Etikettarkiv | augustine

Quotes from the old church fathers where they deny original sin / sinful nature

handpåläggningThe pre-Nicene church fathers did not believe in the sinful nature

It’s not enough to go back to Luther and Calvin to check the views of the early church, but we must go further back than that. If we do, we will soon notice that Luther and Calvin took impression of Augustine, and Augustine believed the contrary to the early church fathers before him when it comes to the issue of the sinful nature and a number of other subjects. Augustine must be blamed for the new unbiblical teachings which were brought into church due to him, and which today are considered truths in particularly the reformed church. We must therefore go back to the early church fathers before Augustine, and then we can see how their stance lines up perfectly with the Bible.

It’s true that Adam’s sin affected us a great deal, because the ground is cursed due to him and we can’t reach the tree of life due to him, which means that his sin brought physical death on all his posterior (including Jesus before he rose again). We’re bound by weakness, shame, fear, suffering and many natural shortcomings due to being related to Adam, but we certainly didn’t inherit his SIN. Romans 5:12 tells us that DEATH (not SIN) passed upon us BECAUSE all sinned. Not because Adam sinned. The physical death that we get due to Adam is not a punishment, but rather something that we get out of the mercy by the providence of God. The only other alternative would be to continue living on for ever without dying – in this present cursed world. That would be a cruel fate.

Augustine’s views about infants who die without water baptism

Unfortunately, Augustine only knew little Greek (unlike Pelagius who knew both Greek and Hebrew) and seems to have misunderstood the teaching of the Greek Fathers who lived before him, because he reached different conclusions than they did. The Manicheans were a gnostic cult Augustine originally belonged to and which advocated that the nature of man can be corrupt to the point that his will is powerless to obey God’s commands”. Chadwick p. 228(2)

Some quotes from and about Augustine:

But even the infants, not personally in their own life, but according to the common origin of the human race, have all broken God’s covenant in that on in whom all have sinned…Even the infants are, according to the true belief, born in sin, not actual but original, so that we confess they have need of grace for the remission of sins. (Augustine, City of God bk. 16 ch. 27)

As nothing else is done for children in baptism but their being incorporated into the church, that is, connected with the body and members of Christ, it follows, that when this is not done for them, they belong to perdition. / III. 4

such infants as quit the body without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation; whereas the apostle says: ‘Judgment from one offence to condemnation’ (Romans 5:16), and again a little after: ‘By the offence of one upon all persons to condemnation’ (Romans 5:18). / On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, ; cf. Study by the International Theological Commission

What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity! / Simon Episcopius (An Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume Two, p. 209, Published by Carlton & Porter)

Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”/ John Wesley

The pre-Nicene church fathers all taught against the gnostic idea that we are born with a sinful nature

You will sometimes see quotes by old church fathers from Calvinists who suggest that they teach original sin, but if you scrutinize those quotes and also read them in context, you will see that they teach no such thing. We also get a clearer picture if we compare with other texts from the same church father, and obviously the church fathers don’t contradict themselves. It’s very common to misunderstand the consequences of Adam’s sin (physical death) thinking it’s about a forced nature. If an original sin is forced upon us, then naturally we would have the best excuse for sin there is, and Jesus (clearly without original sin) would have a great advantage over us.

Ignatius of Antioch, 35-107 AD Bishop of Antioch in Syria. A disciple of the Apostle John and appointed as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter.

I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but all humanity is made the same, sometimes belonging to God and sometimes to the devil. If anyone is truly spiritual they are a person of God; but if they are irreligious and not spiritual then they are a person of the devil, made such NOT by nature, but by their own choice. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5, + Pg.61 vol. 1)

There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5)

Irenaeus of Lyon 120-202 AD. The Apostle John had a disciple named Polycarp, who had a disciple named Irenaeus.

Men are possessed with free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice. It is not true, therefore, that some are by nature good, and others bad. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII)

Man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing good and evil; so that, without compulsion, he has the power, by his own will and choice, to perform God’s commandments. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXIX)

Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not worked good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way, nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it. (Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 37)

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. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves…  (c. 180, Against Heresies 37; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 246)

And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God. He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. (Against Heresies, Book V, XXVII, 2)

Justin Martyr, 110-165 AD

For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things, he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness. (Apology 1, Chapter 28)

But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Apology 1, ch. 43)

But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness; or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.” /Apology 2 Ch.7 2 (+ The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p.354)

But as my discourse is not intended to touch on this point, but to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming ”gods,” and of having power to become sons of the Highest; and shall be each by himself judged and condemned like Adam and Eve. Now I have proved at length that Christ is called God. / Dialogue:124

Now, we know that he did not go to the river because He stood in need of baptism, or of the descent of the Spirit like a dove; even as He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit./ Dialogue: 88

But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness.—Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded,” that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be./ Dialogue: 140Neither do we maintain that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer. Rather, we maintain that each man acts rightly or sins BY HIS FREE CHOICE….Since God in the beginning MADE THE RACE OF ANGELS AND MEN WITH FREE WILL, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. (c. 160, E), 1:190

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

Clement 2nd, 80-140 ADThe first Apostolic Father of the Church. (According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. In Philippians 4:3 Clement is mentioned whose name was written “in the book of life”. Although known as 2 Clement, this document is in actuality an anonymous homily of the mid-second century. The author quotes from some document for the sayings of Jesus.)

Thus although we are born neither good nor bad, we become on or the other and having formed habits, we are with difficulty drawn from them. Pg 273 vol.8

He who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice… 

So, brothers and sisters, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life (2 Clement 8:4)

Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) 150–215 AD. A theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p.319)

Their estrangement is the result of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 426)

Tatian the Assyrian 120–180 AD Theologianjesus

Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (c. 160, Vol. 2, pp. 69-70)

Each of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased. They did not have the nature of good, which again is with God alone. However, it is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice. In this manner, the bad man can be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault. Likewise, the just man can be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice, he refrained from transgressing the will of God. (c. 160, Vol. 2, p. 67)

Tertullian 160-225 AD

I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and powerFor a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience of resistance. (c. 207, Vol. 3, pp. 300-301)

No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.  (c. 207) (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Athenagorus of Athens, 133-190 AD Apologist

Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to bother 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), so is it among the angels. (c. 177, Embassy for Christians; God’s Strategy in Human History, p. 247)

Aristides of Athens, 134 AD (Marcianus Aristides)

 

Theophilus of Antioch, –185 (Succeeded Eros c. 169)

Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God; but If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (Apology to Autolycus, ch. XXVII.—The nature of man. c.180, Vol. 2, p. 105)

Hyppolytus of Rome, 170 – 235 AD theologian

God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason.Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.” (c. 225, Vol. 5, p.151)

Hoodwinking multitudes, [Marcus, the Gnostic heretic] deceived many persons of this description who had become his disciples. He taught them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin. However, he said that they were beyond the reach of danger because they belonged to the perfect power.—Subsequent to baptism, these [heretics] promise another, which they call Redemption. And by this, they wickedly subvert those who remain with them in expectation of redemption. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.92)

Origen (Adamantius) 185 – 253 AD Scholar, theologian

The Scriptures emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right. We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. FOR IT IS NOT THE NATURE IN US THAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE EVIL; rather, it is the VOLUNTARY CHOICE that works evil” (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)

the heretics introduce the doctrine of different natures (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 291, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)

The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages.They essentially destroy free will by introducing RUINED NATURES incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, p. 308)

Cyprian, 200-258 AD Bishop of Carthage

The liberty of believing or not believing is placed in free choice. In Deuteronomy, it says, ‘Look! I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live. (c. 250, Vol. 5, p. 547)

Novatian, (Novatus) 200–258 AD Scholar, priest, theologian and antipope

When he had given man all things for his service, he willed that man alone should be free. And lest an unbounded freedom would lead man into peril, He had laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree. Rather, he was forewarned that evil would arise if man were to exercise his free will in contempt of the law that had been given him….As a result, he could receive either worthy rewards or a just punishment. For he had in his own power that which he might choose to do. (c. 235, Vol. 5, p. 612)

Lactantius 240-320 AD

We should be free from vices and sin. For no one is born sinful, but if our affections are given to that direction they can become vices and sinful, but if we use our affections well they become virtues. (Ch. 16 bk 4 Divine Inst.)

