Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Church Fathers on Foreknowledge and Freewill

Some Calvinists suggest that God's foreknowledge is based on His plan and/or knowledge of causal relations rather then based on the future. I thought I would look up what the church fathers had to say on the subject of God's foreknowledge and freewill. Here are the results.

Diodore of Tarsus (circa 390)
This text [Romans 8:29-30] does not take away our free will. It uses the word foreknew before predestined. Not it is clear that foreknowledge does not by itself impose any particular behavior. What is said here would be clearer if we started from the end and worked backwards. Whom did God glorify? Those whom he justified. Whom did he predestine? Those whom he foreknew, who were called according to his plan, i.e., who demonstrated that they were worthy to be called by his plan and made conformable to Christ. (Romans (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, volume 6. Edited by Thomas Oden. P 235)

Ambrosiaster (late 4th century)
Those whom God foreknew would believe I him he chose to receive the promises. But those who appear to believe yet do not persevere in the faith are not chosen by God, because whosever God chooses will persevere. (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, volume 6. Edited by Thomas Oden. P 235)

Theodoret of Cyrus (circa 393 – 457)
Those whose intentions God foreknew he predestined from the beginning. Those who are predestined, he called, and those who were called, he justified by baptism. Those who were justified, he glorified, calling them children. To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God. Let no one say that God’s foreknowledge was the unilateral cause of these things. For it was not foreknowledge which justified people, but God knew what would happen to them, because he is God. (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, volume 6. Edited by Thomas Oden. P 237)

Origen (circa 185–254)
It is not because God knows that something is going to b e that that thing is going to be, but rather it is because it is going to be that it is know by God before it comes to be. For even if we imagine for the sake of argument that God does not foreknow anything it was without a doubt going to happen that, say Judas became a traitor, and this is just the way the prophets foretold it would happen. Therefore, it was not because the prophets foretold it that Judas became a traitor, but rather it was because he was going to be a traitor that the prophets foretold the things that he was going to do by his wicked designs, even though Judas most certainly had it within his power to be like Peter and John if he had so willed; but he chose the desire for money over the glory of apostolic companionship, and the prophets, foreseeing that this choice of his, handed it down in their books. Moreover, in order that you might understand that the cause of each person’s salvation is to be found not I God’s foreknowledge but in that person’s intentions and actions, notice that Paul tormented his body and subjected it to servitude because he feared that, after having preached to others, he himself might perhaps become reprobate. (Book 7 of his commentary on the epistle to the Romans (Romans chapter 8)).

John Damascene (circa 676 – 749)
From this it is clear that foreknowledge was not in the least a cause of the devil’s becoming evil. For a physician, when he foresees a future illness, does not cause that illness. To the contrary, the real cause of the illness consist I a perverse and immoderate way of life. For it’s part, the physician’s foreknowledge is a sign of his erudition, whereas the cause of the foreknowledge is the fact that things were going to turn out that way. (Dialogs against Manichees)

Jerome (circa 347 – 420)
For Adam did not sin because God knew that he would do so; but God inasmuch as He is God, foreknew what Adam would do of his own free choice. (Against the Pelagians. Book 3 part 6)

For not because He knew that which is about to come, is it necessary for us to do that which He has foreknown: but He became cognizant of the future because we were about to do it by our own will. For He is God. (Dan’s translation of Jerome’s comments on Ezekiel 2:5)

Tertullian (circa 160 – 220)
You ought, however, to deduct from God's attributes both His supreme earnestness of purpose and most excellent truth in His whole creation, if you would cease to inquire whether anything could have happened against the will of God. For, while holding this earnestness and truth of the good God, which are indeed capable of proof from the rational creation, you will not wonder at the fact that God did not interfere to prevent the occurrence of what He wished not to happen, in order that He might keep from harm what He wished. …The necessary consequence, therefore, was, that God must separate from the liberty which He had once for all bestowed upon man (in other words, keep within Himself), both His foreknowledge and power, through which He might have prevented man's falling into danger when attempting wrongly to enjoy his liberty. Now, if He had interposed, He would have rescinded the liberty of man's will, which He had permitted with set purpose, and in goodness. ….If He had checked (man's freedom), would He not then seem to have been rather deceived, through want of foresight into the future? But in giving it full scope, who would not say that He did so in ignorance of the issue of things? God, however, did fore-know that man would make a bad use of his created constitution; and yet what can be so worthy of God as His earnestness of purpose, and the truth of His created works, be they what they may? (Against Marcion book 2 chapter 7)

