Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tabula Predestinationis Bezae Contra Canerum et Pattersonum et Vineum

Tabula Predestinationis Bezae Contra Canerum et Pattersonum et Vineum

“Calvinism was altered by Beza.”

“Beza made predestination the head of all doctrine.”

“We disagree with the Bezian/Dortian system.”

“I disagree with your Bezian presuppositions.”

“Calvin may not have been/was not a Calvinist.”

All of these remarks have appeared in recent statements made by Ergun Caner, Paige Patterson, and/or Jerry Vines in the past year. They frequently appear in anti-Calvinist sermons. Given that most of my Baptist brethren are unfamiliar with Theodore Beza in particular, these statements require some response; but my brethren are probably too unfamiliar with the material to respond. In my portion of this series for SBF, I would like to focus on the historical – theological claims being made, as they are all, in my opinion, “working from the same script.”

I want to be clear, my presentation is not about the merit of Beza’s theology or everything he wrote, nor the merits of the theology of Drs. Caner, Vines, or Patterson. Rather, I am confining my remarks to the historical claims being made by these persons with respect to the development of Reformed theology.

Let me begin by pointing out that all theology develops in some manner. The Apostle’s Creed did not fall from the sky by the hands of angels, nor did the Creeds of Nicea and Chalcedon or any historic confession. Frequently, theology has been written in dialogue with that which is considered schismatic. Scripture is the raw material of which good theology is made, but the form of the articulation develops in response to the needs of the day. For example, you will not find a 19th century theologian interacting with the arguments put forth by Clark Pinnock and Greg Boyd, because Open Theism was not on the table when John L. Dagg, James A. Boyce, and the Hodges were writing theology. Today, you’ll find theology texts that make a point to interact with Open Theism.

Second, this discussion will intersect with the phenomenon known as “Protestant Scholasticism.” The reigning theological method from the twelfth century through the late seventeenth century was known as scholasticism with the interregnum of the Reformation being strongly influenced by Renaissance humanism. Humanism drew men back to the original sources; and the original sources, the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible, served as the basis for a form of exegesis that challenged many of the doctrines that dominated the late medieval church. The 1550s, however, left Protestant scholars with the challenge of teaching theology in newly formed academies. These theologians had the responsibility of systematizing the exegetical theology of such founding figures as Luther and Calvin. They resorted to the method of teaching systematic theology-scholasticism-that they themselves had learned as students. This new Protestant scholasticism retained the same method used in the Roman Catholic schools, but adopted the doctrinal norms of the Reformation.

Historians have traditionally viewed the post-Reformation dogmaticians as rigid and inflexible, advocating a dead dogmatism that obscured the vital Christocentric approach of the early reformers. This approach has focused on the discontinuity between the Reformation and post-Reformation era and finds its roots in the nineteenth century dogmaticians such as Heinrich Heppe who argued that predestination served as the central and controlling doctrine in the theological systems of such important post-Reformation figures as Theodora Beza. Beza placed predestination at the beginning of his Tabula Praedestationes, before his discussion of the doctrines of creation and salvation. This organizational change from Calvin's positioning of the topic led, allegedly, to a rigid system controlled by the divine decrees. Such terms as "speculative" or "rigid" were pejorative when compared to the adjectives such as "vital" or "Christocentric" applied to the writings of Luther and Calvin.[i] I will contend that Drs. Caner, Patterson, et. al., are merely repeating these often cited and clichéd remarks, and, in so doing, are ignoring the source documents themselves. Thus, their case is vastly overstated.

The thesis that Beza’s Tabula is a system or prospectus for a system begins not in antiquity, but in the 19th century, with Heppe. William Cunningham’s work published in 1862, one year after his death, dealt with this directly in chapter seven[ii], so it is not as if there was no response to this thesis from the time it was first put forth. One wonders if Dr. Caner, for one, has ever bothered to read it. In the 19th century, historians and theologians were greatly concerned with identifying what they believed to be a unifying theme in theology, which they alleged formed the central theme of the theologies they critiqued. Some of their claims have proven to have more merit than others. For example, the claim that Arminianism is largely organized around libertarian free will is a claim that Arminians themselves have readily admitted. Our concern here is to examine the Tabula and see for ourselves if, as Dr. Caner in particular has asserted, Beza made predestination the head of all doctrine in a manner that deeply affected the development of Reformed theology, particularly in a manner that differed with Calvin substantially.

