Weidner on Predestination

Sec. 11. The Doctrine of Predestination.

I. The Scripture Doctrine.

  1. The most important Scripture passages bearing on the doctrine of Predestination are Rom. 8:28-30; 9:11-18; and Eph. 1:3-11.
  2. In the discussion of this subject four words require a special study and examination:
    1. The purpose (prothesis) of God, Rom. 8:28; 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9. Believers are called according to the purpose of God (Rom. 8:28); this calling is not according to our works, but according to God’s own purpose and grace, which was in Christ Jesus before times eternal (2 Tim. 1:9), an eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:11), This purpose is not grounded in our works (Rom. 9:11; 11:6), but is of pure grace (9:16; 11:5, 6), after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). This purpose of God is, that in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:11), all who believe in Him (Eph. 1:13; 3:12) and love Him (Rom. 8:28) shall be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).
    2. The foreknowledge (prognosis) of God, Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29; 11:2; 1 Pet. 1:2, 20. The word foreknowledge is not to be taken in the sense of predestination or foreordination, but in its true sense of prescience. In Acts 2:23 we must carefully distinguish between the “determinate counsel” of God that Jesus should be delivered up, and the foreknowledge that this would really take place. The verb is also used in the same sense in 1 Pet. 1:20; Rom. 8:29; 11:2. We speak of the foreknowledge of God from a human standpoint, for all things are most absolutely and intimately known to God, who in His foreknowledge sees all things in a perpetual, abiding and immutable present. From a human standpoint the foreknowledge of God is eternal. God intimately knows from eternity who will continue to abide in Christ unto the end (Rom. 8:29; 11:2).
    3. The foreordination or predestination (pro-orismos) of God, Acts 4:28; Rom. 8:29, 30; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:5,11. “Whom God foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, and whom He foreordained, them He also called” (Rom. 8:29, 30); having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:5), according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11).
    4. The election (ekloge) of God, Acts 9:15; Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 28; Eph. 1:4. The election of Rom. 9:11; 11:5, is a choosing in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). The elect are the personal objects of election, those who by faith have renounced all merit, and in whom God’s saving purpose of free grace in Christ has been realized (Matt. 24:22, 31; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:33: Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:1, 2).
  3. The election and the predestination of the believer are coincident in time, predestination being the mode in which this election takes place (Eph. 1:4, 5).
  4. There is no conflict when it is stated in 1 Pet. 1:1, 2 that the rule or standard according to which election takes place is the foreknowledge of God, and when, on the other hand, Paul makes the rule or standard of predestination “the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5), “the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11), for the divine decree of Predestination is based 1) upon the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:11), and upon His foreknowledge, “for whom He foreknew, He also foreordained” (Rom. 8:29).
  5. God does not deal in any arbitrary way, for election takes place through predestination according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (1 Pet. 1:1, 2),—a foreknowledge of what is not stated by Peter or elsewhere in the N. T., but it is clearly implied in Scripture,—a foreknowledge that the grace of God offered in Christ Jesus through the call (Rom. 8:28; 2 Tim. 1:9), would not be rejected.
  6. It is arbitrary to maintain that in this foreknowledge of God there can be no reference whatever to the faith of believers,— but we must also, on the other hand, carefully guard against the error of supposing that our foreseen faith moved God to predestine us to salvation. So far from our faith being the ground of our predestination, it is definitely stated in 1 Pet. 1:1, 2, that faith is the result of our election, elect unto obedience, where obedience most assuredly includes faith in Christ (“the obedience of faith,” Rom. 1:5).
  7. The decree made from eternity necessarily finds its temporal realization. The purpose, the foreknowledge, and the decree are to be viewed as pre-temporal; on the other hand, the calling, the justification, and the glorification (which, though still future, is so certain that Paul speaks of it as already having taken place), are to be viewed as temporal acts of God (Rom. 8:28-30).
  8. The origin of the election of believers is the purely gratuitous grace of God (Rom. 11:6); the determining ground or the meritorious cause of our election lies in Christ (Eph. 1:4); the rule or standard according to which it takes place is the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:1, 2): the time of the election is given as taking place in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), “from the beginning” (2 Thess. 2:13): the mode in which this election takes place is by predestination (Eph. 1:4, 5).
  9. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that it is God’s gracious will that all men should be saved, and that He has sent His Son into the world that He might procure salvation for all men without a single exception, Ezek. 33:11, “as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” So also Ezek. 18:23, 32; especially John 3:16; 1 John 2:2, “Jesus Christ the righteous is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world”; 1 Tim. 2:4, “God willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth”; Tit. 2:11, “For the grace of God hath appeared bringing salvation to all men”; Rom. 11:32, “For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that He might have mercy upon all”; Acts 17:30, “God commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent”; 2 Pet. 3:9, “The Lord is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
