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Particulars of Christianity:
401 First Eight Writers' Consensus


13: Freewill (A) Against Original Sin
and Total Depravity


Early Church Confirmation Rubric
Early Church Consensus: Introduction
1: Nature of the Godhead
2: Covenants & O.T. Saints Relationship to the Church
3: Kingdom (Hell), Timing of 2nd Advent and Kingdom
4-5: Age of the World (6000 Years); Communion Meal
6: Baptisms
7-8: Law of Christ; Repentance
9-12: Excommunication; Divorce; Sabbath; Tithing
13: Freewill (A) Against Original Sin and Total Depravity
13: Freewill (B) Against Unconditional Election
13: Freewill (C-D) Against Ltd. Atmt.; Ir. Grace, OSAS
14-15: Church Authority; Roles of Men and Women
16-18: Charismatic Gifts; Civil Gov't., War; Men & Angels
Addendum 1: Eternal Begetting - Irenaeus and Ignatius
Addendum 2: Eternal Begetting - Justin Martyr



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13) View of Freewill and Election

a) Even after the sin of Adam and Eve, the power to choose both good or evil, belief or disobedience has always remained in every man. Children are born innocent. God’s sovereignty was thought of as jurisdictional, as a right to rule and act autonomously, particularly with regard to judgment. And although God exercised determinism over specified areas such as how to structure creation, which men to elevate to authority, and the occurrence of key historical events leading up to the incarnation and atoning death of Christ, God’s sovereignty was never viewed as causative for all things, for salvation, or for any of the choices of men, whether good or evil. It was understood that prior to judgment, God’s will was often thwarted, resisted, and left undone by men and angels, including by born-again Christians. Consequently, Calvinist doctrines of Original Sin, Total Depravity, Calvinistic Sovereignty, and even Compatibilistic Will were rejected.

 

Mathetes –

THE EPISTLE OF MATHETES TO DIOGNETUS

 

CHAP. II. Come, then, after you have freed[4] yourself from all prejudices possessing your mind, and laid aside what you have been accustomed to, as something apt to deceive[5] you, and being made, as if from the beginning, a new man, inasmuch as, according to your own confession, you are to be the hearer of a new [system of] doctrine; come and contemplate, not with your eyes only, but with your understanding, the substance and the form[6] of those whom ye declare and deem to be gods… Are they not all deaf? Are they not blind? Are they not without life? Are they not destitute of feeling? Are they not incapable of motion? Are they not all liable to rot? Are they not all corruptible? These things ye call gods; these ye serve; these ye worship; and ye become altogether like to them…And by those gifts which ye mean to present to them, do ye not, if they are possessed of sense, rather punish [than honour] them? But if, on the other hand, they are destitute of sense, ye convict them of this fact, while ye worship them with blood and the smoke of sacrifices. Let any one of you suffer such indignities!Let any one of you endure to have such things done to himself! But not a single human being will, unless compelled to it, endure such treatment, since he is endowed with sense and reason. A stone, however, readily bears it, seeing it is insensible.

 

CHAP. IX. As long then as the former time[8] endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness,[9] so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward,[10] punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how[11] the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us,[12] He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors![13] Having therefore convinced us in the former time[14] that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious[15] concerning clothing and food.

 

Barnabas –

THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS(1)

 

CHAP. XIX. The way of light, then, is as follows. If any one desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following. Thou shalt love Him that created thee:(3) thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death. Thou shalt be simple in heart, and rich in spirit. Thou shalt not join thyself to those who walk in the way of death. Thou shalt hate doing what is unpleasing to God: thou shalt hate all hypocrisy. Thou shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord.

 

 

Clement –

THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS

 

CHAP. VII. Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God,(1) which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved.(2) Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites;(3) but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God. CHAP. VIII. The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, "As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance ; "(4)  adding, moreover, this gracious declaration Repent O house of Israel, of your iniquity.(5) Say to the children of My people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, I and though they be redder(6) than scarlet, and blacker than sackcloth, yet if ye turn to Me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy(7) people." And in another place He speaks thus: "Wash  you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things."(8) Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].

 

NOTE: In the quote below, the phrase “If our understanding be fixed by faith rewards God” should read “If our understanding be fixed by faith towards God.”

http://wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/noncanon/fathers/ante-nic/clement/1clement.htm
35:4 Let us therefore contend, that we may be found in the number of those that patiently await Him, to the end that we may be partakers of His promised gifts. 5 But how shall this be, dearly beloved? 6 If our mind be fixed through faith towards God; 7 if we seek out those things which are well pleasing and acceptable unto Him;

 

CHAP. XXXV. Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done? If our understanding be fixed by faith rewards God; if we earnestly seek the things which are pleasing and acceptable to Him; if we do the things which are in harmony with His blameless will; and if we follow the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity, along with all covetousness, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and evil-speaking, all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and ambition.(12) For they that do such things are hateful to God; and not only they that do them, but also those that take pleasure in them that do them.(13)

 

NOTE: The quote below warns men not to grow proud of their righteousness because by their deeds they are unrighteous. This statement is compatible with Freewill theology. Such a statement does not comment on the question of whether or not the faith (for which we are credited righteousness) is something of our own choosing. However, the question is whether or not phrases like “what can mortal man do” imply the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity, that men are utterly incapable of righteousness by their nature from conception as a result of Adam’s sin. On this note, it is imperative to recognize that Clement does not attribute an “inability” to be perfect to Adam’s sin inherited at conception. Instead, Clement repeatedly attributes mankind’s general tendency toward sin to the fact that our bodies were made from mortal dust, rather than immortal spirit. Notice that this was the case before the fall of Adam. It is how God formed man before sin. In short, Clement is saying that it is the inherent weakness of the mortal, corruptible substance from which our bodies were formed that makes it so difficult for men to avoid evil perfectly or entirely. Even angels, Clement points out, who are made of immortal and incorruptible substance, sinned. Consequently, Clement’s simple point is that we should not grow overly confident or complacent in our current righteousness, which we have received from God, since our bodies were formed of weaker substance and, therefore, struggle against desires for sin. Ultimately, this entire quote is entirely compatible with Freewill and does not offer any support for the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity.

 

CHAP. XXXVIII. Let the humble not bear testimony to himself, but leave witness to be borne to him by another.(13) Let him that is pure in the flesh not grow proud(14) of it, and boast, knowing that it was another who bestowed on him the gift of continence. Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were made,--who and what manner of beings we came into the world, as it were out of a sepulchre, and from utter darkness.(15) He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into His world. Since, therefore, we receive all these things from Him, we ought for everything to give Him thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. CHAP. XXXIX. Foolish and inconsiderate men, who have neither wisdom(16) nor instruction, mock and deride us, being eager to exalt themselves in their own conceits. For what can a mortal man do? or what strength is there in one made out of the dust? For it is written, "There was no shape before mine eyes, only I heard a sound,(17) and a voice [saying], What then? Shall a man be pure before the Lord? or shall such an one be [counted] blameless in his deeds, seeing He does not confide in His servants, and has charged(18) even His angels with perversity? The heaven is not clean in His sight: how much less they that dwell in houses of clay, of which also we ourselves were made! He smote them as a moth; and from morning even until evening they endure not. Because they could furnish no assistance to themselves, they perished. He breathed upon them, and they died, because they had no wisdom. But call now, if any one will answer thee, or if thou wilt look to any of the holy angels; for wrath destroys the foolish man, and envy killeth him that is in error. I have seen the foolish taking root, but their habitation was presently consumed. Let their sons be far from safety; let them be despised(19) before the gates of those less than themselves, and there shall be none to deliver. For what was prepared for them, the righteous shall eat; and they shall not be delivered from evil."(20)

 

NOTE: Below Clement depicts righteousness as available on the other side of a gate. Clement then advises his audience to choose to go through that gate to attain righteousness and life. In fact, Clement even identifies that the gate is repentant behavior, specifically praying to the Lord for forgiveness. It is this act, in particular, that Clement advises his audience to choose to engage in, placing to do so or not entirely within their power of choosing. The idea that repentance is our own choice and that this freewill repentance is the gate through which we enter into righteousness and eternal life is entirely incompatible with the Calvinist doctrines of Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace. Rather than depicting men as incapable as if prevented by some natural barrier, Clement depicts righteousness and life as on the other side of an open gate that we can enter through at will. And rather than depicting God as irresistibly drawing men through the gate, Clement entreats his audience as though their entrance through the gate is not at all certain, fully capable of choosing not to enter in and also fully capable of choosing to enter.

 

CHAP. XLVIII. Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end s to this [state of things]; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully(9) be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which is set open for the attainment of life, as it is written, "Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go in by them, and will praise the Lord: this is the gate of the Lord: the righteous shall enter in by it."(10)

 

NOTE: Notice that in the quote below, Clement clearly does not equate the hardening of the heart with an inherent or natural condition of man inherited from Adam because of Adam’s sin. Nor does Clement depict the hardening of the heart as something God irresistibly does or unilaterally determines for men. Instead, Clement depicts hardening, including the hardening of his own audience as well as that of Pharaoh, as something men choose to do to themselves.

 

CHAP. LI. For it is better that a man should acknowledge his transgressions than that he should harden his  heart, as the hearts of those were hardened who stirred up sedition against Moses the servant of God, and whose condemnation was made manifest [unto all]. For they went down alive into Hades, and death swallowed them up.(4) Pharaoh with his army and all the princes of Egypt, and the chariots with their riders, were sunk in the depths of the Red Sea, and perished,(5) for no other reason than that their foolish hearts were hardened, after so many signs and wonders had been wrought in the land of Egypt by Moses the servant of God.

 

NOTE: The quote below from Ignatius either disproves Total Depravity or Perseverance of the Saints. This is due to the phrase, “other men” have “in them” the “hope of repentance” in order “that they may attain to God.” Either “other men” refers to those who have never believed or been saved or it refers to those who have at one time believed and been saved. If “other men” refers to those who have never believed or been saved, then these sayings record Ignatius’ belief that unbelieving sinners are able to repent rather than being Total Depraved as Calvinism teaches. If “other men” refers to those who have at one time believed and been saved, then these sayings record Ignatius’ belief that believing Christians can fall away.

 

Ignatius –

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS

 

CHAP. X.  And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See,[2] then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way.

 

Ignatius –

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE MAGNESIANS

 

CHAP. III.  Seeing, then, all things have an end, these two things are simultaneously set before us--death and life; and every one shall go unto his own place. For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each of these has its special character stamped upon it,[so is it also here.][2] The unbelieving are of this world; but the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into His passion,[3] His life is not in us.

 

NOTE: In the quote below, Ignatius describes the church as “enlightened by the will of Him that willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God.”