Eusebius, 263 – 233 AD Bishop of Caesarea

The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again,making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature! / The Christian Examiner, Volume One, Published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66)

Methodius, 260-312 AD Bishop of Olympus

Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (c. 190, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins 16; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 252)

There is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will? and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius

For man received power, and enslaved himselfnot because he was overpowered by irresistible tendencies of his nature, nor because the capacity with which he was gifted deprived him of what was better for him…I say therefore, that God purposing thus to honor man…has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes,and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that he deprives him again of free will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius + The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 746

I say that God – purposing to honor man in this manner and to grant him an understanding of better things has given man the power of being able to do what he wishes. He commends the use of his power for better things. However, it is not that God deprives man again of free will. Rather, He wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with man, and he receives the commandment. But God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

I do not think that God urges man to obey His commandments, but then deprives him of the power to obey or disobey…. He does not give a command in order to take way the power that he has given. Rather, He gives it in order to bestow a better gift…in return for his rendered obedience to God. For man had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free will. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

If then, any are evil, they are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and not by necessity. They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault.’For a man is not spoken of as ‘murderer’ but by committing it he receives the derived name of murderer. Evil is not a substance, but by practicing any evil it can be called evil…for a man is evil only in consequences of his actions. For he is said to be evil because he is a doer of evil. It is a persons actions that gives them the title of evil. Men produce the evil and are the authors of them. It is through actions that evil exists. Each man is evil in consequences of what they practice. It all has a beginning.The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius

The Divine Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not the cause of these things. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 696)

Arnobius of Sicca, –330 AD

Does He not free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the supreme, who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him. To all, He says, the fountain of like is open, and no one is kept back or hindered from drinking. If you are so fastidious as to spurn the kindly offered gift… why should he keep on inviting you, while His only duty is to make the enjoyment of His bounty depend on your own free choice. Book 2 ,64

Cyril of Jerusalem, 312-386

Lecture IV 18″Know also that thou hast a soul self governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator, immortal because of God that gives it immortality, a living being rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth.”20″There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.”21″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 of 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, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston

Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choice. Do not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds ‘If then I do that which I would not’ in the wrong sense, but remember who says, ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,’ and what follows.” (Catechetical Lectures IV . 19)

And you must know your soul to be endowed with free-will, and to be God’s fairest work in the image of himself. It is immortal in as far as God grants it immortality. It is a rational living creature not subject to decay, because these qualities have been bestowed by God upon it. And it has the power to do what it chooses. For you do not sin because you were born that way, nor if you fornicate is it by chance. And do not take any notice of what some people say, that the conjunctions of the stars compel you to fall into unclean living. Why should you avoid acknowledging that you have done wrong by blaming it onto the stars that had nothing to do with it? (Catechetical Lectures IV . 18 (109)

John Crysostom, 347-407 AD Archbishop of Constantinoplesamvete

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, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston

Jerome, 347 – 420 AD, Priest, historian, theologian

God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for damnation or the crown (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Pelagius, 360 – 420, British monk and theologian (with knowledge in Greek, unlike Augustine). Notice below how he is in agreement with all the early church fathers about man’s free will and that we have not inherited Adam’s sin. Pelagius wrote ”On Nature” and ”Defense Of The Freedom Of The Will”, and in these he suggests that Augustine has been affected by Manicheanism (Augustine was a former gnostic) by mixing christianity with pagan fatalism. Manicheanism teaches that the spirit is God-created, while the flesh is corrupt since it had not been created directly by God. Augustine is the great heretic and has brought in many heresies into church, and Pelagius continues to be wrongly attacked by christians, despite that he was both Biblical and taught the same things as all the church fathers before him.

Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature and to show what it is capable of achieving, and then to go on to encourage the mind of my listener to consider the idea of different kinds of virtues, in case it may be of little or no profit to him to be summoned to pursue ends which he has perhaps assumed hitherto to be beyond his reach; for we can never end upon the path of virtue unless we have hope as our guide and compassion…any good of which human nature is capable has to be revealed, since what is shown to be practicable must be put into practice. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 36-37, published by The Boydell Press)

It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative...he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he was the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent creature wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do His will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good – good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not bound by necessity but free to decide for itself. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 38, published by The Boydell Press)

Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 39, published by The Boydell Press)

And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature’s fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Yet we do not defend the good of nature to such an extent that we claim that it cannot do evil, since we undoubtedly declare also that it is capable of good and evil; we merely try to protect it from an unjust charge, so that we may not seem to be forced to do evil through a fault of our nature, when, in fact, we do neither good nor evil without the exercise of our will and always have the freedom to do one of the two, being always able to do either. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty…Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)

Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 92, published by The Boydell Press)

Obedience results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press)

I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’ John Wesley

Here is a good video when it comes to the topic of Augustine’s corruption of the church:

Did AUGUSTINE corrupt the church with gnostic doctrine? (Yes)

This is a well researched must-see film for all who are curious about the views prior to Augustine of Hippo who lived between 350-430 AD. We often hear about the views of Martin Luther and Jean Calvin, but many of their views actually derive from Augustine. What views did the early church fathers have who lived beyond him? We can see that they unanimously and without exception believed in man’s free will and none of them believed that man is born with a sinful nature or inherited Adam’s sin. You can read more quotes from the website eternaltruth.us or my blog article here.

The Bible says:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints

This means that we should pay close attention to what these early saints had to say about salvation since the ”faith” was once delivered to them and since Jude here exhorts us to earnestly contend for this faith. (Naturally this doesn’t exempt us from our responsibility to compare everything we read and hear with scripture. ) Since ALL of the early church fathers (before the time of Augustine) believed in free will, and NONE believed in ”once saved always saved NOR that man is born with a sinful nature AND (most importantly) since the BIBLE teaches the same things, then we should be completely confident about what the true doctrines really are which Jude is referring to. The only ones who taught the opposite were the GNOSTICS, and Augustine (a former gnostic) sadly brought in many gnostic ideas into church which we have been deceived by ever since. It’s time to go back the teachings of the early church, which are based on the Bible. God is not a God of confusion and is able to reveal the real truth to us in the Bible. The false idea that babies are born in sin is nothing but gnostic heresy and yet this falsehood is rather common worldwide in our churches today.

Was Pelagius really a heretic?

The original blog article can be found here, and read my own blog article about Pelagius here

 

This is an excerpt from the footnotes of Jesse Morrell’s  upcoming book, “The Vicarious Atonement of Christ.”

Calvinists typically accuse the teachers of free will, like Charles Finney and John Wesley, of being “Pelagians.” However, this is fallacious on many levels, not only because it is used as an ad hominem attack, but also because it is a non sequitur. Just because Pelagius taught free will does not mean that everyone who believes in free will is a Pelagian. The same logic would make everyone who believes in the Trinity a Pelagian, because Pelagius taught that too. But the doctrine of free will was the universal doctrine of the Christian church, long before Pelagius even existed. On the doctrine of free will, Pelagius certainly was orthodox as he agreed with all of the Early Church Fathers before Augustine on that point. (See the article on the bottom of this post that proves this)

Calvinists also like to point out that, “Pelagianism has been condemned as heresy by councils all throughout Church history.” I always find it amazing when the so called “Reformed” and “Sola Scriptura” crowd will point to Catholic councils about Pelagius. They are not very reformed if they appeal to Rome, and they are not sola scriptura if they appeal to councils.

There were three councils that condemned Pelagianism; the Council of Ephesus in the year 431; the Council of Carthage in the year 418; and the Council of Orange in the year 529. This is because Pelagius was not invited nor present to defend himself but his opponents and adversaries stated his doctrine for him. When Pelagius was able to defend himself, the Council of Diospolis in 415 declared Pelagius orthodox. And Pope Zosimus also declared Pelagius’ orthodoxy in 417. He was always acquitted when present to clarify and defend his views. If these are our authorities to determine orthodoxy, do we accept the ones in favor of Pelagius or the ones against him?

In addition, the Council of Orange and the Council of Carthage were not ecumenical councils. They did not consist of Bishops from the entire church, which mean that the rulings of the Councils were not universally affirmed by the Eastern and Western churches.

If heresy is heresy because a council says so, or because of majority vote, Calvinism must be more heretical than Pelagianism was because there were more councils that condemned Calvinism than condemned Pelagianism. The Calvinist doctrines of predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace were condemned throughout history. Lucidus was condemned by the Council of Oral in 473, Council of Arles in 475, and Council of Orange in 529. And Gottschalk (Gotteschalcus) was condemned by the Council at Mentz in 848 and the Council of Chiersey (Quiercy) in 849. And what do Calvinists think of the Council of Constance in 1414 for John Huss, or the Council of Worms in 1521 for Martin Luther, or the Council of Trent in 1561 for the Protestants? Are these Councils not the voice of Orthodoxy as Ephesus and Carthage supposedly were?

In fact, the Council of Orange that condemned Pelagianism also condemned the doctrines of Calvinism. If the council is authoritative in the former case, it must be equally authoritative in the latter as well. But if it was mistaken in the latter case, maybe it was mistaken in the former as well.

