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Transcript of Reformation
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved
So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find. For I had heard of Antony, that coming in during the reading of the Gospel, he received the admonition, as if what was being read was spoken to him: Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me: and by such oracle he was forthwith converted unto Thee. Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle when I arose thence. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, in concupiscence. No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.
He was reading Romans 13:13-14
Augustine was a bishop, priest, and father who remains a central figure, both within Christianity and in the history of Western thought, and is considered by modern historian Thomas Cahill to be the first medieval man and the last classical man. In both his philosophical and theological reasoning, he was greatly influenced by Stoicism, Platonism and Neo-platonism, particularly by the work of Plotinus, author of the Enneads, probably through the mediation of Porphyry and Victorinus (as Pierre Hadot has argued). Although he later abandoned Neoplatonism some ideas are still visible in his early writings. His generally favourable view of Neoplatonic thought contributed to the "baptism" of Greek thought and its entrance into the Christian and subsequently the European intellectual tradition. His early and influential writing on the human will, a central topic in ethics, would become a focus for later philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
An illustration of Pelagius' views on man's "moral ability" not to sin can be found in his Letter to Demetrias. He was in the Holy Land when, in 413, he received a letter from the renowned Anician family in Rome. One of the aristocratic ladies who had been among his followers, Anicia Juliana, was writing to a number of eminent Western theologians, including Jerome and possibly Augustine, for moral advice for her 14-year-old daughter, Demetrias. Pelagius used the letter to argue his case for morality, stressing his views of natural sanctity and man's moral capacity to choose to live a holy life. It is perhaps the only extant writing in Pelagius' own hand, and it was, ironically, thought to be a letter by Jerome for centuries, though Augustine himself references it in his work, On the Grace of Christ.
St. Augustine, shocked that Pelagius and Celestius were not denounced as heretics, called the Council of Carthage in 418 and stated nine beliefs of the Church that Pelagianism denied:
1. Death came from sin, not man's physical nature.
2. Infants must be baptized to be cleansed from original sin.
3. Justifying grace covers past sins and helps avoid future sins.
4. The grace of Christ imparts strength and will to act out God's commandments.
5. No good works can come without God's grace.
6. We confess we are sinners because it is true, not from humility.
7. The saints ask for forgiveness for their own sins.
8. The saints also confess to be sinners because they are.
9. Children dying without baptism are excluded from both the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life.
Pelagianism is the teaching that man has the capacity to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God or the Holy Spirit, and therefore that salvation is effected by man's efforts. The doctrine takes its name from Pelagius, a British monk who was accused of developing the doctrine (he himself appears to have claimed that man does not do good apart from grace in his letters, claiming only that all men have free will by God's gift); it was opposed especially by Augustine of Hippo and was declared a heresy by Pope Zosimus in 418. Denying the existence of original sin, it teaches that man is in himself and by nature capable of choosing good.
The Roman Catholic Church condemns semipelagianism but affirms that the beginning of faith involves an act of free will. It teaches that the initiative comes from God, but requires free synergy (collaboration) on the part of man: "God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. the fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration". "Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life."
The term Semipelagian is used retrospectively by theologians to refer to the original formulation, and has been used as an accusation in theological disputes over salvation, divine grace and free will.
In Semipelagian thought, man doesn’t have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then increases and guards that faith, completing the work of salvation. This teaching is distinct from the traditional patristic doctrine of synergeia, in which the process of salvation is cooperation between God and man from start to finish.
Thomas argued that the fullness of God was an integral part of Christ's existence. However, countering Apollinaris' views, Thomas held that Christ had a truly human (rational) soul, as well. This produced a duality of natures in Christ. Thomas argued against Eutyches that this duality persisted after the Incarnation. Thomas stated that these two natures existed simultaneously yet distinguishably in one real human body, unlike the teachings of Manichaeus and Valentinus.
In short, "Christ had a real body of the same nature of ours, a true rational soul, and, together with these, perfect Deity." Thus, there is both unity (in his one hypostasis) and diversity (in his two natures, human and Divine) in Christ.
Echoing Athanasius of Alexandria, he said that "The only begotten Son of God...assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."[87
Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German priest and professor of theology who initiated the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment of sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the emperor.
Luther taught that salvation is not earned by good deeds but received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.
In 1516–17, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences, was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to sell indulgences to raise money to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Roman Catholic theology stated that faith alone, whether fiduciary or dogmatic, cannot justify man; and that only such faith as is active in charity and good works (fides caritate formata) can justify man. The benefits of good works could be obtained by donating money to the church.
