Sermon No: 2727-Calvinism and Arminianism - Part 3 (a) - Unconditional Election

SERMON TOPIC: Calvinism and Arminianism - Part 3 (a) - Unconditional Election

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 13 December 2015


Sermon synopsis: Calvinism: God is the author of both good and evil. He foreordains men’s choices and then holds them fully accountable for those choices which were forced on them. He forces some to love him and then seems pleased that they do and rewards them. He forces others to sin and then is angered that they do and punishes them.

Arminianism: God is the author of good and it is against his nature to do evil. The potential for evil is one of the trade-offs which exists by virtue of the fact that we have been given free will. God created a world that includes freedom and contingency and in his love, he operates providentially and redemptively within the world. Empowered by God’s prevenient grace, men either choose to serve God or to reject him. As such God justly holds them fully accountable for their choices.


& Calvinism

PART 3 (a)

Unconditional election vs Conditional election

Calvinism and Arminianism are two systems of theology which attempt to explain the relationship between God�s sovereignty and man�s responsibility with regards to salvation.

The Calvinist viewpoint highlights man�s depravity, the salvation by grace alone of God�s elect, but emphasizes God�s sovereignty.

The Arminian viewpoint accepts man�s depravity, salvation by grace alone of all who believe, but emphasizes man�s responsibility.


More often today the term �Calvinism� is used to refer to the particular Calvinist views of predestination, as expressed in the 5 �points� of Calvinism which are denoted by the acronym TULIP. Here they are contrasted with the 5 articles of Arminianism.



Total Depravity

Prevenient Grace

Unconditional Election

Conditional Election

Limited Atonement

Unlimited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Resistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

Falling from grace


Lutheranism: Single Predestination - while God in eternity past did indeed elect a people for himself whom he would actively save in the outworking of history, he did not decree that the rest of mankind would be lost.

Calvinism: Double Predestination and Unconditional Election - from eternity God has chosen some to be saved and he has chosen others to be damned.

Arminianism: Conditional Predestination and Conditional Election - predestination is based on God�s foreknowledge. God�s election is conditional on faith in Jesus. God does not arbitrarily consign some people to eternal damnation; their wilful rejection of God�s salvation makes them responsible.



Calvin taught double predestination. He wrote:

�...Not all men are created with similar destiny but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is either predestined either to life or death� 1

�We assert that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined both whom he would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction.� 2

2 Institutes 3.21.7 1 Institutes 3, ch 23


Calvin states that �The reprobate like the elect are appointed to be so by the secret council of God�s will� 1 and �...their doom was fixed from all eternity and nothing in them could transfer them to a contrary class...� 2

Arminius rejected the idea of double predestination, �for this doctrine says that he wishes to damn� Truly this differs much from the goodness of God�. 3 He says that the doctrine of double predestination �is inconsistent with the freedom of the will, in which and with which man has been created by God; for it prevents the use of freedom�. 4

1 Institutes 2, ch 22 2 Institutes 3, ch 3 3 Bangs, 307 4 From G.J. Hoenderdaal�s annotated edition of the text of the �Declaration� (Werklaring van Jacobus Arminius), Lochem 1960, 78f


Determinism is the position that for every event, including human action, there exists conditions that could cause no other event. E.g. materialistic psychology teaches that man is at the mercy of stimuli in his environment.

Fatalism is the teaching that all things are subject to fate and beyond our control. Another form of fatalism is the belief that although actions are free, they nevertheless work toward an inevitable end. Fatalists stress an acceptance of these inevitable future events as �fate� or �destiny�.

Predeterminism is the idea that all events are determined in advance or are already known (by God, fate, or some other force) and none of which can be altered.

The Calvinist view of predestination has similarities to what is taught by ungodly materialists and other fatalistic religions. Calvin has men lacking free will to make any choice between good and evil and with no option but to follow an already predetermined and inevitable plan.







It is clear that God has precise knowledge of the future:

Isaiah 42:9 �See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.�

Isaiah 44:7 �Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come-- yes, let them foretell what will come.�

Daniel 2:28 �� but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.�


Amazingly even the length of our life, including every day ordained for us is already known by God.

Psalm 139:13,16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother�s womb� Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.