The mere occurrence of the word “enlightened” does not imply Calvinism’s Irresistible Grace. The term naturally conveys that the people of the Church in Rome had received knowledge. It does not speak of how they received it, and so it cannot support irresistible grace, but the simplest conception would be that the knowledge of God was given in Jesus Christ, whose incarnation and preaching were a gift to men.

 

In addition, the phrase “Him that willeth all things” does not mean that God’s will causes all things or that God wills all things. This phrase is qualified. It is not “all things” but “all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ.” And, of course, Freewill theology teaches that God desires those things that are in accordance with the love of Jesus Christ. Moreover, God merely willing a thing does not require conceptually that the thing willed necessarily comes to pass. That part must be presumed by Calvinism. Otherwise, on a purely conceptual level, it is perfectly acceptable to think of God willing things in accordance with the love of Christ, and yet God’s will in those matters is often resisted by men.

 

Ignatius –

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE ROMANS

PREFACE. Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Mast High Father, and Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is beloved and enlightened by the will of Him that willeth all things which are according to the love of Jesus Christ our God, which also presides in the place of the report of the Romans, worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of obtaining her every desire, worthy of being deemed holy,(2) and which presides over love, is named from Christ, and from the Father, which I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments; who are filled inseparably with the grace of God, and are purified from every strange taint, [I wish] abundance of happiness unblameably, in Jesus Christ our God.

 

Ignatius –

THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE SMYRNAEANS

 

CHAP. IX. Moreover,(3) it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness [of conduct], and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God.

 

 

Justin Martyr –

THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN

 

CHAP. VIII. And reckon ye that it is for your sakes we have been saying these things; for it is in our power, when we are examined, to deny that we are Christians; but we would not live by telling a lie. For, impelled by the desire of the eternal and pure life, we seek the abode that is with God, the Father and Creator of all, and hasten to confess our faith, persuaded and convinced as we are that they who have proved to God(4) by their works that they followed Him, and loved to abide with Him where there is no sin to cause disturbance, can obtain these things. This, then, to speak shortly, is what we expect and have learned from Christ, and teach. And Plato, in like manner, used to say that Rhadamanthus and Minos would punish the wicked who came before them; and we say that the same thing will be done, but at the hand of Christ, and upon the wicked in the same bodies united again to their spirits which are now to undergo everlasting punishment; and not only, as Plato said, for a period of a thousand years. And if any one say that this is incredible or impossible, this error of ours is one which concerns ourselves only, and no other person, so long as you cannot convict us of doing any harm.

 

CHAP. XII. And more than all other men are we your helpers and allies in promoting peace, seeing that we hold this view, that it is alike impossible for the wicked, the covetous, the conspirator, and for the virtuous, to escape the notice of God, and that each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions. For if all men knew this, no one would choose wickedness even for a little, knowing that he goes to the everlasting punishment of fire; but would by all means restrain himself, and adorn himself with virtue, that he might obtain the good gifts of God, and escape the punishments. For those who, on account of the laws and punishments you impose, endeavour to escape detection when they offend (and they offend, too, under the impression that it is quite possible to escape your detection, since you are but men), those persons, if they learned and were convinced that nothing, whether actually done or only intended, can escape the knowledge of God, would by all means live decently on account of the penalties threatened, as even you yourselves will admit…For as all shrink from succeeding to the poverty or sufferings or obscurity of their fathers, so whatever the Word forbids us to choose, the sensible man will not choose.

 

CHAP. XIV. For we forewarn you to be on your guard, lest those demons whom we have been accusing should deceive you, and quite diver you from reading and understanding what we say. For they strive to hold you their slaves and servants; and sometimes by appearances in dreams, and sometimes by magical impositions, they subdue all who make no strong opposing effort for their own salvation. And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son...

 

CHAP. XL.And we have thought it right and relevant to mention some other prophetic utterances of David besides these; from which you may learn how the Spirit of prophecy exhorts men to live, and how He foretold the conspiracy which was formed against Christ by Herod the king of the Jews, and the Jews themselves, and Pilate, who was your governor among them, with his soldiers; and how He should be believed on by men of every race; and how God calls Him His Son, and has declared that He will subdue all His enemies under Him; and how the devils, as much as they can, strive to escape the power of God the Father and Lord of all, and the power of Christ Himself; and how God calls all to repentance before the day of judgment comes.

 

NOTE: As will be the case with many quotes from Justin Martyr, the quote below is placed here because it disproves Total Depravity, but it also equally and clearly is intended by Justin to disprove the precursor to Calvinistic conditional election and determinism.

 

CHAP. XLIII. But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man's actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end;(2) nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made. CHAP. XLIV. And the holy Spirit of prophecy taught us this, telling us by Moses that God spoke thus to the man first created: "Behold, before thy face are good and evil: choose the good."(3) And again, by the other prophet Isaiah, that the following utterance was made as if from God the Father and Lord of all: "Wash you, make you clean; put away evils from your souls; learn to do well; judge the orphan, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord: And if your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as wool; and if they be red like as crimson, I will make them white as snow. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye do not obey Me, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."(4) And that expression, "The sword shall devour you," does not mean that the disobedient shall be slain by the sword, but the sword of God is fire, of which they who choose to do wickedly become the fuel. Wherefore He says, "The sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." And if He had spoken concerning a sword that cuts and at once despatches, He would not have said, shall devour. And so, too, Plato, when he says, "The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless,"(5) took this from the prophet Moses and uttered it… So that what we say about future events being foretold, we do not say it as if they came about by a fatal necessity; but God foreknowing all that shall be done by all men, and it being His decree that the future actions of men shall all be recompensed according to their several value, He foretells by the Spirit of prophecy that He will bestow meet rewards according to the merit of the actions done, always urging the human race to effort and recollection, showing that He cares and provides for menAnd if we persuade even a few, our gain will be very great; for, as good husbandmen, we shall receive the reward from the Master. CHAP. XLV. And that God the Father of all would bring Christ to heaven after He had raised Him from the dead, and would keep Him there(2) until He has subdued His enemies the devils, and until the number of those who are foreknown by Him as good and virtuous is complete, on whose account He has still delayed the consummation--hear what was said by the prophet David.

 

CHAP. LXI. I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making… And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the layer the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone.

 

 

Justin Martyr –

THE SECOND APOLOGY OF JUSTIN

 

Chapter VII. But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all I that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness;13 or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.

 

NOTE: In the quote below, Justin states, “pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom.” Does this imply or require the Calvinist notion that an impartation of irresistible grace must come first to cause a man to understand (and then irresistibly compel him to believe) the Gospel? The answer is no as indicated by several facts.

 

First, Justin instructs men to “pray” for this wisdom before they have received it. If this wisdom is to be equated with Calvinism’s irresistible grace, then the receiving of irresistible grace would itself conditionally depend on a man’s choice to pray, a choice which is exercised before that man receives the irresistible grace that he is praying for. Consequently, the irresistible grace cannot be the cause of the man’s prayer and a man’s ability to understand and believe the Gospel would depend on his own choice to seek the true understanding of God.

 

Second, Justin continues this thought into the following chapter as well. And in that chapter Justin describes that simply reading or hearing the words of Jesus Christ is a powerful motivation compelling one to understand and believe. Justin puts the compelling power in the ordinary words themselves, because of their persuasive and reasonable nature. Justin does not mention any irresistible spiritual force acting inside a man. Rather, for Justin, this compelling force of the words themselves is present whenever the words are read or heard by any man. This is contradictory of Calvinism’s irresistible grace, since due to its irresistible nature, such Calvinistic grace can only act upon or be experienced by the elect, not all men who ever hear or read the Gospel.

 

Third, ultimately Justin reaffirms plainly that obtaining an understanding of Jesus Christ begins with a man having concern for himself, desiring redemption, and believing that God in general exists. In short, as Justin summarizes, all that is necessary is for a man not to be “indifferent” or unconcerned with the issue of learning about these things, which ultimately lead to Jesus Christ. No doubt, such a man will pray to God for wisdom as he seeks to understand these matters, as Justin previously encouraged. Consequently, once again Justin’s words point unavoidably back to a man’s desire to seek God, rather than some irresistible grace, as the dependent condition for coming to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Dialogue of Justin –

PHILOSOPHER AND MARTYR, WITH TRYPHO, A JEW

 

CHAP. VII. "'Should any one, then, employ a teacher?' I say, 'or whence may any one be helped, if not even in them there is truth?' "'There existed, long before this time, certain men more ancient than all those who are esteemed philosophers, both righteous and beloved by God, who spoke by the Divine Spirit, and foretold events which would take place, and which are now taking place. They are called prophets. These alone both saw and announced the truth to men, neither reverencing nor fearing any man, not influenced by a desire for glory, but speaking those things alone which they saw and which they heard, being filled with the Holy Spirit. Their writings are still extant, and he who has read them is very much helped in his knowledge of the beginning and end of things, and of those matters which the philosopher ought to know, provided he has believed them. For they did not use demonstration in their treatises, seeing that they were witnesses to the truth above all demonstration, and worthy of belief; and those events which have happened, and those which are happening, compel you to assent to the utterances made by them, although, indeed, they were entitled to credit on account of the miracles which they performed, since they both glorified the Creator, the God and Father of all things, and proclaimed His Son, the Christ [sent] by Him: which, indeed, the false prophets, who are filled with the lying unclean spirit, neither have done nor do, but venture to work certain wonderful deeds for the purpose of astonishing men, and glorify the spirits and demons of error. But pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom.' CHAP. VIII "When he had spoken these and many other things, which there is no time for mentioning at present, he went away, bidding me attend to them; and I have not seen him since. But straightway a flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me; and whilst revolving his words in my mind, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable. Thus, and for this reason, I am a philosopher. Moreover, I would wish that all, making a resolution similar to my own, do not keep themselves away from the words of the Saviour. For they possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them. If, then, you have any concern for yourself, and if you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may--since you are not indifferent to the matter.(1)--become acquainted with the Christ of God, and,  after being initiated,(2) live a happy life."

 

CHAP. LXXXV. "Moreover, some of you venture to expound the prophecy which runs, 'Lift up your gates, ye rulers; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of glory may enter,'(2) as if it referred likewise to Hezekiah, and others of you[expound it] of Solomon; but neither to the latter nor to the former, nor, in short, to any of your kings, can it be proved to have reference, but to this our Christ alone, who appeared without comeliness, and inglorious, as Isaiah and David and all the Scriptures said; who is the Lord of hosts, by the will of the Father who conferred on Him[the dignity]; who also rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, as the Psalm and the other Scriptures manifested when they announced Him to be Lord of hosts; and of this you may, if you will, easily be persuaded by the occurrences which take place before your eyes.