  10. However the merciful will of God to confer remission of sins and eternal salvation is not absolute, but relative and limited by justice. Because it has respect to the satisfaction of Christ, by which divine justice was satisfied God wills, through the ordinary means, the Word of God and the Sacraments, to confer saving faith upon all men.”
  11. Our Dogmaticians sum up the Scriptural statements concerning the universal will of God under the following heads: 1) It is gratuitous and free (Gal. 3:22; Rom. 11:32; 8:32); 2) impartial (Rom. 3:22); 3) sincere and earnest (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11); 4) efficacious (Rom. 2:4); 5) not absolute, but ordinate and conditioned (John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:6; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 1:4, 9, 10).
  12. The main passages upon which the strict Predestinarians rely, who maintain that there is a particular election of some individual men to salvation, and of others to reprobation, and who deny the universality of grace, are Matt. 13:14, 15 (Mark 4:12); John 12:40; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28-30; Rom. 9:11-16, 18, 22, 29; 1 Pet. 2:8.
    1. Matt. 13:14,15; Mark 4:12; John 12:40. The whole context proves that this hardening of the Jews was the result of their own sin in wilfully rejecting Christ. Sin begets hardness and blindness of heart. God permits men to fall into greater sin, and this permission or withdrawal of God’s grace, is the penalty and punishment of sin. God was willing to heal them, and they could have been healed, if they would have turned from their sins.
    2. Acts 13:48, “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” It is altogether arbitrary to maintain that this passage teaches absolute predestination. This ordaining (tetagmenoi) of God was in accordance with His purpose to save all who believe in Christ, and in accordance with His foreknowledge that the persons here referred to, would not reject the offered grace. Verse 46, immediately preceding, plainly shows that there is no reference here to an absolute decree.
    3. Rom. 8:28-30. This passage manifests the wonderful goodness of God. From eternity (Eph. 3:11), after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11), out of pure grace (2 Tim. 1:9), God. purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:11), to save all who believe in Christ. From this purpose of God the calling follows, hence believers “are called according to His purpose.” Whom God from all eternity knew would accept the salvation which is in Christ and perseveringly abide therein, He also foreordained to salvation, “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” The purpose, the foreknowledge, and the decree itself, are pre-temporal; and this decree finds its temporal realization in the calling, the justification, and the glorification.
    4. Rom. 9:11-16, 18, 22, 29. Some, who would take these passages by themselves, severing them from the context, and who do not take into consideration the drift of the Apostle’s argument, nor the analogy of faith, maintain that Paul here teaches, especially in verses 11 and 17 the doctrine of absolute predestination, and the supralapsarian view of a predestination to condemnation . But Paul is here contrasting the supremacy of God with the arrogance of man. The purpose of God to save all who will perseveringly believe on Christ depends not on works, nor on merit, but on the grace and will of God that calleth. The election is on God’s part simply the outcome of free love, freely choosing its object, and excludes all legal claim on the part of its object. As Israel does not surrender itself thus to the election, but raises claims of its own, it puts itself out of connection with the divine election (Rom. 9:30-33). This is the substance of the whole argument of these three chapters. The doctrine of absolute predestination has merely a possible and apparent, not a necessary and actual, basis in the present verse. When in Rom. 9:18 it is said that God “hardeneth whom he will,” this is not to be taken causally, as if God was the cause and author, sending hardness into the hearts of unbelievers, but is to be taken Permissively (God justly permits the impenitent sinner wickedly to rush into greater sins) and judicially (for God forsakes the sinner by withdrawing his grace from him). In Rom. 9:19-24, Paul is contrasting the supremacy of God with the arrogance of man; and the Apostle here vindicates for God as the Creator the absolute right to make and prepare one man for salvation and the other for destruction; but he does not say that God has done so. On the contrary, by the use of the adversative de (but, translated in R. V. what), he puts the actual dealings of God in express contrast with the absolute right vindicated for God in the abstract (9:22). Paul does not say that God has ‘‘fitted unto destruction” ‘‘vessels of wrath”—but that, though almighty in His power, He has till now “endured with much long-suffering vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction”—(which vessels fitted themselves unto destruction by their own guilt and scornful rejection of Divine grace). So also Paul does not say that God has created ‘‘vessels of mercy,” but that He ‘‘afore prepared” them “unto glory.” In this last verse (9:23) a predestination to eternal life is distinctly asserted in express words; but nowhere is an absolute predestination taught, nor a predestination to condemnation affirmed.
    5. I Pet. 2:8, “for they stumble, being disobedient to the word: whereunto also they were appointed.” This does not mean that they were appointed unto disobedience, but all who do not believe on the word are appointed unto stumbling. This is the moral order of the universe (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). God punishes sin with sin, unbelief with unbelief. Whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap (Gal. 6:7).

