers. Brakel combined orthodox Calvinism with warm spirituality in his
Reasonable Service of God, which became the most used theological textbook for generations.
Brakel argued that the seat of faith is in the will, not the intellect.
D. A few years later, Brakels tendency was balanced by Alexander Xomrie (1706-1774), a
Scotsman who ministered in Holland. Comrie represented the higher tendency in Dutch
Calvinism, For example, unlike Brakel, he was a Supralapsarians.The taught eternal justification
before faith, rather similar to the 17th-centuryEnglish Calvinistic Antinomians. And against
Brakel, Comrie argued that the seat of faith is in the intellect as illumined by the Spirit who then
gives the gift of faith. His most popular book was the delightful little ABC of Faith.
E. Now at that time these differences were small and confined mainly to the borders of Holland.
But the pattern was set for later generations. Most Dutch theology would be conservative
Calvinism. Only here and there would small holes in the dike appear, such as in the much-used
Christian Dogmatics of Jan Jakob Van Oosterzee (1817-1882). Van Oosterzee was weak on the
doctrine of Hell. He allowed the possibility of a second chance at faith for the heathen who
never heard the Gospel.
F. On the political side, there were problems in the very area that Brakel warned against. A cold
bureaucracy had set in which gradually gave more power to the State than the Church. This,
together with the question of whether the 3 confessions were authoritative because or in so far
as they agree with Scripture, led to the first major division in the (Dutch) Reformed Church since
the Arminians. In 1834, the Christian Reformed Church was founded by the most conservative
faction.

2. Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920).


A. The name of Abraham Kuyper towers above all other Dutch Calvinists before or since. He
was the Calvin of the Netherlands. By any estimation he was one of the 5 or 10 greatest and
most influential Calvinist theologians of all time. God raised him up at the critical juncture in
Dutch theology when the State was taking control over the Church on the one hand and the
threat of German Liberalism was lurking about on the other.

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B. Kuyper was a preachers kid, a. son of the manse. Like others of that cut, he early rebelled
into liberalism, but then was converted and brought back to the orthodox fold. Initially he served
11 years as a pastor, but then it began to be obvious that this was no ordinary minister. God
gave him extra-ordinary gifts in many areas. For example, he became editor of two of the most
important newspapers in Holland, both very widely read: The Standard (a daily general and
political paper) and The Herald (a weekly religious paper). He contributed regular articles and
editorials in both. Soon it was apparent that Kuyper had by far the most religious influence in all
of Holland.
C. Kuyper was also involved in educational matters. He strongly favored Christian schools.
Moreover, he called for State support of them, but not State control. (This is similar to the
current move for tuition tax credits for private Christian schools). In 1880, Kuyper founded the
Free University of Amsterdam, free of control of both State and Reformed Church. He taught
there as Professor of Theology until 1902. The Free University is still one of the most important
theological schools in the world.
D. Moreover, Kuyper became a leader within established Reformed Church circles. In 1880, he
led the Doleantie or Dutch Disruption. Some 100,000 Dutch followed Kuyper out of the
established Reformed Church and formed an opposition Reformed Church on doctrinally and
politically purer lines. In1892 this merged with the old Christian Reformed Church founded in
1834, to form the Reformed Church in the Netherlands. And, of course, Kuyper led them for the
rest of his life.
E. Theres more. In 1867, he had become the leader of the Anti-Revolutionary Party and was
elected to the Dutch Estates-General (Parliament) in 1874. In 1878, this party formed a
Monstrous Alliance with the Roman Catholic party in opposition to the rather staid majority
party. In 1900, the Coalition became the majority party. This made Abraham Kuyper the Prime
Minister of Holland (1900-1905). The implications of this are astounding. In America, this would
be comparable to Charles Hodge or B.B. Warfield being elected President of the United States.
Or, more recently, Martyn Lloyd-Jones becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In other
words, imagine the nations most popular preacher, theologian and Calvinist becoming the head
of the government. The closest analogy v would be Oliver Cromwell.
F. Now lets turn to Kuyper the Calvinist theologian. He tended to follow Gomarus and Comrie,
not Brakel or Van Oosterzee. For example, while he admitted that neither the Infralapsarian nor
Supralapsarian positions were perfect, the Supralapsarian view comes closer to the truth.
Further, like Comrie he accepted the theory of eternal justification by faith. And he placed the
seat of faith in the mind, not the will, though he said much about how faith affects the will.
G. Kuyper became the leading representative of a rather extreme and dangerous theory known
as Presumptive Regeneration. This arose in part from his doctrine of justification before faith.
Kuyper did more than teach infant baptism. He taught that God can and often does regenerate
his elect as infants. Because of his extreme view of the Covenant, Kuyper taught that covenant
parents are to presume that their covenant children are regenerate until they give prolonged and
conscious evidence in their mature years that they are unregenerate. Now this is not baptismal
regeneration per se, and thus is still basically within the circle of evangelical orthodoxy. But it
opens the door to baptismal regeneration and definitely breeds false assurance in covenant
children whom, Kuyper insisted, should be treated as little Christians and not as sinners in
need of evangelization.
H, One is amazed how such a man could accomplish so much and still have time to write. One
is even more amazed at the enormous literary output of this genius. Kuyper was one of the most
prolific writers (Christian or not) of all time, certainly one of the 3 or 4 most prolific theological
writers, and definitely the most published of any Dutch theologian of any era. Mind you, this was

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not mindless pult of quantity, but high quality as well. To Kuyper, anything worth writing was
worth covering exhaustively and encyclopedically.
I. For instance, he wrote a commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism in four large volumes.
Then there was his massive The Work of the Holy Spirit, which was translated into English. His
magnum opus was probably his Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology in three massive volumes,
only a third of which was translated into English. In this work of genius, we see the
transcendental Kuyper, the speculative and deductive mind of a master theologian. This
Encyclopedia was not arranged topically like, say, the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is not an
alphabetical dictionary of theology. Rather, it is Kuypers detailed discussion of theological
method - theological science. He lays down the Biblical and Calvinistic principles of formulating
theology, then examines the history of theological method, and finally treats the main subjects.
J. In 1898 Kuyper was invited to deliver the prestigious Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary,
which were published as Lectures on Calvinism. This little book is still in print after almost 100
years. In a way, it is the best concise summary of all Kuyper thought, wrote and did. He
discusses Calvinism as pure Biblical theology and as the only godly life-and-world view. He
examines Calvinism as a religion, as a political force, the Calvinist view of science and art, and
Calvinisms view of the future.
K. His other major theological enterprise was his Common Grace, again in three massive
volumes (unfortunately never translated into English). Kuypers major contribution to Calvinist
theology was his fine-tuning of the Reformed doctrine of common grace. God has special
electing grace for the elect alone, but He also has a lesser and qualitatively different kind of
grace for all men, elect and non-elect. This was displayed in initial form at Creation, but
especially after the Flood, It is the basis for restraint of sin and the development of culture. This
gave valuable insights into the Calvinist view of society, the sciences, and so forth. Common
grace deals mainly with general revelation, but must be subservient to special revelation in
Scripture.

3. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921).


A. Like Kuyper, Bavinck was a preachers son. He was the only contemporary who came close
to equaling Kuyper as a theologian. Bavinck was Professor of Theology at the University of
Kampen (1882-1902) and then succeeded Kuyper to the chair of theology at the Free University
of Amsterdam (1902-1920) when Kuyper became Prime Minister.
B. Like his older contemporary, Bavinck was a master theologian who wrote in many fields,
especially theology. But his claim to fame rests mainly upon his Gereformeerde Dogmatiek (or,
in English, Reformed Dogmatics), a complete Calvinistic systematic theology in 4 large
volumes. Only part of this has-been translated into English, entitled The Doctrine of God.
Calvinist scholars consider this one of the 3 or 4 best and fullest systematic theologies
overwritten. It is to Dutch theology what Charles Hodges is to American theology and Turretin is
to Continental Calvinism. It is the best there is.
C. Kuyper was the genius, Bavinck was the man of careful talent. His Dogmatics is filled with
Scripture references (more than Kuyper) and interactions with previous theologians (especially
16th and 17th century Reformed theologians). Bavinck was particularly known for his sense of
balance. For example, he often gave both sides of a question and tended to accept the best in
both (as in his discussion of Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism). Thus, he is less
speculative than Kuyper. Kuyper tended to be original and deductive; Bavinck tended to be
more traditional and inductive. Kuyper was more analytical and idealistic; Bavinck was more

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synthetical and realistic.


D. Incidently, Bavinck wrote a condensed version of his Dogmatics, which has-been translated
into English as Our Reasonable Faith. It is one of the best one-volume systematic theologies
ever written, filled with Scripture.
E. Like Kuyper, Bavinck served in the Dutch Parliament. As Kuyper was aging, Bavinck
became the leading theological advisor in the political sphere. His deathbed words sum up his
approach to the place of theology: Now my scholarship avails me nothing, nor my Dogmatics. It
is only my faith can save me. He wasnt recanting anything, nor downplaying the place of
scholarly theology. He was asserting to the end what he preached for decades: truth is
important, but without personal faith in it and in the Lord of truth, we are lost.

4. G.C. Berkouwer (1903- ).


A. Bavinck was succeeded at Amsterdam by Valentine Hepp from 1922 to 1945. Hepp wrote
much and like Kuyper and Bavinck delivered the Stone Lectures at Princeton. Hepp did not
make any major contributions to Dutch Calvinism. But he may be compared to A.A. Hodge who
succeeded Charles Hodge - he steered safe and steady course in tumultuous days. Hepp has
often been accused of being scholastic and non-original. To his critics, that is a negative
criticism, but to the truly orthodox that is praise, for the true theologian should be scholarly
without having to be original.
B. He was succeeded in 1945 by the great Gerrit Cornelius Berkouwer. For the next30 years
Berkouwer was the dominant voice in Dutch theology, at least in Holland itself. He wrote many
books and articles, which were often translated into English, and they received high acclaim.
There is no doubt that at the beginning Berkouwer was in the clear line of traditional Dutch
Reformed orthodoxy. In time some differences arose, which we will examine below.
C. Berkouwers main literary effort was his 14-volume Studies in Dogmatics. Some volumes
were partially abridged, but it remains one of the largest such series in print today. It is,
however, not a complete systematic theology like, say, Hodges or Bavinck *. Rather, like
Warfield said of Hodges Systematic Theology, Berkouwer said that Bavincks Reformed
Dogmatics could not be rivaled in his lifetime, but only supplemented by new studies in
dogmatics. The reader will notice, for example, that Berkouwer does not have a volume on God.
Moreover, these studies are not as structured and encyclopedic as Bavinck.
D. There have been several useful studies on Berkouwers method. For one, he rejects all
scholasticism and tends to downplay the use of logic as such. Then Berkouwer stresses that
dogmatics must be preachable. This sounds nice, but in practice it is indicative of his general
trend away from Reformed orthodoxy. For example, he is not as explicit as most dogmatics,
which he labels as scholastic. One can read whole pages and chapters and still not know what
Berkouwer believes. His method is analytical without coming to clear conclusions. He is too
busy inter-acting with everyone else to state thus saith the Scriptures. His trumpet has an
unclear sound. And, of course, this contrasts with Bavinck and the scholastics, and is by no
means preachable.
E. The first three volumes deal with faith in relation to justification, sanctification and
perseverance. Like all his studies, they are challenging. They more or less represent historic
Dutch Calvinist orthodoxy. But in the mid-1950s, certain signs appeared in the Studies and
elsewhere that Berkouwer was drifting.
F. At that time he wrote Divine Election. Variations from orthodoxy were evident. Like Bavinck

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and Kuyper, he wavered on the Supralapsarian/Infralapsarian issue, but unlike those two there
is little indication that he came down on either side but rather somewhere else (just where has
been debated). Back of this is his rejection of the Reformed doctrine of a fixed decree and
causal-determinism.
G. In other words, he evidently rejected the basic tenet of Calvinism, namely, that God is the
first cause and last end of all things and has eternally and unchangeably foreordained all that
comes to pass. Such is too arbitrary for him. G. Then he redefines the eternal aspect of election.
Berkouwer downplayed, if not outright rejected, the before of eternal election. Berkouwer held
that that view devalues election. Eternal election simply means its depth-aspect, not its
eternally before absolute definiteness. Berkouwer often reacts against the stress on eternal
fixity and says it detracts from historical reality.
H. Berkouwer also had serious problems with the historic Reformed doctrine of the secret and
revealed wills of God. First he warns against prying into the secret will, suggesting that
scholastic Calvinism does just that. This in turn leads Berkouwer to virtually, if not actually,
reject the notion of the secret-revealed dichotomy. He clearly reacts against the Reformed
doctrine of Deus Absconditus (the hiddenness of God). Like Karl Barth, Berkouwer denies that
election is a hidden decree. How can it be hidden if it is revealed in the Gospel? There is no will
of God other than that which is revealed in Gospel.
I. Turning to reprobation, Berkouwer has even stronger reactions. He rejects the historic
doctrine of reprobation, whether Supra or Infra. God elects men; He reprobates none. The only
reprobation is that which they do to themselves. He further rejects the Reformed idea of equal
ultimacy, that is, that reprobation is the necessary corrolary of election. As to divine wrath, he
has some semi-Barthian notions that wrath is really concealed grace. Lastly, as expected at this
point, Berkouwer denies that God in any sense is the cause of sin. Historic Calvinists have said
that God is the first cause of all things and therefore of sin, though not the actual approver of it.
Berkouwer rejects this. The whole question of the origin of sin is invalid, he says, because Man
is the sinner and all attempts to find its origin are attempts to shift the blame.
J. Such changes in Berkouwer's theology caused no small controversy in the Reformed
community in the 1950s. By his own admission, Berkouwer was influenced by two main writers.
Negatively, he admits reacting against Herman Hoeksema. However, it was not just
Hoeksemas Supralapsarianism and Hyper-Calvinism that he rejected. It was basically his
historic Reformed scholasticism regarding the fixed double decree. Secondly, he admits being
positively influenced by Karl Barth, father of modern Neo-Orthodoxy. While almost all historic
Calvinists of the day were warning against Earths pseudo-Calvinism, Berkouwer was voting for
his inclusion in the ranks of basically Reformed theologians. True, he had several important
disagreements with Barth, but the drift was apparent, as in his large book The Triumph of Grace
in the Theology of Karl Barth. Berkouwer opened the door to Neo-Orthodoxy, just as NeoOrthodoxy had opened the door to Liberalism. Whether either actually walked through those
doors is another question. But history confirms that more have gone through those doors away
from historic Evangelical and Reformed orthodoxy than towards it. In effect, this produced the
first rival to Arminianism. Arminianism opens the door to Liberalism, and some Calvinists have
gone that course. This Neo-Dutch Calvinism opens a non-Arminian door that leads to the same
tragic end.
K. Then there were Berkouwers growing ecumenical views. His last Studies were on the
Church. Originally he was very non-ecumenical and anti-Rome, then more ecumenical and nonRakish and eventually pro-Romish. This decline can be seen in his four books on Rome.
Berkouwer would admit to no substantial change; the change occurred at the Vatican II Council,
at which Berkouwer was an official observer- In the end, it almost appears that he has higher

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praise for recent Romish theologians than for historically Reformed theologians,
L. Lastly, there is his view of Scripture. Holy Scripture was his second to last in the Studies.
This came out at the height of the controversy over Biblical inerrancy in the mid-1970s and it
was evident that Berkouwer did not believe in Biblical inerrancy, unlike Kuyper and Bavinck. He
argued that we cannot dictate to God the means by which He speaks. God can and does speak
through fallen humanity, that is, errors in Scripture. He stresses that we must protect the
humanness of Scripture. Scripture can still be a light to us even though it contains factual errors
due to human limitations and sinful ness and historical limitations.
M. Of the idea of inerrancy, he said In the end it will damage reverence for Scripture more than
it will further it. He rejected the idea of inerrancy as being scholastic, rationalistic and
Aristotelean. Moreover, Berkouwer himself began to dabble in the results and methods of the
historic-critical method, a staple of Liberalism. In the end, it appears that Berkouwer even
rejected the notion of verbal inspiration.
N. All this is sad in the light of other contributions he made. These serious errors outweigh and
undo whatever other good he may have written. G.C. Berkouwer, more than anyone else, has
been responsible for leading post-World War II Calvinists into forms of Neo-Orthodoxy. Should
the serious Calvinist read him? By all means! He is challenging at many points. But let the
Calvinist be cautioned to read Berkouwer with a box of salt in one hand and a Bible in the other.

5. Other Contemporary Dutch Calvinists.


A. In passing we mention Klaus Schilder and Herman Ridderbos. Their influence is waning and
it appears that the leading voice in Dutch Calvinism since Berkouwer is that of Hendrikus
Berkhof (1914- ). In a nutshell, Berkhof picks up where Berkouwer left off. He marshalls no
return to historic Reformed orthodoxy. For example, he seems to reject the doctrine of Hell: For
Gods sake we hope that Hell will be a form of purification. His main work is The Christian Faith
(1973).

6. Dutch Calvinism in America.


A. Early in colonial America, the Reformed Church of America was the center of the Dutch
Reformed community, tiny as it was. This denomination continues today with some 350,000
members, but has long since cast away its Reformed heritage. This is the denomination of
Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller.
B. The real center of Dutch Calvinism in America has been the Christian Reformed Church.
The CRC was founded in Holland by Evangelicals in the 1830s. It was more or less the
American counterpart of Kuyper's Reformed Church of the Netherlands. It grew in America
because of the great immigration of the late1800s. Most immigrated to Michigan, where the
CRC is headquartered in Grand Rapids. This accounts for the fact that so many of the major
Christian publishers have Dutch roots in the Christian Reformed Church (e.g., Eerdmans,
Baker, Kregel, Zondervan).
C. The Crys theological education revolves around Calvin College and Seminary, both in
Grand Rapids. For years the CRC and the Calvin school* used the Dutch language, which
helped preserve its Reformed heritage. Now Dutch is known by many, but obviously English is
the language of both denomination and schooling. Calvin Seminary also houses the Meeter

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Center for Calvin Studies, the international center of all serious research into John Calvin.
D. The Christian Reformed Church has undergone 3 main controversies this century. First,
there was the question of Harry Bultema, a CRC preacher who taught Dispensationalism early
in the century. The CRC Synod ruled that Dispensationalism was incompatible with Reformed
theology, and so Bultema was ousted.
E. The second controversy was in the 1920s. Herman Hoeksema objected to the 3 Points of
common grace that appeared in various official CRC documents, traceable back to Abraham
Kuyper. Hoeksema rejected the idea of common grace as Arminian. Hoeksema was eventually
ousted from the CRC and founded the small Protestant Reformed Church denomination, one of
the few Hyper-Calvinist denominations anywhere.
F. The third major controversy was the Dekker case of the 1960s. Robert Dekker was
Professor of Missions at Calvin Seminary. He not only taught common grace, but also universal
atonement. This in turn led him and others to follow the Berkouwer tendency and downplay
special grace. Doctrinally, this was the rise of the slightly Neo-Orthodox wing of the CRC,
including James Daane and Lewis Smedes. Dekker may have lost the battle, but so far as
Calvin Seminary goes, his side is gradually winning the war.
G. Time will not permit catalog all the other big names of the CRC, such as Henry C. Meeter,
Anthony Hoekema, D.H. and John Kromminga, R.B. and B.K. Kuiper, Geerhardus Vos and Jan
Karel Van Baalen. But we would be amiss to omit two last names, both of whom stood against
the decline of Reformed orthodoxy and whose names are revered by all those who love the
doctrines of grace. They are Louis Berkhof and William Hendriksen.

7. Louis Berkhof (1873-1957).


A. Born in Holland, Berkhof immigrated to America at age 8. He taught at Calvin Seminary for
38 years, culminating in being President of the college. Both at Calvin and in the CRC in
general, for a whole generation Louis Berkhof waste chief theologian.
B. Berkhof closely followed Kuyper and Bavinck, especially the latter. Like Bavinck, Berkhof is
balanced and synthetic, Biblical and historical. One does not go to Berkhof for innovations or
originality. Rather, one goes and finds Biblical and Reformed orthodoxy. Berkhof appreciated
the old paths and freely quoted Calvinists on both sides of the Atlantic. Berkhof also resisted the
temptation for innovation: he was a major opponent of various heresies and deviations,
including both Bultema and Hoeksema. Had he lived longer, he would certainly have resisted
G.C. Berkouwer and the Dekker group.
C. The name of Louis Berkhof will live on for one main reason, his magnum opus, his
magnificent Systematic Theology. This large volume is without doubt the best one-volume
statement of historic Reformed theology. It has been used as the basic theological textbook by
thousands of seminarians and has been translated into several languages. It has been abridged
several times and itself is something of an abridgement of Bavineks Reformed Dogmatics.
D. I have heard it said that one cannot be a Calvinist if he does not own Berkhofs Systematic
Theology. That is wrong, but it is not far wrong. Originally it formed part of a trilogy. The other
two volumes have subsequently been enlarged and published separately as Introductory
Volume to Systematic Theology (mainly on Scripture and theological method) and History of
Christian Doctrines.
E. In summary, Berkhofs theology was 5-point Calvinism, Covenant Theology, paedo-baptism,

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Biblical inerrancy, anti-Evolution, amillenial and Evangelical. It is as close as you can find to
pure Reformed orthodoxy.

8. William Hendriksen (1900-1981).


A. William Hendriksen also pastored in the CRC and taught at Calvin Seminary. He was the
one who translated The Doctrine of God, the only portion of Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics to
be done into English. Over the decades he would write many books of his own, such as the
popular Survey of the Bible, which has been a popular textbook at Christian colleges. Then
there was his More Than Conquerors, a perennial best-selling exposition of the book of
Revelation.
B. But his masterpiece was his large New Testament Commentary. Hendriksen was to Bible
commenting what Berkhof was to systematic theology: solid, Reformed, clear, the right
combination of theory and practice and of scholarship and devotion. He interacts with the
Liberals, but one always knows where he stands in the fight. One does not find Hendriksen
employing Liberal criticism of the Bible.
C. Dr. Hendriksen died before completing the set. He covered approximately of the New
Testament, viz, the four Gospels, Romans, Galatians to Titus. The series is being completed by
Simon Kistemaker of Reformed Theological Seminary from the same Biblical and theological
foundation. If Berkhof is the best one-volume Systematic theology, then Hendriksen/Kistemaker
is the best set of New Testament commentaries.

9. Conclusion.
The lesson we can learn from this study is this: orthodoxy must be maintained in every
generation, for like water it tends to run down hill. Nevertheless, we can rejoice that God raises
up His men in key places in every generation to keep the lamp burning. May all of us be vigilant
landholders in our generation and pass it on to the next.

Recommended Reading
Bratt, James D. Dutch Calvinism in Modern America. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Wells, James, ed. Reformed Theology in America. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Section 3 is on
Dutch-American Calvinism)
Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Bavinck, Herman. The
Doctrine of God. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Bavinck, Herman. Our Reasonable Faith. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House.
Berkouwer, G.C. Studies in Dogmatics. 14 volumes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (All 14 volumes
are available separately as wel1.)
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Hendriksen, William; and Kistemaker, Simon. New Testament Commentary. 12 volumes to date
(1989) Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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Chapter 20. Calvinistic Philosophy.


1. Introduction.
A. In the late 1800s, certain Calvinists felt the need for a distinctively Caivinistic philosophy and
apologetic. They said that the Reformation had not gone far enough from Rome in this area.
Roman Catholicisms philosophy was officially that of Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), and
Thomism was still evident in much of Protestant philosophy. And Aquinas was based on
Aristotle.
B. These Calvinists argued that it was not enough to be Protestant or even Evangelical in
philosophy. We needed a philosophy that was in agreement with the Reformed distinctives. At
this time, the prevailing philosophy among Calvinists was Scottish Realism, or Common Sense
Philosophy. This was traced back to Thomas Reid and popularized by Charles Hodge.
However, there was little in it that could be called distinctively Calvinistic. Some Arminians held
to forms of it, and in turn it had much in common with Thomism.
C. The major voice calling for a truly Calvinistic philosophy was Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper said
that Christians - and Calvinists in particular - needed a Biblical Weltanschauung (a world-andlife view). In other words, it was not sufficient to defend Christianity; we must have an overarching philosophy that provided a positive foundation for epistemology (the philosophy of
knowledge). Kuyper argued that this must rest upon God alone, specifically the sovereignty of
God. This is illustrated in his famous words in his inaugural address at the founding of the Free
University of Amsterdam: There is not an inch in the whole of temporal life of which Christ, as
Lord of all men, does not say, Mine. All thought must be subject to Christ, but also all culture,
D. In this study, we will examine the various attempts to construct a truly Calvinistic philosophy.
We will not discuss non-Reformed attempts. Special attention will be given to those whose roots
go back to Abraham Kuyper.

2. Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977).


A. The first school we will look at is that associated with Herman Dooyeweerd. Historically this
was one of the first to build on Kuyper's foundation. As such, it has been variously labeled:
Calvinistic Philosophy, Neo-Calvinism, The Amsterdam Philosophy, Kuyperism, KuyperCalvinism, Hyper-Covenantism and the rather imposing title, The Philosophy of the
Costnonomic Idea. All of these speak more of Dooyeweerd than of Kuyper.
B. Dooyeweerd was director of the Abraham Kuyper Foundation in Amsterdam from1922 till
1926, when he then became professor of law and jurisprudence (the philosophy of law) at the
Free University of Amsterdam. He taught there until1965. During those decades he founded the
Association for Calvinistic Philosophy and was editor of Phiiosophia Reformata, the journal of
the movement.
C. In 1935-36, Dooyweerd wrote the definitive text on this movement, A New Critique of
Theoretical Thought in four large volumes totaling approximately 2,000 pages. It was translated
into English in the 1950s and is still in print. Dooyeweerd was primarily attacking the
philosophical teachings of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), whose philosophy underlay most of
European and Western non-Christian philosophy. The New Critique is extremely technical and
difficult to understand. Only a brief summary can be given here.

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D. The New Critique is described as a transcendental critique. It examines metaphysics and


thought from Gods perspective. Theoretical thought does not refer only to Kantian and postKantian philosophy, but to all human thought, which formulates ideas and theories and science.
Dooyeweerd challenges Kants basis premise, namely, that human thought is objective and
autonomous (i.e., able to objectively reach valid conclusions about the universe). Dooyeweerd
smashes this foundation. For him, no man has ever had a truly autonomous or objective
thought in his life. The greatest myth of philosophy is that of the pretended autonomy of
human thought.
E. Dooyweerd argued that all thought is inherently religious. Moreover, all men are religious,
but sinfully so. That means two things. First, men are always biased in their thoughts; second,
they are always biased against God. And consequently, they live what they think. To cure
culture, we must cure the way men think the wrong religious thoughts. It is not merely the
content that is wrong; the very way in which they think (pretended objectivity) is wrong.
F. Dooyweerd was also a major proponent of the philosophy of Sphere-sovereignty. Rejecting
Kants categories of thought and existence, Dooyeweerd postulated14 spheres of human
existence, thought and life. They are: the numerical, spatial, physical, organic, psychical
(psychological), analytical, historical, lingual (symbolical signification), social, economic,
aesthetic (beauty), juridical (justice), ethical, and faith, which is the highest and most important.
Each of these spheres is separate but inter-related.
G. Sometimes these spheres are called modalities or modal aspects of existence. Because
each has its own laws, they are sometimes called law spheres. All function properly only when
submitted to God. Since they are part of Creation (the cosmos), this philosophy is called The
Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea (cosmos= world, nomos = law).
H. Mind you, these spheres are not the same as Platos ideas. Platonic ideas are eternal and
more or less correspond to the attributes of God. Rather, said Dooyeweerd, these spheres are
part of Creation. Further, each; sphere has two sides: the objective and the subjective. This
corresponds to the entirety of Creation, which is subjective to God, who is objective.
I. Christianity alone fits this scheme of things. Therefore, when we encounter non-Christian
systems, we must challenge their basic views of existence in each of these spheres. It is a
battle of presuppositions.
J. Dooyweerd has been joined in this movement by other scholars. In Holland, he worked
closely with his brother-in-law Dirk Hendrik Th. Vollenhoven, professor of philosophy at the Free
University. His cosmonomic views were seen at the outset in his doctoral dissertation entitled,
The Philosophy of Mathematics from a Theistic Point of View. Then there were H. Van Riessen,
J.P.A. Mekkes and J.M. Spier.
K. Hendrik G. Stoker was the leading Dooyeweerdian in South Africa, where the school has
grown. In North America it has especially caught on in certain Reformed circles in Canada,
mainly through the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, which Dooyeweerd helped found.
The two leading Canadian Dooyeweerdians have been Hendrik Hart and C.T. Mclntire, son of
Carl Mclntire (former associate of J. Gresham Machen and founder of the Bible Presbyterian
Church). In the US, the movement has been known through the writings of William Young,
David Hugh Freeman, H. Evan Runner and H.L. Hebden Taylor (an Englishman). Young and
Freeman, however, have greatly modified the school. L. Dooyeweerdians (as they are often
called) have their weaknesses. They tend to be too speculative and idealistic, definitely more
philosophical than theological, and personally somewhat proud and aloof. Religiously, they often
drift into forms of Antinomianism; they over-react against simple devotional Christianity (which
they oppose as mysticism) and Puritanism (which is classed as legalism). They have a

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weakened doctrine of Biblical inspiration. Their transcendental critique often leads them to a
doctrine of an impersonal God. Finally, they have often propagated Kuypers major error presumptive regeneration.

3. Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987).


A. Cornelius Van Til was originally a member of the Cosmonomic school, but increasingly took
issue with it. Without doubt he is one of the greatest Calvinistic theologians America has
produced. And he developed one of the purest varieties of Calvinistic Philosophy yet known.
B. Born in Holland, he was brought to America by his parents and raised in Indiana. He was
one of the teachers at Princeton Seminary who left with Machen to found Westminster
Seminary, where he taught for 56 years. At firs the belonged to the Christian Reformed Church,
then switched to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
C. Van Til wrote dozens of books: Christian Apologetics, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, and
his most important volume, The Defence of the Faith. Several of his books opposed the drift into
pseudo-Calvinism (Barth, Berkouwer, Daane, and others). His writings were heavy and strongly
worded in their dogmatism. His criticism could be exceptionally sharp. But like the apostle Paul,
Ms letters were weighty but his presence was weak (2 Cor. 10:10). Even his opponents
admitted that he was personally one of the humblest men on earth.
D. Now Van Til was more clearly Calvinistic than Dooyeweerd. He also referred to more
Scripture and was less speculative. Dooyeweerd was more philosophical; VanTil was more
theological, if mainly specializing in apologetics. And what was his starting point? The selfattesting Christ of Scripture has always been my starting point for everything I have said.
E. His theology purifies the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Scripture and Scripture alone
is the source and standard for all truth and knowledge. The Bible, of course, is totally inerrant in
all it says. We cannot prove its inspiration as such, nor need we. The Holy Spirit does this
Himself. This is the Reformed doctrine of the Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit (testimonium
internum Spiritu Sancti). Therefore, the only ultimate answer to the question How do you
know? is God says so. It is written.
F. Van Til also is known for purifying what Kuyper and Dooyeweerd taught about basic
assumptions. Hence Van Tils system is known as Presuppositionaiism, the philosophy of
presuppositions. These are basic axioms, the starting points of knowledge and thought, and the
basic assumptions, which all men make. Men always have a foundation for what they think;
they do not challenge these self-evident facts. However, not everyone agrees on them.
Therefore, Van Til challenges non-Christian presuppositions with Christian presuppositions.
G. Only Christian presuppositions are true. All non-Christian presuppositions are false. Van Til
tied this in with what has been called the Analogy of Faith. This refers to the basic message of
Christianity, the Gospel, the form of sound words (see Rom. 12:6, Titus 1:4). This is useful in
interpreting the Bible, for no correct interpretation can contradict the Gospel.
H. Another aspect of the basic Christian presupposition is the existence of God. All true thought
must be based on belief that God j^. Truth is what God says it is. A statement or fact is not true
in itself; nothing is self-existent except God. One of Van Tils colorful maxims was Theres no
such thing as a brute fact. Kantian philosophy says some facts just are/, they are brute facts.
Van Til says no. They exist and are true only because God says so. Moreover, no facts are
neutral. And only God knows all the true facts.

