Can we conclude that Calvinism is a relatively NEW doctrine?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Dec 17, 2012.

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  1. Skandelon

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    A survey of the teachings of the Early Church Fathers (ECFs) reveals that they promoted a more 'synergistic' approach to salvation and the concept of free will (quotes to be provided). What is evident (to scholars from both perspectives) is that Augustine was the first of the ECFs to teach the more Reformed ideas (not until 400 AD). And even Augustine admitted he didn't know Greek, nor did he seem to consistently support the Calvinistic concept of Limited Atonement or Perseverance.

    Does knowing that the immediate disciples of the apostles and their closest converts didn't come away with a Calvinistic understanding of the text affect the way you feel about these teachings?

    If not, why not?
     
  2. Skandelon

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    [​IMG]

    Look at where Augustine is on this chart and tell me that is not troubling to know that he was the first to teach individualized approach to election/predestination????
     
  3. Amy.G

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    Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    Apparently Paul understood it. Is that early enough for you?
     
  4. Skandelon

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    I expected as much...

    We are talking about the interpretation of these texts Amy, which clearly can be understood in more than one way...as evidenced by 400 years of those discipled directly by the apostles and their immediate followers. I'm not wanting this thread to become about your misinterpretation of Eph 1, but you should consider if 'us' refers to 'lost people chosen to become believers' so as to make them holy, OR if 'us' refers to 'believers,' period, thus meaning that God has chosen believers who are IN HIM to become holy and blameless.
     
  5. Amy.G

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    Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

    The "us" is the church (believers) at Ephesus. God predestined them to be adopted by Christ. It was according to God's will.


    How in the world can that be misinterpreted?
     
  6. 12strings

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    Clement of Alexandria (150-215):...rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord—those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous.

    Origen: “Our free will…or human nature is not sufficient to seek God in any manner.”

    Barnabas (A.D. 70): “We are elected to hope, committed by God unto faith, appointed to salvation.”

    Irenaeus (A.D. 198): “God hath completed the number which He before determined with Himself, all those who are written, or ordained unto eternal life…Being predestined indeed according to the love of the Father that we would belong to Him forever.”

    Tertullian (A.D. 200): “Do you think, O men, that we should ever have been able to have understood these things in the Scriptures unless by the will of Him that wills all things, we had received grace to understand them?…But by this it is plain, that [faith] is not given to thee by God, because thou dost not ascribe it to Him alone.”

    Athanasius (A.D. 350): “To believe is not ours, or in our power, but the Spirit’s who is in us, and abides in us.”

    FROM THE ABOVE:

    We can see that ascribing specific beliefs to the church fathers is difficult. The first there seems to be espousing the classic arminian "divine foreknowledge" view...and I have inserted a few others that MAY seem to support a calvinistic view. (I have yet to see any church father, or anyone before Barth for that matter, concretely espousing a corporate view of election that specifically excludes electing individuals to salvation...not saying it doesn't exist, but I haven't seen it.)

    Church fathers will often contradict each other, and even themselves on occasion. It will take more than Skan's declaration that no early father's believed Calvinisticly to prove the matter. He will have to post some proof (I heard quotes were coming).
     
  7. Skandelon

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    12Strings,

    Even notable historian and respected Reformed scholar, Lorraine Boettner, concluded that Augustine was the first to clearly espouse a Reformed belief.

    The quotes you've provided, especially when coupled with the much clearer context and other quotes from these ECFs, in no way show they held to a Reformed doctrine. I could affirm everyone of those statements as true without coming close to comprising my soteriological stance.

    Would you take the challenge of picking out anyone of these scholars and looking more closely at all their writings along with the context of these quotes?

    I think you will eventually come to the same conclusion as Boettner, don't you?
     
  8. Skandelon

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    Athanasius (~297-373 A.D.) "For being Word of the Father, and above all, He alone of natural fitness was both able to recreate everything, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be ambassador for all with the Father" Incarnation of the Word chapter 7 (Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers 2nd Series vol.4 p.40, See also Against the Heathen 4 p.6)



    Athanasius: "Now certain Greeks ... make a double mistake: either in denying the Creator to be maker of all things, if evil had an independent subsistence and being of its own; or again, if they mean that He is maker of all things, they will of necessity admit Him to be maker of evil also. For evil, according to them, is included among existing things. ... they also wrongly think that evil has a substantive existence." (Against the Heathen 6 p.6-7)



    Basil (329/330-379 A.D.) Prolegomena "On the other hand, of the evils of hell the cause is not God, but ourselves. The origin and root of sin is what is in our own control and our free will." (Prolegomena in the Nicene & Post- Nicene Church Fathers Second Series vol. 8 p.lviii)



    Gregory Nazianzus (~330-391 A.D.) "Having honoured him [Adam] with the gift of Free Will (in order that God might belong to him as the result of his choice, no less than to Him who had implanted the seeds of it), ... (On the Theophany, or Birthday of Christ. Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.7 p.348



    Gregory Nazianzus "...those detractors of all that is praiseworthy, those darkeners of light, uncultured in respect of wisdom, for whom Christ died in vain" (ibid p.349).



    Gregory of Nyssa (331/335/336-395 A.D.) "Being the image and the likeness, as has been said, of the Power which rules all things, man [Adam] kept also in the matter of a Free-Will this likeness to Him who Will is over all.... and so he was a free agent, though circumvented with cunning, when he drew upon himself that disaster which now overwhelms humanity. ... for God did not make death. Man became, in fact himself the fabricator, to a certain extent, and the craftsman of evil. All who have the faculty of sight may enjoy equally the sunlight; and any one can if he likes put this enjoyment from him by shutting his eyes: in that case it is not that the sun retires and produces that darkness, but the man himself puts a barrier between his eye and the sunshine; ... Again, a man in building a house for himself may omit to make in it any way of entrance for the light; the will necessarily be in darkness, though he cuts himself off from the light voluntarily." (Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.5 On Virginity chapter 11 p.357) (See also On the Soul and the Resurrection p.457)



    John of Damascus "for it would not be right to ascribe to God actions that are sometimes base and unjust; nor may we ascribe these to necessity, ...We are left then with this fact, that the man who acts and makes is himself the author of his own works, and is a creature endowed with free-will. Exposition of the Orthodox Faith chapter 25 Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers 2nd Series vol.9 2nd p.40) We hold, therefore, that free-will comes on the scene at the same moment as reason," (ibid ch27 p.40)





    John of Damascus "For chance is defined as the meeting and concurrence of two causes, originating in choice but bringing to pass something other than what is natural; for example, if a man finds a treasure while digging a ditch..." p.39



    Cyril of Jerusalem (~315-335-386) "Cleanse thy vessel, that thou mayest receive grace more abundantly. For though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Ghost is bestowed in proportion to each man’s faith" (First Catechetical Lecture I Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers p.7)



    Jerome (345-420 A.D.) (He wrote in a question an answer style between the orthodox Atticus and the Pelagian heretic Critobulus)

    "Critobulus: "but what grieves me is this: that dignitaries of the Church, and those who usurp the title of master, destroy free will; and once that is destroyed, the way is open for the Manichaeans."

    Atticus: Am I the destroyer of free will because, throughout the discussion, my single aim has been to maintain the omnipotence of God as well as free will?

    Critobulus: How can you have free will, and yet say that man can do nothing without God’s assistance?

    Atticus: If he is to be blamed who couples free will and God’s help, it follows that we ought to praise who does away with God’s help [sarcasm here]" Against the Pelagians Book III p.474



    Hilary of Poitiers (300-367 A.D.) "Had this [will] been given, faith would carry with it no reward, for a necessity of will attached to us would also impose faith upon us." (On the Trinity viii 12 p.140-141.) See also On the Trinity vii 19 for the definition of free will and the free will of God.)



    Theodoret (~393-423-458 A.D. accused of being a Nestorian but vindicated at Chalcedon) Dialogues III in the Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers 2nd Series vol.3 p.224 When the head of the race [Adam] was doomed, all the race was doomed with him, and so when the Saviour destroyed the curse, human nature won freedom"



    Patrick of Ireland (~389-461 A.D. on losing salvation) "They are heading towards Hell; they cannot any longer be called Christians nor Romans [i.e. civilized] but outcasts. They must show signs of genuine and bitter repentance and try to make amends for their terrible crime." Patrick’s Letter to Corticus, a slave-trader.



    John Chrysostom (345-martyred 407) on Rom 9:11-13 "What was the cause then why one [Jacob] was loved and the other [Esau] hated? Why was it that one served, the other was served? It was because one was wicked, and the other good. ... For when they were not as yet born, God said, ‘the elder shall serve the younger.’ With what intent then did God say this? Because He doth not wait, as man doth, to see from the issue of the acts the good and him who is not so, but even before these He knoweth which is the wicked and which not as such." Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers First Series vol.11 p.464-465.)



    John Chrysostom on Rom 9:20-21 "‘Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not the potter (Read Jer. 19:1-10) power, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?’ Here it is not to do away with free-will that he says this, but to show, up to what point we ought to obey God. For in respect of calling God to account, we ought to be as little disposed to it as the clay is." (ibid p.467)



    John Chrysostom "do not suppose that this is said by Paul as an account of the creation, nor as implying a necessity over the will, but to illustrate the sovereignty and difference of dispensations; for it we do not take it in this way, divers incongruities will follow, for if here he were speaking about the will, and those who are good and those not so, He will be Himself the Maker of these, and man will be free from all responsibility. And at this rate, Paul will also be shown to be at variance with himself, as he always bestows chief honor upon free choice. " (ibid p.468)



    John Chrysostom on Eph 1:11 "‘...he [Paul] speaks also of inheritance by lot, yet so as not to divest them of free will.... It is as though he had said, lots were cast, and He hath chosen us’ but the whole is of deliberate choice. Men predestinated, that is to say, having chosen them to Himself, he hath separated. ... For marvellous is the foreknowledge of God, and acquainted with all things before their beginning.... According to the purpose,’ he says, ‘of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.’ That is to say, He had no after working; having modeled all things from the very first, thus he leads forward all things ‘according to the counsel of His will. So that it was not merely because the Jews did not listen that He called the Gentiles, nor was it of mere necessity, nor was it on any inducement arising from them."



    John Chrysostom on 2 Tim 2:4 "Imitate God! If He willeth that all men should be saved, there is reason why one should pray for all, if He hath willed that all should be saved, be thou willing also" Homilies on Timothy in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers 1st Series vol.13 p.430)
     
  9. 12strings

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    1. I have above bolded the sections that I don not think I could agree with whole-heartedly, just to show that while John Chrisostom obviously is arguing against unconditional individual predestination (And I notice you quoted more from him than any other), many of the other statements would fit well within a moderated calvinistic framework (Amaraldian, for example). Some of them I simply bolded because I'm not sure what they are saying...but the non-bolded sections could easily be agreed to by one who is 4-pointish calvinistic in Soteriology only.

    2. You are probably correct that the very high Calvinism that ascribes all evil deeds to God's direct causation is not likely to be found in the fathers.

    3. I notice that those who are arguing against individual election do so based on God's foreknowledge, not necessarily advocating a corporate Election view...so is not your view even newer than Calvinism?
     
  10. Skandelon

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    They could fit only if you proofed texted them like Calvinists do the scripture, IMO.

    But if you look at the contexts of these quotes (which I welcome) and the MANY others quotes there is little hope for you to establish any measure of support of even the 4 point modified version of Calvinism. Even Augustine was more of a 3 pointer in that he seemed to deny the idea of limited atonement and even perseverance. I'm fine with taking any one of these ECFs and exploring all their teachings in their context. Like I said, I think you will come to the same conclusion as Boettner did.

    Think about it....if there was an ECF besides Augustine who taught the Reformed views with any level of competency or consistency the modern Reformed world would have t-shirts with his face on the front of it and promoting him as a hero of the Reformed faith.

    Clearly, but I still think a 4 point modified version can't be found either.

    We affirm God's foreknowledge, just like the more 'foresight faith view' does...we just understand it from the corporate perspective, not the hyper-individualized perpective. I'd have to look at what quotes you are referring to but what I saw seems to fit either of those interpretations. Westerns have a tendency to read texts from the individual perspective...that's how we think. But when you read the same quote from the more Eastern or even 1st century perspective your default would be a corporate perspective (which as I've explained doesn't negate the individual, it just understands that the individual is being discussed in relation to the group to which he belongs...i.e. Romans 11 discussion of grafting in and cutting off)
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    The full blown system of calvinism came after calvin himself, so how could that be part of the early Church fathers? Would say that the DoG WERE in place, as taught by both jesus and the Apsotles, and that the Early church already had started to get away from Apsotolic teaching/truth early on, as wolves had come into fold even during times of paul!
     
  12. OldRegular

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    It is for me. And then there is the beloved Apostle John who recorded the spoken words of Jesus Christ in his Gospel; clearly teaching the Doctrines of Grace!

    Missed you Amy.G! The Grace of God in the Salvation of His elect is wonderful to behold, is it not?
     
  13. zrs6v4

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    I have not yet read any of the ECF's writings, but Im curious to know your thoughts on why this is an issue?

    How much ECF study have you done?

    Lets say none of the EFC's were Calvinists, what are the implications of that?

    Were there other important teachings from scripture these guys missed?
     
  14. Amy.G

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    :wavey:

    I've been under the radar. LOL
     
  15. DHK

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    I think there is a tendency for those on both sides of the coin to back up their view with secondary sources, especially early historical sources such as the ECF, to make their view seem more authoritative, then to use just the Bible itself.
     
  16. SovereignMercy

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    X2!!! The quote "early church fathers" certainly were not inspired.
     
  17. Skandelon

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    Yet when there are two competing interpretations being considered, knowing that none of the immediate followers of the apostles agreed with your particular take, certainly suggests you may want to reconsider the OTHER view.
     
  18. zrs6v4

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    I think its important and helpful to see our views from others that have good reputation. Im not against using historical writings or using scholarly writings to help bring light to my studies. We all have our favorite sources we use and we should use them. Its obviously wrong not to have a proper balance.

    I was simply trying to see what Skans agenda was :). Im ok with agenda but Id like to know the extent of his knowledge on the ECF's writings.

    Worst case scenario, if they weren't pre calvin calvinists, their works will not be quoted by me :), jk

    It seems like God allowed a lot of our early heroes like Augustine to have theological issues to show us that they are men as well. For example Augustine's error- baptismal regeneration.
     
    #18 zrs6v4, Dec 17, 2012
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  19. webdog

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    ...and while he unarguably was, Paul was not inspired in his letter to the Ephesians to say chosen to be in Him for a reason.
     
  20. Iconoclast

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    Hello AMY G,

    Good post once again.
    Peter tells us how people misinterpret Pauls writings.
    Jesus ,and the Apostles....especially Paul spoke of God's grace in salvation.
    That teaching of the gospel is what we today call Calvinism because of how church history has unfolded. There were always those who failed to understand grace......so now we use a lot of labels, saving grace, effectual grace, sovereign grace...etc.

    The fact that someone calls Augustine one of the first to identify...reformed doctrine.....was because the "church " was already going into what we now call the RC.church,with all its errors.

    To suggest that all christians today should spend time looking at some of these men, rather than scripture is another attempt to set aside the biblical teaching.....and turn to disputes about subjective ideas.:wavey::thumbsup:
     
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