Skip to content
August 12, 2007 / vivator

Predestination in Catholicism

While most Catholics hardly talk about it (and some might even think the Church does not teach it), predestination is one of the central teachings of the Catholic Church.   Catholic Encyclopaedia defines Predestination as the Divine decree by which God, owing to His infallible prescience of the future, has appointed and ordained from eternity all events occurring in time, especially those which directly proceed from, or at least are influenced by, man’s free will.   

Why there is predestination?   Catholics believe that original sin makes us unable to reach salvation, not even will our salvation, without being first moved by God’s Grace.  This leads to the question: Since the initiative of our salvation belongs to God, does He predestine who will go to heaven (the Elect) and who will go to hell (the Reprobate)?   

All Christians believe in the predestination of the Elect – it is clearly stated in the Scripture (Matthew 25:34, Acts 13:48, Romans 8:28-30).  In Catechism of the Catholic Church the term “the Elect” appears in a number of clauses (CCC # 769, 842, 1031, 1045, 1344).    How does God predestine the Elect?   Is it based on His foreknowledge of our response to His Grace or on His eternal decree when He created the world?  The former view is known as Conditional Election and the latter as Unconditional Election.   Protestants and “Bible only” Christians who adhere to Calvinism believe in the latter while the so called Arminianist Protestants believe in the former.   Until now the Catholic Church does not declare dogmatically on how God predestines the Elect, whether it is Conditional or Unconditional Election.   Catholics are still free to choose from a number of predestination views, among which are: Thomism (after Thomas Aquinas) and Molinism (after Luis de Molina).  Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was philosopher, theologian, Doctor of the Church and patron of Catholic universities, colleges and schools.  Luis de Molina (1535-1600) was Jesuit theologian.  Thomists (and some Molisnists) teach Unconditional Election while Molinism believes in the Conditional Election.

As for the Reprobate, Catholics believe that God predestines no one to hell. Scripture says God loves the world (John 3:16); He desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and that He has no pleasure on the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).   The belief that God predestines no one to evil has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.

We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.

Council of Orange (529 AD)

If any one saith, that it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

Council of Trent, Canon VI of the Decrees on Justification

God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1037

Because God predestines no one to hell, Catholics believe He gives His Grace, through Christ, to everyone and calls every one, no exception, to salvation.

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.

Titus 2:11

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:22

“‘All men are called to this catholic [universal] unity of the People of God…. And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 836

If God gives His Grace to every one and desires all men to be saved, then why can’t all enter heaven?  Scripture says that God gives His Grace lavishly to the Elect (Ephesians 1:7-8) and He has mercy but also hardens the hearts of whom He will (cf. Romans 9:18).  This is something we cannot question – God is the potter and we are the clay (Romans 9:20-21).  In Catholic Church’s terminology God gives the Elect sufficient and efficacious Grace while the Reprobates receive sufficient but inefficacious Grace.  Catholics believe God gives everyone sufficient Grace to make him/her, using his/her freedom, turn to God and be saved.  One way to explain it is using Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).  In the parable the Master gave different number of talents to his three servants according to their abilities.  The Master obviously had the right to decide how many talents each servant received. The servant with only one talent was later condemned.  Yet his Master did not intend to condemn him by giving him only one talent.  Had he deposited it in the bank he would be fine like the other two.  The servant was condemned for his own wrong action, i.e. hiding the single talent entrusted to him.  Thus Catholics believe that condemnation of the Reprobate always involves their freedom to reject God’s Grace – in other words they are responsible for their damnation.  Catholic’s view on Reprobation is called as Positive Conditional Reprobation – when God created the world He, being omniscience, foresaw the Reprobate’s rejection to His Grace and let them use their freedom to do so.  Yet God still wants them to be saved and still gives them sufficient Grace.  

“To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of ‘predestination’, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: ‘In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place [Acts 4:27-28]. For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness. 

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 600

Protestants and “Bible only” Christians may or may not agree with Catholic’s position on Reprobation.  Those who follow Calvinism believe in Positive Unconditional Reprobation, i.e. when God created the world, through His decree, He foreordained the Reprobate to damnation and consequently decided to withhold His Grace from them.   

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

Westminster Confession III.3

As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, does blind and harden, from them He not only withholds His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their heart; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had, and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.

Westminster Confession V.6

Westminster Confession is the confession of faith of English-speaking Presbyterians. It was completed in 1646 and approved after some revisions in June 1648.  Calvinists believe in common grace, which is given to everyone, however it has nothing to do with salvation.   This common grace concept explains why we can find goodness among non-Christians (i.e. the Reprobate), despite their totally deprived nature and it also comes in the form of God’s providence for all mankind – he [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  To Calvinists what is reserved only to the Elect (and is irresistible to them) is special grace – it is the grace that makes them believe in Christ, sanctifies them and therefore saves them.

Others Protestants believe in Negative Unconditional Reprobation, i.e. God simply bypasses the Reprobate from receiving His Grace for no reason – and without God’s Grace they are doomed to hell.   In both Positive and Negative Unconditional Reprobation God is behind the Reprobate’s damnation.   In contrast Catholic position makes the Reprobate responsible for their damnation – God gives them sufficient Grace, which they reject using their freedom.

In Calvinist’ Unconditional Election and Reprobation the role of human freedom in responding to God’s Grace for their salvation or damnation is denied.   They may argue that we still have freedom but to them it means freedom to choose evil.

after the fall, though the will itself remains free, its capacity for choice is limited by the sinfulness of human nature.   Human beings retain the capacity of choice, but all choosing occurs in the context of sin.”  

Encyclopaedia of the Reformed Faith (Editor: Donald K. Mc Kim,) page 145

Catholics, on the other hand, believe that without God’s Grace we can neither believe in God nor obey His commandments – our salvation is impossible without God’s Grace but we have freedom to cooperate with that Grace or not. 

To Calvinists God gives His (saving) Grace only to the Elect who can neither reject nor lose it.   However Jude 4 says that those who were designated for condemnation pervert the Grace of God – something they cannot do if they do not receive it in the first place.  The belief that God gives His Grace only to the Elect was condemned in the Council of Trent.

If any one saith, that the grace of Justification is only attained to by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.

Council of Trent, Canon XVII of the Decrees on Justification

Calvinists may use God’s sovereignty to defend their position.  But here they make presumption, i.e. God first foreordained the Reprobate to eternal damnation when He created the world and because He is sovereign then His will must take place.  Catholics do not deny that God is sovereign but He cannot contradict Himself.   Scripture does say that God through Christ intends to save all mankind (Romans 5:18, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Timothy 1:15, Titus 2:11) – He won’t contradict Himself by, through His decree, foreordaining some (the Reprobate) with no reason to hell.


Leave a Comment
  1. Mark Hausam / Jun 8 2016 7:30 am

    Thanks for the post!

    I think the Molinist position is closer to the Thomist position than it seems at first glance. I’ve written up some stuff on this in a couple of places recently:

    I’ve also written up some more general thoughts on the subject of the Catholic teaching on predestination and efficacious grace:

    I also think that the Calvinist view is not so different from the Catholic view as is often thought:

    Have a good day!

  2. / Oct 31 2015 9:37 am

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people in this particular subject,
    however, you sound like you know what you’re
    talking about! Thanks

  3. mick / Feb 25 2013 12:27 pm

    how do we have free will if God knows everything, every decision we are going to make, and makes us and every aspect of us?

    • vivator / Mar 2 2013 6:08 pm

      While as human we cannot fully comprehend God’s way we should not limit God. For sure He can predestine us while at the same time let us use our free-will. Otherwise God is more like movie director who appointed actors and actresses for a movie he directed. Whatever they said, acted and even their destiny in the movie was already predetermined and unchangeable.

      • mick / Mar 4 2013 1:33 pm

        So the only answer is that because he is God and he can do anything can you give me a little more. Thank you.

  4. / Feb 14 2013 2:38 am

    “Predestination in Catholicism Viva Catholic” was in fact a
    delightful article, can not help but wait to go through far more of ur postings.
    Time to waste a little time on the net lolz. Thanks a lot

  5. basicconservative / Feb 11 2013 11:09 am

    I have a question on terminology. I’ve always felt that attempting to define “sufficient” vs “efficacious” grace is creating a distinction without a difference between conditional and unconditional election. By which I mean, I would consider grace that is inefficacious to be, in the only sense that matters, insufficient by definition. If God chooses to give me grace, but not “enough” to be saved, is that not insufficient? Such definitions seem unsatisfying and unnecessary.

    Is it not more straightforward to simply consider God’s foreknowledge as the answer to the seeming contradiction? It’s certainly biblical. (Rom 8:29, 1 Peter 1:2) That’s sort of the sense I get from the explanation of predestination in the Catholic Encyclopedia as well. Am I misunderstanding the definition of these terms?

    • vivator / Feb 17 2013 7:55 pm

      Thank you for your comment. We cannot use the term insufficient grace because it means God has intention not to save the Reprobate, which contradicts Titus 2:11 and 1 Cor 15:22. If they are not saved is because of their own free-will – that’s why Catholics believe they receive sufficient but in-efficacious grace. For more explanation I would like to recommend Ludwig Ott: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

      • basicconservative / Feb 18 2013 1:10 pm

        Sure, I would agree with this statement, I just wonder about the nature of “in-efficacious grace”. Is the only difference between efficacious and in-efficacious grace our cooperation? Would you say that God offers everyone efficacious grace, but not all choose to accept it?

        Ludwig Ott’s book appears to be out of print and unavailable for less than $100, too.. ah well.