II. The Church Doctrine concerning Predestination.

(a) The Early Church.

  1. The tendency of the Greek and Latin Fathers before Augustine was Semi-pelagian in character. They taught the doctrine of conditional predestination, that the predestination of the individual to salvation was dependent on foreknowledge, which is not, however, to be regarded as causative.
  2. Gieseler: “All the fathers of this period agree that God so far predestines men to blessedness or condemnation, as he foresees their free acts, by which they are made worthy of reward or punishment; but the foreseeing these acts is not the cause of them, but the acts are the cause and ground of the foreknowledge.’’ So in general Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria. Cyprian also refused to accept the doctrine of rigid predestination and of irresistible grace, although Augustine, over a century later, discovered his own views in the writings of Cyprian.
  3. Augustine taught unconditional predestination, that God in consequence of an eternal decree, and without any reference to the future conduct of man, elected some out of corrupt humanity to become vessels of His mercy, and left the rest as vessels of His wrath to a just condemnation. The former he called predestination, the latter reprobation. He thus taught a predestination to punishment and condemnation, but did not assert a direct predestination to evil or to sin. His doctrine of predestination resulted from the views he held of original sin.
  4. Semi-Pelagianism tried to mediate between Augustinianism and Pelagianism. John Cassian, a disciple of Chrysostom, without referring to Augustine by name, combated his doctrine of election and of irresistible grace, regarded the will of man as cooperating with grace in conversion, and taught a conditional predestination based on foreknowledge.
  5. Augustinianism finally won the day (Synod of Orange, 529 A. D.), but the doctrine of predestination to evil was rejected. Gregory the Great (d. 604) transmitted to subsequent ages the milder aspect of the Augustinian doctrine.

(b) The Scholasticism of the Middle Ages.

  1. Bede (d. 735) and Alcuin (d. 804) adopted in the main the views of Augustine, but rejected the doctrine of the predestination to reprobation. The monk Gottschalk (d. 868) was the originator of the predestination controversy in the ninth century, and went so far as to teach a twofold predestination, not only to salvation, but also to damnation. He was strongly opposed by Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), and especially by Hinemar (d. 882), and condemned by the Synods of Mayence (848 A. D.) and of Quiercy (849 A. D.).
  2. Anselm (d. 1109), Peter Lombard (d. 1160), and Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), all endeavored to retain Augustine’s doctrine of unconditional election, but were more or less influenced by Semi-Pelagian tendencies. This was especially the case with Duns Scotus (d. 1308), who made predestination conditional on the divine foreknowledge of man’s free acts. Thomas of Bradwardine, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1349), began a new contest in defense of Augustine and his system, and complained that “almost the whole world had fallen into the errors of Pelagianism.’’ The forerunners of the Reformation, Wycliff, Huss, and Savonarola, sought to return again to the more profound fundamental principles of Augustinianism.

(c) The Age of the Reformation.