 

NOTE: In the quote below, Justin states that the human race, “from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent.” But this does not mean that all men were condemned or received a sinful nature from Adam. It means only from the time of Adam, men fell into sin. The fact that Justin attributes the fall of men into sin as resulting from their own choices (rather than Adam’s) is demonstrated by Justin’s next two statements. First, he says plainly that “each one of which had committed personal transgression.” Second, Justin states that men are punished or rewarded because they have the ability to choose God’s ways or not. But men would not have the ability to choose, nor be able to be rewarded or punished based upon it, if we inherited a sinful nature or Calvinistic Total Depravity from Adam. Furthermore, God’s “strengthening” of men and angles to do what He willed, comes before they choose to do either good or evil. Consequently, this strengthening cannot be irresistible grace since, according to Justin, it is sometimes followed by evil choices and eternal punishment.

 

CHAP. LXXXVIII. He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit.

 

CHAP. XCIII. For [God] sets before every race of mankind that which is always and universally just, as well as all righteousness; and every race knows that adultery, and fornication, and homicide,(3) and such like, are sinful; and though they all commit such practices, yet they do not escape from the knowledge that they act unrighteously whenever they so do, with the exception of those who are possessed with an unclean spirit, and who have been debased by education, by wicked customs, and by sinful institutions, and who have lost, or rather quenched and put under, their natural ideas...For though you have the means of understanding that this man is Christ from the signs given by Moses, yet you will not; but, in addition, fancying that we can have no arguments, you put whatever question comes into your minds, while you yourselves are at a loss for arguments whenever you meet with some firmly established Christian.

 

CHAP. CII. For the Father had decreed that He whom He had begotten should be put to death, but not before He had grown to manhood, and proclaimed the word which proceeded from Him. But if any of you say to us, Could not God rather have put Herod to death? I return answer by anticipation: Could not God have cut off in the beginning the serpent, so that he exist not, rather than have said, 'And I will put enmity between him and the woman, and between his seed and her seed?'(1) Could He not have at once created a multitude of men? But yet, since He knew that it would be good, He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous, and He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free-will; and because He likewise knew it would be good, He made general and particular judgments; each one's freedom of will, however, being guarded.

 

NOTE: In the quote below, Justin states plainly that each man obtained condemnation when he himself sinned like Adam and Eve did. In other words, men don’t inherit condemnation from Adam for Adam’s sin. They follow Adam’s example, an example of disobeying God’s command. And when they do so themselves, they become like Adam, and it is at that point they incur the same judgment as Adam, but not before.

 

CHAP. CXXIV. But as my discourse is not intended to touch on this point, but to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming "gods," and of having power to become sons of the Highest; and shall be each by himself judged and condemned like Adam and Eve.

 

CHAP. CXL. And Ezekiel: 'Even if Noah, and Jacob, and Daniel were to pray for sons or daughters, their request should not be granted.'(6) But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness.(7) And again Isaiah says: 'They shall look on the car; cases(8) of them that have transgressed: their worm shall not cease, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle to all  flesh.'(9) And our Lord, according to the will of Him that sent Him, who is the Father and Lord of all, would not have said, 'They shall come from the east, and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.'(10) Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded," that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God's fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be. CHAP. CXLI. "But that you may not have a pretext for saying that Christ must have been crucified, and that those who transgressed must have been among your nation, and that the matter could not have been otherwise, I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying, 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin;'(1) that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them. We have as proof of this the one fall of David, which happened through his boasting, which was forgiven then when he so mourned and wept, as it is written. But if even to such a man no remission was granted before repentance, and only when this great king, and anointed one, and prophet, mourned and conducted himself so, how can the impure and utterly abandoned, if they weep not, and mourn not, and repent not, entertain the hope that the Lord will not impute to them sin? And this one fall of David, in the matter of Uriah's wife, proves, sirs," I said, "that the patriarchs had many wives, not to commit fornication, but that a certain dispensation and all mysteries might be accomplished by them; since, if it were allowable to take any wife, or as many wives as one chooses, and how he chooses, which the men of your nation do over all the earth, wherever they sojourn, or wherever they have been sent, taking women under the name of marriage, much more would David have been permitted to do this." When I had said this, dearest Marcus Pompeius, I came to an end. CHAP. CXLII. Then Trypho, after a little delay, said, "You see that it was not intentionally that we came to discuss these points. And I confess that I have been particularly pleased with the conference; and I think that these are of quite the same opinion as myself. For we have found more than we expected, and more than it was possible to have expected. And if we could do this more frequently, we should be much helped in the searching of the Scriptures themselves. But since," he said, "you are on the eve of departure, and expect daily to set sail, do not hesitate to remember us as friends when you are gone." "For my part," I replied, "if I had remained, I would have wished to do the same thing daily. But now, since I expect, with God's will and aid, to set sail, I exhort you to give all diligence in this very great struggle for your own salvation, and to be earnest in setting a higher value on the Christ of the Almighty God than on your own teachers." After this they left me, wishing me safety in my voyage, and from every misfortune. And I, praying for them, said, "I can wish no better thing for you, sirs, than this, that, recognising in this way that intelligence is given to every man, you may be of the same opinion as ourselves, and believe that Jesus is the Christ of God."(2)

 

NOTE: In the quote below, Justin refutes both the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Irresistible Grace. He asserts that the Holy Spirit speaks to all men through the reading (or hearing) of the words of the scriptures. But more importantly, Justin says that the Holy Spirit teaches these things “to those who are desirous to learn the true religion.” Rather than having men desire true religion because the Holy Spirit irresistibly compels them to do, Justin reverses the order having the Holy Spirit responding to men conditionally based on which men have the desire to know the truth. And lastly, this implies that men have the ability to desire to know the truth and seek God before the Holy Spirit acts upon them helping them to understand and believe the words of scripture.

 

Justin Martyr –

JUSTIN'S HORTATORY ADDRESS TO THE GREEKS

 

CHAP. XXXV. The time, then, ye men of Greece, is now come, that ye, having been persuaded by the secular histories that Moses and the rest of the prophets were far more ancient than any of those who have been esteemed sages among you, abandon the ancient delusion of your forefathers, and read the divine histories of the prophets, and ascertain from them the true religion; for they do not present to you artful discourses, nor speak speciously and plausibly--for this is the property of those who wish to rob you of the truth--but use with simplicity the words and expressions which offer themselves, and declare to you whatever the Holy Ghost, who descended upon them, chose to teach through them to those who are desirous to learn the true religion.

 

Justin Martyr –

JUSTIN ON THE SOLE GOVERNMENT OF GOD.

 

CHAP. VI. Here, then, is a proof of virtue, and of a mind loving prudence, to recur to the communion of the unity,(1) and to attach one's self to prudence for salvation, and make choice of the better things according to the free-will placed in man; and not to think that those who are possessed of human passions are lords of all, when they shall not appear to have even equal power with men.

 

NOTE: The quotes below are included because of their potential application to the Calvinistic doctrine of “Compatibilistic Freewill” in which God is the sovereign cause and initiator of even the sinful choices of men, such as Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery (although such things are regarded by Calvinists as righteous deeds on God because they stem from righteous motives, unlike the evil motives in the men God is causing to do these actions).

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK I

 

CHAP. X. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 

CHAP. XXVII. 2. Marcion of Pontus succeeded him, and developed his doctrine. In so doing, he advanced the most daring blasphemy against Him who is proclaimed as God by the law and the prophets, declaring Him to be the author of evils, to take delight in war, to be infirm of purpose, and even to be contrary to Himself.

 

NOTE: In the quote below, Irenaeus uses the phrase “predestining all things” but from the context it is clear that he is referring to God predetermining how (nature, structure, function, order, etc.) to fashion all things in creation. Contextually, Irenaues is not making any comments about God predetermining either salvation, election, or the choices of conscious beings such as angels or men. It simply cannot be assumed that any use of such terms as “predestine” or “predetermine” are meant in regard to such topics.

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. II. 1. But He Himself in Himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as He pleased, bestowing harmony on all things, and assigning them their own place, and the beginning of their creation.

 

NOTE: Specifically, although Irenaeus’ topic is different, his argument in the following quote demonstrates the validity of attributing to God evils if he is in anyway the cause of them. While Irenaeus is focusing on God choosing not to impart knowledge of himself to men, which addresses his contemporary Gnostic heretics, God’s desire not to impart irresistible grace into all men could easily be substituted here in the exact same type of argument. Irenaeus’ point is that in choosing to impart knowledge of himself later, God showed himself not to be opposed to such action. Whey then, if God desired to avoid evil, would he not impart this at the beginning? This type of action on God’s part, Irenaeus believes would constitute guilt on God’s part as the cause of all evils. This would become even more true in the case of irresistible grace, which God showed himself willing to eventually do. But in choosing not to do so to all men from the beginning, God chose not to prevent all evil from occurring.

 

CHAP. XVII. 10. But if ignorance is an evil, and ye declare all evils to have derived their strength from it, while ye maintain that the greatness and power of the Father is the cause of this ignorance, ye do thus set Him forth as the author of [all] evils. For ye state as the cause of evil this fact, that [no one] could contemplate His greatness. ...11. ...but, as He did not so please to be known from the beginning, He remained unknown--the cause of ignorance is, according to you, the will of the Father.

 

NOTE: The quote below contains the statement that “the cause why…certain of God’s creatures sinned…and others persevered in subjection to Him.” This statement was not meant to convey that the God himself may be the cause because of his sovereignty, which itself is mentioned in the phrase “God holds the supremacy over all things.” In fact, the opposite is the case.

 

It must be kept in mind that Irenaues is refuting the Gnostic view. At this point in his writing, he has dealt at length with Gnostic systems in which the Gnostics assert that evil occurred in creation because of the errors in the mind of the creators and because of the weakness of the substance of matter from which creation was made. Consequently, for the Gnostics, evil emerged deterministically and unavoidably from its substance and from the will of its maker.

 

Irenaeus is here refuting these Gnostic ideas. He acknowledges that God is indeed supreme, and this supremacy requires that God must be behind the creation of the substance of matter, because contrary to Gnostic belief, creation could not spring up without the knowledge or consent of the Supreme God. Nevertheless, Irenaeus maintains that God’s supremacy does not indicate for us the cause of sin or of obedience, as the Gnostics mistakenly believe. Moreover, it is clear that the phrase “God holds the supremacy” is connected to why Christians must admit that God created matter. It is not connected with the topic of why some sin and others obey, as Calvinists believe.

 

Likewise, Irenaeus acknowledges that God is indeed the creator of matter, but he maintains that this substance does not explain why some sin and others obey, as the Gnostics mistakenly believe. Irenaeus’ point is simple. For those who want to try to identify the cause of sin and obedience by inquiring into God’s supremacy or the substance that creation is made from, they will find that neither God’s will, nor his supremacy, nor the substance of creation explains or has any detectable relationship to why some sin and other obey.  

