Monday, March 17, 2008

Nelson Price's attack on John Calvin. XII

We continue with this series conscious that it may be wearing to our readers to have to wade through Price's errors of fact and misguided opinion. But we have started, and so we shall finish.

"Calvin taught salvation was not a choice but based on God’s pre-determined decision from the beginning of time.
This meant certain people were the “elect” of God and were to populate the church."

The alternative to this is the "manifestly wicked" (Musculus) teaching that God's power can be frustrated by the will of man, and that the power of Christ's death is entirely dependent on the free will of man. He must first seek our permission if He is to save us. No! Before He regenerates us we can do nothing but flee from God and resist Him, as Francis Thompson put it:
"I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasm├Ęd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after."
('The Hound of Heaven')

And yet He followed on, and drew me by His sweet yet irresistible love to Himself. Praise God that He did not ask my permission, for, fool that I am, I would have refused Him and loved this passing world. But He who is too wise to be mistaken, too good to be unkind, did not leave me to perish in my sin. No, He who loved me when I hated Him sent His Son to die for me, and sent His spirt into my heart:
"To change the heart, renew the will,
And turn the feet to Zion's hill."

The Bible speaks of God's elect, and says "we love Him because He first loved us." From any perspectve other than the Calvinistic, it is almost impossible to say with Paul "The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." The Free-willer says "He loved all mankind and died in a general and non-substitutionary way so that I could be saved if I loved him by my own free-will."

In his “Institutes” Calvin defined predestination:
“We call predestination God’s final decree, by which He determined what He willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is ordained for some, eternal damnation for others.”

It took us a while to find this quotation in Calvin, mostly because it is mis-cited and has been abridged. Again, Price has not given a reference, so we spent half an hour searching an electronic version of the Institutes. The full quotation is:
"We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which He determined with Himself what He willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is ordained for some, eternal damnation for others.
" (Book III, xxi, 25, Battles Translation)
Now we agree that this is a reasonable use of the quotation. It must always be borne in mind that Calvin, and those who are called Calvinists, hold that the reprobate are condemned justly for their sins, as the elect deserve to be, and would be had their sins not already been punished in Christ. Although election is unconditional, condemnation is not, it is conditional upon the one condemned being guilty. Since we are all guilty before God, we all stand condemned. But God sent His son so that all who would believe on Him shall not perish everlastingly, but will have everlasting life in Him.

God willing, next time we shall conclude this series.

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