  1. The Roman Catholic Church (Tridentine Creed) declares that the doctrine of Predestination is a mystery, that no one can know whether he belongs to the elect or not, but rejects a predestination to evil. The Jansenists, in opposition to the Jesuits, defended strict Augustinianism.
  2. Although Zwingli pronounced decidedly in favor of predestination, he differed in many points from strict Augustinianism, and deduced his views from his doctrine of God rather than from his views of original sin, and proceeded from speculative rather than from ethical principles.
  3. It was Calvin who introduced the doctrine of predestination into the Reformed Church, with all its consequences and sternness. He, and especially his disciple Beza, went further than Augustine, and made the absolute decree of Predestination on God’s part, “whom He would admit to salvation and whom he would condemn to destruction,” precede the Fall (Supralapsarians), and held that the Fall itself, with the everlasting ruin of the reprobate, was decreed by God at man’s creation. The Gomarists especially favored this view. A milder form of this doctrine, which carried the victory at the Synod of Dort (1618-19), and is taught in the Calvinistic Symbolical Books, is that God did not decree the Fall, but permitted it (Infralapsarians). According to the Reformed view, grace works irresistibly, nor can man lose it when once in his possession.
  4. Arminianism, in Holland, was an uprising against the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, and originally simply meant the assertion of universal grace and conditional election; but gradually embraced liberal views in various doctrines.
  5. The antithesis between Calvinism and Arminianism may be briefly stated as follows: a) The five points of Calvinism are 1) particular predestination; 2) limited atonement, designed for the elect alone; 3) the total moral inability of the will; 4) irresistible grace, and 5) the perseverance of saints, b) The five Articles of Arminianism are 1) conditional election dependent on the foreknowledge of faith; 2) universal atonement intended for all; 3) man, if he chooses, may, through the appointed means, lay hold of salvation; 4) grace is not irresistible; 5) believers may fall from grace finally. Arminianism in general is the doctrinal system of the Wesleyans in England and of the Methodists.
  6. Melanchthon, in his earlier writings (1521-1526),favored strong predestinarian views. “All that takes place takes place necessarily according to the divine predestination.” In his later writings he went to the other extreme and embraced Synergism. “Three causes concur in conversion, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and our own will assenting to and not resisting the Word of God.”
  7. Luther, in his private writings, especially in his work De Servo Arbitrio, written against the Semi-Pelagianism of Erasmus in 1525, uses here and there expressions of a strongly deterministic character, implying an absolute predestination.
  8. Three explanations of these statements of Luther have been given by our Lutheran theologians: 1) That in his early writings Luther in fact seems almost to agree with Calvin in his doctrine on predestination, because he had not yet attained his later clearness on this point, lacking the full light of evangelical knowledge; 2) that, though these expressions sound like Calvinism, Luther did not put such a deterministic meaning upon them, treating the subject more philosophically than theologically; 3) that there is nothing erroneous in these expressions, if we only take them in Luther’s sense.
  9. The true answer seems to lie in the first explanation. In his De Servo Arbitrio we still see the strong influence which Augustinianism had over Luther. Our Confessions, so far from sanctioning these views of Luther, avoid all direct reference to the subject, and there is no really official statement and consensus of the Lutheran Church on this subject until the appearance of the Formula of Concord in 1580.
  10. Stellhorn: With Luther and his pupils, absolute predestination was only an auxiliary, which at first seemed necessary to them to guard the centre, salvation by grace alone; and the Lutheran Church, therefore, dropped this doctrine, or rather never took it up, when it was seen that it was not necessary to shield this central point,—that in fact, by its unavoidable consequences, it annulled the Biblical and Lutheran doctrine of the means of grace. It was quite different with the fathers of the Reformed Church. Absolute predestination was the centre of its entire theology, and its doctrine of the means of grace had to conform to this.
  11. In the year 1561 the doctrine of predestination became a topic of discussion between the Reformed and Lutheran theologians, and though the topic was referred to in the controversy with the Philippists, it did not cause any public dissension among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession.
  12. The doctrine of predestination as taught by our Church developed slowly in a sound dogmatico-historical way. The common faith of the Lutheran Church is expressed in Chapter XI. of the Formula of Concord. Our Confessors say: “In order by the aid of divine grace to prevent disagreement and separation in the future among our successors, as well as among us, we have desired here also to present an explanation concerning the eternal election of the children of God, so that every one may know what is our unanimous doctrine, faith and confession.”
  13. The teaching of the Formula of Concord (Epitome, Chap. XI.) may be summarized as follows:
    1. We must accurately distinguish between God’s foreknowledge and His eternal election.
    2. The foreknowledge of God is nothing else than that God knows all things before they happen (Dan. 2:28).
    3. This foreknowledge is occupied alike with the godly and the wicked; but it is not the cause of evil or of sin, nor the cause that men perish, for which they themselves are responsible.
    4. Predestination or the eternal election of God is occupied only with the godly, and this is a cause of their salvation, which God also provides as well as disposes what belongs thereto.
    5. This is not to be sought in the secret counsel of God, but in the Word of God, where it is also revealed.
    6. The Word of God leads us to Christ, in whom all are elected that are to be saved (Eph. 1:4).
    7. Christ calls to Himself all sinners, and is anxious that all men should come to Him and permit Him to help them.
    8. The true judgment concerning predestination must not be learned 1) from reason, 2) nor from the Law of God, 3) but alone from the Holy Gospel concerning Christ, in which it is clearly testified that “God hath shut up all unto disobedience that he might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32), “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
    9. That “many are called, but few chosen” (Matt. 22:14), does not mean that God is unwilling that all should be saved, but the reason is that either they do not at all hear God’s Word, but wilfully despise it and harden their hearts, or, when it is heard, they do not heed it. It is not God or His election which is responsible that they perish, but their own wickedness (2 Pet. 2:1-3; Luke 11:49, 52; Heb. 12:25, 26).
    10. In Christ alone we should seek the eternal election of the Father, who, in His eternal divine counsel, determined that He would save no one except those who acknowledge His Son, Christ, and truly believe on Him.
    11. We have this glorious consolation, that out of pure grace, without any merit of our own, we have been elected in Christ to eternal life, and God saves us according to the purpose of His will.
  14. The Formula further explicitly rejects the following errors:
    1. The error that God does not wish all men to repent and believe the Gospel (as maintained by the strict Calvinists).
    2. The error that when God calls us to Himself He is not in earnest that all men should come to Him (as maintained by the Calvinists).
    3. The error that God does not wish every one to be saved, but that without regard to their sins, alone from the counsel, purpose, and will of God, some are appointed to condemnation, so that they cannot be saved (as taught by the strict Calvinists).
    4. The error, which the Calvinists charged against the Lutherans, that not only the mercy of God and the most holy merit of Christ, but also in us is a meritorious cause of God’s election, on account of which God has elected us to everlasting life. (Distinguish between the meritorious and the instrumental cause.)

(d) The Presentation of our older Dogmaticians.