On the other hand, the Synod of Philadelphia declared Albert Barnes as orthodox in 1829, after he presented his case for rejecting limited atonement, natural inability, and the imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt to all his posterity. And Lyman Beecher was accused of heresy for his new school theology in 1835 but was acquitted by the Synod of Cincinatti. Though “New England Theology” or “New School Theology” was accused of being “Pelagian” by “Old School Calvinists,” it was nevertheless declared orthodox by Christian Synods.

And just so that nobody feels left out, the Synod of Dort condemned the doctrines of Arminianism in 1618-1619. Certainly the Arminian camp should not, therefore, give credibility to councils which determine orthodoxy by popular vote.

But to determine if Pelagius really was a heretic, we should go to his actual words to see what he taught. It is a common error for Calvinists to quote from Pelagius’ opponents and accusers to express what Pelagius taught, rather than to quote from Pelagius himself. Certainly, Calvinists would not like it if people quoted from the opponents of Reformed Theology to state what Calvinism teaches. We should give Pelagius the same honesty and fairness that we would want our doctrine to be treated with.

Quotes from old church fathers, supporting Free will and objecting to the Sinful nature

Church fathers before Augustine entered the scene …

The first 300 years AD we had a complete agreement among the early church fathers that man has a free will, that we are not ”once saved always saved” and that we were not born with some kind of sinful nature which is holding us back to depravity and inability to seek and find God. Are we to believe those years were full of darkness before Augustine entered the scene (354 -430 AD) to finally give us light? The only ones who taught against free will were the gnostics.  All of the early church up to the time of Augustine was unanimous in their belief and understanding of the nature of sin being that of choice.

”Gnostics also believed that mankind was wholly evil and some sects even renounced marriage and procreation. They also believed in two gods, one evil god and one good god. Their teachings are believed to have influenced Saint Augustine in the development of his theology of ”total depravity” of mankind and concept of God. For nine years St. Augustine adhered to Manichaeism, a Persian philosophy proclaimed in southern Babylonia (Iraq) that taught a doctrine of ”total depravity” and the claim that they were the ”elect.” He then turned to skepticism. Next, Augustine was attracted to the philosophy of Neoplatonism. He blended these beliefs with his later Gnostic Christian teachings. His teachings were in turn passed on to John Calvin in his extensive study of Augustine’s writings. It is very easy to follow the trail of John Calvin’s theology from the pagan religion of Mani in Babylonia to his writings in France and Geneva”  Read more here

Unfortunately this new teaching (well, not really new since the gnostics taught it before Augustine, and he was a former gnostic) lead to many consequences:

  • If we sin, it’s not our fault because our sin nature made us  do it. We are victims – not guilty.
  • A life change is not essential for salvation.  We are not perfect, just forgiven.
  • Jesus was born without sin and therefore different from us and had an unfair advantage. He couldn’t sin and we can’t help but sin. This minimizes what Jesus did for us.

”I read through most of the early Church writings and gathered the quotes personally – to be sure to understand the context and to no miss things. But it is amazing to me that I seem to find more quotes I did not have all the time. It is amazing how much the Early Church was against TULIP! —they [the reformed] refuse to acknowledge it, or must assume that the Early Church fell from the truth taught to them by the Apostles immediately after the Apostles died.” (Lyndon Conn)

It is of course possible to take quotes out of a context and make them sound like a person has views he in fact does not have, but that would be nothing but deceptive. A more honest approach would be to quote someone’s clear and general views instead of trying to find some odd quotes out of context. With or without a broader context, the old church fathers DID hold to the views the quotes clearly revealed. I have seen some attempts where reformed thinkers have listed quotes from early church fathers with the aim to show that they spoke against free will, but after having read the quotes 1) most often the quotes actually do not say what they claim they say and 2) if the context and other writings from the same person end up with him having contradictory views, something is clearly wrong. 

Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) 160-225 AD

Apologist and a polemicist against heresy. He is perhaps most famous for being the oldest extant Latin writer to use the term TrinityCyprian’s teacher.

I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and powerFor a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience of resistance. (c. 207, Vol. 3, pp. 300-301)

No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.  (c. 207) (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Some people act as though God were under an obligation to bestow even on the unworthy His intended gift. They turn His liberality into slavery…. For do not many afterwards fall out of grace? Is not this gift taken away from many? (Tertullian On Repentance chap. 6.)

The world returned to sin…and so it is destined to fire. So is the man who after baptism renews his sins.  c.197

However, in the case of little children…Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the “remission of sins? ”…If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay.

Irenaeus of Lyons, 120-202 AD

The Apostle John had a disciple named Polycarp, and Polycarp had a disciple named Irenaeus.

Below from (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 4, chapter 37, paragraphs 1 – 7)

1. This expression [of our Lord], ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spewing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, ‘But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.’ ‘But glory and honour,’ he says, ‘to every one that doeth good.’ God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honour, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do.

2. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it,--some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good. And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets.

3.  — Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing.’ And  again, ‘The servant who knows his Lord’s will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.’ And, ‘Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’ And again, ‘But if the servant say in his heart, The Lord delayeth, and begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken, his Lord will come in a day on which he does not expect Him, and shall cut him in sunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites.’ All such passages demonstrate the independent will of man, and at the same time the counsel which God conveys to him, by which He exhorts us to submit ourselves to Him, and seeks to turn us away from [the sin of] unbelief against Him, without, however, in any way coercing us.

4. No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man’s power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. And on this account Paul says, ‘All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient;’ referring both to the liberty of man, in which respect ‘all things are lawful,’ God exercising no compulsion in regard to him; and [by the expression] ‘not expedient’ pointing out that we ‘should not use our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,’ for this is not expedient. And again he says, ‘Speak ye every man truth with his neighbour.’ And, ‘Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.’ [4406] And, ‘For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk honestly as children of the light, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in anger and jealousy. And such were some of you; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our Lord.’ 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? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God.

‘5. And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, ‘According to thy faith be it unto thee;’ thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, ‘All things are possible to him that believeth;’ and, ‘Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.’ Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, ‘he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him.’ In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, ‘How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate.’

6. Those, again, who maintain the opposite to these [conclusions], do themselves present the Lord as destitute of power, as if, forsooth, He were unable to accomplish what He willed; or, on the other hand, as being ignorant that they were by nature ‘material,’ as these men express it, and such as cannot receive His immortality. ‘But He should not,’ say they, ‘have created angels of such a nature that they were capable of transgression, nor men who immediately proved ungrateful towards Him; for they were made rational beings, endowed with the power of examining and judging, and were not [formed] as things irrational or of a [merely] animal nature, which can do nothing of their own will, but are drawn by necessity and compulsion to what is good, in which things there is one mind and one usage, working mechanically in one groove (inflexibiles et sine judicio), who are incapable of being anything else except just what they had been created.’ But upon this supposition, neither would what is good be grateful to them, nor communion with God be precious, nor would the good be very much to be sought after, which would present itself without their own proper endeavour, care, or study, but would be implanted of its own accord and without their concern. Thus it would come to pass, that their being good would be of no consequence, because they were so by nature rather than by will, and are possessors of good spontaneously, not by choice; and for this reason they would not understand this fact, that good is a comely thing, nor would they take pleasure in it. For how can those who are ignorant of good enjoy it? Or what credit is it to those who have not aimed at it? And what crown is it to those who have not followed in pursuit of it, like those victorious in the contest?

In short:

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. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves…  (c. 180, Against Heresies 37; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 246)

”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds”…And ”Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?’…All such passages demonstrate the independent will of manFor it is in man’s power to disobey God and to forfeit what is good.” (c.180, Vol. 1, p. 519)

Nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon anyone unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill…. They have been created free agents and possessed of power over themselves. (c. 180, Vol. 1, p. 523)  

Ignatius, 35-107 AD Bishop of Antioch in Syria. Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John and appointed as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter.

And pray ye also without ceasing for the rest of mankind (for there is in them a hope of repentance), that they may find God. Therefore permit them to take lessons at least from your works. (Letter to the Ephesians 10:1)

Do not err, my brothers. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If, then, those who do this in regard to the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with anyone who corrupts the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified, by wicked doctrine? Such a person, becoming defiled, shall go away into everlasting fire and so shall everyone that listens to him. (Letter to the Ephesians 16)

I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but all humanity is made the same, sometimes belonging to God and sometimes to the devil. If anyone is truly spiritual they are a person of God; but if they are irreligious and not spiritual then they are a person of the devil, made such not by nature, but by their own choice. Pg.61 vol. 1.