Justin Martyr (circa 100 – 165)
But when the Spirit of prophecy speaks of things that are about to come to pass as if they had already taken place, ….The things which He absolutely knows will take place, He predicts as if already they had taken place. …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. And the holy Spirit of prophecy taught us this, telling us by Moses that God spoke thus to the man first created: “Behold, before thy face are good and evil: choose the good.” …So that what we say about future events being foretold, we do not say it as if they came about by a fatal necessity; but God foreknowing all that shall be done by all men, and it being His decree that the future actions of men shall all be recompensed according to their several value, He foretells by the Spirit of prophecy that He will bestow meet rewards according to the merit of the actions done, always urging the human race to effort and recollection, showing that He cares and provides for men. (First Apology Chapters 42-44)

And that God the Father of all would bring Christ to heaven after He had raised Him from the dead, and would keep Him there until He has subdued His enemies the devils, and until the number of those who are foreknown by Him as good and virtuous is complete, on whose account He has still delayed the consummation—hear what was said by the prophet David. These are his words: “The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. (First Apology Chapter 45)

For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold. For the reason why God has delayed to do this, is His regard for the human race. 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. (First Apology Chapter 28)

Pseudo- Justin Martyr (date unknown)
Foreknowledge is not a cause of that which is going to be, but rather that which is going to be is a cause of foreknowledge. For that which is going to be does not ensue upon foreknowledge, but rather foreknowledge ensues upon that which is going to be. (link)

Irenaeus (2nd century – 202)
Man has received the knowledge of good and evil. It is good to obey God, and to believe in Him, and to keep His commandment, and this is the life of man; as not to obey God is evil, and this is his death. Since God, therefore, gave [to man] such mental power (magnanimitatem) man knew both the good of obedience and the evil of disobedience, that the eye of the mind, receiving experience of both, may with judgment make choice of the better things; and that he may never become indolent or neglectful of God’s command; and learning by experience that it is an evil thing which deprives him of life, that is, disobedience to God, may never attempt it at all, but that, knowing that what preserves his life, namely, obedience to God, is good, he may diligently keep it with all earnestness. Wherefore he has also had a twofold experience, possessing knowledge of both kinds, that with discipline he may make choice of the better things. …Offer to Him thy heart in a soft and tractable state, and preserve the form in which the Creator has fashioned thee, having moisture in thyself, lest, by becoming hardened, thou lose the impressions of His fingers. … If, however, thou wilt not believe in Him, and wilt flee from His hands, the cause of imperfection shall be in thee who didst not obey, but not in Him who called [thee]. … Nor, [in like manner], does the light fail because of those who have blinded themselves; but while it remains the same as ever, those who are [thus] blinded are involved in darkness through their own fault. The light does never enslave any one by necessity; nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon any one unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill. Those persons, therefore, who have apostatized from the light given by the Father, and transgressed the law of liberty, have done so through their own fault, since they have been created free agents, and possessed of power over themselves. But God, foreknowing all things, prepared fit habitations for both, kindly conferring that light which they desire on those who seek after the light of incorruption, and resort to it; but for the despisers and mockers who avoid and turn themselves away from this light, and who do, as it were, blind themselves, He has prepared darkness suitable to persons who oppose the light, and He has inflicted an appropriate punishment upon those who try to avoid being subject to Him. (Against Heresies chapter 39)

John Chrysostom (circa 347–407)
But when He said, “It must needs be,” it is not as taking away the power of choosing for themselves, nor the freedom of the moral principle, nor as placing man’s life under any absolute constraint of circumstances, that He saith these things, but He foretells what would surely be; and this Luke hath set forth in another form of expression, “It is impossible but that offenses should come.” But what are the offenses? The hindrances on the right way. Thus also do those on the stage call them that are skilled in those matters, them that distort their bodies. It is not then His prediction that brings the offenses; far from it; neither because He foretold it, therefore doth it take place; but because it surely was to be, therefore He foretold it; since if those who bring in the offenses had not been minded to do wickedly, neither would the offenses have come; and if they had not been to come, neither would they have been foretold. But because those men did evil, and were incurably diseased, the offenses came, and He foretells that which is to be. (Homilies # 59 on Mathew 18:7)

25 comments:

Turretinfan said...