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (October 28, 1466 – July 12, 1536), known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian. Erasmus was a classical scholar who wrote in a pure Latin style and enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists." He has been called "the crowning glory of the Christian humanists."Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament. These raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote The Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works. Erasmus lived through the Reformation period, but while he was critical of the Church, he could not bring himself to join the cause of the Reformers. In relation to clerical abuses in the Church, Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church from within. He also held to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which some Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps. He died in Basel in 1536 and was buried in the formerly Catholic cathedral there, recently converted to a Reformed church. Erasmus became a vocal critic of Luther and their exchanges were often publicized.
"I detest dissension because it goes both against the teachings of Christ and against a secret inclination of nature. I doubt that either side in the dispute can be suppressed without grave loss."In his Catechism (entitled Explanation of the Apostles' Creed) (1533), Erasmus took a stand against Luther's teaching by asserting the unwritten Sacred Tradition as just as valid a source of revelation as the Bible, by enumerating the Deuterocanonical books in the canon of the Bible and by acknowledging seven sacraments. He called "blasphemers" anyone who questioned the perpetual virginity of Mary and those who defended the need to occasionally restrict the laity from access to the Bible. In a letter to Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Luther objected to Erasmus’ Catechism and called Erasmus a "viper,", "liar," and "the very mouth and organ of Satan." Twice in the course of the great discussion, he allowed himself to enter the field of doctrinal controversy, a field foreign to both his nature and his previous practice. One of the topics he dealt with was the freedom of the will, a crucial point. In his De libero arbitrio diatribe sive collatio (1524), he lampoons the Lutheran view on free will. He lays down both sides of the argument impartially. The "Diatribe" did not encourage any definite action; this was its merit to the Erasmians and its fault in the eyes of the Lutherans. In response, Luther wrote his De servo arbitrio (On the Bondage of the Will) (1525), which attacks the "Diatribe" and Erasmus himself, going so far as to claim that Erasmus was not a Christian. Erasmus responded with a lengthy, two-part Hyperaspistes (1526–27). In this controversy Erasmus lets it be seen that he would like to claim more for free will than St. Paul and St. Augustine seem to allow. For Erasmus the essential point is that humans have the freedom of choice. As the popular response to Luther gathered momentum, the social disorders, which Erasmus dreaded and Luther disassociated himself from, began to appear, including the German Peasants' War, the Anabaptist disturbances in Germany and in the Low Countries, iconoclasm and the radicalization of peasants across Europe. If these were the outcomes of reform, he was thankful that he had kept out of it. Yet he was ever more bitterly accused of having started the whole "tragedy" (as the Roman Catholics dubbed Protestantism).
It is also a fact, without controversy, that Christ came to atone for the sins "of the whole world." But the solution of all difficulty is immediately at hand, in the truth and fact, that it is "whosoever believeth in Him" that "shall not perish, but shall have eternal life." For our present question is, not what the power or virtue of Christ is, nor what efficacy it has in itself, but who those are to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. Now if the possession of Christ stands in faith, and if faith flows from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that he alone is numbered of God among His children who is designed of God to be a partaker of Christ. … From all which we conclude that although reconciliation is offered unto all men through Him, yet, that the great benefit belongs peculiarly to the elect, that they might be "gathered together" and be made "together" partakers of eternal life.”
Secondly, the claim is made that Calvin was ambiguous about the possibility of losing salvation, sometimes writing in such a way that he seemed to affirm that believers can fully depart from the faith and be lost. Many Calvinists believe that Calvin made a distinction between those who appear to have true faith then fall away, and those who have true faith and hence can never fall away. Hence, they believe that where Calvin seems to be ambiguous about losing salvation, he is actually addressing those who lack genuine faith, not true believers.
• "Total depravity": This doctrine, also called "total inability", asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.) This doctrine is borrowed from Augustine who was a member of a Manichaean sect in his youth.
• "Unconditional election": This doctrine asserts that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity to extend mercy to those He has chosen and to withhold mercy from those not chosen. Those chosen receive salvation through Christ alone. Those not chosen receive the just wrath that is warranted for their sins against God
• "Limited atonement": Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", this doctrine asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus's death. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power, but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all. Hence, Calvinists hold that the atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect. The doctrine is driven by the Calvinistic concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and their understanding of the nature of the atonement.
• "Irresistible grace": This doctrine, also called "efficacious grace", asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that every influence of God's Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, "graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ."