There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. (The epistle of Ignatius, ch. 5, p. 27)

Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) 150–215 AD

A theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

We…have believed and are saved by voluntary choice (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 217)

To obey or not is in our own power, provided we do not have the excuse of ignorance (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 353)

Each one of us who sins with his own free will, chooses punishment. So the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame. (c.195, Vol. 2, p. 226)

Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p.319)

We have heard from the Scriptures that self-determining choice and refusal have been given by the Lord to men. Therefore, we rest in the infallible criterion of faith, manifesting a willing spirit, since we have chosen life. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 349)

The Lord clearly shows sins and transgressions to be in our own power, by prescribing modes of cure corresponding to the maladies. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 363)

Their estrangement is the result of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 426)

Believing and obeying are in our own power. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 527)

Nor will he who is saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate. But above all, he will speed to salvation voluntarily and of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 534)

Choice depends on the man as being free. But the gift depended on God as the Lord. And He gives to those who are willing, are exceedingly earnest, and who ask. In this manner, their salvation can become their own. For God does not compel. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 593)

Clement, 80-140 AD 

The first Apostolic Father of the Church.  According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. In Philippians 4:3 Clement is mentioned whose name was written “in the book of life”. Although known as 2 Clement, this document is in actuality an anonymous homily of the mid-second century.

Thus although we are born neither good nor bad, we become on or the other and having formed habits, we are with difficulty drawn from them. Pg 273 vol.8

But inasmuch as inborn affection towards God the creator is sufficient for salvation to those who love Him, the enemy tries to pervert this affection in men, and to render them hostile and ungrateful to their Creator…But if mankind would turn their affection towards God, all would doubtless be saved, even if when they have some faults they would be open to correction for righteousness, but now most of mankind have been made enemies of God, their hearts the wicked one has entered, and has turned aside towards himself the affection which God the Creator had implanted in them, which He, God, desires that they might have towards Him. Pg.101 Vol.8

1 Clement 7:4 Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ and understand how precious it is unto His Father, because being shed for our salvation it won for the whole world the grace of repentance.

1 Clement 7:5 Let us review all the generations in turn, and learn how from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him.

For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments. 2 Clement 6:7

…with what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works? 2 Clement 6:9

For as concerning them that have not kept the seal, He saith, `Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle unto all flesh’. 2 Clement 7:6

So, brothers and sisters, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life (2 Clement 8:4)

So then He meaneth this, Keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, to the end that we may receive life. 2 Clement 8:6  

Let us, then, not only call him Lord, for that will not save us. For he says, ”Not every one that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall be saved, but he that does righteousness.” Therefore, brothers, let us confess him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but being continent, compassionate, and good. … By such works let us confess him, and not by those that are of an opposite kind. It is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather God. For this reason, if we should do such wicked things, the Lord has said, “Even if you were gathered together to me, into my very bosom, yet if you were not to keep my commandments, I would cast you off and say to you, ‘Depart from me … you workers of iniquity.‘” (2 Clement 4) Hermas, c. A.D. 160

It is therefore in the power of every one, since man has been made possessed of free-will, whether he shall hear us to life, or the demons to destruction. 

He who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice… 

For no other reason does God punish the sinner either in the present or in the future world, except because He knows that the sinner was able to conquer but neglected to gain the victory.

Justin Martyr, 110-165 AD

Note that ”foreknowing” concerns knowing something ahead of time, rather than predestining/forcing something to occur.

For He foreknows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative. And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things, he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness. (Chapter 28 of Justin’s 1st Apology).

For as in the beginning He created us when we were not, so do we consider that, in like manner, those who choose what is pleasing to Him are, on account of their choice, deemed worthy of incorruption and of fellowship with Him. For the coming into being at first was not in our own power; and in order that we may follow those things which please Him, choosing them by means of the rational faculties He has Himself endowed us with, He both persuades us and leads us to faith. (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.165)

In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative. (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.172)

Let some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever occurs happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to THE MERIT OF EACH MAN’S ACTIONS. Now, if this is not so, but all things happen by fate, then neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it is predetermined that this man will be good, and this other man will be evil, neither is the first one meritorious nor the latter man to be blamed. And again, unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and CHOOSING GOOD BY FREE CHOICE, they are not accountable for their actions (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 177)

For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made. (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.177)

But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds. (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.190)

But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.190)

For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit. (Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.243)

Methodius (Bishop of Olympus) 260-312 AD

Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (c. 190, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins 16; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 252)

I say that God – purposing to honor man in this manner and to grant him an understanding of better things – has given man the power of being able to do what he wishes. He commends the use of his power for better things. However, it is not that God deprives man again of free will. Rather, He wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with man, and he receives the commandment. But God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

I do not think that God urges man to obey His commandments, but then deprives him of the power to obey or disobey…. He does not give a command in order to take way the power that he has given. Rather, He gives it in order to bestow a better gift…in return for his rendered obedience to God. For man had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free will. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

God is good and wise. He does what is best. Therefore, there is no fixed destiny.” (c. 190, Vol. 6, p.343)

From Methodius writing ”Concerning free will”:

For a man is evil in consequence of his actions. For he is said to be evil, because he is the doer of evil. Now what a man does, is not the man himself, but his activity, and it is from his actions that he receives the title of evil. For if we were to say that he is that which he does, and he commits murders, adulteries, and such-like, he will be all these. Now if he is these, then when they are produced he has an existence, but when they are not, he too ceases to be. Now these things are produced by men. Men then will be the authors of them, and the causes of their existing or not existing. But if each man is evil in consequence of what he practises, and what he practises has an origin, he also made a beginning in evil, and evil too had a beginning. Now if this is the case, no one is without a beginning in evil, nor are evil things without an origin.

Because there is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with a free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God.

For this was the meaning of the gift of Free Will. And man after his creation receives a commandment from God; and from this at once rises evil, for he does not obey the divine command; and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience, which had a beginning.

For man received power, and enslaved himself, not because he was overpowered by the irresistible tendencies of his nature, nor because the capacity with which he was gifted deprived him of what was better for him; for it was for the sake of this that I say he was endowed with it (but he received the power above mentioned), in order that he may obtain an addition to what he already possesses, which accrues to him from the Superior Being in consequence of his obedience, and is demanded as a debt from his Maker. For I say that man was made not for destruction, but for better things. For if he were made as any of the elements, or those things which render a similar service to God, he would cease to receive a reward befitting deliberate choice, and would be like an instrument of the maker; and it would be unreasonable for him to suffer blame for his wrong-doings, for the real author of them is the one by whom he is used. But man did not understand better things, since he did not know the author (of his existence), but only the object for which he was made. I say therefore that God, purposing thus to honour man, and to grant him an understanding of better things, has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes, and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that He deprives him again of free-will, but wishes to deprives him again of free-will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him, and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. For as a father exhorts his son, who has power to learn his lessons, to give more attention to them inasmuch as, while he points out this as the better course, he does not deprive his son of the power which he possessed, even if he be not inclined to learn willingly; so I do not think that God, while He urges on man to obey His commands, deprives him of the power of purposing and withholding obedience. For He points out the cause of His giving this advice, in that He does not deprive him of the power. But He gives commands, in order that man may be able to enjoy better things. For this is the consequence of obeying the commands of God. So that He does not give commands in order to take away the power which He has given, but in order that a better gift may be bestowed, as to one worthy of attaining greater things, in return for his having rendered obedience to God, while he had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already existing same evil, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, … but that the power of obeying and disobeying God is the only cause. For this was the object to be obtained by free-will. And man after his creation receives a commandment from God, and from this at once rises evil; for he does not obey the divine command, and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience, which had a beginning. For no one has it in his power to say that it is without an origin, when its author had an origin. But you will be sure to ask whence arose this disobedience. It is clearly recorded in Holy Scripture, by which I am enabled to say that man was not made by God in this condition, but that he has come to it by some teaching. For man did not receive such a nature as this. For if it were the case that his nature was such, this would not have come upon him by teaching. Now one says in Holy Writ, that man has learned (evil). Jeremiah 13:23 I say, then, that disobedience to God is taught. For this alone is evil which is produced in opposition to the purpose of God, for man would not learn evil by itself. He, then, who teaches evil is the Serpent.

For my part, I said that the beginning of evil was envy, and that it arose from man’s being distinguished by God with higher honour. Now evil is disobedience to the commandment of God.”.