The church fathers were all over the map on most issues - and this doesn't seem to be any exception. The idea of being predestined based on foreseen merit is surely something that even :) an Arminian would reject, right?

TheoJunkie said...

Dan,

1) Calvinists deny fatal necessity.

2) Calvinists affirm that everyone makes choices, even choosing between good and evil.

3) Regarding the comments of folks in the year 300 and beyond... note for comparison that 300 to 400 years also marks the difference between the time of the Reformation and modern times.. and look at what all has happened in the world of doctrine since the Reformation-- even among Protestants.

4) Regarding the comments of earlier folk like Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus... I don't think they make your point. They are by and large talking about Man's decision to turn away from God... and in the instances that they address choices regarding eternal life, they are just affirming that no one is sent unwillingly to hell-- or brought unwillingly to heaven.

5) Dittos to TF regarding their comments about merit.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

The idea of being predestined based on foreseen merit is surely something that even :) an Arminian would reject, right?

Yes, that would be more like a non-Dominican version of Catholicism. But it still reveals enough about their understanding of God's foreknowledge to support my position that God knows the future, based on the future as opposed to based on His plan.
As for the fathers being all over the place, I didn’t come across any saying God knows man’s future choices based on His plan or denying He knew the future based on the future.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TJ,

Regarding #1 & #2, I agree however, it's interesting that Justin Martyr uses #1 to refute #2 (i.e. he said that because the bible teaches we choose, fatalism is false). I have been debating with Steve Hays on this issue. The definitions of "choose" he uses would fit nicely with fatalism, but the definitions I use do not.

Regarding #3, point taken; the older the better. But recall the apostles were around as late as 90AD. So the reformation was 400 to 500 years ago and at 300 AD, the fathers were around 210 years removed from the time of the apostles. Still, like you say, the older the better.

Regarding Tertullian, I think his comments are an early form of middle knowledge (Molinism). He says God knew what would happen before He permitted it. To get the full flow of the context, I suggest against Marcion book 2 chapters 4-9. What I provided above gives a link to the general context, but I omitted quite a bit of good stuff, just for space.

Irenaeus is slightly less clear but he does seem to be saying God predestines rewards/punishments based on foreknowledge, which supports my view.

God be with you,
Dan

Pizza Man said...

Hi Dan, thanks for the post. Here is a link along those lines that is very good: Fate vs. Free Will Throughout Church History

TheoJunkie said...

Dan,

Do you really agree that Calvinists deny fatal necessity and affirm that everyone makes choices, even choosing between good and evil? If so, then why do you post in an effort to refute the opposite?

I doubt Justin was refuting "Calvinism" ;)

The definitions you choose for choose, might not be biblical... and Steve Hayes might not be articulating something correctly (if he denies fatalism, then take that at face value).

Again, if Irenaeus (or any of them) are talking about salvation and reward for merits in the same sentence, you should run as fast as you can away from them. If we presume, however, that they are not talking about salvation when they talk about rewards, then we also must realize that they cannot be talking about God's election to salvation when they mention foreknowledge. I don't actually know what they had in mind when they wrote those things. I do know that the seeds of what would become full-blown Catholicism had to come from somewhere, so it wouldn't surprise me if they did have God's election in mind... in which case, again, run like hell and don't use them to support your cause.

Providentially (word selected on purpose :), I was listening to an RC Sproul podcast last night, and it had to do with God's sovereignty and human will. Please have a listen... http://www.ligonier.org/launch_mediacenter.php?tabID=2&id=2524

John C.T. said...

Theojunkie has not provided any quotes from any early Christian writers that would support the same sort of determinism (either absolute or compatiblisitic) as that now taught by TULIP Calvinists.

Dan, however, has supplied several quotes that clearly indicate that the early influential and chief teachers in Christian subscribed to an understanding of God and humankind wherein God has simple foreknowledge. That is, God's knowledge is consequent to the action and because God is outside of, or greater than time, he can see the end from the beginning and so know what humans will do.

TULIP Calvinism, however, does not subscribe to simple foreknowledge but uses the concepts of foreordination or decree. Consequently, TULIP Calvinists either happily acknowledge their determinism (A.W. Pink, etc.), or they redefine the meaning of "free" in "free will" so that it is compatible with determinism.

