top of page

De Moor VII:2: The Homonymy of "Predestination"

As far as its Homonymy is concerned, the term Predestination is taken, 1. more Broadly, for every Decree of God, especially concerning man, Acts 4:28;[1] 17:26;[2] 1 Corinthians 2:7.[3] 2. More Strictly, for Election alone in the writings of the Fathers, in which matter it is also commonly used in Scripture, where it is specifically used of designation to the means of Salvation, Conformity to the Image of the Son of God,[4] Adoption,[5] etc. 3. In a middle sense, concerning the Counsel of Election and of Reprobation at the same time: in which sense we contend that the term is rightly used,

α. Because of itself it is indeterminate with respect to a good or bad end: that is, Predestination is defined in general as the Ordaining of a thing unto an end through means before it was or was made; which agrees with Reprobation, no less than Election.

β. And its Synonyms are used thus broadly in Sacred Scripture; for example, to make, Proverbs 16:4;[6]τιθέναι, to appoint, 1 Thessalonians 5:9;[7] 1 Peter 2:8;[8]προγράφειν, to write before, to ordain, Jude 4;[9]εὐδοκία, good pleasure, Matthew 11:26.[10]

γ. Indeed, this very term is used of sins, Acts 4:28, where it is used of wicked actions of the reprobates that procured the crucifixion of Christ, actions leading to damnation.

Eckhardus,[11] in his Fasciculo Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question 1, page 302, takes exception, that it is not here treated of the Reprobation of those crucifying Christ, but of the ordaining of the crucifixion unto a good end. I Respond, 1. These things are not to be set in opposition, but rather composed: the crucifixion of Christ, which is the means of salvation for the elect, to those crucifying and remaining impenitent was a means of damnation, which is dependent upon the altogether just Decree of God. 2. Even if the term Predestination is thus applied to the sins perpetrated by men, why not also to their persons?

And, as our AUTHOR holds that the term is rightly used in this middle sense on account of the reasons given; so a number of the Fathers used the term in this sense from of old, with PETAVIUS[12] admitting this, de Theologicis Dogmatibus, tome I, book IX, chapter I, § 4, 5, page 344: thus among others AUGUSTINE speaks, Enchiridio ad Laurentium, chapter C, opera, tome 6, page 171, “He fulfills what He will, making use even of evils, as one consummately good Himself, for the damnation of those whom He justly predestinated to punishment, and of the salvation of those whom He benevolently predestinated for grace:” compare SPANHEIM’S Disputationem inauguralem de Quinquarticulanis Controversiis, § 2, opera, tome 3, column 1167, and his Decadum Theologicarum VIII, § 3, opera, tome 3, column 1244.

They set themselves in opposition; more specifically, following the Adversaries of Gottschalk,[13] as our AUTHOR observes in his Compendio: which Gottschalk was a Ninth Century Monk of Orbais in North-Eastern France, a strenuous defender of Augustine’s doctrine against the Pelagians; and he presented a profession of his opinion concerning Double Predestination at the Synod of Mainz in the year 848 in this formula: “I, Gottschalk, believe and confess, profess and testify, etc., that Predestination is twofold, either of the Elect unto rest, or of Reprobates unto death; because, just as the immutable God before the foundation of the world, by His free grace, immutably predestinated all His Elect to eternal life; similarly absolutely all Reprobates, who will be condemned on the day of judgment, because of their ill deserts, the same immutable God Himself, by His just judgment, immutably predestinated to eternal death deservedly.” Now, Gottschalk was unjustly condemned by that Synod of Mainz and by others, and was delivered to Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims,[14] by whom he was detained in prison for twenty years or more until his death; by the same John Scotus or Eriugena was stirred up against Gottschalk, who hence wrote a Book de Unica Prædestinatione.[15] Nevertheless, Gottschalk was defended by the Church of Lyon in Censura Capitulorum IV Carisiacæ Synodi, etc.: see SPANHEIM’S Historiam Ecclesiasticam, Century IX, chapter X, § 8, columns 1380-1383, who learnedly draws out at length the history of Gottschalk, and shows how unjustly his doctrine and person were treated; TRIGLAND, Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 1, pages 32-41: compare also BUDDEUS, Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 12, page 1625, but who, consistently with the prejudices of the Lutherans in the matter of Predestination, affirs that Gottschalk was not without reason accused of the Predestinarian error: on which same hypothesis concerning the Cause of Gottschalk and his errors and condemnation see NATALIS ALEXANDER discoursing at length, Dissertation V in Historia Ecclesiastica, Centuries IX and X, tome 6, pages 461-488.

