In approaching this topic I think it is very important that I communicate where I stand on
the issue. There has been many divisions because of a lack of knowledge and open
mindedness. We like to always put God in a box. You can’t put God into a box. I believe
that both Theologies apply and are supported by scripture. There are also some flaws in
both Theologies. The idea of corporate election and predestination has one major flaw
which the Scriptures does not seem to support. God’s foreknowledge was the basis of His
election and predestination. Since God knew everything as though it were in the present,
and His election and predestination were based on His foreknowledge, and since He
knew everyone who was foreknown or predestined, then God’s predestination had to be
individual just as His knowledge was.
It is very important that we cover the history of the two theologies. First we will cover
reformed theology, Calvinism. There are many people in history who have made a very
big impact on their culture, times, and or religion.
John Calvin was by far one of these few great people. He had
such a big influence in the time which he lived from 1509 to
1564. John Calvin devoted almost his whole life to the promoting of Protestantism and
made such a difference that his impact is still seen today in Christianity.
Calvin was born in France and was the second son in his family of five brothers. He grew
and then decided to go to the famous University of Paris to study to be a priest. His father
then had a conflict with the bishop who employed him so he then turned to the study of
law. While he was studying in Paris he came across the writings of Martin Luther. His
cousin then introduced him to the ideas of reformation. Protestantism began gathering
momentum all over Europe. Then by 1533 Calvin began getting involved with the
movement. That year Calvin had his salvation experience. He wrote about it later and
stated, “God subdued and brought my heart to surrender. It was more hardened against
such matters than was to be expected in such a young man.” Calvin then knew to full fill
his place with God he would have to turn away from the Roman Catholic church, so that
is exactly what he did.
His first attempt was November first that year. He gave a speech just like Martin
Luther’s, attacking the church and demanding a reform. He figured that if he spoke to the
people and educated them on Protestantism then they would be ready to make changes in
the Roman Catholic church. It did not turn out his way at all. This resulted in anti-
Protestant protests all over Paris, forcing him to flee for his own safety. He roamed from
place to place and then ended up in Basle, Switzerland. This is where he started his
writing. You see John Calvin was considered a quiet, timid natured man. The kind of man
who would never fight in disputes. In his time there he really got to do the things he
wanted to accomplish out of life. These were to study and learn about God and his holy
After this he went to Geneva after getting kicked out for his teachings he got invited back
to help turn the city around spiritually. He never held a political office in Geneva but he
ruled with strictness and sin was punished. He had laws passed to promote Christian
behaviour. Persecuted Protestants fled from all over Europe to reside here.
One last thing Calvin is known for is his theology. This is put together in a Calvinism.
The ideas of the Calvin doctrine are men are completely unable to save themselves with
their own works. Salvation is a matter of God’s choosing those who will be saved, and
that God chooses without any consideration of a man’s good works. If someone is chosen
of God, there was no way they could ever reject Christ or fail to endure to the end of their
Christian life. Finally, he taught that Jesus died only for the people who God chose. This
is called limited atonement and is one of Calvin’s most controversial doctrines in
Calvinism. As you can see John Calvin was truly a great man. Through his writings,
speeches, and Calvinism he really reached his goal in life to learn about God and his holy
word. John Calvin devoted almost his whole life to the promoting of Protestantism and
made such a difference that his impact is still seen today in Christianity.
Augustine on Absolute Foreknowledge
In The City of God, Book XI, c.21, page 364, anticipating these motifs of
Calvinism, Augustine explained God’s Knowledge on the basis of immutability. His
premise was God does not change, and any addition to His knowledge would be a
change, therefore, God’s knowledge does not change: The unchangeableness or the
immutability of God is the foundation upon which Augustine developed his ideas of
foreknowledge. Because God’s knowledge does not change, the future must be
foreknown by God also. Interestingly, Augustine touched on another theme at the same
time; the intemporality of God. “For not in our fashion does he look forward to what is
future, nor at what is present, nor back upon what is past ; but in a manner quite different
and far and profoundly remote from our way of thinking. For He does not pass from this
to that by transition of thought, but beholds all things with absolute unchangeableness; so
that of those things which emerge in time, the future, indeed, are not yet and the present
are now, and the past no longer are; but all of these are by comprehended in His stable
and eternal presence.” God is not affected by time therefore he must be out of time or
It is very common to run into religious people who would identify themselves as four
point Calvinists, three point Calvinists on down to one point Calvinists. Such people
reject one or more of the five points of Calvinism’s TULIP, but always seem to embrace
the most deadly of the fivethe perseverance of the saints (or eternal security). How
logical is it for such a person who calls himself a Calvinist to be less than a five point
Calvinist in light of the theology of Calvinism?
Certainly, to the surprise of many, such is an inconsistency, according to one of their
chief spokesmen, the deceased Dr. Edwin H. Palmer. Palmer graduated from Harvard,
served in the Marines, then received both a Th.B and a Th.D in different Reformed
seminaries. He was also an instructor of Systematic Theology in a Reformed Seminary.
Hence, he is certainly qualified to comment on how the five points of Calvinism are
interrelated, since he understood his theology so well. Palmer, referring to the fifth point
of Calvinism, said the following:
This is strictly a Reformed doctrine and hangs or falls together with the other four
points that we have been discussing. There are, however, Christians today who hold to
the perseverance of the saints while at the same time rejecting the other four points. We
believe, however, and will try to show later on, that this is an inconsistency in their
thinking. In keeping with his expert opinion of this theology, Palmer went on to write
about the perseverance of the saints:
This doctrine also naturally follows from the doctrine of the limited atonement
In other words, if the doctrine of limited atonement is true, then so is the perseverance of
the saints. But then on the other hand, if limited atonement is untrue, so is eternal
security. The above two quotes from Palmer are valuable to Christians who know all
five points of Calvinism are not from God and especially desire to help free some
Calvinists from the theological snare they are trapped in.