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. XXVIII. 7. But we shall not be wrong if we affirm the same thing also concerning the substance of matter, that God produced it. For we have learned from the Scriptures that God holds the supremacy over all things. But whence or in what way He produced it, neither has Scripture anywhere declared; nor does it become us to conjecture, so as, in accordance with our own opinions, to form endless conjectures concerning God, but we should leave such knowledge in the hands of God Himself. In like manner, also,  we must leave the cause why, while all things were made by God, certain of His creatures sinned and revolted from a state of submission to God, and others, indeed the great majority, persevered, and do still persevere, in [willing] subjection to Him who formed them, and also of what nature those are who sinned, and of what nature those who persevere,--[we must, I say, leave the cause of these things] to God and His Word.

 

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. IV. 1. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life.(1) For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth.

 

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK II

 

CHAP. XII. 12. And, indeed, the followers of Marcion do directly blaspheme the Creator, alleging him to be the creator of evils…

 

NOTE: The following passage speaks of the “impossibility” of men who had been conquered to “reform himself, and obtain the prize of victory” or to “attain to salvation.” Consequently, “the Son effected both these things…becoming incarnate, stooping low, even to death.”

 

Calvinists might be quick to associate “impossibility” with their doctrine of Total Depravity. However, it depends on how one interprets the word “reform himself.” Calvinists interpret this in reference to a man’s ability to choose to repent and believe. Freewill theology interprets this in reference to a man’s ability to atone for his own sin. However, the text does not specify any inability of human will.

 

First, the phrase “reform himself” could be viewed in reference, not to repentance, but to rehabilitation from the effect of sin. If the effect of sin is death, then a sinner simply cannot rehabilitate himself from that effect. Even if he does repent, a lifetime of obedience would not turn back time and erase the sin for which he justly incurs damnation.

 

But assuming the term “reform” refers to repentance, the full reading of the text does not deny the ability of a man to choose repentance. The passage speaks of “both impossibilities.” The first impossibility is that a sinner “could reform himself, and obtain the prize of victory.” The second impossibility is that a sinner “could attain to salvation.” This delineation of two impossibilities shows that the phrases “reform himself” and “obtain the prize of victory” must be viewed as a single item, not two separate impossibilities. Calvinism has to split the two so that each is an impossibility on its own: an impossibility to reform and an impossibility to obtain the prize, followed even by a third impossibility of attaining salvation. But Irenaeus states that there are only two possibilities, not three. As a result, Irenaeus is not saying that reforming oneself by repenting is itself an impossibility. Instead, Irenaeus is speaking of the impossibility of the whole phrase. It was not impossible to “reform oneself,” but to “reform oneself and obtain the prize.” Because any sin warranted death, without atonement, a sinner might reform, yet he could not achieve the prize by reforming since there was no atonement. That is all that is required by Irenaeus grouping of these phrases.

 

Consequently, there is no “impossibility” here that is incompatible with Freewill. Nor is there anything necessitating the inability of a sinner to choose repentance, only their inability to atone for themselves.

 

The fact that Irenaeus is here referring to the inability to atone, not the inability to choose, is demonstrated by his immediate reference to the death of the Lord, the atonement.

In addition, the phrase “the Son effected both these things” refers to Christ effecting both impossibilities, not by means of imposing on men’s wills, but simply by means of his sacrificial death. Moreover, “effecting” the impossibilities only necessitates making the impossible possible. It does not necessitate making the impossible guaranteed and certain to occur as Calvinists argue in their doctrine of Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints.

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK III

 

CHAP. XVIII. 2. For as it was not possible that the man who had once for all been conquered, and who had been destroyed through disobedience, could reform himself, and obtain the prize of victory; and as it was also impossible that he could attain to salvation who had fallen under the power of sin,--the Son effected both these things, being the Word of God, descending from the Father, becoming incarnate, stooping low, even to death, and consummating the arranged plan of our salvation...

 

NOTE: The quote below speaks against “compatibilistic will” because it denotes that man, is the author of sin. Sin does not occur, as Calvinism teaches and models incorrectly through the case of Joseph’s brothers, because God authors all human choices, and men simply carry them out for their own other, unknowing motives. The quote also speaks twice of things that God “permits” or “suffers” to occur, which speaks of things that God allows but doesn’t necessarily prefer, which has implications for not only “compatibilistic will” but also for Calvinistic sovereignty as a whole. After all, if God permits a thing that he does not prefer, then who is the primary agent who prefers it to happen and, thereby, causes it to come to pass? If God is the primary initiator of all decisions, then all decisions would result from what he prefers, not what someone else prefers.

 

CHAP.XX. 1. Long-suffering therefore was God, when man became a defaulter, as foreseeing that victory which should be granted to him through the Word. For, when strength was made perfect in weakness,(15) it showed the kindness and transcendent power of God. For as He patiently suffered Jonah to be swallowed by the whale, not that he should be swallowed up and perish altogether, but that, having been cast out again, he might be the more subject to God, and might glorify Him the more who had conferred upon him such an unhoped-for deliverance, and might bring the Ninevites to a lasting repentance, so that they should be convened to the Lord, who would deliver them from death, having been struck with awe by that portent which had been wrought in Jonah's case, as the Scripture says of them, "And they returned each from his evil way, and the unrighteousness which was in their hands, saying, Who knoweth if God will repent, and turn away His anger from us, and we shall not perish?"(16)--so also, from the beginning, did God permit man to be swallowed up by the great whale, who was the author of transgression, not that he should perish altogether when so engulphed; but, arranging and preparing the plan of salvation, which was accomplished by the Word, through the sign of Jonah, for those who held the same opinion as Jonah regarding the Lord, and who confessed, and said, "I am a servant of the Lord, and I worship the Lord God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land."

 

NOTE: The quote below does not support the idea of Original Sin. First, properly defined Original Sin makes Adam the cause of all human sin, in a federal sense, not Eve. Second, the quote compares Eve to Mary so that it is impossible to think of Eve as a “cause” in any automatic, spiritual way (as Original Sin teaches) without thinking of Mary as the counterpart for salvation, in which case Mary would be a federal, automatic, spiritual cause for mankind’s salvation. It might be acceptable for Calvinists to think of Jesus in such terms, but certainly not Mary. In reality, by referring to Eve and Mary as “causes” for “the whole human race” the text merely means in an ordinary, physical way. Eve opened the door to death by being the first to sin, so that now men lived in a world where sin and death were present rather than absent as they were when God originally created. Likewise, in obeying, Mary opened a way for resurrection life to enter the world by means of the incarnation, which made Jesus’ death and resurrection possible, which in turn provided atonement and the redemption of our bodies. Since Mary does not spiritually cause or extend salvation, belief, or righteousness to us all by her actions, then we cannot conclude that Eve does either. Both women merely open the door for death or life to enter the world, where they are available for men to choose them freely.

 

CHAP.XXII. 4. But Eve was disobedient...having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race... And thus also it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.

 

NOTE: The quote below is from Irenaeus’ fifth book and it is included here out of order because it relates directly to the content of the quote immediately above.

 

CHAP. XIX. 1. That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled,--was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man.(5) For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness(6) (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience.

 

CHAP.XXIII. 1. For if man, who had been created by God that he might live, after losing life, through being injured by the serpent that had corrupted him, should not any more return to life, but should be utterly [and for ever] abandoned to death, God would [in that case] have been conquered, and the wickedness of the serpent would have prevailed over the will of God. But inasmuch as God is invincible and long-suffering, He did indeed show Himself to be long-suffering in the matter of the correction of man and the probation of all, as I have already observed; and by means of the second man did He bind the strong man, and spoiled his goods,(1) and abolished death, vivifying that man who had been in a state of death. For at the first Adam became a vessel in his (Satan's) possession, whom he did also hold under his power, that is, by bringing sin on him iniquitously, and under colour of immortality entailing death upon him. For, while promising that they should be as gods, which was in no way possible for him to be, he wrought death in them: wherefore he who had led man captive, was justly captured in his turn by God; but man, who had been led captive, was loosed from the bonds of condemnation. 2. But this is Adam, if the truth should be told, the first formed man, of whom the Scripture says that the Lord spake, "Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness;"(2) and we are all from him: and as we are from him, therefore have we all inherited his title. But inasmuch as man is saved, it is fitting that he who was created the original man should be saved. For it is too absurd to maintain, that he who was so deeply injured by the enemy, and was the first to suffer captivity, was not rescued by Him who conquered the enemy, but that his children were,--those whom he had begotten in the same captivity. Neither would the enemy appear to be as yet conquered, if the old spoils remained with him. To give an illustration: If a hostile force had overcome certain [enemies], had bound them, and led them away captive, and held them for a long time in servitude, so that they begat children among them; and somebody, compassionating those who had been made slaves, should overcome this same hostile force; he certainly would not act equitably, were he to liberate the children of those who had been led captive, from the sway of those who had enslaved their fathers, but should leave these latter, who had suffered the act of capture, subject to their enemies,--those, too, on whose very account he had proceeded to this retaliation,--the children succeeding to liberty through the avenging of their fathers' cause, but not(3) so that their fathers, who suffered the act of capture itself, should be left [in bondage]. For God is neither devoid of power nor of justice, who has afforded help to man, and restored him to His own liberty. …7. Now Adam had been conquered, all life having been taken away from him: wherefore, when the foe was conquered in his turn, Adam received new life; and the last enemy, death, is destroyed,(8) which at the first had taken possession of man. Therefore, when man has been liberated, "what is written shall come to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death sting?"(9) This could not be said with justice, if that man, over whom death did first obtain dominion, were not set free. For his salvation is death's destruction. When therefore the Lord vivifies man, that is, Adam, death is at the same time destroyed.

 

NOTE: The quote above speaks of the need for God to redeem men in order that God would Himself have not been defeated by the serpent, who sought to figuratively steel men from God. In God’s “invincibility,” Calvinists might see support for Irresistible Grace. In the children being born in captivity, Calvinists might see support for Original Sin and Total Depravity. But neither doctrine is supported by these phrases from Irenaeus.

 

First, the devil is depicted as making impossible what God intended. The devil had blocked something. However, there is nothing that requires God to force or guarantee his desired outcome in order for God to prevail. Instead, in order for God to overcome the devil’s work, all that was necessary was for God to make it possible again, to unblock what the devil had blocked.