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I. Certain Scriptures appear in Van Tils writings quite frequently. Romans 1:16-32 (esp. vss.
19-22) and Acts 17:22-34 are favorites. 2 Cor. 10:5 is perhaps most central to his system:
casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of
God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
J. Van Til agreed with Calvins opening words in the Institutes that true knowledge of God must
precede true knowledge of ourselves. Human knowledge> therefore, cannot prove the
existence of God. Nor do we need to do so - all men already know that God exists (Rom. 1), but
they suppress this knowledge in sin. Van Til has no place for Thomas Aquinas proofs for the
existence of God. They are useful only as later explanations, not as foundational evidences. If
Gods existence could be proved, He wouldnt be the infinite God that He is. He should not be
proved but proclaimed. This proclamation is the Gospel and it destroys all alleged proofs of
the non-existence of God.
K. Obviously, he has great difficulty accepting the Traditional Method of proving Gods
existence, the inspiration of Scripture, and so on. This method goes back to Aquinas and
Aristotle, Unfortunately it permeates most of todays Evangelicalism and even much of
contemporary Calvinism. Van Til says it is based on evidences rather than the Word of God, on
human reason rather than on the work of the Holy Spirit. At best it can only lead to probability,
not certainty, and then it leads into skepticism and eventually atheism. Why do Calvinists use
such an Arminian, Man-centered system? This false system denies the doctrine of total
depravity, for it assumes that Mans mind is able to grasp spiritual truth and correctly assess
even what is revealed in natural revelation. No, Man is sinful in his mind. Thus, if these
evidences were true, then Christianity itself would not be true. Ones apologetic method cannot
deny in practice what it attempts to defend or prove.
L. Is there, then a common ground with unbelievers? Yes, but not in the way posited by the
Traditional Method. The real point of contact is what God says it is: His existence revealed to
them in the image of God. Man bears the image of God - he has a moral capacity and the
capacity to know God. But this image of God does not mean that we exist in the same way as
God. Gods existence is necessary; ours will always be contingent. Van Til rejects Aquinas
theory of the Analogy of Being (by faith we ascend the ladder to a higher existence).
M. Van Til argues that there is no neutrality regarding God. All claims to neutrality are anti-God
pretensions. All non-Christian philosophies are built on chance, not God. Pagans know in a
functional way only by borrowed capital, stolen from Christianity. Still, they never truly know
anything/Christian knowledge, however, is true - partial, yes, but true and definite. Because it is
not exhaustive, we know by analogy and paradox. Nor do we know as God does. God
necessarily knows all things. Paradoxes are only seeming contradictions; they are not
paradoxes to God, for He knows how to reconcile them. Moreover, we will never know God in
His totality, for He ever remains infinite and we ever remain finite. This is the incomprehensibility
of God.
N. Van Til has been accused of arguing in a circle. He replied that all men argue in a circle of
presuppositions, only his are Biblical ones. Then he has been accused of irrational ism akin to
Karl Earths Neo-orthodoxy. This overlooks Van Tils scathing opposition to Barth. Van Til
rejected both rationalism and 7rrationalism. He did not advocate Fideism - religion that is based
on blind faith rather than reason or evidence. Instead, he said, that true faith is a step of faith
into the light of true knowledge.
O. For Van Til, Calvinistic Philosophy is both offensive and defensive. The best defence is a
good offense. Van Til calls for a confrontational apologetic: The Reformed apologist throws
down the gauntlet and challenges his opponent to a duel of life and death from the start. Van
Tils system is virile and aggressive. Christians should not use human methods against human

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arguments; we are to fight fire with water, not with fire (cf. 2 Cor. 10:4). In this he likes to follow
Tertuliians approach: What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Or the Academy with the
Church? Why resort to Aristotle when we have the Word of God? If there is a weakness in Van
Tillianism, it is only that he does not appeal to Scripture enough.
P. Presuppositionalism in the Van Tillian sense has been advocated by many subsequent
Calvinist writers. John Frame is a major Van Tillian presuppositionalist apologist, and his The
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (planned for 4 volumes) purifies and simplifies Van Til.
Richard Pratt wrote Every Thought Captive as a handy and readable summary of
Presuppositionalism. The system has also been accepted by the Theonomy Movement
(Rushdoony, Bahnsen, North and others). There have been, on the other hand, several
alternatives suggested by 20th-century Calvinists, which will be examined below.

4. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. (1895-1975).


A. Buswell was president of Wheaton College and later taught at Covenant Seminary. He was
seriously considered to become successor of Lewis Sperry Chafer as president of Dallas
Seminary. He was a leading theologian in the Reformed Presbyterian/Evangelical Synod
denomination. He wrote a large 2-volume Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion and a
book on apologetics, A Christian View of Being and Knowing. He rejected Presuppositionalism.
B. Buswell denied that Man is born with any innate ideas. His mind is a blank tablet (tabula
rasa). By experience, observation and inference he learns facts. In philosophy this is known as
Empiricism. Buswell attempted to construct a Calvinistic Empiricism. He borrowed heavily from
Aristotle, Aquinas and especially John Locke. In sum, Man learns by experience, mainly via the
senses.
C. Through experience Man learns the basic laws of logic, such as the crucial Law of NonContradiction (A cannot equal non=A). By inference from what he experiences and observes,
Man can know the existence of God. With few modifications, Buswell accepts Thomas Aquinas
proofs for God. Still, he admits, Man cannot know definitely, only probably. But that is sufficient,
for the Holy Spirit uses this probability of knowledge to work regeneration. Lastly, Buswells
system is strong on the use of evidences for God, the Bible, Christs deity and so forth.
Empiricism and evidential ism go hand in hand.
D. The Presuppositionalists reply that there is nothing distinctively Reformed about Buswells
approach. It can be found almost entirely in Arminians (such as Josh McDowell and Norman
Geisler) and Roman Catholics. A few writers try to combine Presuppositionalism and Evidential
ism,, such as Ronald B. Mayer sin Both/And: A Reformed Apologetic. The Presuppositionalists
say such an approach is unbiblical, un-Reformed, untrue, not to mention self-contradictory.
Buswell and Mayers Calvinistic Empiricism is more popular with very Low Calvinists, whereas
Van Tils is more popular with High Calvinists.

5. Gordon Clark (1902-1985).


A. Gordon Clark also taught for a while at Wheaton College and for 28 years at Butler
University in Indianapolis. He was somewhat purer in his Calvinism than was Buswell, also
higher (like Van Til, Clark was Supralapsarian). He wrote several books espousing explicit
Calvinism: Predestination, What Presbyterians Be1ieve, and others. But he was primarily an
apologist. His major book was A Christian View of Men and Things. His views were also

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elaborated in Religion, Reason and Revelation and the short Logic. His Thales to Dewey is a
major work on the history of philosophy.
B. At times Clark sounded very much like Van Til, such as accepting a form of presupposition
about God: Instead of beginning with facts and later discovering God, unless a thinker begins
with God, he can never end with God, or get the facts either. All men innately know that God
exists.
C. But then difference! materialize. Clark accused Van Til of irrational ism and Neo-Orthodoxy.
But unlike BuswelI, Clark put forth a non-Empiricist Calvinistic Rationalism. All Empiricism is
wrong, he argued. Our senses cannot always be trusted. For example, you can smell something
and think it is a rose, when it is in reality a bottle of perfume. This being so, even science is not
perfect. He used to say, All the laws of science are false. They are false in their methodology,
not necessarily in their conclusions. But that methodology betrays their underlying infallible antiGod presuppositions. Still, said Clark, our senses are necessary to some extent. After all, we
need our eyes and ears to receive the Word of God.
D. Clark was the major proponent of what can be called Calvinistic Rationalism,
as opposed to what he considered Calvinistic Irrational ism in Van Til and Barth. One of his
favorite texts is I Peter 3:15, Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a
reason of the hope that is in you. Reason and logic are not above God but are expressions of
the way in which God Himself thinks. Moreover, we find most of the laws of logic in the Bible,
either directly or indirectly. He paraphrases John 1:1, In the beginning was Logic (or Reason),
and Logic was with God, and Logic was God. Van Tillians shudder.
E. Unlike Van Til, Clark greatly downplays the validity of paradox. Rather than simply accepting
them, we should attempt to understand them. This can usually be done through logic. Clark
accepted almost all the laws of logic, including the Law of Contradiction. In fact, these laws are
one of the major parts of common ground we have with which to argue with unbelievers. Clark
proposed another aggressive apologetic: destroy your opponents position by showing that it is
inconsistent with itself (in philosophy this is known as Reductio ad Absurdum, or reducing to
absurdity). Christianity alone is self-consistent. The Presuppositionalists reply that Clark is
inconsistent with his own system, for he did not fully examine all non-Christian systems in order
to prove them wrong.
F. Van Til and Gordon Clark were both in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church until a major
controversy arose (1943-48). Van Til and his associates charged that Clark essentially denied
the incomprehensibility of God. Clark argued that there is no qualitative difference between the
knowledge which Man has and which God has. Van Til argued that there is both a qualitative
and not merely a quantitative difference, for we are of separate essences. Clarks ordination in
the OPC was denied. He then joined Buswells Reformed Presbyterian Church/Evangelical
Synod denomination, which later merged with the Presbyterian Church in America (which in turn
is on the verge of merging with the OPC).
G. Clark had a great influence on Edward John Camel!, a major Christian apologist but not
particularly Reformed. Today his major successor is John Robbins, who through the Trinity
Foundation is reprinting and propagating Clarks books and apologetics.

6. John Gerstner (1914- ).


A. John Gerstner has proposed yet another Calvinistic apologetic. Gerstner is a leading
Reformed theologian and perhaps the leading scholar on Jonathan Edwards, who has greatly

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influenced Gerstners own theology, and apologetics. He has published many short books on
the cults and Catholicism, plus a series of primers on predestination, freewill, Christs deity, the
atonement, inerrancy and Dispensationalism. In 1960 he wrote Reasons for Faith. More recently
he co-authored with R.C. Sproul and Arthur Lindsley a large book entitled Classical Apologetics:
A Rational Defence of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositionalism. He is the father
of the arguments in the book. Sproul, director of Ligonier Ministries and author of many popular
books of doctrine (such as Chosen by God), studied under Gerstner and repeats most of his
mentors system. In fact, he wrote a book entitled Reason to Believe, which is similar to
Gerstners Reasons for Faith.
B. Gerstner follows neither Van Til nor Clark, but is slightly higher than Buswell. One could
say that he calls for a return to Scottish Common Sense Philosophy and a slightly modified form
of the Traditional Method. Like Clark, he accuses Van Til of Fideism.
C. Gerstners system is basically as follows: First we begin with the Bible as a good history
book. This can be verified by secular history and archeology. From its historical data we can
prove that Jesus was a good man, as all men admit. Good men do not lie. Jesus claimed to be
the Son of God. Therefore Jesus must have been telling the truth. Moreover, Jesus also said
that the Bible was the Word of God. Since He was telling the truth, the Bible must be inspired.
From that point, we learn about salvation and other truths.
D. Again, Presuppositionalists reply in a variety of ways: it is unbiblical, not distinctively
Reformed, forgets fallen Mans mental opposition to truth and God, and the fact that not all
men admit Jesus was a good man.

7. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984).


A. The last Calvinist to propose a major apologetic is Francis Schaeffer. With his goatee,
knickerbocker short trousers, short stature and high-pitched voice, Schaeffer was more
flamboyant than any of the above. He served in Carl Mclntires Bible Presbyterian Church until it
split, when he linked up with Buswells Reformed Presbyterians. Unlike all of the above,
Schaeffer was not as explicitly Calvinistic, though he professed the Westminster Confession.
B. He never considered himself a theologian or an apologist, but an evangelist. In 1947 he
began work as a missionary to Switzerland, eventually establishing the LAbri (French for The
Shelter) community and study center in Huemoz, near Geneva. During the late 1960s and
throughout the 1970s, Schaeffer was the pop apologist, especially among the more intellectual
Jesus Freaks . He has sold more books than any of the preceding apologists mentioned above,
even though they are less scholarly and were meant for laymen.
C. Certain books stand out among his 22 books, which have been gathered in The Complete
Works of Francis Schaeffer (5 volumes). His whole approach is best summed up in How Should
We Then Live? This was also the basis for a popular film series. For more depth, his apologetic
system is elaborated in his trilogy: The God Who Is There, Escape From Reason, and He Is
There and He Is Not Silent.
D. Schaeffer studied for a while under Van Til and popularized the idea of Presuppositionalism.
In fact, many have been introduced to Van Til s pure Presuppositionalism through first reading
Schaeffer. But there are distinct differences. In a way, Schaeffer amalgamates all of the above
systems, and somehow comes out less Calvinistic than any of them.
E. First he stresses pre-evangelism by friendship and discussion. He accepts the common
ground ideas of Buswell, Clark and Gerstner. Like Clark, he says we must demolish an

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unbelievers beliefs, not just by logic, but by showing that they lead to despair, absurdity and
possibly suicide. Schaeffer emphasizes the Law of Contradiction. Unlike Van Til, he said that
presuppositions are not self-authenticating; like Buswell, he denied that men innately know God
per se. He proves Christianity by showing that it alone offers hope and meaning.
F. Schaeffer was especially critical of all forms of Existentialism, the predominant European
philosophy during the years he ministered there. He traces most of it back to Soren Kierkegaard
and sees it appearing in art, music and other forms of culture. In theology it appears in NeoOrthodoxy. Schaeffer rejects this blind leap of faith irrational ism. But he never accuses Van Til
of it.
G. As Existentialism was waning, Schaeffer turned his guns increasingly on its successor,
Secular Humanism. Unlike the preceding apologists, Schaeffer was more in tune with
contemporary culture and its philosophical presuppositions. In his formula Ideas have
consequences he warned against the inhuman and anti-God cultural consequences of
Humanism, such as abortion. In 1979 he co-authored Whatever Happened to the Human Race?
with Dr. C. Everett Koop, later U.S. Surgeon General. Later, in A Christian Manifesto he
discussed the question of Christian civil disobedience against cultural Humanism. His last book
was The Great Evangelical Disaster, where he chides Evangelicals for complacency,
ecumenism, retreat from Biblical inerrancy and lack of Biblical social action.
H. The Schaeffer School includes his wife Edith (who has written many popular books on a
practical level) and his son Franky (who has written several angry books which pick up where
his father left off, such as A Time for Anger). Hans Rookmaaker of Holland was another major
Schaefferite (Modern Art and the Death of a Culture). Os Guiness wrote The Dust of Death as a
Schaeffer associate in the 1970s, and has more or less continued in that vein in other works.
Much of the Schaeffer legacy continues through John Whitehead (The Death of Man and other
works) and his Rutherford Institute, which brings Christian principles to the legal sphere in
America against Humanism.

8. Conclusion.
All of the above were Calvinists who attempted to formulate a Christian philosophy and
apologetic based on Calvinistic foundations. Dooyeweerd and the Dooyeweerdians were the
farthest out and most abstruse. Their Calvinism is decreasing daily. Buswells approach can
hardly be considered distinctively Reformed. Clark and Gerstner are more Reformed, and their
systems find adherents among Calvinists of various stripes. In my judgment, however, the
Presuppositional system of Cornelius Van Til comes closest to a philosophy and theology that is
most Reformed. With its several problems and weaknesses, it is still the best around.

Recommended Reading
Dooyeweerd, Herman. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought. 4 volumes in 2. Jordan
Station, Ontario: Paideia Press (distributed in the US by Presbyterian and Reformed)
Hart, Hendrik; et al. Rationality in the Calvinian Tradition. Lanham: Univ. Press of Am.
Van Til, Cornelius. The Defence of the Faith and Christian Apologetics and A Christian Theory
of Knowledge! Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.

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Geehan, E.R., ed. Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Theology and Apologetics
of Cornelius Van Til. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.
North, Gary, ed. Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective.
Vallecito: Ross House Books.
Frame, John. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. Presbyterian and Reformed. Pratt,
Richard. Every Thought Captive. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed. Buswell, J. Oliver,
Jr. A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion. Zondervan. Clark, Gordon. A Christian View
of Men and Things. Jefferson: The Trinity Foundation. Sproul, R.C.; Gerstner, John; and
Lindsley, Arthur. Classical Apologetics. Zondervan. Schaeffer, Francis. The Complete Works of
Francis Schaeffer. Westchester: Good News.

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Chapter 21. The Theonomy Movement.


1. Introduction.
A. What is Theonomy? Who is Gary North and what is he up to? Is Christian Reconstruction
truly Reformed and Evangelical, or is it a sinister anti-Semitic legalistic plot to take over
America? Is it a cult, or what?
B. Christian Reconstruction is the general term for a movement of Reformed Christians in
recent years to reconstruct America back to its Puritan roots and the Biblical ideal for society.
One of its distinctive aspects is Theonomy, which gets its name from the Greek words THEOS
(God) and NOMOS (Law), hence, Gods Law. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the
movement is that of Dominion. These three key terms are closely related.
C. The Theonomy movement is one of the most controversial subjects in contemporary
Calvinism. All of the major Theonomists are strong Calvinists. They all avow historic, 5 Point
Calvinism and are usually emphatic in their Covenant Theology and Supralapsarianism.
D. Most of the movement has been in Presbyterian churches, especially the Orthodox
Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of America. In 1979,the latter denomination
ruled that Theonomy can be taught within their churches without disciplinary action, though it did
not actually formally endorse it either. The movement is not a cult or a sect. There was only one
brief attempt to form a denomination (Gary Norths Association of Reformation Churches). More
recently, the movement has found adherents among some Episcopalians, Bap-tists and
Pentecostals.
E. The movement is growing. This is mainly due to the growth of the Reformed movement in
general, disillusionment among Christians over Antinomianism, and the growing Christian
involvement in social, educational and political issues in the 1980s (the Reagan Revolution
and Moral Majority).
F. Yet this is not a brand-new movement by any means. Its roots go far back, at least to
Calvins attempt for a Christian society in Geneva. Theodore Bezabuilt on that foundation with
his views of the civil magistrate. The Reformed doctrine of the Law and its civil ramifications was
further developed by Samuel Rutherford in Lex Rex and George Gillespie in Aarons rod
Blossoming. These 2 books were especially important during, the Puritan Commonwealth. Then
the Puritan Fathers in America attempted to construct a Christian nation, as seen in The
Mayflower Compact and other early documents.
G. The next major stage was the work and writings of Abraham Kuyper in Holland. In a way,
Kuyper gave a quantum leap in the field of the application of Gods Law to society. Cornelius
Van Til further developed Kuypers doctrine of Common Grace pertaining to society, but was not
himself a Theonomist per se (Van Til was Amillenial and had reservations about the movement).
On the other hand, his strong Presuppostionalism laid the apologetic foundation for
Theonomism. Greg Bahnsen quotes Van Til: There is no alternative but that of Theonomy and
autonomy. Theonomists are virtually all Van Tillian Presuppositionalists in apologetics.

2. Rousas J. Rushdoony.
A. The first glimmerings of the modern Theonomy movement were in the late 1950s and early

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1960s. T. Robert Ingram, an Episcopalian in Houston, wrote several books on the Law and
crime and society. But the real grandfather (or, say some, the godfather) of the modern
movement was Rousas J. Rushdoony. The son of Armenian immigrants, Rushdoony often
mentions that he is the latest in a line of Armenian priests and preachers in his family - all the
way back to the 4th-century. He may be Armenian, but he is no Arminian. He began his ministry
as a Presbyterian (OPC) missionary to Shoshone Indians. He wrote his first book, By What
Standard?, on the apologetics of Van Til.
B. Rushdoony spearheaded the modern Theonomy movement in the I960s when he founded
the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965, based in Vallecito, California. Chalcedpn continues to be a
major think tank in the movement. It publishes books, organizes conferences, and produces the
Journal of Christian Reconstruction. Rushdoony has also been very influential in the growing
Christian school movement. In addition to several books on the subject of Christian education,
he often appears in civil courts as an expert witness.
C. Rush has authored over 30 books, most of them still in print. By far his most significant is
The Institutes of Biblical Law (1973), a massive 890-pagetheology of Biblical Law and
exposition of the Ten Commandments from a Reformed perspective. Outside the Bible, it has
had more influence in the Theonomy movement than any other book.
D. Other names associated with Rushdoony and Chalcedon are his son Mark, Otto Scott
(historian), John Lofton (columnist for the Washington Times) and R.E. McMaster, Jr
(economist).

3. Gary North.
A. North is Rushdoonys son-in-law (and a true son of the law, indeed). North has never been a
pastor, but rather an economist-cum-theologian. At one time he served as aide and advisor to a
Texas Congressman and was the first editor of the Journal of Christian Reconstruction. Based
in Tyler, Texas, Gary North is the undisputed leader of the Tyler Theonomists. He began
several related ministries, such as the ill-fated Geneva Divinity School.
B. Norths main ministry is the Institute for Christian Economics, another Reconstructionist think
tank similar to Chalcedon. The ICE puts out several different newsletters, including several
along strictly economic and fiscal lines for investment purposes. The ICE is not another
proponent of the philosophy of Buy gold, guns and dried food, and head for the hills! North is a
strong supporter of the gold standard and investing in precious metals, but his ministry is much
more.
C. North teaches that the Bible gives us Gods inspired philosophy of economics. It includes
tithing and gleaning, and warns of usury and going surety. To some, it sound like baptized
capitalism, but Norths Theonomic economics is a far cry from Humanistic laissez-faire. In turn,
his economics is related to the Biblical ideal of a decentralized but righteous civil government.
D. More than most Reconstructionists, Norths economic views have bordered on the
Prosperity Gospel of certain Pentecostal movements. The prosperity or Positive Confession
movement of Robert Tilton and others has been labelled Name it, Claim It. The differences are
many. Tilton, for example, mainly makes prosperity reliant on faith and claiming blessings, while
North teaches that it is more a matter of obedience to Gods economic laws. Both agree that it is
not Gods will for His people to be poor. Still, Norths views probably have more in common with
the old Protestant Work Ethic than Pentecostal prosperity. On the other hand, North has spoken
at Prosperity conferences (Robert Tilton, Earl Pauck, etc) and defends them from those such

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as Dave Hunt.
E. North has authored more than 20 books and produces at least 3 a year. He is^/very
readable and clear, and has a certain flair and wit. However, he also tends to shoot from the hip
and exaggerate. He uses his pen like a sword and sometimes borders on caustic and
ungentlemanly conduct. In this and in his Theonomic views, he is probably the most extreme
and controversial Reconstructionists on the scene. He has fallen out with several of the other
leaders, and is not on speaking terms with Rushdoony. North supports Randall Terrys
Operation Rescue, Rushdoony does not. Gary North will be on the scene for many more years.

4. The Tyler Theonomists.


A. James Jordan was once part of Norths Association of Reformation Churches, but has fallen
out with him and now pastors a PCA church in Tyler. He has written several books (dont they
all?), including the seminal The Law and the Covenant and other books on civil law in the
Pentateuch and Judges.
B. Ray Sutton is Gary Norths pastor. At first their church was named Westminster Presbyterian
Church (the center of the Association of Reformation Churches).But then Sutton and North
became attracted to sacramental ism. The church is now an independent Episcopalian church
named Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. They are into liturgy, clerical collars and such.
Incidently, Sutton and North are among the main proponents and practioners of infant
communion (if covenant infants can receive the first sacrament, why not the second?). Sutton
has written several books espousing his 5-point covenantal structure. He applies this to
economic prosperity, marriage and divorce, and other issues.
C. David Chi 1 ton is no longer in Tyler, having fallen out with North. He now pastors in
California. His first major book was a lengthy refutation of theEvangelical Liberation Theology
and Socialism of Ron Sider (Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger). Chilton named his book
Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators. Chi 1 ton is also the main
Reconstructionists expert in eschatology. His first book in the field was Paradise Restored: An
Eschatology of Dominion, followed by a large commentary on Revelation, The Days of
Vengeance. His The Great Tribulation is a short summary.
D. Michael Gilstrap and Robert Thoburn are others associated with the Tyler theology.
Dominion Press in Fort Worth is also associated with it.

5. Greg Bahnsen.
A. While still a student and tutor at Westminster Seminary, Greg Bahnsen was pegged by Van
Til as the next great Presuppositional apologist, possibly the next Van Til. Later Bahnsen taught
at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, but had to leave because of his
Theonomic views. He now pastors an OPC church in California and works with a local school.
B. Bahnsen is not quite in the forefront of the movement as he once was, yet his influence is
still there. Few in the movement wish to disagree with him, for he is acknowledged to be
perhaps the most skilled debater and has probably the greatest theological genius in the
movement. His writings are carefully written and documented, more cautious than North. He has
written several short books and many articles, but his vast influence is through his 619-page
Theonomy in Christian Ethics (1977). This thorough volume is the definitive work on the Biblical

179

basis for Theonomy. It is almost as important to the movement as Rushdoonys Institutes. No


serious study of the Theonomy movement is complete without it. If the reader finds it too lengthy
and detailed, he can consult By This Standard, Bahnsen*s short summary of Theonomy
theology.

6. Southeastern Theonomists.
A. Gary DeMar founded American Vision, another Theonomic think tank, in Atlanta in 1979 and
is rapidly becoming a leader in the movement. Among his many books is his 3-volumed God
and Government, the fullest Reconstructions theology of politics. In April 1988, Gary DeMar
and Gary North debated the two major opponents of Theonomism, Dave Hunt and Tommy Ice,
in Dallas. The debate was later published as The Debate over Reconstruction. DeMar and his
associate also co-wrote a refutation of Dave Hunts contention in The Seduction of Christianity
and Whatever Happened to Heaven? that Reconstructions is unbiblical and borrows concepts
from the New Age Movement. About the same time, Tommy Ice teamed up with Wayne House
of Dallas Seminary to write the fullest attack on Reconstructionism, Dominion Theology:
Blessing or Curse? More recently, Hal Lindsey has written The Road to Holocaust, more or less
based on Ice and Houses research. DeMar then replied to Lindseys charges with The Legacy
of Hatred Continues.
B. George Grant pastored Believers Fellowship in Humble, a suburb of Houston, for 10 years.
Currently he ministers with D. James Kennedy in Coral Gables, Florida. He has applied
Reconstructionism to two fields: ministering to the poor and homeless (Bringing in the Sheaves:
Transforming Poverty into Productivity) and opposing Planned Parenthood s pro-abortion
propaganda(Planned Deception).
C. Other Reconstructionists in the Southeast corner of the US include Joseph Morecraft III
(Atlanta), Kenneth Gentry (South Carolina), Robert Metcalf(Memphis) and Joe Kickasola (who
teaches at CBN University in Virginia).Francis Nigel Lee is a South African who has ministered
and taught in these circles for 20 years, such as at the Christian Studies Center in Memphis.
D. There are a number of others who are often classed incorrectly as Theonomists or
Reconstructionists. It would probably be better to call them friends of Christian Reconstruction.
Among them are John Whitehead (The Rutherford Institute), Rus Walton (Plymouth Rock
Foundation), Herbert Schlossberg (Idols for Destruction), D. James Kennedy (Coral Ridge
Presbyterian [PCA]Church and Evangelism Explosion), Pat Robertson (Christian Broadcasting
Network), John Frame (Westminster Seminary in California), and the late Francis Schaeffer.

7. Postminenialism.
A. Though there are a few Pre-Millenialists who are friendly to the movement, the heart of the
movement is Post-Millenial. This is the view that there will be a golden age of the Church
around the world before Christ returns. In away, it is simply optimistic Amillenialism. This golden
age will come about gradually over a long-term (Bahnsen says we are still probably in the
infancy of the Church era). It may not come for thousands of years. Most Reconstructionists say
it will be characterized by Christian influence in all societies to the extent that the leaven of the
Church has permeated all aspects of human culture. Some say it will be a grass-roots
movement from below, others that it will be forced from above,
B. Chilton has described this as paradise restored - the restoration of what Adam lost in Eden.

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Adam was given the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28) to subdue the Earth for God. This mandate
still continues and will be gradually fulfilled in the Church era, culminating in the kingdom of God
on Earth. Reconstructionists generally tie in the Cultural Mandate with the Great Commission
(Matt. 28:18-20). Evangelism is not enough; all nations must be discipled and be submitted to
the authority of Christ. This in essence is what is known as Dominion Theology.
C. Chilton and others argue that this is the only eschatology that is consistent with true
Calvinism. Is he right? Is there a Reformed Eschatology? Regarding the Millennium, about half
of Calvinists have been Amillenial, about a third Post-Millenial, the rest Pre-Millenial. Personally,
it is my view that millenial views and Calvinist distinctives are not directly related.
D. Earlier in this series we noted the difficulties between Calvinism and Dispensationalism.
Those differences are very pronounced in the Theonomy debate, and not just on eschatology.
Some non-Reconstructionists (Ice, House, Lindsey) give too much attention to Reconstructionist
eschatology. Reformed non-Theonomists are more concerned with the question of Theonomic
law.
E. Reconstructionists Post-Millennialism grants little place for national Israel in Gods prophetic
program. It does not deny them salvation, but ties salvation of the Jews in with the New
Covenant, not the Abrahamic Covenant. National Israel has no more privileged place now than
any other nation. Because of this approach, Reconstructionists are sometimes falsely accused
of being anti-Semitic. Hal Lindsey, for example, is quoted as saying This is one of the most
anti-Semitic movements Ive seen since Adolph Hitler. In The Road to Holocaust, Lindsey
clearly implies that Christian Reconstruction is anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi and is on the road to
exterminating Jews. Others link Reconstruction with the Identity Movement. It just is not true.
For example, Steve Schlissel is a converted Jew who is also a Christian Reconstructionists and
pal of Gary North. Such would be unthinkable in any form of organized anti-Semitism. AntiSemitism puts Israel at the bottom of the heap of humanity, Dispensationalism puts it on the top.
Reconstructionism follows the majority of Christians in history and puts national Israel on the
same level as all other nations. Further, anti-Zionism is not always the same as anti-Semitism
(some Jews themselves are anti-Zionist). The whole charge is unfounded slander.
Unfortunately, like undeserved mud, it often sticks.

