Justin Martyr the Calvinist? (part 2)

Michael Horton on Justin Martyr

Michael Horton, in his book Putting Amazing Back into Grace, writes the following in the appendix (link):

Not only does Scripture speak definitively in proclaiming God’s electing grace; the historic, catholic, apostolic church affirms these truths as the truly orthodox position of the church of Jesus Christ. To substantiate this claim, I have also prepared an abbreviated historical sketch from church fathers to the present, including church creeds, that clearly affirms the doctrines of grace.

Horton, unlike other Reformers, does not see in the early church the confusion and lack of certainty on this subject, but rather a “definitive affirmation” of the doctrines of grace (aka TULIP and meticulous sovereignty).

Unfortunately, the quotes Horton uses from the early church to substantiate his claim do not contain citations making them difficult to find and read within their full context. Far worse is the fact that many of the quotes have been shown to be spurious. One should check out Jack Cottrell’s assessment of this appendix, which he calls “extremely poor scholarship”, for more details (link).

Since we are focusing on Justin Martyr, let’s examine one of Horton’s quotes attributed to him. The intent of the author is to show readers that Justin affirmed total depravity and irresistible grace.

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 3.57.41 PM.pngYet, if one were to search Justin’s works for the text “Free will has destroyed us” it can’t be found. Nor for that matter can the rest of this quote. However, as noted in Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free, we find that it was actually written by Tatian (and can be read in its context here). Continue reading

Justin Martyr the Calvinist?

Regular readers of this blog will know I am an advocate of the Vincentian Canon. This principle, advocated by Vincent of Lérins, during the early to mid fifth century, in the Commonitorium, was given to help readers determine the “truth of [the universal] faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity.”

That principle is:

all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. (chapter 2)

Saint_Justin_Martyr_by_Theophanes_the_Cretan

Justin the Philosopher by Theophanes the Cretan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The word “faith” has a range of meanings. Here it is taken to mean the doctrine and practices of the church, rather than the loyal trust in God made by an individual. Vincent goes on, in chapter 31, to write:

what has been handed down from antiquity should be retained, what has been newly devised, rejected with disdain

Based on this principle, a solid reason for rejecting the Reformed teachings on the doctrines of grace; as captured in the acrostic TULIP, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dort; is their novelty. These doctrines, based on extant writings, are not held by theologians prior to Augustine.

Continue reading

Reading History: John of Damascus answers Why the Cross?

As we continue our Easter related posts, we are going to look at John of Damascus’ reflections on the cross in his work Orthodox Faith. An eighth century theologian, John is best known for defending the veneration of icons and imagery when this issue was causing major divisions (link). Though intermixed with a defense of venerating the symbol of the cross (mostly removed from this post), John’s writing shows how central the cross is to orthodox Christianity.

The rest of this post contains excerpts from Book 4 chapter 11 (CCEL).


John_Damascus_(arabic_icon).gifEvery action, therefore, and performance of miracles by Christ are most great and divine and marvellous: but the most marvellous of all is His precious Cross. Continue reading