Who was Beza?

Theodore Beza, in Reformed theology, stands in relation to Calvin much the way that Melancthon stands in relation to Luther among the Lutherans. It should also go without saying that Calvin does not function for the Reformed the way that Luther functions for Lutherans. At the time the Tabula was written, Calvin was still living. Even if there were to be found some discrepancy between Beza and Calvin, Calvin is merely the name of the theological leader of the most successful Reformed community of the Magisterial Reformation, Geneva, but he was a contemporary of Haller, Bullinger, Beza, Bucer, and the French Reformers. His name is not invoked because his theological thoughts are considered of special status beyond the others. Likewise, much of Calvin can be found in the work of Bucer independently of Calvin and even Gottschalk many centuries prior.

There is no documentary evidence of tension between Calvin and Beza. Beza served as Calvin's ambassador to some of the most important colloquies etc from 1557-63, even before Beza came to Geneva. Beza was defending Calvin against Bolsec in the mid fifties already. Beza was Calvin's most trusted advisor. He succeeded Calvin as the president of the company of pastors until 1580. Neither is there any evidence that Calvin rejected Beza's formulations. was not shy about criticizing those whom he believed to have erred seriously, and Beza wrote the Tabula in direct dialogue with Calvin. A priori rationalism? I deny this charge as well for Beza. He was and remained a great humanist[iii] scholar who didn't begin publishing theology until the mid 1550's (when he was in his early 30's). He was quite adept at reading texts in context and interpreting them according to their intent, and he supplied exegetical arguments for his theology. His theology was inductive. Hence, he derived his doctrine of predestination from Scripture, not natural theology, not “a priori rationalism.” Remember, he lectured on the Greek New Testament for ten years before he ever came to Geneva.

The Tabula was published in 1555, in the context of the Bolsec Controversy. He was not directly involved in the proceedings between Calvin and Bolsec, but he was Calvin’s ally, and Calvin averred to the literary skill of Beza in the course of the debates. During the debate, Beza corresponded on the topic, as he wrote his Tabula between 1551-55, and we possess documentation that he corresponded with Bullinger, Calvin, Vermigli, and Haller. The Tabula was thus composed with the Bolsec Controversy as a backdrop between 1551 and 1555 and published at the time of the final discussions with the Bernese.

Given this correspondence, it is difficult to see how Beza said anything that “changed” Reformed doctrine and of which his contemporaries would have disapproved. Peter Martyr Vermigli’s correspondence shows praise of Beza’s work. Beza also interacted with Calvin concerning Calvin’s own Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, and, along with Bullinger, showed concerns that Calvin’s tendency to index his responses to Pighius’ work itself by taking Pighius’ form was wont to provide a fully orbed response. Beza also took pains to edit his own work to bring out Scriptural proofs and specific refutations into a proper order. The reason, therefore, that there appears to be a discrepancy between Calvin and Beza in their ordering of their thinking is that Calvin had a particular foil in mind, Pighius, and he pegged his responses to Pighius’ work. Calvin was also a pastor and wrote with an understanding of how the “average person,” particularly the person who did not believe or understand the Reformed view of the doctrine of election should learn it. Beza, by way of contrast, wanted to give what he believed to be a more comprehensive and organized methodological response to a different foil, Bolsec, and, as we shall see, Calvin’s own work licensed Beza to do this..

Bolsec had accused Reformed theology of “making God the Author of Sin” (sound familiar?). His overall views reflect the synergism of medieval theology. Calvin had little to say to Bolsec at this time, because he had said much to Pighius in response already. Also, compared to Pighius, Bolsec had the appearance of a dilettante.