8. Theonomy and the Reformed Doctrine of the Law.


A. To understand whether Theonomy is the historical Reformed view, we must take a quick
look at the historic Reformed theology of the Law. First, mainstream Calvinism has taught that
there are three uses of the Law:
(1) Usus Politicus (political use). The civil magistrate is ordained by God to restrain sin
and promote righteousness according to Gods Law (Rom. 13). This is explained in
chapter XXIII of the Westminster Confession.
(2) Usus Pedagogicus (pedagogical use). The Law defines sin for us (Rom. 3:20,7:8, I
John 3:4). we are to prtich the Law to work conviction of sin, and then the Gospel as the
cure for sin (Mark 10:19, Luke 10:25-28). In this way, the Law is a schoolmaster that
leads to Christ (Gal. 3:23). The Westminster Larger Catechism expounds this use in
questions 95 and 96.
(3) Usus Didacticus (didactical use). The Law instructs us in the will of our Heavenly
Father. It does not save, but those who are saved will obey and therefore need
instruction in what to obey. This use is expounded in the Westminster Confession, XIX:6.

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Cf. John 14:15, 21-24, I John 5:3, etc.


B. Then there are the three divisions of the Law:
(1) The Moral Law. Most Calvinists say this is summed up in the Ten Commandments,
though some omit the fourth from this division. Hundreds of other laws are also in this
category. This division is international and eternal, and thus continues today for the three
uses above. It is the heart of the Law and constitutes the conditions of the Covenant of
Works, and is summed up in the two great love commandments. For exposition, see
Larger Catechism #93.
(2) The Ceremonial Law. This category includes temporary laws only for the Jews until
Messiah arrived (Col. 2:16-17), such as circumcision and sacrifices. N.T. ceremonies
replace them (Baptism and Communion). They were types of the work of Christ and was
the O.T. Gospel. All are abolished. For exposition, see Westminster Confession XIX:3.
(3) The Civil Law. This is mainly in Ex. 21-23 and is usually case law.
C. The Theonomic distinctive has to do with the relation between the first use and the third
division of the Law. Reformed theology has taught that those civil laws based on the ceremonial
law have clearly been abolished. Civil laws based on the moral law continue (e.g., capital
punishment for murderers). Yet Reformed orthodoxy further stated that some civil laws were
temporary due to Israels special status as a theocracy: To them also, as a body politic, He
gave sundry juridicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any
other, now, further than the general equity thereof may require. (XIX:4)
D. What is this general equity? Theonomists take it to mean that Israel was a special
theocracy but also an example to all other nations to imitate, even today, excepting for the
distinctives of the ceremonial law. Hence, Theonomists contend that the civil law division
continues. Non-Theonomic Calvinists say it ceases, but the first use of the Law continues
through the wise and judicious application of the moral law and the general equity (principles,
thought not always the exact precepts). Even Theonomists often allow for cultural variations and
adaptations and do not call for a theocracy exactly like ancient Israel.

9. Conclusion.
A. There is much good in the Theonomy Movement, such as its warnings against
Antinomianism. They do not retreat from being salt and light in sinful society. Moreover, they are
very productive and know how to get things done, at least in their own circles. Is it heretical? No,
I do not think so. Like the PCA decision, I would agree that Theonomy falls within the general
bounds of Evangelical and Reformed orthodoxy. One need not be a thorough-going
Reconstructionists to be Reformed, while it is difficult to be a consistent Reconstructionists
without being Reformed. The major problem it has with Reformed orthodoxy is its distinctive
union of the first use and third division of the Law. Some Theonomists are allowing clarifications
and adaptations which approach the more mainstream view, while others are increasingly
opening those Reformed borders to non-Reformed views (e.g., Gary North and the
Pentecostals, who are not at all Reformed).
B. There are certain weaknesses in the movement which need rectifying. First, it is becoming
less and less Calvinistic. One reads some Reconstructionist books with no hint that the author
or his theology is Calvinistic - a far cry from Van Til or Kuyper! Secondly, some Theonomists
pour scorn on simple devotional Christianity in a cold manner remnicient of the
Dooyeweerdians. They need to rekindle their spirituality. This weakness is further seen in their

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sometimes cavalier and arrogant swashbuckling manner and proclivity to division even in their
own numbers.
C. Further, they need more evangelism and Biblical exposition (such as commentaries). Its
Post-Millenialism goes too far for even mainstream Calvinistic Post-Millenial-ism. A PerMi11enialism need not fear of going to these extremes and therefore can never be a full-blown
Reconstructionist. Neither Dispensationalism nor Reconstructionism are as dangerous as their
respective counterparts contend. Lastly, the Theonomists need to scrutinize themselves, lest in
opposing Antinomianism they back into legalism (such as the Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine of
the Law). After all, one of the five Solas of the Reformation is Sola Gratia.

Recommended Reading
Rushdoony, Rousas J. The Institutes of Biblical Law. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Bahnsen, Greg. Theonomy in Christian Ethics. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Bahnsen, Greg. By This Standard. Tyler: Institute, for Christian Economics (ICE). North, Gary.
Unconditional Surrender. Tyler: ICE. (An introduction to Reconstructionism) DeMar, Gary. God
and Government. 3 vols. Atlanta: American Vision. Ice, Tommy; and House, Wayne. Dominion
Theology. Portland: Multnomah.

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Chapter 22. Neo-Orthodoxy.


1. Introduction.
A. Whatever happened to Calvinism in the land of its birth - Switzerland? For the most part, it
died out. But in the early part of this century, there arose a theological movement which claimed
to rediscover Calvinism. The movement grew and diversified, but ardently claims to be
Reformed.
B. Sooner or later, the young Calvinist will be approached by advocates of this new system that
claims to have discovered and purified Calvinism. He will be told, This is true Calvinism, not
that old stodgy scholastic kind. Is it what they claim it to be? Some suggest that it is a variety
of Low Calvinism. Just what is it?
C. It goes by the name of Neo-Orthodoxy. The word simply means a new orthodoxy. However,
it is not a homogenous movement by any means, but a general tendency. Some in the
movement do not claim to be Reformed, others do. We will only be concerned with those who
say they are Reformed. The movement began as a reaction against classical German
Liberalism as advocated by Schleiermacher, Ritschl and Harnack. However, some opponents
contend that it is really just another form of Liberalism, such as Neo-Liberalism. Van Til calls it
the new modernism.
D. Much of the movement can be traced back to Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the Danish
theologian. Technically, however, it was born during World War I when that terrible war
destroyed the Liberal myth that Man is basically good. Kierkegaard opposed dry orthodoxy;
Neo-Orthodoxy opposed both Liberalism and dry orthodoxy.
E. Of whom are we speaking? We will not discuss the self-confessed non-Reformed exponents
(Rudolph Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Friedrich Gogarten, Reinhold Niebuhr, etc.). Nor will we
specifically dwell on lesser lights on the Reformed side of Neo-Orthodoxy (Oscar Cullman,
Thomas F. Torrance, J.K.S. Reid, Otto Weber, Eduard Thisrneysen, etc). Instead, we will
concentrate on the two main leaders: Karl Barth and Emil Brunner. Obviously we cannot give a
full report, so we will concentrate on their distinctives and their differences with historic
Reformed orthodoxy.

2. Karl Barth (1886-1968).


A. Both the son and the father of theologians, Karl Barth was born in Basel, Switzerland in
1886. He pastored for a few years early in life, but spent most of his ministry as a theological
professor. Initially he taught in Germany, but was expelled by Hitler in 1935. Barth, it seems,
was the main author of the Barmen Declaration of 1934 which opposed Nazism on religious
grounds. Barth then taught at the University of Basel from 1935 till 1962.
B. In the 1950s, Barth changed his mind on paedo-baptism and actually rejected it in favor of a
form of Believers Baptism. Some Baptists welcomed this, while others cried, We dont want
him either! In 1962 Barth came to America in a celebrated lecture tour of selected seminaries.
His picture was on the cover of Time magazine shortly thereafter.
C. There is no doubt that Barth has been one of the most influential theologians in history, and
probably the most influential this century, for good or ill. I can still remember a Sunday School

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textbook which I had to read as a child in the old PCUS, in which Barth was classed with Paul,
Augustine, Luther and Calvin
D. While still a pastor, Barth wrote his first book, Commentary on Romans (1919,re-written in
1922). It has been said that this book fell like a bombshell on the playground of theological
Liberalism. Actually, it is not an exegetical commentary at all. It is more a commentary on Barth
than on Paul. Barth wrote many other books, such as The Word of God and the Word of Man
(1924) and The Humanity of God (I960), and several short summaries of his theology:
Credo(1935), The Knowledge of God and the Service of God (1938), Dogmatics in Outline
(1949) and Evangelical Theology (1962).
E. But his masterpiece was his massive Church Dogmatics in 13 enormous volumes of small
print. Begun in 1932 to replace his unfinished and abandoned Christian Dogmatics (1927), this
series was his preoccupation for the rest of his life. In fact, he never lived to complete it. The CD
is the largest SystematicTheology ever written in any language and from any theological
perspective. It is also one of the most difficult to understand. It reflects Barths disdain for the
systematic approach to theology. There is a story that, because it is so hard to read in German
because of interminable sentences, many of his students chose to read the English translation
instead. In any case, it is filled with theology, church history, exegesis, and various religious
meanderings. Barth interacts with all sorts of theologians, but very rarely quotes or refers to
those who wrote in English. He virtually ignores all the great English, Scottish and American
Calvinists.
F. Now in many respects Barth is closer to truth than were the old Liberals. Barth accepted the
Virgin Birth, deity, atonement and resurrection of Christ. In practice he was quite conservative
(he was, for example, a strong opponent of abortion). On the other hand, there are serious
problems. He seems not to have believed in personal angels, demons or Satan, but considered
them useful myths. There are stronger differences than these which need examination.

3. Barth on Scripture.
A. The early Barth advocated Dialectical Theology, which stressed paradox and downplayed if
not rejected prepositional revelation. God speaks in moments of crises; hence, this is also
known as The Theology of Crisis. Truth then is not absolute or static, but developing. True
Calvinists viewed this approach with suspicion. To them, Barth was simply using the dialectics
of G.F. Hegel (thesis, antithesis, synthesis). Hence, orthodoxy was the thesis, Liberalism was
the antithesis, and Neo-Orthodoxy was the synthesis of the two. Later Barth claimed to change
on dialectics, but the change was really cosmetic. Barths theology was always in flux, but in its
main points it remained the same throughout.
B. Barth said that Gods revelation to Man is on three levels: Christ is the Logos and full
revelation, the Bible points to Christ, and preaching points to both. He compared these three to
the Trinity. Barth stringently rejected revelation through Nature. There is neither Natural
Revelation nor Natural Theology. The only true revelation is the Creator Himself, not the
Creation.
C. What about the Bible? Barth wrote: The Bible is Gods Word so far as God lets it be His
Word, so far as God speaks through it. Of itself, the Bible is not divine revelation. It can point to
or contain or become the Word of God, but we should not identify the Bible as the Word of God.
The Bible is basically a human book which God uses to act on men. Human language is
incapable of serving as a means of divine revelation; human language is incapable of
comprehending God. Opponents then query, Then how can eyebath himself use words to

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discuss God?
D. Barth clearly rejected verbal and plenary inspiration of Scripture. The Bible, he said, is not
an infallible revelation but a fallible witness to revelation. In a way, it must and should be in
error. To say it is inerrant is to worship it and make it a paper pope. The writers could and did
err: The prophets and apostles as such, even in their office... were real historical men as we
are, and ...actually guilty of error in their spoken and written word. Also: There are obvious
overlappings and contradictions - e.g., between the Law and the prophets, between Paul and
James... Within certain limits and therefore relativity they are all vulnerable and therefore
capable of error, even in respect of religion and theology. To say the Bible is inerrant is to make
it divine and not human, which, Barth says, is Docetism and Gnosticism.
E. Barth also rejected the historicity of certain portions of Scripture, such as Genesis 1-11.
There were not two historic individuals named Adam and Eve. There was no historic Fall. When
asked if he believed the serpent literally spoke to Adam and Eve, Barth evaded the issue with
the trite remark, It is more important to ask what the serpent said. All this was simply primal
history. Barth said there is a difference between Historie (which historians study) and
Geschichte (special kind of history, not like what historians can study). God does not speak or
act in Historie but only in Geschichte.
F. So, the Biblical writers generally wrote about this Geschichte in the form of Saga: Like all
ancient literature, the Old and New Testaments know nothing of the distinction of fact and value
which is so important to us, between history, on the one hand, and saga and legend, on the
other. Saga is not entirely myth (like Aesops myths and fables). Saga is more like legends. A
Saga has some basis in history, but that really doesnt make much difference. God uses
Geschichte and Saga.
G. When in Chicago in 1962, Barth was asked what he thought was the most profound thing in
theology. He replied, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Theologians,
Evangelicals and Sunday School teachers have cheered that remark. But to Barth it meant
something entirely different. He stressed that Jesus loves all men equally and that this love will
triumph in the end. The Bible points to this revelation. Reformed Evangelicals argue that Barth
has such a low view of Scripture that he couldnt know that Jesus loved anyone.
H. Gordon Clark has commented that Barths doctrine of Scripture is Doctrine without facts. It
is pure Fideism - a leap of faith into the unknown, as taught by Kierkegaard. Because God and
Man know differently, it is irrational. What, then, is Barths doctrine of God?

4. Barth on God.
A. To Barth, God is not the object of our inquiry; He can only be the subject. Against
Liberalisms stress on the immanence (nearness) of God, Barth stressed the transcendence of
God (God is above and beyond Man). God is wholly other. Moreover, God has total freedom.
Barth even said that this freedom means that God is free to become His opposite. Reformed
Evangelicals strongly disagree. We ask Barth, Can the holy God become the unholy Devil?
Can God lie? Can the self-existent God chose to non-exist? God is free only according to His
existence and attributes allow.
B. At the heart of Barthianism is the doctrine that God is known only in Christ. Christ, not God,
is the correct starting point in theology. God does not exist in Himself, but only as He is in
Christ. In Christ, God is wholly revealed but also wholly hidden. Evangelical Calvinists reply
that this is not Biblical. For example, the Bible itself does not begin with Christ but with God

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(Gen. 1:1). Some have charged Barth with Christomonism - a form of non-Trinitarianism where
the first and third persons of the Trinity are simply amalgamations of the second person. Also, it
is a contradiction and not a paradox to say God is both wholly revealed and hidden. The Bible
rather says that in Christ, God is partly revealed but still remains partly hidden.
C. Also, for Barth, God basically has two attributes: love and freedom. These triumph over
holiness and wrath. And it is this imbalanced idea of the divine attributes that lies behind his
errorneous doctrine of election.

5. Barth on Election.
A. Barth wrote, The doctrine of election is the sum of the Gospel. But he denied the
fundamental distinctive of Calvinism: There is no decretum absolutum [absolute decree]. There
is no will of God distinct from the will of Jesus Christ. Bart labels the historic Reformed doctrine
of the absolute decree unchristian and anti-Christian. Therefore, we ask, how can anybody
consider Barth a Calvinist?
B. He further rejected Covenant Theology and the doctrine of the Covenant of Redemption and
the Covenant of Works, which he calls mythology and tri-theistic. There is only one covenant
and one decree - the election of Jesus Christ. In its simplest and most comprehensive form, the
dogma of predestination... consists in the assertion that the divine predestination is the election
of Jesus Christ. Also, Jesus Christ is the electing God and He is also the elected Man.
C. Then Barth taught what he called a Purified Supralapsarianism. Christ was elected for all
men, but He was also reprobated for all men. The only truly rejected man is His Own Son... He
is the Rejected... With Jesus Christ the rejected can only have been rejected. He cannot be_
rejected any more. Therefore, all men are both elect and reprobate, but the election of grace
wins out. [God] wills that the rejected man should believe, and as a believer should become an
elected reprobate. There is no equal ultimacy of eternal election and reprobation, nor is it
arbitrary. Nor, in a sense, is it even eternal, for that would make it static, not living.
D. For some reason, Barth still claimed to be Reformed. Opponents denied this and pointed to
Barths own words: I would have preferred to follow Calvins doctrine of predestination more
closely, instead of departing from it so radically.

6. Barth on Hell.
A. Because of his notions of universal election, the triumph of grace, and universal atonement,
Barth clearly and logically implies universal salvation. Sinners (reprobate)are already forgiven.
Divine wrath is overshadowed by divine grace. Barth even said that wrath is actually a form of
grace. It certainly is not what we say it is.
B. Yet Barth was ambivalent (dialectical?) on admitting his incipient Universal ism. He waffled
on the doctrine of Hell. Sometimes he admitted that Scripture does not teach universal
salvation, but then said that some verses imply or allow it. Someone once quipped that if Barth
were consistent, he would say that If there is a Hell, theres nobody in it. For Barth, the fear of
Hell is a part of faith, even if there is no Hell after all. What about the Last Judgment? Barth said
that Christ is judge not to condemn, but rather a judge to restore order.
C. Evangelical and Reformed believers oppose all this. If there were not a Hell, why did Christ
say there was one and that some will go there? Scripture explicitly teaches particular election of

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some sinners to salvation and Heaven, but also a particular reprobation of the other sinners to
damnation and Hell. Personally, I dont trust a man (let alone a theologian) who waffles on such
an important matter and wont tell you in no uncertain terms what he believes and means.

7. Emil Brunner (1889-1966).


A. The second important Neo-Orthodox theologian who claimed to be Reformed was Emil
Brunner, who taught at Zurich from 1924 till 1953 and then at the International Christian
University at Tokyo from 1953 till 1956.
B. Like his rival, Brunner wrote many books: The Mediator (1927), The Divine
Imperative(1932), The Pi vine-Human Encounter (1938), The Theology of Crisis (1929), Man in
Revolt (1937), Revelation and Reason (1941), and many more. His theology is briefly summed
up in his little Our Faith (1935) and fully developed in his 3-volumedDogmatics (1946-1960).
Like Barths, most of his works have been translated.
C. Again like Barth, he accepted the deity, atonement and resurrection of Christ, but unlike
Barth he denied the Virgin Birth. He is more liberal than Barth, as when he commented:
Orthodoxy has become impossible for anyone who knows anything of science. This I would call
fortunate. Paul King Jewett said that Brunner came from the grave of Liberalism but still has the
Liberal grave clothes on.
D. Often, as in Eternal Hope (1955), Brunner seems to teach that unrepentant sinners are
annihilated into oblivion. But usually Brunner taught universal salvation, and that more explicitly
than Barth. Like the Arminians, Brunner taught that there is really only one will in God. Since
that will is efficacious and sovereign, it will come to pass. Yet that will is also that all men be
saved. Therefore, all will be saved. All are already forgiven though they do not yet know it.
Brunner wrote, The main thing is that they are saved. They are like people who seem perishing
in a stormy sea. But in reality they are not in a sea where one can drown, but in shallow water,
where it is impossible to drown. Only they do not know it.

8. Brunner on Scripture.
A. In 1934, Brunner wrote Nature and Grace: A Discussion with Karl Barth. In it, he defended
the doctrine of natural revelation (that God says some things to Man through Creation). Barth
replied with the angry Nein! Brunner taught that natural revelation is imperfect and unclear, but
reminds men of the image of God. It needs further clarification through Scripture and Christ.
B. Like Barth, Brunner taught that God is subject, not object. We cannot think of God; God must
speak. Much of this sounds orthodox. But then Brunner makes a drastic verge away from
orthodoxy. The Bible is not revelation. The worst error in the history of the Church is equating
the Bible with the Word of God, especially in the theory of verbal inspiration and inerrancy. The
orthodox theory is simply a Protestant form of legalistic Judaism.. Verbal inspiration is the letter
that kills (Brunner has the gall to. appeal to 2 Cor. 3:6 on this!). Even the Biblical writers
themselves wrongly held to verbal inspiration when they mixed it with the letter that makes alive
(the Holy Spirits inner witness).
C. Brunner was much influenced by Martin Buber (1878-1965), the Jewish theologian. Both
taught that propositional revelation is impossible. Revelation only occurs between persons on a
one-to-one basis called the I-Thou. This crisis encounter between God and-Man alone is

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revelational. The Bible, therefore, is not this revelation but only points to it. It is received by faith
alone in encounter.
D. But what about verses such as 2 Tim. 3:16? Brunner said that the Pastoral Epistles were not
written by Paul, but by an anonymous person 100 years later who claimed to be Paul. They are
pseudepigrapha, not revelation. 2 Tim. 3:16 teaches a paper pope. Nor is the Bible inerrant: It
is equally indisputable that the statements of the Bible concerning the future are not only to
some extent contradictory, but are laden with mythological ideas which have become alien and
partly even meaningless to us.The Bible needs to be de-mythologized [editing the myths out].
E. Brunner basically accepted the old Historical-Critical approach. For example, like Barth he
denied the historicity of Adam and Eve. Like Wellhausen, he said that the prophets wrote before
the Pentateuch, which was not written by Moses at all. Isaiah had 2 authors, not one. The
Gospels contain myths, such as Lukes record of a Roman census and Matthews record of the
Magi at Bethlehem. Moreover, even the Gospel accounts of Resurrection appearances conflict
with each other.

9. Conclusion.
A. Over the years, Evangelicals and even Calvinists have succumbed to the seductive theory
that Barth and Brunner were really right after all. G.C. Berkouwer was one,more recently,
Bernard Ramm, Geoffrey Bromiley (who translated most of Barths Church Dogmatics), and
Donald Bloesch have confessed that Barth was basically Evangelical. Paul King Jewett has
changed his mind and admitted the same for Brunner. They have thus changed their views on
both Neo-Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy itself.
B. Defenders of Barth sometimes say that we cannot criticize him unless we, have read all his
books. I strongly disagree. Few have ever read them all (it would take months of hard daily work
to do so, anyway). As Alexander Solzenitsyn said,- you dont have to drink the whole ocean to
know it is salty - one mouthful will suffice. Also, the question is not, Which was right, Barth or
Brunner?, for both were wrong. They have both been weighed in the balances and been found
wanting. On some things Barth may have been closer to the truth than Brunner, such as the
Virgin Birth. On other things, Brunner was closer, such as natural revelation. But in their
respective theologies, they are basically in agreement. And they agree in rejecting historic
orthodoxy. They are condemned out of their own mouths.
C. Cornelius Van Til wrote over 1,000 pages exposing Barth and Brunners theology. His
conclusion can be summed up in the following quotations:
Nothing could be more untrue to history than to say that the theology of Barth and Brunner is
basically similar to that of Luther and Calvin. Dialecticism is a basic reconstruction of the whole
of Reformation theology along critical lines. A Calvinist should not object to the Lutheranism in
Barth; there is no Lutheranism there. A Lutheran should not object to the Calvinism in Barth;
there is no Calvinism there. An Arminian should not object to the Calvinism of Barths doctrine of
election; there is no Calvinism in it. A Calvinist should not object to the Arminianism in Barths
universal ism; there is no Arminianism in it... There is no more Christianity and no more theism
in Brunner than there is in Barth... If evangelical Christianity in general ought to recognize in the
Theology of Crisis a mortal enemy, this is doubly true with respect to those who hold the
Reformed faith... The Theology of Crisis is a friend of modernism and a foe of historic
Christianity. (The New Modernism, pp. 366, 376, 378).
D. Van Til entitled one of his books Christianity and Barthianism in intentional similarity to

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Machens Christianity and Liberalism. Machen argued that Liberalism is not a strange variety of
Christianity,- it is not Christianity at all! Van Til said the same of Barthianism, which is simply a
new Liberalism.
E. Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy both attack orthodoxy - especially Reformed orthodoxy -with
a vengeance. They accuse it of being dry orthodoxy. They seize on this and seek to import
serious heresies. As Van Til has shown, Barth and Brunner may sometimes sound orthodox,
but that is only because they use orthodox language tot each unorthodox theology. They are
Liberal wolves in orthodox sheeps clothing.
F. Neo-Orthodoxy opens the door to blatant Liberalism. Very few Liberals have gone through
that door to orthodoxy, but more than a few gullible Evangelicals have gone through it into
Liberalism. True Evangelicals do not need Neo-Orthodoxy to fight Liberalism, for the latter is
simply a co-belligerent of the former.
G. Barthianism is not as deep at it seems to be. It is pretended profundity, and appeals mainly
to those who play the game of It must be true, for I dont understand it. Some, on the other
hand,, claim to understand it and say that their opponents do not. We reply that we understand
its basic tenets and therefore disagree with them. But most of the rest is theological nonsense,
ambiguous irrationality, doctrine without facts. Barthianism does not teach paradoxes; it teaches
contradictions. Neo-Orthodoxy is theological fiction. It does not match the facts of Scripture.
H. Perhaps Neo-Orthodoxy is a new orthodoxy, but it is not the old and true orthodoxy. What is
particularly disturbing is its claim to be Reformed and Calvinistic. Can anyone honestly agree
that Barthianism is in agreement with the basics of Calvins theology? Would Calvin accept
Barth as a fellow theologian or as a heretic? Neo-Orthodoxy is not Reformed. More importantly,
it is not Evangelical. It is unbiblical in its foundations. If it is not Evangelical, it certainly is not
Reformed, for Calvinism is simply a mature variety of Evangelicalism, Charles C. Ryrie rightly
observed that In reality, then, it is pseudo-orthodoxy... It is a deceivingly false orthodoxy...
Neoorthodoxy is a theological hoax. It is well to be warned.

Recommended Reading
Barths Church Dogmatics, Romans and Dogmatics in Outline, and Brunners Dogmatics and
Our Faith are all in print in English editions. These are their basic works.
Van Til, Cornelius. Christianity and Barthianism. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed. Ryrie,
Charles C. Neoorthodoxy. Kansas City: Walterick Publishers.

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Chapter 23. 20th-century British Calvinism.


1. Introduction.
A. Of all the nations on Earth, Great Britain has enjoyed as much success in the acceptance of
Calvinism as any other. Unfortunately, most of that success is a thing of the past. Gone are the
golden days of the Puritans in England and the Covenanters in Scotland. Today, Calvinists are
a distinct minority.
B. Still, they are still to be found in Britain to this day. In previous studies we have mentioned
some Reformed groups which are still around, such as the Strict Baptists, and so we will not
add to what we said there. In this study, we will give brief cameos of the leading voices in 20thcentury British Calvinism, for good or ill, especially since World War II.

2. Thomas F. Torrance (1913- ).


A. Around the turn of the century, certain Scottish Calvinists were breaking new ground in the
area of Low Calvinism. They were in effect becoming lower and lower, and it is debatable
whether they remained Calvinists at all. They included A.B. Bruce, P.T. Forsyth,. James Orr and
James Denney. They laid the foundation for their successors after World War I, who went
further from historic Calvinism, yet waved the banner of a New Reformation . These included
H.R. Macintosh, John Baillie and Harold Knight.
B. After World War II, the leader of this New Reformation became undisputed: Thomas
Forsyth Torrance. Born in China of missionary parents, Torrance was to be Professor of
Christian Dogmatics at New College, the graduate school of theology at Edinburgh University,
from 1952 until 1979. With J.K.S. Reid of Aberdeen, he founded the prestigious Scottish Journal
of Theology in 1948,which is the unofficial organ of the movement.
C. Torrance served as Moderator of the Church of Scotland in 1976-77 and was awarded the
coveted Templeton Prize for Religious Progress in 1978 [it is the religious equivalent of the
Nobel Prize]. TFT has also been made a Fellow of the British Academy, the highest academic
honor in the United Kingdom. For a generation, he has been the dean of British Systematic
Theology. However, when he retired to spend his years in writing and elucidating his theology,
New College did not select someone of his ilk. Most of the faculty were considerably more
liberal and, for whatever reasons, were intent on erasing the vestiges of Torrances theology.
His was basically Neo-Orthodox, which to the Liberals was almost Fundamentalism [someone
said that Torrance may have believed the wrong things, but at least he believed something,
while the Liberals did not believe anything]. So the choice for his replacement to the Thomas
Chalmers Chair of Theology was James MacKay. Not only was he not Neo-Orthodox, he was
not even Scottish or Protestant.
D. Still, T.F. Torrances influence has been imminence. He speaks and writes much about
Calvin. He was co-editor of the re-translation of Calvins New Testament commentaries. On the
other hand, he was also co-editor of Barths Church Dogmatics English translation. To
understand this New Reformation, one needs to see it as a synthesis of Calvin and Barth, or
Calvin read through Barthian spectacles.
E. Torrance has been a prolific writer of more than 20 books and many articles. Currently he is
working on a large systematic theology. Several deal with the theme, of theology in relation to

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space and time (Space, Time and Incarnation and Space, Time and Resurrection, among
others). Others deal with his love for the doctrine of the Trinity (such as The Trinitarian Faith), in
which he is heavily influenced by the early church councils, creeds and Fathers, especially
Athanasius and Cyril.
F. Like others in the movement, Torrance resurrects much from John MacLeod Campbell, such
as the theory of the vicarious humanity of Christ. They tie this in with the Incarnation and it is
indirectly related to Piscators insistence that in justification it is both the active as well as the
passive obedience of Christ that is imputed to us. That is, not only His death, but His life.
Torrance develops this into the idea of vicarious faith - the faith of Christ (he appeals to the
genitive in the Greek of Gal. 2:16, 20). This is what from faith to faith in Rom, 1:17 means.
G. But Torrances main contribution has been in the area of theological method. By far his most
important book is Theological Science (1969). He has developed the theme in most of the rest
of his books, such as God and Rationality, The Ground and Grammar of Theology, The
Christian Frame of Mind, Christian Theology and Scientific Culture, and Transformation and
Convergence in the Frame of Knowledge. They are highly technical treatises and not meant for
beginners. I have by no means mastered his thought, and can only give the briefest summary of
the leading themes in his approach to theological science.
H. According to T.F. Torrance, theology is a science. It was once considered the Queen of the
Sciences. Theology has both similarities and differences with the other sciences. Hence, much
of Torrances writings are theological interactions with other sciences, especially physics. He
has been much influenced by Albert Einstein and Michael Pol anyi.
I. Torrance wants to bridge the long-standing gap between theological science and the other
sciences, usually classed together as the natural sciences as distinct from the supernatural
science called theology. If theology is a science, then science is also to be a theology. Natural
science has a philosophy behind and in it, and this philosophy needs to interact with theology,
and vice-versa. Science and theology are complementary - as in quantum physics, they
constitute a dynamic of related but distinct fields which are not identical nor are complete
opposites. They need each other in order for either to function properly. This motif shows
Torrances predeliction for paradox and dialectics, but he admits to more rationality than, say,
Karl Barth.
J. Nevertheless, Torrance has a basically Barthian view of truth and revelation, especially
regarding Scripture. One difference worth noting, however, is his acceptance of a form of
natural revelation, which would be anathema to Barth. For Torrance, natural and special
revelation are integrally related. Natural needs special to complete and fully explain it. And it is
precisely this area of natural revelation that the natural sciences deal with. Then Torrance adds
that natural science has shown that certain modes of thought are inadequate and obsolete,
specifically ^scholasticism, which to the New Reformation includes Reformed Orthodoxy (a la
the Westminster Confession).
K. Torrance also notes that all knowledge depends upon a mode of knowing that is appropriate
to that which is known. For example, the ear for music and the eye for art. Thus, theology for
metaphysics and natural science for Nature. Moreover, Torrance rejects abstraction and
speculation. Abstract Newtonian Laws are too static; knowledge and truth and reality must be
living and dynamic. He further rejects the dichotomy of subject and object. Nobody can be
truly objective in the sense that he is removed from the object he studies. So, he rejects
pretended objectivism, but also its opposite, namely, subjectivism. Rather, one learns
progressively as new data is received, and this in turn affects how one thinks (content and
method are related). Truth is more apprehended than comprehended.