• "Perseverance of the saints": Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints (the word "saints" is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven). The doctrine asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or will return.
Nature of the atonement
An additional point of disagreement with Arminianism implicit in the five points is the Calvinist understanding of the doctrine of Jesus's substitutionary atonement as a punishment for the sins of the elect, which was developed by St. Augustine and especially St. Anselm and Calvin himself. Calvinists argue that if Christ takes the punishment in the place of a particular sinner, that person must be saved since it would be unjust for him then to be condemned for the same sins. The definitive and binding nature of this satisfaction model has strong implications for each of the five points, and it has led some Arminians to subscribe instead to the governmental theory of the atonement. Under that theory, no particular sins or sinners are in view, but all of humanity are included in those whose sins have been taken away. The atonement was not the penalty of the law, but a substitute for the penalty, which allows God to remit the penalty by his grace when any sinner repents and believes in Jesus as the Christ.
John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, a proponent of Arminianism.
These theological issues played a divisive part in the early history of Methodism in the eighteenth century. Heated discussions on Arminianism took place between Methodist ministers John Wesley and George Whitefield. From 1740 Wesley broke with Calvinism. His position caused initially the rupture with the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists under Howell Harris in 1742–3; and then the creation of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion in 1756, about the same time when Wesley broke with James Hervey. In the 1770s a very sharp debate occurred between Wesley and Augustus Montague Toplady.
George Whitefield (1714-1770) who was a collaborator of Wesley's in the founding of Methodism, but who remained a Calvinist and broke with Wesley when Wesley became an Arminian.
Wesley was a champion of the teaching of Arminius, defending his soteriology in a periodical entitled The Arminian and writing articles such as Predestination Calmly Considered. He defended Arminius against charges of semi-Pelaganism, holding strongly to beliefs in original sin and total depravity. At the same time, Wesley attacked the determinism that he claimed characterized unconditional election and maintained a belief in the ability to lose salvation. Whitefield debated Wesley on every point (except for their agreement on total depravity) but did not introduce any additional elements into the Calvinists' conclusions set forth at Westminster.
Protestant denominational distinctions
To this day, Methodism and its offshoots (Pentecostals, the Holiness denominations, Charismatics and Third Wave Charismatics) along with General Baptists usually subscribe to Arminianism, while Presbyterians, Reformed Churches, Reformed Baptists, and others subscribe to Calvinism. Largely because of its origins in Germany and Scandinavia rather than the British Isles, Lutheranism was uninvolved in the dispute, and official Lutheran doctrine (as well as, coincidentally enough, Primitive Baptist belief) does not fully support either group, preferring instead its own peculiar doctrinal formulations about the relation of human freedom to divine sovereignty.
Monergism or Synergism?
Following his return, Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite the opposition of several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. During this period, Michael Servetus, a Spaniard with views Calvin considered heretical and the first European to describe the function of pulmonary circulation, arrived in Geneva. He was denounced by Calvin and executed by the city council. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin's opponents were forced out. Calvin spent his final years promoting the Reformation both in Geneva and throughout Europe. Calvin was a tireless polemic and apologetic writer who generated much controversy. He also exchanged cordial and supportive letters with many reformers, including Philipp Melanchthon and Heinrich Bullinger. In addition to the Institutes, he wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible, as well as theological treatises and confessional documents. He regularly preached sermons throughout the week in Geneva. Calvin was influenced by the Augustinian tradition, which led him to expound the doctrine of predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation.
In 1543, he again added new material and expanded a chapter on the Apostles' Creed. The final edition of the Institutes appeared in 1559. By then, the work consisted of four books of eighty chapters, and each book was named after statements from the creed: Book 1 on God the Creator, Book 2 on the Redeemer in Christ, Book 3 on receiving the Grace of Christ through the Holy Spirit, and Book 4 on the Society of Christ or the Church. Title page from the final edition of Calvin's magnum opus, Institutio Christiane Religionis, which summarises his theology. The first statement in the Institutes acknowledges its central theme. It states that the sum of human wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Calvin argues that the knowledge of God is not inherent in humanity nor can it be discovered by observing this world. The only way to obtain it is to study scripture. Calvin writes, "For anyone to arrive at God the Creator he needs Scripture as his Guide and Teacher." He does not try to prove the authority of scripture but rather describes it as autopiston or self-authenticating. He defends the trinitarian view of God and, in a strong polemical stand against the Catholic Church, argues that images of God lead to idolatry.
