Talk:Predestination (Calvinism)

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I made some appropriate changes to the article. I did a large rewrite but not on the whole thing. Right now the article needs deletion/condensing of a lot of side issues and histories. I didn't feel like hijacking the whole edit or putting negative bias into views that are not my own. The article does not as of yet mention the source of this Calvinistic belief or theistic determinism. It only mentions predestination with respect to election. The source of doctrine comes from God being absolutely sovereign, infinitely wise, omniscient, and omnipotent. He will work all things for the good of those who believe in Him. God thus carries out His own plan throughout time, absolutely to completion with infinite wisdom. The means are predestination. It also needs to discuss the dangers when we try to see God's plan that remains unrevealed. We should not try to look into it or judge others. Calvin addresses this. Finally, It needs to state that it differs from fatalism in the sense that it is not blind or based on random chance. --Newchasm

I think the calvinism's response should not be included. Appearantly some Calvinist thought that the rest of the article did a bad job at explainaion of Their doctrine. Furthermore, I fully understand calvinistic predestination. It has much more to do with absolute sovereignty than it does with election. Double predestination does not equal Calvinistic predestination. Furthermore, Unconditional election is the outworking of predestination in Salvation. It is not the cause. Next, the discussion on free will is misleading since calvinist's mean different things with that phrase. Read Jonathan Edwards. The will is free to follow what it desires most. It is still free here but it is not free in what it can desire. I might try to rework this article later. --Newchasm

I agree with Ed, in particular the "calvinisms response" part I suggest it be deleted in part that it was added and does contain bias in that it builds a straw man of calvinism and also sola fide. hewoulddieforu

A lot of this sounds like personal opinion, disagreeing with Calvinism. I suggest a rewrite. --Ed Poor

It is a topic under discussion on Predestination, written from a calvinist's point of view, in the attempt to show that calvinists are capable of sympathizing with the difficulty involved in understanding a doctrine that is not meant to be understood; while trying to show its usefulness within the calvinist system. I am hoping that an agreement can be reached on how the doctrine can be expressed, so that those who believe it can agree with those who do not, regarding how the doctrine should be expressed in a neutral point of view. If we reach that agreement, then I suggest that this topic should be deleted (or, rewritten with a less practical purpose in mind). The idea is similar to what has been done in Jehovah's Witnesses. Mkmcconn

Actually, upon reading the entire article, this article seesm remarkably balanced. It points out, quite fairly, that most people find the Calvinist doctrine incomprehensible, and then explains why Calvinists believe that it is defensible. Itis done in class Wikipedia NPOV style. This is great. However, I think it errs, in that it attributes a belief to Calvinists that they don't have. The author of this entry so far holds that Calvinists really don't believe what they say they believe; rather they believe in free will in the same way that most people do. Therefore he strains to find a way to make their belief reject predestination, despite the Calvinists own claims. This I find incorrect. Calvinists are very clear that some people are elect, others are not, and that there is nothing that anyone can do about this. They can, if they wish, add that "free will" also exists, but this is literally impossible to do. It is a logical contradiction, and can only be affirmed by cognative dissonance (a mental state in which a person holds two mutually contradictory beliefs at the same time.) RK

That's true. It is not free will in the same sense as others hold to it. This is the importance of the section on "Equivocal or analogical concepts of freedom" in the Predestination article. Mkmcconn

This is a polemic against the doctrine, rather than a statement of it. I suggest that this page is deleted until a better definition of this doctrine is available. This is not the forum for such argumentative articles. By all means put this is an article on Universalism or some other such. This is not educational, in that it should provide a positive definistion and explanation of the doctrine. notsnhoj

It contains polemic against the doctrine, yes. But it is written to answer those arguments; as discussed above, the essay was written to help explain a particular approach to the topic of predestination. It was intended that it should be deleted; but in the meantime, several articles linked to it. If your concern is that it is offensive to Calvinists: it was written by a Calvinist - which does not guarantee that it is not offensive, but it may vouche for its neutrality. See Predestination and Types of religious predestination for the product of the discussion of which this essay was a part. Mkmcconn 05:41, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)
It certainly needs work as is. But I don't think it's all that bad by Wikipedia standards, frankly. I'd keep it. Andrewa 19:51, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)

OK, I'm going to chop it down and see what happens.