  1. Our dogmaticians, in speaking of the gracious will of God to save man in Christ, distinguish between His universal will and His special will.
  2. Hollaz: “The universal will is that by which God wills the salvation of all fallen and wretched men, and for attaining this has given Christ as a mediator, and has ordained those means by which the salvation acquired through Christ, and strength for believing, are offered to all men with the sincere intention of conferring such salvation and faith.” This will is also called antecedent, inasmuch as it antedates all question as to the manner in which man may treat the offered grace. It is called universal or general, because it refers to all men without a single exception.
  3. This antecedent will depends alone upon God’s compassion for the wretched condition of man, and has not been called forth by any merit or worthiness in man (Gal. 3:22; Rom. 11:32). Hollaz: “Pity for the sinner does not move God causally, but only affords an occasion. For in man there is no impelling cause whatever.”
  4. This antecedent will, however, is not absolute and unconditioned, but ordinate and conditioned.
    1. Hollaz: “The merciful will of God to confer remission of sins and eternal salvation is not absolute, but relative and limited by justice. Because it has respect to the satisfaction of Christ, by which divine justice was satisfied.”
    2. This gracious will of God is ordinate, because God
    3. in His eternal counsel established a series of means, through which He confers saving faith upon all men. Hollaz: “These means are the Word of God and the Sacraments. . . . By this ordinate will God
    4. wishes not only that all men be saved, but also that all men come to the knowledge of the truth.”
    5. This gracious will is called conditioned, because God, “willing that men should be saved, does not will that they should be saved without regard to the fulfilment of any satisfaction or condition, but should be led to salvation under the condition of determined means. God wills, through ordinary means, to confer saving faith upon all men” (Hollaz).
  5. The gracious will of God in itself is one and undivided, but it has a twofold relation. We call it the universal or antecedent will “when regard is had to the means for salvation, in so far as, on the part of God, they have been appointed and are offered to all” (Gerhard), but this same will of God, when regard is had to the divinely foreseen conduct of men towards the offered grace, as the condition upon which they are to be saved, is designated as the special or consequent will of God.
  6. This special will is called particular, because it refers not to all men, but only to those concerning whom God foreknows that they will properly treat the offered grace (Eph x: 1; James 2:5; 1 Tim. 1:16; John 17:20).
  7. This special will is also called consequent, because the divine foreknowledge of the proper conduct on the part of man precedes it. Hollaz – “The consequent will is that by which God, from the fallen human race, elects those to eternal life who he foresees will use the ordinary means, and will persevere to the end of life in faith in Christ.”
  8. Our dogmaticians draw the following distinctions between the antecedent (general) and the consequent (special) will of God (condensed from Hollaz and Quenstedt.
    1. The will of God is said to be antecedent and consequent, a) not with regard to time, as though the former preceded the latter in time; b) nor with regard to the divine will itself, as though two actually distinct wills in God were affirmed, for the divine will is the essence itself of God, with a connoted object, conceived under the mode of an act of volition ; c) but from the order of our reason, according to a diverse consideration of the objects, because, according to our mode of conception, God’s willing eternal salvation to men, and His providing the means of grace, are anterior to His will to confer in act eternal salvation upon those who would to the end believe in Christ, or to assign eternal condemnation to the impenitent.
    2. The antecedent will relates to man in so far as he is wretched; the consequent will as he is believing or unbelieving.
    3. The antecedent and consequent wills are not opposed to each other, but the latter is materially contained in the former, and the antecedent will passes into the consequent when the condition of salvation is fulfilled.
    4. The antecedent respects the giving, and the consequent the receiving of salvation on the part of man. The former is universal, the latter is particular. The former precedes, the latter follows a purified condition.
  9. This distinction between the antecedent and consequent will is necessary because of the wonderful combination of divine justice and mercy, which are to be reconciled with each other.
  10. Three classes of passages can thus be reconciled: 1) those that show that the mercy of God is inclined towards all sinners (1 Tim. 2:6; 2 Pet. 3:9); 2) those which indicate the righteous justice of God and exclude from the inheritance of salvation those who resist the divine order (John 3:18; Mark 16:16); and 3) those in which both the mercy and justice of God are declared (Matt. 23:37,38). On this last passage Hollaz remarks: “Christ, by His antecedent will, as far as it pertained to Himself, willed that the children of Israel be gathered together; but. by His consequent will, because they were unwilling to be gathered, He willed that their house be left to them desolate.”