Bolsec was a Thomist, and he followed Aquinas in asserting that predestination is first to grace and then glory. The Reformed, in contrast, asserted that predestination is to glory first then grace. The former is a synergistic construction when applied to soteriology; the latter is monergistic. That is, Bolsec affirmed that election is grounded with a view to those who would obey the gospel (e.g. foreseen faith/perseverance) and reprobation is grounded toward the rebellion of the others.

Bolsec also said we should appeal to faith and election together. Norman Geisler today, also a Thomist, has made virtually the same statements in his Chosen But Free. Bolsec essentially put forth the notion that, because there is not past, present, or future with God, rather, due to God’s timelessness, He knows all thing in one single eternal decree by way of “eternal simultaneity,” election and faith are thus to be considered simultaneous. This was the gist of Pighius’ view as well.

Aside from the fact that this construction becomes functionally meaningless when Geisler and his Reformation counterparts employed it, because they invariably come back to saying election is based on foreseen faith, this fails to make some elementary distinctions. The order of which we speak is not temporal; it is logical. The Reformed then, and today, believed that this was not a difficult thing to understand, and, in fact, little children could grasp it.

For starters, God does have a concept of cause and effect in that logic is an attribute of God's mind. He does understand that in order for x to occur as a concrete instance of what is in his mind, y must come to pass. It's an ends-means relation. We understand cause and effect and the antecedence of x to y; ergo God does too, or else we have no ground for the logical process. God also grounds the passage of time in His creation. His own Word recognizes that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The very terms "in the beginning" and "before the foundation of the world," are about a cause-effect relation and a logical relation. God does exist outside of time, but that also means He orders and grounds time.

Bolsec (and Geisler) are conflating ontology and teleology. The timelessness of God does not mean there is no teleological order to His attributes or the working of His mind. Ontologically, God is unaffected by relational sequence as to His person, but He is conscious of sequential duration, because sequential duration is a part of the ordering of his decree, which reflects the order of his mind. We know this because we have a sense of past, present, and future that, because it exists and will exist, is grounded by His mind. For God, all of these are internally intuited and not arrived at chronologically through a process, but the concept or idea of durational sequence or succession is a distinct epistemological, not ontological category. God knows all our thoughts and actions in the past, present, and future, and at the same time knows His own thoughts and actions in relation to each other and to our own and in what order. Thus, He can inspire Paul to say, "He chose before He created." He knows that He created the sea and dry land before He created birds and fish and animals and man.

What’s more, even without these considerations, as the Reformed have consistently stated since before the rise of Arminianism, there is no text of Scripture that says that election is based on foreseen faith; that theological construction in Arminianism and medieval synergism is derived not from Scripture but from Thomism; and Arminius’ own objections to unconditional election reflect the same objections from the same sources, not Scripture. Likewise, just as our modern critics, Bolsec confused primary and secondary causality, and Beza’s Tabula, as had Calvin’s responses to Pighius’ discussed this at length, since this failure to discriminate between the order of being and the order of knowing spills over into the failure to discriminate between distant and proximate causes and the modality in which decrees are seen to be executed, as well as the distinctions between necessary and sufficient conditions within Reformed Theology.

A concrete example would be something like this: Election is unconditional in the sense that human merit (or responsiveness) is not a necessary or sufficient condition of election. God does not choose according to human merit (or responsiveness). By contrast, demerit is a necessary, but insufficient, condition of reprobation. It is insufficient inasmuch as everyone is sinful, so God does not damn anyone for that reason alone—otherwise, everyone would be damned. It is, however, a necessary condition, for God doesn’t damn the innocent, but the guilty.

Put another way, a decree makes a thing certain, but it does not, in itself execute the result. Decrees are necessary, but not sufficient in themselves. Election is a necessary condition of election, but a man must believe. Election is executed by a positive intervention of God by the effectual call and the Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses this instrumentality to regenerate the heart of man, and he believes and repents. He is converted and justified. Thus, election requires calling, and it is this work that God does that is sufficient as a condition to effectuate the decree of election and cause a person to believe and repent, thereby satisfying the necessary and sufficient conditions of salvation (from our perspective), since justifying faith is not alone and will continue by perseverance to the end, by the preserving power of the means of grace, the Word of God, the mortification of sin, all by the grace of God Himself working in that person.