[ Fellow theologians who followed the Augustinian tradition on this point included Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther. The principle, in Calvin's words, is that "God adopts some to the hope of life and adjudges others to eternal death."The final book describes what he considers to be the true Church and its ministry, authority, and sacraments. He denied the papal claim to primacy and the accusation that the reformers were schismatic. For Calvin, the Church was defined as the body of believers who placed Christ at its head. By definition, there was only one "catholic" or "universal" Church. Hence, he argued that the reformers, "had to leave them in order that we might come to Christ." The ministers of the Church are described from a passage from Ephesians, and they consisted of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors. Calvin regarded the first three offices as temporary, limited in their existence to the time of the New Testament. The latter two offices were established in the church in Geneva. Although Calvin respected the work of the ecumenical councils, he considered them to be subject to God's Word, the teaching of scripture. He also believed that the civil and church authorities were separate and should not interfere with each other. Calvin defined a sacrament as an earthly sign associated with a promise from God. He accepted only two sacraments as valid under the new covenant: baptism and the Lord's Supper (in opposition to the Catholic acceptance of seven sacraments). He completely rejected the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and the treatment of the Supper as a sacrifice. He also could not accept the Lutheran doctrine of sacramental union in which Christ was "in, with and under" the elements. His own view was close to Zwingli's symbolic view, but it was not identical. Rather than holding a purely symbolic view, Calvin noted that with the participation of the Holy Spirit, faith was nourished and strengthened by the sacrament. In his words, the eucharistic rite was "a secret too sublime for my mind to understand or words to express. I experience it rather than understand it."The particulars of Calvinist theology may be stated in a number of ways. Perhaps the best known summary is contained in the five points of Calvinism, though these points identify the Calvinist view on soteriology rather than summarizing the system as a whole. Broadly speaking, Calvinism stresses the sovereignty or rule of God in all things — in salvation but also in all of life.
It wasn’t until January 1518 that friends of Luther translated the 95 Theses from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press. Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe.
Luther's writings circulated widely, reaching France, England, and Italy as early as 1519. Students thronged to Wittenberg to hear Luther speak. He published a short commentary on Galatians and his Work on the Psalms. This early part of Luther's career was one of his most creative and productive. Three of his best-known works were published in 1520: To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and On the Freedom of a Christian.
Justification by faith
From 1510 to 1520, Luther lectured on the Psalms, the books of Hebrews, Romans, and Galatians. As he studied these portions of the Bible, he came to view the use of terms such as penance and righteousness by the Catholic Church in new ways. He became convinced that the church was corrupt in its ways and had lost sight of what he saw as several of the central truths of Christianity. The most important for Luther was the doctrine of justification – God's act of declaring a sinner righteous – by faith alone through God's grace. He began to teach that salvation or redemption is a gift of God's grace, attainable only through faith in Jesus as the Messiah. "This one and firm rock, which we call the doctrine of justification," he wrote, "is the chief article of the whole Christian doctrine, which comprehends the understanding of all godliness."Luther came to understand justification as entirely the work of God. This teaching by Luther was clearly expressed in his 1525 publication On the Bondage of the Will, which was written in response to On Free Will by Desiderius Erasmus (1524). Luther based his position on Predestination on St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians 2:8–10. Against the teaching of his day that the righteous acts of believers are performed in cooperation with God, Luther wrote that Christians receive such righteousness entirely from outside themselves; that righteousness not only comes from Christ but actually is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to Christians (rather than infused into them) through faith
You declaim bitterly against the luxury of priests, the ambition of bishops, the tyranny of the Roman Pontiff, and the babbling of the sophists; against our prayers, fasts, and Masses; and you are not content to retrench the abuses that may be in these things, but must needs abolish them entirely...
Look around on this ‘Evangelical’ generation, and observe whether amongst them less indulgence is given to luxury, lust, or avarice, than amongst those whom you so detest. Show me any one person who by that Gospel has been reclaimed from drunkenness to sobriety, from fury and passion to meekness, from avarice to liberality, from reviling to well-speaking, from wantonness to modesty. I will show you a great many who have become worse through following it....The solemn prayers of the Church are abolished, but now there are very many who never pray at all....
Pelagius (ca. AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440) was an ascetic who denied the need for divine aid in performing good works. For him, the only grace necessary was the declaration of the law; humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid. He also, therefore, denied the more specific doctrine of original sin as developed by Augustine of Hippo. Pelagius was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending his doctrine against theologians teaching the Catholic Faith. They held that Catholicism came from the apostles and that Pelagius was spreading novelties in the Faith unknown to the apostolic tradition.