  11. From the special or consequent will of God, which is based upon and contained in the universal or antecedent will, there arises the purpose of God, which is called predestination or election.
  12. The word predestination has been employed in a twofold sense: 1) In a wider sense, by Calvinistic writers, according to whom it denotes the divine purpose, referring equally to the saving of believers and the condemnation of unbelievers; and 2) in a narrower sense, by Lutheran theologians, according to whom the purpose of God refers alone to the saving of believers. The latter also maintain that this is the biblical usage (Rom. 8:30; Eph. 1:5).
  13. Even if we limit the word predestination to the divine purpose for saving believers, our Lutheran theologians have used the word in three different senses:
    1. In a wider sense—as if the decree of predestination referred to the purpose of God to establish a scheme of redemption whereby all might be saved. So Baier – “The decree refers to the entire work of leading man to salvation.” (So at times in the Formula of Concord, and in Hutter and others.)
    2. In a stricter sense—in which it signifies the ordination of believers to salvation, combined with the pro thesis (purpose) and prognosis (foreknowledge).
    3. In the most strict sense—by which pro-orismos is distinguished from prothesis and prognosis, and denotes the eternal purpose of God to save those whom he distinctly foresees that they will believe to the end in Christ.
  14. We here use the word predestination in its most strict sense. Hollaz: “Predestination is the eternal decree of God to bestow eternal salvation upon all of whom God foresaw that they would finally believe in Christ.”
  15. Quenstedt: “Predestination is an act of the consequent divine will, by which, before the foundations of the earth were laid, not according to our works, but out of pure mercy, according to His purpose and design, which He purposed in Himself in consideration of the merit of Christ to be apprehended by faith, God ordained to eternal life for the praise of His glorious grace such men as, by the power of the Holy Ghost, through the preaching of the Gospel, would perseveringly and to the end believe in Christ.”
  16. Hollaz presents the syllogism of predestination as follows:
    1. The prothesis as Major premise: Every one who will perseveringly believe in Christ to the end of life will certainly be saved, and therefore shall be elected and written in the book of life.
    2. The prognosis as Minor premise: But Abraham, Peter, Paul, etc., will perseveringly believe in Christ to the end of life.
    3. The pro-orismos as the conclusion: Therefore Abraham, Peter, Paul, etc., will certainly be saved, and therefore shall be elected and be written in the book of life.
  17. Our dogmaticians make the following distinctions in discussing the causes of election: 1) the efficient cause is the Triune God (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:4; John 13:18; 15:16, 19; Acts 13:2; 2 Thess. 2:13); 2) the impulsive internal cause is the compassion and purely gratuitous grace of God (Rom. 9:15, 16; Eph. 1:5, 6; 2:8, 9; Rom. 11:5, 6); 3) the impulsive external Principal cause is the merit of Christ, regarded with respect to foreseen final application (Eph. 1:4-7; John 3:16; Rom 8:3; 2 Tim. 1:0); and some, as Baier, state 4) the impulsive external less principal cause, ‘‘faith in Christ, and that final.”
  18. The relation of faith to predestination was a topic of discussion already among our older dogmaticians.
    1. Hollaz: ‘‘The election to eternal life of men corrupted by sin was made by the most merciful God, in consideration of faith (intuitu fidei) in Christ remaining steadfast to the end of life. ”
    2. Quenstedt: (a) Faith, and that, too, as persevering or final faith, enters into the sphere of eternal election, not as already afforded, but as foreknown. For we are elected to eternal life from faith divinely foreseen, apprehending to the end the merit of Christ; b) Faith enters into election not by reason of any meritorious worth, but only so far as it is the only means of apprehending the merit of Christ.
    3. Jacob Andrew, one of the main authors of the Formula of Concord, writes: ‘‘Election presupposes the merit of Christ and a knowledge of Him by true faith.”
    4. Aegidius Hunnius: ‘‘When I and others reckon faith among the causes of predestination, we have added the explicit explanation, that this is to be understood of faith only inasmuch as it is based on Christ Jesus, the rock of our election unto life, and only inasmuch as it relies on the merit of His bitter sufferings and death. This form of expression simply means to say: Christ apprehended by faith is the cause of our election.”
    5. Leonhard Hutter: ‘‘Faith is taken into consideration in this matter of eternal election, i) because it belongs to the order and to the decree of predestination or of God electing, and 2) because it is an object of His eternal foreknowledge. . . . Faith is not here regarded as a virtue, a quality, or a kind of work, but only so far as it is related to Christ’s merit. . . . We justly repel the expression, ‘We are elected for the sake of faith,’ which silently presumes merit on our part. But we say with the Scriptures, ‘We are elected through faith or in faith in Jesus Christ.’ ”