      • vivator / Feb 18 2013 2:58 pm

        If we say God gives everybody efficacious grace then everybody will be saved, which is not the case. As human we are bound by time and space dimension but God is not – to Him there is no past, present and future. Being omniscience He foreknows who will end in heaven and who will end in hell. While Catholic Church until today does not declare dogmatically whether the Election is conditional or unconditional, Catechism of the Catholic Church says God predestines no one to hell. This means God must offer them salvation and if they end up in hell it is not because God wants them to be there. You can get e-book of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma at:

      • vivator / Feb 18 2013 4:40 pm

        Additional information. Hardcopy of Ludwig Ott book can be purchased at:

  6. Colin / Jan 30 2013 7:31 pm

    The idea that God actively makes the reprobate reject him is not the calvinist position. If your explanation of reprobation in Catholic theology is correct then we are complete agreement on the issue

    • vivator / Feb 3 2013 3:22 pm

      Than you for the comment. In Calvinism because of original sin men became totally deprived that God must first regenerate us. Those who He chose unconditionally to be regenerated will believe in Christ (i.e. regeneration before faith) and consequently will be saved. Those He bypassed from being regenerated, also unconditionally, will be doomed to hell. In other words they end up in hell because God decided not to regenerate them. Catholic reprobation, on the other hand, says that they end-up in hell because of their own free-will. God offer salvation to everybody by His grace (Titus 2:11) through Christ (1 Cor 15:22).

      • GTY / Feb 5 2013 6:06 pm

        One really has to wonder, if free will is your big defense: why support your argument with texts that say nothing about man’s will or ability (Titus 2:11 & 1Cor. 15:22), when there IS a text that DOES say something about it: Romans 9:16.
        Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people”
        1Cor. 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

        Romans 9:16 “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

        Your interpretation, in fact, makes God a liar since Roman Catholicism does not teach that all people are saved. The honest interpreter will look for an understanding that does not create such a contradiction.

        Also, wouldn’t I have something to boast about if salvation depends on my free will?
        Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

      • vivator / Feb 9 2013 2:13 pm

        If you interpret Romans 9:16 to mean God predestines some to hell, you contradict Titus 2:11 and 1 Cor 15:22. Scripture would not contradict itself but your interpretation does, unless you fine tune Titus 2:11 and 1 Cor 15:22, i.e. to make “all” to mean “all Elect”, which those verses DO NOT say. Catholics and Calvinists believe that the Fall make us born in sinful state – we do not deserve heaven unless God takes the initiative to save us. The initiative does not come from us – we do not have the will to be saved (those who say we do are semi-pelagian which most, if not all Calvinists confuse with synergism). Catholics do not believe all will go to heaven but unlike Calvinists we believe that they (the Reprobate) end-up in hell because they choose so, NOT because God decided not to regenerate them. In Catholicism God offer salvation to ALL and He does predestine the Elect to heaven by giving them sufficient and efficacious grace. God gives the Reprobate sufficient grace but NOT efficacious grace because He has mercy to whom He will and harden whom He will (Romans 9:15). Sufficient grace implies it is the Reprobate to blame for their damnation. Thus Catholics have no problem with Romans 9:15 and we do not need to tune Titus 2:11 and 1 Cor 15:22 like Calvinists do. Eph 2:8 is one the most quoted verse to justify faith alone salvation. Catholics do believe that faith is gift from God through His grace who gives it to use NOT because we do something to deserve it.

      • GTY / Feb 9 2013 3:53 pm

        No, I do not interpret Romans 9:16 “to mean that God predestines some to hell.” Your argument therefore is not meant for me.

        You claim that others “fine tune” their interpretations of “all” in those two verses to mean “all the elect,” yet you have no problem fixing Titus 2:11 – where you “fine tune” it here to mean: “…salvation for all people [who choose God by their free will ].”
        and 1 Cor 15:22, where you “fine tune” it to mean: “ Christ shall all be made alive [who choose God through their own free will].”
        In fact Ephesians 2:5 makes your free will thesis impossible: “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved..”

        You don’t even deal with Romans 9:16 “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

        Let me ask you…
        Why did you (by your presumed free will) choose to believe? Because you are smarter than others? Because you deserve it more? Because you know a good deal when you see it? Why does your free will save you when’s someone else’s damns him?
        Is your free will also not a gift from God? If it is a gift, you can’t claim it as your own – therefore it is all of God. Whatever it is that you claim as your own, it is something you could boast about. And if you can’t boast about it, then it is ALL of God.
        Philippians 2:13 tells us where our “will” comes from: “for it is God who works in you, both to WILL and to work for his good pleasure.”

      • vivator / Feb 9 2013 4:26 pm

        Your problem is you keep on defining Catholicism using your own term. We never believe God chose the Elect because of their free-will. He gives the Elect sufficient and efficacious grace and because of that they can cooperate with that grace using their free-will. If you subscribe to Calvinism (correct me if I am wrong) you cannot deny that it teaches double predestination – God predestine some to heaven and the rest to hell, albeit passively. I did deal with Romans 9:15, the next verse is just continuation. God has mercy to whom He will – it does not depend on their free-will. To whom He has mercy he predestines to heaven by giving them sufficient and efficacious grace.
        To answer your question: FIRST God’s grace moves the Elect to believe. When they choose to believe it is NOT because they are smarter or better than the rest but because God gives them sufficient and efficacious grace. We are created by God – everything in us, including our free-will – I NEVER WROTE free-will is our own. Now let me ask you if faith is a gift (which both of us agree) and you take it, who then own that faith, you or God? Philippians 2:12-13 (do NOT read only verse 13) talks about synergism – no problem with that.

      • GTY / Feb 11 2013 8:05 pm

        You’re not really telling the whole truth are you Vivator? You write: “God has mercy to whom He will – it does not depend on their free-will.”

        That doesn’t fit well with what your authoritative Catholic Catechism #1993 states: “Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and MAN’S FREEDOM. On man’s part it is expressed by the ASSENT OF FAITH to the Word of God, which INVITES him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
        When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, SINCE HE COULD REJECT IT; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.”

        So according to your own sources, man has final say in his salvation since he has the free will to reject it. Thus your statement “it does not depend on their free-will” is false.

        And no again, you did NOT deal with Roman9:16. Please give us the official RC interpretation, not your own spin. You won’t deal honestly with it because its meaning is straightforward and it destroys the Catholic concept of man’s free will.

        Could I offer a suggestion? Stop using the old Roman Catholic trick of playing both sides of an argument – it is a cowardly way to deal with important doctrines.

      • vivator / Feb 13 2013 7:30 pm

        You still force your own understanding to Catholic teaching. First Catholics are indeed synergist – synergism implies cooperation between God’s grace and our free-will but it does not mean His grace depends on our free-will. Hence there is no problem between sysnergism and Romans 9:16. First, the clause of Catechism you quoted says: “Justification ESTABLISHES cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom” – it does NOT say “Justification REQUIRES cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom”. Second, if you still insist on your understanding of synergism then to be consistent you should apply it to Calvinism as well. Calvinism is NOT solidly monergist – in fact only regeneration is considered monergistic in nature. In Calvinism regeneration happens before faith and after regeneration, i.e. conversion and sanctification are synergistic in nature. Thus following you understanding of synergism then the grace of God in conversion and sanctification require cooperation and depend on human free-will – he can either cooperate or reject it.
        Monergistic regeneration teaching of Calvinism is based on verses that say we are spiritually dead. Just like a physically dead person who can do nothing until he is monergistically regenerated back to life, spiritually dead person must be first monergistically regenerated before he can even believe – thus regeneration comes before faith. It is good argument and it is pretty convincing until you consider its implication. Monergistic regeneration implies that God chose unconditionally whom He wants to regenerate (and will be saved) while the rest He simply bypasses (and end in damnation). This is completely against Scripture that says in number of places (1 Cor 15:22, Titus 2:11 etc.) God offers salvation to all mankind. For sure some will go to hell but they end up there not because God wants them to be there, albeit passively. The only solution Calvinists can offer to reconcile monergistic regeneration with those verses is tuning them to make “all” in those verses mean “all Elect”.

      • GTY / Feb 14 2013 9:30 am

        It takes tremendous courage to go where the evidence leads.
        You’ve said over and over in this blog that monergistic regeneration is a “good argument ..and pretty convincing.” For the honest logician or Bible interpreter this in itself would be sufficient to warrant the right conclusion. But your method is to look first at the conclusion (that in this case you don’t like), and then reject the premises leading up to it. Is that what you do with the doctrine of say, the Trinity, where you look at the conclusion (the Judeo-Christian God consists of a triune Godhead), decide you don’t like it, then reject all the Biblical evidence for it?

        To imply that God is a bad guy because some go to hell is a slander of His character. God would be just if all men were damned. That any are saved is purely by his mercy and grace, and how He chooses His Elect is known to Him alone. So for you to presume on His character, and on the power of man’s free will is not a wise thing.
        And for you to keep repeating… that if a sovereign God monergistically saves souls, then it means that “..[those] He bypasses END in damnation” and that God “wants” them to go there! People don’t “end” in damnation – they are born to damnation. That is what the fall of man produced and it cannot be blamed on God if ANY man goes to hell. The amazing thing is anyone is saved!

        Re.: 1 Cor 15:22 & Titus 2:11… Thank you for admitting that “‘all’ in those verses mean ‘all Elect'” is a solution, though again a conclusion you don’t like. That is indeed a better solution than the “all” meaning “only those with their free will approval.” Who would pray for that person’s salvation? “Dear Lord, please save my dear husband Joe, but only if his will allows you to do so.”

        To say that the biblical doctrines of grace (you say “Calvinism”) are “completely against Scripture” is a lie. Thomas Aquinas would oppose you on this… as has already been demonstrated in this blog. The Scriptures also say otherwise:
        “You did not choose me. I chose you.” John 15:16
        “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37
        “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44
        “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-” Ephesians 2:5

        You need to reconcile ALL the verses regarding the doctrines of grace, without creating contradictions within scripture. And you need the courage to go where the evidence leads, no matter how much time and commitment you have invested in the Roman Catholic system of salvation.

      • GTY / Feb 15 2013 10:38 am

        You write:
        “First, the clause of Catechism you quoted says: “Justification ESTABLISHES cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom” – it does NOT say “Justification REQUIRES cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom”.” This is a distinction without a difference. If as you suggest, justification does not “require” cooperation, then it is monergistic, and your position of synergism is destroyed! This is another case of shooting yourself in the foot by trying to play both sides.

        It is clear that Catholic justification requires cooperation, as can be seen from this excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

        “This entire process [justification] receives its first impulse from the supernatural grace of vocation (absolutely independent of man’s merits), and requires an intrinsic union of the Divine and human action, of grace and moral freedom of election, in such a manner, however, that THE WILL CAN RESIST, and with full liberty REJECT
        the influence of grace (Trent, l.c., can.iv: “If any one should say that free will, moved and set in action by God, cannot cooperate by assenting to God’s call, nor DISSENT if it wish. . . let him be anathema”). By this decree the Council not only condemned the Protestant view that the will in the reception of grace remains merely passive, but also forestalled the Jansenistic heresy regarding the impossibility of resisting actual grace.”