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L. Torrance also says that redeemed Man is to be the priest of the Universe. By true science
and theology, Man represents voiceless Nature by worshipping God in expressing the wonder of
Creation, especially in what he does with it. (Some wonder if this is indirectly related to the
Theonomic Cultural Mandate.)
M. What are we to make of all this? There is some good in it. Sometimes Torrance even
sounds Presuppositional (There is no way to demonstrate this Truth [God] outside of the Truth;
the only way for the ultimate Truth to prove Himself is to be the Truth). In the end, however,
Torrance undermines his own claims to true Reformed theology by his acceptance of Barthian
Neo-Orthodoxy and the rejection of Biblical inerrancy. He quotes very little Scripture, perhaps
because he subjects it to the judgment of the natural sciences.
N. Thomas Torrance is the senior member of the Torrance Dynasty. His brothers James and
David are also important to the movement, and also his son Iain. James B. Torrance in
particular has taken up the cudgels against historic Calvinism, especially Covenant Theology.
He has been the major voice in the Church of Scotland to throw out the Westminster
Confession. J.B. has written many articles on the subject, all saying basically the same thing,
namely, that Christ is the head of all men (not simply the elect) and covenant means
unconditional promise not conditional contract. Federal Theology says God acts by way of
conditional contract, but fulfills the conditions Himself for His people. J.B. Torrance further says
Covenant Theology wrongly subjects Grace to Nature and makes justice more important to
Gods essence than love. Curiously, J.B. is closer to Evangelicalism than older brother T.F.
O. Others in this New Reformation include Alaisdair I.C. Heron, Alan Lewis, Ronald S. Wallace
and, to some extent, Ray Anderson (Fuller Theological Seminary).

3. 20th-century Scottish Historic Calvinism.


A. Competing with this Scottish variety of Neo-Orthodoxy have been a steady stream of historic
Calvinists in Scotland. Some have been in the Free Church of Scotland (John MacLeod, R.A.
Finlayson, Donald MacLeod, Douglas MacMillan).
B. Others have been within the Church of Scotland itself, notably William Still, James Philip and
the Crieff Fellowship. David Wright at New College is basically in this group. As the Torrance
faction was making serious gains against the Westminster Confession, the old school
established several fronts of offence. One was the establishing of Rutherford House in 1982, an
historically Reformed study center in Edinburgh under the direction of Nigel Cameron. Among
their many projects to return the Church of Scotland to historic Reformed orthodoxy is a
complete retranslate on of Calvins Old Testament commentaries.

4. W.H. Griffith Thomas (1861-1924).


A. South of the border in England, historic Calvinism was rarer at the turn of the century than in
Scotland, at least if one compared the Church of England with the Church of Scotland. Still,
there were several stalwarts who carried the flame. They included J.C. Ryle, H.C.G. Moule and
E.A. Litton, whose Introduction to Dogmatic Theology became the standard Reformed
SystematicTheology from the perspective of Anglicanism.
B. Then came W.H. Griffith Thomas, more explicitly Reformed than they and every bit as
scholarly, not to mention a popular preacher. He pastored in Oxford for a while, but made his

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mark on Anglican Calvinism while teaching in Toronto.


C. Griffith Thomas shared the vision of others for the need of a new seminary that would be
fundamental, Reformed, scholarly and non-denominational. He helped found that institution and
planned to become its first professor of theology. So together with Lewis Sperry Chafer, he
founded Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924. However, in Gods providence, he died that very
year. Chafer became the undisputed leader of the seminary. Curiously, both were Low
Calvinists and paedo-baptists. However, Chafer was considerably more Dispensational than
Griffith Thomas. Had Chafer died and Griffith Thomas lived, the seminary would doubtlessly
have taken a different course. (More on Chafer later.)
D. Much of his influence in Anglican Calvinism came through his many popular expositions
(Romans, Acts, Ephesians, Genesis, John, Luke, Colossians, Hebrews, Matthew, and other
more topical studies). His The Catholic Faith was a very popular textbook for Anglican priests.
The Sacrament of Our Redemption was an important scholarly treatise on the Lords Supper. In
it he took a position somewhat higher than Calvin but lower than Luther.
E. But by far his most important and lasting book was his large The Principles of Theology, a
large systematic theology from a decidedly Calvinistic and Anglican perspective. Any who doubt
that it is possible to be both an Episcopalian and a Calvinist need to consult this volume. It is a
first-class effort. In it, he picks up the argument of those such as A.M. Toplady that the ThirtyNine Articles of Religion are basically Reformed in theology. Griffith Thomass Principles, like
almost every other Anglican systematic theology, is a theological commentary on the ThirtyNine Articles, but he uses the Articles as the occasion to further elaborate theology in general.

5. J.I. Packer (1926- ).


A. The next major Anglican Calvinist has been James I. Packer. Packer ministered at Tyndale
Hall (1955-61, 70-72) and was Warden of Latimer House, the Evangelical Anglican study center
at Oxford (1961-69). He later taught at Trinity College, Bristol (1972-78), and has since taught
theology at Regents College, Vancouver, Canada, since 1978. He has been visiting professor at
several American Evangelical seminaries, and is a frequent speaker at Evangelical
conferences. He is a captivating speaker with a likeable personality. He is also an enthusiastic
fan of jazz and reputably plays a mean jazz clarinet.
B. Packer has spent a lot of time behind the typewriter as well. Currently he is working on his
masterpiece, a large multi-volumed systematic theology(which non-Anglicans hope is not based
on the Thirty-Nine Articles, as Anglican systematics are wont to be!). Among his many popular
books is a little paperback ostensibly meant for evangelistic purposes, entitled I Want to Be a
Christian. A more appropriate title would have been, I Want to Be
An Anglican. Non-Anglicans are troubled with his over-emphasis on baptism.
C. Having done his doctorate at Oxford 00 the theology of Richard Baxter, Packer is well
versed in Reformed theology, especially the Puritans. Among his more popular essays is his
Introductory Essay to John Owens The Death of Death. This originally appeared in the first
reprint of Owens volume expounding limited atonement, but has been reprinted separately
more than once. It sums up Owens large and detailed book and leaves the reader assured
where Packer stands.
D. For some 30 years, J.I. Packer has been one of the leading defenders of Biblical inerrancy.
He has written innumerable articles on the subject, as well as several books: Fundamentalism
and the Word of God, God Has Spoken, Beyond the Battle for the Bible, etc. Unlike those in the

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Scottish New Reformation, this Anglican theologian lays the only right foundation for a true
Reformation that is historically Reformed and solidly Biblical. That foundation is an unswerving
commitment to total Biblical verbal inspiration and inerrancy. The sovereign God cannot lie, and
we know Him as God of truth.
E. In 1961, Packer wrote a little book entitled Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God,
predestined to be very influential in the growing Reformed movement. He has two main theses.
First, divine sovereignty and human responsibility
are both equally taught in Scripture. They are not totally harmonized by the mind of Man, and
thus constitute one of the great paradoxes or antinomies of theology. We cannot reject either.
Second, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and unconditional election is not a hindrance to
true evangelism. Instead, it is a spur to evangelism, for it guarantees that some people will
believe.
F. But by far the most popular of his books has been Knowing God (1973). This is truly a
modern classic and will be read for decades to come. It has brought hundreds of thousands of
readers to know God and know about God deeper.
It has been appropriate reading for both the lost and the saved. And it is emphatically
Calvinistic, even though it is not a treatise on Calvinism per .se (and Im not sure if the word
Calvinism even occurs in its pages.). Much of it follows Calvins Institutes, especially 1:1:1,
where Calvin begins with the proposition that there is no true knowledge of self unless there is
first knowledge of God.
G. Two themes are developed: knowing of God (the heart) and knowing about God(the
mind).Because of who G6d:i$,no man would ever know of or about God unless God made it
possible. He has done that; we call it revelation. No man can know God unless he also knows
something about God. We cannot know all about God, but we can know some things definitely.
Similarly, we cannot know all of God personally (for we are finite and He is infinite), but we can
still know Him definitely and personally. God makes some things about Himself known in
Nature, but personal knowledge of God is possible only through special revelation - Scripture
and Christ. Personal knowledge of God in Christ is one of the chief blessings of salvation (John
17:3 is his favorite text).
H. Further, one can know many things about God but not know God personally. How do we
turn knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The answer is simple: It is that we turn
each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and
praise to God. Packer also develops the idea of what it means to be known by_ God, which in
fact precedes our knowing Him. We know because He first knew us. And that is election.
I. Much of the book deals with topics like the attributes of God and miscellaneous observations
on the being and Trinity of God. In a chapter on idolatry, Packer makes two salient points true to
the best of Reformed theology. First, not just physical images but also mental images and
theological self-conceptions of God are idols. We receive knowledge of God, not conceive it.
Second, all pictures of Christ are forbidden. Though He is the visible image of God, He is
temporarily invisible to us. To make a picture of Christ is to employ the fallen imagination of
sinful Man. Instead, we*are to receive revelation of Christ through Scripture, not pictures.

6. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981).


A. There can be no doubt that by far the most influential proponent of historic Calvinism in
Britain in the 20th-century was D.M. Lloyd-Jones. He was a Puritan born too late. Through books

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and tapes, his influence continues to grow and grow. What made him so special?
B. Lloyd-Jones was born in Wales and remained true to the best of his Welsh Calvinistic
Methodism heritage for his entire Christian life. The Doctor was educated in medicine and even
began to practice it. But Gods call led him to spiritual medicine - the ministry of preaching. Only
occasionally would he overlap the two, as in his best-selling book Spiritual Depression.
Hepastored for 11 years in Wales, but is more renowned for his ministry at the famous
Westminster Chapel, only a few hundred yards from Buckingham Palace
in London. He began as assistant to G. Campbell Morgan, then his co-pastor, then his
successor. All told, he was there from 193* until 1968, after which he continued an itinerant
ministry of preaching and writing till his death in 1981.
C. Actually, The Doctor wrote only a few of the many books that came out. Most were simply
transcripts of his sermons, which were not usually pre-written. Now it is pre-eminently as a
preacher that he is known. Some have said he was a preachers preacher, the best there is, a
prince of preachers, and a master of the divine art of preaching. Most Calvinists who had the
privilege of hearing him consider him the best they ever heard. He had an extraordinary gift,
indeed.
D. The Doctor stressed the importance of expository preaching. Hence, most of his books are
lengthy series of consecutive expository sermons. He has a large volume of sermons on the
Sermon on the Mount and another on Second Peter.
His sermons on Romans 1 to 8 fill 7 volumes, and Ephesians has 8 volumes. Each of these two
series took him several years of weekly expositions. His lectures on preaching at Westminster
Seminary were published as the excellent Preaching and Preachers. It is the best there is on
the subject.
E. Now Lloyd-Jones differentiated preaching and teaching. Campbell Morgan was a teacher,
not a preacher, he would say, whereas Lloyd-Jones was a preacher and not so much a teacher.
The difference is not just of approach or content, but of purpose. Teaching educates, preaching
proclaims and gives transforming grace. It includes doctrine gleaned by exposition, but also
application.
But the middle stage is often absent from most preaching, he argued. That is the experimental
(or existential) stage, when the Spirit supernaturally energizes the message (to the extent that it
is Biblical! and does what only He can do. Consciences are wounded, the heart is opened,
grace is poured in, the soul is drawn to Christ in faith, God is glorified.
F. Related to his view of preaching was his view of true God-sent revival, a subject he often
spoke and wrote on. He immediately discarded current notions. Revival is not emotionalism. It is
not an evangelistic campaign, though such are not of themselves wrong (though he disregarded
most of mass evangelism).Nor is revival self-induced. It is sovereignly given by God. Here we
see his Calvinism in practice. True revival is the acceleration of the normal work of the Holy
Spirit, through the Word and preaching, first to His people and then to the lost. The effects are
the manifest presence of God and the display of His glory. Lloyd-Jones, more than any other,
brought about the rediscovery of the great revivals of the past - such as those with Edwards and
Whitefield - and caused the prayers of Calvinists to beg for true revival.
G. Perhaps because of the somewhat mystical strain of his Welsh Calvinism, the Doctor was
the main proponent of an unusual doctrine. He did not invent it; it was taught by a minority of
Calvinists before him, such as Thomas Goodwin the Puritan. The doctrine said that the sealing
of the Spirit of Eph. 1:13 and .4:30 is a second work of grace after conversion. It was not the
Pentecostal doctrine, nor the Wesleyan Perfectionist error, nor even the Keswick idea.

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H. Lloyd-Jones said that the sealing brings full assurance of salvation. Before then, one only
has faith, not certainty. When sealed in his conscience, the believer knows he has been saved.
He argued from the KJV of Eph. 1:13 and Acts 19:2 that it is a second blessing. If he had
seriously looked at the Greek, he would have known better. Since his death, some have implied
that this doctrine really meant that Lloyd-Jones was a closet Charismatic. Granted, he accepted
that the gifts are occasionally present today, but he defined the sealing differently, and besides,
he opposed the Charismatic movement.
I. Lloyd-Jones also opposed ecumenism and Neo-Evangelicalism. He refused to co-operate
with the Billy Graham Crusade when it came to London. His strong ecclesiastical separatism
(not isolationism) is evident in the famous 1968 incident with John R.W. Stott. Stott and LloydJones were the leading names in the non-denominational Evangelical Alliance. At the 1968
conference, Lloyd-Jones publicly called on true believers to leave all denominations that are
apostate or that tolerate apostates. This included the Church of England, of which Stott was a
leading minister. After the Doctor was seated, Stott (who was on the platform as Chairman) rose
and rebuked the Doctor. Only a few actually followed the Doctors call (such as Herbert Carson),
but the main result was a split between the Anglicans and the others, including Independents,
Baptists and Presbyterians. This led to the formation of the rival British Evangelical Council. It
also led to a partial split with Packer, who was co-host with Lloyd-Jones of the annual Puritan
Conference. This would be re-organized and renamed the Westminster Conference, without
Packer.
J. His legacy lives on in the lives he touched. This is especially true in the Evangelical
Movement of Wales, the vestiges of the old Calvinistic Methodism of George Whitefield and
Daniel Rowland. Current leaders in this fine movement include Geoffrey Thomas (actually a
Reformed Baptist), Hywel Jones, David Jones, and Graham Harrison. The Doctor also had a
strong influence in the establishment of the Evangelical Library (London), the London
Theological Seminary, and another organization that has been most responsible for the rebirth
of the modern Reformed movement of historic Calvinism: the Banner of Truth.

7. The Banner of Truth.


A. The Banner of Truth began first as a magazine edited by Iain Murray (1931- },who started it
while studying at Oxford in 1955. As providence would have it, Iain Murray and the Doctor
shared the same dream - a publishing company that would publish and promote truly Reformed
books, mainly the Puritans. That same providence brought the same vision to a wealthy friend
of Lloyd-Jones, named Jack Cull urn. Cull urn provided an extremely generous sum to establish
the Banner of Truth Trust (1957).
B. The Banner is probably the major publisher of distinctively Reformed literature in the world
today. Most of their titles are reprints of old Reformed classics, especially Puritans. Many, in
fact, are large sets (Owen in 16 volumes, Sibbesin 7, Brooks and Flavel in 6, etc). Then there
are reprints of the works of, Edwards, Calvin, Whitefield; and others, plus the occasional new
title. Murray abridged Pinks The Sovereignty of God as a popular best-seller introduction to
Calvinism. Banner also sponsors annual conferences in England and America.
C. Iain Murray was assistant to Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel (1956-61), then pastor of
Grove Chapel, London (1961-69), later pastored in Australia for much of the 1980s, all the while
editing for the Banner. Currently he is pasturing a Presbyterian church in Cambridge and
helping to organize a new English Presbyterian denomination. Most of the books he has written
have been biographies of Calvinists (Edwards, Pink, Spurgeon, John Murray, Lloyd-Jones). The

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Puritan Hope is a major work defending Calvinistic Post-Millennialism.

8. R.T. Kendall (1935- ).


A. One of Lloyd-Joness successors at Westminster Chapel, the most influential Reformed
church in Britain, is R.T. Kendall. Actually, Kendall is an American who began as a Nazarene
pastor turned Southern Baptist. He has pastored at Westminster Chapel since 1977, shortly
after receiving his doctorate at Oxford for a dissertation on Calvin and the Puritans.
B. Kendall has stirred up considerable and continual controversy. Like the Doctor he believes in
the sealing of the Spirit post-conversional experience. He teaches that the inner witness of the
Spirit is an immediate witness (Reformed orthodoxy says it is mediate through Scripture). Like
Torrance he teaches the vicarious faith of Christ and even Christs vicarious baptism for us. He
caused no small controversy when he published his dissertation, Calvin and English Calvinism
to 1649 in 1979, saying that the Puritans were not the real heirs of Calvins theology on the
atonement and assurance of faith. Paul Helm answered him in Calvin and the Calvinists (1982),
published by Banner of Truth.
C. Then in 1982 Kendall had Arthur Beset speak at Westminster Chapel for 6 weeks. Blessit
gave the first altar calls there and Kendall himself began the practice. The Doctor and almost all
Calvinists had strongly opposed the practice. Kendall defended it in Stand Up and Be Counted.
He later worked with the Graham Crusades.
D. The next controversy came in 1985 with his Once Saved, Always Saved, which took the
non-Reformed view that sanctification need not follow justification: The person who is saved...
will go to heaven when he dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such
faith. Good works are optional and are for rewards only. Following Zane Hodges, he radically
reinterprets James 2 and Hebrews and passages such as I Cor. 6:9-11. Sanctification has no
bearing on assurance, he says. Half of Kendalls deacons objected and were dismissed; two
were excommunicated. One of them, Richard Alderson, replied with No Holiness, No Heaven!
published by Banner of Truth. The whole episode has cast a shadow on British Calvinism.

9. Miscellaneous British Calvinists.


A. The Sovereign Grace Union, begun in 1914 by Henry Atherton (pastor of Grove Chapel),was
a major organization for the propagation of Calvinism early in the century through conferences
and publications. It is still in operation but is not nearly as influential as the Banner of Truth.
Unlike Banner, many members are Hypers.
B. T.H.L. Parker is probably the worlds leading authority on John Calvin. He has written
several important and careful books on his life and theology. Here and there he shows some
affinity with the Torrance variety of Calvinism, which casts scorn on what it calls the Banner of
Truth mentality of Calvinism. Peter Toon is another Calvinist scholar. Reared a Strict Baptist,
he changed to Anglicanism and has authored numerous books on .
C. Since about 1975 there has developed a small movement within Reformed circles which is
semi-Charismatic. Most others are emphatically non-Charismatic. Among these semiCharismatics are Peter Lewis and Herbert Carson,
D. John Blanchard is a Reformed Baptist evangelist who declined the invitation to succeed
Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel. Both in practice and in print he shows the truly Reformed

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approach to evangelism - straight preaching, no gimmicks or altar calls. His excellent book for
unbelievers, Right With God, is the Banner of Truths all-time bestseller. He later wrote a shorter
version with pictures, Ultimate Questions, published by Evangelical Press, an indirect spin-off of
Banner.

Recommended Reading
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Exposition of Romans. 7 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Exposition of Ephesians. 8 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (All
volumes in the Romans and Ephesians series are available separately as well.)
Murray, Iain. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 2 vols. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Catherwood, Christopher. Five Evangelical Leaders. Wheaton: Harold Shaw. (Contains
biographies of Lloyd-Jones, Packer, Francis Schaeffer, John Stott and Billy Graham)
Torrance, Thomas F. Theological Science. New York: Oxford University Press.
Packer, J.I. Knowing God. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press.
Packer, J.I. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press.
Kendall, R.T. Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649. New York: Oxford University Press. .
Helm, Paul. Calvin and the Calvinists. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Blanchard, John. Right With God. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.

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Chapter 24. 20th-century American


Calvinism.
1. Introduction.
A. In previous studies we have surveyed several branches of Calvinism, which continue into the
present century. Such include the Princeton-Westminster group, the Christian Reformed Church
and its spin offs, the Reformed Baptists, and others. We will not repeat here what we said there.
Instead, in this the last of our studies on the historical side of Calvinism, we will briefly survey
the leading names not previously mentioned.
B. 20th-century American Calvinists have been involved in a number of doctrinal controversies.
Some pertain directly to Calvinism, others more directly to Evangelicalism in general. The main
ones include Biblical inerrancy, Hell, Barthianism, denominational purity, the Millennium, the
extent of the atonement, and the debate of Calvin vs. Calvinism.
C. Since a great many of contemporary Calvinists have been Presbyterians, it is fitting that we
give a brief survey of the growth, divisions and amalgamations of Presbyterian denominations in
the 20th-century.

2. 20th-century American Presbyterianism.


A. Up until the 1930s, there were two main Presbyterian denominations: the Presbyterian
Church in the United States of America (PCUSA, or the Northern Presbyterians) and the
Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS, or the Southern Presbyterians). These two
accounted for over 95% of all Presbyterians.
B. 1936. Within a-few years after J. Gresham Machen and others founded Westminster
Theological Seminary, many of them (including Machen) were expelled from the PCUSA.
Others left in protest to the tacit approval of Liberalism. A few stalwarts stayed in. Most of those
who left formed the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) in 1936. It was committed to the
historic Reformed faith.
C. 1937. After Machen died (1/1/37), two factions formed. On one side were most of the
Westminster faculty and those closest in theology to Machen. On the other side were those
more Fundamentalist in doctrine and practice. Among their leaders were Carl Mclntire (1906- ),
Allen A. MacRae (1902- ), J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. and Charles Woodbridge, Jr.
D. The issues were mainly two: the use of alcohol and Dispensationalism. The Fundamentalist
group wanted total abstinence to be mandatory of students, pastors and members, while the
other group permitted moderate use of alcohol. This group was also Dispensational in theology,
though many were quite moderate and were more what is called Historic Premillenialists. They
tended to be somewhat less emphatic in their Calvinism, rejected Covenant Theology, and
bordered on a Finneyian type of revivalism. Hence, the two sides closely paralleled the Old
School/New School controversy of 1837.
E. So, in 1937 the PCA was divided. The Fundamentalist minority withdrew and formed the
Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC). They also left Westminster Seminary and organized Faith
Theological Seminary in Collingswood, New Jersey. The BPC has always been dominated by

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Carl Mclntire. In 1941, he founded the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) to rival
the National Council of Churches, and in 1948 formed the International Council of Christian
Churches to counter the World Council of Churches. Francis Schaeffer was a young student
who left Westminster to study at Faith, and stayed with the BPC for years. Westminster
Seminary, incidently, is not officially affiliated with any group.
F. 1939. A civil court rules that the PCA cannot use its chosen name. The General Assembly
approves the new name: the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). This group continues to the
present day as the purest form of historic Calvinism and Princeton theology.
F. 1956. A majority of the Bible Presbyterians pull out in protest to Mclntires domineering of the
denomination. They form the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and organize Covenant
Theological Seminary in St. Louis. Schaeffer was part of this group, as were Buswell, Gordon
Clark, R. Laird Harris and others.
G. 1958. The PCUSA merges with the smaller United Presbyterian Church of North America,
forming the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA, sometimes
also called the UPUSA). While the more truly Reformed Presbyterians are dividing, the liberal
Presbyterians are amalgamating and increasing. However, they are also going more and more
Liberal and Neo-Orthodox.
H. 1965. The EPC unites with the smaller General Synod Reformed Presbyterian Church to
form the Reformed Presbyterian, Evangelical Synod (RPES).
I. 1967. The UPCUSA produces the Confession of 1967, mainly the work of Edward A. Dowey.
This slowly begins to eclipse the Westminster Confession as the authoritative doctrinal standard
in the UPCUSA. Much of it is sound theology, but a decidedly Neo-Orthodox tone and left-wing
political agenda can be detected, as in the following excerpts:
Against all who oppose him, God expresses his love in wrath. [In Christ, sinners:] They accept
themselves... The Christian finds parallels between other religions and his own and must
approach all religions with openness and respect. Repeatedly God has used the insight of nonChristians to challenge the Church to renewal. But the reconciling word of the gospel is Gods
judgment upon all forms of religion; including the Christian...God has created the peoples of the
earth to be one universal family... This search requires that the nations pursue fresh and
responsible relations across every line of conflict, even at risk to national security, to reduce
areas of strife and to broaden international understanding.
J. 1973. A minority of the PCUS (Southern Presbyterians) withdraw and form the Presbyterian
Church in America. They foresaw an eventual union with the more liberal UPCUSA, which had
recently given $10,000 to the defence fund of Angela Davis (a self-confessed Communist
teacher at UCLA). The UPUSA was also caving in to the Womens Liberation movement and
making moves toward the ordination of women. The PCA continues today as a very
conservative Presbyterian denomination, led by men like James Montgomery Boice, D. James
Kennedy, Ben Haden and R.C. Sproul. Most of its students come from Reformed Theological
Seminary (Jackson, MS), but also from Westminster, Covenant, and the newly formed
Greenville Theological Seminary (Greenville, SC). The PCA has 3 main groups: the emphatic
Calvinists on one side, the semi-charismatics on the other, and the moderate mainstream in the
middle.
K. 1982. The RPES merges with the PCA.
L. 1983. The UPCUSA and the PCUS merge, thus forming by far the largest American
Presbyterian denomination. It takes the name Presbyterian Church, United States of America
(PCUSA). It has over 3,000,000 members. Its largest congregation is Highland Park

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Presbyterian Church, Dallas. Of the few solid Calvinist theologians left in it, John Gerstner is
most prominent. It is very active in both the National and World Councils of Churches. It not only
allows the ordination of women elders, it makes them mandatory in every congregationism
which is less
M. The PCA and OPC are on the verge of merger. But a few more years will be needed for the
Bible Presbyterians to modify their fundamentalism which is less Reformed than the others.

3. Calvinist Scholars in the UPCUSA and PCUSA.


A. John T. McNeill (1885-1975) taught at the liberal Union Theological Seminary(New York
City) and elsewhere, and was considered the Dean of scholarship onCalvin and early Calvinism.
He edited the definitive English translation of Calvins Institutes. He also wrote what is
considered the fullest history in English, The History and Character of Calvinism (1954). This
useful history is somewhat slanted. For example, it tends to downplay those truest to Calvins
theological heritage, such as the English Puritans, Edwards, and Hodge.
B. Ford Lewis Battles (1915-1979) taught at Pittsburg Theological Seminary and was the
translator for the McNeill edition of Calvins Institutes. He also translated several other works by
Calvin, including the first (1536) edition of the Institutes. He wrote An Analysis of the Institutes of
the Christian Religion and an unpublished commentary on the Institutes, plus produced
^Computerized Concordance to the Institutes.
C. John Leith teaches at Union Theological Seminary (Richmond, VA) and has written An
Introduction to the Reformed Tradition; Assembly at Westminster and The Reformed Imperative.
Like others of this mold, Leiths Calvinism is more Barthian and Liberal Presbyterian than
historically Reformed.
D. Others in this general group include: John A. MaKay (1889-1981, President of Princeton
Seminary and a leading Barthian and ecumenist); James 1. McCord (McKays successor at
Princeton in all respects); Holmes Rolston III (John Calvin Versus the Westminster Confession);
and Robert C. Paul (The Assembly of the Lord).

4. Dispensational Calvinists.
A. Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952) ministered for years in the PCUS before being expelled for
Dispensationalism. With W.H. Griffith Thomas, he founded Dallas Theological Seminary in
1924. His major work is also the fullest work on Dispensationalism: Systematic Theology in 8
volumes. Chafer also edited the Bibliotheca Sacra theological journal and authored several
books. He That Is Spiritual caused some controversy in Reformed circles and still does. It lays
much of the foundation for the modern theory that there are two types of Christians (the spiritual
and the carnal, who is perpetually backslidden). It was opposed, for example, by B.B. Warfield.
Chafer was also a four-point Calvinist who taught universal atonement.
B. For a generation, most of the teachers at Dallas Seminary continued in Chafers theological
mold, such as John Walvoord and Charles C. Ryrie. Since the 1970s, however, the Seminary
has become decreasingly Calvinistic and even four-point teachers are in the minority. Some
have even been emphatically anti-Calvinist, such as Norman Geisler.
C. S. Lewis Johnson (1915- ) taught at Dallas Seminary for several decades and was very
close to Chafers theology. In time, he made several important modifications in the areas of

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Dispensationalism. He also is one of the few Dispensationalists who are also five-point
Calvinists. Johnson made other important theological contributions in the area of ecclesiology,
as seen in Believers Chapel of Dallas (which he co-founded in 1962). For example, he teaches
believers baptism, complete autonomy of the local church, multiple eldership (none of which
usurp the unique role of Christ as the Head of the local church), and the main meeting of the
church similar to that practiced by the so-called Plymouth Brethren. At present he is at work on
a large systematic theology.

5. Philadelphian Pre-Millenial Calvinism.


A. Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960) pastored the important Tenth Presbyterian Church of
Philadelphia for 33 years (1927-1960). He began his ministry as a missionary to France. The
author of more than 30 books, Barnhouse main work is his exposition of Romans in 4 large
volumes. He was also one of the early radio preachers - he was heard on the Bible Study Hour
for 31 years. Two interesting points stand out regarding Barnhouse. First, he disagreed with
Hachen and Mclntire and decided to stay in the liberal PCUSA. Second, he was Dispensational,
but at times was more moderate than Chafer and bordered on Historic Premillenialism. Unlike
Chafer, he accepted limited atonement.
B. James Montgomery Boice (1938) has pastored at Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia
since 1968 and has been the featured speaker on the Bible Study Hour since 1969. Boice has
been one of the leading Evangelical defenders of Biblical inerrancy and was the moving force
behind the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (1978-1988). When it became apparent
that staying in the UPCUSA would mean compromise on the ordination of women, Boice led
Tenth Presbyterian out of the UPCUSA and into the PCA, where he is a leading figure. Boice is
also the author of over 30 books, mainly collections of expository sermons on John, Genesis,
Philippians, the Minor Prophets, etc. More a preacher than a scholar, his Foundations of the
Christian Faith is a large and popular systematic theology in non-technical language. Like
Barnhouse, he is Premillenialism and possibly Dispensational, howbeit moderately so.

6. PCA Calvinists.
A. R.C. Sproul (1939- ) is another leading Calvinist in the PCA. He might be called a Pittsburg
Presbyterian, since he studied under John Gerstnerat Pittsburg Seminary and reflects his
Calvinism in many ways. Sproul is Director of Ligonier Ministries, which used to be the Ligonier
Valley Study Center (Ligonier Valley, PA). Currently it is based in Orlando, Florida, where
Sproul is involved in the extension of Reformed Theological Seminary. Sproul is one of the most
popular preachers in America today. Most of his books are based on sermons, and so are nontechnical in nature. Among them is his Chosen By God, a straightforward presentation of
Calvinism. He even teaches reprobation in his chapter entitled Double, Double, Toil and
Trouble: Is Predestination Double? Like Boice, he is a leading inerrantist.
B. C. Gregg Singer (1910- } is another PCA Calvinist. Several of his books are theological
perspectives on American and Western history, such as A Theological Interpretation of
American History and From Rationalism to Irrationality.
C. Other influential PCA Calvinists include Simon Kistemaker, Morton Smith and Douglas Kelly,
all associated with the non-denominational Reformed Seminary.

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7. Loraine Boettner (1900- ).