Reprobation as the decree is the flip-side of election, finding its ground in God not demerit. Bolsec conflated reprobation and damnation (just like Drs. Caner and Vines and the other anti-Calvinists). It’s true, as a decree, it can be construed as “unconditional” finding its terminus in God’s will alone apart from demerit, but as preterition, all the reprobate are simply passed over in their sins, in this secondary sense, related to the cause of damnation, so the relation is not symmetrical as to its execution. When Scripture speaks of the hardening of the heart, very often it is speaking of men who have seen plain and otherwise incontrovertible evidence from their experience of miracles, hearing the message, and study of Scripture (as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day or Pharaoh or even Judas Iscariot). In that event, this hardening proceeds as a temporal judgment for sin, since God can begin exacting judgment on such sin before a man dies.

Using Bolsec’s charge that Reformed theology “makes God the Author of Sin,” we can then see the problem is not only a conflation of ontology and teleology relative to election and reprobation and the consequent conflation of reprobation/preterition and damnation, but a conflation of necessary and sufficient conditions. These failures are symptomatic of a larger failure, namely the confusion of cause and effect, which we often lay at the feet of unbelievers, particularly atheists and evolutionists.

God is the author of evil, in the sense that He is first cause of all things. This simply goes with the pay grade. His decrees, through either action or inaction render events necessary, but, evil is the result of effacious permission, not His direct causation, or a result of His judicial hardening of sinners, an act of justice Scripture supports repeatedly, as in Romans 9 and in Romans 1. Nothing happens that compels a man or demon to act in a way it does not wish to act or against its nature. He may withhold constraining grace, as in the fall, in order to render a thing certain, but the agent of the evil, in this case Adam simply acts in accordance with his nature as a second cause, for reasons and motives sufficient for himself and arising from his own nature. Men thus do what God decrees, but for motives all their own. In so doing, they may incur judgment. In this way men act as infallibly as if they had no liberty, yet as freely as if there was no decree rendering their acts certain. See, for example, the predestination of Judas betrayal and Jesus crucifixion. These men did, with evil desires, what God desired and planned to happen since before creation, for Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world itself. The point here is the responsibility is a necessary, but insufficient condition for moral blame. The blame lies not with the distant or primary cause, but the close or proximate cause of an act, for he/she complies with the sovereign decree of God while hating God, and/or His people in the process. Judas was predestined to betray Christ, but he did not betray Christ because He loved Him and wanted to ensure that He would die for the sins of His people. He betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver, and had even been pilfering the purse during Jesus’ ministry.

Beza agreed on the distinction between God’s decree and its execution, largely mirroring the logical distinctions between a necessary and sufficient condition. He did this because this is what he saw in Scripture. Calvin himself had already used these distinctions in his commentary on Ephesians and his commentaries on Romans and John. He had also discussed them in the Institutes.[iv] Beza appears not to change Calvin, but to follow Calvin in his way of expressing these distinctions.

He may also have taken up this issue in response to discussions among the Swiss Reformed in which they expressed concerns about reprobation and damnation. Were they one and the same? Sampaulier and others not only insisted that reprobation laid on foreknowledge of the fall but they also collapsed reprobation and damnation. Beza responded by distinguishing between issues of order and of temporal priority. This is in line with distinguishing between reprobation and damnation and primary and secondary causality. The bulk of the Reformed confessions have followed this same distinction, with the exception of the Second Helvetic Confession, though it does not ground reprobation as a decree in the foreknowledge of the fall. Beza saw Bolsec’s objections for what they were, medieval Thomism and medieval synergism.

Bolsec and Bullinger did share a common distaste for the possibility of a symmetrical modality in the execution of the decree of election and it’s flip side, reprobation in both Calvin and Beza. That debate would remain within Reformed theology to the present in the discussions between supralapsarians and infralapsarians of the following eras, which we will take up in a subsequent article in this series.

The Tabula Itself

Contrary to critics, Beza opens not with his own words but the words of Augustine. He wished to begin by asserting that predestination is a very delicate topic, but it was important to consider, because it is a biblical doctrine and a doctrine that should draw men’s attention to the contemplation of the majesty and glory of God and His grace and not themselves.