Here's the original content, prior to my cutting it down to the first couple of paragraphs: Dpbsmith 02:33, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Content prior to 2/18/2004[edit]

The Calvinist doctrine of predestination is easy to state in all of its infamous bluntness :

Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He hath determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. -- John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Westminster Confession of Faith is just as blunt, and expands the issue at length in Chapter III:

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

And yet, what Calvinists are quite willing to confess among themselves, they sometimes are unwilling to say as boldly to others, or to allow others to attribute to them. Why is this? Is the doctrine of predestination according to Calvinism that, God foreordains some to eternal life, and others to eternal damnation, or not? Is it a decision based purely on his own will, so that there's nothing anyone can do to be saved if they aren't "one of the elect", or isn't it?

Any frank Calvinist must admit that, it appears to be as simple as that. If this is what people understand it to be, and he wants to say that they have not understood the doctrine, then the Calvinist must acknowledge that it's not for lack of understanding of the English language that they have come to their conclusion.

Besides this, notwithstanding the bluntness of its statements, the Westminster Confession of Faith uses notoriously peculiar language on these points in Chapter III.

1. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

This is a square circle indeed, if it's saying what it seems. From eternity, an order of all things is set in exhaustive detail, which nothing can change. And yet, this unchangeable order does not contradict the will of the creatures or take away their freedom, or remove second causes, much less cause the sinful choices of man? One may well wonder what the use is, of a doctrine that cannot be understood. It states plainly, what it denies in the next sentence. Here, supposedly, is a cause of every detail, that doesn't cancel second causes, or involve any coercion, or even resistance, much less offer "violence" to man's free choices or cause man to sin. In fact quite the opposite, says the confession, the freedom of man's choices is established inviolate by God's unchangeable decree. Perhaps Westminster is speaking merely of foreknowledge? Chapter III, again:

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed any thing because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

A distinction is made, between the decision that God makes from himself without reference to anything else - this "eternal decree" - and any actions that He may take based upon what happens, or what will happen, or what He understands about causes and consequent effects. Predestination is not foreknowledge. Instead, in section 7, it says that a secret counsel, an eternal and immutable purpose, and the good pleasure of His will is the basis of God's decree concerning both, those who are saved and those who are damned, as opposed to "any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto." This is where the crass criticism comes from, when referring to human hubris: "He does whatever he damn well pleases".

Now, we revisit the question of why Calvinists object when opponents repeat what Calvinists confess. The answer appears to be, because it evokes hatred of God in those who do not know God, if this be God. This appears from section 8 of chapter III:

The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

Essentially, what this is saying according to Calvinists is that, the doctrine has no profitable meaning, except for those who believe the gospel. And, say the Calvinists quite adamantly, the gospel is not about predestination but about Christ, and the forgiveness of sins.

This gospel of Christ, according to Calvinists, is to be preached freely to all men, and they are to be urged with all sincerity to trust in it. The gospel should never be replaced with teachings on election and predestination, which cannot have any profitable meaning except to those who have trusted in the gospel. It is never to be said, "to be saved, you must be elect", because, what can men do to be elect? Therefore, if Calvinists find that their doctrine concerning salvation is being described by others as "you must be elect", they will object (or at least, that appears to be what their confessional documents tell them they should do).

It is never to be said, "judgment is based on God's decree", or "most men are damned before they are even born". That is a false way of speaking to the world. Judgment is based on the good and the evil that men do, Calvinists say, because that is what the gospel says. "Turn away from sin, trust in God and believe in Christ" is the gospel, according to Calvinists; "You must be elect" is an antigospel because it subjects men to false notions of futility, and it is therefore an obstacle to faith, something that should not be said because even if the words are right, the spirit of the words as expressed in unbelief is completely antithetical to their believing intent.

And so, what is the doctrine of predestination? The Calvinists say that it is instruction for those who believe, not to credit their believing to themselves, but to God who has had mercy and granted them faith, in love. It teaches those who have begun to trust God, to continue to trust even to the end of the world, because He has been faithful from the foundations of the world. And, those who have begun to obey, learn that salvation is not an achievement to be earned by them: rather, it is God, who is at work in them to make them willing, and able to live for Him. It teaches them when they preach the gospel to others, not to burden themselves with responsibility for whether they are believed: this is a matter between the others, and God. Therefore, if the world is too stubborn to listen, plead with God to grant them ears to hear, in whose hands are the fates of all men. And, because of this doctrine, no one can say "this people or that people cannot receive the gospel, because circumstances have made it impossible": God is the maker of all circumstance. Therefore, plead with God that he would be willing to overcome every obstacle. And if God by decree has the reins of the hearts and the will of men, then plead with God that men would be turned toward life. Predestination is the doctrine of Calvinism, only if it teaches joy and patience, and the assurance of God's faithfulness.