        It is clear the human will is involved in this process, thus cooperation is required. And if cooperation is required to be saved, man has something to boast about – but not before God. Ephesians 2:8-9

      • vivator / Feb 18 2013 4:15 pm

        Replying to your two last comments:
        Comparing monergistic regeneration with Trinity is absurd. First the word Trinity is not found in Scripture but the (Greek) word regeneration is found in Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5 and neither of them refer to your monergistic regeneration. Second, a good defense of Trinity does not need to tune verses of the Bible that seems to contradict it, i.e. nobody needs to tune the word “greater” in John 14:28 to mean “equal”.
        Catholics and Calvinists believe in Original sin and because of that all of us deserve hell (or born in damnation per your term) unless God takes the initiative to save us. He is NOT under any obligation to save us – He does so because He loves the world (John 3:16). He sent His Son, Christ to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15), which means all mankind, since both the Elect and the Reprobate are sinners. Scripture says God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and that He has no pleasure on the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). Even though Calvinists believe in passive reprobation it implies that God decided from eternity NOT to save them by refusing to monergistically regenerate them – a direct contradiction with the above verses.
        You freely admit that you need to tune the word of God to meet your predefined belief – Scripture nowhere says regeneration must take place before faith. Even John Calvin and the early Reformed church understood regeneration differently (read Berkhof: Systematic Theology page 466).
        You take freedom to apply your FALSE understanding of synergism to Catholics but DO NOT want to apply it to synergist part of your Calvinism. Consider your short prayer “Dear Lord, please save my dear husband Joe, but only if his will allows you to do so.” As devout Calvinist and if that is how you understand synergism then you should also pray the following “Dear Lord, please convert my dear husband Joe, but only if his will allows you to do so” and “Dear Lord, please sanctify my dear husband Joe, but only if his will allows you to do so.” Suppose after being monergistically regenerated, your husband convert and be sanctified because he cooperates with his free-will then he can boast about it – I just return the same argument you made back to you. Suppose after being monergistically regenerated he does not cooperate and hence does not convert and is not sanctified then he won’t be saved because you believe in salvation by faith alone, NOT in salvation by regeneration alone.
        Synergism does imply cooperation between God’s grace and man’s free-will and men remain free, which means he can either accept or reject God’s grace. A damaged car that has been monergistically repaired and filled with gas will cooperate with the driver but this is not synergism – it is in fact monergism because a car does not have freedom. The question is which one governs? Does God’s grace govern over free-will or does His Grace depend on our free-will? You chose the latter which ironically you don’t want to apply it to yourself. The former is known as synergism while the latter as semi-pelagianism, which most, if not all Calvinists confuse. The end of Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1993, which you quoted earlier, says “without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.” Thus in synergism it is God’s grace who governs, not our free-will. The reason why the Elect cooperate with their free-will is NOT because they have better or stronger free-will than the rest but because God give them sufficient and efficacious grace. Applying your FALSE understanding of synergism (which in fact is semi-pelagianism) for sure you have problem with John 15:16, John 6:37, John 6:44 etc.

      • GTY / Feb 28 2013 8:51 am

        I must say I am disappointed with your response dated Feb 18, 2013…but not surprised.
        You accuse me of “Comparing monergistic regeneration with Trinity..” then add that this “is absurd.”
        I invite all readers to read what I wrote on Feb 14 to see for themselves whether I am comparing monergistic regeneration with [the] trinity. Rather, it is quite clear that I am looking at your epistemological method; your method of arriving at (in)valid conclusions. The point is that an honest person does not start with the conclusion of an argument and work backward from there to invalidate the premises. The honest person starts with valid premises and has the courage to go to a logical conclusion. That point is totally ignored by you.

        The same kind of dishonesty is displayed with this kind of rhetoric: “You freely admit that you need to tune the word of God to meet your predefined belief…” Sorry, but there was no such admission.

        It is clear to me that you are without good reasons for your position(s) – that is why you attack straw men instead of the real issues.

      • vivator / Mar 2 2013 6:04 pm

        I am not under any obligation to make you satisfied with my answer, and vice versa neither are you. Whether more readers agree with you or with me makes no difference – there is no voting here. If you are not happy with the word I used you should examine first your own rhetoric statement in your comment. By applying false definition of synergism (which in fact is semi-pelagianism) you are the one who keep on attacking straw man.

      • GTY / Mar 3 2013 6:20 pm

        True enough that you are “not under any obligation” to satisfy anyone with your answers. But aren’t we obligated under God to represent the views of others honestly?
        With respect to your objection to being labeled semi-Pelagian… let us just say that smarter people than you and I consider the Roman Catholic system of salvation to be just that: semi-Pelagian.

        “In semi-Pelagianism… grace is necessary to assist the sinner in responding positively to God. Grace is necessary, but not necessarily effectual. Grace may be resisted and overcome.
        The problem is this: If grace is necessary but not effectual, what makes it work? Obviously it is the positive response of the sinner, who is still in the flesh. Why does one sinner respond to the offer of grace positively and the other negatively? Is the difference in response found in the power of the human will or in some added measure of grace? Does grace assist the sinner in cooperating with grace, or does the sinner cooperate by the power of the flesh alone? If the latter, it is unvarnished Pelagianism. If the former, it is still Pelagianism in that grace merely facilitates regeneration and salvation.
        “No, no, no, cries the semi-Pelagian… semi-Pelagianism rejects pure Pelagianism at the point of saying that grace is necessary for salvation, not merely helpful.”
        We know this is what semi-Pelagians say, but how in fact does this work out in their understanding of regeneration? If the flesh can, by itself, incline itself to grace, where is the need of grace? If the grace of regeneration is merely offered and its efficacy depends on the sinner’s response, what does grace accomplish that is not already present in the power of the flesh?”
        R.C. Sproul, What Is Reformed Theology? p. 187, 188.

        Rome condemns semi-Pelagianism in theory. But in practice… that is another matter. If the tipping-point for salvation is dependant on man’s assent, or on his choosing not to dissent, then the whole process depends on man. Therefore, Roman Catholicism is semi-Pelagian. More on this here…

        The Catholic Encyclopedia:
        “This entire process [justification] receives its first impulse from the supernatural grace of vocation (absolutely independent of man’s merits), and requires an intrinsic union of the Divine and human action, of grace and moral freedom of election, in such a manner, however, that THE WILL CAN RESIST, and with full liberty REJECT
        the influence of grace (Trent, l.c., can.iv: “If any one should say that free will, moved and set in action by God, cannot cooperate by assenting to God’s call, nor DISSENT if it wish. . . let him be anathema”)…”

        An afterthought: Adam’s “free will” was purer than yours, being untainted by sin. But all it did for him was cause death for himself and his posterity. Do you, a sinful being, claim superiority to Adam?

      • vivator / Mar 3 2013 6:46 pm

        As mentioned many times, most, if not all Calvinists confuse semi-pelagianism and synergism and this includes R.C. Sproul. And just like him you keep on attacking straw man by using it to attack synergism. It seems to me you prefer car analogy to describe your synergism in your Calvinistic conversion and sanctification – let me repeat that analogy: a damaged car that was monergistically regenerated will cooperate with the driver because it has no freewill – it CANNOT reject the driver intention. If that is what you choose then so be it – i.e. be a (humanized) car, instead of being made in God’s image! Why don’t you apply semi-pelagianism in your synergistic portions of Calvinism, i.e. in your conversion and sanctification? You mentioned Adam but forgot that unlike us Adam (and Eve) was created without original sin – they chose to sin using their freewill.

      • GTY / Mar 7 2013 9:24 am

        Duly noted that you did not engage with the essence of the argument.

        Also, there’s no need to repeat ad nauseum the difference between Semipelagianism and synergism. We are talking about first moves here, not synergy or cooperation after the fact. Arguing that God makes the first move does not help you in defending against Semipelagianism if the efficacy of that first move is dependent on man’s will.

        “It is difficult to understand the relationship between God’s providence and human freedom because man is truly free in the sense that he has the ability to make choices and to choose what he wants. But God is also truly free. This is why the Westminster Confession can say that God “freely” ordains everything without doing “violence… to the will of the creatures.” Of course, if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “God’s sovereignty can never limit man’s freedom.” That is an expression of atheism, because if God’s sovereignty is limited one ounce by our freedom, He is not sovereign. What kind of a concept of God do we have that we would say that God is paralyzed by human choices? If His freedom is limited by our freedom, we are sovereign, not God. No, we are free, but God is even more free. This means that our freedom can never limit God’s sovereignty.”
        R.C. Sproul, Does God Control Everything?

        You write: “… Adam (and Eve) [were] created without original sin – they chose to sin using their freewill.”
        That is precisely the point. Adam was a sinless being whose “free will” got him nothing but pain, suffering, and death. You by contrast are a sinful being… and somehow you think your sin-tainted mind and body will get you better results than those of a perfect, sinless man?

        This can only be explained by your trust in Rome which says that the fall merely made you sick. My trust is in the Lord who says that I am dead in my trespasses. My trust is in the Lord who inspired Romans 9:14-16.

      • vivator / Mar 10 2013 7:54 pm

        I also duly noted that you avoiding talking about synergism (or semi-pelagianism in your term) in your Calvinism. As stated by both Berkhof and Sproul synergism exists in both Calvinist conversion and Calvinist sanctification. Hence I simply return the same argument you copied from Sproul: If you understand God being sovereign means He is not limited by your free-will then why He depends on your free-will in your conversion, hence your salvation, and your sanctification? Your understanding of synergism makes you contradict Romans 9:16.
        Your answer on Adam’s Fall is simply ridiculous – free-will means we can choose between good and bad – Adam chose to sin freely so do we (read 1 Cor 10:13).