Beza is careful to show that God’s glory is not an end to itself, relative to the teaching function of the Tabula. Rather, his concern is soteriological and Christological. Indeed the Tabula addresses only two doctrines: predestination and Christology.

Bolsec said that both election and reprobation must be grounded in human choice, ergo the decree was dependent upon human choice, not antecedent to these considerations. Beza immediately saw this for what it was, nothing less than the synergism of Romanism. More importantly, it was exegetically untenable. Beza also sought to point out that God’s willing all things does not mean that God wills all things in the same manner. Bolsec’s contemporaries today fail to make these same distinctions.

Beza’s Method

Ergun Caner has repeatedly stated that Beza “made predestination the head of all doctrine,” as if Beza began with this assumed presupposition and then proceeded to teach all theology around it, and that this is somehow at variance with Calvin’s own views. We will now, therefore, move to a discussion of this order within the Tabula.

Bolsec had demanded not to be answered with vain similitudes but Scripture. Beza agreed, and, as if anticipating his critics today, included an extended list of Scripture proofs. He was, after all, an exegete. It is from this exegesis that he derived his theology.

As to order, Calvin followed an a posteriori, teleological (order of knowing) order, in his Institutes, reasoning pastorally, that we should reason from the secondary causes which we know and see to the primary causes, which we do not obviously know or see. Beza chose, however, to follow an a priori, ontological (order of being) order. Positioned in this fashion, predestination/election would appear in a text not under the header of soteriology[v], but under the header of Theology Proper.[vi] If the teleological order is followed, the reverse is true, and you find predestination/election under soteriology. This would indicate we are to examine predestination not ontologically by the order of decrees, but by the examination of our faith.

It is likely, in my opinion, that Dr. Caner and our modern critics, including some Amyraldians, play on this to insinuate that if we approach the matter ontologically, we are using a “decretal grid,” (even imposing it on Scripture) and buying into the tendency of hyper-Calvinism when, in its evangelism, it tells folks they need a warrant to believe based on some sort of subjective sense that they are elect by God’s decree. (These are, of course, the same folks who insist that general atonement must underwrite the general call, so they are the ones who are looking for warrants to believe, not us, but I digress). What’s more, Beza was a supralapsarian. So, if you are or are perceived to be a supralapsarian (either classical or modified), they will accuse you of hyper-Calvinism. Do you see, now, how all of these assertions go together? These accusations are all rooted, in my opinion, in their misreading of Beza, and it makes me wonder if they have ever bothered to read Beza for his own merits. Moreover, if there was a discrepancy with Calvin, why was Bullinger concerned that Calvin’s views, not just Beza’s, could be construed to result in equal ultimacy (that is, a symmetrical execution of both election and reprobation)?

Calvin had already told Bolsec that God’s will is the supreme cause and necessity of all things.[vii] In The Eternal Predestination of God, Calvin has stated that election precedes faith by the divine order, but the individual sees not the decree but the effect of it, which is his faith[viii], and in the Institutes, he said that although the initial understanding of election must follow the teleological order, the ontological order must also be taught and confessed in order to keep believers from being mislead by an exclusive emphasis on the effects of God’s will. He wrote:

If we try to penetrate to God’s eternal ordination, that deep abyss will swallow us up. But when God has made plain His ordination to us, we must climb higher, lest the effect overwhelm the cause. For when Scripture teaches that we are illumined according as God has chosen us, what is more absurd and unworthy than for our eyes to be so dazzled by the brilliance of this light as to refuse to be mindful of election?[ix]

Beza’s Tabula presents the ontological order in its chart. He chose this order, therefore, because he is presenting this component of theological education and wanted to respond to Bolsec’s failure to discriminate between primary and secondary causality and the order of being and the order of knowing. The Tabula was written to supply the very referent Calvin had noted should be taught and confessed.