    6. Frederick Balduin (in 1607): ‘‘God did not elect us for the sake of foreseen faith or of its worthiness and excellence, but he has elected us in Christ unto the adoption in view of faith (intuitu fidei), as also it pleased God to justify and save us not for the sake of faith, but through faith as a beggar’s hand. Hence, that we are elected in view of faith as foreknown from eternity dare not be referred to faith as an excellent work, but must be gratefully ascribed to Christ as the one foreknown. . . . How does election cause faith while faith is included in election itself? Faith was not only included in the decree of election according to the foreknowledge and with respect to the divine intelligence, but it was also actually awakened in us in accord with the decree. The solution the Apostle himself offers when he declares, ‘God has blessed us in Christ, even as He chose us in Christ’ (Eph. x 13, 4). But He has blessed us in Christ as apprehended by faith, hence He has also elected us in Christ as apprehended by faith. It is therefore also evident from this testimony of the Apostle that faith is comprehended in the decree of election. Yet it does not precede election, nor is it a cause of election, unless you do not mean a meritorious, but simply an instrumental cause, which apprehends the mercy of the eternal Father and the merit of Christ offered in the Gospel.”
    7. John Gerhard: ‘‘Christ’s merit is the cause of our election. But since Christ’s merit benefits no one without faith, we say that regard to faith must be included in the decree of election. . . . Since Christ’s merit is found in man only through faith, we teach that election took place in view of the merit of Christ apprehended by faith.”
  19. This decree of predestination
    1. is not absolute in this sense as if God absolutely decreed to save some without reference to any prerequisite condition, as the Calvinists teach, but is ordinate, determined by a certain order of means, and relative, because God had regard to an impulsive external cause,—the merit of Christ to be apprehended by persevering faith (1 Cor. 1:21);
    2. nor is it conditional in this sense as if God from eternity would elect this or that one to salvation, if he would perseveringly believe in Christ; for this decree is not doubtful, but simple, categorical and positive, because God by virtue of his foreknowledge recognizes who will perseveringly believe on Christ, and predestinates these to salvation, because they will perseveringly believe in Christ;
    3. but is eternal (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13; Matt. 25:34);
    4. is particular (Matt. 20:16);
    5. is immutable, because based upon an ordinate decree, and because of the infallibility of the divine foreknowledge,—for an elect person cannot become a reprobate (Matt. 24:24; John 10:28; Rom. 8:29, 30; 1 Pet. 1:1, 2, 4; 2 Tim. 2:19). The elect may for a time fall from grace, but they will repent and die in faith in Christ. (After Hollaz and
  20. Hollaz: “A regenerate man, in the course of his life, is certain of his election conditionally (Phil 2:12), but, at the end of life, the same rejoices in the absolute certainty of his predestination.”
  21. Quenstedt: ‘‘The attributes of the elect are: 1) paucity (Matt. 22:14); 2) possibility of totally losing, for a while, indwelling grace (Ps. 51:12; 1 Cor. 10:12); 3) the certainty of election (Luke 10:20; Rom. 8:38; 2 Tim. 4:8; Phil. 2:12); 4) final perseverance in the faith (Matt. 10.22; Rev. 2:10).”
  22. In contrast with predestination stands reprobation. The word adokimos, in the sense of reprobate, is found in 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 13:5-7; 2 Tim. 3:8. This condemnation itself is also referred to in Jude 4.
  23. Brochmann: ‘‘We must avoid considering God the cause of reprobation in the same manner that He is of election. For since reprobation is eternal perdition, to which there is no direct way except through sin and unbelief, every one must see that reprobation cannot be ascribed to God as effecting it. …The true cause of reprobation is in man himself.”
  24. In treating of this difficult topic our dogmaticians discuss various points:
    1. The internal exciting cause of reprobation is the punitive justice of God (Rom. 2:8);
    2. The external exciting cause is the rejection of the merit of Christ, the foreseen final incredulity or want of faith (Mark 16:16; John 3:36);
    3. The form of reprobation is exclusion from the inheritance of eternal salvation (Matt 25:41) and the infliction of eternal punishment (Mark 9:48; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rom. 2:7-9; Jude 7; Rev. 14:11; 20:10);
    4. The attributes of reprobation are: a) Eternity (Matt. 25:41; Jude 4); b) Immutability (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6);
    5. The attributes of the reprobate: a) plurality (Matt 7:13, 14); b) possibility of being for awhile in the state of the truly regenerate; c) perseverance in final unbelief.