      • GTY / Mar 11 2013 9:14 am

        Nothing is mentioned about a “Calvinist” synergism in conversion because one does not exist.
        Nothing is mentioned about a “Calvinist” synergism in ‘sanctification’ because it is not relevant to a discussion about ‘justification.’
        Sproul and Berkhof cannot be recruited for your view because both defer to the great confessions. Neither man for instance would deny the Canons of Dordrecht here:

        “But that others [in distinction from those who reject the gospel] who are called by the gospel obey the call and are converted is NOT TO BE ASCRIBED TO THE PROPER EXERCISE OF FREE WILL, whereby one distinguishes himself above others equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it must be WHOLLY ASCRIBED TO GOD,…
        …but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit pervades the inmost recesses of the man; He opens the closed and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which, though heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, He renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.
        And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us WITHOUT OUR AID.”

        You write: “… free-will means we can choose between good and bad – Adam chose to sin freely so do we (read 1 Cor 10:13).”
        No, rather, free will means that we choose according to our [sinful] nature. We are not free of that nature, in mind or body. That is why God must first make us a new creation; make us alive in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:5 “…even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.”
        Your citation of 1 Cor 10:13 isn’t about free will, but Romans 9:16 is: “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

        One can even see here in this blog how your free will is impeded by your nature. Your nature makes Rome your master; it makes you mischaracterize the view(s) of your objectors as you do above: “then why He depends on your free-will in your conversion, hence your salvation, and your sanctification?” Even when proven wrong again and again, you have an inability to admit error. Far from being objective, you filter everything through Rome – your ultimate authority. You are a slave to Rome and not the Word of God. And if you are a slave to Rome, you are not “free.” How often would God have to repeat, say, the one verse Romans 9:16, in order for your “free will” to believe Him? Instead you go to a more obscure verse about making moral choices (1 Cor 10:13) and use that to deny a clear teaching about free will (Romans 9:16).
        Someone with a truly “free will” wouldn’t do that.

      • vivator / Mar 11 2013 8:48 pm

        You wrote “Neither man [Berkhof and Sproul] for instance would deny the Canons of Dordrecht”. Too bad for you – Berkhof openly stated that his view of regeneration before faith was not the view of John Calvin and early Reformers including Canon of Dordrecht (or Dort):

        Luther did not entirely escape the confusion of regeneration with justification. Moreover, he spoke of regeneration or the new birth in a rather broad sense. Calvin also used the term in a very comprehensive sense as a designation of the whole process by which man is renewed, including, besides the divine act which originates the new life, also conversion (repentance and faith) and sanctification [Inst. III.3.9]. Several seventeenth century authors fail to distinguish between regeneration and conversion, and use the two terms interchangeably, treating of what we now call regeneration under vocation or effectual calling. The Canons of Dort also use the two words synonymously [III and IV. 11, 12], and the Belgic Confession seems to speak regeneration in an even wider sense [Art. XXIV].
        Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 466
        Regeneration, then, is to be conceived monergistically. God alone works, and the sinner has no part in it whatsoever. This, of course, does not mean, that man does not co-operate in later stages of the work of redemption. It is quite evident from Scripture that he does.
        Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 473

        But though God only is the author of conversion, it is of great importance to stress the fact, over against a false passivity, that there is’ also a certain co-operation of man in conversion.
        Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 490
        Sproul also stated that only regeneration is monergistic:
        This view is clearly monergistic at the initial point of the sinner’s movement from unbelief to faith. The whole process, however, is not monergistic. Once the operative grace of regeneration is given, the rest of the process is synergistic. That is, after the soul has been changed by effectual or irresistible grace, the person himself chooses Christ. God does not make the choice for him. It is the person who believes, not God who believes for him. Indeed the rest of the Christian life of sanctification unfolds in a synergistic pattern.
        Sproul: Willing to Believe: The Controversy Over Free Will, pages 73
        Since both Berkhof and Sproul contradict Canons of Dort, my question for you how do you know which one is true?

        1 Cor 10:13 talks about free-will and the ability to choose between bad and good – somehow you are blinded, after being “monergistically regenerated”, not to see it. It says when we are tempted, which is never beyond our strength, God provides way of escape. It is up to us whether to use this way of escape, hence not fall into sin or not (and fall into sin). This is applicable to everybody including “born again regenerated” Calvinists. Rev 3:20 also shows synergism – while Christ takes the initiative to knock at the door, the person inside can decide whether to open the door to welcome Him or not. We know because Rev 3:20 is written in conditional statement. When quoting Eph 2:5 you already made presumption that “dead in trespasses” equal to physical dead, which Scripture nowhere says. The word regeneration occurs twice in New Testament and neither of them talks about Calvinist regeneration before faith, which was not believed by early Reformers either. Is your authority the Bible or the teaching of your Calvinists guru’s who contradict each other?

        I prefer to follow the teaching of the Church established by Christ Himself two thousand years ago and to whom He promised to be with to the end of age and to send the Holy Spirit to guide them in truth. Paul wrote in 1 Tim 3:15 that the Church is the foundation and pillar of truth. Certainly he and Christ did not refer to your church that came into existence fifteen centuries later.

      • FourFingersBackatYou / Apr 9 2016 8:28 pm

        Re: unfortunately your post dated March 11, 2013 above demands a lengthy reply.
        You ask: “Is your authority the Bible or the teaching of your Calvinist gurus who contradict each other?” The question assumes that the Bible and Reformed theologians disagree on whether regeneration precedes faith. Of course you’d like this to be true because the entire system of Roman Catholic salvation depends on the reverse of that formula: i.e., faith before regeneration.

        And it seems you’ll resort to any fallacious means to make your case… anachronism, equivocation, mischaracterization, redefinition, denial, dreadful exegesis, bad philosophy, etc.. Indeed it is hard to imagine shoehorning more error into that one blog post…

        1. ANACHRONISM
        You cite Berkhof showing how the Reformers allegedly differed in their use of “regeneration” — implying their monergism was perhaps inauthentic, or at best inconsistent. Unfortunately you reach that conclusion by anachronizing, or importing today’s more precise meanings to their past, broader meanings, which is merely an exercise in reading the Reformers uncharitably.

        “The controversy during the Reformation sharpened the debate and posed the issues with a clarity we don’t find in the ancient church. Again, to say this is no criticism of the early fathers. We should not expect them to weigh in on issues that weren’t debated in their time. We must be careful of an anachronistic criticism that judges theologians based on subsequent history… we must assess the question of justification in light of the entirety of church history and of the intensive debates and discussions that have arisen.” Thomas Schreiner, Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification, p. 24.

        Readers are urged to verify for themselves all citations and definitions. You will find that regardless of how words like regeneration, salvation, conversion, sanctification, etc., have evolved over time, the Bible and the Reformers are remarkably united on monergistic regeneration before faith.

        You redefine monergism into an oxymoronic kind of ‘synergistic-monergism.’ You imply this when you cite sanctification as a partial cause of salvation, and when you say that some Reformed believers are “full monergists” —as if there could exist anything less than that. But monergism is like being pregnant— you are either a “full” monergist, or not a monergist at all.

        Monergism has always been about what precedes faith, and has never included a cooperative sanctification that follows faith. Wikipedia: “Monergism is the position in Christian theology that God, through the Holy Spirit, works to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration, irrespective of the individual’s cooperation.”
        No Reform-minded theologian will dispute that definition, especially the last clause. A monergist who says sanctification is cooperative is still a “full monergist.”

        i) Justification is a one-time event. You’ll no doubt parrot the Catholic line that Abraham was justified more than once — but that assertion puts you at odds with Paul who said that God declared Abraham righteous years before he was circumcised or did anything (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4).
        The Bible says justification is a one-time event that leads inevitably to sanctification — like when a bomb explodes you expect heat and energy. If heat and energy are not produced, you can be sure the bomb never exploded in the first place (James 2:18). The same is true of a believer — if there is no heat and energy of sanctification, he was never justified to begin with. Of course metaphors aren’t perfect and I expect you to smuggle synergy back into the metaphor somehow — but it will have to mesh with the Scriptures, particularly in the order of regeneration to sanctification: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” and other verses, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (1 John 5:1). In both those verses and many more, being ‘born of God’ happens first.

        ii) Justification results in peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The verb “justified” there in Romans 5:1 is in the past tense, meaning that no other justification is necessary or possible; and the “peace” declared there is not merely a temporary ceasefire but a permanent shalom that refers to a fullness of ongoing peace. With justification this peace ensues as its immediate and abiding result. Peace of this kind is only available by the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to him/her —it is not possible in the Roman Catholic scheme of salvation.

        iii) Justification does not depend on sanctification. Rather, sanctification depends on justification. In Romans 8:30, Paul says “those who are justified by God will without fail be glorified by Him as well.” James White, The God Who Justifies, page 238.
        The Bible says justification is a one-time event that leads ultimately to glorification. This is the “golden chain” of Romans 8:28-30.

        “In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works [sanctification]depends on the justification [forensic] of the person , as the effect on the cause.” (John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote)

        iv) Justification is guaranteed by the Abrahamic Covenant. Bible-believing Christians affirm God’s unilateral and unconditional promise to Abraham which cannot be nullified by the performance of man (Ezekiel 16:59-63; Galatians 3:17). Michael Horton writes, “Everything that God requires in this covenant is also given by God! It is not simply the case that He promises to forgive our sins and then leaves us to sort out our own stony hearts and rebellious ways. The salvation that He promises and provides is total, leaving nothing for us to achieve through our own strength. Not only justification, but regeneration, sanctification, and everything requisite for our being glorified has been included in this unconditional promise.”

        Conclusion: A correct understanding of justification clarifies the proper role of sanctification.

        James White touches on many of the topics in your blogpost — for those who trust the Word of God — it starts at the 38 minute mark…

        A related point you make ad nauseum is the “discovery” that some Reformed Theologians admit to a cooperative or synergistic sanctification. This, you imply, must make them crypto-synergists — or unwitting subscribers to Rome’s lifelong process of justification — which includes the “sanctification of his whole being” (Catechism of the Catholic Church or “CCC” 1995). Contrary to the Bible, Rome says justification includes “the sanctification and renewal of the inner man” (CCC 1989; 2019). Thus both justification and sanctification in the Roman Catholic system are lifelong cooperative processes.