Arnobius, 297-303 AD

Does He not free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the supreme, who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him. To all, He says, the fountain of like is open, and no one is kept back or hindered from drinking. If you are so fastidious as to spurn the kindly offered gift… why should he keep on inviting you, while His only duty is to make the enjoyment of His bounty depend on your own free choice. Book 2 ,64

Aristides of Athens (Marcianus Aristides) 134 AD

And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God, and if furthermore, it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. Apology to Hadrian

Tatian the Syrian, 110-172 AD

Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (c. 160, Vol. 2, pp. 69-70)

Each of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased. They did not have the nature of good, which again is with God alone. However, it is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice. In this manner, the bad man can be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault. Likewise, the just man can be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice, he refrained from transgressing the will of God. (c. 160, Vol. 2, p. 67)

Lactantius, 260-330 AD

We should be free from vices and sin. For no one is born sinful, but if our affections are given to that direction they can become vices and sinful, but if we use our affections well they become virtues.’ Ch16 bk 4 Divine Inst.

Melito (Bishop of Sardis near Smyrna) 80 AD

There is, therefore, nothing to hinder you from changing your evil manner to life, because you are a free man. (c.170, Vol. 8, p. 754)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 312–386 AD

The soul is self-governed: and though the devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to you the thought of fornication: if you will, you accept it; if you will not, you reject. For if you were a fornicator by necessity, then for what cause did God prepare hell?If you were 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. (Catechetical Lectures IV)

 Athenagorus, 133-190 AD

Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to bother 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), so is it among the angels. (c. 177, Embassy for Christians; God’s Strategy in Human History, p. 247)

Theophilus

If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (c.180, Vol. 2, p. 105)

Hyppolytus, 170 – 235 AD

God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason. Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.” (c. 225, Vol. 5, p.151)

The Word promulgated the divine commandments by declaring them. He thereby turned man from disobedience. He summoned man to liberty through a choice involving spontaneity – not by bringing him into servitude by force of necessity. (c. 225, Vol. 5, p. 152)

Man is able to both will and not to will. He is endowed with power to do both. (c. 225, Vol. 5, p. 152)

Origen (Adamantius) 184/185 – 253/254 AD

The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

This is also clearly defined in the teaching of the church, that every rational soul has free will and volition….we are not forced by any necessity to act either rightly or wrongly. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 240)

It seems a plausible thing that rational natures, from whom the faculty of free will is never taken away, may be again subjected to movements of some kind. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 272)

Since those rational creatures themselves… were endowed with the power of free will, this freedom of the will incited each one to either progress (by imitation of God), or else it reduced a person to failure through negligence. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 292)

In the preaching of the church, there is included the doctrine concerning a just judgment of God. When this teaching is believed to be true, it incites those who hear it to live virtuously and to shun sin by all means. For they clearly acknowledge that things worthy of praise and blame are within our own power. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 302)

Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages. They essentially destroy free will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost.

Novatian, 200–258 AD

When he had given man all things for his service, he willed that man alone should be free. And lest an unbounded freedom would lead man into peril, He had laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree. Rather, he was forewarned that evil would arise if man were to exercise his free will in contempt of the law that had been given him….As a result, he could receive either worthy rewards or a just punishment. For he had in his own power that which he might choose to do. (c. 235, Vol. 5, p. 612)

Eusebius (Bishop of Caesarea) 263 – 233 AD

A Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon. Considered the father of “Church History” for his extensive writings in ecclesiastical history.

The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature!

The devil in his oracles hangs all things upon fate, and taking away that which is in our power, and arises from self-motion of free will… brings this also into bondage to necessity.

Commodianus, 250 AD

Being a believing man, if you seek to live as the gentiles do, the joys of the world remove you from the grace of Christ c.240

Cyprian, 200-258 AD Bishop of Carthage

The liberty of believing or not believing is placed in free choice. In Deuteronomy, it says, ‘Look! I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live. (ANF, The fathers from the 3rd century, c. 250, vol. 5. page 547)

It is written, ‘He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved’ [Matt. 10:22]. So whatever precedes the end is only a step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation. It is not the final point wherein we have already gained the full result of the ascent. (Cyprian Unity of the Church sec. 21) 

Shepherd of Hermas, ca 130-140 AD

He that does not know God,” [the angel of repentance] answered, ”and practices evil, receives a certain chastisement for his wickedness, but he that has known God ought not to do evil anymore but to do good. If, accordingly, when he ought to do good, he does evil, does he not appear to do greater evil than the one who does not know God? For this reason, those who have not known God and do evil are condemned to death, but those who have known God and have seen his mighty works and still continue in evil shall be chastised doubly and shall die forever. This is the way the Church of God will be purified.” (Shepherd of Hermas III:9:8)

If you do not guard yourself against anger you and your house will lose all hope of salvation. Hermas c.150

The Epistle of the Apostles, 2nd century

A work from the New Testament apocrypha. A complete version in Ethiopic translation was discovered and published in the early twentieth century.

 27 ”For to that end went I down unto the place of Lazarus, and preached unto the righteous and the prophets, that they might come out of the rest which is below and come up into that which is above; and I poured out upon them with my right hand the water (?) (baptism, Eth.) of life and forgiveness and salvation from all evil, as I have done unto you and unto them that believe on me. But if any man believe on me and do not my commandments, although he have confessed my name, he hath no profit therefrom but runneth a vain race: for such will find themselves in perdition and destruction, because they have despised my commandments.”28 …Then said he unto us: Verily I say unto you, all that have believed on me and that believe in him that sent me will I take up into the heaven, unto the place which my Father hath prepared for the elect, and I will give you the kingdom, the chosen kingdom, in rest, and everlasting life. 29 But all they that have offended against my commandments and have taught other doctrine, (perverting) the Scripture and adding thereto, striving after their own glory, and that teach with other words them that believe on me in uprightness, if they make them fall thereby, shall receive everlasting punishment. We said unto him: Lord, shall there then be teaching by others, diverse from that which thou hast spoken unto us ? He said unto us: It must needs be, that the evil and the good may be made manifest; and the judgment shall be manifest upon them that do these things, and according to their works shall they be judged and shall be delivered unto death. And we said unto him: Lord, will they that believe be treated like the unbelievers, and wilt thou punish them that have escaped from the pestilence? And he said unto us: If they that believe in my name deal like the sinners, then have they done as though they had not believed. And we said again to him: Lord, have they on whom this lot hath fallen no life? He answered and said unto us: Whoso hath accomplished the praise of my Father, he shall abide in the resting-place of my Father.

Epistle of Barnabas, 70-100 AD

A Greek text preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament. It is traditionally ascribed to Barnabas who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. It is not to be confused with the Gospel of Barnabas.

The Lord will judge the world without respect… of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

We take earnest heed in these last days, for the whole time of your faith will profit you nothing unless now, in this wicked time, we also withstand coming sources of danger, as befits the sons of God. (Letter of Barnabas 4)

The reformers and their uncivilized behavior against the anabaptists

Anabaptists required that baptismal candidates be able to make their own confessions of faith and so rejected baptism to infantsAs a result of re-baptism, Anabaptists were heavily persecuted during the 16th century and into the 17th by both Protestants and Roman catholics.  The Anabaptists insisted upon the ”free course” of the Holy Spirit in worship, yet still maintained it all must be judged according to the Scriptures. The Swiss Anabaptist document titled ”Answer of Some Who Are Called (Ana-)Baptists – Why They Do Not Attend the Churches” shows one reason given for not attending the state churches was that these institutions forbade the congregation to exercise spiritual gifts according to ”the Christian order as taught in the gospel or the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 14.”  Common Anabaptist beliefs and practices of the 16th century continue to influence modern Christianity:

Persecutions by Protestants. 343 och A Short History of the Inquisition. 344, 346

Article IX: Of Baptism. Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children.

August 7th, 1536, a synod was convened at Hamburg to devise the best means of exterminating the Anabaptists. Not one voice among all the delegates was raised in favor of the Anabaptists. Even Melancthon voted to put all those to death who should remain, obstinate in their errors. The ministers of Ulm demanded that heresy should be extinguished by fire and sword. Those of Augsburg said: ”If we have not yet sent any Anabaptists to the gibbet, we have at least branded their cheeks with red iron!? 

The Reformed church also fiercely persecuted the Anabaptists. The Anabaptists rejected infant baptism, and advocated immersion as the only effective form of holy bathing. Shortly before the convening of the diet of Augsburg, in 1534, Rothmann, one of the leaders of the Anabaptists, had openly preached in the streets of that city. He had won the people, who cried out to his opponents, ”Answer Rothmann, Catholics, Lutherans, Zwinglians!”Luther and his friends answered Rothmann in the old persecuting way. The Anabaptists were excluded from the diet, and Luther wrote to Melanchthon that they were ”ravenous wolves,” who harried the sheep-fold of Christ and ”should be banished.” At the same diet the consistent Luther demanded liberty of conscience, churches in which to worship, and the full rights of citizenship. He was the prototype of our Sabbatarians, who demand ”religious liberty,” while asking that laws be enacted to deprive everybody but themselves of liberty on Sunday. August 7, 1536, a synod was convened at Hamburg to take measures for the suppression of the Anabaptists.

