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How does the Calvinist notion of predestination differ from that of the Valentinian Gnostics' predestination? There are several sources outlining the Valentinian Gnostic system (anti-heretic "church fathers" like Ireneaus), but it basically had three classes:

  1. materials (Greek hylics or sometimes somatics, the non-elect)

  2. soul-lys (Greek psuchics, the partially or temporarily elect)

  3. spirituals (Greek pneumatics, the true elect or those both elected and granted perseverance).

What further information is there on the relationship between these two systems? Is there evidence that Calvin borrowed from the Valentinian system through his study of the "church fathers"? did that borrowing come mediated through Augustine?

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What was predestination according to Calvin?

Predestination According to Calvin According to John Calvin, predestination is God’s unchangeable decree from before the creation of the world that he would freely save some people (the elect), foreordaining them to eternal life, while the others (the reprobate) would be “barred from access to” salvation and sentenced to “eternal death".
Source: Calvin on Predestination

What led Calvin to teach predestination?

According to this Article - John Calvin: Predestination and Justice -

[Basing ] his conviction that the Bible is God’s beneficial and sufficient revelation for humanity, John Calvin felt constrained to teach the doctrine of predestination. To the extent that predestination is part of scripture, Calvin thought it should be taught for the benefit of God’s people.

Therefore from this and other few articles I perused online, Calvin chose to teach predestination because it was in the Bible, and to him, it ought to be taught because he was convinced the Bible was God's beneficial and sufficient revelation for humanity.

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Augustine did not believe in free will, at least not in the way that libertarian Christians do. Libertarian free will is the belief that our choices are free from the determination or limitations or restrictions of human nature and that our choices are not predetermined by God. All "free will theists" claim that libertarian freedom is necessary for responsibility concerning morals, for if our choice is determined or engendered by anything, containing our own desires, in the mind of "free will theists", it cannot reasonably be called an unaffected choice. On account of the previous part of this definition, freedom according to Libertarians is, the freedom to neglect acting as someone's nature tells someone to do, that includes the tendency to act in a particular way and to follow your greatest wishes. For them responsibility means in perpetuum that that specific person could have done differently. (Theopedia, s.d.) As stated above, he believed in the doctrine of “total depravity”. It is commonly known that the term was invented later on by theologian John Calvin, but it is basically the same belief: 1) “Calvin wrote concerning Psalm 51:5 that David confessed that his nature was entirely depraved. On the same page of his commentary he wrote that the passage gives us a look into a touching and powerful testimony which proves that original sin descended from Adam on all human beings.” 2) “Because humanity rebelled to the fullest, human beings can do nothing but sinning. Man cannot stop rebelling. He cannot turn to God and start doing only good; the just price for this rebellion is eternal retribution.” It is clear that this well-known teacher Calvin based this idea on Augustine’s writing. “But before Augustine the Church taught total free will and condemned the unorthodox Gnostics who proclaimed that man had no free will.”

Personal conclusion: My personal view on original sin is that if God would judge one for the deeds he or she did not commit, (or was not capable of not committing,) that would be as fair as a judge of this world condemning a man or woman, innocent of the crime he is being accused of, to life sentence, yes even to death row. It would be as fair as the judgement of the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul declares in Romans chapter 3 verse 5a (KJV): “But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?” Lawfully correct vengeance is taken when one person committed a wrong to another person (that is unrighteousness) and that person pays the other person with equal amount (that is righteousness). It is clear that the Roman laws of this world were given, in a way, to give abused people the right to get vengeance, as righteous as possible. How much more the laws ordained by God, through Holy Scriptures in His divine wisdom and righteousness?

I, for one, believe that once we start sinning with a perfect free will, we keep that perfect free will but we start getting addicted to sin. This does not mean we have to give in to it. Due to our addiction, we will tend to lean more towards the evil than towards the good. Without repentance we will sin more and more often, as corruption, especially pride will run deeper and deeper into our souls... (It should be made clear that we are fully responsible for this process)

Pride is an evil poison that blinds us by our consent. If we stick to our pride, Christ will eventually condemn us at the judgment seat of Christ, for we did not repent of a lifestyle full of sin and therefore we proved that we did not truly (care about and) trust on the sacrifice the Christ made on the cross.

As it is written that God will lift up the humble and smack down the proud (paraphrase of James 4:6b).

  Bibliography Calvin, J. (1557 / 1846 / 1970). Calvin's Commentaries Volume 5; Commentary Upon The Book of Psalms Volume 2. In J. Calvin, & T. C. Society (Ed.), Calvin's Commentaries Volume 5; Commentary Upon The Book of Psalms Volume 2 (R. J. Anderson, Trans., 1 (1970) ed., Vol. 2, p. 290). Geneva / Scotland / Michigan, Geneva / Scotland / Michigan, Switzerland / Great Britain / United States: John Calvin.

MM. (2008, May 21). Augustine's Problem with Total Depravity. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from Vocatum: http://vocatum.blogspot.be/2008/05/augustines-problem-with-total-depravity.html

  • What was predestination according to Calvin? > Predestination According to Calvin According to John Calvin, predestination is God’s unchangeable decree from before the creation > of the world that he would freely save some people (the elect), > foreordaining them to eternal life, while the others (the reprobate) > would be “barred from access to” salvation and sentenced to “eternal > death". > Source: Calvin on Predestination What led Calvin to teach predestination? According to this Article - [John Calvin: – user13992 Oct 15 '14 at 8:07
  • -quote (from above) "Libertarian free will is the belief that our choices are free from the determination or limitations or restrictions of human nature." This of course is irrational. No one, whether Christian or Atheist holds to this definition of free will - since it is logically impossible to be free from limitations or restrictions - including human nature. Libertarian Free Will is typically defined as: Having multiple options available all of which exist as real. And having the ability to choose one option vs another - without that choice being made for you. Aristotle defined it using th – user46840 Oct 10 '19 at 15:16
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To respond to the question in particular - that of the "Valentinian" three states of election - yes, we do see the exact same three states enunciated by Calvin.

However Calvin - (and his predecessors) did not (and do not today) use the exact same terms enunciated by the ancient Stoics, Epicureans, Gnostics, or NeoPlatonists - even though many of their concepts are synchronized into Augustinianism doctrine (i.e., Calvinism) - and quite naturally resurface within Calvinist language. Its just a matter of knowing what indicators to look for.

Calvin would of-course refrain from using the terms "hylics", "psuchics", and "pneumatics" to describe the 3 states of election within his doctrine - and for obvious reasons.

But yes the 3 states of elect-status enunciated by Valentinus are reiterated by Calvin.

However, that being said, it must also be recognized that the Augustinian system which Calvin revises is approximately 1 part Gnosticism, 3 parts NeoPlatonism, and 7 parts Christian.

One can observe scripture in general, interpreted through the lens of Gnosticism's good-evil dualism - Christian salvation interpreted through the lens of Gnosticism's tripart election status, and a THEOS conforming to Plato's doctrine of divine immutability.

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