        Of course the monergistic “process” of salvation is nothing like the Catholic process of salvation — they are as far apart as heaven is from hell. Monergism claims that election, regeneration, and justification are operative (monergistic) and salvific.
        What follows — sanctification — has both operative (monergistic) and cooperative (synergistic) aspects. In either case, sanctification is not salvific, but the result or proof that a believer has been regenerated and justified.

        You cite Berkhof’s Systematic Theology in order to muddy the waters of sanctification: “The whole process [of conversion], however, is not monergistic. Once the operative grace of regeneration is given, the rest of the process is synergistic.”
        Short answer— “So what?”
        Berkhof in no way endorses a salvific view of “the rest of the process,” i.e., sanctification. Berkhof explains: “If we take the word “conversion” in its most specific sense, it denotes a momentary change and not a process like sanctification. It is a change that takes place once and that cannot be repeated…” Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 453.

        Berkhof says “conversion” is a momentary, unrepeatable event, not a lifelong “process like sanctification.” Berkhof in no way confuses the word “conversion” with the lifelong process of “sanctification.”

        Neither is Calvin confused about sanctification: “When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle.”
        “Under the head of salvation, however, it is appropriate to discuss sanctification. That distinction having been made, some might be tempted to suggest that though we are justified sola gratia, sola fide, we are saved through faith and works or through faithfulness. Were such a suggestion to be made it would be contrary both to the mainstream of Reformed theology and to Scripture as it is confessed by the Reformed churches.”

        What does Berkhof say of the Relation of Conversion to Other Stages of the Saving Process?
        “RELATION of CONVERSION TO REGENERATION: …The two words “regeneration” and “conversion” are used synonymously by some. Yet in present
        theology they generally refer to different, though closely related matters… Logically, conversion follows regeneration… In regeneration the sinner is entirely passive, but in conversion he is both passive and active. The former can never be repeated, but the latter can to a certain extent, though the conversio actualis prima occurs but once.”
        RELATION of CONVERSION TO EFFECTUAL CALLING: Conversion is the direct result of internal calling. As an effect (emphasis mine) in man, internal calling and the beginning of conversion really coincide. The situation is not such that God calls the sinner, and that then the sinner in his own strength turns to God… The truly converted man will feel all along that his conversion is the work of God.” Berkhof, Systematic Theology, page 459.

        Conclusion: Berkhof denies that sanctification is salvific in any sense.

        You claim that Berkhof, Sproul, Calvin, and the Canons of Dort disagree on whether regeneration precedes faith. That is false. Be assured they are all solid Monergists who agree that “regeneration,” or the “new heart,” or the “new birth,” always precedes faith:

        Sproul says regeneration is before faith:

        Berkhof affirms regeneration is before faith:
        From the section titled “Positive Characteristics of Regeneration”:
        Regeneration consists in the implanting of the principle of the new spiritual life in man, in a radical change of the governing disposition of the soul, which, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, gives birth to a life that moves in a Godward direction. In principle this change affects the whole man: the intellect, 1 Cor. 2:14,15; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:18; Col. 3:10; the will, Ps. 110:3; Phil. 2:13; 2 Thes. 3:5; Heb. 13:21; and the feelings or emotions, Ps. 42:1,2; Matt. 5:4; 1 Pet. 1:8.
        It is an instantaneous change of man’s nature, affecting at once the whole man, intellectually, emotionally, and morally. The assertion that regeneration is an instantaneous change implies two things:
        1) that it is not a work that is gradually prepared in the soul, as the Roman Catholics and all Semi-Pelagians teach… 2) that it is not a gradual process like sanctification. It is true that some Reformed authors have occasionally used the term “regeneration” as including even sanctification, but that was in the days when the “order of salvation” was not as fully developed as it is today.
        Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, p. 437.

        Calvin affirms regeneration is before faith:
        The discussion of the ordo salutis did not really start until after Calvin’s death, so it is unreasonable to expect him to meet our modern terminological expectations. Calvin did however speak much about the necessity of union with Christ, and about the absolute priority of the Holy Spirit’s illumination.
        “According to Calvin, sanctification or regeneration (the latter term in Calvin refers to what we normally call sanctification) can’t be separated from justification. All those who belong to Christ are also transformed. Those who are united to Christ are both justified and sanctified in him. But even though sanctification and justification are inseparable, they must be distinguished… Calvin emphasizes that believers are both justified and sanctified by union with Christ, and hence union with Christ becomes critical for understanding his view of both justification and sanctification.” Thomas Schreiner, Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification, p. 61-62

        Calvin also wrote about the necessity of the “new birth,” or the “illumination of the Spirit,” or “opening of the heart,” or “renewed by the Spirit of God”…

        John Calvin’s commentary on Acts 16:14-15:
        “Now when in fact only one hears attentively and effectively, could it not have appeared that the way was blocked for Christ to make an entry? But afterwards from that frail shoot a famous church sprang up, whose praises Paul sings in splendid terms. Yet it is possible that Lydia had some companions, of whom no mention is made, because she herself far surpassed them. Yet Luke does not attribute the cause for this one woman having shown herself docile, to the fact that she was sharper-witted than the others, or that she had some preparation by herself, but says that the Lord opened her heart, so that she gave heed to Paul’s words. He had just praised her piety; and yet he shows that she could not understand the teaching of the Gospel without the illumination of the Spirit.
        Accordingly we see that not only faith, but also all understanding of spiritual things, is a special gift of God, and that ministers do not accomplish anything by speaking, unless the inward calling of God is added at the same time.
        By the word heart Scripture sometimes means the mind, as when Moses says (Deut. 29:4), ‘until now the Lord has not given you a heart to understand.’ So also in this verse Luke means not only that Lydia was moved by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to embrace the Gospel with a feeling of the heart, but that her mind was illuminated to understand. We may learn from this that such is the dullness, such the blindness of men, that in hearing they do not hear, or seeing they do not see, until God forms new ears and new eyes for them.”

        John Calvin’s commentary on John
        John 1: 13.
        Hence it follows, first, that faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration; for the Evangelist affirms that no man can believe, unless he be begotten of God; and therefore faith is a heavenly gift. It follows, secondly, that faith is not bare or cold knowledge, since no man can believe who has not been renewed by the Spirit of God.

        John 6:44
        On the contrary, therefore, Christ declares that the doctrine of the Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all, but that a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; and, therefore, that faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.

        John 6:65
        Christ therefore assigns a reason why there are so few believers, namely, because no man, whatever may be his acuteness, can arrive at faith by his own sagacity; for all are blind, until they are illuminated by the Spirit of God, and therefore they only partake of so great a blessing whom the Father deigns to make partakers of it. If this grace were bestowed on all without exception, it would have been unseasonable and inappropriate to have mentioned it in this passage; for we must understand that it was Christ’s design to show that not many believe the Gospel, because faith proceeds only from the secret revelation of the Spirit.

        The Canons of Dort affirm regeneration is before faith:
        Dort uses the terms ‘regeneration’ and ‘conversion’ synonymously at times, but contrary to your conclusion, Dort is clear that both ‘regeneration’ and ‘conversion’ happen before faith, and therefore Dort is solidly monergistic. Both Dort and the Reformers understood cooperative sanctification as the result of regeneration and justification. Articles III and IV. 10,11,12. “And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture, and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid,” and “it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe.” Article 12

        “The Protestant Reformers strongly opposed all synergistic understandings of the new birth. They believed that given the spiritual deadness and moral inability of man, our regeneration is owing entirely to the sovereign work of God. We do not cooperate and we do not contribute to our being born again.” Kevin DeYoung

        You write: “Luther did not entirely escape the confusion of regeneration with justification.”
        Let’s see where Luther’s alleged “confusion” comes from in a section of Berkhof’s Systematic Theology titled “The Use of the Term “Regeneration.” He writes:
        “In the mind of the early Church the term “regeneration” did not stand for a sharply defined concept… no clear distinction was made between regeneration and justification”… Up to the present time there is a certain confusion of regeneration and justification in the Roman Catholic Church, which is, no doubt, largely due to the fact that [Roman Catholic] justification is not conceived as a forensic act, but as an act or process of renewal.” Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 466.

        The source of Luther’s confusion was the “confusion of regeneration and justification in the Roman Catholic Church”!

        Berkhof: “This comprehensive use of the term “regeneration” often led to confusion and to the disregard of very necessary distinctions. For instance, while regeneration and conversion were identified, regeneration was yet declared to be monergistic… The distinction between regeneration and justification had already become clearer, but it gradually became necessary and customary also to employ the term “regeneration” in a more restricted sense.”

        Berkhof quotes the heretic Pelagius to show why “regeneration” had to be clarified, and note here how similar Pelagius’s broad view of regeneration is to Rome’s: “For Pelagius, of course, “regeneration” did not mean the birth of a new nature, but the forgiveness of sins in baptism, the illumination of the mind by the truth, and the stimulation of the will by divine promises.” Berkhof, Systematic Theology.

        It turns out the Reformers are more in line with Augustine’s view of regeneration, than is Rome. Berkhof writes, “Augustine did distinguish between regeneration and conversion… [Augustine] conceived of it as a strictly monergistic work of God, in which the human subject cannot cooperate, and which man cannot resist.”

        So in spite of your uncharitable portrayal of the Reformers as confused about the role of sanctification, what emerges from Berkhof is a strong affirmation of the Reformers’ monergism— a monergism that starts in the Scriptures, continued to Augustine, and to Thomas Aquinas, and to the Reformers and still lives today.
        And despite Luther’s “confusion” over the language used, he was certain that sanctification played no role whatsoever in his salvation:

        “Whilst a man is persuaded that he has it in his power to contribute anything, be it ever so little, to his salvation, he remains in carnal self-confidence; he is not a self-despairer, and therefore is not duly humbled before God, he believes he may lend a helping hand in his salvation, but on the contrary, whoever is truly convinced that the whole work depends singly on the will of God, such a person renounces his own will and strength; he waits and prays for the operation of God, nor waits and prays in vain.” – Martin Luther

        “I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith.” – Martin Luther

        You cite 1 Corinthians 10:13 as proof of man’s free will. But that fails too.
        1 Corinthians 10:13 reads: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This verse is about what God does to preserve the believer: “God is faithful,” “he will not let you be tempted beyond,” and “he will also provide a way of escape.” Now with God doing all that, it doesn’t leave much to be said about the power of your “free will” does it? This verse is about God’s preservation of the believer. Let us reason for a minute… if a synergist allows himself by “free will” to be tempted beyond endurance — wouldn’t that falsify 1 Corinthians 10:13, where God promises to keep you from such a temptation? Wouldn’t it question God’s fidelity in keeping his promise?