Delegates came from all the cities which had renounced Catholicism. Not one spoke for the Anabaptists. Even the ”gentle Melanchthon” voted for death for all who should prove obstinate in their errors, or who should return from banishment. ”The ministers of Ulm demanded that heresy should be extinguished by fire and sword. Those of Augsburg said: If we have not yet sent any Anabaptists to the gibbet, we have at least branded their cheeks with red iron. Those of Tubingen cried out: Mercy for the poor Anabaptists who are seduced by their leaders, death to the ministers of this sect. The chancellor showed himself much more tolerant. He wished that the Anabaptists should be imprisoned, where, by dint of hard usage, they might be converted” (Catrou, ut supra, liv. i., 224; Zudin, 464).

This decree was issued: ”Whoever rejects infant baptism; whoever transgresses the orders of the magistrates; whoever preaches against taxes; whoever teaches the community of goods ; whoever usurps the priesthood; whoever holds unlawful assemblies; whosoever sins against faith, shall be punished with death. As for the simple people, who have not preached or administered baptism, but who were secduced to permit themselves to frequent the assemblies cf the heretics, if they do not wish to renounce Anabaptism, they shall be scourged, punished with perpetuc.1 exile, and even with death if they return three times to the place whence they have been expelled (see Catrou, Gastius, Menzel and Meshovius).

That same year Luther wrote to Philip, Landgrave of Hesse: ”Whoever denies the doctrines of our faith aye, even one article which rests on the scripture, on the authority of the universal teaching of the church must be treated not only as a heretic, but also as a blasphemer of the holy name of God. It is not necessary to lose time in disputes with such people; they are to be condemned as impious blasphemers.”

In the same letter, referring to a man who had denied the ”doctrine of our faith,” he advises this gentle treatment: ”Drive him away as an apostle of hell; and if he does not flee, deliver him up as a seditious man to the executioner.” ”It is true that many Anabaptists suffered death merely because they were judged to be incurable heretics, for in this century the error of limiting the administration of baptism to adult persons only, and the practice of baptizing such as had received that sacrament in a state of infancy were looked upon as most flagitious and intolerable heresies” (Mosheim). In Zurich there was a place of imprisonment called the ”her etics tower.” Swiss Protestants would put Anabaptists in sacks and throw them into the Rhine, remarking ”That they were merely baptizing them by their own favorite mode of immersion” (Menzel).

The Calvinists were as intolerant of the Lutherans as the latter were of the Anabaptists. In some parts of southern Germany the Calvinists had gained the ascen dency and they drove out the Lutheran ”sons of the devil.” ”More than a thousand Lutheran ministers were proscribed, with their wives and children, and reduced to beg the bread of charity” (Olearius).

In Switzerland Calvin ruled with an iron hand. Audin tells us that the lady who arranged her hair coquettishly was to be imprisoned, as also her chambermaid; the merchant who played cards was confined in a jail; no one could have in his possession a cross or any other symbol of the Catholic church; to sell wafers was a finable offense, and the merchant s stock would be burned as sacrilegious; if a man kept his hat on at the approach of Calvin he was fined; if he contradicted Calvin he could be brought before the consistory and threat ened with excommunication; all must eat meat on Friday, because Catholics had conscientious scruples against doing so; the penalty of disobedience was three days imprisonment.

In one instance a father was imprisoned for four days because he preferred a certain name for his child and the minister preferred another. For having ”proposed an opinion false and contrary to the evangelical religion,” Jerome Bolsec was exiled; Gruet was beheaded and his head nailed to a post because ”he was suspected of being the author of a placard against Abel Poupin, and because letters ridiculing Calvin were found in his house”; Servetus, on the charge of being a sower of heresies, was kept in prison for two months, tormented with vermin, almost naked, and with little food, and then taken out and burned slowly to death in a greenwood fire.

This atrocious murder was sanctioned by even the ”merciful” Melanchthon. Calvin published a treatise entitled ”A Faithful Account of the Errors of Michael Servetus, in which it is Proved that Heretics ought to be Restrained with the Sword.” To this Castellio or Socinus replied; this in turn called out Beza and a host of smaller Protestant writers, who proved with perfect ease, of course that killing heretics was sanctioned by the Bible. They said that there was a special dispensation of providence in the case of Servetus, who might have escaped had he not gone to Geneva in disguise after his first conviction. ”Calvin and other foreign divines had many tools in Poland, particularly Prasnicius, a violent orthodox clergyman. With this man, and through him with the nobility, gentry and clergy, Calvin and Beza corresponded; and many divines of Germany and Switzerland, and even the synod of Geneva, sent letters and tracts into Poland, all justifying the murder of Gentilis and Servetus and the necessity of employing the secular power to rid the world of such monsters was denied the trinity and infant baptism” (Robinson, ”Ecclesiastical Researches”). The consistory of Geneva advised Prince Radzivil ”to use his influence with the nobility of Poland, to engage them to treat the antitrinitarians as they would Tartars and Muscovites.”

/text from wikipedia and other resources

The idea of the DUAL NATURE is GNOSTIC in origin

The idea of the dual nature was condemned in the first century as the Gnostic heresy.

To say that sin is inevitable is to attribute to Satan power he no longer has. The Bible teaches that the old man is dead.

Rom. 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Col. 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

2 Cor.  5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

If you are in Christ, the old man has passed away, and all things are new, and ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD. Temptation however does not cease, but even with the temptation we are given assurances by God that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand.

1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

The enemy might lie to you and convince you that you cannot be free of his control. You have been taken captive to continue to obey his will.

2Ti 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

The gnostics believed the flesh was inheritably evil, but the spirit was inheritably good. They taught that regardless what you did in the flesh, your spirit was not affected. They were going to whores, and getting drunken and claiming to be in good with God. To them their spirits were good and could not be corrupted by the flesh. That is what John was talking about in 1 John 2:19. People who sin and then justify it. Notice there are 4 places where John referred to lying or liars:

1) 1Jo 1:5 ¶ This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

2) 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

3) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

4) He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Here is the Gnostic heresy. They claim to walk with God but continue to walk in darkness by sinning. But then they claim to have no sin because of the dual nature. But by saying they have not sinned they make God out to be a liar. Why? Because he that says he knows God but does not keep His commandments is a liar.

1Jo 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4 ¶ Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

This clearly says that anyone who is born of God does not sin any more. Anyone who sins is of the devil, and not of God. And it is not because of a dual nature. Verse 7 equates the righteousness of a believer to the Lord’s righteousness. ”he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous”. The second he in that verse refers back to the Him in verses 5 and 6, which is Jesus. Did Jesus have an old man corrupting Him? As to the absolute necessity to cease from sin, the Bible says this:

Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord

As to the ability to do this in this lifetime, (cease from sin), we have this passage in 1 Peter.

1Pe 4:1 ¶ Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

This says ceasing from sin happens in this life before death. Death is nothing more than a cop out for most people who refuse to take on the suffering necessary to cease from sin. Death while you are still in your sins will not suddenly fix you. It will send you to hell.

//Thanks to BRO COPE

Augustine, the former gnostic, and his many heretical views

Augustine, a former gnostic, lived between 354 and 430 AD, and introduced the following heretical views into church and made them popular

1. Absolute predestination (God decides who will be saved/doomed)
2. Impossibility of falling away or apostasy (Eternal Security)
3. Man has no free will (monergism)
4. One cannot know if he/she is saved (since also those who are carnal minded might be saved)
5. God commands impossibilities (God requesting man to stop sinning which he cannot do)
6. The supreme authority of the Roman church
7. Purgatory
8. Prayers for the dead
9. The damnation of unbaptized infants and adults
10. Sex is sinful also within a marriage because depravity is inherited (hence the rise of monasteries)
11. Mary never committed sin, and we do well to worship her/pray to/through her
12. The gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues have ceased
13. Apocrypha is included in the Scriptures
14. Eucharist is necessary for salvation
15. Giving people the official ”saint” title

Unlike Pelagius, Augustine didn’t understand much Greek. The historian Neander observed that Augustine’s teaching ”contains the germ of the whole system of spiritual despotism, intolerance, and persecution, even to the court of the Inquisition”. He instigated bitter persecutions against the Bible-believing Donatists who were striving to maintain pure churches after the apostolic faith.

Augustine interpreted Bible prophecy allegorically; among other things teaching that the Catholic Church is the kingdom of God.

Augustine was one of the fathers of the heresy of infant baptism, claiming that unbaptized infants were lost, and calling all who rejected infant baptism ”infidels” and ”cursed”.

Augustine exalted church tradition above the Bible and said,”I should not believe the gospel unless I were moved to do so by the authority of the Catholic Church”. 