Beza’s own explanation is that believers do not learn of election by following the chart from top to bottom (the order of being he presents) but from the bottom up (as Calvin stated).[x] He also wrote that “unless there is some significant reason to do otherwise believers should ascend from the lowest degrees up to the highest.”[xi] What is his warrant for this? Is it “rationalism?” No, it is Scripture, for he cites that this is precisely Paul’s order in Romans. Paul begins with the depravity of man, justification by faith, sanctification, and then proceeds to predestination and election and reprobation. Beza said that this is the Pauline order and the order to be followed.[xii] Further, he even said that “this is the order for all theology.”[xiii] Thus, Beza did not view the order of the Tabula to be the primary order of theological investigation as a whole within the Reformed tradition, as Dr. Caner has insinuated!

In 1559, Calvin restructured the Institutes by moving the doctrine of providence from its a posteriori location with predestination and placing it in the a priori position, in the doctrine of God. Much has been made of this. The common allegation is that Calvin removed predestination (not providence) from its usual placement in the doctrine of God and positioned it in soteriology, but it had been there since 1539! Beza’s Tabula was written in 1555, four years before the restructuring. There is no record of Calvin disagreeing with Beza’s work or his order. Beza’s ordering simply takes what Calvin said about the ordering and teaching seriously, and he fills in the material that Calvin stated was to be confessed and learned.

Is the Tabula a prospectus for an entire theology or a method for teaching theology? As we have already seen, with respect to method, Beza did not believe this was the case with respect to the method. It is also not readily apparent that he intended it to be a prospectus for a systematic theology. Aside from predestination, the only other topic that is greatly developed is Christology. He presents no methodological system whatsoever.

Like Calvin who viewed Christ as the mirror of election, Beza, in chapter 2 declared predestination the primary source and foundation of salvation; then in chapter 4, he built his Christology around the idea that we cannot rest merely on the fruits of faith but on Christ Himself, as the ground and assurance or rest. There is, in his view, no eternal decree of predestination apart from Christ. The center of Beza’s theology is, therefore, not predestination, but Christ. Christ stands over predestination, all predestination is “in Christ,” and “there can be no enactment or execution of election apart from Christ, in whom the divine Word is Incarnate.[xiv] This is wholly in line with Calvin’s Christology and his doctrine of predestination as well.

In conclusion, in this brief treatment, we have now examined the Tabula, and we have found the claims of Drs. Caner, Patterson, and others without merit. They should jettison this clichéd and trite portion of their script. Alternatively, rather than producing sound bite responses in their lectures or their responses to James White[xv] about “Bezian presuppositions,” they should produce their own treatment of the material to substantiate their claims. It is easy to misrepresent dead men or to repeat one hundred and fifty years of criticism uncritically; it is easy to feed a flock that is not familiar with the material those sound bites, but it is quite another to actually interact with men like Richard Muller, R. Scott Clark, William Cunningham (in the 19th century no less!), Carl Trueman, John L. Farthing, Jeffrey Mallinson, and scores of others going back before the 60’s to Paul Oscar Kristeller . It has sometimes been asked, when we Reformed / Sovereign Grace Baptists respond to these claims, why we appeal to Paedobaptist theologians and historians. We do it, because our own Baptist theologians have become too indolent and they have long neglected the study of this period of history and have, instead, relied on the likes of Heinrich Heppe, Kickel, Armstrong, and Bray to do the work for them. They also have a tendency, perhaps as a reflection of the ecclesiastical battles with Paedobaptists in the 19th century, to concentrate on Baptist history, but we do not live in a theological or a historical vacuum chamber.

One more if to anticipate his modern Baptist critics, Beza, humanist and exegete that he was, obliged us with extended lists of proofs from the Word of God in direct response to Bolsec, who requested it.[xvi] As always, for the Reformed, Sola Scriptura and ad fontes[xvii] were the basis of his writing. The same view emerges in his little Confession of Faith or his little Catechism (Q/A). He is Christ-centered, pastoral, and a theologian who is conscious of the attributes of God relative to Christology. He does not even address them until he gets to Christology. I would suggest reading Richard Muller’s, Christ and the Decree, 1988.