It is highly indicative of the appropriate interpretation of Scripture that the first teachers to follow the apostles subscribed to simple foreknowledge, rejected determinism, and acknowledged in order to be culpable and responsible a moral choice must be non-determined. And that is an essential distinction between the Arminian understanding of free will, and the TULIP Calvinist approach, that is, is free will determined or not-determined.

No Calvinist writer that I have read (I admit I haven't read all) has ever subscribed to an understanding of free will that is not determinative.

regards,
John C.T.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TJ,

Do you really agree that Calvinists deny fatal necessity and affirm that everyone makes choices, even choosing between good and evil?

Yes.

If so, then why do you post in an effort to refute the opposite?

What's interesting isn't what they are opposing, but why they are opposing it, and more importantly, what they are asserting.

I do know that the seeds of what would become full-blown Catholicism had to come from somewhere, so it wouldn't surprise me if they did have God's election in mind...

I hear ya. Many fathers seem to go too far with works (even Augustine). Still, I like to give them the benifit of the doubt, and think that if they were in the room with Luther or Calvin they would have worked out their differences on this issue.

Thanks for the link. I enjoy discussion on the topic of concurrence and R.C. Sproul is a great preacher.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks for the link Kevin.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts John C. T.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

Hello John C.T.,

I really appreciated your comments. Many of the things which you said are exactly the kind of things I have been saying.

John said:

“Theojunkie has not provided any quotes from any early Christian writers that would support the same sort of determinism (either absolute or compatiblisitic) as that now taught by TULIP Calvinists.”

This is true because Augustine originated it and no one taught it before him in early church history. This was directly confirmed to me by an incident in my seminary experience.

When I was in seminary, we had a calvinist as our professor of church history. He had been teaching for about forty years and really knew his stuff. I asked him in class in front of everyone: “Dr. . . Augustine seems to be the first person presenting calvinism in the early church, did any of the other early church fathers present calvinism?” He answered: “No, it really started with Augustine.” My follow up question was; “OK, then why was there a gap of hundreds of years in which the church was not espousing calvinism then?” He answered that as sometimes happens in church history it takes the church time to correctly formulate its doctrines! :-)

“Dan, however, has supplied several quotes that clearly indicate that the early influential and chief teachers in Christian subscribed to an understanding of God and humankind wherein God has simple foreknowledge. That is, God's knowledge is consequent to the action and because God is outside of, or greater than time, he can see the end from the beginning and so know what humans will do.”

The early church people held to what we would describe today as Arminian beliefs regarding foreknowledge and free will (i.e., that God foreknows all things including people’s freely chosen actions and that these two realities are compatible and both are presented clearly in the bible).

“TULIP Calvinism, however, does not subscribe to simple foreknowledge but uses the concepts of foreordination or decree. Consequently, TULIP Calvinists either happily acknowledge their determinism (A.W. Pink, etc.), or they redefine the meaning of "free" in "free will" so that it is compatible with determinism.”

Actually they deny foreknowledge as commonly understood and believed in by the early church history as well as throughout church history. For the necessitarian God **only** can foreknow what he has exhaustively determined (and the corollary then is that he could not foreknow something unless he predetermined for it to occur, but we really should not call **that** foreknowledge). Necessatarians also commonly argue against libertarian free will claiming that LFW and divine foreknowledge are incompatible (sadly they share this belief with open theists and atheists who also argue for incompatibility between LFW and foreknowledge, strange bedfellows indeed!).

“It is highly indicative of the appropriate interpretation of Scripture that the first teachers to follow the apostles subscribed to simple foreknowledge, rejected determinism, and acknowledged in order to be culpable and responsible a moral choice must be non-determined.”

In other words they held to the truth! :-)

“And that is an essential distinction between the Arminian understanding of free will, and the TULIP Calvinist approach, that is, is free will determined or not-determined.”

I believe an even better word is that the Arminian believes in free will as normally understood (i.e., LFW) and that many calvinists believe that every action of the will is ***NECESSITATED*** (i.e., we have to do every action that we do and it is impossible that we could do otherwise, all is necessitated, there is no contingency whatsoever in this world).

