Steve Gregg on Calvinism

, posted by Richard Coords

The full title of the attached file, compiled and arranged by Steve Gregg, is “God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Salvation: Calvinism: Comparative Charts for Evaluating the Biblical Basis for Calvinist and Non-Calvinist Theological Constructs”. Please click on the link to view it: Calvinism

While Gregg’s material is helpful, it should be noted that his description of Arminianism is not entirely accurate. For example, he states that Arminianism holds that, “The fall has affected man’s nature significantly, but not to the point of rendering him incapable of choosing to receive the grace of God.” However, the Arminian position is actually that the Fall has rendered man unable to choose to receive the grace of God in and of himself, but that God, by his grace, enables man to choose to receive the additonal grace of God that will save him. Gregg also speaks as though Arminianism holds that the decision to come to be in Christ rests not with God, but with the individual alone. But the Arminian view is actually that God must enable someone to believe in Christ, and then, if the person believes, God unites the person to Christ in response to the person’s faith, though he does not irresistibly cause the person to believe.

Gregg covers all five points of Calvinism along with the opposing non-Calvinist view. Here is an excerpt from the section on free will:

Historical Christianity

100-165 AD, Justin Martyr: “God, wishing men and angels to follow his will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall certainly be punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably (wicked), but not because God created them so. So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God.” (Dialogue CXLi)

100-165 AD, Justin Martyr: “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 predestinated 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.” (First Apology ch.43)

[About the year 180, Florinus had affirmed that God is the author of sin, which notion was immediately attacked by Ireneaus, who published a discourse entitled: “God, not the Author of Sin.” Florinus’ doctrine reappeared in another form later in Manichaeism, and was always considered to be a dangerous heresy by the early fathers of the church.]

130-200 AD, Irenaeus: “This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God…And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice…If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others?” (Against Heresies XXXVII)

150-190 AD, Athenagoras: “men…have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honor 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)…” (Embassy for Christians XXIV)

150-200 AD, Clement of Alexandria: “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.” (Miscellanies, book 1, ch.17)

154-222 AD, Bardaisan of Syria: “How is it that God did not so make us that we should not sin and incur condemnation? —if man had been made so, he would not have belonged to himself but would have been the instrument of him that moved him…And how in that case, would man differ from a harp, on which another plays; or from a ship, which another guides: where the praise and the blame reside in the hand of the performer or the steersman…they being only instruments made for the use of him in whom is the skill? But God, in His benignity, chose not so to make man; but by freedom He exalted him above many of His creatures.” (Fragments)

155-225 AD, Tertullian: “I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature.” (Against Marcion, Book II ch.5)

185-254 AD, Origin: “This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the church that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition.” (De Principiis, Preface)

185-254 AD, Origin: “There are, indeed, innumerable passages in the Scriptures which establish with exceeding clearness the existence of freedom of will.” (De Principiis, Book 3, ch.1)

250-300 AD, Archelaus: “There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he chooses.” (Disputation with Manes, secs.32, 33)

260-315 AD, Methodius: “Those [pagans] who decide that man does not have free will, but say that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils.” (The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, discourse 8, chapter 16)

312-386 AD, Cyril of Jerusalem: “The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator by necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou wert a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness; since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.” (Lecture IV 18)

347-407 AD, John Chrysostom: “All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost…it depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help…It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end.” (On Hebrews, Homily 12)