In other words, it is a doctrine intended to instruct Christians in the obedience of faith, not in the metaphysics of "will" in the abstract. It teaches them to credit nothing in creation for their salvation, but only God alone. And they are cautioned never to use this doctrine wrongly: because if these things are preached to those who do not believe the gospel, they will be provoked to blaspheme God. Because if election is preached, they will only hear a perverse message of damnation, or a message which makes them complacent in their sin. But if repentance and forgiveness through faith in Christ are preached, who knows but that God has written their names for the gift of repentance, in the book of life? So say the Calvinists.

Votes for Deletion[edit]

This page is essentially a polemic against the doctrine rather than an imformative definition of it. Regardless of my opinion of the doctrine, i would expect as a researcher, to find a posiotive definition of the doctrine with links to arguments against it. notsnhoj

  • Should probably be listed on Wikipedia:Cleanup, not here. RickK 04:56, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • The article was created with a practical purpose in mind, which has since been satisfied. Its essay form probably qualifies it for deletion. However, it was written more than a year ago, and has been linked from several other articles. Rewriting may be a less messy route. Mkmcconn 07:55, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep, this should not be here. Sam Spade 15:02, 15 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep, but truncate to a near-stub. The article topic is highly appropriate. The two opening quotations from Calvin and the Westminster Confession of Faith are a good start for such an article. But even the sentences introducing quotations need to be rewritten to remove the POV stuff about "bluntness." The rest is very non-neutral, and is "original research." I am strongly tempted to rewrite the opening "The doctrine of predestination, as formulated by Calvin, is: 'Predestination [etc.]' It appears in the Westminster Confession of Faith in this form: "By the decree [etc]." and move ALL the rest of it to the Talk page. The above would then constitute the entire article (until the time that someone more knowledgable about Calvinism than I should choose to add to it). Dpbsmith 00:42, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
    • Keep. Sounds good, do it. Andrewa 02:14, 16 Feb 2004 (UTC)
      • Done. Dpbsmith 02:38, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep. Needs NPOV-ification. Important topic. Wile E. Heresiarch 14:52, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete/redirect. If it's going to be shortened to a semi-stub (as proposed above) anyway, that semi-stub can be moved to predestination, and this page redirected. That page might well be split, but then do it with the merged version, rather than splitting off what just happens to be on another page. Andre Engels 17:35, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Avoiding partial explantions[edit]

The central thesis of the essay that has been cut (rightly so, keeping with wikipedia style and genre standards), is that the use of a doctrine is part of its meaning. For that reason, the instruction that governs the use of the doctrine is not an appendix, but pertains to the doctrine itself. The first half of the essay places all weight on the definition from the Westminster Standards, and the second half leans heavily on the section governing use:

The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

In addition, the chapter on Election distances itself from philosophical notions of fatalism, pointing out that fatalism contradicts the doctrine by eliminating appreciation of secondary causes and by not distinguishing between predestination and coercion.

In short, the doctrine is not completely expressed only in one section. Only its offensiveness is rightly perceived there, but none of its mitigating elements, which also form the doctrine. So, while the essay form is not appropriate, somehow a full explanation of this topic should point out that there is more to the doctrine as it is fully developed, than is expressed in one section of one chapter of the constitution of one branch of the reformed churches. Do you agree? Mkmcconn 17:34, 20 Feb 2004 (UTC)

2005 edits[edit]

I have added a bit more material; it seems that it has been difficult for folks to reach any kind of agreement on this subject. Most of what I have added has been Arminian/Wesleyan in nature, but I certainly don't want it to remain that way, and earnestly hope that someone is able to flesh it out to make it a bit more NPOV. An important historical theological topic such as this deserves serious consideration. KHM03 23:41, 29 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Expansion request[edit]

I added a request for expansion. This is an important theological topic for the understanding of Calvinism which, though I don't agree with all of it, is surely one of the great schools of Christian thought. The page needs work! KHM03 19:20, 29 May 2005 (UTC)


I was originally redirected to this article when seeking "Unconditional Election", which I felt was inadequate. I think the article in its present form could easily be incorporated into the existing Predestination article. However, I have made revisions as it stands to make it more helpful; and consequently added new artical on "unconditional election" as one of the Five Points of Calvinism. Jim Ellis 15:41, July 14, 2005 (UTC)

Removed Bias Intro[edit]

Removed the text

"This view is entirely true, biblically speaking, as it is founded on numerous passages throughout the New Testament of the Christian Bible. This view was also held by the apostles."