A. Boettner was a student who graduated in the last class at Princeton Seminary before the
split with Machen. It comes as a great surprise to readers of his books that he has never been a
pastor or theologian (though he did teach religion briefly at a Christian college). In other words,
Loraine Boettner has been a lay theologian. And yet his Calvinistic influence has been great.
B. His first book was based on his Masters thesis, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. It
has been in continual publication since 1932. Sooner or later every budding Calvinist gets
around to reading this excellent volume. It is large but not ponderous, for Boettner writes in a
remarkably lucid manner. It covers each of the five points, objections, a brief history of
Calvinism, and related issues like the free offer, assurance and practicalities.
C. Boettner's best-selling book, however, has been Roman Catholicism. It is oneof the few
books published by a major publisher since 1960 that has taken the old-fashioned approach of
the Reformation. Like all his other books, it is more popular than scholarly, and thereby reveals
several weaknesses.
D. The Millennium is almost single-handedly responsible for the current revival of Post-Mi
11enialism. It is certainly the most influential. In this large volume, Boettner presents the three
main millennial views and defends his own. Lastly, among several other volumes, Immortality is
a timely presentation and defence of the historical Reformed view of death, life after death,
Heaven and Hell.

8. Arthur C. Custance (1919-1986) and Annihilationism.


A. Born in England, Custance studied and lived most of his life in Canada. Like Loraine
Boettner, he was never a pastor or professional theologian. Actually, he worked for the
Canadian Defence Research Board. He specialized in anthropology d also held several
scientific patents.
B. His large book The Sovereignty of Grace is similar to Boettners Predestination. Both are
large but not too technical; both are published by the same publisher. Much of it deals with the
five points, but also includes discussion of reprobation and other related issues.
C. In the 1970s, Zondervan Publishing House published Custances The Doorway Papers in
10 volumes. They make scintillating reading. Custance discusses all sorts of unusual and
difficult issues involving theology and science, especially anthropology. Most of the essays
concern the early chapters of Genesis. He often refutes evolution and is a major proponent of
the Gap Theory, which he discusses at length in another book, Without Form and Void. Among
the topics he tackles are: who taught Adam to speak and what language did he speak; what
was the curse on Canaan; what if Adam had never sinned or sinned but never died; who was
Cains wife; what is the meaning of sweat as part of the curse given Adam; and the Virgin Birth.
D. In a large volume of 600 pages entitled The Seed of the Woman, Custance explores Christ
as the promised Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15) and of Abraham v (Gal. 3:16) who had to die
to bring us life (John 12:24). He discusses Christs, perfect body, the definition of death, how
Christs body died, how Christ could suffer eternal wrath in only 3 hours, and similar questions
E. Then in Two Men Called Adam Custance refutes Evolution by a comparison of Adam and
Jesus. Adam was not nor could be an animal; else the analogy of Romans 5 breaks down.
Evolution destroys the plan of redemption.

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F. Custances genius is in originally tackling difficult issues, which others avoid. But this genius
shows its weakness in one area. In a section on the eternal future of the reprobate in The
Sovereignty of Grace and in a book entitled Journey Out of Time, Custance gradually departs
from the Reformed doctrine of eternal Hell. Rejecting Universal Salvation, he toys with an
unusual form of Annihilationsm. Custance develops the truth that Jesus suffered eternal wrath in
a temporally limited period of time. By analogy, he argues, is it not possible for the non-elect to
suffer eternal wrath in a short period of time and then become non-existent? The problem with
Custances argument is that it is not taught in the Bible. For instance, it goes counter to Rev.
14:10-11, 20:10, and Matt. 25:41, 46.
G. Philip E. Hughes (1915- ) is another leading Calvinist to come out in favor of Annihilationism
(In His Image). Born in Sydney, Australia, Hughes taught in Australia, England and America,
where he was Visiting Professor at Westminster Seminary for many years. Several of his books
dealt with French and English Calvinism. He has also authored several scholarly commentaries
(Hebrews and 2 Cor.)
H. Robert Morey is a young scholar whose Death and the Afterlife is a first-class scholarly
presentation of the Biblical position on death, Heaven and Hell. He has written several other
books on the cults and apologetics, plus The Saving Work of Christ (which espouses limited
atonement). And he is Reformed.

9. Roger Nicole (1915- ) and French Calvinism.


A. Nicole was born in France and still speaks with a strong French accent. Hetaught for
decades at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He owns a personal theological library of
over 25,000 volumes. In addition to being a leading Calvinist and defender of Biblical inerrancy,
Nicole is also the premier scholar on the history and theology of Amyraldism. Disagreeing with
Brian Armstrong (Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy), Nicole strongly denies that Moise
Amyraut was in the pure theological lineage of Calvin on the questions of the extent of the
atonement and hypothetical universalism.
B. You may wonder whatever became of Calvinism in the land of Calvins birth? Unfortunately,
France has virtually exterminated Calvinism in its midst. Only two Calvinist scholars bear
mention. First, Emile Doumergue (1844-1937) wrote the largest and definitive biography of
Calvin: Jean Calvin: Les Hommes et les Choses de Son Temps (1899-1917 in 7 massive
volumes). Reportedly, this is currently being translated into English. Second, Auguste LeCerf
(1872-1943) incorporated Kuypers theories into An Introduction to Reformed Dogmatics. This
was meant to be the first volume of a large systematic theology.

10. Miscellaneous Calvinists.


A. Richard Muller teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation has been
published as the excellent Christ and the Decree: Christology and Predestination in Reformed
Theology from Calvin to Perkins. He is also completing his extremely useful Post-Reformation
Reformed Dogmatics in 3 volumes. His Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms is
primarily drawn from post-Reformation Reformed theology. Muller argues for basic continuity
between Calvin and the Calvinists.
B. Perry Miller (1905-1963) was a skeptical Harvard professor who authored several large
volumes- on early American Calvinism. Unfriendly to both Calvinists and Calvinism, he tended

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to portray them as legalists who departed from Calvin. His major works were The New England
Mind: The Seventeenth Century; The New England Mind: From Colony to Province; and
Jonathan Edwards.
C. Gary Long wrote one of the few books completely on limited atonement, entitled Definite
Atonement. Long also argues for the supremacy of the First London Confession over the
Second London Confession. Both are major Baptist confessions, but Long prefers the First to
the Second, though the Second is basically a Baptist version of the Westminster Confession.
The reason is because Long differs with the Puritans on the continuance of the Law. Another
Calvinistic Baptist is Richard Belcher, who has written in defence of the Second London
Confession, plus books on Arthur W. Pink and A Journey in Grace.
D. David Steele and Curtis Thomas co-authored the best-selling The Five Points of Calvinism
while co-patoring a Baptist church in Arkansas. Duane Edward Spencer wrote another short but
useful introduction to Calvinism: TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture.
Edwin Palmer wrote yet another on the same topic: The Five Points of Calvinism. Palmer was
one of the main editors of the New International Version. Several of the NIVs translators were
noted Calvinists (William Hendricksen, S, Lewis Johnson, etc), but it is not specifically a
Reformed translation.
E. Millard Erickson (1932- ) is a leading four-point Calvinist of sorts. His Christian Theology is
the largest up-to-date systematic theology in recent years. He espouses historic Premillenialism
and believers baptism.
F. W. Stanford Reid is a Canadian who has written several articles and edited at least one book
on the history of Calvinism. C. Samuel Storms is a young up-and-coming Calvinist pastor and
writer, as in his Tragedy in Eden; The Grandeur of God and Chosen for Life. David Stenmetz of
Duke University is a major scholar of the Reformation, especially Calvins associates and
successors. D.A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has not written anything
specifically on Calvinism, but his Reformed Baptist theology can be seen in Ms several excellent
commentaries. He is one of the leading New Testament scholars in America and also a strong
defender of Biblical inerrancy.
G. Al Martin of New Jersey is the pre-eminent Reformed Baptist in America. Though he is
consulting editor of the Banner of Truth, he has written very little. His influence in the Reformed
movement, though, is great. He is considered one of the best Calvinist preachers in the world
today. One of his major themes is Biblical repentance, against popular misconceptions. This is
also a major theme in the writings of a close friend of Martins, Walter Chantry of Carlisle, PA. In
Todays Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? He exposes and opposes easy-believism and the error
that one can have Christ as Savior but not as Lord. Lest one think he is backing into
Theonomism, Chantrys Gods Righteous Kingdom sets the mainstream middle between
Theonomic and Antinomian deviations.

11. Miscellaneous Sources and Resources for 20th-century American Calvinism.


A. Publishers. Banner of Truth has an office in Carlisle, PA for American distribution.
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company is the largest American-based publisher of
Reformed books. It is closely associated with Westminster Seminary. Reiner Publications began
as the Bible Truth Depot of I.C. Herendeen. For years, its mainstay was the books of A.W. Pink.
In recent decades, it has published many titles by John Bunyan and Philip Mauro, and more
recently has been sold to Grace Abounding Ministries (Robert Whitelaw), which espouses
Annihilationism. Sprinkle Publications mainly reprints old Southern Presbyterian theological

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classics, though Bob Sprinkle is a Reformed Baptist (even with a name like Sprinkle!).
Eerdmans and Baker Book House used to be major Reformed publishers, but the former has
gone Neo-Orthodox and the latter is broad-based Evangelical (but both still publish several
Reformed titles). Gospel Mission publishes some titles in conjunction with Baker. Westminster
Press/John Knox Press is the official PCUSA publisher, mainly Neo-Orthodox pseudoCalvinism, but also the McNeill edition of the Institutes. Great Commission Publications is the
publishing arm of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; it specializes in Calvinistic Sunday School
materials.
B. Booksellers. Several leading discount Christian booksellers are Reformed and carry all the
main Reformed books. They have helped much in the spread of Calvinism. They include Great
Christian Books [formerly Puritan-Reformed Discount Books], Trinity Book Service [associated
with Al Martin], Cumberland Valley Discount Christian Books [associated with Walter Chantry],
and Gospel Mission.
C. Conferences. Several conferences are distinctively Reformed: Banner of Truth, the
Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology [J.M. Boice], the Pensacola Theological
Institute, the Founders Conference (Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention), the
Sovereign Grace Fellowship Weekend Doctrinal Conference (Salado, TX, Gary Long), and
others.
D. Seminaries. Westminster, Reformed, Covenant, Calvin, Greenville, Biblical, and Whitefield
Theological Seminaries are all Reformed.
E. The Henry C. Meeter Center for Calvin Studies is based at Calvin Seminary in Grand
Rapids, MI. It is named for Henry C. Meeter (1886-1963), who taught at Calvin Seminary and
wrote much in defence of Calvinism, such as his important Calvinism: An Interpretation of Its
Basic Ideas. Richard Gamble is the Director of the Meeter Center, which is the international
coordinating center for all scholarship on the life and theology of John Calvin. Lester De Koster
and Peter De Klerk publish an annually updated bibliography of all Calvinist writings in the
Calvin Theological Journal (Calvin Seminary).

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Chapter 25. The Sovereignty of God.


1. Introduction.
A. God is God. He has always been and always will be exactly that God. He is.
B. This begins the theological part of our series on Calvinism. Since we believe that all true
theology must be Biblical, each study from now on will be Biblical. Hence, we will make constant
reference to the Bible and give Scripture references for all assertions.
C. Obviously the scope of the series is limited. We cannot be exhaustive on every topic, and
there are many related topics which can only be mentioned in passing. Still, we trust that they
will be adequate for the purpose of the series, namely, to elucidate the theology of Calvinism.
Further, we will concentrate on those topics most germane to the overall purpose of the series,
especially those which may be called Reformed distinctives. And finally, the studies will be
theological in nature, not practical.

2. The Godness of God.


A. Our starting point must always be God Himself. All theology must begin and end with God. In
fact, the degree to which a theology is true or false is indirect proportion to which it begins and
ends with God. Biblical theology is first and foremost God-centered theology, not Man-centered
or even Mans need-centered. So, then, we begin with what Arthur W. Pink calls the Godness
of God.
B. Obviously this will not be a complete survey of the attributes of God, much less a discussion
of the Trinity, the being of God and other related topics. And we certainly will not mock God by
attempting to prove His existence. He has already done that Himself (Rom. 1, Psa. 19:1).
C. Rather, in this initial study we will discuss certain attributes of God which are directly
pertinent to the question of the doctrines of Calvinism. As we said in an earlier lesson, we will be
restoring certain attributes to their proper place in God. These are the high attributes, the ones
often ignored or minimized or, in some cases, even denied. Remember, all heresy can be
traced back to ones imbalanced view of the divine attributes, leading to a denial of one or more
of them, resulting in a deficient theology of God and unless corrected, eventually atheism.
D. Our source of data is God Himself in His self-revelation in the Bible. Any god fashioned from
your own imagination or conception is a false god. Any god other than the true God, the God of
the Bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a blasphemous idol.
E. Now this lesson is specifically on the sovereignty of God. This may be considered a single
attribute or a combination of attributes. In either case, the Bible describes several related
qualities of God which are His by nature and which are fundamental to any discussion of the
issues of Reformed theology.
F. The great doctrine of the sovereignty of God is the only right starting point of these issues.
We do not begin with whether Man has free will, or whether we can lose our salvation. Those
are concerned with the five points of Calvinism. But we need to get back of those truths first.
The five points constitute the TULIP; the sovereignty of God is the root of the TULIP. The
reason men reject any or all five points is because they have not dome to grips with the
sovereignty of God. Accept it, and all else follows.

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3. The Self-Existence of God.


A. Go back, way back, through the corridors of eternity to when God alone existed. In the
beginning, God (Gen. 1:1). He was all there was. There were as yet no men, animals, devils or
angels, no galaxies or planets or even the smallest atoms. There was only the self-existent
Trinity. God ice who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Rev. 1:8). This, of
course, implies His eternity. The eternal God (Deut. 33:27) was all alone inhabiting eternity
(Isa. 57:15).
B. Since He has always existed, it follows that He is uncreated. He is Creator of all and created
by none. He simply is. He said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM(Ex. 3:14). Therefore, God is selfexistent. He depends on nobody and nothing for the origin of His existence, the sustaining of
His being, or the future of His essence. By analogy, He is the ultimate perpetual motion being He depends on nothing external, for all He needs is provided by Himself.
C. This is true also in time. God does not need us in any way whatsoever. Instead, we need
God for everything. Even when we obey God, we add nothing to His essential being: neither is
He served by human hands, as though He needed anything (Acts 17:25). The Greek and
heathen gods were dependent on the offerings of their worshippers in order to live and exist.
But the true God has always been self-existent.

4. The Perfection of God.


A. Jesus said, Your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48). He is perfectly perfect. He is
complete in all respects. He lacks nothing whatsoever.
B. It is also true that He is perfection itself. God is the standard by which all created things are
to be measured. There is not a higher standard than God by which perfection is idealized. He
is perfect in Himself. He is not perfect because He meets a certain standard; rather, He is the
standard.
C. Now this can be applied to all the attributes of God. God is perfectly holy, true, wise, and so
on. But lets get specific. God is perfectly happy. The eternal self-existent God is and has
always been completely happy in Himself. That means that He can never be happier than He
already is. Nor does He do anything in time to gain happiness, as if He were at some time lonely
or sad. Away with such nonsense! The perfect God is perfectly happy. He had full joy within
Himself. How? He enjoyed Himself. He loves Himself. The Father, Son and Spirit enjoy a full
relationship of love and joy.

5. The Transcendence of God.


A. Before all things existed (God is not a thing), God filled what was, for He was all that was.
That is hard to grasp. But when He created things, a differentiation was made. It too is hard to
grasp, and it is this: the nearness (immanence) and farness (transcendence) of God. God is the
lofty God (Isa. 57:15) who is infinitely above His creation.
B. This is crucial in several respects. As creatures we are prone to think of God in terms of
ourselves. Though it is correct that we bear the image of God, and therefore have some
similarities with Him, it is also true that God is fundamentally different from us. In theology we
say that He is wholly other. He is different in essence. The difference between God and us is a

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difference of quality, not merely quantity. God is not a big Man, or even an infinitely big Man, or
the biggest Man. He is not a Man at all.
C. This leads to the infinity of God. He is far above us because of the infinite distance between
our natures. Scripture says that, compared with God, we area drop in the bucket (Isa, 40:15), as
small as grasshoppers (Isa. 40:22), and less than nothing in His sight (Isa- 40:17). In a word, we
are puny.
D. God, then, is infinitely above and beyond and higher and greater than Man. This is essential
to any true theology of God. J.B. Phillips wrote a book entitled Your God is Too Small. Similarly,
Luther said to Erasmus, Your thoughts of God are too human. Psa. 50:21, You thought that I
was just like you. All theologies that differ from the doctrines of grace are based on the
mistaken presupposition that God is like Man.
E. Moreover, since God is infinitely above Man, He is also described as the hidden God (Deus
absconditus). Thou art a God that hidest thyself (Isa.45: 15). Though it is true that in time God
has revealed Himself, this is not a complete revelation. Furthermore, it is not direct revelation.
There is far more of God to be revealed to us.
F. The otherness and transcendence of God relate to our subject in at least one vital way.
Since God is the highest, He is not to be measured by anything else. There is no higher law of
truth, fairness or morality to which God is subject. He does not do something because it is right;
it is right because He does it.

6. The Independence of God.


A. Again, lets go back to the eternity in which God was all alone. Before all things were, there
was only God. The question arises, Why does God do what He does? Later we will investigate
this question as it relates to the ultimate purpose for which He does what He does. But now the
question concerns what moved Him. To answer this, we need to understand the independence
of God.
B. God is totally free. His will is the only one in the universe that is totally free. That means that
God does what He wants to do simply because He so chooses. Consider the following great
passages from the Word of God:
I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord
pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all depths. (Psa. 135:5-6)
He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does. (Job
23:13)
who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11).
He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the
earth (Dan. 4:35).
My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure
(Isa. 46:10).
Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psa. 115:3).
C. Why does God do anything? Simply because He pleases to do it. There is no reason outside
of God why He does anything. This is the mere pleasure of God. Thus it was well-pleasing in
thy sight (Matt. 11:26). A.VI. Pink commented, God does as He pleases, only as He pleases,
always as He pleases.

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D. Now this is true in time because it was true in eternity past. God does not change in this
principle simply because He now deals with creatures. Creation is His lump of clay to fashion in
whichever way He so chooses (Rom. 9). Mark this: God does what He does because He was
pleased to do so, and if it does not please us it is because we are creatures who are trying to be
God. Resistance to the Bible doctrine of the freedom of God is anti-God blasphemy and
rebellion. Let God be God! He can do whatever He wants - and He always does so with or
without our permission. God needs no permission or approval to do what He does.
E. Nor does God need advice. Who has been His counselor? (Isa. 40:13-14, Rom.11: 34).
Back in eternity, there was no other counselor for God to consult with. He is His own counselor,
for He does all that He does solely on the basis of His own counsel (Eph. 1:11).
F. But does this mean, as Karl Barth suggested, that God is free to become His opposite? No,
not at all. God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). God cannot not exist, for He is self-existent. He cannot
choose to become imperfect. These are not weaknesses in God, but perfections. They are not
external limitations to His freedom, but manifestations of His glory.
G. Again, let it be stressed, that in the ultimate sense, only God has a totally free will. There
cannot be two completely free wills in the universe. Therefore, so far as ultimate decisions are
concerned, Man cannot have free will. Man sins, yes, but that does not determine what God will
choose to do. God does as He pleases. This is a disturbing truth to us. Why? Because we want
to be God. We are envious of that which we cannot have, so like a spoiled child we make fun of
it. Those who deny or minimize the sovereignty of God do so out of immature and sinful spite.
H. It might be stated that there is a certain holy capriciousness in God. Lets clarify that. He
does whatever He wants to - that is caprice. But it is always holy - He always acts in accordance
with His nature. This does not make Him a stagnant God (as some unorthodox theologians
suggest). Quite the opposite. He does whatever He wants, but whatever He wants is always
and necessarily holy. The independence of God does not contradict the holiness of God, but
works together with it in truth and glory. All the divine attributes are in balance.

7. The Sovereignty of God.


A. The sovereignty of God is rooted in His Godness. Simply put, God is King. He was King
when He was all alone and He is still King of whatever exists. He is king of kings and lord of
lords. Among the many Scriptures which could be adduced to support and elucidate this grand
truth are the following:
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all
(Psa. 103:19).
Thine, 0 Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the
majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, 0
Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all (I Chron. 29:11),
Art thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? (2 Chron.20: 6).
The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty (Psa. 93:1).
The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the
earth shake! (Psa. 99:1).
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! (Rev. 19:6).
B. There are still a few monarchies left on earth, such as in Great Britain. However, there is a

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great difference. The Queen of England reigns, but she doesnt rule. She has authority but no
power. She is really just a titular monarch, one in name only. But the Lord is king of kings and
the only potentate. He both reigns and rules. He rules over all, for He created all and governs
all. Some kings have men as slaves, but God is a King who has kings as slaves.
C. The Calvinist believes that God is an absolute monarch. He has total authority. Moreover,
He has always had this authority, for He has always been just whether is now. He is a
benevolent dictator. The universe is not a democracy. Gods authority is not based on a majority
vote. Nor is it an oligarchy, or shared authority, much less anarchy. No, God is the undisputed
King of all. In fact, the Greek New Testament uses the very word from which we get the English
word despot (Despotes, Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24, 2 Pet. 2:1, Rev. 6:10, 2 Tim. 2:21). God is a
totalitarian despot, but a holy one.
D. Now, to the non-Reformed ear, these words sound severe and unbecoming of God. What,
is God a cruel despot like Adolf Hitler? Is He a totalitarian dictator like Idi Amin? Is he an
unquestioned potentate like Stalin? No, God is not like them. Remember, Gods sovereignty is
a holy sovereignty. Nevertheless, He is still a king with unlimited authority in Himself over all
people and things.
E. This all sounds harsh to our Western ears, we who are so accustomed to democracy. But
lets go deeper. Why do men resist this great truth? It is this: it strikes them to their very being
that God is God, not them. And men want to be little gods (Gen. 3:5). There is, therefore,
something about the sovereignty of God that sticks in the craw of sinful man. Note that I said
sinful man, for the holy angels and redeemed men in heaven have no trouble with this truth
whatsoever. On the contrary, they rejoice in it daily. But sinful worms called men here below
rebel against it. C.H. Spurgeon noted:
There is no doctrine more hated by world lings, no truth of which they have made such
a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of
the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They
will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow
Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow
Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or
rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His
creatures then gnash their teeth, and we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do
as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without
consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is
that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love.
F. Of course, not all admit this. Others are more subtle. They plead that it does damage to
human responsibility. Now we do not deny human responsibility; it is taught in the Word of God
and corresponds to Gods revealed will of holiness. But divine sovereignty does not negate
human responsibility; rather, human responsibility could not even exist unless God were
sovereign. Many think they are defending human responsibility when, in fact, they are really
destroying divine sovereignty.
G. Lastly, God is sovereign now. Most Christians admit that God was sovereign in eternity past
and will be sovereign in eternity future. But they recoil at God being sovereign now, for that is
where they live (no man lives in the past or the future, only in the now). Hence, there are
practical applications and theological implications for this awesome doctrine.

8. Conclusion.

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A. This is only the tip of an infinite iceberg labeled the sovereignty of God. In future lessons
we will explore the implications. But this is where it must start.
B. The slightest compromise on this doctrine will have enormous implications on other
doctrines and practices. It is the root of the TULIP. Only Calvinists consistently accept this
wonderful doctrine. But not even the most mature and skilled Calvinist has ever totally mastered
it. It is awesome. If it were not, it would not be true. A grasp of the sovereignty of the selfexistent God who does whatever He pleases produces a holy awe. It produces rebellion in
sinners and praise in saints. One of the best gauges of ones spirituality is in terms of how He
responds to this truth. In the end, the sovereignty of God is the Godness of God.

Recommended Reading
Pink, Arthur W. The Sovereignty of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Banner of Truth
also publishes a slightly abridged version.
Pink, Arthur W. The Attributes of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Moody Press
publishes Gleanings in the Godhead, from which Attributes is taken. Attributes, like Sovereignty,
is a modern Reformed classic.
Packer, J.I. Knowing God. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press.
Packer, J.I. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity.
Charnock, Stephen. The Existence and Attributes of God. 2 volumes. Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House. (The fullest Reformed book on God. By a leading Puritan.)
Bavinck, Herman. The Doctrine of God. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. (A large book taken from his
large systematic theology. A leading Dutch Calvinist.)
Machen, J. Gresham. God Transcendent. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Storms, C. Samuel. The Grandeur of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Rice, N.L. God Sovereign and Man Free. Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications.

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Chapter 26. Predestination.


1. Introduction
A. Whenever one discusses or even quickly comes to mind. In fact, it is true that Calvinists give
school of theology. Critics say are merely giving it the proper As we shall see, the Bible says
thinks of Calvinism, the word predestination the two words are often used as synonyms, more
place to the subject than any other they over-emphasize it; we reply that we Biblical place,
which is denied by others, much about predestination.
B. The word heed not frighten us. We need to understand that the Bible itself uses words like
predestine and predestinate. Nor should we ignore distort or deny what the Bible says on the
matter. As we shall see, by its very nature, predestination is an extremely important subject.

2. What is Predestination?
A. Simply put, predestination is the teaching that God is the source of all things. From Him are
all things (Rom. 11:36). The best and most well known explanation is found in the Westminster
Confession (111:1):
God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely and
unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the
author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or
contingency of second causes taken away, - but rather established.
B. Several words are used as synonyms. One is foreordination. Scripture speaks of Gods
ordinance and ordinances concerning what He planned (e.g., Psa.119: 91). Since He does
nothing in time that He did not plan in eternity, it is proper to speak of pre-ordination or
foreordination.
C. Then there is the term appointment (Heb. 9:27, Acts 13:28, I Pet. 2:8, Acts17: 24-26). If
something is appointed, then it follows that it was previously appointed sometime in the past.
Predestination is the doctrine that God has appointed everything that happens.
D. Predetermination is another related word. This is part of Determinism. This is the doctrine
that says that all things operate on the law of cause and effect. Science, for example, accepts
this principle. In philosophy, there is a school of thought known as Determinism that is similar to
the Reformed theology of predestination, but there is a difference. In philosophy, Determinism
says that all is fate and there is no free choice in any sense; free choice is an illusion. Calvinism
teaches that men have responsibility and in that sense are free. But there are similarities
between the two ideas.
E. The truth is that God has determined in advance exactly what will happen in time. He is the
First Cause of all things. Philosophically, only two options are open. First, there could be an
infinite regress of causes. Or, secondly, there could be one unique First Cause that is itself
uncaused. Philosophy can only go that far, but theology goes further and establishes God as
the eternal uncaused First Cause. Everything else is caused. Everything in the Universe is an
effect caused by a previous cause. In turn, everything affects everything else. So, the Universe
is a vast network of second, third and fourth causes and effects. But behind them all, God is
First Cause.

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F. Now lets look closely at the word predestination. In English, it .is the combination of pre
and destination. The very idea of time and the future tells us that there is a destiny for things.
All things are rolling along the road to their destination. So, the destination is settled. But when?
In time? Only indirectly. The ultimate destination of all things has been determined by God from
before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5). If, then, the destination of all things has been
settled beforehand, it is proper to speak of pre-destination. Predestination is the map which all
things follow.
G. Next lets look at the Greek word used in the New Testament for predestine. The verb is
PROORIZO .It comes from two Greek words, PRO (before) and ORAO (I see beforehand). But
it does not mean merely foresight, but foreordination. It is used 6 times in the New Testament,
each as cause and not as effect.
(1) Acts 4:27-28. There were gathered together... to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy purpose
predestined to occur. Notice that Gods purpose and predestination are associated. This also
tells us that divine predestination is behind the actual occurrence of events.
(2) Rom. 8:29-30. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the
image of His Son... and whom He predestined, these He also called. Observe that Paul is here
elaborating on verse 28, where he spoke of Gods "purpose. Now in theology the term
predestine has several uses. One of them is found here, namely, to set out on a decided
course. This logically assumes that something has already been decided. Here, what has been
decided is election. The word foreknow here means pre-love, as in election, not simply divine
omniscience. [More on this in the next study and on election.]
(3) I Cor. 2:7. But we speak Gods wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God
predestined before the ages to our glory. This verse tells us two interesting things. First, like in
Acts 4:28, things and not just people are predestined (as in Rom. 8:29-30). Second, this
predestination is eternal.
(4) Eph. 1:5. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according
to the kind intention of His will. Paul here says that our adoption in salvation has been
predestined. Paul is building on vs. 4,where he said that we were chosen from before the
foundation of the world. Also, he says that this predestination is according to the kind, intention
of His will, or more precisely, His good pleasure. He predestines whatever He chooses to
predestine, for He does whatever He pleases (Psa.115: 3).
(5) Eph. 1:11. we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His
purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will. Again Paul associates predestination
with Gods purpose and the counsel of His will. God does not predestine things according to our
wills, but His will.

3. The Purpose of God.


A. Before all things existed, God established a purpose for them. Predestination is according to
Gods purpose. The universe is not like a car careening down the road without a driver. God is
the driver, and He has a map. He has a purpose.
B. Isa. 46:10-11, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.
The two ideas are parallel. God always and only does what pleases Him, and His pleasure is
linked to His purpose. Though God does all things freely, He does not act in merely arbitrary
fashion. God acts on purpose. The next verse continues, Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it
to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.

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C. Gods purpose, then, is His plan: Therefore hear the plan of the Lord which He has planned
against Edom, and His purpose which He has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman (Jer.
49:20. Cf. 50:45). Sometimes His purpose is spoken of in the plural as plans: The counsel of
the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation (Psa. 33:11).
D. In the New Testament, the word most used in this context is BOULE, meaning counsel or
purpose. The idea is the wise counsel upon which a decision is made. Sometimes it speaks of
human plans based on deliberation. But regarding God, it is used several times of His
predestination of all things or of specific things in particular. Four passages are especially
pertinent:
(1) Acts 2:23. this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.
The crucifixion of Christ was part of Gods plan. It was not accidental; it had been predestined. It
happened according to Gods purpose. Literally, the words mean previously determined
counsel.
(2) Acts 4:28. to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. As we saw
earlier, predestination follows Gods purpose.
(3) Rom. 9:19. You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?
In a later study we will examine the context (reprobation). As for now, notice that the objection is
based on a valid truth, namely, that God has an over-arching purpose even for the non-elect.
Paul does not answer the objection by denying that God has a definite purpose.
(4) Eph. 1:11. having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the
counsel of His own will.
E. The last passage cited above (Eph. 1:11) includes two words which are more or less
synonymous. One is BOULE, the other is PROTHESIN. We have been predestined according
to His purpose [PROTHESIN]. It is used later in 3:11, This was inaccordance with the eternal.
purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. Note that it is eternal and that it is
carried out in time. The verb form is used in 1:9, according to His kind intention which He
purposed in Him.
F. PROTHESIN is also used in two important passages in Romans. First, Rom. 8:28, God
causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to His purpose. This beloved verse contains an explicit proof of absolute
predestination, and yet it is the favorite verse of many who explicitly and vehemently oppose the
doctrine. But look closely at it. How do we know all things will work out for our good? Because
God is working them that way. And why does He work that way? Because He decided to do so.
And that decision is His purpose. If God could change His mind, then all assurance is
undermined and we would do well to erase Rom. 8:28 from our Bibles. But the text is inspired
and proves that God has a purpose for all things, including the good of His saints. You will also
notice that this verse precedes the Golden Chain of verses 29-30. The predestination and
foreknowledge of vss.29-20 are but aspects of His purpose.
G. PROTHESIN occurs in the next chapter as Paul discusses the non-elect. Notice vs.11,in
order that Gods purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but
because of Him who calls. The whole argument of the chapter is that God elects and rejects
solely on the basis of His own will and purpose. His eternal purpose, therefore, is not in any way
based on Mans will but on Gods.
H. The word also appears in 2 Tim. 1:9, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us
in Christ Jesus from all eternity.