The Tabula is not a prospectus for all of theology; nor is it out of synch with Calvin, nor is it grounded in some sort of rationalistic scholastic method. Rather, it represents a movement toward a confessional structure that is rooted in the exegesis of Scripture. It does make logical distinctions, but they are made where he believed Scripture warrants their making. Exegesis laid at the based of the Tabula, just as it lays at the base of Reformed Theology and its confessions. If it is to be argued that his approach is “scholastic” and “rationalistic” one need only look at what the critics of Reformed Theology were saying in that age themselves, for they certainly borrowed heavily from Thomas Aquinas in particular. To call attention to this method is for the critic both then and now to call attention, whether he realizes it or not, to his own. It is certainly time for the anti-Calvinists to stop making Theodore Beza their whipping boy. It would make for a much more effective presentation by the critics if they would actually produce some original research, instead of repeating trite clichés that crumble upon close examination. Let’s see Ergun and Emir Caner, who both are supposed to be professors of history and theology, interact with the materials on this subject produced by Richard Muller, R. Scott Clark, and Jeffrey Mallinson, among others.[xviii] When they begin doing this, perhaps we’ll take them seriously. Alternatively, we could just get out of our own Baptist box for a change and read Beza for ourselves, like Dr. R. Scott Clark requires in his classes at Westminster Seminary in CA.

[i] Martin I. Kauber, Reformation and Scholasticism: An Ecumenical Enterprise, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Sept. 2002.

[ii] William Cunningham, The Reformers & The Theology of The Reformation, Chapter 7, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000 edition.

[iii] A scholar in the Humanities, notably the language arts, in this age: the Greek and Latin classics, Hebrew, Latin, classical and Koine Greek, and philosophy, and theology. This is not modern secular humanism.

[iv] Calvin, Instituties, III.xxi.7

[v] Doctrine of Salvation

[vi] Doctrine of God

[vii] Kingdon and Bergier, Registres, 107, in Richard Muller, “The Use and Abuse of a Document,” in Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment, Carl R. Trueman and R. Scott Clark, eds. (Waynesboro GA: Paternoster), 1999/2005 as part of the Studies in Christian History and Thought series

[viii] Calvin, Eternal Predestination of God.

[ix] Calvin, Institutes, III.xxiv.3.

[x] Beza, Tabula, VII (5).

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid (6).

[xiv] Tabula, II, viii.

[xv] James White,, “Happy Thanksgiving To You Too, Dr. Caner,” Nov. 23, 2006

[xvi] Kingdon and Bergier, Registres, 104 in Muller, 46.

[xvii] To the sources

[xviii] A good start for the reader himself would be Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment, Carl R. Trueman and R. Scott Clark, eds. (Waynesboro GA: Paternoster), 1999/2005 as part of the Studies in Christian History and Thought series. Also see William Cunningham’s The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth), 2000.


  1. Have you read: Christ and the Decree:Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology From Calvin to Perkins by Richard A. Muller? He deals with this very issue, i.e. continuity or discontinuity between Calvin/Beza. (I am currently reading this book)

    I haven't had a chance to read your whole paper here, but I will when I have more time.

  2. So MacArthur is also guilty of "conflating" in a recent post?


  3. Your apparent notion that Lutheran theology springs entirely from the mind of Martin Luther is incorrect. In fact, the Augsburg Confession was largely Melanchthon's work. None of Luther´s writings included in the Augsburg Confession were deemed worthy of inclusion simply because Luther wrote them. For Lutherans, the confession of the Lutheran Church is Lutheran in almost exactly the same sense that the Athanasian Creed is Athanasian. Athanasius did not invent the doctrine of the Trinity and he probably did not even write the creed in the form that we have it today. But the creed is associated with his name because he was the one willing to be exiled several times for the sake of the apostolic teaching.