I would also distinguish between “determine” and “necessitate”. The cross of Christ is an event that God foreknew would occur and allowed the human persons involved to freely make their choices which resulted in the crucifixion (they could have done otherwise and yet God via his foreknowledge knew they would not do otherwise, knew exactly what they would do) and God allowed these events to take place. So the crucifixion was predetermined and yet not necessitated (they could have done otherwise but God via his foreknowledge knew they would not do otherwise). The necessitarian on the other hand believes that in each and every case the actions we do are necessitated and it is impossible that we do otherwise. The Arminian can grant that some events are determined (such as the crucifixion, the story of Joseph, the use of the Assyrians by God to discipline the Jewish people) and yet not necessitated. These events will occur with certainty (because God has the ability to foreknow actions that involve LFW) and yet they were not necessitated (people had choices and could have chosen otherwise, but God knew in fact they would not choose otherwise).

“No Calvinist writer that I have read (I admit I haven't read all) has ever subscribed to an understanding of free will that is not determinative.”

What do you mean “determinative”? If you mean that no calvinist holds to libertarian free will whatsoever that is not quite accurate.

For example, a friend of mine, who runs an apologetics organization believes that we have free will as commonly understood when it comes to daily choices. But when it comes to salvation he believes due to total depravity and original sin that no one can have faith unless he is one of the elect whom God saves by giving them the gift of faith. So this guy holds to calvinism but also holds to free will as commonly understood except when it comes to salvation!

Robert

Pizza Man said...

Hi Robert,

You said that your friend holds to free will for daily choices, but not for salvation.

Is it correct to state that he also holds that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of these free choices?

I ask because given his explanation these daily choices would NOT be exhaustively determined by God. So given the typical C understanding of foreknowledge, how does he reconcile this?

It would seem that he most hold that 1) God does not know what these daily choices are [open theism]. 2) He does know the choices, but they are not necessary [Arminian]. or 3) He holds some sort of hybrid view of God's foreknowledge [A for regular choices C for salvation].

Robert said...

Hello Pizza Man,

“You said that your friend holds to free will for daily choices, but not for salvation.”

Sort of. He believes that in daily life we have lots of choices, so free will as commonly understood exists **there**. But because of sin and depravity we are all slaves to sin and unable to have faith (original sin and total depravity) unless God gives us the ability to make the choice to trust Christ for salvation. And he only gives that ability to those whom he has preselected for salvation (the elect, unconditional election). Those who are preselected will be given the ability to have faith and will have faith (irresistible grace). Seen in that way he believes in both free will and TULIP.

“Is it correct to state that he also holds that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of these free choices?”

Yep.

“I ask because given his explanation these daily choices would NOT be exhaustively determined by God. So given the typical C understanding of foreknowledge, how does he reconcile this?”

Since he affirms TULIP I say the best description for him is as a calvinist. Perhaps some might call him a “Calminian”! :-) I actually think his version of calvinism is stronger than those who espouse exhaustive determinism/and that we never ever have choices. His view is stronger because it includes some place for free will as commonly understood, and allows for God foreknowing future actions involving freely performed actions. I will give you a big hint as to how he can hold these things: he is a calvinist with regard to the five points of TULIP, but he also believes as the molinists do that God has middle knowledge.

“It would seem that he most hold that 1) God does not know what these daily choices are [open theism].”

He is no open theist in fact he strongly argues against open theism.

“2) He does know the choices, but they are not necessary [Arminian].”

Probably close to that as he holds some molinist beliefs.

“or 3) He holds some sort of hybrid view of God's foreknowledge.”

He believes we sometimes have free will as commonly understood and that God has exhaustive knowledge of all things including the future. In other words he holds what the early church believed and held to, but (and this is a BIG BUT) he adds a calvinist soteriology (i.e., TULIP which the early church did not affirm) and some molinism (there are indications of molinist beliefs throughout church history). Looked at in that way his view is a hybrid or eclectic view. Of course I think he is right about free will, right about God having middle knowledge, but wrong about TULIP! :-)

Robert

TheoJunkie said...

Dear readers,

I did not provide any quotes from early "fathers" in my response to Dan, because that was not the purpose of my comment.

Thanks anyway for playing... and I am encouraged by the fact that my comment was taken seriously enough to make you concerned.

The Seeking Disciple said...

Curiously, where did you get the quotes?