In the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinian religious order; his memorial is celebrated 28 August, the day of his death. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation due to his teaching on salvation and divine grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is blessed, and his feast day is celebrated on 15 June.
The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book VIII, Paragraphs 28 and 29.
I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out an acceptable sacrifice to Thee. And, not indeed in these words, yet to this purpose, spake I much unto Thee: and Thou, O Lord, how long? how long, Lord, wilt Thou be angry for ever? Remember not our former iniquities, for I felt that I was held by them. I sent up these sorrowful words: How long, how long, "to-morrow, and tomorrow?" Why not now? why not is there this hour an end to my uncleanness? So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read. " Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard the like.
Semipelagianism is a Christian theological and soteriological school of thought on salvation; that is, the means by which humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. Semipelagian thought stands in contrast to the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation (in which man is seen as effecting his own salvation), which had been dismissed as heresy. Semipelagianism in its original form was developed as a compromise between Pelagianism and the teaching of Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine, who taught that man cannot come to God without the grace of God. In Semipelagian thought, therefore, a distinction is made between the beginning of faith and the increase of faith. Semipelagian thought teaches that the latter half - growing in faith - is the work of God, while the beginning of faith is an act of free will, with grace supervening only later. It too was labeled heresy by the Western Church in the Second Council of Orange in 529.
Calvin's writing and preachings provided the seeds for the branch of theology that bears his name. The Reformed and Presbyterian churches, which look to Calvin as a chief expositor of their beliefs, have spread throughout the world.
"Among all those who have been born of women, there has not risen a greater than John Calvin; no age before him ever produced his equal, and no age afterwards has seen his rival. In theology, he stands alone, shining like a bright fixed star, while other leaders and teachers can only circle round him, at a great distance – as comets go streaming through space – with nothing like his glory or his permanence." – Charles Spurgeon
Calvin developed his theology in his biblical commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises, but the most concise expression of his views is found in his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. He intended that the book be used as a summary of his views on Christian theology and that it be read in conjunction with his commentaries. The various editions of that work span nearly his entire career as a reformer, and the successive revisions of the book show that his theology changed very little from his youth to his death. The first edition from 1536 consisted of only six chapters. The second edition, published in 1539, was three times as long because he added chapters on subjects that appear in Melanchthon's Loci Communes.
Jacobus Arminius (October 10, 1560 – October 19, 1609), the Latinized name of the Dutch theologian Jakob Hermanszoon from the Protestant Reformation period, (also known by the Anglicized names of Jacob Arminius, James Arminius, or Jakob Herman), served from 1603 as professor in theology at the University of Leiden. He wrote many books and treatises on theology, and his views became the basis of Arminianism and the Dutch Remonstrant movement.
Following his death, his challenge to the Reformed standard, the Belgic Confession, provoked ample discussion at the Synod of Dort, which crafted the five points of Calvinism in refutation of Arminius's teaching.
Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was a British Particular Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the "Prince of Preachers". He was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, defending the Church in agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith understanding, and opposing the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church of his day.
In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, often up to 10 times each week at different places. His sermons have been translated into many languages. Spurgeon was the pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years. He was part of several controversies with the Baptist Union of Great Britain and later had to leave the denomination. In 1857, he started a charity organization called Spurgeon's which now works globally. He also founded Spurgeon's College, which was named after him posthumously.
Beginnings of Protestantism
Martin Luther's movement began in the year following the publication of the New Testament and tested Erasmus's character. The issue between European society and the Roman Church had become so clear that few could escape the summons to join the debate. Erasmus, at the height of his literary fame, was inevitably called upon to take sides, but partisanship was foreign to his nature and his habits. In all his criticism of clerical follies and abuses, he had always protested that he was not attacking church institutions themselves and had no enmity toward churchmen. The world had laughed at his satire, but few had interfered with his activities. He believed that his work so far had commended itself to the best minds and also to the dominant powers in the religious world.