        Click to access 1cor10-13-libertarianism.pdf

        You say “1 Cor. 10:13 talks about free-will” — but there is nothing there said about the will. The rule in biblical interpretation is to use clear passages of scripture to explain those that are less clear. So on the issue of free will we should first go to a verse that does address the “will,” say Romans 9:16: “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Only then should you reconcile with 1 Corinthians 10:13.

        Contrary to your claim, free will is not merely “making choices.” The deeper question is: why do we make the choices we make? What, according to the apostle Paul, influenced his own decisions; what encroached upon his free will? He tells us: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Do you see what limits Paul’s “free will”? It has something to do with the sinful flesh: “we…worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). The flesh, Paul says, profits nothing (John 6:63).

        Science and common sense are against you on the issue of libertarian free will – anyone who has gone grocery shopping while hungry knows how the will is influenced by the flesh. And in such a case, what good is the libertarian power of “contrary choice” if acting to the contrary never even crosses your mind?
        The will indeed makes choices, but those choices are not “free” in the libertarian sense you advocate. A truly ‘free’ will is neutral – and is unaffected by internal or external influences that may direct the will. Jonathan Edwards was right to say that we choose “according to our greatest inclinations” which are unavoidably sinful since that is our nature. For instance when you misrepresent Berkhof, is your “greatest inclination” neutral, and motivated purely by a desire for truth — or is your will more inclined to make the Reformers look bad regardless of the truth? One thing is clear — neutral you are not.

        The question for truth seekers: Does the Bible teach a libertarian view of free will? Or does it teach that God’s sovereign determination extends even to the choices and actions of human beings (Prov. 16:1, 9; 19:21; 21:1; Isa. 46:9-11). Would it be okay if God’s free will is greater than yours? The debate over free will is largely about where we place our trust: do I trust man’s imaginings of libertarian free will or do I trust the Word of God? These questions test our spiritual integrity: Are you willing dear reader — like Abraham — to go where the word of God tells you to go… even if, like Abraham, it means going against your own sensibilities? Do you trust God enough to submit your will to Him; trust your mind to Him?

        As to your other question from another post: “If you believe in synergistic sanctification does sanctification depend on free-will or on grace or on both?”
        This question is irrelevant for at least three reasons: first, according to Scripture sanctification is as salvific as lawn bowling. Two, Scripture contradicts the idea of libertarian free-will. And three, what’s true about sanctification is not necessarily true about justification, just as… what’s true of a bomb’s fallout is not necessarily true about its explosion. Nevertheless God answers you: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

        Re.: where you use Rev. 3:20 to prove that man’s cooperation is needed in salvation.
        The big problem here is that Rev. 3:20 is not addressed to unconverted hearts or souls — it is a passage written to those who are already believers at the church of Laodicia!
        The ESV Study Bible note on Rev. 3:20: “Like a loving father, Christ will reprove those whom he loves (cf. Prov. 3:12), calling them to repent before he intervenes in judgment. “I stand at the door and knock,” not as a homeless transient seeking shelter but as the master of the house, expecting alert servants to respond immediately to his signal and welcome his entrance (Luke 12:35–36; James 5:9). To the one who opens the door, Christ will come in and will eat with him, a picture of close personal fellowship.”

        If you want a verse that really speaks of a sinner’s heart being opened, look to Acts 16:14, “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God. The LORD OPENED her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” Who opens the sinner’s heart? The Lord opens the heart.

        You claim that neither of the “two occurrences” of the word regeneration in the Bible “talks about Calvinist regeneration before faith.” That too is false. Regeneration in the Bible is expressed both directly and indirectly, and it is clear which comes first:
        Titus 3:5 overtly states that ‘regeneration’ comes before faith: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” This passage has nothing to do with baptism, and coheres with other scriptures that speak of the need to be “born again”: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13.

        “new birth”: they “were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13
        “new heart”: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you;” Ezek. 36:26-27.
        “born again”: “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-8
        “born of God”: 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” 1 John 5:1
        Fair-minded truth-seekers can read John 3:3–8 to see what happens first: regeneration by the Holy Spirit, or faith. See also John 6:63, 1 Peter 1:3, and James 1:18.
        Scott Christensen writes: “The work of salvation is a resurrection from spiritual death, and is accomplished solely by God. One does not make himself alive from the dead.” (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13)
        For a thorough exegesis of John 3:5 and Titus 3:5, see this:

        10. MERE ASSERTION
        Re. Your final paragraph: “I prefer to follow the teaching of the Church established by Christ Himself…” Aside from that being a mere tautology for Rome, and an equivocation of the word “church,” the best way to answer is with real evidence:

        Finally, a correct biblical understanding of justification answers your tired question: “If you don’t have good works as effect or proof of your salvation, then are you saved?” The better question is: “When a person is truly regenerated and justified, will that person respond with works that demonstrate his salvation?”

        Scott Christensen writes: “Regeneration always efficaciously results in the conversion of its recipients. Regeneration is God’s work in the recipient and conversion (i.e. faith and repentance) is the inevitable active response of the person who has been regenerated.”

        To repeat, suggesting that sanctification leads to justification is like saying the after-effects of a bomb (heat, energy, etc) must cooperate in bringing about the foregone explosion — a nonsensical reversal of cause and effect. So long as the bomb wasn’t defective, the effect is not an option — if the bomb explodes there will be an effect. No effect… no explosion.

        The Bible says I am saved by the operation of God’s grace alone even while I am yet a sinner (Romans 5:7-9). That’s the kind of good news that makes me want to honour Him with my life, and the kind of salvation that gives me present and eternal peace with the God of the everlasting covenant (Romans 5:1).
        As a former Roman Catholic I understand why people fear the gospel of free monergistic grace. They fear it is too easy; they think they’ll lose any incentive to obey; they think a Roman Catholic hammer over my head is a more effective motive for obedience than a changed and grateful heart. And so the gospel of free grace is still the “stumbling block” it has always been, yet by the power of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that changes a sinner’s heart. This is why a justified believer will always produce “heat and energy”:

        John Newton: “The desires we feel towards Him [the Lord], faint and feeble as they are, are the effect of His own operation on our hearts, and what He plants he will water.  He does nothing by halves.  Far be it from us to think that He should make us sensible of our need of Him, teach us to pray for assistance, make so many express promises for our encouragement, and then disappoint us at last.”

        Returning to your question at the top: “Is your authority the Bible or the teaching of your Calvinists guru’s[sic] who contradict each other?”

        Answer: The Bible and the Reformers all agree that regeneration occurs before faith. That is fatal to Roman Catholicism. Every one of your indictments against the Bible and the Reformers is proven fallacious without resorting to deception, insults, anachronisms, mischaracterizations, fallacies, dreadful exegesis, man-made philosophies, and mere assertions — things that do not befit a Christian.
        It is crucial in this discussion to understand the difference between the “ground” of our salvation, and the “fruit” of our salvation. For the Bible-believing Christian, the only “ground” of salvation is the merit of Christ. The Bible knows nothing of adding the merits of men to the merits of Christ who completed His mission perfectly well without us (Galatians 3:3). If man cooperates for even a shred of his salvation, he nullifies the grace of God — that is what the book of Galatians is all about! And if you nullify the grace of God you have fallen away from the only means of salvation and will suffer the eternal consequences (Galatians 5:4). Soli Deo Gloria— To God alone be the glory.

        Fair-minded truth-seekers, here is a reliable resource for monergism & the Biblical doctrines of grace:
        Again, James White touches on many of the topics in your blogpost… starting at the 38 minute mark…