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Roy,

Four sources: Molina's Concordia, Internet searches, and Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and a local scholastic library that had bunches of volumes that I can't specifically remember. Where possible, I provided links. I don't think the others quotes are available online. I assumed the quotes in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture were authentic, but assumed Molina's were not, and looked them up in other sources. He had a quote from Augustine which was perfect, but it turned out to be only from a pseudo-Augustine who apparently had semi-Pelagian tendencies. He also cited a quote from Justin Martyr who was actually a pseudo-Justin Martyr, but I cited it because there was some sources that conjectured the author was actually Diodore.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

p.s. to be clear, I cited the quote from pseudo-Justin Martyr as "pseudo-Justin Martyr"; the quote from Diodore is know to be Diodore.

God be with you,
Dan

Jnorm888 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jnorm888 said...

Turretinfan said:
""The church fathers were all over the map on most issues""

Only someone who doesn't read them can say such a thing. They did differ in some areas, but not in the way you think.



Theo Junkies said:
""Regarding the comments of folks in the year 300 and beyond... note for comparison that 300 to 400 years also marks the difference between the time of the Reformation and modern times.. and look at what all has happened in the world of doctrine since the Reformation-- even among Protestants.""


This may have some truth to it, but you can still find some Prespyterians, Dutch Reformed, and others that hold to Classical Reformed teachings. The same is true for the Church Fathers. But since this issue is about free will & foreknowledge, it is safe to say that they all believed in free will. Only Saint Augustine in his later years changed his mind on the issue, and thus all those that followed his lead.


TheoJunkie Said:
""I doubt Justin was refuting "Calvinism" ;)""


He was, maybe you should read him sometime.




TheoJunkie Said:
""Again, if Irenaeus (or any of them) are talking about salvation and reward for merits in the same sentence, you should run as fast as you can away from them. If we presume, however, that they are not talking about salvation when they talk about rewards, then we also must realize that they cannot be talking about God's election to salvation when they mention foreknowledge. I don't actually know what they had in mind when they wrote those things.""



How about reading them before making comments about them. It's onething to comment about what you know, and another to comment out of pure ignorance. I find it funny that someone removed from the Apostles 2,000 years is judging the early fathers who lived alot closer in time. There are alot of things we can learn from them, so maybe we should humble ourselves and see what they really had to say. I really don't understand how someone can comment on something they no nothing about.

I hope I wasn't mean to you by saying this, but as someone who actually reads them, I was offended by what you said.......especially since you were mainly commenting out of pure ignorance.








JNORM888

Jnorm888 said...

Dan,
""I hear ya. Many fathers seem to go too far with works (even Augustine). Still, I like to give them the benifit of the doubt, and think that if they were in the room with Luther or Calvin they would have worked out their differences on this issue.""


If the Lutherians and the Reformed weren't able to work out their differences then I doubt if they could with the Early Church. Plus, many of them were killing Anabaptists(radical protestants) in whom had similar views to the Church Fathers on "some" issues.





JNORM888

Godismyjudge said...

Hi JNORM,

One of the things I appreciate about the Arminians/Remonstrants was their attitude/approach to this sort of thing.

God be with you,
Dan

Jnorm said...

Foreknowledge:

These are a bit earlier. The first one to change foreknowledge into fore-ordination was Saint Augustine in his later years. TF didn't know what he was talking about in regards to them being all over the place on most issues. He probably got that from John Calvin. The truth is, it all depends on the topic, and context. On most issues they were saying similar stuff, if not the samething.


Saint Barnabas: The Epistle of Barnabas
Chapter III.-The Fasts of the Jews are Not True Fasts, Nor Acceptable to God.
http://www.searchgodsword.org/his/ad/ecf/ant/barnabas/view.cgi?file=anf01-41.htm

Quote:
"To this end, therefore, brethren, He is long-suffering, foreseeing how the people whom He has prepared shall with guilelessness believe in His Beloved. For He revealed all these things to us beforehand, that we should not rush forward as rash acceptors of their laws."

Chapter VI.-The Sufferings of Christ, and the New Covenant, Were Announced by the Prophets.
"Behold, therefore, we have been refashioned, as again He says in another prophet, "Behold, saith the Lord, I will take away from these, that is, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their stony hearts, and I will put hearts of flesh within them,"(74) because He(75) was to be manifested in flesh, and to sojourn among us. For, my brethren, the habitation of our heart is a holy temple to the Lord."