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I. In theology, we speak of this ultimate purpose as Gods decree. Sometimes this is mentioned
in Scripture (e.g., Psa. 2:7). Because it has several aspects to it, we also speak of the decrees
of God. But basically it is one decree. Just as Gods essence is one but is spoken of as
attributes so we can begin to understand, so with the decree and decrees of God.

4. The Program of God.


A. In modern technological language, the universe has been pre-programmed. Gods
predestination and purpose is His program.
B. Scripture teaches that God created all things (Gen. 1:1, John 1:3, Col. 1:16,Heb. 1:2, I Cor.
8:6, etc.). But God did not create in a happenstance manner. He created according to a
previously determined blueprint - predestination. In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus said that a wise
builder first counts the cost in his plans before building. God did just that.
C. Luke 14:31-32 continues Christs words. A general first has a battle plan, a strategy for
winning. Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance (Pro. 20:18. Cf. 24:6).
Gods strategy is wise. He will win.

5. Eternal Predestination.
A. Several of the verses we have quoted tell us that Gods predestination is eternal. It is
predestination, not postdestination. The destiny of all things in Creation and in time have
already been settled in eternity past.
B. Now, Gods purpose is eternal (2 Tim. 1:9). But, technically, it is not eternal in the exact
sense that God is eternal. We do not deify the decree of God. Only God and His essence is
eternal in the ultimate sense. Still, the purpose of God goes back into the depths of the
everlasting past in a sense in which we cannot comprehend it. It would help if we could first
understand just what eternity is; but then, we are finite and temporal creatures and as such
cannot comprehend the infinity of eternity. But God does.
C. Further, eternal predestination covers all things in time. Job 14:5, Since his days are
determined, the number of his months is with thee, and his limits thou hast set so that he cannot
pass. Our birthdays and deaths days are appointed unto us (Heb. 9:27). What occurs in time
was determined in eternity, from the largest to the smallest detail, seconds to centuries.
Furthermore, predestination of eternity past covers all things into eternity future: The counsel of
the Lord stands forever (Psa. 33:11).

6. Absolute Predestination.
A. Predestination is absolute and definite, not contingent or merely possible. Note:
predestination is not to be confused with Gods commandments in time. Gods commandments
can be broken (in fact, they usually are), but Gods decrees cannot be broken. They will be
fulfilled, for they have the force of omnipotent power behind them.
B. Gods plan is unchangeable. God wont change it and men cannot. Predestination is
irreversible, like the laws of the Medes and Persians (Esther 1:19, 8:8,Dan. 6:8, 12, 15). Psa.
148:3, He has made a decree which will not pass away. In Heb. 6:17, we are told that God

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confirmed the unchangeableness of His purpose with an oath. And God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2).
C. Jer. 23:20 says that God will not turn back until He has accomplished the purposes of His
heart (so also 30:24). God does not decide to change the decree simply because it is now in
operation. Isa. 14:24, The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, Surely, just as I have intended, so it
has happened; and just as I have planned, so it will stand.
D. Pro. 19:21, Many are the plans in a mans heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.
Man changes his mind, but God never. I Sam. 15:29, The Glory of Israel will not lie or change
His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind (cf. Num. 23:19). Jer. 4:28
repeats this: Because Have spoken, I have purposed, and I will not change my mind, nor will I
turn from it.
E. Arminians have great difficulty accepting all this. They think that God forms his decrees, but
we can change them by our sins. This is to confuse the decrees with the commandments of
God. No mere man can thwart Gods predestination Job 42:1, No purpose of thine can be
thwarted. Isa. 14:27, The Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? No man on
earth or demon in hell can.
F. Predestination is absolute and unconditional. The acts of men in time are not conditions for
the fulfillments of the decrees, as if men could fail to meet the conditions and thus hinder what
was predestined. Rather, the very acts and thoughts of men have been unconditionally
predestined.

7. Predestination of All Means and Ends.


A. As we saw earlier, God is the First Cause of all things. From Him are all things (Rom.
11:36). Predestination is universal, God Himself being excepted (as in I Cor. 15:28). Nothing
happens that was not foreordained to happen.
B. However, here is where we differ with Stoicism and Islam. God is the First Cause of all
things, but not always the immediate cause of all things. What does that mean? Just this: God
sometimes causes things mediately rather than immediately. In fact, this is His usual way of
doing things. That is to say, the First Cause uses Second Causes, which He has caused.
Anyone who has played pocket billiards knows what this means. Moreover, the whole of
Creation is a vast network of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th causes, and so forth. For example, good works
have been predestined: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should (will) walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
C. God has foreordained all things, large and. small, seen and unseen. He has predestined all
means to all ends. He is the First Cause and the Last End of all things (Rom. 11:36). Later we
will discuss how all the details of what He has predestined work back to Him.
D. Lastly, though God predestined all that is, God did not predestine all that He could have
predestined. Like in Creation, He did not create all that He could have created. With God, all
things are possible (Matt. 19:26), but not all things are definite. God decides what will be
definite. In fact, if you can grasp it, God even determines what is possible. God created the
realm of potentiality, even those potential and possible things which will never be realized. And
to further dazzle our minds, try grasping this concept: God did not have to predestine anything,
nor did He have to predestine it exactly as He did predestine it. He could have done some
things differently or not at all.

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8. Conclusion.
1. Two concluding comments need to be made. First, though this great truth is revealed in
Scripture, it is not exhaustively revealed to us. The secret things belong to the Lord our God
(Deut. 29:29). We cannot pry into the unrevealed secrets of predestination beyond that which
has been revealed. In subsequent studies, we will go into further areas of predestination - some
directly revealed, others legitimately deduced from what has been revealed. But we need to
heed the wise caution of the Westminster Confession: The doctrine of this high mystery of
predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care... (111:8). Properly handled; it
humbles men and causes them to worship God in thankful awe and loving praise. Improperly
handled, men become proud or bitter against the sovereign God. Be careful.
2. Second, we are obliged to believe in predestination because it is in the Bible. It is true
whether we understand it or not (and nobody fully understands it). It is true whether we want it
to be true or not. He who rejects it tampers with divine truth and imperils himself, while the one
who accepts it wins many blessings. Believe it, and give God the glory.

Recqmmended Reading
Clark, Gordon. Predestination. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.
Boettner, Loraine. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Phi 11ipsburg: Presbyterian and
Reformed.
Zanchius, Jerome. Absolute Predestination. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. (This short work
by the 16th-century theologian was translated and edited by A.M. Toplady, who added
comments of his own. It can be found in The Works of Augustus Montague Toplady,
Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications.)
Packer, J.I. The Plan of God. Choteau: Gospel Mission.
Gerstner, John. A Predestination Primer. Winona Lake: Alpha Publications.
Calvin, John. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God. Greenwood: Attic Press. (Calvins
major treatment of the subject)
Calvin, John. Calvins Calvinism. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. (Contains 2 treatises by
Calvin: The Eternal Predestination of God [above] and The Secret Providence of God)
Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, and
Philadelphia: Westminster Press. (Book III, chapters xxi-xxiv cover predestination)
Basinger, David and Randall, eds. Predestination and Free Will. Downers Grove:
Inter-Varsity Press. (A symposium of 4 viewpoints. 3 are variations of Arminianism, and the one
by a Calvinist (John Feinberg) is somewhat modified.)
Machen, J. Gresham. The Christian View of Man. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Warfield, Benjamin. Predestination, in Biblical and Theological Studies, pp. 270-333.
Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed.
Pink, A.W. The Sovereignty of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, and Carlisle: Banner of
Truth (abridged).

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Chapter 27. Foreknowledge.


1. Introduction.
A. Does something happen because God foreordained it to happen, or did God foreordain it to
happen because He foresaw that it would happen? What is the relationship between
foreordination, foreknowledge and actual events?
B. In this study we will examine the subject of divine foreknowledge. In the last study we looked
at predestination (foreordination), and noted that the word is used in two ways (predetermination
of all things, and then the arrangement of details after God makes a choice, specifically in
election). The same is true with foreknowledge. It has two uses: pre-love election and
omniscience of the future. In this study we will examine the latter.

2. The Omniscience of God.


A. The Bible expressly and repeated teaches the omniscience of God. It may be defined as
that perfection of God whereby He, in an entirely unique manner, knows Himself and all things
possible and actual in one eternal and most simple act (Louis Berkhof). Observe what the Bible
itself says. The Lord is a God of knowledge (I Sam. 2:3). Job describes Him as perfect in
knowledge (Job 37:16). I John 3:20 says, God...knows all things. Christs disciples confessed
to Him, You know all things (John 16:30, 21:17). .
B. In John 2:24-25, we are told that Jesus knows all men and knows what is in all men. God
knows all the thoughts (I Chron. 28:9, Jer. 17:10, Heb. 4:13) and secrets (Psa. 90:8) of men. I
know the things that come into your mind, every one of them (Ezek. 11:5). What could be more
secret than human thoughts? If God knows them all, then He knows everything. David realized
this in Psa. 139:1-6 and confessed, Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.
C. But the best text is Psa. 147:5, Great is the Lord and abundant strength. His understanding
is infinite. Literally, the Hebrew means without number. God knows everything.
D. Theres more. Several texts tells us that God not only knows everything about everything
that is, but He also knows everything that could be but is not. He knows all possibilities, most of
which will never be actualized. Jesus told what would have happened had Sodom and
Gomorrah had heard the Gospel and seen His miracles (Matt. 11:21-23). Isa. 48:18, 2 Kings
13:19 and other texts, also say that God knows what could have happened had certain circumstances been different. Therefore, God knows all that could be but wont be.
E. God knows all details. God knows all things exactly as they are. He knows them in all their
relationships. And He knows them immediately, or intuitively. He does not have to do research,
nor does He require proof. God knows.

3. Absolute Foreknowledge.
A. Now God never changes. If, then, He now knows all things, then He has always known all
things. It is wonderful to say that God knows everything now; it is even more wonderful to say
that He knew everything before they existed; it iswonderful to the point of awesomeness to say

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that He has always known everything.


B. This, in essence, is what we mean by the term foreknowledge. Sometimes scholars use the
terms prescience and foresight as synonyms for foreknowledge. They all mean that God has
absolute knowledge of all things before they exist. Again, hear what the Scriptures say. God
knows our needs before we pray (Matt. 6:8).
Jesus knew from the beginning (eternity - John 1:1) who would not believe in Him and who
would betray Him (John 6:64). Even Christs own crucifixion was eternally foreknown by God (I
Pet. 1:20).
C. God knows all things with total certainty. He cannot doubt, nor be ignorant. God cannot but
know all things as certain, otherwise He would not be perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16).
Gordon Clark comments, If Gods foreknowledge were not eternal, then he must have learned
something at some time. And if he learned it, he must have previously been ignorant of it. And if
he had been ignorant and learned something, why could he not forget some things after awhile?
However, God neither learns nor forgets.
D. The crux of the matter is certainty. Absolute foreknowledge implies inevitability, and
inevitability implies certainty. Certain knowledge requires certain facts. Certain foreknowledge
requires that the things foreknown will certainly occur.
E. Look at Isa. 46:10. The Lord points out that He is unique, declaring the end from the
beginning.. He declares because He knows. Since He declares all things from the beginning
(eternity), then it follows that He foreknows all things from eternity. Acts 15:18 teaches this as
well. It can be translated Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world
(KJV) or says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old(NASB). Either way, it tells
us that God knew things from eternity.

4. Foreknowledge and Foreordination.


A. But back to our original question. Does God foreordain something because He foresees that
it will happen, or does He foresee it happening because He has foreordained it to happen?
What is the logical relationship between divine foreordination and foreknowledge? Having
established that (1) God has foreordained all things from eternity, and (2) God has foreknown all
things from eternity, the question is which logically precedes which.
B. The answer is that foreordination logically precedes foreknowledge. Notice the order of Acts
2:23, this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. The
Westminster Confession gives the Reformed explanation: Although God knows whatsoever
may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed any thing
because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions
(111:2).
C. Omniscience of the future is definite, not contingent. It is unconditional, not conditional, for
God is sovereign. As we said, absolute foreknowledge requires that a things shall certainly
occur. But what gives it that absolute certainty of existence? Itself? If that were the case, then it
would be uncaused by God. But God is the ultimate cause of all things. Therefore, it must be
caused by God to be absolutely foreseen. If God foreordained on the basis of foresight of that
which He did not foreordain, then God foreordains on the basis of the counsel of another. But
Scripture says He foreordains on the basis of His own counsel, not anothers.
D. We are often told that we must submit all our plans of the future to God. We must says such-

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and-such will happen if the Lord wills (James 4:13-15). But God does not have to submit His
plans to another. He foresees things because He foreordains them, and He foreordains them
according to His own will.
E. Now if foreknowledge of a certain event preceded foreordination, then we have the
unthinkable situation of the creation dictating to the Creator. If God merely foresaw something
as definite and certain, could He do anything but foreordain it?
F. You will note that I have often said that this is a logical order. This is said after the manner
of men. It is a logical order, not a chronological order, for we are dealing with eternity. God
knows all things at once, in an instant. Even so, there is a relation between foreordination and
foreknowledge Both are absolute and eternal. But there is a sense in which foreordination
logically precedes foreknowledge. He foreknows because He foreordains, not vice-versa. This is
the whole crux of the matter.

5. Eternity.
A. Obviously, much of the difficulty arises from our inability to grasp the concept of eternity.
Now we cannot do a full study of eternity here, but a few salient points are in order.
B. First, there is a sense in which it is correct to deny that God knows something before it
happens. What is that sense? Simply this: God is not before something in time in the way in
which we are. He is before all-time itself, through all time, and even above it. God inhabits
eternity(Isa. 57:17, KJV). He is the great I AM who lives at once in the past, present and
future. Jesus said, Before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58). Note that He did not say I was,
but I AM.
C. God fills all time, but is not limited to it. God fills all space, but is also infinitely outside of
space. The same is true with time. God fills all time at once, but also is eternally outside of time,
this is like a submerged cup - the water completely fills the cup, but the water also completely
surrounds the cup. It gets back to the fact that space and time themselves are created by God.
D. So, then, when Scripture says that God knew something before it happened, that is true. It
is said after the manner of men to make a point and so that we can begin to grasp it. Calvin
explained foreknowledge in this way: When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that
all things were, and perpetually remain, under his eyes, so that to his knowledge there is
nothing future or past, but all things are present.

6. Foreknowledge and Prophecy.


A. Absolute foreknowledge is further illustrated in the area of prophecy. Now there are two
types of prophecy in Scripture. First, there are conditional prophecies, as it were. Generally the
conditions are mentioned by way of warning. For example, God through Jonah said that
Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days. The implied condition is repentance. When they
repented, God forestalled the punishment (it later came). But then, back of this is Gods
foreordination and providential gift of repentance.
B. The second type is more prevalent. It is absolute prophecy. Phrases like The thing shall
surely come to pass (I Kings 13:32) are often found in this context. And after the prophesied
event, we sometimes find expressions such as And it came to pass according to the Word of
the Lord. Matthew especially records that such-and-such a thing came to pass in fulfillment of

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prophecy.
C. God is neither a weatherman nor a gambler. He doesnt predict on a percentage basis of
probability, but prophesies on the basis of certain foreknowledge. Prophecy implies certainty of
occurrence and inevitability. This all gets back to divine foreordination and the Godness of
God. For example, Scripture frequently attaches a certain phrase to an absolute prophecy,
namely And then you shall know that I am the Lord. Fulfilled prophecy proves absolute
foreknowledge. This is a major theme of Isa.41-48. For example, Isa. 48:3, I declared the
former things long ago. That He prophesied perfectly proves He is God. See 41:22-23, 26;
42:9; 43:12-13; 44:7-8; 45:21; 46:10; 48:5-6.
D. Incidently, this tells us at once that Satan has neither omniscience nor absolute
foreknowledge. At best, he knows more than we do, and he knows his days are numbered (Rev.
12:12). He knows because it has been prophesied.
And if Satan does not have absolute foreknowledge of himself, neither can we. That is why we
must say, if the Lord wills, except in those areas where God has revealed in Scripture that
certain things will occur, such as the Second Coming. But He has not disclosed to us the exact
time.
E. In John 13:19, Jesus said, I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does
occur, you may believe that I am he. (So also in 14:19) The Greek reads, that I AM. Thus,
fulfillment of prophecy proves His deity. This demands faith. Therefore, those who deny that
God has absolute foreknowledge reveal their lack of faith in the real God. To deny absolute
foreknowledge is to say that God is not God. Those who make such denials would do well to
read Isaiah.

7. How Does God Know?


A. Both Reformed and Catholic theology that follows Aquinas accept that there are two kinds of
knowledge in God. First, there is Necessary Knowledge. This has two parts to it. In the first part,
God knows everything about Himself (2 Cor.2: 11). He is perfectly and infinitely self-conscious.
He knows Himself uniquely and primarily.
B. In the second part, which some think is a second division of knowledge in God, God knows
all possibilities of things outside of Himself. He has perfect knowledge of all theoretical
possibilities. He knows them directly from His own perfect mind. These possibilities are, as
such, still possibilities and He necessarily knows them all.
C. The second kind of knowledge in God is Free Knowledge. Out of the vast storehouse of
possibilities, God has foreordained that some will become actual. Only God can actualize a
thing; nothing actualizes itself anymore than something can come out of nothing, by itself. So,
then, God knows all that can happen, then foreordains some of them to occur, then foreknows
them as certainly occurring. Charles Hodge put it like this: Being the cause of all things, God
knows everything by knowing himself; all things possible, by the knowledge of his power; and all
things actual, but the knowledge of his own purpose.

8. The Theory of Middle Knowledge.


A. Now it is precisely at this point that sinful men begin to carp loudest. So they have invented
several theories to escape the Bible teaching that absolute foreordination precedes absolute

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foreknowledge. Perhaps the most popular is the theory of Middle Knowledge (Scientia Media),
or Mediate Knowledge. Its roots go back to ancient Greek philosophy, but it was more precisely
formulated in the 16th-century by certain Jesuit theologians, especially Luis Molina. They came
up with theory to oppose the prevalent theory of the Dominicans (such as Aquinas), whom they
envied; and to counter the Reformation, which taught absolute foreordination and
foreknowledge. Later, the theory became accepted-by many Lutherans and almost all
Arminians.
B. The theory says that Middle Knowledge is between Necessary Knowledge and Free
Knowledge. Basically, it says that God foreknows because He foresees the free and unimpeded
acts of men. This assumes that for men to be moral and responsible beings, there can be no
divine interference. Richard Muller gives the following definition: Middle knowledge is a
conditional and consequent knowledge of future contingents by which God knows of an event
because of its occurrence... Such events are outside of the divine willing.
C. The theory has been rejected by all orthodox Calvinists. Louis Berkhof wrote, It is
objectionable, because it makes the divine knowledge dependent on the choice of man, virtually
annuls the certainly of the knowledge of future events, and thus implicitly denies the
omniscience of God. Middle Knowledge contradicts both absolute foreordination and absolute
foreknowledge.

9. Various Theories of Limited Omniscience and Foreknowledge.


A. Jerome said that it was absurd to lower the divine majesty by asserting that God knows how
many mosquitoes are born each single moment and how many die; how many bugs, fleas and
flies there are in the world; how many fishes swim in the water, and how many of the smaller
ones should constitute a meal for the bigger ones. But Jerome sounds too much like worldly
skeptics and drunken atheists. Scripture often says that God knows all about and cares for all
the animals (Psa. 36:6, 50:11, 104:27, Matt. 6:26, 10:29, etc.).
B. Aristotle, Cicero, Marcion, Origen and others denied omniscient foreknowledge because
they could not harmonize it with free will. They assumed that human responsibility means that
God cannot interfere. Later, the Socinianism said that God knows all that is knowable, but
human acts are not knowable in advance because they are by nature neutrally decided and
totally free. The decision of free will cannot be predicted with total accuracy by anyone,
including God. But, as we showed earlier, Scripture expressly and repeatedly says that God
knows with perfect knowledge all things that will ever come to pass.
C. Then there is Process Theology. This heretical theology more or less began with the
philosopher Alfred North Whitehead and has been developed by the pseudo-theologian Charles
Hartshorne. Process Theology denies absolute foreknowledge because it denies absolute
omniscience. This theory says that God is in the process of growing and developing. He is
ever learning. Otherwise, He would be stagnant. Absolute omniscience would be cosmic
stagnation. And who knows what will happen next? This silly theory hardly requires refutation.
The truth is that God is perfect in knowledge, perfectly perfect in all He is. And being perfect, He
does not change - no process.
D. Then there are several varieties of Arminian theories which deny absolute foreknowledge,
Most of them are but variations of Middle Knowledge. One of them is semi-Socinian. It posits
that God knows all things. But the future is not a thing. Therefore God does not know it. He can,
however, make increasingly accurate predictions because new things are happening everyday
to add information, which increases probability. The more moderate exponents of this nonsense

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say that God foreknows the future with virtual but not actual certainty. In other words, very good
foreknowledge, but not perfect and absolute. There is still a sliver of a chance that something
else will happen. The more extreme exponents revel in the supposed adventure of blind foreignorance.
E. A more popular Arminian theory is growing in Evangelical ranks, namely the theory of an
Open God. A Seventh-Day Adventist named Richard Rice has published a little book entitled
The Openness of God; in the second edition, it has been retiteld as Gods Foreknowledge and
Mans Free will. 8 of the .9 chapters have the terms open or openness in their titles. Rice and
his followers capitalize on the unsavory connotations of the term closed. And we certainly dont
want a God that has a closed mind! No, he says, God has an open mind. In fact, this leads
directly into Process Theology, for it implies that God also has an open nature. This in turn is
related to the Barthian heresy which distorts the independence of God, so that God is free to
become His opposite. But can. The Lord ever become imperfect in knowledge?
F. And then there is yet another heresy of limited foreknowledge. An example is a chapter by
Clark Pinnock in the volume of 4 essays entitled Predestination and Free Hill. The title of
Pinnock's essay tells it all: God Limits His Knowledge. There is supposedly something
wonderful and glorious about the idea of God playing cosmic peek-a-boo, sometimes choosing
not to know some things and sometimes choosing to know other things. Pinnock slightly differs
from the theory of Middle Knowledge by suggesting that Gods foreknowledge is
Limited by Himself, not by anything external to Himself. But Pinnock betrays frequent similarities
to Process Theology, even by his own admission. But no heresy is really new. There was a
philosophic form of this theory long ago. Charles Hodge dismissed it with a cogent rebuttal: But
this is to suppose that God wills not to be God; that the Infinite wills to be finite.
G. Lastly* there is a Barthian theory that runs like this. Jesus didnt know the day of His return
(Matt. 24:36). Therefore He was not omniscient nor did He have absolute foreknowledge.
Moreover, God is exactly what Jesus is. Therefore, God Himself does not know the future as
such. Now this theory totally contradicts itself, as well as the very Scripture it quotes. Matt.
24:36 says that only the Father knows. Therefore the Father has absolute omniscience and
foreknowledge. What about the Son? In His humanity - which by nature is finite - Jesus was not
omniscient. He had to grow in knowledge and wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52). Yet in His divine nature,
Jesus knew all things (John 2:24-25, 6:64, 16:30, 21:17, etc.).

10. Conclusion.
A. Does it matter? Isnt the whole question rather irrelevant? Arent we being nitpicking to even
consider the question? Isnt it like the old medieval debate about how many angels can dance
on the head of a pin? The Calvinist answer is blunt and emphatic: No! It is not an irrelevant
matter. It is not a trivial question which lazy theologians discuss. It does matter. Whether God
foreordains on the basis of foreknowledge or foreknows on the basis of foreordination is of great
importance The slightest variation from the truth has great ramifications on other areas of
theology, and eventually enormous implications on man and life.
B. The conclusion: If this is not true, then God is not God. But it is true, for the Lord is God.

Recommended Reading

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Bavinek, Herman. The Doctrine of God. Pp. 183-199. Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Charnock, Stephen. The Existence and Attributes of God. 2 vols. Chapters on the eternity and
knowledge of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Clark, Gordon. Predestination. Pp. 31-46. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Morey, Robert. Battle of the Gods. Southbridge: Crown Publishing co. (Excellent refutation of
Process Theology, Pinnock, Rice and other pseudo-Evangelical denials of absolute
foreknowledge. By a strong 5-point Calvinist.)
Helm, Paul. Eternal God: A Study of God Without Time. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Helm
teaches philosophy at the University of Liverpool and is contributing editor to the Banner of
Truth. This is a philosophic study with good conclusions. Several chapters discuss the question
of foreknowledge and foreordination.)
Boettner, Loraine. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Pp. 42-46. Phi Hipsburg:
Presbyterian &. Reformed. (A brief summary of the issue.)
Warfield, Benjamin B. The Foresight of Jesus. Biblical and Theological Studies, pp. 169-195.
Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed.
Basinger, David and Randall, eds. Predestination and Free Will. 4 essays: God
Ordains All Things (John Feinberg, Reformed), God Knows All Things (Norman
Geisler), God Limits His Power (Bruce Reichenbach), and God Limits His Knowledge (Clark
Pinnock). Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press.
Craig, William Lane. The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from
Aristotle to Suarez. Leiden: E.J. Brill. Craig elsewhere accepts Molinas Middle Knowledge in
The Only Wise God, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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Chapter 28. Objections to Predestination.


Introduction
Over the centuries, there have been many objections to the Reformed doctrine of absolute
predestination. Some concentrate on human responsibility, others on election. We will look at
those later. At this juncture, however, it is appropriate that we briefly mention several of the
objections to the doctrine of absolute foreordination as such. The main alternative theories will
also be mentioned.

1. Absolute predestination is fatalism.


A. This objection has come from two quarters. First, there are those who agree that the Bible
teaches predestination. The trouble is, they do not believe the Bible. To them, Christianity is
fatalism. Second, there are those Christians who deny that predestination is taught in the Bible.
Since they equate predestination with fatalism, and reject fatalism, they naturally deny
predestination. There are few who equate the two concepts and accept them on the basis of the
word of God.
B. Now we contend that Calvinism is Christianity. The Calvinist doctrine is the Christian
doctrine. The Bible teaches absolute predestination, but it does not teach Fatalism.
Predestination is not Fate or Kismet. We sing the glories of foreordination, not the apathetic
refrain: Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. Tomorrows not ours to see. Que sera, sera.
C. But, someone asks, is not the word fate found in the Bible (e.g., Eccl.2: 14-15, 3:19; 9:2-3,
NASB)? Yes, it is. But the word there is not blind fate. The word simply means something that
happens, an event, specifically an event in the future, destiny, destination. Note that Solomon
was speaking of death. Death is a fate which awaits all men. That is not philosophical
Fatalism. It is merely facing reality. Death itself has been foreordained (Heb.9: 27).
D. Philosophical Fatalism is the theory of materialistic absolutism. In other words, Fate is
something impersonal because the universe is impersonal material. All there is is the set pattern
of atoms in motion. One of the more well known forms of is astrology. Stoicism also taught
philosophical Fatalism. In that system, God gradually became identified with Nature
(pantheism), Natural Law, Providence and Fate. But, as we saw in the second in this series,
Calvinism is not Stoicism. Calvin was a scholar of Stoicism, but he was no Stoic. He himself
comments on the matter:
Fate is a term given by the Stoics to their doctrine of necessity, which they had formed out of a
labyrinth of contradictory reasoning; a doctrine calculated to call God Himself to order, and to
set Him laws whereby to work. Predestination I define to be, according to the Holy Scriptures,
that free and unfettered counsel of God by which He rules all mankind, and all men and things,
and also all parts and particles of the world by His infinite wisdom and incomprehensible
justice... Had you but been willing to look into my books, you would have been convinced at
once how offensive to me is the profane term fate. (Calvins Calvinism, pp. 261-262).
E. Fatalism, then, omits God. It either equates Him with the universe (pantheism) or denies Him
altogether (atheism). It certainly does not allow for an infinite-personal God. One hears the term
blind fate. But predestination is not blind; God sees. He foresees and foreordains. Loraine
Boettner gives this observation: There is, in reality, only one point of agreement between the

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two, which is, that both assume the absolute certainty of all future events. The essential
difference between them is that Fatalism has no place for a personal God.
F. Boettner goes on to specify other differences. Fatalism is unintelligent and non-moral, no
different from physical necessity. Predestination, however, is the work of the only wise God and
implies morality. Fatalism denies final causes - only an infinite regress of causes. Predestination
says God is the First Cause. Fatalism denies human responsibility; predestination provides it.
Fatalism leads to skepticism, predestination leads to hope.
G. The very word fatalism implies gloom, doom and despair. The Stoics said that the proper
response is APATHEIA (apathy). Fatalism is fatalistic and fatal. It can only be pessimistic.
Predestination, rightly understood, is the opposite. It alone gives hope and optimism, knowing
that God is not only the First Cause but the Last End. Only when a Christian mistakes the two
does he become apathetic. Predestination is invigorating.
H. Lastly, philosophical Fatalism says that this is the only universe that could exist. We
disagree. God could have created things differently. Out of the vast realm of possibilities, God
chose some to become actual. This is not due to a higher law of Fate or Necessity, for there is
nothing higher than God. Nor did anything outside of God force Him to ordain things like this.
God simply consulted with Himself and did as He pleased. Foreordination is not Fate, and
Calvinism is not Fatalism. Fate is not God, God is God.

2. Things just are.


A. This second objection says: God did not foreordain things to be like this. Man did not selfordain things. Things just are. The 18th-century Deists often argued like this. Some of them
gave it a name: The Moral Nature and Fitness of Things. In other words, even God Himself is
under this higher law. God did not absolutely foreordain whatever He pleased; He simply went
along with what would and must happen anyway.
B. But this too is wrong. It doesnt properly answer the question, Why are things the way they
are? To say Things just are is to deify these things. By things, they usually mean the
components of the universe. In that case, they have deified the creation and placed it over the
Creator (cf. Romans 1). Things are not self-existent, as this objection necessarily implies.
They are the way they are because God made them that way. It is no surprise that Deists
usually degenerated into atheism.
C. We need to keep reminding ourselves of the fundamental question, Why? The only Biblical
answer is, God. Why are things like this? Because God foreordained them to be this way. Why
did He so foreordain? Because He chose to. Why did He so choose? Because He is God. End
of argument. God is God.