 

Second, it is important to take the terms and ideas out of the general and vague and into the specific. As the text plainly indicates, the “captivity” of the devil is captivity to death. Conversely, in the text, liberty is the freedom from mortality. Thus, to overcome the devil’s work of death, God had to bring about a plan to make all men alive. This does not necessitate that God cause men to receive salvation, only resurrection. And scripture declares that all men, whether wicked or righteous, will be resurrected through the work of Christ. The righteous will go on to life in fellowship with God, the wicked to eternal punishment in hell. Consequently, God’s undoing of the devil’s work of death does not in any way even touch on the question of effecting election, which men choose to believe and live with God or damned and live in hell. As such, there is no suggestion of irresistible grace in this passage from Irenaeus.

 

Third, concerning the children being born into captivity, the captivity is death. Due to Adam’s sin, he and his wife were kicked out of the garden where the tree of life was, thereby, now being subject to eventual physical death. Adam’s children were born outside the garden as well. Even if God took the children back in to fellowship with him there until they themselves sinned, that place with God in the garden of life is not what the children were born into. They were born into the place of exile, the place barred from life, and surrounded by the sinning examples of their parents. Consequently, to say that the children were born into Adam’s captivity to death does not necessitate that the children inherited a sinful nature from Adam or his guilt and sentence. It only necessitates that because Adam sinned, he was physically thrown out of the place where he had access to eternal life, and so when children were born to him, they too were born and grew up with their parents in a place without access to the tree of life. Even Irenaeus’ illustration confirms this because it depicts the children being born and growing up in the land where their fathers were brought to captivity.

 

Once again, at the end of the quote, we that Irenaeus depicts God’s efforts in salvation as “help,” a term which Calvinists deride saying that God must do more than help, he must irresistibly cause men to have faith. So, once again, we see Irenaeus using language that is not compatible with Calvinism.

 

NOTE: The next quote below occurs later in Irenaeus’ fourth book, but it is placed here out of order because its comments are similar to those above in both language and meaning. The question is “how were Adam and Eve made subject to death?” The answer is, “by being expelled from the garden where they ate of the tree of life.” Consequently, their children were born and raised away from the tree of life, and so also they were subject to death by being born and raised outside the garden and away from that tree. Nothing about these facts necessitates that the children received a sinful nature or guilty or death sentence at conception because Adam and Eve had sinned, only that the relocation of the parents naturally impacted the location of the offspring, consequently, subjecting the children to death also as a simple, physical side effect of the parent’s relocation. 

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

 

CHAP. XXII. 1. For this is the end of the human race inheriting God; that as in the beginning, by means of our first [parents], we were all brought into bondage, by being made subject to death; so at last, by means of the New Man, all who from the beginning [were His] disciples, having been cleansed and washed from things pertaining to death, should come to the life of God. 

 

NOTE: Notice from the next quote how Irenaeus does not even believe that Adam was directly cursed, but instead that God cursed the ground. If Adam personally did not receive a curse in Irenaeus’ view, how could Irenaeus believe that Adam’s children were cursed in Adam or found guilty in Adam, as Original Sin teaches?

 

CHAP.XXIII. 3. It was for this reason, too, that immediately after Adam had transgressed, as the Scripture relates, He pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground, in reference to his works, as a certain person among the ancients has observed: "God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man."(4) But man received, as the punishment of his transgression, the toilsome task of tilling the earth, and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return to the dust from whence he was taken. Similarly also did the woman [receive] toil, and labour, and groans, and the pangs of parturition, and a state of subjection, that is, that she should serve her husband; so that they should neither perish altogether when cursed by God, nor, by remaining unreprimanded, should be led to despise God. But the curse in all its fulness fell upon the serpent, which had beguiled them. "And God," it is declared, "said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above all the beasts of the earth."(5) And this same thing does the Lord also say in the Gospel, to those who are found upon the left hand: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into ever: lasting fire, which my Father hath prepared for the devil and his angels;"(6) indicating that eternal fire was not originally prepared for man, but for him who beguiled man, and caused him to offend--for him, I say, who is chief of the apostasy, and for those angels who became apostates along with him; which [fire], indeed, they too shall justly feel, who, like him, persevere in works of wickedness, without repentance, and without retracing their steps.

 

NOTE: Once again, in the quote below, Irenaeus attests to the idea of things not being subject to God. Such a statement is utterly incompatible with Calvinism’s doctrine of sovereignty, in which all things happen at God’s initiation and control.

 

Irenaeus –

AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK IV

 

CHAP. IV. 1. ...man was reduced, who in former times was not subject to God when death was reigning...

 

CHAP. IV. 3. But the wheat and the chaff, being inanimate and irrational, have been made such by nature. But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect like to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself the cause to himself, that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff. Wherefore also he shall be justly condemned, because, having been created a rational being, he lost the true rationality, and living irrationally, opposed the righteousness of God, giving himself over to every earthly spirit, and serving all lusts...

 

NOTE: Both this quote and the quote above could have been placed in the section below on “Conditional Election.” However, the first quote has been placed here because of its testimony to the ability of man, rather than “Total Depravity.” The second quote has been placed here because it relates directly to the content of the first quote.

 

NOTE: Repeatedly the quote below establishes two important facts. First, the Father has revealed himself to all men, through the creation itself, through the law and the prophets, and through the visible visitations of the Word (both before and during the incarnation). Consequently, Irenaeus makes the connection that God’s judgment of men is just, because although all have received the same opportunity to believe God, some have and others have not. Therefore, their reward or punishment is conditional, deserved, and just. Second, there is the statement that the Word “reveals the Father to all; to whom He wills, and when He wills, and as the Father wills.” But context shows that this “revealing” is not the irresistible grace of Calvinism. Instead, here Irenaeus is simply referring to the times when prior to and since his incarnation, the Word has visibly appeared to men. Every time he appears, according to Irenaeus, he is by his very nature the visible revelation of who the Father is.

 

CHAP. VI. 5. And for this purpose did the Father reveal the Son, that through His instrumentality He might be manifested to all, and might receive those righteous ones who believe in Him into incorruption and everlasting enjoyment (now, to believe in Him is to do His will); but He shall righteously shut out into the darkness which they have chosen for themselves, those who do not believe, and who do consequently avoid His light. The Father therefore has revealed Himself to all, by making His Word visible to all; and, conversely, the Word has declared to all the Father and the Son, since He has become visible to all. And therefore the righteous judgment of God [shall fall] upon all who, like others, have seen, but have not, like others, believed. 6. For by means of the creation itself, the Word reveals God the Creator; and by means of the world [does He declare] the Lord the Maker of the world; and by means of the formation [of man] the Artificer who formed him; and by the Son that Father who begat the Son: and these things do indeed address all men in the same manner, but all do not in the same way believe them. But by the law and the prophets did the Word preach both Himself and the Father alike [to all]; and all the people heard Him alike, but all did not alike believe. And through the Word Himself who had been made visible and palpable, was the Father shown forth, although all did not equally believe in Him; but all saw the Father in the Son... 7. For it was fitting that the truth should receive testimony from all, and should become [a means of] judgment for the salvation indeed of those who believe, but for the condemnation of those who believe not… But the Son, administering all things for the Father, works from the beginning even to the end, and without Him no man can attain the knowledge of God. For the Son is the knowledge of the Father; but the knowledge of the Son is in the Father, and has been revealed through the Son; and this was the reason why the Lord declared: "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; nor the Father, save the Son, and those to whomsoever the Son shall reveal [Him]."(5) For "shall reveal" was said not with reference to the future alone, as if then [only] the Word had begun to manifest the Father when He was born of Mary, but it applies indifferently throughout all time. For the Son, being present with His own handiwork from the beginning, reveals the Father to all; to whom He wills, and when He wills, and as the Father wills. Wherefore, then, in all things, and through all things, there is one God, the Father, and one Word, and one Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation to all who believe in Him.

 

NOTE: In the segment below, the New Covenant is being compared to the Old Covenant. Consequently, “liberty” is not God granting a new freedom or ability to choose to sinners who are under Total Depravity and unable to choose God. Instead, “liberty” is the freedom Christians have from the many rules of the law. This is evident from reading this larger section from Irenaeus, in which he argues that the differences between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant do not lead to the Gnostic idea that there must be two separate Gods authoring each covenant separately. Likewise, “grace” is not irresistible grace, but the gift of this greater liberty as well as even the supernatural gifts that the Church possesses in the New Covenant. This, too, is even more evident from the surrounding context. However, most importantly, Irenaeus describes that God gives this liberty and grace conditionally to those “with a willing mind” who “with all heart, do Him service.” As such, this quote could easily be placed below under the section on “Conditional Election,” but it is placed here because of its testimony of the ability of man to choose before he individually receives “liberty” or “grace” from God and as a prerequisite for individually receiving both “liberty” and “grace.”

 

 

CHAP. XI. 4. ...if His advent has brought in a fuller [measure of] grace and greater gifts to those who have received Him, it is plain that the Father also is Himself the same who was proclaimed by the prophets, and that the Son, on His coming, did not spread the knowledge of another Father, but of the same who was preached from the beginning; from whom also He has brought down liberty to those who, in a lawful manner, and with a willing mind, and with all the heart, do Him service; whereas to scoffers, and to those not subject to God...[to such] has He assigned everlasting perdition by cutting them off from life.

 

NOTE: In addition to its unequivocal statement about the free ability of Abraham (and by extension all other men) to voluntarily choose God without any compulsion, the following quote also provides a sample of the surrounding context for the quote above, implying how “liberty” is defined as the difference between the Law of Moses and the New Covenant of Christ.

 

CHAP. XIII. 3. Now all these [precepts], as I have already observed, were not the injunctions] of one doing away with the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and widening it among us; just as if one should say, that the more extensive operation of liberty implies that a more complete subjection and affection towards our Liberator had been implanted within us… 4. Inasmuch, then, as all natural precepts are common to us and to them (the Jews), they had in them indeed the beginning and origin; but in us they have received growth and completion. For to yield assent to God, and to follow His Word, and to love Him above all, and one's neighbour as one's self (now man is neighbour to man), and to abstain from every evil deed, and all other things of a like nature which are common to both [covenants], do reveal one and the same God. But this is our Lord, the Word of God, who in the first instance certainly drew slaves to God, but afterwards He set those free who were subject to Him, as He does Himself declare to His disciples: "I will not now call you servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things which I have heard from My Father I have made known."(2) For in that which He says, "I will not now call you servants," He indicates in the most marked manner that it was Himself who did originally appoint for men that bondage with respect to God through the law, and then afterwards conferred upon them freedom. And in that He says, "For the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth," He points out, by means of His own advent, the ignorance of a people in a servile condition. But when He terms His disciples "the friends of God," He plainly declares Himself to be the Word of God, whom Abraham also followed voluntarily and under no compulsion (sine vinculis), because of the noble nature of his faith, and so became "the friend of God."(3)

 

NOTE: The quote below is also being placed in the Conditional Election section and Perseverance of the Saints section below. The quote is placed here because it specifically states that God “always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man.” In saying this, Irenaeus outright prohibits the doctrine of Total Depravity, which states that as a result of Adam’s sin, all his offspring lost the freedom and ability to choose God. Moreover, Irenaeus argues that because man’s freedom is always preserved by God, consequently, those who have obeyed God are justly rewarded while those who have not obeyed are justly condemned because each has had it in their power to obey. This, of course, disproves Unconditional Election. Lastly, the quote also disproves Perseverance of the Saints, declaring plainly that those with salvation can become apostates, revert to idolatry and apostatizing from God.