What we do or say doesn�t take God by surprise:

Psalm 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Paul was set apart from birth, long before God revealed his Son in him:

Gal 1:15-16 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles�

Jeremiah�s destiny was foreknown:

Jer 1:5 �Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.�


Jesus knew that Judas would betray him:

John 6:64 �Yet there are some of you who do not believe.� For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

God knew in advance that Jesus would suffer:

Acts 3:18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.

Acts 4:27-28 (NASB) �For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.�


The Bible speaks of God predestining our salvation:

Eph 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will�

Grace was given us before the beginning of time:

2 Tim 1:9-10 � This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus�







But God exists outside of time and sees the future as clearly as the present.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. (Isa 46:10)

In his foreknowledge God has written down the names in the book of life since the creation of the world:

Revelation 17:8 � The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished�

But does it follow that God has predetermined those who will be saved?


No! While God knows who will be saved, he does not decide or predetermine their salvation or destiny.

1 Peter 1:1-2 says we are �chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father�.

Arminius argued that God�s foreknowledge did not require a doctrine of determinism.

Rom 8:29-30 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called

So those who put their faith in Christ are predestined to salvation, but their faith is logically prior to their predestination.



Got Questions Ministries defines Theological Fatalism:

Theological fatalism�s premises are stated as follows: God is omniscient. Since God is omniscient, God has infallible foreknowledge. If God has infallible foreknowledge that tomorrow you will engage in an event (mow the lawn), then you must invariably engage in that event (mowing the lawn). Therefore, according to theological fatalism, free will is not possible, since you have no alternative except to participate in the event (mow the lawn). If you do not mow the lawn, then God is not omniscient. But if you mow the lawn, then you don�t have free will, on account of your inability to choose an alternative. 1

1 fatalism.html

Here is an opposing argument to theological fatalism: God is omniscient. Since God is omniscient, He is also infallible. If God has infallible foreknowledge that tomorrow you will mow the lawn, then you will freely choose to do so, not out of obligation or lack of choice. You still have free will to mow the lawn or not mow it; God merely knows your choice before you make it. You are not obliged to mow the lawn tomorrow� If you were going to change your mind, God would have seen that also, so you still have free will in all matters. Also, you will still make the same choices (exercising your free will), even if God chose not to see the future. God�s passive foreknowledge of the future does not alter your free will. 1

1 Ibid


So the fact that God�s foreknowledge means he already knows an outcome, does not in any way imply that he causes the outcome.

An honest reading of the Bible indicates the teaching of both predestination and man�s ability to make moral choices as a �free will agent�.

So in the overall context of Scripture, it�s apparent that predestination is based on God�s foreknowledge of the choices we make. God�s election is based on foreseen qualities because �He will render to each one according to his works� (Rom 2:6 ESV).


Early church father John Chrysostom (c. 347�407 AD) writes that God�s foreknowledge does not negate free will:

�But when He said, �It must needs be, it is not as taking away the power of choosing for themselves, nor the freedom of the moral principle, nor as placing man�s life under any absolute constraint of circumstances, that He says these things, but He foretells what would surely be� It is not then His prediction that brings the offenses; far from it; neither because He foretold it, therefore doth it take place; but because it surely was to be, therefore He foretold it; since if those who bring in the offenses had not been minded to do wickedly, neither would the offenses have come; and if they had not been to come, neither would they have been foretold.� 1

1 Commentary on Matthew



God�s predestining is coupled with us hearing the word of truth and believing:

Eph 1:11-14 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will� And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance�

2 Thess 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.



1st century Jews, as described by Josephus, were similarly divided on the issue of fatalism, the Sadducees similar to Pelagian thought, Essenes to Calvinist, and Pharisees to Arminian: �As for the Pharisees, they say that certain events are the work of Fate, but not all; as to other events, it depends upon ourselves whether they shall take place or not. The sect of Essenes, however, declares that Fate is mistress of all things, and that nothing befalls men unless it be in accordance with her decree. But the Sadducees do away with Fate, holding that there is no such thing and that human actions are not achieved in accordance with her decree, but that all things lie within our own power, so that we ourselves are responsible for our well being, while we suffer misfortune through our own thoughtlessness.� 1