  4. So let me get this straight. God was sitting up on His fluffy white cloud one day and said, "Hm. I COULD create a universe where everyone was good, loving and kind, where there was no disease, no tidal waves, no hunger and where all of my creation would one day join me in Paradise to sing my praises. However, that is boring beyond comprehension. INSTEAD, I'm going to create a universe where most people are born incapable of choosing me and where I prefer they STAY wicked and evil so I can fry the skin off their bones when they die, a universe where humans are plagued with AIDS, smallpox, polio, starvation, mental and physical defects and natural disasters. In addition, I'll provide for them a cryptic book written over the course of several thousand years (instead of just making my will known in one point in time), using contradictions, questionable historical narratives and unbelievable and absurd doctrines. Their salvation hinges upon the acceptance of said book as 'Truth', even though I'm choosing who's going to believe it anyhow."

    This seems rational to you? This seems like a fine deity worth worshipping?

    This says more about the characters of you "Triabloggers" than anything else. This is truly a fascinating character study! So many words on this blog ... so much intellectual hooey used to wrap and sugar coat what is essentially a huge steaming pile of crap.

    - Todd

  5. Apparently Todd was stood up on prom night, or missed his big opportunity to knock in the winning run for his team while in little league. Things just have not gone his way since high school either, his Mom still makes him take out the garbage. So, if there was a God, surely Todd would be happy. Because we all know that Todd deserves to be happy. It's all about Todd...

  6. No, Anonymous. I bring in well over six figures a year, am in outstanding health and surrounded by very many fine people and things. Life is actually going swimmingly. However, I have empathy for much of the rest of the world who live miserable existences and who you've consigned to the scrap heap of everlasting torture after living a worldly life of suffering (as if the latter wasn't bad enough). Thus, I have a hard time understanding your theology.

    - Todd

  7. Yes Todd, a six figure salary and you have time to comb through theology blogs such as this...interesting. Actually, I haven't consigned anyone to the "scrap heap" of everlasting torture. You don't understand what you are quick to reject and condemn. Methinks debate with you would be unfruitful multiplication of words....

  8. Bobby Grow asked:
    He deals with this very issue, i.e. continuity or discontinuity between Calvin/Beza.

    Yes, and I've also read, "The Use and Abuse of a Document" which is a condensed version of CATD. In fact, much of what is here comes from them.
    Have you read:

    Faith, Reason, and Revelation in Theodore Beza by Jeffrey Mallinson?

    David Ernst stated:

    Your apparent notion that Lutheran theology springs entirely from the mind of Martin Luther is incorrect.

    I presume you're Lutheran. If so, then I must ask why Lutherans that visit this blog so often cannot represent what is said on this blog correctly? Here's what I said about Luther that might have even a little relevance to your objection:

    Theodore Beza, in Reformed theology, stands in relation to Calvin much the way that Melancthon stands in relation to Luther among the Lutherans. It should also go without saying that Calvin does not function for the Reformed the way that Luther functions for Lutherans.

    How is this the notion that "Lutheranism springs entirely from the mind of Martin Luther?" I tend to agree with you, if your theology was truly "Lutheran" in that sense, you'd all be a bunch of high predestinarians like Luther. However, Luther's place among you is much more central, compared to the place of Zwingli, who for the Reformed was the first generation Reformer, not Calvin. Calvin was the second generation, not the first, and one of many living at that same time.His work is seminal, but the Confessions are not at all based on his work, and our theology is much more pluriform in that era.

  9. I know this was not your fundamental point, but you associated Arminianism with Thomas Aquinas.

    Thomas Aquinas, however, rejected that *anything* foreseen (faith, merits, etc.) were the basis of predestination. He believed that only the gratuitous love for the elect, whom He chose because of His goodness and *nothing* in them, was the basis of election.

    "Let us then consider the whole of the human race, as we consider the whole universe. God wills to manifest His goodness in men; in respect to those whom He predestines, by means of His mercy, as sparing them; and in respect of others, whom he reprobates, by means of His justice, in punishing them. This is the reason why God elects some and rejects others."

    "The Apostle says (Titus 3:5): "Not by works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." But as He saved us, so He predestined that we should be saved. Therefore, foreknowledge of merits is not the cause or reason of predestination."

    "Wherefore it cannot be said that anything begun in us can be the reason of the effect of predestination."

    Arminius even knew that he had departed from Thomas Aquinas on these points. If you'd like to see a reference, I'd be glad to post it.