      • vivator / May 16 2016 8:58 pm

        You wrote “the entire system of Roman Catholic salvation depends on the reverse of that formula: i.e., faith before regeneration”. Pls do your homework and provides me and other readers the official source of your statement from the Church, not from R.C. Sproul or other Reformed sources. You may read the following link on the issue whether faith is before or after regeneration – whether regeneration is before or after faith is NOT Catholic issue:
        The word Regeneration is not even in the Catechism of the Catholic Church index. Its only appearance is in Cl. 1213: Baptism if the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.
        Before you apply “anachronism, equivocation, mischaracterization, redefinition, denial, dreadful exegesis, bad philosophy, etc” to me, why don’t you examine yourself whether those words are more applicable to you? In fact they are more applicable to you. Berkhof did write that the word regeneration was understood differently but he AND I never wrote that they are inauthentic or at best inconsistent. What Bekhof and others wrote are historical facts, which I simply quoted.
        I did not redefine monergism to oxymoron kind of “synergistic-monergism”. You made a false charge! Your Guru, R.C. Sproul himself (NOT ME!) wrote that sanctification is synergistic – and I provided you with all sources directly from him or his ministry. Why don’t you contact and ask him personally for clarification – he is still alive. Remember a Calvinist like Sproul is still a monergist even he believes in synergistic sanctification. I never wrote that Sproul is NO LONGER a monergist – it is your wild and unfounded imagination.
        You talk about justification and insist that it is one time event and by faith alone, i.e. parroting what the Reformers and your Gurus’ taught without even checking Scripture. Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4 are favourite verses to justify your position. When did Abraham have faith in God for the FIRST time? Was it in Gen 15:6 as cited in Romans 4:3? Hebrews 11:8 says (RSV) “by FAITH Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place”. This took place in Gen 12, i.e. it took place BEFORE Gen 15:6. If you are parroting in insisting that justification is one time event and by faith alone then why Paul did not cite Gen 12 in Romans 4:3? Was Abraham faith Gen 12 not genuine or not sufficient? Catholics who believe justification is a process and NOT by faith alone have no problem. In Romans 4:3 Paul simply wrote having faith is one act that is counted as righteousness and cited Gen 15:6 as example, even though Abraham did have faith before that in Gen 12 as affirmed by Heb 11:8. This matches with definition of being righteous as stated in 1 John 3:7. Again Romans 4:3 (and Galatians 3:6) says that faith is counted or reckoned as righteousness and does NOT say that righteousness is imputed on Abraham. If sanctification comes AFTER justification as you believe then why did Paul place the word “justified” AFTER “sanctified” and not before it in 1 Cor 6:11? If justification is one time event and by faith alone, how many times in NT Abraham was justified? NT mentions twice, in Romans (by faith) and in James (by his obedience) – definitely it is NOT one time event and NOT by faith alone. James 2:24 even openly denies justification by faith alone! Standard explanation is James talks about effect or fruit of justification while the one in Romans is about cause or source of justification. But both Romans and James use the SAME word justification – this standard explanation still implies there is more than one justification. The (passive) verb “justified” in Romans 5:1 is in aorist tense. The tense does indicate an action that happens in the past but does NOT indicate it to be a one time action.
        Romans 8:28-30 do not support your belief of one time justification either – in fact it supports Catholic position. Romans 8:30 says (RSV) “And those whom he predestines he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified”. Notice that Paul did not mention “sanctified”, which according to you must follow “justified”. Paul directly wrote “glorified” after justified”. If Romans 8:30 supports your belief then inspired by Holy Spirit Paul would place “sanctified” after “justified”. The “missing” sanctified” indicates that Romans 8:30 includes sanctification as part of justification, which is the Catholic scriptural position.
        Catholics do NOT and never believe that we contribute to our justification. It is your caricature of Catholicism, which you keep on believing (despite being explained so many times). Our justification comes from God’s grace and this is Catholic official teaching (CCC # 1996). Catholics are synergists but synergism does not imply we contribute to our salvation. Most monergists like you simply confuse (and keep on confusing to match your caricature of Catholicism) synergism with semi-pelagianism. You may re-read my revised post on this issue to clarify your polluted mind in
        You wrote “sanctification is not salvific, but the result or proof that a believer has been regenerated and justified”. Here you are just simply parroting what has been taught to you and blindly believe that. The irony is you also wrote later (in no 7) “first, according to Scripture sanctification is as salvific as lawn bowling”. You made contradicting statement! Perhaps you made mistake in the latter. My question for you is can a person be saved without sanctification if he/she continues living log after your justification? If no then sanctification is integral part of salvation – of course you may argue, that sanctification always follow your justification, another parroting statement. But this belief still implies that sanctification must be there in salvation.
        You wrote “election, regeneration, and justification are operative (monergistic) and salvific”. Catholics do believe in Election and this implies God alone chose whom He wants to be saved. If Election depends on, even partially, to us then we CANNOT call it Election. There is neither monergism nor synergism in Election. Regeneration is a belief unique to Monergists – as mentioned above Catholics only relates regeneration with sacrament of Baptism. Justification in Catholic teaching is a process and synergistic – I am aware of it and you don’t need to tell me.
        You wrote: “You cite Berkhof’s Systematic Theology in order to muddy the waters of sanctification: “The whole process [of conversion], however, is not monergistic. Once the operative grace of regeneration is given, the rest of the process is synergistic.” Well, Berkhof did not write this statement – it belongs to Sproul in Chosen by God. Do your home-work! This is what Berkhof wrote:
        Regeneration, then, is to be conceived monergistically. God alone works, and the sinner has no part in it whatsoever. This, of course, does not mean, that man does not co-operate in later stages of the work of redemption. It is quite evident from Scripture that he does.
        Berkhof, L: Systematic Theology, page 473
        You wrote “You claim that Berkhof, Sproul, Calvin, and the Canons of Dort disagree on whether regeneration precedes faith.” What I wrote is they understood the word “regeneration” differently and this is (historical) facts – I NEVER wrote they “disagree on whether regeneration prececes faith”. Another false accusation you made!
        Did Luther confusion comes from the Catholic Church? He was once a Catholic, no doubt that he still carried some Catholic belief. Luther confusion was his own problem and in no way it undermines the truth of Catholic teaching. Even Calvin believed that through Baptism all sins are forgiven, including (which is his addition) future sins. It is unlikely you believe such thing!
        Catholic do believe that after the Fall we still have free-will BUT WITHOUT GOD’GRACE we CANNOT use it to move himself to God’s justice in God’s (NOT MEN) sight. This is Catholic official position as stated in CCC # 1993 and Council of Trent. Monergist position is:
        after the fall, though the will itself remains free, its capacity for choice is limited by the sinfulness of human nature. Human beings retain the capacity of choice, but all choosing occurs in the context of sin.
        Donald K. Mc Kim (Editor): Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith, page 145

        If you pay close attention, you should notice that Catholic and Reformed positions on free-will are almost parallel, though they are not the same. Both imply the necessity of God’s grace, without which it is impossible for us to believe in Christ and to obey His Commandments. Catholic belief on free-will is not based on Libertan view and neither it is “merely making choice” as you falsely charge based on your caricature of Catholicism. If we still sin after God guarantee of assurance of strength and help (1 Cor 10:13), which is applicable to monergists as well (don’t tell me that monergists never commit sins after being “regenerated”) then it support synergism. If it supports monergism then nobody, after “being regenerated” will sin – if they do then God’s monergist act is not perfect. Catholics do believe that synergistic sanctification comes from and only possible with God’s Grace. And so do you. The reason why I raised the question: If you believe in synergistic sanctification does sanctification depend on free-will or on grace or on both?” is if some (and may not include you) monergists have no problem with synergistic sanctification why they have problem with synergism?
        Your exegesis of Rev 3:20 is poor. The verse starts with “if”, not “when”. If it starts with “when” then whenever Christ knocks then the occupants will open the door, as you rightly wrote. Unfortunately it starts with “if” – anything starts with if is conditional. Catholics have no problem with Acts 16:14 – even synergists believe that God, though His grace always FIRST moves us and without this Grace we cannot use our free-will to believe in God. You simply keep on caricaturing Catholicism to look like semi-pelagianism!
        Does Titus 3:5 support monergist regeneration? Even John Calvin, the founding father of your church relates Titus 3:5 with Baptism (Calvin Commentary on Bible is available for free on line at and so did Luther. Of course you may disagree with them – they were not your authority and will never be. Your authority is your interpretation of the Bible, tailored to meet your predefined belief. Your “exegesis” of Titus 3:5 is good example. Can you quote from Berkhof, Sproul etc. that cite on Titus 3:5 to support monergism? Perhaps they did – after all it is your belief, do your home-work!
        You are entitled to believe that the Church established by Jesus is not the Catholic Church and I am also entitled to believe that your church are established by men (Joh Calvin etc.), fifteen centuries after His Death on the Cross. I won’t be that stupid to believe in what the link you provide wrote about “history of the church”, which in fact is a custom made tailored history.
        You wrote “Finally, a correct biblical understanding of justification answers your tired question: “If you don’t have good works as effect or proof of your salvation, then are you saved?” The better question is: “When a person is truly regenerated and justified, will that person respond with works that demonstrate his salvation?” My counter question for you for the answer you provide: how do you measure the amount or frequency of works that demonstrates his salvation? This question may never cross your mind but it is essential – otherwise a person may say that he/she does god work once a year and claims that he has sufficient proof of his/her salvific faith.
        Your claim that Catholics reject your gospel of monergistic grace because they don’t want to lose their incentive to obey is simply baseless. Maybe you believed that when you were Catholic, but you cannot generalize for every Catholics (who in general know little about their faith and therefore can be easily calvinized like you). Catholics have no problem with you statement that by the power of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that changes a sinner’s heart. As mentioned again and again, which you keep on forgetting (or pretending to forget because you want to continue caricaturing Catholicism) synergism do believe that God’ efficacious grace precedes and it governs our free-will. Catholics do NOT believe that we contribute anything in our salvation. Following Scripture (John 5:25-29; Romans 2:6-7) we do believe that God reward us with eternal life from our works but they are gifts to us, not something we deserve. Your claim that synergism nullifies grace of God is even baseless and not even scriptural. The Greek verb sunergeo, meaning work together and from where we get the word “synergism”, appears five times in NT. On the other hand Greek verb monergeo may not even exist in Greek and nowhere appears in NT – yet you still keep on parroting on “scriptural based monergism” which does not exist in NT, despite your long explanation quoting verses that have nothing to do with either monergism or synergism. The Greek word sunergos, usually translated as co-worker or fellow worker also appears in NT like in 1 Cor 3:9. By being co-worker with God we do NOT nullify His Grace as you falsely claim!

  7. boxerpaws / Jul 24 2012 4:35 am

    Reblogged this on CPANDF.

  8. Emily / Oct 6 2010 2:06 pm

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this post!!! I have been going in circles trying to understand the particular differences between the Catholic and Calvinist positions on predestination, but was not quite able to get it straight in my mind until I read this! What a relief! You explained it in a way that makes perfect sense to me. God bless you! Also, after reading your post, a whole lot of the other stuff I was reading about predestination finally makes sense! I am a Catholic woman married to an Evangelical Presbyterian, so it is very important for me to learn both sides of this (and several other) key issue(s). Please pray for my husband and that my faith would be strengthened despite our religious differences. Thank you again!

  9. vivator / Aug 19 2010 6:50 pm

    Dear Scott,
    Thank you for the comments. It seems you don’t read the whole article because the questions you asked are already answered. For your convenience I copied relevant part of my article.

    Your two questions are: (1) How is it possible to believe in predestination to heaven but not predestination to hell? and (2) Does it mean that God does not actively work unbelief in others but they don’t have the natural ability to come to Christ?

    One way to explain it is using Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In the parable the Master gave different number of talents to his three servants according to their abilities. The Master obviously had the right to decide how many talents each servant received. The servant with only one talent was later condemned. Yet his Master did not intend to condemn him by giving him only one talent. Had he deposited it in the bank he would be fine like the other two. The servant was condemned for his own wrong action, i.e. hiding the single talent entrusted to him. Thus Catholics believe that condemnation of the Reprobate always involves their freedom to reject God’s Grace – in other words they are responsible for their damnation.

    Using simple analogy we can explain single predestination in this way. You intend to organize a party and you invite ALL your friends to come. They cannot come unless they are invited – but some, though invited, refuse to come for whatever reasons. Applying the same analogy to Calvinism it means that you, the party organizer, decided who will receive invitation and who will not. Those who receive invitation cannot refuse it and those uninvited will not come because they are not aware of the party.