1 Antiquities of the Jews xiii. 172-173


Tim Warner of Oasis Christian Church (Tampa, Florida) writes, �Prior to the writings of Augustine, the Church universally held that mankind had a totally free will. Each man was responsible before God to accept the Gospel. His ultimate destiny, while fully dependent on God�s grace and power, was also dependent on his free choice to submit to or reject God�s grace and power. In the three centuries from the Apostles to Augustine the early Church held to NONE of the five points of Calvinism, not one. The writings of the orthodox Church, for the first three centuries, are in stark contrast to the ideas of Augustine and Calvin. Man is fully responsible for his choice to respond to or reject the Gospel. This was considered to be the Apostolic doctrine passed down through the local church elders ordained by the Apostles, and their successors.� 1

1 https:// 2014/ 12/ 16/

E.g. Irenaeus (130-202 AD) wrote, �This expression [of our Lord], �How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,� set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves.� 1

1 Against Heresies Bk IV ch 37 v5


Like much of his doctrine, Calvin borrowed the idea of double predestination from the 5th century Church Father, Augustine of Hippo.

This teaching was rejected by the earliest Church Fathers.

The Second Council of Orange in 529 AD affirmed much of the theology of Augustine and made numerous proclamations against semi-Pelagian doctrine. But the Council explicitly denied double predestination, stating, �We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.� 1

1 freewill.html


We have already noted how John Chrysostom and Irenaeus believed in free will.

But the free will of man was also taught in the writings of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Tatian of Syria, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athenagoras of Athens, Hippolytus, Novatian, Archelaus, Methodius of Olympus and Lactantius (See APPENDIX 1: EARLY CHURCH).

So we consistently ministry-archives.aspx?mId=2686




Reformed theologians teach that sin so affects human nature that they are unable even to exercise faith in Christ by their own will. While people are said to retain will, in that they wilfully sin, they are unable to not sin because of the corruption of their nature due to original sin. To remedy this, Reformed Christians believe that God predestined some people to be saved. This choice by God to save some is held to be unconditional and not based on any characteristic or action on the part of the person chosen. This view is opposed to the Arminian view that God�s choice of whom to save is conditional or based on his foreknowledge of who would respond positively to God. 1

1 https:// wiki/ Calvinism


John Calvin said that if man ever had a free-will, it was only true of Adam:

The only time free-will might be reasonably asserted to have existed was in Adam before the fall. Adam could have resisted if he would, since he fell merely by his own will. In this integrity man was endowed with free-will, by which, if he had chosen, he might have obtained eternal life. 1

1 Institutes 2, chapter 4


However, Calvin subsequently states that even Adam never actually had free-will to choose.

Nevertheless, there is no reality in the free-will thus attributed to man, in as much as God had decreed the fall, and therefore must have in some wise already biased Adam�s will. It was not left in neutral equilibrium, nor was his future ever in suspense or uncertainty. It was certain that sooner or later Adam would fall into evil, and with that inevitable fall there disappeared every trace of the free-will which man may have had. From that time the will became corrupt along with the whole of nature. Man no longer possessed the capacity to choose between good and evil� 1

1 Institutes 2, chapter 4

Generally speaking, an Arminian can be defined as someone who believes in human free will and that humans have the capacity to accept or reject God. Arminians assert that God�s sovereignty and man�s free will are compatible.

A Calvinist is someone who rejects the Arminian concept of free will, believing that the will of all humans is bound by their sinful nature and will remain bound until God performs His regenerative work� Calvinism is founded on the belief that man is completely and utterly unable to make a choice to follow God because the will of the unsaved person is bound by his sinful nature. 1

As such Calvinists dislike songs like �I Have Decided to Follow Jesus�, which imply people make a choice to follow God.

1 Source: archives/ articles/ an-introduction.php



But the Scripture teaches that you can choose to fear or not to fear the Lord:

Prov 1:29-31 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

Scripture clearly teaches that man has a free will and can choose to serve God or not.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Moses advises the Israelites to �choose life� implying that they had free will (Deut 30:19).

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Josh 24:15)

Then Joshua tells the Israelites to choose who they will serve. Choosing to serve God necessitates free will.

