Calvinism vs. Determinism

when we enter the world of seventeenth-century theological debate, it is the purportedly predestinarian Reformed who take up the defense of human free choice and secondary causality against the more deterministic tendencies of Cartesian metaphysics, specifically the occasionalist conclusion, resting on a conception of necessary divine concursus, that God is the sole cause of all motion in the universe.

 

Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy; Volume 1: Prolegomena to Theology , 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 128–129.

Calvin on Fate

Fate is a term given by the Stoics to their doctrine of necessity, which they had formed out of a multiplex labyrinth of contradictory reasonings; a doctrine calculated to call God Himself to order, and to set Him laws whereby to work. But Predestination I define to be, according to the Holy Scriptures, that free and unfettered counsel of God by which He rules all mankind, and all men and things, and also all parts and particles of the world by His infinite wisdom and incomprehensible justice.

 

John Calvin and Henry Cole, Calvin’s Calvinism: A Defence of the Secret Providence of God (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 41.

Calvin on Purposeless Evil

Meantime, you hesitate not to vomit forth your profane and abhorrent opinion that God is worse than any wolf, who thus wills to create men to misery. Some men, be it remembered, are born blind, some deaf, some dumb, some of monstrous deformity. Now, if we are to go by your opinion as the judge in these sacred and deep matters, God is also cruel, because He afflicts His offspring with such evils as these, and that, too, before they have seen the light.

 

John Calvin and Henry Cole, Calvin’s Calvinism: A Defence of the Secret Providence of God (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 50.