"Free will does not exist", Luther's letter to Erasmus translated into German by Justus Jonas in 1526
Initially Erasmus was sympathetic with the main points in Martin Luther's criticism of the Catholic Church, describing him as "a mighty trumpet of gospel truth" and admitting that, "It is clear that many of the reforms for which Luther calls are urgently needed.” He had great respect for Martin Luther, and Luther always spoke with admiration of Erasmus's superior learning. Luther hoped for his cooperation in a work which seemed only the natural outcome of his own. In their early correspondence, Luther expressed boundless admiration for all Erasmus had done in the cause of a sound and reasonable Christianity and urged him to join the Lutheran party. Erasmus declined to commit himself, arguing that to do so would endanger his position as a leader in the movement for pure scholarship which he regarded as his purpose in life. Only as an independent scholar could he hope to influence the reform of religion. When Erasmus hesitated to support him, the straightforward Luther felt angered that Erasmus was avoiding the responsibility due either to cowardice or a lack of purpose. However, any hesitancy on the part of Erasmus stemmed, not from lack of courage or conviction, but rather from a concern over the mounting disorder and violence of the reform movement. To Philip Melanchthon in 1524 he wrote:
I know nothing of your church; at the very least it contains people who will, I fear, overturn the whole system and drive the princes into using force to restrain good men and bad alike. The gospel, the word of God, faith, Christ, and Holy Spirit- these words are always on their lips; look at their lives and they speak quite another language. Again, in 1529, he writes “An epistle against those who falsely boast they are Evangelicals” to Vulturius Neocomus (Gerardus Geldenhouwer). Here Erasmus complains, perhaps with some exaggeration, of the doctrines and morals of the Reformers:
I have never entered their conventicles, but I have sometimes seen them returning from their sermons, the countenances of all of them displaying rage, and wonderful ferocity, as though they were animated by the evil spirit....
Who ever beheld in their meetings any one of them shedding tears, smiting his breast, or grieving for his sins ?... Confession to the priest is abolished, but very few now confess to God.... They have fled from Judaism that they may become Epicureans. Apart from these perceived moral failings of the Reformers, Erasmus also dreaded any change in doctrine, citing the long history of the Church as a bulwark against innovation. In book I of his Hyperaspistes he puts the matter bluntly to Luther:
We are dealing with this: Would a stable mind depart from the opinion handed down by so many men famous for holiness and miracles, depart from the decisions of the Church, and commit our souls to the faith of someone like you who has sprung up just now with a few followers, although the leading men of your flock do not agree either with you or among themselves – indeed though you do not even agree with yourself, since in this same Assertion you say one thing in the beginning and something else later on, recanting what you said before. Continuing his chastisement of Luther—and undoubtedly put off by the notion of there being “no pure interpretation of Scripture anywhere but in Wittenberg” - Erasmus touches upon another important point of the controversy: You stipulate that we should not ask for or accept anything but Holy Scripture, but you do it in such a way as to require that we permit you to be its sole interpreter, renouncing all others. Thus the victory will be yours if we allow you to be not the steward but the lord of Holy Scripture. Also, it is said that Erasmus chose to remain a Roman Catholic because of a lecture he heard from Savonarola, the Dominican friar who was highly influential in Florence for a time.Though he remained firmly neutral, each side accused him of siding with the other, perhaps because of his neutrality. It was not for lack of fidelity with either side but a desire for fidelity with them both:
In addition, Augustine was influenced by the works of Virgil (known for his teaching on language), Cicero (known for his teaching on argument), and Aristotle (particularly his Rhetoric and Poetics).
Augustine's concept of original sin was expounded in his works against the Pelagians. However, St. Thomas Aquinas took much of Augustine's theology while creating his own unique synthesis of Greek and Christian thought after the widespread rediscovery of the work of Aristotle. Augustine's doctrine of efficacious grace found eloquent expression in the works of Bernard of Clairvaux; also Reformation theologians such as Martin Luther and John Calvin would look back to him as their inspiration.
Augustine was canonized by popular acclaim, and later recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII. His feast day is August 28, the day on which he died. He is considered the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, sore eyes, and a number of cities and dioceses.
The latter part of Augustine's Confessions consists of an extended meditation on the nature of time. Even the agnostic philosopher Bertrand Russell was impressed by this. He wrote, "a very admirable relativistic theory of time. ... It contains a better and clearer statement than Kant's of the subjective theory of time - a theory which, since Kant, has been widely accepted among philosophers." Catholic theologians generally subscribe to Augustine's belief that God exists outside of time in the "eternal present"; that time only exists within the created universe because only in space is time discernible through motion and change. "Augustine did not see evil as glamorously demonic but rather as absence of good, something which paradoxically is really nothing. Arendt ... envisioned even the extreme evil which produced the Holocaust as merely banal [in Eichmann in Jerusalem]." Augustine's philosophical legacy continues to influence contemporary critical theory through the contributions and inheritors of these 20th century figures.
