Calvinism vs Catholicism
From: Deeper Truth Blog
by Ross Earl Hoffman
Mar 1st, 2011
PREDESTINATION, SALVATION, AND DAMNATION
Calvinism and Catholicism Contrasted
CALVINISM IS UNREASONABLE
Calvin located the reason of predestination solely in the absolute will of God. But by making God alone responsible for everything, Calvin abolished the free cooperation of the will in obtaining eternal happiness. Therefore he was logically forced to admit an irresistible efficacious grace, to deny the freedom of the will when influenced by grace, and to completely reject supernatural merits (as a secondary reason for eternal happiness).
Not only is God completely responsible for the salvation of the elect, but He must also be responsible for the damnation of the reprobate, even to the point of directly willing their sins. Since God wills everything good for the elect, as well as everything bad for the reprobate, Calvin maintained that Christ died only for the elect (this is challenged by Geisler’s recent book Chosen But Free, see link below):
“As Scripture, then, clearly shows, we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction.
“We assert that, with respect to the elect, this plan was founded upon his freely given mercy, without regard to human worth; but by his just and irreprehensible but incomprehensible judgment he has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Book III:21:7)
Salvation and damnation depend wholly on the will of God — man is completely predetermined to one or the other by irresistible grace or the lack thereof, without any cooperation or resistance of his will. Since grace is irresistible, the will of the predestined is not free to cooperate with grace to perform meritorious good works, and so salvation is purely arbitrary. Even more disturbing, since concupiscence is likewise irresistible without God’s grace, the will of the reprobate is not really free to sin and perform culpably evil works, and so damnation is not caused by demerits.
For Calvin, whom God selects, He saves; whom God rejects, He damns.
CALVINISM IS UNBIBLICAL
But consider what this means and whether this is biblical :
1. No truly free will (denied by experience, and by the Gospel commands to repent, reform, obey the commandments, perform works of charity, and persevere to the end).
2. Thus no merit or demerit (denied by the whole Bible which testifies to the rewards and punishments God will apportion to all men according to their deeds, e.g. Matt 16:27; Rom 2:5-10; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:11-12; etc).
3. God desires salvation only for the elect. (Denied by 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Matt 23:37; Ezek 18:23-32; 33:11; etc).
4. Christ died only for the elect. (Denied by John 3:16-17; 4:42; 1 John 2:2; 4:9-14; Rom 5:6,18; 2 Cor 5:14-15; 1 Tim 2:6; 4:10; etc).
5. God provides grace only to the elect. (Denied by Titus 2:11; John 1:9,16; Rom 2:4; etc).
6. God directly predetermines the salvation of the elect, including their good works. (This ignores any cooperation of the will with grace).
7. God directly predetermines the damnation of the reprobate, including their sins. (This is denied by James 1:13-14; Sirach 15:11-20; 1 Cor 10:13; and ignores any true resistance and rejection by the will).
8. The elect will be saved with no merit of their own. (This denies heavenly reward).
9. The reprobate will be damned for no fault of their own. (This denies true guilt and deserved punishment).
Between these two extremes the Catholic dogma of predestination keeps the golden mean, because it regards eternal happiness primarily as the work of God and His grace, but secondarily as the fruit and reward of the meritorious actions of the predestined.
CATHOLIC TEACHING ON PREDESTINATION AND SALVATION
The process of predestination and salvation consists of the following five steps :
A. The first grace of vocation, especially faith as the beginning, foundation, and root of justification (Council of Trent, session VI, chapter 8)
B. A number of additional, actual graces for the successful accomplishment of justification and sanctification (1 Cor 6:11)
C. Justification itself as the beginning of the state of grace and love
D. Final perseverance or at least the grace of a happy death
E. The admission to eternal bliss and glorification (Rom 8:28-30)