 

CHAP. XV. 2. If, therefore, even in the New Testament, the apostles are found granting certain precepts in consideration of human infirmity, because of the incontinence of some, lest such persons, having grown obdurate, and despairing altogether of their salvation, should become apostates from God,--it ought not to be wondered at, if also in the Old Testament the same God permitted similar indulgences for the benefit of His people, drawing them on by means of the ordinances already mentioned, so that they might obtain the gift of salvation through them, while they obeyed the Decalogue, and being restrained by Him, should not revert to idolatry, nor apostatize from God, but learn to love Him with the whole heart. And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver (doctor) of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that "many are called, but few chosen;"(11) and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep's clothing in the eyes of the world (foris); and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man,(12) while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged (condemned) because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who have obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured with immortality.

 

NOTE: The quote below is problematic for Calvinistic sovereignty because it indicates that God is not always exercising sovereignty over the earth. Irenaeus also makes the statement that, “the Spirit of God pointed out by the prophets things to come, forming and adapting us beforehand for the purpose of our being made subject to God.” However, context reveals that the Spirit’s “forming and adapting us beforehand” does not refer to Calvinistic irresistible grace or any other supernatural force from God, but instead it refers to God preparing men by instruction to turn from sin and receive Jesus Christ through the dispensations of the covenants and the teachings revealed through the prophet. This confirmed by the preceding phrase, “the Spirit of God pointed out by the prophets things to come.”

 

CHAP. XX. 2. …For no one was able, either in heaven or in earth, or under the earth, to open the book of the Father, or to behold Him, with the exception of the Lamb who was slain, and who redeemed us with His own blood, receiving power over all things from the same God who made all things by the Word, and adorned them by [His] Wisdom, when "the Word was made flesh;" that even as the Word of God had the sovereignty in the heavens, so also might He have the sovereignty in earth, inasmuch as [He was] a righteous man, "who did no sin, neither was there found guile in His mouth;"(7) and that He might have the pre-eminence over those things which are under the earth…8. Inasmuch, then, as the Spirit of God pointed out by the prophets things to come, forming and adapting us beforehand for the purpose of our being made subject to God, but it was still a future thing that man, through the good pleasure of the Holy Spirit, should see [God], it necessarily behoved those through whose instrumentality future things were announced, to see God, whom they intimated as to be seen by men; in order that God, and the Son of God, and the Son, and the Father, should not only be prophetically announced, but that He should also be seen by all His members who are sanctified and instructed in the things of God, that man might be disciplined beforehand and previously exercised for a reception into that glory which shall afterwards be revealed in those who love God.

 

NOTE: The quote below denies Calvinism’s “compatibilistic will” and view of God’s sovereignty by stating plainly that men are not always subject to God’s will. At times, God’s will is thwarted by men. (Of course, this is what sin is by definition). However, the quote also attests to conditional election, because it describes damnation or salvation as resulting from an individual man possessing the trait of either faith or disobedience. The passage also explains that “hardening” is not a matter of God causing men to choose sin or disbelief, but a matter of God foreknowing whether or not each individual would ever choose to believe, and God simply choosing at times not to aid or speak gently to explain things to those whom he foreknew would never believe. Consequently, in saying these things, Irenaeus not only denies Calvinistic “compatibilistic” sovereignty, but he also affirms that election is based upon conditional foreknowledge of which men would and would not believe. It is also important to note that the quote below attests to the fact that children are counted as innocent before a certain age, an idea that completely contradicts the doctrine of Original Sin.

 

CHAP. XXVIII. 3. For the apostle does also say in the Second [Epistle] to the Corinthians: "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them which are saved, and in them which perish: to the one indeed the savour of death unto death, but to the other the savour of life unto life." To whom, then, is there the savour of death unto death, unless to those who believe not neither are subject to the Word of God? And who are they that did even then give themselves over to death? Those men, doubtless, who do not believe, nor submit themselves to God. And again, who are they that have been saved and received the inheritance? Those, doubtless, who do believe God, and who have continued in His love; as did Caleb [the son] of Jephunneh and Joshua [the son] of Nun,(2) and innocent children,(3) who have had no sense of evil. But who are they that are saved now, and receive life eternal? Is it not those who love God, and who believe His promises, and who "in malice have become as little children?"(4) CHAP. XXVI. 2. Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church,--those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismaries puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth...3. Those, however, who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts, and, do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt towards others, and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat, and work evil deeds in secret, saying, "No man sees us," shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance (secundum gloriam), nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart...4. From all such persons, therefore, it behoves us to keep aloof, but to adhere to those who, as I have already observed, do hold the doctrine of the apostles, and who, together with the order of priesthood (presbyterii ordine), display sound speech and blameless conduct for the confirmation and correction of others.(12) In this way, Moses, to whom such a leadership was entrusted, relying on a good conscience, cleared himself before God, saying, "I have not in covetousness taken anything belonging to one of these men, nor have I done evil to one of them."(13) In this way, too, Samuel, who judged the people so many years, and bore rule over Israel without any pride, in the end cleared himself, saying, "I have walked before you from my childhood even unto this day: answer me in the sight of God, and before His anointed (Christi ejus); whose ox or whose ass of yours have I taken, or over whom have I tyrannized, or whom have I oppressed? or if I have received from the hand of any a bribe or [so much as] a shoe, speak out against me, and I will restore it to you."(1) And when the people had said to him, "Thou hast not tyrannized, neither hast thou oppressed us neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand," he called the Lord to witness, saying, "The Lord is witness, and His Anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they said to him, He is witness." In this strain also the Apostle Paul, inasmuch as he had a good conscience, said to the Corinthians: "For we are not as many, who corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ;"(2) "We have injured no man, corrupted no man, circumvented no man."(3) 5. Such presbyters does the Church nourish, of whom also the prophet says: "I will give thy rulers in peace, and thy bishops in righteousness."(4) Of whom also did the Lord declare, "Who then shall be a faithful steward (actor), good and wise, whom the Lord sets over His household, to give them their meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing."(5) Paul then, teaching us where one may find such, says, "God hath placed in the Church, first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers."(6) Where, therefore, the gifts of the Lord have been placed, there it behoves us to learn the truth, [namely,] from those who possess that succession of the Church which is from the apostles and among whom exists that which is sound and blameless in conduct, as well as that which is unadulterated and incorrupt in speech.

 

CHAP. XXXIII. 1. For he judges the Gentiles, "who serve the creature more than the Creator,"(12) and with a reprobate mind spend all their labour on vanity. And he also judges the Jews, who do not accept of the word of liberty, nor are willing to go forth free, although they have a Deliverer present [with them]; but they pretend, at a time unsuitable [for such conduct], to serve, [with observances] beyond [those required by] the law, God who stands in need of nothing, and do not recognise the advent of Christ, which He accomplished for the salvation of men, nor are willing to understand that all the prophets announced His two advents: the one, indeed, in which He became a man subject to stripes, and knowing what it is to bear infirmity,(13) and sat upon the foal of an ass,(14) and was a stone rejected by the builders,(15) and was led as a sheep to the slaughter,(16) and by the stretching forth of His hands destroyed Amalek;(17) while He gathered from the ends of the earth into His Father's fold the children who were scattered abroad,(18) and remembered His own dead ones who had formerly fallen asleep,(19) and came down to them that He might deliver them: but the second in which He will come on the clouds,(20) bringing on the day which burns as a furnace?(21) and smiting the earth with the word of His mouth?(22) and slaying the impious with the breath of His lips, and having a fan in His hands, and cleansing His floor, and gathering the wheat indeed into His barn, but burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.(23)

 

NOTE: The quote below is long and could be placed under the section below concerning “Conditional Election” as well. But, it is placed only here because of its length. Two additional points are worth noting.

 

The statement “unless we had known what a loss it were to be devoid of sight” does not refer to mankind having become spiritually blind and unable to respond or believe in God’s teaching, as Calvinism asserts. Instead, it is clearly used only as a metaphor to illustrate how “Just in the same way is the heavenly kingdom honourable to those who have known the earthly one.”

 

The statement “God thus determining all things beforehand for the bringing of man to perfection” does not refer to Calvinistic sovereignty, including God controlling the will of men. Instead, it refers to how God arranged the dispensations of the prior prophets and the truths they taught to man so that men might hear and learn and become obedient believers. The arranging of the dispensations and determining what to teach men through the prophets is what God is said to determine here, not the will or choices of men, which throughout this long quote, Irenaeus has constantly and explicitly declared are utterly free from divine interference or override.

 