He was among the first who taught a-millennialism and that the nephilim were descendents of Cain instead of (as the Bible says) a mixture of angels and female human beings.

Augustine said:

“By Adam’s transgression, the freedom of’ the human will has been completely lost.”

“By the greatness of the first sin, we have lost the freewill to love God.”

“By subverting the rectitude in which he was created, he is followed with the punishment of not being able to do right” and “the freedom to abstain from sin has been lost as a punishment of sin.”

According to Wikipedia we can learn: 

He was contemporary with Jerome and Ambrosius. In his early years he was heavily influenced by Manichaeism and afterward by the Neo-Platonism. Although he later abandoned Neoplatonism some ideas are still visible in his early writings. After his conversion to Christianity, Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives. He believed that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, and he framed the concepts of original sin and just war.

When the Western Roman Empire was starting to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book with the same name). The Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion view him as an pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinian religious order. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation.   Much of Augustine’s later life was recorded by his friend Possidius, bishop of Calama (present-day Guelma, Algeria), in his Sancti Augustini Vita. Possidius admired Augustine as a man of powerful intellect and a stirring orator who took every opportunity to defend Christianity against its detractors. Reformed theologians such as Martin Luther and John Calvin would look back to him as their inspiration.

Compared with Augustine,  Pelagius was way more consistent with the Bible and shared the same Bible interpretation as the church fathers before him. (Read more about him in another blog post in the same Category.)

A question that calvinists cannot answer – because it’s a paradox

CHALLENGE to CALVINISTS to please explain the contradiction of Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1:

A Calvinist writes:  ”[God] does not actively work unbelief into the non-elect. All are already under sin. God is not responsible for the sin of Adam, or the fall of mankind. God is not the author of evil. ”

Q. Who then *is* the author of evil? Who did work unbelief into the heart of men? If all men are under sin, what was God doing when it happened – did it occur behind his back / outside his sovereign causality? Calvin wrote: (quote): 

“..the will of God is the supreme and primary cause of everything…” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book I, Ch. 16, Sect.

 “We also note that we should consider the creation of the world so that we may realise that everything is subject to God and ruled by his will and that when the world has done what it may, nothing happens other than what God decrees.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.66)

“…the devil and all the ungodly are reined in by God, so that they cannot conceive, plan or carry out any crime, unless God allows it, indeed commands it. They are not only in bondage to him, but are forced to serve him. It is the Lord’s prerogative to enable the enemy’s rage and to control it at will, and it is in his power to decide how far and how long it may last, so that wicked men cannot break free and do exactly what they want….” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book I, Ch.17, Sect. 10)

= And again. WCF3.1 says God ordains EVERYTHING that happens.

Q. How then, having asserted this position, can Calvinism claim God is not authoring these things – THAT’S WHAT AUTHORING MEANS – (to conceive a plot, and via third parties cause a narrative to come into being, and then to publish it via secondary agents, for the world to experience it’s reality.) i.e. by the normal definition of the words, Authoring IS ordaining / decreeing / causing / predetermining, by creative design.

I really hope you guys can take this challenge on – because it lies at the heart of Calvinism’s claims of sovereignty. These are not complex questions, and are based on what Calvinism clearly states. I’m not pulling a clever trick on you here, but asking how you reconcile this contradiction: To quote Calvin again:

”First, it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world; and yet God is not the author of evil.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169)

“Whatever things are done wrongly and unjustly by man, these very things are the right and just works of God. This may seem paradoxical at first sight to some….” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169)

Too right it seems paradoxical!….. It IS. Again. My questions have not been answered -I’ve received lots of references to God being ”passive” while people go do things that God is not *actively* in control of, whilst simultaneously claiming God is in control of everything.

PROBLEM 1.) If God stands back and lets a man do something that God himself has not actively caused to be, then you are opening up space *outside his sovereign will* by claiming he stands by and lets things happen he did not cause.

PROBLEM 2.) Calvinists seem to also be claiming God IS in fact in TOTAL control of every atom in this universe etc. Thus you cannot claim God is in total control and at the same time shelve the effective causailty onto someone else… This question is normally responded to by Calvinists by stating ”you do not understand Calvinism – go back and relearn”. I am – I have – I am taking you at your word and asking questions about it – please dont refer to charts or other material – I need to know how you square this circle personally. Or do you switch your mind off and accept mutually exclusive opposites as compatible truth… ie ‘A = NotA’

Sovereignty = total control / causality (predestination = ordination).
Soveriengty = active causality to salvation
Sovereignty does not = active causality to sin
Sovereignty does not = total control / causality

(Thanks to Stephen Thomas. Also read his long list of verses which show that TULIP is incorrect here)

Pelagius has been falsely judged by his critics

Unlike Augustine, Pelagius knew Greek. Pelagius did not teach that man can save himself. He only taught that a man can live a righteous life via free will choice. The idea that man can save himself is what came from Augustine’s accusations against him, as Calvinists do with Arminians today when they accuse them of teaching ”works salvation”. True Pelagianism is truth according to what the early Church taught, not as Augustine described it. What Augustine described is without a doubt heresy, but it’s not what Pelagius actually taught. This is evident in the writings of Pelagius, as well as in the fact that the councils could find no fault in his teachings 2 times that he appeared before them in his own defense. When he was finally marked as a heretic the third time around, it was when he could not be present to defend himself (in Tunisia where Augustine resided) and Augustine and Jerome were present to misrepresent his position.

Most of the information we have about Pelagius rests in the hands of his enemies. That is not enough for a righteous judgment. If God judged us by the words of our enemies, we would be outraged at the injustice. It is unfair for us to condemn a man based on the evidence presented by his enemies, and not from the man himself. We would also be guilty of slander if we continue to claim that an innocent person is an ”heretic” even though he might not be. Let’s be careful so God won’t judge us one day for slander, false accusations and causing division.

Pelagianism teaches only that man can choose to do right and choose not to sin. It does not teach that a person can be holy without God or His grace. This is a lie given through the heretic Augustine. Augustine was a liar seeking to have him condemned, as he was offended by his preaching against his teachings to the people. Augustine was teaching a ”sinning religion”, and people were following it and living it. Pelagius could not stand for this heresy, so he began to teach against it. In his efforts he brought out the a man CAN choose to not sin, because he is not so spiritually dead that he could not make such a choice. Augustine turned this around with false accusations against him, misrepresenting him as if he was teaching that man could save himself. This is not what he was teaching at all. And his own writings prove it – which were not even discovered until this past century. Augustine tried to make sure of that by having them burned or destroyed, but a few slipped through the cracks. Now Augustine is exposed for the liar and gospel pervert that he is.

Calvinism began with Gnosticism – which is very clearly shown by many quotes given by the early Church. Tertullian and Hippolytus and Irenaeus all wrote extensively against the Gnostic groups, telling of the things they believed and how the Church has always disagreed with them, calling them heretics. Augustine was infested with Gnosticism, which Calvin also adopted.

Here is a quote from an article below on the Letter to Demetrius:

”The moral life of purity, for Pelagius, can only be achieved by drawing upon both ”the good of nature and the good of grace” (9:1); this will be the dominant theme of his exhortation. Pelagius’s reflections on the human person are not unlike those of the Eastern Fathers. They share the same starting point of moral reflection, that is, the innate goodness of man because God has created him in His image and likeness. Pelagius writes, ”you ought to measure the good of human nature by reference to its Creator” (2:2).”

The above quote shows the balanced thought of Pelagius teaching. His accusers only point out that he taught ”the good of nature” and the ”innate goodness of man”, and completely leave out the blanche of his teaching that tells of the ”good of grace” and ”because GOD has created him in His image and likeness”. Pelagius thought was in giving glory to God in His creation, in that men have a mind and free will to choose that has been given by the creator, which makes them able to choose to do right. Of course man has to know right and wrong first, but the ability is with him once he knows the difference.

Prior to Pelagius being ‘found’ guilty of heresy, he was cleared by two synods of bishops. These synods were provoked by Augustine’s influence. Then the council of Carthage, where Augustine was bishop, declared Pelgius a heretic. A few years later, Augustine and two others brought heresy charges against Pelagius to the bishop of Rome. Pelagius was cleared again, a third time. The bishop of Rome declared Pelagius a heretic a few years later under pressure from Imperial Rome and not before that time. It was perceived that the effects of Pelagius’ doctrine would undermine Imperial rule and so political pressure was then applied and the bishop of Rome declared Pelagius a heretic. Another interesting note is that Pelagius was well received and there was generally no problem with his teaching. The charges against him only arose when some one else, Caelestius, who was building on Pelagian teaching denounced infant baptism. Then and only then the problem arose. Infant baptism was under assault – if they were not born guilty and therefore did not need to be baptized to be saved then ecclesiastical power structure was going to be undermined. That kick started the whole controversy against Pelagius: they synods and councils did not occur until the implications of his teaching threatened infant baptism. See Peter Brown’s ”Augustine of Hippo” there are 3 chapters that deal with Augustine-Pelagian controversy that document everything posted.

