Is Calvinism Cosmic Determinism? Part 5

EdenReformed theology in contrasts with Romanism has always maintained that Adam in his created state was made righteous. Holy. He was able not to sin and able to sin. He was not created glorified. He was created able to obey or disobey. He was created liable and susceptible to external temptation. While Adam was created this way. We are not like Adam. We are not born holy but imperfect. Our estate of birth is one of sin and misery.

We are still free even though we are born imperfect. We are no longer in the estate that Adam was. However, we have not lost our agency. Our ability is present to act in accordance with our desires and our will. Humanity still has an ability to perform obligations that may come from their relationships with other image bearers.

The Westminster Standards also teach that the soul has been affected from the sin of Adam. It has fallen which means that the soul being imperfect is corrupt. It is described as spiritually dead. This death is also described as blindness. The Westminster standards teach that because of this state of spiritual death man is “utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil” ( WCF 6.4; 16.3 WLC Q25) and as a result has “wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation;” so that humanity “is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself,” or even “to prepare himself thereunto.” (WCF 9.3) This is not say that humanity is not able to do good. Please read carefully what it is affirming.

This view is upheld not only by the Reformed but also by all Protestant Confessions, Lutheran and Reformed.

Take for example the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, Article 10:
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.”
Canons of Dordt 3.3:
All men are conceived in sin, and born children of wrath, indisposed to all saving good, propense to evil, dead in sins and the slaves of sin; and without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to correct their depraved nature, or to dispose themselves to the correction of it.

Form of Concord, p. 579, Hase’s Collection (Lutheran): ” Therefore we believe that as it is impossible for a dead body to revive itself, or to communicate animal life to itself, in the same degree is it impossible for a man, spiritually dead by reason of sin, to recall spiritual life within himself.” lb. p. 653: “We believe that neither the intellect, heart, nor will of the unregenerate man, is able of its own natural strength either to understand, believe, embrace, will, begin, perfect, perform, operate, or cooperate anything, in things divine and spiritual; but man is so far dead and corrupt in respect to good, that in the nature of man since the fall, and before regeneration, there is not even a scintilla of spiritual strength remaining whereby he can prepare himself for the grace of God, or apprehend that grace when offered, or is able in whole or in half, or in the least part, to apply or accommodate himself to that grace, or to confer or to act, or to operate or to co-operate anything for his own conversion.”

2 thoughts on “Is Calvinism Cosmic Determinism? Part 5

  1. As I read through this westbie, I see a lot exciting stuff. However, it’s also a lot of familiar stuff. It looks a lot like some of the documents that came out of the New Wineskins movement in it’s earlist days- an attempt to let people live in both camps while still opening a door for churches who are prepared to leave the PCUSA. I am one of the few women ordained as a pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. And I should say right now that I’m just one person responding and thinking this through on a blog. I don’t speak on behalf of the EPC, nor would I attempt to do that. However, for my own part I have a few questions. I’m wondering if the major reason for forming the ECO is simply the women’s ordination issue. Or is it that PC(USA) churhes need an exit strategy that is less abrupt than simply leaving to the EPC? Personally, while I am very committed to an egalitarian approach to ministry, I am not willing to cut myself off from those whose faithfulness to Scripture leaves them on the otherside of that debate. It takes some faith to walk beside sisters and brothers who feel uncertain about my calling, but I have found folks in the EPC willing, on the whole, to walk that road with me. And I feel that walking that road is worth it as a witness to Christian unity. I believe that God is working through the ECO to free congregations to do the work of the building for the Kingdom. And I agree with Rev. Ortberg that there is more than just one room in Christ’s Church and that each room has a unique gift and mission. However, when two rooms have the same gifts and the same mission, their walking together in unity is a beautiful witness of Christ’s body on the earth. I hope that the formation of the ECO is not the loss of such an opportunity.You are all in my prayers. I am excited that Jesus is moving in the Church to mobilize congregations to take more seriously our call to go and make disciples. Whatever else happens I believe that faithfulness to Christ and Christ’s teachings will yield such a harvest.

    1. Hi Larissa

      I don’t know if perhaps I may have been unclear in certain posts on my blog. However, I’m in the PCA denomination and not the ECO, EPC or PC(USA).

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