According to Leo Ruickbie, Augustine's arguments against magic, differentiating it from miracle, were crucial in the early Church's fight against paganism and became a central thesis in the later denunciation of witches and witchcraft. According to Professor Deepak Lal, Augustine's vision of the heavenly city has influenced the secular projects and traditions of the Enlightenment, Marxism, Freudianism and Eco-fundamentalism
Augustine of Hippo (November 13, 354 – August 28, 430), Bishop of Hippo Regius (present-day Algeria). He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province. His writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity.
According to his contemporary, Jerome, Augustine "established anew the ancient Faith". After his conversion to Christianity and baptism (AD 387), Augustine developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and different perspectives. He believed that the grace of Christ was indispensable to human freedom, and he framed the concepts of original sin and just war.
When the Western Roman Empire was starting to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book of the same name), distinct from the material Earthly City. His thought profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. Augustine's City of God was closely identified with the church, the community that worshipped God.
On 31 October 1517, Luther wrote to his bishop, Albert of Mainz, protesting the sale of indulgences. He enclosed in his letter a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," which came to be known as The Ninety-Five Theses.
Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as 'into heaven'] springs."
He insisted that, since forgiveness was God's alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances.
Due to his status as a heretic, little of his work has come down to the present day except in the quotes of his opponents.
Pelagianism quickly spread, especially around Carthage, which is one reason the opponents acted so promptly and firmly. Augustine wrote four letters specifically on Pelagianism, "De peccatorum meritis et remissione libri III" (Three Books on the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins) in 412, "De spiritu et litera" (On the Spirit and the Letter) and "Definitiones Caelestii" (Caelestius's Definitions) in 414, and "De natura et gratia" (On Nature and Grace) in 415. In these he strongly affirmed the existence of original sin, the need for infant baptism, the impossibility of a sinless life without Christ, and the necessity of Christ's grace. Augustine's works are intended in part for the common people and thus do not address Pelagius or his disciple Caelestius (except for the Definitiones Caelestii) by name. One can find little of Pelagius' works in print save his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, which is similar to Antiochian writings of the same age.
John Calvin redefined the theological system that began with Augustine. With some supposed differences that are still debated, Calvin worked to defend Augustinian predestination (unconditional election), total depravity, and irresistible grace.
Some scholars of Calvin, such as R. T. Kendall, state that Calvin disagreed with his predecessors on two points. Firstly, they claim that Calvin believed that Christ died to atone for the sins of the whole world, meaning every individual person in the world, not just the elect. They base this belief on statements which Calvin made in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, in his commentaries on the Bible and in various other works. For instance, in the treatise On The Eternal Predestination of God, Calvin wrote: "It is also a fact, without controversy, that Christ came to atone for the sins 'of the whole world.'" Many Calvinists dispute this understanding of Calvin, maintaining that Calvin must be allowed to define his terms in his own context, and concluding that he actually maintained the doctrine of limited atonement rather than denying it. For example, these Calvinists cite the context of the same passage, which reads as follows:
“Georgius imagines himself to argue very cleverly when he says, "Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Therefore, those who would exclude the reprobate from a participation in the benefits of Christ, must, of necessity, place them somewhere out of the world." … This great absurdity, by which our monk has procured for himself so much applause amongst his own fraternity, has no weight whatever with me. John does indeed extend the benefits of the atonement of Christ, which was completed by His death, to all the elect of God throughout what climes of the world soever they may be scattered. But though the case be so, it by no means alters the fact that the reprobate are mingled with the elect in the world.