    • Jeph / Feb 1 2012 11:43 am

      Your last analogy representing the Calvinist position on predestination is faulty and unhelpful.

      First, Calvinism DOES teach that God has chosen from eternity past those whom he would draw unto faith in His Son by His grace, but when the elect is drawn, it is not against their will that they would believe – but to borrow St. Augustine’s words “they are assisted to the point of being willing.” Thus your words “they cannot refuse it” which seems to imply that in Calvinism the elect are drawn against their will to trust in Christ for Salvation is proved to be a strawman.

      Second, it is true that Calvinism teaches Predestination as unconditional and exclusive, but historical Calvinists would also contend that the invitation of the Gospel to “repent and believe” is universal. There is no such thing as “those uninvited will not come because they are not aware of the party” – as if the gospel is kept from the reprobate for them to not be able to believe. The reprobate’s inability to believe is not caused by God’s denying them the information about the party (Salvation), but a consequence of their being dead in Sin. They may hear the gospel and know it, but they would not savingly respond to it by faith because they would not – and therefore cannot, as 1 Corinthians 2:14 and 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 clearly states. (Note that the elect are also of the same misery before they were called).

      Next time you should be careful in presenting analogies to describe doctrinal positions and see to it that you have understood and studied in depth what you are representing so you would avoid gross misrepresentations like this one.

    • Jeph / Feb 1 2012 12:39 pm

      And may I add that no simple illustrative analogy can be made to accurately describe what the Salvation (as a whole) is like in the historical reformed perspective. The reason why is that for Calvinists salvation involves unfathomable miracles and mysteries such as the taking away of the stony heart in the sinner and replacing it with a heart of a flesh to effect conversion (regeneration), the effectual drawing of the elect unto faith without violating their freewill, etc.

      For example, you may have heard of the “T-shirt” analogy where Arminians are portrayed as the shopper choosing the t-shirt (men choosing salvation), and the Calvinist being the shopper who has been chosen by the t-shirt (salvation choosing certain men). Such a cheap analogy is obviously made only for the purpose of ridiculing Calvinism which course would be proven grossly inaccurate when examined by an honest comparison to the actual reformed position (e.g. Notice that God is absent in that t-shirt illustration, and also take note that Calvinists don’t teach that it was Salvation who chose people; rather, God chose people UNTO Salvation. Also missing are some fundamental elements of reformed soteriology such as man’s inability to turn to God on their own powers and God’s active role in the conversin of His chosen people).

      I repeat, no simple illustrative analogy can represent the reformed soteriology in its entirety. Yet, of course, if dissected into smaller details, illustrations can be made (occasionaly). For example, a rotten corpse in the graveyard (which can neither see, hear, feel, or move) is an illustration often used to describe man’s inability to respond to God’s call apart from the divine enablement; the full right of the potter to mold the lump of clay according as he pleases illustrating God’s sovereignty over men’s choices, etc.

      But mind you, the scope of these illustrations are limited only to the particular point of doctrine which they are trying to describe. If you know what I mean.

      • vivator / Feb 6 2012 9:34 pm

        An analogy is used to explain something in a way easier to understand. Certainly it cannot represent the real thing – it only helps to understand it.

  10. Scott / Aug 18 2010 5:49 pm

    How is it possible to believe in predestination to heaven but not predestination to hell? A Lutheran tried explaining it to me once, but I don’t think he made sense. Does it mean that God does not actively work unbelief in others but they don’t have the natural ability to come to Christ? Because if that is the case, ‘single’ predestination is exactly the same as double predestination, at least the way Calvinists use the term.
    And how can you believe in Predestination but not the perseverence of the elect?

  11. Susan Peterson / Jan 26 2010 6:33 pm

    Dear Eric,
    It would not be disrespectful at all to attend mass. Only Catholics can receive communion but you are most welcome at mass. You may find that rather than greet you as a new person and try to draw you in, as happens in many Protestant churches, people just ignore you. I went to daily mass for several months before I was received into the church, and no one spoke to me, although they smiled. But after I went up and received communion, they all congratulated me and said “We’ve all been praying for you.”

    If you don’t get help from the first priest you ask, please try a different priest and maybe a different parish. Scott Hahn found one priest who told him to stay Presbyterian and work for Christian unity, and another “a profane chain smoking priest” who was totally uninterested in him and his questions. But he persisted and eventually found people to help him.

    God bless you on your journey. Those who seek the truth shall find it.
    Susan Peterson

  12. vivator / Nov 11 2009 7:39 pm

    What you need to do is to contact local Catholic parish and check whether they have RCIA program. In the meantime I would recommend this link:

  13. Eric / Nov 11 2009 3:19 am

    Wow, this is a great article and a very comforting Catholic position. I am currently a member a Reformed Protestant church, and I am starting to believe that I need to cross over to the Roman Catholic position.

    This is a very exciting time for me, and at the same time, an extremely hard time for me. Thanks for this article, it is just another topic that helps me find common ground in this extremely emotional transfer.

    Also, now that I am very much convinced that the Roman Catholic church is correct, what do I do? Where do go to seek council? Do I just enter a Catholic church and explain myself? I don’t know if it is disrespectful to attend the mass while I feel so confused about a few things.


    • Karina Olson / Dec 27 2009 7:42 pm

      Dear Eric,

      I was raised fundamentalist Baptist, went to Bible College and faithfully served Christ from a calvinistic perspective for 15 years. 5 years ago after much prayer and discernment my husband and our family joined the Catholic Church. This was nothing we had ever been looking for, and would never have imagined “could happen to us.”

      When in our pursuit of truth we stumble upon seeming flaws in our doctrine… it is very un-settling. Total-depravity had made me uncomfortable, I felt intuitively that it contradicted God’s revelation of Himself, yet my professors and textbooks said that this was the biblical reality. When I began questioning the warnings in the epistles which seemed to imply that believers ought to have concern for their eternal destination, my friends kept shushing me and no one encouraged me keep examining the scripture… I kept being told what a correct understanding was… in spite of the seeming scriptural contradiction.

      My dear brother in Christ there is nothing more exciting, nor frightening than to pursue truth at any cost, regardless of where it might take you. But when we are courageous enough to ask Christ to “reveal Himself to us fully” many of us are unaware that he may show to us aspects of His incarnation that we never encountered before. He brings us to the “Eucharist” and “the Church” to accept this part of Himself requires a level of faith and trust and comes at a cost we might never have fathomed but is so worth it.

      My prayers for your heart to be strengthened and your spirit to be able to discern what is good and right and true. The Roman Catholic Church is not always comfortable, but if you really study the Word of God, I believe you will find she is the most “biblical,” Her teachings are sound, credible and her sacraments are what Christ gave us for our good and our salvation. Grace and Peace, know you are in my prayers.

      Check into the Coming Home Network, it is very useful.

    • ana moore / Aug 25 2011 11:42 am

      It is not disrespectful to attend mass it is however, disresptful and wrong to receive the Eucharist. This is the body of our Lord and until you have become a Roman Catholic you may not receive it. But the church welcomes everyone to come and join her. Learn all you can about her, she is gentle and gracious. Ask our Blessed Mother to help you get the answers you need while you can directly talk to Jesus, Mama Mary can intercede and plead your case to Him so that He can help you on your walk back home to the Catholic Faith, God Bless you Eric on you journey.
      PS also watch EWTN(Eternal Word Television Network) the is a show Journey Home about converts might help you!

  14. John Dougherty / Jul 17 2009 5:56 pm


    Just discovered this… am due to lead a discussion regarding Ephesians 1:1-14 and have been trying to get my head around predestination. I have found this difficult to get my head around. I am currently in the Anglican (Episcopalian) church and find that having both the catholic and reformed theologies to draw from very difficult!

    Being raised catholic I find that when I listen to reformed teaching there is something within me that cannot go there. Thank you for your blog which has thoughtfully presented both views. Very much appreciated. You have affirmed my inner catholic!



    • Raj / Apr 9 2011 2:03 pm

      Best way to find the truth is to obey God’s word. (not your ‘inner’ anything..)

      John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you…”
      John 6:39 “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
      John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

  15. Matt / Aug 11 2008 12:48 pm

    wow, great post – it was just what I was looking for. Thank you so much! Matt

  16. Greg / Oct 17 2007 6:30 pm


    I have recently come accross your site, and like it very much.

    I have a brother, who is a Calvinist. He is very devout, and I respect him greatly. I am a Catholic, and am fairly convinced that our interpretations of certain major diffenences with the Calvinists, and other Protestant sects, is correct.

    A recent conversation my brother and I had was about Free Will, and the Catholic view that a person is able to lose their salvation by refusing to no longer accept God’s grace via our Free Will.

    This is against Calvinist teaching, since they believe in that salvation is irrestible (and other Protestant sects that believe in “once saved, always saved”)

    As I read Chapters 4, 5, and 6 in Galatians – it seems very clear to me that Paul is speaking to what he considers to be “saved” people. And he appears to be repeatedly instructing them to keep their current justified status with God. The only reason I would think he would be telling them this, is that Paul believes that they can lose their current salvation by not keeping the Faith…..through through own Free Will.

    Am I interpreting these chapters correctly?



    • Patty Bonds / Jul 14 2012 9:23 pm

      Yes, you are.

      Patty Bonds

    • Graced1 / Oct 25 2012 5:55 pm

      The book of Galatians does not contradict itself or other books of the New Testament. Your take on chapters 4, 5, and 6 would force such a contradiction.

      “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Gal. 3:3

      “… yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” Gal. 2:16

      You say you want to “keep the faith” by your own “free will”? The standard you are required to keep is perfection:
      “I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Gal. 5:3, 4.

      “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
      Romans 9:16

      The whole point of Galatians is that faith alone, in Christ alone, frees you from the bondage of the law and sin. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Gal. 4:7 Once you are truly and legally adopted, you are irrevocably in the family (of God).

      • vivator / Oct 25 2012 6:10 pm

        You left comment to my post on predestination where I did not quote or refer to any verse in Galatians. Why Catholics do not believe in justification by faith alone is explained in my page on comparing justification (which you can find in the top bar below the title of the blog).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: