Calvin On Predestination -- By: Arthur Miskin

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:2 (Jul 2014)
Article: Calvin On Predestination
Author: Arthur Miskin

Calvin On Predestination

Arthur Miskin

Calvin’s doctrine of predestination has been the occasion for concern for many people. Some see it as a source of worry because of the uncertainty of final salvation. Others find it unacceptable because of its apparent contradiction of human freedom. Ironically, Calvin himself saw this doctrine as possessing great practical benefit. He insisted that it bears “sweet fruits” for the believer; only by accepting this biblical doctrine of predestination can the believer find genuine assurance and comfort in his salvation.

Errors Opposed By Calvin

John Calvin faced his fair share of heretics in his day and was scathing in his attack upon their errors. It would appear that two of his main opponents in the area of predestination were Albertus Pighius and George of Sicily, whom he brands as “a pair of unclean beasts” (Lev. 11:3). According to Calvin, both sought to undermine the doctrine of predestination but differed in the “figments” that they advanced.1 Pighius, according to Calvin, taught that God, by His immutable counsel, created all men to salvation without distinction; but, as He foresaw the fall of Adam and in order that His election might remain firm and unaltered, He applied a remedy which might, therefore, be common to all: the election of the whole human race in Christ so that no one can perish but he who, by his own obstinacy, blots out his name from the Book of Life. Because God foresaw that some would remain determinedly in their malice and contempt of divine grace, He by His foreknowledge reprobated such. The wicked then deprive

themselves of the benefit of universal election, irrespectively and independently of God altogether. Further, he went on to teach that all who hold and teach that certain persons are positively and absolutely chosen to salvation, while others are as absolutely appointed to destruction, think unworthily of God, and impute to Him a severity utterly foreign to His justice and His goodness. Pighius goes on to mention Augustine as one who promotes such a view of God.

Calvin spares no effort in defending the good name and teaching of this great stalwart of the Christian church. Pighius held, in line with Nicolaus of Cusa, that God’s foreknowledge in eternity did not include knowledge of future events. There certainly is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). The implication is that the fall of Adam took Him by surprise. Calvin slates Pighius for substantiating his heresy by formulating a twofold knowledge in God.2 This implies t...

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