At the end of the first book, he offers his views on providence, writing, "By his Power God cherishes and guards the World which he made and by his Providence rules its individual Parts."Humans are unable to fully comprehend why God performs any particular action, but whatever good or evil people may practise, their efforts always result in the execution of God's will and judgments. The second book includes several essays on the original sin and the fall of man, which directly refer to Augustine, who developed these doctrines. He often cited the Church Fathers in order to defend the reformed cause against the charge that the reformers were creating new theology. In Calvin's view, sin began with the fall of Adam and propagated to all of humanity. The domination of sin is complete to the point that people are driven to evil. Thus fallen humanity is in need of the redemption that can be found in Christ. But before Calvin expounded on this doctrine, he described the special situation of the Jews who lived during the time of the Old Testament. God made a covenant with Abraham and the substance of the promise was the coming of Christ. Hence, the Old Covenant was not in opposition to Christ, but was rather a continuation of God's promise. Calvin then describes the New Covenant using the passage from the Apostles' Creed that describes Christ's suffering under Pontius Pilate and his return to judge the living and the dead. For Calvin, the whole course of Christ's obedience to the Father removed the discord between humanity and God. In the third book, Calvin describes how the spiritual union of Christ and humanity is achieved. He first defines faith as the firm and certain knowledge of God in Christ. The immediate effects of faith are repentance and the remission of sin. This is followed by spiritual regeneration, which returns the believer to the state of holiness before Adam's transgression. However, complete perfection is unattainable in this life, and the believer should expect a continual struggle against sin. Several chapters are then devoted to the subject of justification by faith alone. He defined justification as "the acceptance by which God regards us as righteous whom he has received into grace." In this definition, it is clear that it is God who initiates and carries through the action and that people play no role; God is completely sovereign in salvation. Near the end of the book, Calvin describes and defends the doctrine of predestination, a doctrine advanced by Augustine in opposition to the teachings of Pelagius.
Calvinism stresses the total depravity or total inability of humanity's ethical nature against a backdrop of the sovereign grace of God in salvation. It teaches that fallen people are morally and spiritually unable to follow God or escape their condemnation before him. It is seen as the work of God (divine intervention) in which God changes their unwilling hearts from rebellion to willing obedience.
In this view, all people are entirely at the mercy of God, who would be just in condemning all people for their sins, but who has chosen to be merciful to some. Thus, one person is saved while another is condemned, not because of a foreseen willingness, faith, or any other virtue in the first person, but because God sovereignly chose to have mercy on him. Although the person must believe the gospel and respond to be saved, this obedience of faith is God's gift, and thus God completely and sovereignly accomplishes the salvation of sinners. Views of predestination to damnation (the doctrine of reprobation) are less uniform than is the view of predestination to salvation (the doctrine of election) among self-described Calvinists (see Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism).
In practice, Calvinists teach sovereign grace primarily for the encouragement of the church because they believe the doctrine demonstrates the extent of God's love in saving those who could not and would not follow him, as well as quashing pride and self-reliance and emphasizing the Christian's total dependence on the grace of God. In the same way, sanctification in the Calvinist view requires a continual reliance on God to purge the Christian's depraved heart from the power of sin and to further the Christian's joy.
Calvinist theology is sometimes identified with the five points of Calvinism, also called the doctrines of grace, which are a point-by-point response to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance (see History of Calvinist-Arminian debate) and which serve as a summation of the judgments rendered by the Synod of Dort in 1619. Calvin himself never used such a model and never combated Arminianism directly. In fact, Calvin died in 1564 and Jacob Arminias was born in 1560, and so the men were not contemporaries. The Articles of Remonstrance were authored by opponents of reformed doctrine and Biblical Monergism. They were rejected in 1619 at the Synod of Dort, more than 50 years after the death of Calvin.
The five points therefore function as a summary of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, but not as a complete summation of Calvin's writings or of the theology of the Reformed churches in general. In English, they are sometimes referred to by the acronym TULIP (see below), though this puts them in a different order than the Canons of Dort.
The central assertion of these canons is that God is able to save every person upon whom he has mercy, and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or inability of humans.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)-In the Summa Theologica, Thomas begins his discussion of Jesus Christ by recounting the biblical story of Adam and Eve and by describing the negative effects of original sin. The purpose of Christ's Incarnation was to restore human nature by removing "the contamination of sin", which humans cannot do by themselves. "Divine Wisdom judged it fitting that God should become man, so that thus one and the same person would be able both to restore man and to offer satisfaction." Thomas argued in favor of the satisfaction view of atonement; that is, that Jesus Christ died "to satisfy for the whole human race, which was sentenced to die on account of sin."
Thomas argued against several specific contemporary and historical theologians who held differing views about Christ. In response to Photinus, Thomas stated that Jesus was truly divine and not simply a human being. Against Nestorius, who suggested that Son of God was merely conjoined to the man Christ,
The selling of indulgences
John Calvin (Middle French: Jean Cauvin; 10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he published the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536. In that year, Calvin was recruited by William Farel to help reform the church in Geneva. The city council resisted the implementation of Calvin and Farel's ideas, and both men were expelled. At the invitation of Martin Bucer, Calvin proceeded to Strasbourg, where he became the minister of a church of French refugees. He continued to support the reform movement in Geneva, and was eventually invited back to lead its church.