CHAP. XXXVII. 1. This expression [of our Lord], "How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldest not,"(8) set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free [agent] from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests (ad utendum sententia) of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will [towards us] is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man, as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On the other hand, they who have not obeyed shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment: for God did kindly bestow on them what was good; but they themselves did not diligently keep it, nor deem it something precious, but poured contempt upon His super-eminent goodness. Rejecting therefore the good, and as it were spuing it out, they shall all deservedly incur the just judgment of God, which also the Apostle Paul testifies in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, "But dost thou despise the riches of His goodness, and patience, and long-suffering, being ignorant that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God." "But glory and honour," he says, "to every one that doeth good."(1) God therefore has given that which is good, as the apostle tells us in this Epistle, and they who work it shall receive glory and honour, because they have done that which is good when they had it in their power not to do it; but those who do it not shall receive the just judgment of God, because they did not work good when they had it in their power so to do. 2. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for such were they created; nor would the former be reprehensible, for thus they were made [originally]. But since all men are of the same nature, able both to hold fast and to do what is good; and, on the other hand, having also the power to cast it from them and not to do it,--some do justly receive praise even among men who are under the control of good laws (and much more from God), and obtain deserved testimony of their choice of good in general, and of persevering therein; but the others are blamed, and receive a just condemnation, because of their rejection of what is fair and good. And therefore the prophets used to exhort men to what was good, to act justly and to work righteousness, as I have so largely demonstrated, because it is in our power so to do, and because by excessive negligence we might become forgetful, and thus stand in need of that good counsel which the good God has given us to know by means of the prophets. 3. For this reason the Lord also said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."(2) And, "Take heed to yourselves, lest perchance your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and worldly cares."(3) And, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye like unto men that wait for their Lord, when He returns from the wedding, that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open to Him. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing."(4) And again, "The servant who knows his Lord's will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes."(5) And, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"(6) And again, "But if the servant say in his heart, The Lord delayeth, and begin to beat his fellow-servants, and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken, his Lord will come in a day on which he does not expect Him, and shall cut him in sunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites."(7) All such passages demonstrate the independent will(8) of man, and at the same time the counsel which God conveys to him, by which He exhorts us to submit ourselves to Him, and seeks to turn us away from [the sin of] unbelief against Him, without, however, in any way coercing us.  4. No doubt, if any one is unwilling to follow the Gospel itself, it is in his power [to reject it], but it is not expedient. For it is in man's power to disobey God, and to forfeit what is good; but [such conduct] brings no small amount of injury and mischief. And on this account Paul says, "All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient;"(9) referring both to the liberty of man, in which respect "all things are lawful," God exercising no compulsion in regard to him; and [by the expression] "not expedient" pointing out that we "should not use our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,.(10)  for this is not expedient. And again he says, "Speak ye every man truth with his neighbour."(11) And, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor scurrility, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks."(12) And, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk honestly as children of the light, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in anger and jealousy. And such were some of you; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our Lord."(13) If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things, and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God. 5. And not merely in works, but also in faith, has God preserved the will of man free and under his own control, saying, "According to thy faith be it unto thee; "(1) thus showing that there is a faith specially belonging to man, since he has an opinion specially his own. And again, "All things are possible to him that believeth;"(2) and, "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee."(3) Now all such expressions demonstrate that man is in his own power with respect to faith. And for this reason, "he that believeth in Him has eternal life while he who believeth not the Son hath not eternal life, but the wrath of God shall remain upon him."(4) In the same manner therefore the Lord, both showing His own goodness, and indicating that man is in his own free will and his own power, said to Jerusalem, "How often have I wished to gather thy children together, as a hen [gathereth] her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Wherefore your house shall be left unto you desolate."(5) 6. Those, again, who maintain the opposite to these ['conclusions], do themselves present the Lord as destitute of power, as if, forsooth, He were unable to accomplish what He willed; or, on the other hand, as being ignorant that they were by nature "material," as these men express it, and such as cannot receive His immortality. "But He should not," say they, "have created angels of such a nature that they were capable of transgression, nor men who immediately proved ungrateful towards Him; for they were made rational beings, endowed with the power of examining and judging, and were not [formed] as things irrational or of a [merely] animal nature, which can do nothing of their own will, but are drawn by necessity and compulsion to what is good, in which things there is one mind and one usage, working mechanically in one groove (inflexibiles el sine judicio), who are incapable of being anything else except just what they had been created." But upon this supposition, neither would what is good be grateful to them, nor communion with God be precious, nor would the good be very much to be sought after, which would present itself without their own proper endeavour, care, or study, but would be implanted of its own accord and without their concern. Thus it would come to pass, that their being good would be of no consequence, because they were so by nature rather than by will, and are possessors of good spontaneously, not by choice; and for this reason they would not understand this fact, that good is a comely thing, nor would they take pleasure in it. For how can those who are ignorant of good enjoy it? Or what credit is it to those who have not aimed at it? And what crown is it to those who have not followed in pursuit of it, like those victorious in the contest? 7. On this account, too, did the Lord assert that the kingdom of heaven was the portion of "the violent;" and He says, "The violent take it by force;"(6) that is, those who by strength and earnest striving are on the watch to snatch it away on the moment. On this account also Paul the Apostle says to the Corinthians, "Know ye not, that they who run in a racecourse, do all indeed run, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. Every one also who engages in the contest is temperate in all things: now these men do it that they may obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. But I so run, not as uncertainty; I fight, not as one beating the air; but I make my body livid, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when preaching to others, I may myself be rendered a castaway."(7) This able wrestler, therefore, exhorts us to the struggle for immortality, that we may be crowned, and may deem the crown precious, namely, that which is acquired by our struggle, but which does not encircle us of its own accord (sed non ultro coalitam). And the harder we strive, so much is it the more valuable; while so much the more valuable it is, so much the more should we esteem it. And indeed those things are not esteemed so highly which come spontaneously, as those which are reached by much anxious care. Since, then, this power has been conferred upon us, both the Lord has taught and the apostle has enjoined us the more to love God, that we may reach this [prize] for ourselves by striving after it. For otherwise, no doubt, this our good would be [virtually] irrational, because not the result of trial. Moreover, the faculty of seeing would not appear to be so desirable, unless we had known what a loss it were to be devoid of sight; and health, too, is rendered all the more estimable by an acquaintance with disease; light, also, by contrasting it with darkness; and life with death. Just in the same way is the heavenly kingdom honourable to those who have known the earthly one. But in proportion as it is more honourable, so much the more do we prize it; and if we have prized it more, we shall be the more glorious in the presence of God. The Lord has therefore endured all these things on our behalf, in order that we, having been instructed by means of them all, may be in all respects circumspect for the time to come, and that, having been rationally taught to love God, we may continue in His perfect love: for God has displayed long-suffering in the case of man's apostasy; while man has been instructed by means of it, as also the prophet says, "Thine own apostasy shall heal thee;"(8) God thus determining all things beforehand for the bringing of man to perfection, for his edification, and for the revelation of His dispensations, that goodness may both be made apparent, and righteousness perfected, and that the Church may be fashioned after the image of His Son, and that man may finally be brought to maturity at some future time, becoming ripe through such privileges to see and comprehend God.(1)

 

NOTE: The quote below maintains that men retain the power of choice over themselves. Consequently, the statement that “through love and power, God will overcome the substance of created nature” does not refer to Calvinistic irresistible grace, causing men to choose. Moreover, the context reveals that “overcoming the substance of the created nature” refers to God’s power resurrecting and transforming the mortal, corruptible bodies that men now have into bodies of immortal and incorruptible substance.

 

 

CHAP. XXXVIII. 4. He declares, "I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all sons of the Highest."(1) But since we could not sustain the power of divinity, He adds, "But ye shall die like men," setting forth both truths--the kindness of His free gift, and our weakness, and also that we were possessed of power over ourselves. For after His great kindness He graciously conferred good [upon us], and made men like to Himself, [that is] in their own power; while at the same time by His prescience He knew the infirmity of human beings, and the consequences which would flow from it; but through [His] love and [His] power, He shall overcome the substance of created nature.(2) For it was necessary, at first, that nature should be exhibited; then, after that, that what was mortal should be conquered and swallowed up by immortality, and the corruptible by incorruptibility, and that man should be made after the image and likeness of God, having received the knowledge of good and evil.

 

CHAP. XXXIX. 1. Man has received the knowledge of good and evil. It is good to obey God, and to believe in Him, and to keep His commandment, and this is the life of man; as not to obey God is evil, and this is his death. Since God, therefore, gave [to man] such mental power (magnanimitatem) man knew both the good of obedience and the evil of disobedience, that the eye of the mind, receiving experience of both, may with judgment make choice of the better things; and that he may never become indolent or neglectful of God's command; and learning by experience that it is an evil thing which deprives him of life, that is, disobedience to God, may never attempt it at all, but that, knowing that what preserves his life, namely, obedience to God, is good, he may diligently keep it with all earnestness. Wherefore he has also had a twofold experience, possessing knowledge of both kinds, that with discipline he may make choice of the better things. But how, if he had no knowledge of the contrary, could he have had instruction in that which is good?

 

NOTE: The next quote from Irenaeus is also quite long. It contains elements that deny Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Irresistible Grace, but is placed only in this section because of its length. It explicitly attests to man being in control of whether he remains in the malleable and soft state in which God created him so that God can mold him toward immortality or whether he hardens himself and resists God’s efforts. In saying this negates both Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace. It also speaks of God preparing a good reward because he foresaw some men would seek him and an evil (i.e. bad) punishment because he foresaw that some men would not seek him. This attests clearly to the use of God’s foreknowledge in order to conditionally elect. 

 

 

CHAP. XXXIX. Offer to Him thy heart in a soft and tractable state, and preserve the form in which the Creator has fashioned thee, having moisture in thyself, lest, by becoming hardened, thou lose the impressions of His fingers. But by preserving the framework thou shalt ascend to that which is perfect, for the moist clay which is in thee is hidden [there] by the workmanship of God. His hand fashioned thy substance; He will cover thee over [too] within and without with pure gold and silver, and He will adorn thee to such a degree, that even "the King Himself shall have pleasure in thy beauty."(2) But if thou, being obstinately hardened, dost reject the operation of His skill, and show thyself ungrateful towards Him, because thou weft created a [mere] man, by becoming thus ungrateful to God, thou hast at once lost both His workmanship and life. For creation is an attribute of the goodness of God but to be created is that of human nature. If then, thou shalt deliver up to Him what is thine that is, faith towards Him and subjection, thou shalt receive His handiwork, and shall be a perfect work of God. 3. If, however, thou wilt not believe in Him, and wilt flee from His hands, the cause of imperfection shall be in thee who didst not obey, but not in Him who called [thee]. For He commissioned [messengers] to call people to the marriage, but they who did not obey Him deprived themselves of the royal supper.(3) The skill of God, therefore, is not defective, for He has power of the stones to raise up children to Abraham;(4) but the man who does not obtain it is the cause to himself of his own imperfection. Nor, [in like manner], does the light fail because of those who have blinded themselves; but while it remains the same as ever, those who are [thus] blinded are involved in darkness through their own fault. The light does never enslave any one by necessity; nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon any one unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill. Those persons, therefore, who have apostatized from the light given by the Father, and transgressed the law of liberty, have done so through their own fault, since they have been created free agents, and possessed of power over themselves. 4. But God, foreknowing all things, prepared fit habitations for both, kindly conferring that light which they desire on those who seek after the light of incorruption, and resort to it; but for the despisers and mockers who avoid and turn themselves away from this light, and who do, as it were, blind themselves, He has prepared darkness suitable to persons who oppose the light, and He has inflicted an appropriate punishment upon those who try to avoid being subject to Him. Submission to God is eternal rest, so that they who shun the light have a place worthy of their flight; and those who fly from eternal rest, have a habitation in accordance with their fleeing. Now, since all good things are with God, they who by their own determination fly from God, do defraud themselves of all good things; and having been [thus] defrauded of all good things with respect to God, they shall consequently fall under the just judgment of God. For those persons who shun rest shall justly incur punishment, and those who avoid the light shall justly dwell in darkness. For as in the case of this temporal light, those who shun it do deliver themselves over to darkness, so that they do themselves become the cause to themselves that they are destitute of light, and do inhabit darkness; and, as I have already observed, the light is not the cause of such an [unhappy] condition of existence to them; so those who fly from the eternal light of God, which contains in itself all good things, are themselves the cause to themselves of their inhabiting eternal darkness, destitute of all good things, having become to themselves the cause of [their consignment to] an abode of that. CHAP. XL. 1. It is therefore one and the same God the Father who has prepared good things with Himself for those who desire His fellowship, and who remain in subjection to Him; and who has the eternal fire for the ringleader of the apostasy, the devil, and those who revolted with him, into which [fire] the Lord(5) has declared those men shall be sent who have been set apart by themselves on His left hand. And this is what has been spoken by the prophet, "I am a jealous God, making peace, and creating evil things;"(6) thus making peace and friendship with those who repent and turn to Him, and bringing [them to] unity, but preparing for the impenitent, those who shun the light, eternal fire and outer darkness, which are evils indeed to those persons who fall into them.