As it is extremely biased towards Calvinism.

-Shin Natsume not logged in

Double Predestination[edit]

The section currently asserts that double predestination is not the Calvinistic position. Perhaps the relevant statement from the Westminster Confession of Faith could be included: By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. (III,3) StAnselm 04:10, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

  • OK, I've gone ahead and severely edited it. StAnselm 09:06, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Double Predestination can mean different things to different people. Lutherans originally held single predestination that was only positive. They ignored the negative aspect to the logic, that people were left to go to hell. Calvinists did not overlook such. Calvinists came along and logically pieced single predestination into what Lutherans called double predestination. Whereas Calvinists use this title for hypercalvinists as I understand it. I was using it in respect to the latter where people are elected to hell or heaven actively. I like the clarity you put in this section since it describes what I wanted to convey. I like some of the other edits too.Newchasm 05:51, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Reformed people interpret "predestined" and "foreordained" differently, they say one is active while the other is passive, so they don't believe in Double Predestination. Avielh 16:08, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Remove or cut down the baggage.[edit]

This article has a larger section on Universalists and Arminians than on Calvinists. Someone needs to reduce the size or delete it. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Newchasm (talkcontribs) 05:55, 30 April 2007 (UTC).

Merge from double predestination[edit]

I propose the double predestination be merged here. Objections? --Flex (talk/contribs) 20:40, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

if the verses are to be removed (because there are many), than I'd rather that it stands as a separate article (I'll clean it little by little). Also not all Calvinists agree on double predestination and the dividing line between single predestination calvinists and double is not precise, interpretation of verses differ between those sides. It might be better if it stands on it's own, rather than under the heading "(Calvinism)" otherwise it won't be clear (as Double Predestination).
Avielh 17:26, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Hi, Avielh. My point here is that there's considerable overlap between predestination, unconditional election, predestination (Calvinism), double predestination, and reprobation and that they (particularly the last four) should somehow be combined into fewer articles. The {{quotefarm}} issue applies to more than one of these, and it could be dealt with in the merge process. --Flex (talk/contribs) 20:56, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, Predestination and Predestination (Calvinism) should be merged (nobody types "Predestination (Calvinism)") - and finding that Calvinistic Predestination is not discussed in "Predestination" is just weird. Unconditional Election, Double Predestination and Reprobation should be discussed in Predestination or Predestination (Calvinism), but they in themselves (I think) deserve and can accomodate their own separate articles. For example if Double Predestination is merged into Predestination, there would be no room to show the verses, hermeneutics involved, and the fact that Calvin really believed in it. Even Unconditional Election is so broad,it may concern predestination (Arminians believe in Predestination too) but really is a different topic. Avielh 14:59, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
It sounds like we have some initial agreement here. There is some redundancy between some of the aforementioned articles and some deserve their own space. So looking at each of these, what do you think should be merged where, and what should stand on its own? --Flex (talk/contribs) 15:36, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Yup, I disagree : ) There is redundancy, but there's a lot of difference... entire books are written on those topics, the verses used to warrant those are also different, even the emphasis on same verses are different. Besides most Calvinist don't agree in Double Predestination... it's not even the Reformed position. Avielh 16:05, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
The fact that books have been written on each of these topics does not justify separate articles in a the Wikipedia any more than the fact that books have been written covering all of these topics means that they should be merged. The Wikipedia is not a theology text. My current preference is to merge single predestination and double predestination here and describe the debate here. But if double predestination warrants its own article, I think reprobation should be merged into it. Not all Calvinists are DPers, but all DPers are Calvinists. --Flex (talk/contribs) 15:51, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for removing the tag, I'm not familiar with protocols here. Double Predestination is such a controversial issue (its a big topic), persons who will look for it are particularly interested in how the doctrine works and derived from the bible, and it cannot be merged here (its too big), that's not merging, it's simply deletion of information that people wanted to know about Double Predestination. Also, I can add a shortened form here (I mean, what's more to add in shortened form). Here I question your neutrality (no offense ok), because it seems you just don't agree with double predestination and want the arguments deleted. The arguments are in themselves encyclopedic, because that's what the readers want to know about it - and they are verifiable (they can check the verses, and the qoutes). I guess it could be merged here, but I will still add the arguments if you agree. Avielh 16:26, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Btw, one's view on reprobation depends on whether you're DP (reprobation is part of predestination), SP (reprobation is opposite (kindof) of predestination), or Arminian (reprobation simply as foreknowledge of rejection... kinda like SP really). That's why its better to have separate DP article... (kind of like a separate Predestination (Calvinist) article... no peace between calvinist and arminians I see) Avielh 16:30, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
The problem here seems to be that you have a different vision of what the Wikipedia is. It is not a comprehensive resource, it is not a soap box for promoting one's views, and it is not a theological tract. Please read WP:NOT. Moreover, just because someone might look for something on this topic does not mean that that something should appear in the Wikipedia.
In any case, every topic must be presented neutrally -- this is not optional. You cannot use disputed texts from the Bible to "prove" your case -- that is original research, and more to the point, arguments don't belong here at all. We're not arguing for or against anything. The intent should never be persuasion. Rather, we're stating how different (notable) groups see things, and we cite their reasons as to why. Please read WP:NPOV and WP:V. The criterion for inclusion is verifiablity, not truth.
Again, you are not assuming good faith by accusing me of bias. In fact, I favor double predestination, too. I'm just trying to help you follow the Wikipedia's rules and guidelines. --Flex (talk/contribs) 17:21, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Those are valid uses because they are under the section "Biblical Basis (in favor of)", if someone wants to list their own verses in a section "Critisms" or "Inconsistencies with" or "Arguments against", they can do that, just like Predestination (Calvinism) article supports the Calvinist view of Predestination (also using disputed bible verses and qoutes) and biasly ignoring all the numerous bible verses that (seemingly) contradict this disputed topic (which more than 80% of Christians reject). Avielh 18:11, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
You continue to appeal to this article, but you fail to notice that it is not a good article or featured article by Wikipedia standards. In short, this article should not be your model; the guidelines I have repeatedly referenced are the standard, and the featured articles (and to a lesser extent the good articles) should be your models. --Flex (talk/contribs) 18:47, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Some little POVvyness[edit]