No! We will serve the LORD.

Based on the Israelites� response Joshua notes that they �have chosen to serve the LORD�. (Josh 24:21-22)

You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD.



It is true that there are also passages which speak of God choosing us.

Rom 8:33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?

So in places the Bible speaks of us choosing God and in other places of God choosing us.

Both are true! The choice is not made unilaterally by God as Calvinists teach. God�s election is based on his foreknowledge of our choice. God says, �� so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.� (Isa 66:4)

Try this. Put a sock puppet on your hand, turn it to face you, and then let it mouth the words, �I love you!� Do you get the same feeling as when your spouse or child utters those words? Why not? Because no free will or choice is exercised by the puppet � it is simply �saying� what you are making it say.


I love you. Really I do!

Why would God be pleased when someone follows him against their will?

I can�t help but wonder how God takes pleasure in people who are, against their wills, supposedly regenerated by God�s irresistible grace. They are really nothing more than robots. If they love Him, it is only because they had no choice but to love Him, because they would have preferred to continue hating Him. This means, of course, that they really don�t love Him, because love is predicated upon choice. Their warm feelings toward Him are pre-programmed; thus true love is impossible. 1

1 http:// ss/ calvinism/ calvinism-total-depravity-and-irresistible-grace


What would please a man more � an arranged marriage, or a marriage to a woman who chooses to love him, when she has the option to choose otherwise?



In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, a man is invited to the wedding but chooses not to wear the wedding clothes which were customarily provided by the host. He is subsequently thrown out from the banquet. In that context Jesus says, �For many are invited, but few are chosen.� (Matt 22:14). So we are chosen based on our response to the king�s invite, which in the parable is an invitation extended to all (�invite to the banquet anyone you find.�)

So who chooses who?

Calvinism says that God chooses you.

Pelagianism says that you choose God.

The Scriptures say that God chooses you and you choose God.


When man chooses to believe in Jesus, God chooses to make them children of God:

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God


And so Clement of Alexandria (AD 153-217) correctly noted that salvation is the result of God�s grace, in conjunction with man�s will:

A man by himself working and toiling at freedom from sinful desires achieves nothing. But if he plainly shows himself to be very eager and earnest about this, he attains it by the addition of the power of God. God works together with willing souls. But if the person abandons his eagerness, the spirit from God is also restrained. To save the unwilling is the act of one using compulsion; but to save the willing, that of one showing grace. 1

1 Salvation of the Rich Man ch 21



But why did Jesus say to his disciples, �You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit�fruit that will last� (John 15:16)?

This passage refers to an election to apostleship, not to salvation. In fact when Jesus �chose� disciples some of them were already serving God (in the Old Covenant fashion) as disciples of John the Baptist. This use of the term �choose� is the same sense of it�s use regarding Paul�s call to the ministry:

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to Ananias, �Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.�

If anyone chooses to do God�s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Jesus said we make a choice to do God�s will (John 7:17).


You can choose to do the things that please God:

Isa 56:4-5 For this is what the LORD says: �To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant� to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.�

Alternatively you can choose to do what displeases God � in which case God �destines� you for disaster.

Isa 65:12 �I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.�

So God�s �destining� is based on our choice!

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matt 23:37)

Despite the drawing of God, you can reject him by an act of your will.


Pagans are not predestined to sin � they do so by choice:

1 Pet 4:3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do�living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

You can choose to be the friend of the world rather than a friend of God:

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don�t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.


Although we are born sinners (original sin) there is an age of understanding we reach, when we understand right and wrong and make a conscious choice to do either one or the other:

Isa 7:15-16 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.


Even in our Christian walk, we are not governed by fatalistic decrees of God � we make choices, some which are better or worse:

Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)

1 C.S. Lewis �The Great Divorce�

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, �Thy will be done,� and those to whom God says, in the end, �Thy will be done.� All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. 1


It is because he has given us the power of choice, that God justly holds us accountable for our actions.