 

NOTE: Concerning Original Sin, the quote below attests that men’s nature does not change. They do not cease to be by nature God’s children. It is only with regard to the dissimilarity of their works to God’s righteous works that they cease to be God’s children, in the sense that they cease to be imitators of God. More importantly, the quote below directly states not only that man have it in their power to act rightly, which itself completely contradicts Total Depravity, but it also specifically applies this power to repentance with the phrase “Wash ye, make you clean; take away iniquity from your souls.”

 

CHAP. XLI. 2. According to nature, then -that is, according to creation, so to speak--we are all sons of God, because we have all been created by God. But with respect to obedience and doctrine we are not all the sons of God: those only are so who believe in Him and do His will. And those who do not believe, and do not obey His will, are sons and angels of the devil, because they do the works of the devil. And that such is the case He has declared in Isaiah: "I have begotten and brought up children, but they have rebelled against Me."(1) And again, where He says that these children are aliens: "Strange children have lied unto Me."(2) According to nature, then, they are [His] children, because they have been so created; but with regard to their works, they are not His children. 3. For as, among men, those sons who disobey their fathers, being disinherited, are still their sons in the course of nature, but by law are disinherited, for they do not become the heirs of their natural parents; so in the same way is it with God,--those who do not obey Him being disinherited by Him, have ceased to be His sons. …And inasmuch as they were not by nature so created by God, but had power also to act rightly, the same person said to them, giving them good counsel, "Wash ye, make you clean; take away iniquity from your souls before mine eyes; cease from your iniquities."(10) Thus, no doubt, since they had transgressed and sinned in the same manner, so did they receive the same reproof as did the Sodomites. But when they should be converted and come to repentance, and cease from evil, they should have power to become the sons of God, and to receive the inheritance of immortality which is given by Him.

 

NOTE: In the quote below, the phrase “all things yield obedience to His will” and similar phrases surrounding it are not intended by Irenaeus to relate in any way to the question or issue of human freewill. As the context makes clear, Irenaeus is instead talking about how the mortality of the flesh does not limit or prevent God from raising it. Irenaeus is refuting a particular Gnostic view that God could not resurrect the body to live forever because the nature of the body is weakness and mortality. It is in this sense that Irenaeus states that “God is not subject to created things, but created things to God.” He simply means that God is able to cause even mortal and corruptible flesh to be sustained indefinitely, as proved by the case of Elijah who was caught up to heaven, and Jonah who was sustained in the belly of the whale, and Ananias, Azarias, and Misael who were preserved unharmed in the midst of the fiery furnace. Consequently, Irenaeus is not making any statements about God’s will controlling human will or the inability of human’s to will things contrary to God.

 

CHAP. V. 2. If, however, any one imagine it impossible that men should survive for such a length of time, and that Elias was not caught up in the flesh, but that his flesh was consumed in the fiery chariot, let him consider that Jonah, when he had been cast into the deep, and swallowed down into the whale's belly, was by the command of God again thrown out safe upon the land.(3) And then, again, when Ananias, Azarias, and Misael were cast into the furnace of fire sevenfold heated, they sustained no harm whatever, neither was the smell of fire perceived upon them...Neither the nature of any created thing, therefore, nor the weakness of the flesh, can prevail against the will of God. For God is not subject to created things, but created things to God; and all things yield obedience to His will. Wherefore also the Lord declares, "The things which are impossible with men, are possible with God."(5) As, therefore, it might seem to the men of the present day, who are ignorant of God's appointment, to be a thing incredible and impossible that any man could live for such a number of years, yet those who were before us did live [to such an age], and those who were translated do live as an earnest of the future length of days; and [as it might also appear impossible] that from the whale's belly and from the fiery furnace men issued forth unhurt, yet they nevertheless did so, led forth as it were by the hand of God, for the purpose of declaring His power: so also now, although some, not knowing the power and promise of God, may oppose their own salvation, deeming it impossible for God, who raises up the dead; to have power to confer upon them eternal duration, yet the scepticism of men of this stamp shall not render the faithfulness of God of none effect.

 

NOTE: The language of the quote below doesn’t contain any new element not already addressed above with regard to how death emerged among humankind by means of Adam’s sin. Such language is found in scripture and the language itself does not indicate Original Sin, as described above concerning the relocation of the parents necessitating the location of their future children and the introduction of a model (not a nature) of sin and death for the first time to a race that was made to live forever in obedience. The context even compares Adam and Eve’s sin as an example to Christ’s obeying regarding the desire for food in the desert when he was tempted as an alternate example for mankind. If actually causing a change in nature of man was in view, rather than just being an example, then the text would indeed teach that Christ redeemed men and changed their fallen natures merely by his single act of overcoming the temptation of the devil during his forty days in the desert.

 

CHAP. XXI. 1. And therefore does the Lord profess Himself to be the Son of man, comprising in Himself that original man out of whom the woman was fashioned (ex quo ea quae secundum mulierem est plasmatio facta est), in order that, as our species went down to death through a vanquished man, so we may ascend to life again through a victorious one; and as through a man death received the palm [of victory] against us, so again by a man we may receive the palm against death…2. The corruption of man, therefore, which occurred in paradise by both [of our first parents] eating, was done away with by [the Lord's] want of food in this world.(4)

 

NOTE: In the quote below, the statement that God rules over men and the devil also certainly does not mean that God controls the will of men and angels, since that would mean God is responsible for the devil’s own rebellion. The reference to the fact that not even a sparrow dies without the Father’s approval likewise designates that God is likewise and aware of the devil’s rule over men by means of death. Irenaeus is assuring his audience that the devil will not rule men forever, but that God has arranged the times and seasons allowing for certain things. Certainly the idea that God determines the times and seasons to allow certain things (even the deception and killing of men by the devil) but will one day himself step in and enforce his own will, is not the same as saying that God controls the will of the devil or men in their choices to do evil. (Chapter XXIV goes on to explain how the devil’s false reign over men has been tolerated by God until the time when God himself overturned this tyranny through Jesus Christ. The second quote below also confirms that God is simply “permitting” these things to be brought about, rather than God himself willing and causing them.)

 

CHAP. XXII. 1. For if there were any other perfect Father above Him, He (Christ) would by no means have overthrown Satan by means of His words and commandments…2. Moreover, since God rules over men and him too, and without the will of our Father in heaven not even a sparrow falls to the ground,(1) it follows that his declaration, "All these things are delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give them," proceeds from him when puffed up with pride. For the creation is not subjected to his power, since indeed he is himself but one among created things. Nor shall he give away the rule over men to men; but both all other things, and all human affairs, are arranged according to God the Father's disposal. Besides, the Lord declares that "the devil is a liar from the beginning, and the truth is not in him."(2) If then he be a liar and the truth be not in him, he certainly did not speak truth, but a lie, when he said, "For all these things are delivered to me, and to whomsoever I will I give them."(3) … CHAP. XXIII. 1. He had indeed been already accustomed to lie against God, for the purpose of leading men astray…For along with the fruit they did also fall under the power of death, because they did eat in disobedience; and disobedience to God entails death. Wherefore, as they became forfeit to death, from that [moment] they were handed over to it.

 

NOTE: The quote below comes from a later chapter of Irenaeus’ fifth book, but it is placed here out of order because it confirms the analysis regarding some of the comments in the previous quote. However, the quote below also clearly testifies that human salvation results in part from each man’s “own free will,” that with regard to salvation the will of man is in “its own power,” and that by this freewill in which men are in their own power we prepare ourselves for “eternal subjection to God.”

 

CHAP.XXVIII. 2. For when he (Antichrist) is come, and of his own accord concentrates in his own person the apostasy, and accomplishes whatever he shall do according to his own will and choice, sitting also in the temple of God, so that his dupes may adore him as the Christ; wherefore also shall he deservedly "be cast into the lake of fire:"(2) [this will happen according to divine appointment], God by His prescience foreseeing all this, and at the proper time sending such a man, "that they may believe a lie, that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but consented to unrighteousness;" whose coming John has thus described in the Apocalypse…4. And for this cause tribulation is necessary for those who are saved, that having been after a manner broken up, and rendered fine, and sprinkled over by the patience of the Word of God, and set on fire [for purification], they may be fitted for the royal banquet. …XXIX. 1. In the previous books I have set forth the causes for which God permitted these things to be made, and have pointed out that all such have been created for the benefit of that human nature which is saved, ripening for immortality that which is [possessed] of its own free will and its own power, and preparing and rendering it more adapted for eternal subjection to God.

 

CHAP. XXVI. 2. Let those persons, therefore, who blaspheme the Creator, either by openly expressed words, such as the disciples of Marcion, or by a perversion of the sense [of Scripture], as those of Valentinus and all the Gnostics falsely so called, be recognised as agents of Satan by all those who worship God; through whose agency Satan now, and not before, has been seen to speak against God, even Him who has prepared eternal fire for every kind of apostasy. For he did not venture to blaspheme his Lord openly of himself; as also in the beginning he led man astray through the instrumentality of the serpent, concealing himself as it were from God. Truly has Justin remarked:(6) That before the Lord's appearance Satan never dared to blaspheme God, inasmuch as he did not yet know his own sentence, because it was contained in parables and allegories; but that after the Lord's appearance, when he had clearly ascertained from the words of Christ and His apostles that eternal fire has been prepared for him as he apostatized from God of his own free-will, and likewise for all who unrepentant continue in the apostasy, he now blasphemes, by means of such men, the Lord who brings judgment [upon him] as being already condemned, and imputes the guilt of his apostasy to his Maker, not to his own voluntary disposition. Just as it is with those who break the laws, when punishment overtakes them: they throw the blame upon those who frame the laws, but not upon themselves. In like manner do those men, filled with a satanic spirit, bring innumerable accusations against our Creator, who has both given to us the spirit of life, and established a law adapted for all; and they will not admit that the judgment of God is just. Wherefore also they set about imagining some other Father who neither cares about nor exercises a providence over our affairs, nay, one who even approves of all sins.