Saint Irenaeus
Book V
Chapter I.-Christ Alone is Able to Teach Divine Things, and to Redeem Us:
We-who were but lately created by the only best and good Being, by Him also who has the gift of immortality, having been formed after His likeness (predestinated, according to the prescience of the Father, that we, who had as yet no existence, might come into being), and made the first-fruits of creation(3) -have received, in the times known beforehand, [the blessings of salvation] according to the ministration of the Word, who is perfect in all things, as the mighty Word, and very man, who, redeeming us by His own blood in a manner consonant to reason, gave Himself as a redemption for those who had been led into captivity.

Jnorm said...

Foreknowledge:

Saint Barnabas: The Epistle of Barnabas
Chapter III.-The Fasts of the Jews are Not True Fasts, Nor Acceptable to God.

http://www.searchgodsword.org/his/ad/ecf/ant/barnabas/view.cgi?file=anf01-41.htm

Quote:
"To this end, therefore, brethren, He is long-suffering, foreseeing how the people whom He has prepared shall with guilelessness believe in His Beloved. For He revealed all these things to us beforehand, that we should not rush forward as rash acceptors of their laws."

Chapter VI.-The Sufferings of Christ, and the New Covenant, Were Announced by the Prophets.
"Behold, therefore, we have been refashioned, as again He says in another prophet, "Behold, saith the Lord, I will take away from these, that is, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their stony hearts, and I will put hearts of flesh within them,"(74) because He(75) was to be manifested in flesh, and to sojourn among us. For, my brethren, the habitation of our heart is a holy temple to the Lord."


TF didn't know what he was talking about when he said they were all over the place on most issues. To be honest, it all depends on the topic and context. I would say that they were more united on most issues than modern christians today. For whatever differences they had, it was to a way lesser degree than the differences that exist in modern times. Also, if TF did his homework, then he would of known that Saint Augustine was the first to interprete foreknowledge as fore-ordination in his later years.

Jnorm said...

These should be early enough.


Saint Irenaeus
Book V
Chapter I.-Christ Alone is Able to Teach Divine Things, and to Redeem Us:
We-who were but lately created by the only best and good Being, by Him also who has the gift of immortality, having been formed after His likeness (predestinated, according to the prescience of the Father, that we, who had as yet no existence, might come into being), and made the first-fruits of creation(3) -have received, in the times known beforehand, [the blessings of salvation] according to the ministration of the Word, who is perfect in all things, as the mighty Word, and very man, who, redeeming us by His own blood in a manner consonant to reason, gave Himself as a redemption for those who had been led into captivity.


Saint Justine Martyr / Philosopher
Dialogue with Trypho
Chapter XLII
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-dialoguetrypho.html
And in short, sirs," said I, "by enumerating all the other appointments of Moses I can demonstrate that they were types, and symbols, and declarations of those things which would happen to Christ, of those who it was foreknown were to believe in Him, and of those things which would also be done by Christ Himself. But since what I have now enumerated appears to me to be sufficient, I revert again to the order of the discourse.


Dialogue with Trypho
Chapter LXX
And this prophecy proves that we shall behold this very King with glory; and the very terms of the prophecy declare loudly, that the people foreknown to believe in Him were fore-known to pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Moreover, these Scriptures are equally explicit in saying, that those who are reputed to know the writings of the Scriptures, and who hear the prophecies, have no understanding.

Jnorm said...

These should be early enough, TheoJunkie pointed to the 3 to 4 hundred year time difference.


Saint Irenaeus
Book V
Chapter I.-Christ Alone is Able to Teach Divine Things, and to Redeem Us:
We-who were but lately created by the only best and good Being, by Him also who has the gift of immortality, having been formed after His likeness (predestinated, according to the prescience of the Father, that we, who had as yet no existence, might come into being), and made the first-fruits of creation(3) -have received, in the times known beforehand, [the blessings of salvation] according to the ministration of the Word, who is perfect in all things, as the mighty Word, and very man, who, redeeming us by His own blood in a manner consonant to reason, gave Himself as a redemption for those who had been led into captivity.


Saint Justine Martyr / Philosopher
Dialogue with Trypho
Chapter XLII
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-dialoguetrypho.html
And in short, sirs," said I, "by enumerating all the other appointments of Moses I can demonstrate that they were types, and symbols, and declarations of those things which would happen to Christ, of those who it was foreknown were to believe in Him, and of those things which would also be done by Christ Himself. But since what I have now enumerated appears to me to be sufficient, I revert again to the order of the discourse.