Pelagius is often ascribed views he doesn’t have

From Jesse Morell:

Matt Slick of CARM wrote that “Pelagianism…. taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God.  In other words, a person’s free will is totally capable of choosing God and/or to do good or bad without the aid of Divine intervention.”[29] This is an example, not of Pelagian heresy, but of Pelagian hearsay.

I would suspect that Matt Slick learned about Pelagianism from its opponents, and not from actually reading the writings of the Pelagians. This is a common practice for Calvinists, but what if that is how their doctrine was treated? What if someone stated what Calvinism teaches, by stating the opponents? Augustine accused Pelagius of denying the grace of God, but this was an accusation not a fact.

Had Matt Slick actually read some of the few writings that still exist today from the original Pelagians, he would have read in Julian of Eclanum’s Pelagian Statement of Faith: “We [Pelagians] maintain that men are the work of God, and that no one is forced unwillingly by His power either into evil or good, but that man does either good or ill of his own will; but that in a good work he is always assisted by God’s grace, while in evil he is incited by the suggestions of the devil.”[30]

Pelagius himself said, “I anathematize the man who either thinks or says that the grace of God, whereby ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ is not necessary not only for ever hour and for every moment, but also for every act of our lives: and those who endeavor to dis-annul it deserve everlasting punishment.”[31]

Pelagius said, “This grace we do not allow to consist only in the law but also in the help of God. God helps us through His teaching and revelation by opening the eyes of our heart, by pointing out to us the future so that we may not be preoccupied with the present, by uncovering the snares of the devil, by enlightening us with the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace.”[32]

Pelagius said, “God always aids by the help of his grace. God aids us by his doctrine and revelation, while he opens the eyes of our heart; while he shows us the future, that we may not be engrossed with the present; while he discloses the snares of the devil; while he illuminates us by the multiform and ineffable gift of heavenly grace. Does he who says this, appear to you to deny grace? Or does he appear to confess both divine grace and the freewill of man?”[33]

Pelagius said in a letter to Innocent, “Behold, before your blessedness, this epistle clears me, in which we directly and simply say, that we have entire freewill to sin and not to sin, which, in all good works, is always assisted by divine aid. Let them read the letter which we wrote to that holy man, bishop Paulinus, nearly twelve years ago, which perhaps in three hundred lines supports nothing else but the grace and aid of God, and that we can do nothing at all of good without God. Let them also read the one we wrote to that sacred virgin of Christ, Demetrias, in the east, and they will find us so praising the nature of man, as that we may always add the aid of God’s grace. Let them likewise read my recent tract which we were lately compelled to put forth on freewill, and they will see how unjustly they glory in defaming us for denial of grace, who, through nearly the whole text of that work, perfectly and entirely profess both free will and grace.”[34]

Pelagius taught that the freedom of the human will was not lost by the original sin of Adam, but that grace was necessary for man to rightly use his free will. He also taught that free will itself was a gracious gift given to us at Creation. He did not deny grace as necessary or as an aid for free will. The only grace he denied was Augustinian grace, which said that free will was lost by original sin and therefore man’s ability to obey needed to be restored by grace. However, one of the best Greek-English Lexicons, Thayer’s, defined grace as “divine influence upon the heart” which is precisely how Pelagius viewed grace in contradiction to Augustine.

It was Augustine’s view of grace that was inconsistent with free will, not Pelagius’. As Augustine said, “I have tried hard to maintain the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God prevailed.”[35] Pelagius affirmed both the freedom of the will and the necessity for the grace of God, while Augustine denied the freedom of the will because of His mistaken view of grace.

This is why John Wesley said, “I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’”[36] And also “Who was Pelagius? By all I can pick up from ancient authors, I guess he was both a wise and a holy man.”[37]

John Wesley said, “Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”[38]

On the issue of the freedom of the will, Pelagius was in perfect agreement with the Early Church while Augustine was in agreement with the heretical Gnostics:

Dr Wiggers said, “All the fathers…agreed with the Pelagians, in attributing freedom of will to man in his present state.”[39]

Episcopius said, “What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity!”[40]

Catholic councils that calvinists appeal to

There were three councils that condemned Pelagianism; the Council of Ephesus in the year 431; the Council of Carthage in the year 418; and the Council of Orange in the year 529. This is because Pelagius was not invited nor present to defend himself but his opponents and adversaries stated his doctrine for him. When Pelagius was able to defend himself, the Council of Diospolis in 415 declared Pelagius orthodox. And Pope Zosimus also declared Pelagius’ orthodoxy in 417. He was always acquitted when present to clarify and defend his views. If these are our authorities to determine orthodoxy, do we accept the ones in favor of Pelagius or the ones against him?

In addition, the Council of Orange and the Council of Carthage were not ecumenical councils. They did not consist of Bishops from the entire church, which mean that the rulings of the Councils were not universally affirmed by the Eastern and Western churches.

If heresy is heresy because a council says so, or because of majority vote, Calvinism must be more heretical than Pelagianism was because there were more councils that condemned Calvinism than condemned Pelagianism. The Calvinist doctrines of predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace were condemned throughout history. Lucidus was condemned by the Council of Oral in 473, Council of Arles in 475, and Council of Orange in 529. And Gottschalk (Gotteschalcus) was condemned by the Council at Mentz in 848 and the Council of Chiersey (Quiercy) in 849. And what do Calvinists think of the Council of Constance in 1414 for John Huss, or the Council of Worms in 1521 for Martin Luther, or the Council of Trent in 1561 for the Protestants? Are these Councils not the voice of Orthodoxy as Ephesus and Carthage supposedly were?

In fact, the Council of Orange that condemned Pelagianism also condemned the doctrines of Calvinism. If the council is authoritative in the former case, it must be equally authoritative in the latter as well. But if it was mistaken in the latter case, maybe it was mistaken in the former as well. Tony Miano essential condemns his own theology by appealing to church councils and assuming their authority.

Many thanks to Lyndon Conn, Joshua Harris and Jesse Morell

Can a person regret anything in hell if CALVINISM is true?

If calvinism is true, no one who ends up in hell has any reasons to regret anything about his previous life on earth. How could he? God predestined him to be non-elect before the world began (according to calvinism) and that means he had no option but to BE a non-elect and thereby doing the will of God by being exactly what God intended him to be. And how does a non-elect person behave? Well, among other things he rejects God, he is rebellious and he is a non-repentant sinner. So this means that God WANTS him to have these attributes. Most calvinists believe that ”God predestines whatever comes to pass” so to be consistent this must include predestining people to sin. Yes, many calvinists say that ”God predestines everything, but man is still responsible for his sins”, but this is an oxymoron. And when they are told they believe in an oxymoron they say ”God’s ways are higher than our ways” or similar. If I say that I believe in the trinity but not that Jesus is God, this too is an oxymoron.

If calvinism is true, then SIN has nothing to do with why a person ends up in hell. Always remember that a person (if calvinism is true) is predestined to be elect/non-elect before the world began, and before he was even born. So by the time he gets born he is already doomed and he WILL grow up to be elect OR non-elect depending on whatever God chooses, and he WILL act accordingly. Calvinists often say ”No, God didn’t predestine them to be do evil, because left to themselves they would never choose him anyway and they would only want to do evil”,but is this the whole truth? WHY don’t they want to choose him and why do they only desire to do evil? That’s because they are non-elect, right? And who chooses that they shall be non-elect? GOD does, according to them! Those who are not chosen to be elect are by default chosen to be non-elect. Man himself is therefore totally innocent for his actions in my view, and some are just unfortunate enough to be chosen to be non-elect which inevidably will lead them to be and to do evil.

If calvinism is true, then Jesus did not even die for some people but their God will apparently send them to hell just the same, due to that they reject Jesus. (Or was it because he predestined them to be non-elect and Jesus-deniars before the world began?) Why is it a sin to deny that Jesus died for you if Jesus did not die for you?!

The Bible is loaded with examples of people rebelling against God and suppressing the truth. Do they do this out of their own choice OR according to the will of God? It’s one or the other. The most obvious answer should be that people have the choice to obey but sometimes choose to disobey. God doesn’t want people to disobey and rebel against him, but due to his decision to create man with free will, we are able to make our own choices. Most importantly we will be judged based on our decisions and actions since we are response-able. If God predestines people to rebel against him and to suppress the truth, it wouldn’t make sense for Him to punish them for doing what he forces them to do.