But, after John Eriugena, who in his book de Unica Prædestinatione, contends that this term only agrees with Election; today, the same is maintained by many, 1. Papists, see Bellarmine,[16] in book II de Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, chapter XVI, Controversiis, tome 4, columns 635, 636: 2. Lutherans, see Eckhardus’ Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question 1, page 300-303; Buddeus’ Institutiones Theologiæ dogmaticæ, tome 2, book V, chapter II, § 3, page 1598, where among other things you will read, Our men, following the lead of Scripture, take this term in a positive way, for the Predestination of men unto eternal salvation; but against whom WENDELIN[17] disputes in this matter, Exercitationibus theologicis VII: even indeed, 3. the Reformed, see what things are cited out of MARTYR,[18] KECKERMANN,[19] and ZANCHI,[20] by Eckhard, in the place just now cited, pages 301, 302, with HEINRICH ALTING[21] compared with respect to Martyr, Theologia problematica nova, locus IV, page 310: whether they say that no one has been predestinated to destruction by the eternal Decree of God, and so prefer rather to call Reprobates Foreknown; when the controversy is real: or from a certain affected, greater ἀκριβείᾳ/ precision in words only thus do they think, when the controversy is merely verbal; in which manner it is principally treated by us here: compare STAPFER’S[22]Theologicæ polemicæ, tome V, chapter XX, § 61, 65-67, pages 168-172. JOHN HUSS[23] is also fond of speaking of the Elect as Predestinated, and of Reprobates as Foreknown: see what Huss thought concerning the entire business of Predestination in JAN VAN DEN HONERT’S[24]Dissertation, subjoined to his Orationi de Bohemorum et Moravorum Ecclesia, pages 75-82.

They Object, α. That the Scripture uses the term of Election alone. Response out of our AUTHOR: 1. There to the term is added the end of Adoption, Heirship, Conformity with Christ; more specifically in Ephesians 1:5, 11; Romans 8:29. 2. Scripture never absolutely posits Predestination for Election. 3. Neither in the case of words, in themselves neutral, are we bound solely to the Scriptural Use of the same.

They Object, β. That Reprobation is not able to be called Predestination, because Predestination involves determination to an End/Goal: But Damnation is not the End/Goal of man, but only an end/conclusion. Rationale: because every End/Goal in its own nature is the Best and the perfection of a thing; but Damnation is the greatest evil and consummate imperfection: thus KECKERMANN objects again in the words cited by Eckhardus in the place previously cited, page 301.

Response: 1. Predestination in general speaks of a determination to some Certain End; which, 2. here, even with respect to the divine Glory, is Good, since God holds forth Damnation to sinful man for the illustration of His Justice: now, it is called an End with respect to its Efficient, who intends it; and thus it is able to be called the Best; but not the Perfection of the thing, while God is altogether perfect, to whom nothing is able to be added.

They Object, γ. That mutually repugnant Decrees in the same class are not able to agree in an End: see the words of KECKERMANN in Eckhardus, in the place cited, page 301. I Respond, In the Ultimate End regarded in general, namely, the illustration of the Glory of the divine Virtures, this double Decree agrees completely: but in the more particular End, which is the Glory of the divine Mercy or Justice; and in the Subordinate End, which is the Salvation or Destruction of man; they with good reason differ as Species opposed, just like Vocation internal and external.