3. The idea of absolute predestination renders history meaningless.


A. This argument suggests that predestination makes history just a shadow or dream; eternity
is the true reality. These critics often add that the Reformed view is too Greek, not Hebrew, It is
Platonism, not Christianity. Calvinism borrows Platos eternal Ideas and calls them decrees.
B. Clark Pinnock is one who argues in this way. He sums up his position:
What we detect in this story [Genesis] is not some dark predestinarian decree operating behind

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the scenes making sure everything works out right. What we do encounter is the freedom of
God to respond, positively and negatively to mans freedom. God weaves into his plan for
history the significant choices that we make. History is not a computer printout of programmed
decisions set long before by an all-determing Deity. It is much more like a dialogue between the
Father and his human respondents..
C. Pinnock bases all this on human intuition, not Scripture. He explicitly says that men have an
innate sense that their acts are free. But, he adds, predestination would nullify this freedom. So
instead of re-evaluating this innate sense, he jettisons predestination. Pinnock so stresses the
freedom of man to change history that he actually calls him a godlike creature.
D. Now, we Calvinists take a different approach - the Biblical approach. We appeal to the Word
of God, not a supposed innate sense in Man. Man can sin and in sin wishes to overthrow
divine sovereignty. First, we deny that predestination renders history meaningless. Quite the
opposite! Without absolute and eternal predestination, history would be meaningless. Pinnocks
idea of history more resembles a car with neither driver nor map. But we say God is the driver
(not Man) and predestination is His map. There can be no meaning in history if there was not
meaning before history. Predestination gives history meaning, for history is Gods working out of
predestination.
E. Further, we did not get this idea from the Greeks, but from the Bible. Actually, Pinnocks
notion of history more closely resembles the Epicurean idea of chance history than it does the
Biblical teaching. Moreover, he mentions the wrong book in his argument. Genesis itself
teaches the absolute sovereignty of God in history (e.g., 1:1, 20:6, 45:5, 7, 50:20).
F. Predestination alone gives history meaning. It guarantees that it had a definite start and will
have a definite end - both the source and goal of history is God, not man. Pinnock reveals his
underlying presupposition, namely, his godlike man. We grant that Man is made in Gods
image, but in raising Man to semi-divinity, Pinnock thereby lowers God to being merely a big
Man. But Man is Man, and God is God. The problem is not of rendering history meaningless, but
of rendering eternity meaningless.

4. Predestination is linear, but the universe is a cycle.


A. This unusual objection denies predestination by appealing to Eastern cosmology. The same
idea is found in Buddhism and the New Age Movement. It says that all that is now has always
been at some time in the past. Nothing is new. We live in an ever reincarnating recycled
universe. Occasionally we become aware of this through Deja Vu.
B. But this is pagan, not Biblical. It misunderstands both history and eternity. Eternity to God is
an eternal now. History may, repeat itself in certain general patterns (e.g., Eccl. 1:4-11), but the
Bible does not teach personal reincarnation nor cosmological recycling. History is a line, not a
circle. And God is both outside and inside the line of history. In the end, this argument is based
on the error that God Himself is the universe (pantheism).

5. God limits His sovereignty.


A. An example of this argument is Bruce Reichenbachs essay God Limits His Power in the
volume entitled Predestination and Free Will. Reichenbach says absolute predestination makes
God a novelist and history a novel. He denies that God is a novelist at all. Moreover, he denies

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that God is omniscient: Though he knows all truths, including truths about what free persons
choose, he does not know what free persons would choose were conditions different from what
they are or about the choice which would be made by possible but never-existing individuals.
B. Then he rejects absolute omnipotence as well: He does not purpose or dispose everything
that happens,.. This means, of course, that at times his plans and purposes are thwarted... Even
Gods ultimate purpose that all persons will acknowledge him as Lord seems to be unrealized.
C. At root, his presupposition is that God cannot be totally sovereign and create a totally free
being. Sovereignty and responsibility are not compatible, so sovereignty must be limited for Man
to be free.
D. We disagree. The theory has only a grain of truth in it. We agree that God does not do all
that He can do. He does not actualize all possibilities. But lets not call that self-limiting
sovereignty, for it is still God that chooses what to do and what not to do. God must remain
Lord over all or He is not Lord at all.
E. Further, someone rightly said that history is simply His story. God is something of a
novelist, as it were. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows how history will end,
something which Reichenbach denies. Moreover, Scripture teaches that God knows j-11
possible variations - He knows what would have happened in all possible settings, contrary to
Reichenbachs theory (see Matt. 11:21, 23). As for limited omnipotence, the objector needs to
read Job 42:2, I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be
thwarted - the polar opposite of Reichenbachs own words. And as for his notion that Gods
plan to be acknowledged as Lord by all creatures will be foiled, Scripture says that every knee
will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord - and this includes unrepentant sinners
in Hell (Phil. 2:10-11, Rom. 14:11, Isa. 45:23).
F. The presupposition of the objection is faulty. It assumes that God cannot be sovereign and
create a responsible creature. Rather than accepting the glorious paradox of sovereignty and
responsibility, or seeing that men can only be responsible because God is sovereign,
Reichenbach denies Gods sovereignty. Like Pinnock, he does this to lift Man higher. But the
result is another demi-god, a god-dog on the leash of Mans free will. It denies that God is
God. But notwithstanding such nonsense, God is God.

6. God changes His mind, therefore predestination is not unalterable.


A. This objection points to the Bible passages where God is said to repent(Gen. 6:6-7, Ex.
32:14,Judges 2:18, I Sam. 15:11, 35, 2 Sam. 24:16, I Chron.21:15, Psa, 106:45, Jer. .26:19,
Joel 2:13, Amos 7:3, 6, Jonah 3:9-10, 4:2).Thus, if God changes His mind, then His mind has
not been eternally settled.
B. We answer as follows. In some places, repent means to grieve for. Gen.6:6-7 means
God was grieved because of Mans sin. In other places, the words are spoken after the
manner of Man. It appears that God changes His mind, but this only has to do with the
conditional outworking of the plan. In fact, the change in time was foreordained in eternity.
C. Scripture explicitly says that God is not a man that He should repent (e.g.,Num. 23:19, I
Sam. 15:29, Heb. 7:21). If God could, in fact, change His mind, then we have no assurance
whatsoever that He will not change it again. Would anyone want to suggest that God will
change His mind and throw Christians out of heaven, or reverse the terms of the Gospel so that
believers go to Hell and unbelievers go to Heaven, or that He will decide to put Christ back in
the tomb? Why not go all the way - why couldnt God decide to not exist? But all this is

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blasphemy. It gets back to confusing God with Man. God is not a man that He should change
His decree of predestination one iota. Why? God is God.

7. The universe is a game of cosmic chess between God and Satan.


A. This objection to absolute foreordination was popularized by Winkie Pratney in the early
1970 s in a little booklet on Cosmic Chess. Variations of it still float around in ultra-Arminian
groups, especially charismatic youth ministries like Youth With A Mission (YWAM). It runs like
this: History was not eternally foreordained. Rather, it is being ordained through a game of
cosmic chess between God and Satan. We men are the pawns, rooks, and other pieces. Now
the game has not ended, so our destiny isnt finalized yet. But rest assured, God will win, for He
is a better chess player than Satan. He knows more strategies and therefore can predict how it
will end. Satan will eventually make a mistake. Besides, God made the first move, and any
chess player knows that you can guarantee a win if you make the first move. (One version of
the theory says that it is not men but rather the things in the universe that are the pieces on
the board.) Pratney relies much on Job 1 and 2.
B. This is a dangerous theory as well as an unsuccessful objection to predestination. It more
resembles the Greek gods on Mt. Olympus, such as the Fates who play whimsical tricks on
Man. Worse, it closely resembles Cosmic Dualism, such as in Zoroastrianism, the Buddhist YinYang Mandala, and certain strains of Gnosticism. These all posit that there are two equal but
opposite forces in the universe, and this dynamic accounts for history. Pratneys Cosmic
Chess is close to Dualism or Bitheism. It is also a form of cosmic indeterminism, for neither
God nor Satan is said to have foreordained anything. Who knows but that God may make the
mistake and lose the game?
C. Furthermore, since when has God given Satan an equal say in the running of the universe?
Satan is still Gods Devil; he can only do what God allows him to do. Satan himself is a created
being subject to foreordination. Arthur W. Pink gets to the heart of the matter:
Who is regulating affairs on this earth today - God, or the Devil? ... That Satan is to be blamed
for much of the evil which is in the world, is freely affirmed by those who, though having much to
say about the responsibility of man, often deny their own responsibility, by attributing to the
Devil what, in fact, proceeds from their own hearts,
D. Those who like this theory are the same sort of person who says, The Devil made me do it.
But Satan cannot make us sin. Nor does God force us to sin. We can only blame ourselves. Job
1 and 2 does not deal with the eternal decrees, but with the providential outworking of them. If
other theories reduce God to Mans level and raise Man to Gods, this absurd theory would raise
Satan to Gods level and reduce God to Satans. But God is not a big Devil, God is God.

8. History is a battle between God and Satan.


A. This theory is a milder version of Cosmic Chess. It was popularized in the early 1970s by
Roger T. Forster and V. Paul Marston in their best-selling and very influential Gods Strategy in
Human History. The authors are two English charismatics who ministered at the time in south
London. Needless to say, the theory is extremely Arminian.
B. Instead of a chessboard, they propose a battlefield, which, after all, is amore Biblical picture.
God and Satan are at war for the souls of men. God will win because He is stronger and wiser.

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Satan will be overthrown) Gods people will be glorified. Unlike Cosmic Chess, Forster and
Marston say that humans are participants in the battle. When they weaken due to sin, God
strengthens them (even Pharaoh).
C. The end is not settled yet. The authors especially criticize Calvinism here: there are
Christians whose views amount to a belief that everything happens is Gods direct will and the
whole conflict is therefore a fake. Now they admit, somehow, that God already knows the
future. Oddly, they even admit that God is above time. But then they expectedly say that
foreknowledge precedes foreordination - God will win because He sees that He will win.
D. We reply that God has eternally foreordained all things in time, including the battle between
good and evil. We readily admit that Scripture speaks of a warlike this (Eph. 6, Rev. 12, etc.).
But it is a war whose outcome is settled. It was settled in eternity by the Lamb slain from before
the foundation of the world; this was confirmed in time when Christ died and disarmed
Satan(Col. 2, Rev. 12). This does not make history a fake. That suggests that God is a cheat.
That is blasphemy. God fights however He wishes to fight. He determined history for His own
pleasure.
E. Moreover, the theory even contradicts itself. If some sinners perish - as Forster and Marston
admit - then Satan has at least won a few battles in the war. He has taken a few of Gods
soldiers down with him (or in Cosmic Chess, he has won a few pawns). How then can it be said,
by their rules that God has won all the pieces? Predestination, on the other hand, says that
even those soldiers who end up in Hell were foreordained that way. Gods strategy will not be
thwarted in the least, for God is God.

9. Predestination leaves no place for chance.


A. The main rival to Stoicism was Epicureanism. One said all was fate, the other said all was
chance. See Acts 17:18. There are Epicureans with us still, who answer the great question
Why? with the answer, Chance. This underlies the theory of Evolution, for example. Chance
cosmology says that all is random. The universe is but a cacophony of atoms in motion.
Existentialists see the implications - if all is chance, there is no meaning, no morality, no hope.
This objection, then, would kill predestination and replace it with fortune, accidents,
coincidences, luck, and chance.
B. There are pseudo-Christian forms of this as well. They point to verses in the Bible that
mention chance and the like (I Sam. 6:9, Luke 10:31, Eccl. 9:11,
I Kings 22:34, 2 Sam. 1:6). They do not say that God foreordained chance, but rather God
Himself is under this higher law. But whether the objection is Epicurean or pseudo-Christian, it
says that predestination does not allow chance and therefore cannot be true.
C. In an odd way, we accept one of the premises, namely, that predestination and chance are
irreconcilable. Thats the whole point! There is no such thing as chance. There are no cosmic
accidents. All has been predetermined. Therefore, the Bible teaches Creation, not Evolution.
D. Nor is there even probability. Actually, even the strictest chance philosophers deny that
there can even be probability. Some, like Heisenberg, have attempted to prove that probability
is only an illusion. We go further. We might say Something will probably happen, because we
are not omniscient. But God never speaks of probabilities, only of certainties. They are certain
because of predestination.
E. As for the alleged occurrences of chance in Scripture, a careful study will reveal that these

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passages teach that such-and-such happened without human planning or foresight. They do not
teach cosmic chance. Actually, quite the opposite - in each case, we see the providential hand
of God working out His purpose.
F. Chance inevitably becomes superstition. Men believe in luck. But there is no such thing as
good luck or bad luck. There is no such person as Lady Luck. Nobody is naturally lucky (Mr.
Lucky, Lucky Luciano, etc.), nor do others have a perpetual case of bad luck. That is all
superstition. A Christian should not wish someone good luck. Better to pray for him or
encourage him in grace.
G. Read Pro. 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. God
has even predestined the throwing of dice. He controls all such games of chance, the flipping
of coins, the roulette table, card games, the wheel of fortune. In Jonah 1:7 and Acts 1:24-26 we
see how God controlled the throwing of dice to accomplish His pre-ordained purpose. J. Vernon
McGee used to say, Dont shoot craps with God. He plays with loaded dice. This does not
make Him a cheat. It makes Him sovereign.
H. Furthermore, this means that there is no such thing as a coincidence. What appears
coincidental to us is simply Gods temporal outworking of predestination. He foreordains all
means and ends, and He sees their relations even if we do not. Next time you see what appears
to be a chance coincidence, stop and. praise God for predestination and providence. And it is
no coincidence that you are reading these very words. God foreordained even that.
I. God does not allow chance a chance. As William Palmer, a 19th-century English Calvinist,
said: Nothing comes to pass by chance, for what is chance with man is choice with God.
Chance is not God. God is God.

10. Miscellaneous Cheap Objections.


A. Its not democratic. Who says it has to be? God is a king, not a president.
B. But my church doesnt teach predestination. Then your church needs to.
C. All the best preachers I know dont believe in predestination. Then they are not the best
preachers, for a good preacher will preach the Bible.
D. It wont preach. If it is in the Bible, then it can and must be preached. Read Acts 20:27.
E. Its not practical enough. The question should rather be, Is it true?, not Is it practical It is
true, and therefore has enormous practical implications.
F. Its too irrelevant. Then you need to re-order your priorities according. to the Bible. Rather
than being a trivial issue, it is a major one.
G. Its too dour and serious. Quite the opposite. Without predestination, we have no hope;
without hope, no joy. Predestination alone can bring true joy.
H. It sounds too deep and complicated. Then you need to study it more. It is too deep for
anyone to fully understand, but obvious enough for anyone to grasp. Its depth should inspire
awe, not abhorrence.
I. Well, nobody really knows the truth of these things. We can only guess. No, for the Bible is
Gods Word. God knows the truth and has told it to us.

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11. Conclusion.
A. These are only a few of the objections raised against absolute predestination. In later studies
we will interact with others that specifically deal with human responsibility and election.
B. The bottom line: there are many false theories, but only one truth. The truth is that God has
eternally, unconditionally and unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time.
Against all the puny efforts of Man to exalt himself and dethrone the Sovereign of the Universe,
Gods truth stands. Why? Because God is God.

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Chapter 29. The Providence of God.


1. Introduction.
A. Whos in charge? Who is directing the universe, or does it even have a direction at all?
Granted, God predestined the universe, but who is guiding it to the predestined goal? Once
started, does it direct itself?
B. Shortly after President Reagan was shot in 1981, there was confusion at the White House
over who was actually in charge. Vice President Bush was not there, nor had anyone been
sworn in. Secretary of State Alexander Hag, formerly the military leader of NATO, became
famous for his statement, As of this moment, I am in charge here. The point was, he was not
in charge, at least officially. Now that confusion occurs in the minds of many when considering
the subject of providence. When the sovereignty of God is minimized, there is a power grab
between men and men, and, between men and devils. But not to fear. The real ruler of the
universe has not been shot, nor has he abdicated. God reigns still.
C. Our text again is Rom. 11:36, From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. As with
all the studies in this series, this will not be exhaustive. Rather, it is a brief overview with
emphasis on the Reformed distinctives.

2. God Provides and Sustains the Universe.


A. Since God alone created the entire universe (Gen. 1:1), He alone sustains the entire
universe. The Creator takes care of His Creation. He provides what
it needs to keep going, and this providing is His providence. Heb. 1:3, He upholds all things by
the word of His power. One important aspect of His providence is His preservation. He provides
and preserves.
B. Now the universe is not self-sustaining. It certainly did not create itself. But there are those,
such as the Deists, who say that God is not now involved in His creation. They say that God is
an absent landlord. They like to use the analogy of a clock - God created the universe, wound it
up and doesnt interfere. Thats not what the Bible teaches. One Calvinist replied that every
clock needs periodic winding. God sustains the universe.
C. Now this sustenance even reaches to the very existence of things. Without Gods hand of
providence, things would cease to exist. He sustains and preserves all things by feeding their
existence. Some theologians suggest that this is continuous creation, but most Reformed
theologians say that creation is the first step, providence is the second, and still, the two are
inseparable.
D. Moreover, God keeps order in the universe. Col. 1:17, And in Him all things hold together.
Without divine providence, there would be no laws of physics. All would be helter skelter. Even
the atoms would burst, the electrons would cease to spin. God keeps the material universe
going. And He does it well.
E. He has a special interest in the animate universe. Acts 17:25, He Himself gives to all life
and breath and all things. Remember that Paul spoke those words to Epicureans (who said all
was chance) and Stoics (who said all was Fate). In Psa. 36:6, David prayed, 0 Lord, Thou
preservest Man and beast. And in Neh. 9:6, Thou dost give life to all of them. The key thing to

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note in these verses is that the verbs are in the present tense. Providence is now. God does
these things now in time. He feeds tne animals for the animal kingdom is Gods zoo, His
menagerie of pets (Matt.6:26, Psa.104:27, 147:9, Job 39).
F. There are several beautiful chapters in the Bible that extol Gods providence. Everyone
interested in the doctrine of providence should read Psa.. 104 and147. In those lovely psalms
we are told how God governs the waters, the animals, the mountains, the plants, the sun, the
moon, the stars, and even the weather.
G. Take the subject of weather. The Bible says that God sends rain (Matt. 5:45,Job 38:26-38).
He rains because He reigns. Too bad the weathermen dont acknowledge God. They would
rather say Mother Nature, who doesnt exist except in the idolatrous minds of Man. The old
Puritans would never say It is raining; they would say, God is sending rain. Even more
wonderful, God designed and operates the marvelous system known as evaporation, whereby
the waters of the earth rotate between land* sky and sea (Job 37:27-29, 37:11, Ecc. 1:7). God
even withholds rain (James 5:17-18).
H. Then take lightning and thunder. God controls those as well (Job 36:30-37:5, 11, 15). Now
parents often calm frightened children by telling them that the clouds are only talking to one
another, that the angels are bowling, or other such nonsense. Others give the simple scientific
explanation that there is an electric buildup that needs release. But the truly Christian parent will
go to the heart of the matter and explain that in the thunder God is speaking of His great power:
Its noise declares His presence... Listen closely to the thunder of His voice and the rumbling
that goes out from His mouth... He thunders with His majestic voice (Job 36:33, 37:2, 4). Is this
mere superstition? Quite the opposite. It is the great doctrine that Nature tells of the glory of
God (Rom. 1, Psa. 19).
I. And then we are told that God governs the clouds (Job 37:12-13) and sends ice and snow
(Job 37:6-10, 38:22, 29-30). Havent you ever wondered who sets the thermostat in Nature?
God does, thats who! He also sets the time and manner of the rising, and setting of the sun
(Matt. 5:45, Psa. 104:22, Job 38:12). There is nothing fortuitous whatsoever about the course of
Creation.

3. Nature.
A. God created Nature . Nature is simply the visible universe, the natural universe as opposed
to the supernatural universe. There is no Mother Nature, for that concept is the same as
Mother Earth and gets back to the pantheistic notion that all is God and God is female. But
God is not Nature, nor is God a female goddess. Christian parents should never speak of
Mother Nature except to ridicule the idea.
B. Now God created Nature and the Laws of Nature., He created mathematics, physics,
chemistry and all the laws involved in them. He created gravity, thermodynamics, quantum
physics, and all the rest. They do not exist as laws in and of themselves any more than the
things of the universe are self-existent. They exist only because God created them.
C. But that God created these Laws is profound. Creation has order. Why? Because things just
are? No. Creation has order because God is a God of order (I Cor.14:33, 40). In fact, the case
can be made that it was precisely this truth that gave rise to modern science from Isaac Newton
onwards. Before then, Nature was seen as chance or fate, or lack of second causes. That is
why the Greeks and Moslems and Hindus have not made the great scientific advances. The
Calvinistic doctrine of science teaches that there is a fixed order (Jer. 31:35) to things. God

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sets the limits and boundaries (Psa. 104:9, Acts 17:26). Only on this basis can the scientific
method truly work. Therefore, when scientists deny God, they end up worshipping chance, fate
or the Creation.

4. Causality and Concurrence.


A. God is the First Cause of all things in the universe. That is the doctrine of divine
foreordination. God is the Creator of all things in time. But in governing His universe, God uses
means. The First Cause uses Second Causes, and Third Causes, and so forth. The universe is
a vast network of means and ends, which in turn cause other things. Behind them all is God.
B. The Synod of Dort commented on this: The almighty operation of God, whereby he prolongs
and supports our natural life, does not exclude, but requires, the use of means, by which God of
his infinite mercy and goodness hath chosen to exert his influence. The Westminster
Confession, in its grand statement of foreordination, said, nor is the liberty or contingency of
second causes taken away, but rather established (111:1). But how?
C. God predestined and created things with a certain nature and order. God simply uses
these things according to the nature and order with which He endowed them. In other words,
He uses Second Causes according to their nature. What are these Second Causes? Simply the
things of Creation, the stuff of the universe - moral arid non-moral beings; animal, mineral and
vegetable; from the largest to the smallest.
D. Technically, they are not causes per se, but effects of the one Cause. But God has so
ordered things that everything affects everything else. This is the order of Nature. The Second
Causes are merely effects which in turn affect something else. They are means and
instruments. If you have ever played billiards or pool, you will see the point.
E. But this does not mean that God is simply a contributing cause. He is not co-cause, or cause
among other causes. This is why Herman Hoeksema did not like to speak of God as a cause,
for it implied that He was one of several. He is not even the greatest cause. God is First Cause
in a qualitatively different way than these Second Causes. Being First, He is the Uncaused
Cause; Second Causes are all caused by the First Cause.
F. Further, God is First Cause in predestination, but also in providence. This is where the
illustration of billiards needs clarification. In that illustration, the cue ball hits another ball, but
then it stops or moves elsewhere. The cue ball does not move through the other ball. However,
with God, something does keep moving. What is it? It is His power, comparable to the invisible
force or momentum that passes from ball to ball.
G. This is a difficult point to adequately convey. The Jesuits, Socinians and Arminians miss it
(or see it but reject it). They posit that God gives power to Man, who carries it on like a track
runners baton. Man carries on the government of the universe without divine intervention or cooperation, though some would go so far as to say God does in fact co-operate. This theory says
God provides (providence) but doesnt continue. Thus they would save the doctrine of
providence from determinism.
H Then there is the error of Islam. Islam has a strong doctrine of foreordination and creation, but
a perverted doctrine of providence. Islam virtually (if not actually) eliminates Second Causes.
Tis the will of Allah is comparable to the Stoic Whatever will be, will be. This in turn leads to
pantheism and Stoicisms perverted doctrine of providence. They eliminate Second Causes, for
if God is everything then there are no Second Causes. But the truth is that God is not the
universe. Technically, it is incorrect to say that God is in the universe - better to say that the

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universe is in God (Acts 17:28).


I. The great Calvinist theologians provide the correct explanation of how God the First Cause
governs things through Second Causes without becoming His creation or without becoming
separate from His creation. The solution is the doctrine of concurrence. Louis Berkhof wrote:
Concurrence may be defined as the cooperation of the divine power with all subordinate
powers, according to the pre-established laws of operation, causing them to act and to act
precisely as they do. He acts in, with and under the things of Nature.
J. But concurrence does not mean that God is acted upon. God acts, Man reacts. Though after
the manner of Man it can be said that God reacts to Man, ultimately God first acts. Even in
providence, God acts. Even when He cooperates and concurs, He is the one who acts. When
we say He concurs, we do not at all mean that He simply goes along with things. Lastly, this
concurrence is simultaneous. There is no gap of time between God and providence and what
occurs. The difference is not of time but of logical priority. Providence logically precedes the
acts of created beings.

5. Ordinary Providence.
A. When we study Scripture, we learn that Gods providence falls into two categories: Ordinary
and Extraordinary. Ordinary Providence is simply Gods usual manner of governing the world.
This specifically has to do with the Laws of Nature.
B. God governs the universe. He is at work (Rom. 8:28). Eph. 1:11 says, who works all things
after the counsel of His own will. Note again the present tense. In John 5:17, Jesus said, My
Father is working until now, and I am working. God rested on the seventh day, not to stop
working but to stop creating. From then on He continued working as governor of the universe.
C. Now I want you to see how providence involves several of the divine attributes in an
amazing way. First, God is omnipotent. He can do whatever He wants to do. But He is also
panourgic (Greek PAN = all, ERGOS = work). God does not do all He is capable of doing, but
whatever occurs is because God is working. God works in all things.
D. Second, God is omniscient. God knows all things possible and actual. But He is not a mere
omniscient spectator - He is an omniscient participant. Earlier we showed that God foreknows
because He foreordains, so far as eternity goes. In time, the same principle occurs - God knows
all things because He works all things.
E. Third, God is omnipresent. God is everywhere. He is high above creation (thats what we call
the transcendence of God), but He is also near to creation (thats what we call the immanence
of God). Acts 17:27, He is not far from each one of us. Again, that was spoken to the Stoics
and Epicureans. Paul corrected the Stoics whose idea of providence was that God is everything
and the Epicurean error that God was somehow apart from everything and separated through
the medium of chance. God is near, and being near He works. He is near to everything and He
works in everything.
F. So, God governs in the universe. Psa. 147:15, He sends forth His command to the earth and the earth always obeys. Psa. 103:19, His sovereignty rules over all. Again, note the
present tense. He governs in the small things as well as the large things, from the revolving of
galaxies to the revolving of electrons around the nuclei of the atoms. There are no coincidences
in Nature, for God even controls the roll of dice (Pro. 16:33).
G. Again we can divide providence into General and Special. In general providence, God

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governs all things and people. God says that He governs all the nations (Job 12:23, Psa. 22:28,
66:7). But He has a special providential care for His people (Psa. 121:3, Rom. 8:28). And it is
God who decides who will be in which of these categories. God providentially raises one up and
brings another down (Psa. 75:7, I Sam. 2:7, Dan. 2:2.1, Luke 1:52).
H. Though all this is within the realm of Ordinary Providence, this does not mean that all
ordinary providences are equally common. Some are more frequent than others. There are
others which are rare but still quite natural; no real miracle is involved. We sometimes will say of
such-and-such an event that it was providential. Actually, all things are providential. What we
mean is that it was an unusual providence. The world calls these miracles. For example, one
might say, It was a miracle that my brother went to church. No, thats not a miracle. It was
simply an infrequent providence. It would be a miracle if your brother flew to church using his
arms as wings.

6. Extraordinary Providence.
A. This brings us to the subject of miracles. We can only make a few brief comments. First,
Extraordinary Providence is the realm of miracles. It is the Supernatural, not the Natural. But it is
still providence. Extraordinary Providence is simply the unusual way in which God governs the
universe. By their very nature, miracles must be rare. It will not do, as sentimentalists do, to say
that everything is a miracle. If everything is extraordinary, then nothing is extraordinary.
B. In Extraordinary Providence, God suspends the Laws of Nature and does what only He can
do. Again, miracles are not just unlikely, they are impossible -to Man. Nor are miracles simply
the undiscovered rules of Nature as we know it. Rather, they contradict the Laws of Nature.
More precisely, they suspend Natural Laws.
C. Now this relates to our study of providence like this: in Extraordinary Providence, God does
not use Second Causes. He acts immediately, not mediately. A natural phenomenon may
accompany the miracle, but it is not the means. In a way, a miracle is a new creation. In
Extraordinary Providence, God interrupts the flow of Nature, He intervenes in the order of
things.
D. The Deists objected to this. They said it would make God an outlaw to break the Laws of
Nature. But then, these were usually the same Deists who said that God Himself is under, the
Moral Nature and Fitness of Things. No, this is not right. God made the Laws of Nature as his
Ordinary Providence, and it is His sovereign prerogative to act with or without them.
E. In the end, God expends no more effort or energy in Extraordinary Providence than He does
in Ordinary. God is no more tired after raising someone front the dead than He was giving Him
natural birth. But note this and note it well: only the Calvinist can logically and consistently
believe in miracles. For if Man governs providence, then Man can prevent miracles. But the
Calvinist recognizes that God governs in providence, and therefore in miracles.

7. Providence with a Purpose.


A. Providence has a purpose. Divine government has a divine goal. God has ordained
everything to occur at the right time for a purpose: There is an appointed time for everything,
and there is a time for every purpose under heaven(Ecc. 3:1, 17). This includes even death
(Heb. 9:27, Matt. 10:29). When men die, it simply brings them to their destiny.

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B. Through providence, Gods purpose is carried Out. Sometimes He does this by overruling
the sinful deeds of men (Gen. 41:32, 45:8, 50:20). Providence is simply the sovereignty of God
in the present tense, sovereignty in history. But providence always follows the blueprint of
predestination. Eph. 1:11, who works all things [providence] after the counsel of His own will
[predestination]. Note especially Rom. 8:28, God causes all things to work together for good to
those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. A nineteenth-century
Calvinist named William Tucker noted that predestination and providence imply each other. God
carries out predestination through providence, and providence is according to predestination.
Those that deny or weaken the one must deny or weaken the other. Rom. 8:28 is a comfort only
for the Calvinist, for only the Calvinist truly believes in the predestination and providence of
Gods purpose.

8. Conclusion.
A. Rom. 8:28 is but one of the practical applications and comforts of the doctrine of providence.
Another is what some of the old Puritans called reading providence. Whenever something
happens to you, try to read the providence. Why did it happen? Why didnt something else
happen? Is God closing a door? How should one react? This is especially useful in unusual but
non-miraculous providences. John Flavel wrote an excellent book entitled The Mystery of
Providence in which he discusses this and other uses of providence. One caution: Gods acts of
providences can only properly be read through the spectacles of Scripture. Dont interpret
providence by feelings or opinion, but by the principles and truths of the word of God.
B. Lastly, the Heidelberg Catechism (Q.28) gives a good summary of the benefits of holding to
a strong doctrine of providence:
What does it profit us to know that God has created and by His providence still upholds all
things? That we may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and for what is future have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from His love,
since all creatures are so in His hand that without His will they can not so much as move.
C. May each of us recognize in providence the loving hand of our sovereign Lord.

Recommended Reading
Flavel, John. The Mystery of Providence. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Also reprinted in
The Works of John Flavel, vol. 4; Carlisle: Banner of Truth.
Calvin, John. The Secret Providence of God, part 2 of Calvins Calvinism. Grand Rapids:
Kregel Publications.
Farley, Benjamin Wirt. The Providence of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Zwingli,
Ulrich. On Providence and Other Essays. Durham: Labyrinth Press. Berkouwer, G.C. The
Providence of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Spurgeon, C.H. Gods Providence. Sterling:
Reiner Publications/GAM. (pamphlet)
Reisinger, John. The Sovereignty of God in Providence. Southbridge: Crowne Publications,
(pamphlet)
Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion, I:XVI-XVII. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Heppe, Heinrich. Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 251-280. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Gill,

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John. Body of Divinity, pp. 277-304. Paris, AR: Baptist Standard Bearer. Morris, Henry M. The
Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Grand Rapids: Baker.

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Chapter 30. The Will of God.