Many Calvinists, who are less than five pointers, correctly reject limited atonement
because of the Scriptural evidence which powerfully and clearly teaches that Jesus died
for every person who ever lived and not just for those who will enter God’s kingdom in
the end. It is, therefore, inconsistent for eternal security proponents to reject limited
atonement and still believe in the favorite fifth pointeternal security! Again, this is not
my conclusion, but the conclusion of one who knew Calvinism when he was alive, much
better than the vast majority does today.
In 1980, the year of Palmer’s death, an enlarged edition of this same book was released.
In this more recent edition the words were slightly changed from the previous quote,
while retaining its essence:
James Arminius (1560-1609)
The arch-heretic of the Christian church responsible for reviving the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism.
Who Was Arminius? Arminius was born in 1559 in Oudewater – a small city in the
province of Holland. Holland was one of seventeen prosperous provinces then known as
the Netherlands or the Low Countries, which today are divided into the Netherlands,
Belgium and part of northern France. In 1559 His Most Catholic Majesty Philip II was
the king of Spain and Sovereign of the Netherlands.
Most of the years of Arminius’ pastorate (1587-1603) in Amsterdam were peaceful. But
there were some controversies. Arminius preached through the book of Romans and
some of his sermons did evoke opposition. In 1591 he preached on Romans 7:14 and
following. The standard Calvinist interpretation argued that Paul in these verses is
speaking as a regenerate Christian. Romans 7 then presents the Christian’s continuing
struggle resisting sin in his life. By contrast, Arminius taught that Paul is remembering
his previous, unregenerate state. For Arminius the struggle against sin in Romans 7 is a
struggle before conversion. The Calvinists objected sharply to this interpretation, asking
how the unregenerate can delight in the law in the inner man (Rom. 7:22). In 1593
Arminius preached on Romans 9 and his sermons on predestination seemed inadequate to
many Dutch Calvinists.
Arminianism is very different from Calvinism. The Arminians put a strong emphasis on
the “free will of man” and they believe man controls most aspects of his own life. Man’s
freewill to choose his own destiny is central to this belief system. Arminians do not
believe God has forced certain people to go to Heaven and Hell. Arminians believe
people can choose (out of their own freewill) to accept or reject God’s forgiveness. They
also believe a person who is already saved can choose to reject God. As a result, a person
can lose his salvation. While some Arminians believe a person’s salvation can only be
lost because of major unrepentant sins, others believe a person’s salvation can be lost
several times a day.
Arminians also believe Christ’s death on the cross did not pay for our sins. They say
“Christ suffered for us rather than paid’ the penalty sinners owe.’ ” They feel if Christ
paid for our sins, then everyone would go to Heaven.
Arminians teach that, “Christ suffered for everyone so that the Father could forgive the
ones who repent and believe; his death is such that all will see that forgiveness is costly
and will strive to cease from anarchy in the world God governs. This view is called the
Governmental Theory of the Atonement. Arminians say Christ was not punished on the
cross; instead He suffered on the cross. They say there can “only be punishment or
forgiveness, not both.”
This position, of course, raises many concerns. It is saying the death of Christ on the
cross was not necessary to save us. It is saying that the Sacrificial Lamb didn’t need to
shed His blood to cleanse us from our sins. It is saying that God could have simply
forgiven us without having to satisfy His righteous and holy nature. I find all of these
issues very troubling.
Let’s go back to Calvinism and the doctrine of selective salvation. Is God wrong for
sending some people to Hell? Of course He isn’t; we are all sinners and deserve Hell. Is
God just and righteous in allowing sinners to enter Heaven? Yes, the atonement of Jesus
on the cross did satisfy God’s righteous nature. Christ paid the penalty we owed for our
sins. Would God be just if He arbitrarily chose who could go to Heaven?
Obviously, a sovereign God can do whatever He wants. Yet, God will act in a manner
that is consistent with His nature. He will not violate His own rules of fair play. He will
not violate His codes of righteousness and justice. The premise of selective salvation
completely contradicts everything we know about God from the Bible.
It is important to understand that according to Calvinism, God’s choice of the elect has
nothing to do with His foreknowledge of those that would eventually become Christians.
It does not have anything to do with God’s foreknowledge of who will eventually be
repentant, sorrowful of sins, or desirous of God. The condition of a person’s heart has
nothing to do with God’s selection. God could have just as easily chosen to save the very
people He is sending to Hell. These facts are clearly laid out by the founding fathers of
According to Calvinism, no one has a repentant spirit, a sorrow for sins, and a desire to
seek God. Man in his fallen state is completely reprobate and has no desire for God. They
believe the only reason a person would seek God (and thus become a Christian) is
because God put these desires in his heart. They believe the unsaved person is incapable
of having these attributes. These desires can only come from God and they only come to
Selective Salvationists say the targeted person has no choice in the matter. The targeted
person does not get saved because he is sorrowful for his sins or loves God, but because
God forces these feelings on him. This is called “irresistible grace.”
According to Calvinism, once God puts these attributes into the person’s heart, the person
has an irresistible desire to want God. This irresistible desire forces him to choose to
become a Christian. Therefore, this person is considered to have a “choice.” This is why
Calvinists can say the doctrine of selective salvation is not inconsistent with the rest of
the Bible that talks about choice. It is important to understand that this person cannot
choose to reject God. His only “choice” is to accept God. It is impossible for anyone who
is part of the elect to reject God and go to Hell.