It doesn't require a full POV-check template, because the article is mostly very good, but the following statements are POVvy, and needs some supporting citations, or reformulations:

In his Declaration of Sentiments (1608) Arminius gave twenty arguments against supralapsarianism, which he said (not quite correctly) applied also to sublapsarianism.

... yes maybe "not quite correctly", but citation yet needed,

Some scholars have said that Arminianism is Pelagian...

... a typical case of {{who}}. The article would profit from citations here and there. I like the tone of the article: it does it's best if it would just be a letter to an academical specialist literature, but here is Wikipedia full of critical editors! ... said: Rursus (bork²) 17:35, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Another note:
The logical criticism of predestination is that it denies the individual their own free will.
It certainly is a "free will" argument, but why is this logical? I thought that logical criticism were paradoxical problems like Omnipotence paradox and Irresistible force paradox, paradoxes that apply to many theologies, not just Calvinism. ... said: Rursus (bork²) 18:04, 12 April 2009 (UTC)
And to the defence of the Calvinists, what's the logic in the weird "free will" concept, of doubtful logical stature? If a will is free, then it must be independent of previous experience and genetical heritage. On what is it dependent then? ... said: Rursus (bork²) 18:06, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

C.S. Lewis[edit]

I don't understand the C.S. Lewis bit in the Universalism section, or recognise it from anywhere in his writings. Is it really in "Mere Christianity"? If so, is it relevant? - C.S. Lewis wasn't a Universalist. And if it is relevant, can it be cleaned up a bit so it reads more clearly? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:39, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Predestination Passages[edit]

I put up a link, ( and it has been removed because it says I am advertising. Does anyone think that is advertising? I put it under pro because the site seems to be for Calvinist Predestination. It is a collection of Predestination Passages which seems to be pretty good. Ns97

Move to Delete Paragraph about Calvinists thinking Arminians are Pelagians[edit]

Only a complete moron would conflate the two, and I doubt there's a reputable source. Anyone who knows the word "Pelagian" would know better. The next person who agrees should just go ahead and delete it, since I see no one ever responded to the (citation needed). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:21, 24 October 2011 (UTC)