Calvin Taught Unconditional Predestination of Man to Sin and Condemnation


As follow up to Roger Olson’s essay recently posted here (, it could be helpful to post some examples from Calvin (as a representative of Calvinism) that invite the sort of remonstration (= objection) made by Olson and other Arminians against Calvinism. Today we post a few examples of highly unbiblical and therefore objectionable doctrine from Calvin. Tomorrow, we plan to post comments from John Wesley in the same vein as Olson’s (but more forceful and fiery).

John Calvin not only taught that God willed the fall of Adam, but that He ordained it as well. Here are some quotes:

Again they object: were they not previously predestined by God’s
ordinance to that corruption which is now claimed as the cause of
condemnation? When, therefore, they perish in their corruption, they
but pay the penalties of that misery in which Adam fell by the
predestination of God, and dragged his posterity headlong after him.
Is he not, then, unjust who so cruelly deludes his creatures? Of
course, I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now
bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will. And this is
what I said to begin with, that we must always at last return to the
sole decision of God’s will, the cause of which is hidden in him.
(Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:23.4)

If such a barren invention is accepted [that Adam sinned because he
had free choice], where will the omnipotence of God be whereby he
regulates all things according to his secret plan, which depends
solely upon itself? Yet predestination, whether they [the objectors]
will [admit it] or not, manifests itself in Adam’s posterity. For it
did not take place by reason of nature that, by the guilt of one
parent, all were cut off from salvation…. Scripture proclaims that all
mortals were bound over to eternal death in the person of one man
[Adam] (cf. Rom. 5:12 ff.). Since this cannot be ascribed to nature,
it is perfectly clear that it has come forth from the wonderful plan
of God….
Again I ask: whence does it happen that Adam’s fall irremediably
involved so many peoples, together with their infant offspring, in
eternal death unless because it so pleased God?… The decree is
horrible indeed, I confess. Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what
end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew
because he so ordained by his decree…. And it ought not to seem absurd
for me to say that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and
in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in
accordance with his own decision. For it pertains to his wisdom to
foreknow everything that is to happen, so it pertains to his might to
rule and control everything by his hand.

Still, it is not in itself likely that man brought destruction upon
himself through himself, by God’s mere permission and without any
ordaining. As if God did not establish the condition in which he wills
the chief of his creatures [Adam] to be! . . . For the first man fell
because the Lord had judged it to be expedient; why he so judged is
hidden from us. Yet it is certain that he so judged because he saw
that thereby the glory of his name is duly revealed.” (3:23.8)

The reprobate wish to be considered excusable in sinning, on the
ground that they cannot avoid the necessity of sinning, especially
since this sort of necessity is cast upon them by God’s ordaining. But
we deny that they are duly excused, because the ordinance of God, by
which they complain that they are destined to destruction, has its own
equity [or justice]—unknown, indeed, to us but very sure. (3:23.9)


Well, more quotes could be provided, but that is probably enough. Tomorrow, we should see what John Wesley thought of such doctrine (hint: not much!)


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