Clement of Alexandria (AD153-217) writes:

Neither praise nor condemnation, neither rewards nor punishments, are right if the soul does not have the power of choice and avoidance, if evil is involuntary. 1

Each one of us, who sins, with his own free-will chooses punishment, and the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame. 2

1 Miscellanies Bk 1 ch 17 2 Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Bk. I, viii

Any judgement of man if he had no will to choose his own direction would be meaningless. Archelaus (AD 250-300) argues:

�And as both sides admit that there will be a judgment, it is necessarily involved in that admission that every individual is shown to have free-will; and since this is brought clearly out, there can be no doubt that every individual, in the exercise of his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.� 1

1 The Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes � 32, 33


Justin Martyr (110-165AD): �We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and rewards are rendered according to the merit of each man�s actions. Otherwise, if all things happen by fate, then nothing is in our own power. For if it be predestined that one man be good and another man evil, then the first is not deserving of praise or the other to be blamed. Unless humans have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions-whatever they may be.... For neither would a man be worthy of reward or praise if he did not of himself choose the good, but was merely created for that end. Likewise, if a man were evil, he would not deserve punishment, since he was not evil of himself, being unable to do anything else than what he was made for.� 1

1 Justin First Apology ch 43


Irenaeus (130-202 AD) writes, �But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it, � some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good.� 1

1 Against Heresies Bk IV ch 37 v5


Although man is created in God�s image, the Calvinist view of predestination does not effectively regard man as the highest order of God�s creative work, truly capable of independent choice.


In Calvinist thought, man is simply doing what God has already predetermined will happen, much like an animal responding to its basic instincts.

But man is made in God�s image with the capability of making independent choices. Gleason Archer in his commentary on the book of Romans writes:

The choice of accepting or rejecting God�s grace is made by each individual without prior causation. Since man is created in the image of God and God�s own moral choices are not caused by any outside predetermined force, it is fair to conclude that men too retain the prerogative of uncaused choice� 1

1 The Epistle to the Romans pg 61



The early church writers regarded the image of God as being expressed by man�s free will. Tertullian (AD 145-220) wrote:

What could be found so worthy as the image and likeness of God? This also was undoubtedly good and reasonable. Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of himself; so that this very thing � namely, freedom of will and self-command � might be reckoned as the image and likeness of God in him. For this purpose such an essence was adapted to man as suited this character, even the afflatus of the Deity, Himself free and uncontrolled� 1

1 Tertullian, Against Marcion, Bk. II, ch. vi

So does the fact that we have a free will, mean that sinners can save themselves by sheer willpower? No � of course not! God, in his mercy, reaches out to the sinner who calls on his name and through the atonement of Jesus on the cross, sets them free from the penalty of sin.

Rom 10:13 for, �Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.�

And in the context, calling on God is dependent on the person believing, subsequent to being presented with the gospel:

Rom 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?


Arminius rejected likewise the Calvinist assertion that his view was the same as that of Pelagius. Arminius pointed out, however, that Pelagius believed that the free will of man enabled them to overcome sin and thus will themselves to perfection. Arminius rejected this teaching and believed that apart from the grace of God, man was free only to will to sin. Yet Arminius pointed out that Philippians 2:13 says that the grace of God within man gives us the ability not just to will but to do! Through the grace of God our old man is crucified that we should not serve sin (Romans 6:6). Grace enables us, through the help of the Spirit, to put to death the sinful deeds of the body (Romans 8:13). 1

1 https:// 2009/ 07/ 12/ arminius-on-romans-713-25/


Arminius believes God�s grace excites human free will, so that �faith should be by persuasion and not by compulsion�. And �because grace is interwoven with the nature of humanity in such a way as not to destroy the freedom of the will, but rather to give it proper direction and to correct its depravity,� says Arminius, �[grace] allows the creature to devise actions of his own accord�. 1

�God�s glory consists neither of a declaration of liberty or might,� he says, �nor of a demonstration of anger and power � except as the demonstration of such may be consistent with justice and the continual preservation of God�s goodness�. Here we find the classic Arminian idea that God�s glory is primarily based on God�s goodness and love rather than on God�s power. 1

1 http:// index.php/ blog/ archives


There is no reference in any of Scripture to anyone being predestined to hell. The following verses all use the word �predestine� or variants of it in a positive light:

Rom 8:29 & 8:30 - Believers are predestined to ultimate conformity to Jesus.