[1] Acts 4:28: “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before (προώρισε, predestined) to be done.” [2] Acts 17:26: “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed (ὁρίσας προτεταγμένους καιροὺς), and the bounds of their habitation…” [3] 1 Corinthians 2:7: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world (προώρισεν ὁ Θεὸς πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων) unto our glory…” [4] Romans 8:29. [5] Ephesians 1:5. [6] Proverbs 16:4: “The Lord hath made (פָּעַל) all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” [7] 1 Thessalonians 5:9: “For God hath not appointed (ἔθετο) us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…” [8] 1 Peter 2:8: “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed (ἐτέθησαν).” [9] Jude 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained (οἱ πάλαι προγεγραμμένοι) to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” [10] Matthew 11:25-27: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good (ὅτι οὕτως ἐγένετο εὐδοκία, for thus it was thy good pleasure) in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” [11] Heinrich Eckhard (1580-1624) was a German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. [12] Denis Petau (1583-1652) was a French Jesuit churchman and scholar. He wrote extensively, treating issues pertain to chronology, history, patristics, the history of dogma, philosophy, and polemics. [13] Gottschalk of Orbais (c. 808-868) was a Saxon monk, priest, and theologian. In his study of Augustine’s teaching, he developed a doctrine of Double Predestination. Gottschalk’s teaching sent shockwaves through Italy and Francia; he was condemned as a heretic at the Council of Mainz (848) and the Council of Quierzy (849), but held fast to his beliefs. Later, his view met with approval among the Jansenists and the Reformers. [14] Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims (806-882) was a Frankish churchman and theologian, friend and advisor to Charles the Bald. [15] John Scotus Eriugena (c. 800-c. 877) was one of the great philosopher-theologians of his age. Born and educated in Ireland, his scholarly attainments (including Greek, which was rare in Western Europe at the time) came under the notice of Charles the Bald, and he was invited to succeed Alcuin of York as the head of the Palace School of Aachen. Although not directly influenced by Plotinus or Iamblichus, Eriugena’s philosophy has imbibed Neoplatonism as found in the Christian tradition, and his Neoplatonism is displayed in his De Divisione Naturæ and his translations and commentaries on Pseudo-Dionysius. With respect to the controversy with Gottschalk, Eriugena was brought onto the field of controversy by Archbishop Hincmar, and he defended a doctrine of Single Predestination. [16] Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) entered the Order of the Jesuits in his late teens. He became one of the great theologians of his era, a Cardinal, and, after his death, a Doctor of the Church. [17] Marcus Friedrich Wendelin (1584-1652) was a Reformed Theologian and educator. He served as Rector at Zerbst from 1610 to 1652. [18] Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) began his career as an Augustinian monk, preacher, and lecturer in Italy. Through personal study of the Scripture and the Reformers, he came to embrace the Protestant doctrines. He settled in England and served as Professor of Divinity at Oxford and as Canon of Christ Church. Unhappily, he was forced to flee from England as well, when Mary Tudor took the throne. He settled in Zurich and became Professor of Divinity there. [19]Bartholomäus Keckermann (c. 1572-1608) was a German Reformed Theologian and educator. He served as Professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg (1600-1602), and as Rector of the Gymnasium of Danzig (1602-1608). [20] Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590) was an Italian Reformed theologian. At the age of fifteen, he entered the monastery of the Augustinian Order of Regular Canons. He came under the personal influence of Peter Martyr Vermigli; and the writings of the Reformers, especially Calvin, had a profound impact upon his thinking. Zanchi served as Professor of Old Testament at Strassburg (1553-1563), and Professor of Theology at Heidelberg (1568-1577). [21] Heinrich Alting (1583-1644) was a German Reformed divine, specializing in Ecclesiastical History and Historical Theology. He served as Professor of Theology at Heidelberg (1613-1622), and then Professor of Historical Theology at Groningen (1627-1644). [22] John Frederick Stapfer (1708-1775) was a Swiss Reformed divine of the first order. He served as a Pastor in the canton of Berne. His Institutiones theologicæ, polemicæ, universæ, ordine scientifico dispositæ ranks among the best elenctic theologies. [23] John Huss (c. 1372-1415) was a Bohemian pastor, educator, and theologian, a key predecessor to the Protestant Reformation. Huss was invited to the Council of Constance, under a promise of safe conduct, to present his views; he was arrested, tried, and burned. [24] Jan van den Honert (1693-1758) was a Dutch Reformed theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Utrecht (1727-1734), and later at Leiden (1734-1758).

1 Comment

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Jul 05, 2022
bottom of page