Thursday, November 10, 2011

2.  Whose Choice? 

Here is the full quote from Calvin that I mentioned in the last post:

'And, in fact, we shall find many that will grant freely enough that God was not moved to send us his gospel by any other motive than his own free grace; but, at the same time, they surmise that the reason why some receive it and some do not, is because their own free wills hold sway, and so, by that means, God’s grace is diminished. For God does not offer us his grace, as a man might offer an apple to little children, so that the best runner should come and have it. If God should thus toss it out, it is certain that the greatest part of our salvation would be the product of our own power and skill, and the praise of it would redound to ourselves.' (from the Fifth Sermon on the First Chapter of Sermons on Ephesians)

Calvin is often seen as having invented the doctrine of Predestination, whether we believe in it or not, it is, of course, simply not true that Calvin invented it or was unusual in his belief in it. Here is a quote from chapter 16 of Augustine On Predestination:

'Faith, then, as well in its beginning as in its completion, is God’s gift; and let no one have any doubt whatever, unless he desires to resist the plainest sacred writings, that this gift is given to some, while to some it is not given. But why it is not given to all ought not to disturb the believer, who believes that from one all have gone into a condemnation, which undoubtedly is most righteous; so that even if none were delivered therefrom, there would be no just cause for finding fault with God. Whence it is plain that it is a great grace for many to be delivered, and to acknowledge in those that are not delivered what would be due to themselves; so that he that glorieth may glory not in his own merits, which he sees to be equaled in those that are condemned, but in the Lord. But why He delivers one rather than another,—“His judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out.” [Rom. 11.33.] For it is better in this case for us to hear or to say, “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” [Rom. 9.20.] than to dare to speak as if we could know what He has chosen to be kept secret. Since, moreover, He could not will anything unrighteous.'

Thinking about this has made me realize that I should tackle in broad terms this subject of predestination.  I generally avoid doing so because I am aware that it can be very divisive.  I think now, however, is the time to attempt some thoughts on the subject.  So I am relabeling the last post to start the series!

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