Eph 1:5 & 1:11 - Believers are predestined to be adopted as God�s sons. They are predestined according to God�s plan.

Acts 4:28- God predestined the death of Jesus.


The only Scripture where �predestine� is used with a negative connotation (predestined to be killed by the sword) is in the NET Bible rendering of Isaiah 65:12, but it combines God�s predestination with man�s choice.

Isa 65:11-12 (NET Bible): But as for you who abandon the Lord and forget about worshiping at my holy mountain, who prepare a feast for the god called �Fortune,� and fill up wine jugs for the god called �Destiny� � I predestine you to die by the sword, all of you will kneel down at the slaughtering block, because I called to you, and you did not respond, I spoke and you did not listen. You did evil before me; you chose to do what displeases me.�


Jesus taught that God loves all, has provided a way of salvation for all and that the onus is on man to believe:

John 3:14-19 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. �For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God�s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.�


Calvinism: God is the author of both good and evil. He foreordains men�s choices and then holds them fully accountable for those choices which were forced on them. He forces some to love him and then seems pleased that they do and rewards them. He forces others to sin and then is angered that they do and punishes them.

Arminianism: God is the author of good and it is against his nature to do evil. The potential for evil is one of the trade-offs which exists by virtue of the fact that we have been given free will. God created a world that includes freedom and contingency and in his love, he operates providentially and redemptively within the world. Empowered by God�s prevenient grace, men either choose to serve God or to reject him. As such God justly holds them fully accountable for their choices.


Though primarily addressed to a church, Jesus makes a personal invite in Rev 3:20:

�Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.�

Note that Jesus knocks at the door, he doesn�t kick it down! He is a gentleman and doesn�t force himself on the occupant. But to the one who responds and �opens the door�, he comes in and has mutual fellowship.



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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible�, Copyright � 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations taken from the ESV:

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The free will of man was taught in the writings of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tatian of Syria, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athenagoras of Athens, Hippolytus, Novatian, Archelaus, Methodius of Olympus, Lactantius and John Chrysostom.

So we consistently see that Calvinist Protestantism is not a return to the early church teachings as some have claimed. Rather it was a return to 5th century Augustinian theology, which was in stark contract to all the early fathers on this particular issue.

Ignatius (AD30-107):

Seeing, then, all things have an end, and there is set before us life upon our observance [of God�s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. 1

Tatian of Syria (late 2nd century) wrote that free will is our problem�and our solution.

We were not created to die; we die through our own fault. Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves; we have been sold by sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have brought about wicked­ness�but we can also reject it. 2

1 Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, V 2 Tatian, Address to the Greeks, 11

Justin Martyr (AD 110-165):

I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. 1

1 Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 141

�But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins� The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. and this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both (virtue and vice). And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others.� 1

1 Justin Second Apology, VII

�But yet, since He knew that it would be good, He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous, and He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free-will; and because He likewise knew it would be good, He made general and particular judgments; each one�s freedom of will, however, being guarded.� 1

�Here, then, is a proof of virtue, and of a mind loving prudence, to recur to the communion of the unity, and to attach one�s self to prudence for salvation, and make choice of the better things according to the free-will placed in man; and not to think that those who are possessed of human passions are lords of all, when they shall not appear to have even equal power with men.� 2

1 Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 102 2 Justin, On the Sole Government of God, VI

Irenaeus (AD 130-202):

And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets� No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man�s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. 1

1 Against Heresies Bk IV ch 37 v2-5

But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God. And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, �According to thy faith be it unto thee; � thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, �All things are possible to him that believeth;� and, �Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.� 1

1 Ibid

Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, �he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him.� In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, �How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate.� 1

1 Ibid

�If then the advent of the Son comes indeed alike to all, but is for the purpose of judging, and separating the believing from the unbelieving, since, as those who believe do His will agreeably to their own choice, and as, [also] agreeably to their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that His Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding� And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God, He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord�� 1

1 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. V, XXVII

�It is in this matter just as occurs in the case of a flood of light: those who have blinded themselves, or have been blinded by others, are for ever deprived of the enjoyment of light. It is not, [however], that the light has inflicted upon them the penalty of blindness, but it is that the blindness itself has brought calamity upon them: and therefore the Lord declared, �He that believeth in Me is not condemned,� that is, is not separated from God, for he is united to God through faith. On the other hand, He says, �He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God;� that is, he separated himself from God of his own accord.� 1