III. Attacks upon and Modifications of the Church Doctrine concerning Predestination.

  1. Socinianism (and Rationalism in general) denies that there is any predestination at all, and even denies that God has foreknowledge of the voluntary actions of free agents, maintaining that God in creating free agents has voluntarily limited His power and His knowledge, and that as the free actions of man are future contingent events, they do not become objects of God’s knowledge until after they have taken place. We answer: God has perfect knowledge of the future free acts of His creatures, immediately, by pure intuition, inexplicable to us. This knowledge of contingent events is by no means contingent knowledge, but perfect and incomprehensible.
  2. Strict Calvinism maintains that God’s foreknowledge of all events from the absolute beginning virtually involves the pre-determination of every event; that the decrees of God are absolute, and that all events, without exception, are embraced in God’s eternal purpose, even the primal apostasies of Satan, and of Adam. Those who hold that God not only foresaw and permitted but actually decreed the fall of man (logically the most consistent type of Calvinism), are called Supralapsarians; while those who hold that the decree of God presupposes the creation and fall of man, and that after the fall God was pleased to choose some to holiness and eternal life, while he left others to the just punishment of their sins (the view of the vast majority of Calvinists), are called Infralapsarians.
  3. Arminianism (Wesleyanism and American Methodism), in antithesis to Calvinism, maintains 1) that God does not predetermine the volitions of responsible agents, as this would destroy the freedom of the will, because such predetermination would fix the act; and 2) denies that foreknowledge has any influence upon the future of the act, as foreknowledge is fixed by the act. Some Arminians even deny God’s foreknowledge, on the ground of the intrinsic impossibility of a future contingency being foreknown. So much stress does Arminianism lay upon the freedom of the will,—the power of choosing either right or wrong,—that “if the divine foreknowledge of the volitions of a free agent contradicts the freedom, then the freedom, and not the foreknowledge, is to be believed” ( Whedon). Election and reprobation, as Arminian- ism holds them, are conditioned upon the conduct and voluntary character of man as a free agent.
  4. Since 1877 the doctrine of Predestination has been the topic of more or less discussion in the Lutheran Church of this country, owing to the position taken by Dr. Walther and the Missouri Synod. The main question at issue centres around the phrase intuitu fidei, election in view of faith,—Did God in the eternal predestination of the believer to salvation have any regard to foreseen persevering faith?
    1. Our older Lutheran dogmaticians unanimously taught with Baier that ‘‘God in His infinite mercy determined to give eternal salvation to all those, and only to those, of whom He foresaw that they would believe in Christ till the end, and this for the sake of Christ’s merits, which must be apprehended by persevering faith, and is foreseen as such.”
    2. The teaching of the Missouri Synod since 1877 is: Eternal election solely flows from God’s free grace in Christ. In the decree of eternal predestination the faith of the elect is not presupposed (as is assumed by the theory that predestination took place ‘‘in foresight of faith”), but included,—for when God elected them He at the same time and in the same decree decreed to grant them faith and perseverance in faith. As God in time unites His children to Himself by giving them faith, so in eternity He united His children to Himself by decreeing to give them faith. “We exactly know the reason why those who are actually saved, are elected, brought to faith and preserved in it. It is, so Scripture clearly reveals, out of God’s pure, free mercy in Christ. We also know the reason why those who perish are not converted or not preserved in faith, and thus go to perdition. It is, as Scripture likewise plainly teaches, from their own fault, namely, from their obstinate resistance to the saving grace of God. But we do not know the reason why one person in preference to another is converted and saved, as all men by nature are equally guilty and dead in sin. By acknowledging a mystery right here we must not be charged with Crypto-calvinism. For this and none other is the doctrinal position of the Lutheran Church” (Pieper).
    3. The Missouri Synod further holds 1) that the dogmatical phrase that election has taken place “in view of faith”is not taken from Scripture; 2) that it is not found in the Lutheran Confessions; 3) that it does not solve the mystery, if at the same time the biblical doctrine be maintained that faith is a free gift of grace, and in no respect man’s own work; 4) that, if the phrase, “in view of faith” be exchanged for “in view of man’s conduct,” the mystery, indeed, is solved, but by the key of Synergism (Pieper).
    4. Every true Lutheran can most unreservedly subscribe the four points just presented, but this does not in any way prove that the expression intuitu fidei is unscriptural, un-Lutheran, or Synergistic.
    5. It is very interesting to compare the teaching of the Missouri Synod with that of the Calvinistic Canons of the Synod of Dort (1619 A. D.).
      1. Missouri Synod: “Election is the unalterable and eternal decree of God, by which, from the entire human race (fallen by its own fault from its original state of innocence into sin and destruction), according to the free purpose of His will, out of pure grace and mercy, He ordained unto salvation a certain number of individual persons, neither better nor worthier than others, lying together with them in the same universal destruction.”
      2. Synod of Dort: Of Divine Predestination. Art. vii.: “Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons, neither better nor worthier than others, but with them involved in one common misery, to salvation in Christ,” etc. Art. ix.: “This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality, but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc.”

IV. Literature. Luthardt, Kompendium, sec. 32; Luthardt, Die Lehre vom freien Willett, etc.. (1863); Hagenbach, History of Doctrines (Index); Thomasius, Dogmengeschichte (Index): Thomasius, Christi Person und Werk, sec. 31; Neander, History of Christian Dogmas (Table of Contents); Koestlin. The Theology of Luther (Index); Schmid. Theology of the Lutheran Church, sec. 30; Baier, Compendium (Walther), Vol. III, pp. 531-613; Martensen, Dogmatics, pp. 362-382; Dorner, System of Christian Doctrine (Index); Frank, Wahrheit, sec. 20; Frank, Theologie der Concordien-Formel, Vol. IV., pp. 121-344; Loeber, Dogmatic, pp. 434-495; Lindberg, Dogmalih, pp. 63-75; Harnack, Luther’s Theologie, Vol. I., pp. 149-250; Philippi, Kirchliche Giaubenslehre, Vol. IV., pp. 1-121; Vilmar. Dogmatik, Vol. II.. pp. 5-30; Stellhorn-Schmidt, The Error of Modern Missouri (1897); Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Election (1843); Forbes, Predestination and Free Will Reconciled (1878); Mozley, Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination (1878); Gerhart, Institutes of the Christian Religion, sec. 19. 20, 21, 341-343; Field, Handbook of Christian Theology (Meth.), pp. 176-192; Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. I., pp. 535-549; Vol. II., pp. 639-732; Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. I., pp. 393-462; Strong. Systematic Theology (Bapt.), pp. 171-182, 426-436; Van Oosterzee, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. II., pp. 416-458; Smith, H. B., System of Christian Theology, pp.