1. Introduction.
A. In discussing the doctrines of grace (Calvinism), we need at this juncture to study a very fine
point of Reformed theology. It is so fine that many miss it, but so crucial that denying it has
enormous implications. Unless one grasps this point, he has only the shallowest understanding
of what Calvinism is all about.
B. The subject is the will, or wills, of God. How does the will of God relate to what we have said
so far regarding divine sovereignty? What does the Bible teach?

2. The Secret Will of God.


A. Deut. 29:29 is the key verse for our study: The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but
the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of
this Law. Under divine inspiration, Moses states that there are some things, which God has not
revealed but are a secret within God. In systematic theology we call this the Secret Will of God.
It is Gods eternal purpose, His foreordination of whatsoever comes to pass, His unconditional
predestination. It includes election and reprobation and all the decrees of God.
B. This secret will is secret in that God has not revealed to us all its details. He has not
explained to us everything of what and why He does what He does. This does not mean that it
is a total secret, for Moses tells us that there are secrets, and throughout Scripture we are told
briefly what some of them are. But we are not told all about them, nor are we told fully how they
relate to each other or to the things of time. For example, we are told that God unconditionally
chose certain people for Himself, but we are not told their names.
C. The great 17th-century theologian Francois Turretine explains: It is called a secret will, not
because always concealed from us and never revealed; for frequently God in His Word
manifests to men certain secrets of His counsel, and lays them bare by the event; but because
they remain hidden in God, until He reveals them by some sign, as by a prophecy, or by the
event.
D. It is of the greatest import that we understand that this Secret Will is always effectual. It is
never frustrated. Why? Because it has the force of divine omnipotence behind it. It is not The
Four Spiritual Laws plan that can be frustrated.

3. The Secret Will is Unconditional.


A. The reason why it cannot be frustrated is that it is unconditional on anything outside of God.
God Himself fulfills the conditions, though in various ways. The decrees of God are, in this
sense, unconditional. Now, it is granted that God foreordains means and ends which are
conditional so far as time is concerned, but in the eternal will of God the decrees are
unconditional.
B. If Gods decrees were conditional on anything outside of God, then to that extent those
external things would have control over God. But God is sovereign. Further, conditional

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decrees imply contingency, the possibility that the conditions may not be met. But Sods Secret
Will is certain and definite. Also, conditional decrees would depend on something in time, but
God is eternal - and nothing intimae can be the cause of anything in eternity. No, the whole idea
of conditional decrees is wrong. It confuses the Secret Will with something else, that which we
call The Revealed Will of God.

4. The Revealed Will of God.


A. Notice that the second half of Deut. 29:29 speaks of things that are revealed these tell us
what our duty is to God. The Revealed Will of God tells us what to do to be in conformity with
Gods holiness. I Thess. 4:3, For this is the will of God, your sanctification. Elsewhere Paul told
the Romans to prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Rom.12: 2). He is not listing 3 wills of God, as some think, but giving three qualities of the
Revealed Will of God.
B. The Lord Jesus called it the will of My Father (Matt. 7:21, 12:50, John 6:40),the will of Himwho sent Me (John 4:34, 6:39), and His will (John 7:17). In Gethsemane He submitted His
human will to the will of His Father when He cried, Not My will, but thy will be done (Matt.
26:39, 42).
C. Now the Revealed Will of God has two parts: the Law and the Gospel. The Law has two
main parts to it: the Moral Law for all men and the Ceremonial Law only for Israel. The Moral
Law is founded directly on divine holiness - Be ye holy, as I the Lord am holy (I Pet. 1:16). All
men have this Moral Law revealed to them in Nature and conscience (Rom. 1-2). It has been
verbally inscribed in the Bible, which is special revelation.
D. Question: Does God necessarily will things to be right or wrong, or does He will them freely?
Or, in other words, could God have willed things otherwise? Could He have forbidden what He
commands, or command what He forbids? This is an old question and it concerns the Revealed
Will of God.
E. First, all agree that some laws were temporary, such as the many ceremonies given to
Israel, which were valid only until Messiah came. The trouble was that most Israelites thought
these were eternally binding, and so persecuted Christ and His, Apostles, especially Paul. Now
there was certain arbitrariness to the ceremonial laws. God could have made beef, not pork, an
unclean food. He could have required ears to be pierced instead of circumcision. In the new
dispensation, God could have commanded something different than water baptism. That these
are only temporary tell us that they are founded on divine holiness in an indirect way. They
were, therefore, willed freely.
F. The other laws were more directly founded on divine holiness. In that sense, God could not
have commanded lying instead of forbidding it. Why? Because God Himself cannot lie (Tit. 1:2),
and therefore cannot command something contrary to His perfect nature.
G. Then there are some laws that are somewhere in between. Charles Hodge mentions laws
governing certain relationships, such as marriage. For example, God could not have
commanded immorality (for God is never immoral), but God did not have to create Man a sexual
being. But, like the ceremonial laws, these institutions derive much of their significance from
their being types. The ceremonial laws were done away with in Christ but marriage continues
until the consummation of the marriage between Messiah and His Church.
H. Furthermore, there was nothing external to God which dictated what any of these laws would
be. The Revealed Will of God is determined solely by God. He commands something because it

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reflects His nature, not because it conforms to a higher standard of holiness. And what is right
and wrong is certainly not determined by Man. God is sovereign in laying down what is right and
wrong. .
I. The second part of the Revealed Will follows the first, namely, the Gospel. Logically the Law
must precede the Gospel. The Gospel offers forgiveness for all who have broken the Law. All
men have the Law instinctively, but not all men have the Gospel. The Gospel states that God is
willing, to forgive all who repent and believe. In this sense, He wills all to be saved (I Tim. 2) and
takes no pleasure in the death of those who reject Him (Ezek. 33).

5. Contrasts Between the Secret Will and the Revealed Will.


A. Obviously, there are a number of differences between these two wills. They may be charted
as follows:
The Secret Will

The Revealed Will

1. The Decretive Will of God -contained in


decrees

1. The Preceptive Will of God -contained in


precepts

2. Purpose and counsel

2. Precept and command

3. Will of Intention - what God intends to do

3. Will of Approval - what God approves

4. Foreordination and foreknowledge

4. Faith and practice

5. Gods rule - what God will do

5. Mans rule - what Man should do

6. Internal to God

6. External to God

7. Eternal

7. Temporal

8. Unconditional

8. Conditional

9. Always accomplished

9. Usually rejected

10. Means and ends prepared

10. Law and Gospel presented

11. Positive - what shall happen


Negative - what shall not happen

11. Positive - promises of the Gospel


Negative - warnings of punishment

12. Positive - active foreordination


Negative - passive permission

12. Positive commandments


Negative - prohibitions

13. Nothing higher than God to compel Him to


make decrees

13. Nothing higher than God to make Him


decide Law and Gospel

14. Universal for all beings, whether moral or


non-moral beings

14. For moral beings only

15. Not all possible things are foreordained to


become actual

15. Moral Law is universal


ceremonial law is not;
Gospel to be preached to all

16. Permits the existence of sin

16. Prohibits men from sinning

17. Election - wills only some to be saved

17. Evangelism - wills all to be saved

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6. The Paradox of the Two Wills.


A. Deut. 29:29 is but one of many paradoxes in Scripture (the Trinity, the two natures of Christ,
time and eternity, etc.). This twofold will of God is one of the greatest of theological paradoxes.
Both can be established from Scripture, but we are not told how they fully harmonize. They are
apparently irreconcilable. They are an apparent contradiction. They are like two ends of a rope
sticking out of a lake - but the middle where they touch lies submerged under the lake. Calvin
pointed out that the answer is secret, not revealed, and Ties deep in the depths of Gods
wisdom a la Rom. 11:33. We are finite and could not handle it all even were God to reveal it to
us, which He has not done anyway. It is enough to know they are both true. Calvin further
explained how the two are related:
If anyone objects that it is absurd to split Gods will, I answer that this is exactly our belief, that
His will is one and undivided; but because our minds cannot plumb the profound depths of His
secret election to suit our infirmity, the will of God is set before us as double.., Yet Gods will is
not therefore at war with itself, nor does it change, nor does it pretend not to will what He wills.
But even though His will is one and simple in Him, it appears manifold to us because, on
account of our mental incapacity, we do not grasp how in divers ways it wills and does not will
something to take place... when we do not grasp how God wills to take place what He forbids to
be done, let us recall our mental incapacity, and at the same time consider that the light in which
God dwells is not without reason called unapproachable... Although to our perception Gods will
is manifold, He does not will this and that in Himself, but according to His diversely manifold
wisdom, as Paul calls it [Eph. 3:10], He strikes down our senses until it is given to us to
recognize how wonderfully He wills what at the same moment seems to be against His will
(Commentary on Matt. 23:37, Institutes 1:18:3, 111:24:17).
B. It is a paradox without parallel. Some theologians suggest that the closest parallel would be
the two wills of Christ (Matt. 26:39, John 5:30, 6:38, Luke 22:42). Thus, Christ had a divine will
and a human will. But that is an imperfect formula and parallel. No paradox has a perfect
parallel. We can take comfort that both truths are Biblical and that we will be told the answer
when we get to Heaven.

7. The Two Words for Will.


A. One popular explanation of the paradox deals with the main Greek words for will. The first
is BQULOMAI (verb) and its two noun forms, BOULE and BOULEMA. The verb is used some
37 times in the N.T., the nouns some 47 times. They are used of both Man and God. Of Man: I.
Tim. 2:8, 5:14, 6:9, Tit. 3:8, Mark 15:15, Acts 12:4, 25:22, and so forth. Most occurrences
concern Man. Others deal with Christs will (Matt. 11:27, Luke 10:22), the Holy Spirit (I Cor.
12:11), and even of God and Man-(Acts 5:38-39). However, when it is used of God, it usually
speaks of what we call the Secret Will, or foreordination (see especially Acts 2:23, 4:28, Rom.
9:19, Eph. 1:11, Heb. 6:17). The word of itself does not mean unconditional or absolute
purpose. Man wills with these words. The difference is that Man changes his purposes and
cannot always fulfill what he intends, for God may intervene in a special way. On the other
hand, Gods purposes are absolute and He never changes His ultimate purpose.
B. The other word is THELO (verb) and its two nouns THELEEMA and THELEESIS. The verb

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is used some 207 times, the nouns some 63 times, both more than BOULOMAI. Some scholars
suggest that this may be a weaker word than BOULOMAI, or that the first has to do with
consultation and the second with desire. In any case,THELO and its nouns are used of both
Man and God. When used of God, it usually refers to what we call the Revealed Will of God,
demanding a response from Man. So, while it would be imprecise to say that these occurrences
and etymology prove that there are two wills per se, they do at least suggest a certain
difference. But our reasons are more theological than linguistic.BOULOMAI usually refers to the
Secret, THELO usually refers to the Revealed.

8. Problems with the Paradox.


A. Whenever there is a paradox, there are problems. Most have to do with seeing only one side
of the paradox. Consequently, a major problem with the Reformed doctrine of the twofold will of
God is that some persons deny that there are two wills at all. How can God have two wills?,
asks the Arminian. Arminians almost invariably weaken or outright deny the Secret Will. Since
they see an apparent contradiction, they vote to reject the Secret Will. They do this to protect
the contents of the Revealed Will. But there are serious consequences. They end up with a
frustrated deity.
B. Many Barthians also have trouble with this dichotomy. Since they take the person of Christ
as their final analogy for God, they deny that Christ had any other will than what we call the
Revealed Will. Unfortunately for them, Christ Himself spoke of the secret purpose of God (John
6, Matt. 11, etc.).
C. On the other hand, virtually nobody denies that there is a Revealed Will. The closest would
be the Hyper-Calvinists. While not outright denying it, they often weaken it because of their
over-emphasis on the Secret Will, It was against such that Andrew Fuller commented, When
the revealed will of God is disregarded as a rule of life, it is common for the mind to be much
occupied about His secret will, or His decrees, as a substitute for it.
D. Fuller was right. There are too many who are obsessed with prying into the Secret Will. They
go beyond what is revealed in Scripture. Consequently, they are imbalanced when it comes to
the Revealed Will. This is the case, for example, with some who deny the Law as a rule of
practice for the believer. The Gospel Standard Baptists, are such. They thus take the Secret Will
as our rule, not the Law. Further, they tend to equate the Gospel and the Secret Will, as if
preaching the Gospel simply meant describing the order of the decrees of election and so forth.
They are wrong.
E. Then there is the problem of confusing the two wills. These persons accept the dichotomy,
but misapply certain passages. For example, in the Lords Prayer are the words, Thy will be
done. To which will does this refer? Some say it refers to the Secret Will, others say it means
that we are to pray according to the Revealed Will. [We will comment more on this in a later
study on prayer and the sovereignty of God.] Also, some disagree over which will was in Christs
mind when He prayed, Thy will be done.
F. Yet another problem facing Calvinists is the nature of the universal saving will in the
Revealed Will. Much of it revolves around the exegesis of I Tim. 2:4. Some say that salvation
belongs only to the Secret Will; the Revealed has only to do with the Law. If that were so, then
the Gospels a secret - how could we preach it? The truth is that the call of the Gospel
commands faith in all who hear it - God wills for them to believe the Gospel, in the Revealed
Will. In that sense, He wills all to be saved. But remember, the Revealed Will is conditional. He
wills for them to be saved by believing the Gospel. But He has not intended to give them all

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faith. This too is a paradox which we will examine more closely later.

9. The Providential Will of God.


A. There is another ingredient in the paradox, namely, the place of divine providence. In a way,
one can speak of a third will of God - the Providential Will of God. Earlier we showed how
Providence is simply the outworking of predestination. But Providence is in time. It actualizes
what was decreed. In that sense, as John Gill said, Gods secret will becomes revealed by
events in providence.
B. Yet Providence cannot be predicted with certainty except by God Himself through prophecy.
So far as we are concerned, we have to wait for it to happen and then interpret it. John Flavel
the Puritan wrote, Gods providence, like Hebrew words, is best read in reverse. That is,
afterwards.
C. How then does Providence touch on the Revealed Will? For one, through Providence God
opens doors of opportunities to obey His Revealed Will. He also closes doors. We are not held
accountable by the Revealed Will for walking through doors which God Himself has manifestly
closed.
D. By the same standard, we need to submit all our plans to Providence and the Secret Will.
James 4:13-15 is the key passage here. We do not know what God has ordained for the future,
so we must follow the Revealed Will in submission to the Secret Will as developed in
Providence. This means we should say we will do something God willing, that is, God willing
improvidence. See I Cor. 4:19, Acts 18:21, Rom. 1:10, 15:32, etc. In olden days, Calvinists
would write the letters D.V. on their plans, meaning Deo volente (God willing). They
understood Gods sovereignty.
E. On the other hand, some Christians do not keep the balance on the place of Providence
respecting the two wills. They are always looking for little signs in Providence, too similar to
pagans looking for omens. Others put fleeces before God, thinking this is spiritual when in fact
they are tempting God. Still others tempt Providence by taking unnecessary risks, saying If I
die, then it was Gods Secret Will for me to die then. Such would be the Secret Will, but the
Revealed Will tells us not to harm ourselves needlessly and never to tempt Gods Providence.
F. Lastly, too many Christians misunderstand the wills of God and Providence regarding the
matter of guidance and decision-making. Some Christians follow Providence alone to make
decisions. (Well, there was the opportunity, and I saw it as Gods Providential purpose. Would
God have opened a door if He didnt want me to go through it?) Others wait for direct
revelations to discern Gods will for their lives. Still others try prying into what has not been
revealed. The answer to their dilemma is simple. We are not to rely on the Secret Will of God,
even as revealed in Providence, in making decisions. We are to rely on the Revealed Will. In
other words, instead of looking for omens or feelings or doors, we should believe and obey the
Revealed Will. Instead of lazily being passive or super-spiritual, we should actively obey what
Gods Law and Gospel tells us to do.

10. Conclusion.
A. There are several applications of the doctrine of the twofold will of God. First, dont pry into
the Secret Will. Believe what the Bible says about it. Stand in awe of the paradox. Next, receive

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comfort from the fact that the Secret Will is definite. If you are a believer, it is for you. Third,
believe and obey the Revealed Will. The things that are revealed belong to us and our sons
forever, that we may observe all the words of this Law.
Recommended Reading
Bavinck, Herman. The Doctrine of God, pp. 223-241. Carlisle: Banner of Truth. Heppe, Heinrich.
Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 81-92. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. Hodge, Charles.
Systematic Theology, vol. I, pp. 402-406. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Gill, John. A Body of
Divinity, pp. 70-78. Paris: Baptist Standard Bearer. Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology, pp. 7679. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

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Chapter 31. Divine Sovereignty and


Human Responsibility.
1. Introduction.
A. One of the greatest puzzles in theology is the problem of harmonizing divine sovereignty and
human responsibility. Because of this, some people deny one or the other (or in some unusual
cases, both). This tension keeps them from becoming Calvinists.
B. Calvinists themselves have trouble with the problem. In a few instances, someone comes to
see the truth of the doctrines of grace without having to wrestle with the sovereigntyresponsibility problem, but he will not go long before the problem confronts him. He can be
assured that it will be thrown at him by those whom he seeks to introduce to the Reformed faith.
C. In this study we will briefly look at the problem. Thus far we have established the doctrine of
sovereignty from the Bible. Now we look at human responsibility and its relationship to divine
sovereignty.

2. What is Human Responsibility?


A. Lets limit the discussion to human responsibility. Angels also have it but not animals and
lower beings. Specifically we are examining that part of human personality called the will. It is
the capacity to say, I will and I wont. God created our first parents with this capacity before
the Fall, and though sin severely affected their wills it did not abolish them. Now all humans
since then have had wills, and all of us (except the Lord Jesus) have had sinful wills. But before
we can discuss sinful wills, we have to define the responsibility of the will irrespective of sin.
B. There are a number of words, which are more or less synonymous with the word
responsibility. One of the best is accountability. This means that men will have to give an
account of themselves: Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God (Rom. 14:12).
This implies that we must give an answer. We are answerable to God. But to what question do
we give the answer? The question is, Why did you do what you did? (It can also be phrased,
Did you obey God?) Man is a steward of time and opportunity, and must give ah account to
the one who entrusted this stewardship to him.
C. Responsibility means duty. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole
duty of Man (Eccl. 12:13). Man is under Gods commandments. Being accountable to divine
Law, we are liable to reward or punishment. Another synonym is obligation. We owe obedience
to God; we are responsible to Him.
D. Human responsibility implies morality. Man has been given a conscience and a sense of
right and wrong. He has the ethical capacity of virtue and vice. When God made Adam and
Eve, He gave them the constitutional ability to make moral decisions. He did not give this to
animals - they are non-moral. Morality in turn implies oughtness. To say that humans are
responsible to God is to say that they ought to obey Him.
E. God not only gave this responsibility but also the standard by which it is to be measured. He
would have been unfair otherwise. The standard is His Revealed Will. Not all men have it
equally; some have more light than others. Hence, some are more responsible than others.

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From everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted
much, of him they will ask all the more (Luke 12:48).
F. Responsibility implies a choice between two or more options. It demands a reply. We can
say yes or no. But now we are faced with the crucial issue. Human responsibility does not
require neutrality of the will in order for the person to be morally accountable. Here is exactly
where Calvinists and Arminians differ Arminians argue that moral responsibility necessitates
that the person is at a crossroads and can equally choose either option. We disagree.
G. The classic Reformed discussion of the point is Jonathan Edwards The Freedom of the Will.
Edwards slew the neutral will theory hip and thigh. Among his many Biblical proofs are the
following. First, no man is neutral towards Christ, who said, He who is not with me is against
me (Matt. 12:20. Cf. the logical converse, He that is not against us is for us, Mark 9:40). In
turn, this means No man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). A person cannot serve two and
he cannot serve none. At any given moment, his will serves God or sin. Moral neutrality is
impossible. As Bob Dylan sang a few years ago, You gotta serve somebody. It might be the
Devil and it might be the Lord. But you gotta serve somebody.
H. Second, the very nature, of moral responsibility requires non-neutrality. Not to be for a certain
moral law is to be against it. Therefore, the pretense that one can be morally neutral is an
escape and a cover up of enmity to God. Van Til applied this to the realm of innate knowledge
of God. All men know that God exists and by nature are opposed to Him. They are not neutral,
they are guilty. Moral responsibility in Man, then, is synonymous with moral culpability. We are
able to be guilty., and we are guilty.
I. Third, it is a mistake to suppose that the will is self-determining. The will is no more
independent than it is neutral. It may in turn affect other things, but it is not itself selfdetermining. God alone is self-determining. Look deeply at the will and this becomes evident. A
man chooses something for a reason, namely, because it seemed like the best thing at the time.
Thus, the will is internally affected by the mind. But the mind is in turn affected by the nature.
Hence, a good nature produces good wills; a bad nature produces bad wills (Matt. 7:17). Man is
born with a nature and he always follows it. If he follows a good nature he is praiseworthy; if a
bad one, blameworthy. This is responsibility.

3. God Intervenes in the Human Will.


A. The Calvinist rejects the popular notion that the human will must be totally free from all
intervention in order to be responsible. Arminians and others say Man must be totally free and
independent. But, we reply, Why? Who says so? Not God. In fact, the very notion of
independent wills is a symptom of sinful wills. Further, when human wills are sinful, the Arminian
theory can be used to defend it from punishment. For example, John was free to choose A or
B. If he is truly free either way, how can he be punished? But we say that Man is not free like
that. God commands Man, and he had better obey.
B. No, the human will is not off-limits to God. It is not a holy of holies where God cannot tread.
God can intervene in the human will. Moreover, He does do just that. Logically, if it can be
shown from the Word of God that God does intervene in the human will, it follows that He can.
And if He can, then He is sovereign and Man is still responsible. Divine intervention does not
destroy responsibility.
C. Earlier we saw that God is First Cause of all things. But He uses second causes. Now the
point is just this: the human will is just a second cause which God uses. He does not destroy it,

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but He uses it according to its nature.

4. Four Verses from Proverbs.


A. Pro. 16:1 and 9 speaks of human plans and motives. Solomon describes them as plans
and mind. Clearly he is speaking of human responsibility. But he then adds that God overrules
both. Man proposes, God disposes. Then in 19:21, we see that Mans plans do not always
come to pass, because Gods counsel overrules them. Thus, divine sovereignty is not
separate from human responsibility.
B. But 21:1 is the clincher: The kings heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes. Human wills are compared to rivers. A river is not selfdetermining in its course. It rather follows certain other factors (gravity, the path of least
resistance, climate, etc.). In other words, it is subject to outside influences but is still
responsible.
C. God controls all the outside influences on the human will. He moves them this way and that,
knowing full well that in so doing He is controlling the will to move in such-and-such a direction.
But the will is still responsible. Augustine saw all this in Pro. 21:1 and commented: God works
in the hearts of men to incline their wills whithersoever He wills, whether to good deeds
according to His mercy, or to evil after their own deserts; His own judgment being sometimes
manifest, sometimes secret, but always righteous. Thus, God is sovereign and righteous, Man
is still responsible whether guilty or innocent.

5. God Intervenes in Human Wills for Good Motives.


A. Ezra 6:22 says that God caused them to rejoice. God poured joy into their hearts. They
rejoiced, because God did this in them. Notice also that it says that God had turned the heart of
the king of Assyria toward them. This illustrates Pro. 21:1.This is later repeated in Ezra 7:27,
Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the kings
heart. Yet the king was personally responsible in this. God did not bypass his will; He used his
will.
B. I Cor. 12:6 is another verse on the subject. God the Spirit works all things in all persons.
Paul is specifically speaking of Christians, but the point is still valid, namely, that God works in
the wills and hearts of people. God not only works in inanimate, non-human things, but in
human hearts as well.
C. 2 Cor. 8:16 is another example. God put earnestness into the heart of Titus.. Titus was
earnest - as well he should have been - because God put it into his heart. Therefore, the human
heart is not off-limits to God.
D. Phil. 2:12-13 is even more explicit. First, Paul exhorts the Philippians to work. Work is the
outcome of willing. This is human responsibility. But second, there is divine sovereignty, namely,
Gods good pleasure. God carries out certain predestined decrees by providentially working in
human wills. But the key is the little word for. It tells us the logical order. We work because
God works in us. Notice the relationship between to will and to work. God gets to the very
heart of the matter, namely, the matter of the heart.
E. This is further shown in Heb. 13:21. God works in us that which is pleasing in His sight so
that we will be equipped in every good thing to do His will. Gods Secret Will is enacted in

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providence, touching our hearts with the result that we do His Revealed Will.

6. God Also Works in the Sinful Hearts of Man to Accomplish His Purpose.
A. In Gen. 50:20, Joseph comments on divine providence. His brothers meant evil ..(human
responsibility) but God overruled it for good (divine sovereignty). This did not exonerate them
from guilt, but neither did it make God guilty. Yet God providentially worked in their wills so that
they would do this.
B. Luke 22:22 is another case. Judas betrayed Christ - guilty human responsibility. But this was
foreordained by God - divine sovereignty. Similarly, Acts 2:23 and4:27-28 also present both
sides. First, Christ had been foreordained to be slain(I Pet. 1:19-20). But Peter directly charged
the Jews with crucifying. Christ. Just as Judas willed and worked to betray Christ, so the Jews
willed and worked to crucify Him. They were all guilty. But God was sovereign throughout.
C. Rev. 17:13 is another such verse. First, God put it in their hearts to execute His purpose. If
ever there was a Bible verse teaching divine sovereignty, this is it. But, second, what did they
do? They exercised their wills together to worship the Beast. Again, divine sovereignty is in play
even in the sinful responsible deeds of Man.

7. Divine Preservation of Human Responsibility.


A. The Westminster Confession states that God did ordain whatsoever comes to pass. This is
divine sovereignty. But it goes on to add, yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor
is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes
taken away, but rather established(111:1). Later, it says: God hath endued the will of man with
that natural liberty, that is neither forced nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to
good or evil. (IX:1).
B. The Reformed view is that though God works through human wills, He does not work against
them. He does, not force or coerce unnaturally, but rather works through the very nature of their
wills. God does not put a gun in Mans hand and force him to pull the trigger against his will, all
the while Man is resisting. In this sense, Man is properly said to have liberty. He is not a puppet.
It is in this sense that Augustine and the Reformers spoke of the validity of freewill. They did
not accept free will as moral neutrality or as unaffected by sin, but they did accept that in this
sense (non-coercion), Man has free will.
C. This is difficult to see. When the concurrence of divine providence works through the human
will, Man is not conscious of it. Take the illustration of the billiard balls. The cue ball sends force
through the other balls, but the cue ball does not destroy them. Just so, God works through
Mans will, but does not destroy human responsibility. Rather, God guarantees the responsibility
of the will.

8. The Grand Paradox.


A. It should be obvious that this is a grand paradox. Divine sovereignty and human
responsibility are both true, but we cannot see entirely how. They are like two parallel lines or
two sides of the same coin. They are complimentary, not contradictory. But we dont see entirely

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how. Nor can we. It shouldnt bother us as much as it does. When asked how he reconciled the
two, C.H. Spurgeon replied, I never try to reconcile friends. In other words, they only appear to
be at loggerheads. In reality, they are the closest of friends.
B. Now this is more than a literary paradox. Sovereignty and responsibility form an antinomy. In
commenting on the subject in question, J.I. Packer observes: It is an apparent incompatibility
between two apparent truths. An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side,
seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable... You see that each must be true on its own, but
you do not see how they can both be true together.
C. Thus, it is only an apparent contradiction. They are both true. Still, we need not throw up our
hands and avoid the antinomy. We can, for example, make certain observations about how the
two affect each other.
D. Abraham Kuyper once remarked that sovereignty/responsibility is not precisely a paradox,
but rather a hyperdox. What does this mean? Para means alongside, hyper means above.
What he meant was that though both are equally true, there is a logical order in which divine
sovereignty precedes human responsibility. So, Man is responsible because God is sovereign.
Man is responsible because God made him that way. Sovereignty can exist by itself, but human
responsibility cannot. This is not to deny human responsibility, but to place it in its right place.
E. There are, perhaps. three similar paradoxes which may shed some light on this one. First,
Gal. 2:20. Paul says he doesnt live, but Christ lives in him. But then he says, the life which I
now live. He lives but he doesnt live. The life which he does live is dependent on the life of
anothers. Even so, Man is responsible, not of himself, but because divine sovereignty made
him that way.
F. Second, there are the two natures of Christ. Christ was both divine and human. But, as the
Chalcedonian Formula stated, He had the two natures without confusion or change, without
division or separation, the difference of the natures being by no means removed by the union
but rather the property of each nature being preserved and concurring in one person and one
subsistence. Christ was not a third something, but both. Yet He was first God and was not
independent in His humanity.
G. Just so, sovereignty and responsibility are both true and joined together. We must not
confuse the two or concoct a third hybrid. Rather, we need to see them fused together so that
sovereignty concurs with responsibility. But as Christ5deity preceded His humanity, so
sovereignty precedes responsibility.
H. The antinomy has a third parallel, namely, the twofold will of God. God has two wills, as it
were. Both are true. But the Secret Will existed in a certain fashion before the Revealed Will
(which was manifested only after Creation). Now, sovereignty is the same as the Secret Will.
And human responsibility is founded on the Revealed Will. Neither paradox can be fully
understood, but by comparing the two we see insight into both. Ultimately, it is a paradox
between the attributes of God. Packer says it is an antinomy of God as King (sovereignty) and
God as Judge (responsibility). Where they meet is hidden in the depths of God.

9. Three False Explanations of the Paradox.


A. First, the two are not equal but separate spheres. Human responsibility is not totally free
of the intervention and concurrence of divine sovereignty. Neither says to the other, If you wont
intrude into my turf, then I wont intrude into yours.

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B. Second, there is the theory of synergism. This suggests that God does his part and I do my
part. This is the misapplication of divine concurrence. In away, Man cooperates, but not as an
equal and not as independent. Man cannot bargain with God.
C. Third, some suggest that the paradox is really between Gods command and our obedience.
This too is false.. True, God commands Man. But that has to do with divine authority in the
Revealed Will, not divine sovereignty in the Secret Will and providence. Actually, those who
suggest this is the real paradox are confused. They either do not see the real paradox (meaning
that they do not have any idea what we mean by divine sovereignty), or they see it but reject it.
There is no contradiction - apparent or otherwise - between the Revealed Will and human
responsibility.

10. The Proper Attitude Towards the Paradox.


A. It behooves us to accept both truths and live accordingly. We should not deny either, for
denying either leads to disastrous results. Dont deny either, either in theory or in practice. On
the one hand, do not be like W.J. Styles the Hyper-Calvinist who wrote: Since human
responsibility and divine sovereignty do not simply involve a paradox but are destructive to each
other, one must be untrue. Styles thus denied human responsibility, though he did accept that
Man is accountable. One outcome was that Styles said that lack of faith is not a sin.
B. Then we should also avoid the error of denying divine sovereignty. Many books have been
written by Arminians claiming to believe in the paradox. Divine Sovereignty and Human
Freedom by Samuel Fisk is such a one. But read carefully, such books show that the authors
actually reject divine sovereignty. There are far more who err on this side than on the other.
C. We must not deny either, but neither should we over-emphasize either. Nor must we underemphasize either. Both need to be stressed properly and in relation to each other. It is not easy,
but God calls on us to believe both and live-in the light of both. J.I. Packer notes: Our wisdom is
to maintain with equal emphasis both the apparently conflicting truths in each case, to hold them
together in the relation in which the Bible itself sets them, and to recognize that here is a
mystery which we cannot