1 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. V, XXVII

Tertullian (AD 145-220):

At present, let God�s goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will. 1

That rich man did go his way who had not �received� the precept of dividing his substance to the needy, and was abandoned by the Lord to his own opinion. Nor will �harshness� be on this account imputed to Christ, on the ground of the vicious action of each individual free-will. �Behold,� saith He, �I have set before thee good and evil.� Choose that which is good: if you cannot, because you will not � for that you can if you will He has shown, because He has proposed each to your free-will � you ought to depart from Him whose will you do not. 2

1 Tertullian, Against Marcion, Bk. II, ch. Vi 2 Tertullian, On Monogamy, XIV

Origen (AD 185-254):

This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the Church, that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition; that it has a struggle to maintain with the devil and his angels, and opposing influences, because they strive to burden it with sins; but if we live rightly and wisely, we should endeavour to shake ourselves free of a burden of that kind. From which it follows, also, that we understand ourselves not to be subject to necessity, so as to be compelled by all means, even against our will, to do either good or evil. For if we are our own masters, some influences perhaps may impel us to sin, and others help us to salvation; we are not forced� 1

1 Origen, De Principis, Preface

And for this reason we think that God, the Father of all things, in order to ensure the salvation of all His creatures through the ineffable plan of His word and wisdom, so arranged each of these, that every spirit, whether soul or rational existence, however called, should not be compelled by force, against the liberty of his own will, to any other course than that to which the motives of his own mind led him (lest by so doing the power of exercising free-will should seem to be taken away, which certainly would produce a change in the nature of the being itself)� 1

1 Origen, Bk. II ch. I

Theophilus of Antioch (2nd century)

For God made man free, and with power over himself. That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this God now vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him. For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting. 2

2 To Autolycus - Chapter XXVII �The nature of man

Athenagoras of Athens (2nd century)

Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honour the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them, and others faithless), so is it among the angels� 1

Hippolytus (AD 170-236):

But the Word, by declaring them, promulgated the divine commandments, thereby turning man from disobedience, not bringing him into servitude by force of necessity, but summoning him to liberty through a choice involving spontaneity. 2

1 Embassy for Christians - XXIV 2 Refutation of All Heresies� ch 29

Novatian (AD 210-280): �And lest, again, an unbounded freedom should fall into peril, He laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree; but he was forewarned that evil would arise if perchance he should exercise his free will, in the contempt of the law that was given. For, on the one hand, it had behooved him to be free, lest the image of God should, unfittingly be in bondage; and on the other, the law was to be added, so that an unbridled liberty might not break forth even to a contempt of the Giver. So that he might receive as a consequence both worthy rewards and a deserved punishment, having in his own power that which he might choose to do, by the tendency of his mind in either direction�� 1

1 A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity

Archelaus (AD 250-300):

�This account also indicates that rational creatures have been entrusted with free-will, in virtue of which they also admit of conversions� For all the creatures that God made, He made very good; and He gave to every individual the sense of free-will, in accordance with which standard He also instituted the law of judgment. To sin is ours, and that we sin not is God�s gift, as our will is constituted to choose either to sin or not to sin�� 1

1 The Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes � Archelaus, 32, 33

Methodius of Olympus (died c. 311)

I will endeavour, with your assistance and favour, to examine carefully the position of those who are offended, and deny that we speak the truth, when we say that man is possessed of free-will, and prove that �They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault,� choosing the pleasant in preference to the expedient. 1

1 Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse VIII, ch. xii

Lactantius (AD 260-330):

When, therefore, the number of men had begun to increase, God in His forethought, lest the devil, to whom from the beginning He had given power over the earth, should by his subtlety either corrupt or destroy men, as he had done at first, sent angels for the protection and improvement of the human race; and inasmuch as He had given these a free will, He enjoined them above all things not to defile themselves with contamination from the earth, and thus lose the dignity of their heavenly nature. 1

1 Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Bk. II, ch. xv