27 Jun 2010

The Way to Salvation

Religious 39 Comments

One of the watershed moments in my spiritual development occurred during the counseling sessions from the pastor who was going to marry my (then) fiancee and me. He was the pastor of the church I was attending while at NYU, and I had asked him if he would marry us. He said yes but always wanted to see the couple a few times before the ceremony to make sure he was comfortable with it and that we were prepared.

One of our “homework assignments” was a questionnaire to gauge our understanding of Christianity. One of the questions went like this: “When you die and stand before the gates of heaven, what will you say to gain entrance?”

I put down what I thought was a good answer at the time, something about how I always spoke the truth even when it was difficult.

Well, needless to say, my pastor informed me (almost in as many words) the next time we met that this was objectively wrong. This surprised me not so much because he disagreed with my answer, but because he acted as if there could be a correct answer that humans could know. I had somehow managed to go through years of religious schooling and several sacraments, and then even had much later accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior, and yet I didn’t know that the Bible is quite specific on what you need to do for salvation. I had thought you tried to live the best life you could, and then it was “between you and God.”

In fact, if you believe that the Bible is literally the inspired word of God, then it is pretty straightforward. The most famous example comes from John 3:16, but I’ll give the wider context:

1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]”

4″How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9″How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10″You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[d] 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[e]

16″For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.[g] 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”[h]

And there you have it. If nothing else, now maybe some of you for the first time realize what the “John 3:16” signs at baseball games mean, and why so many of us refer to ourselves as “born-again Christians.” And you also can see why some Christians are so “dogmatic” and small-tenters. If we believe that the quoted words of Jesus Himself are correct in the gospels, then it’s hard to get around the above passage.

Now there is a connection in the above between a saved person and the performance of good deeds, but the connection is certainly NOT that, “If your actions get above a certain threshold of morality, then you’re in. Otherwise, it’s down the chute to Satan for you.”

No, quite clearly Jesus says that the way to eternal life is through belief in Him. Incidentally, I want to point out that this is an action. I realize that some Calvinists are going to bite my head off in the comments, but that’s OK–they were predestined to do so. Anyway, I am pointing out that the standard dichotomy between works and faith often neglects the fact that you have free will and can choose to accept Jesus.

Here’s a good passage from Paul on these matters (Ephesians 2:1-10):

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

And consider what happened when Paul and Silas were in prison (Acts 16:25-34):

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

I like this last example the most, because it is quite clear-cut. A newcomer to the news of Jesus asks an expert what he needs to do to be saved, and the answer is, “Believe in the Lord Jesus.”

I am going over these passages because I had never had someone do the same for me, until I was sitting in that pre-marriage counseling session. I somehow had managed to go through my whole life up to that point–which included a decent bit of reading the Bible–without realizing that there is a simple answer to the path to salvation.

Incidentally, I know some Catholics get offended when I tell them I’m a Christian, because they think I’m implying that they’re not. But that’s not what I’m saying. It is true that when I was a believing Catholic, I was not a born-again Christian; not only had I not accepted Jesus as my personal savior–not only did I not “believe on” Him–but I wouldn’t have really known what those phrases even meant.

At the very least, I hope this blog post can render the behavior of “Bible thumpers” more understandable. Since we believe the Bible is literally the inspired word of God, our straightforward reading of the above passages tells us that you need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God in order to have eternal life.

Like pregnancy, this is not a fuzzy condition. You either believe in Jesus and know you are going to heaven, or you aren’t sure about all this stuff–which means you’re not. I’m not telling you this out of superiority; the whole point is that none of us earned God’s grace and forgiveness.

So when I feel confident that I am going to heaven, it’s not because I have lived a better life than that guy over there. No, I am disgusted with the way I have lived my life. But I have read (what I believe to be) the quoted words of the Son of God Himself, and He said quite clearly what we need to do: We need to accept the free gift of salvation that He is holding out for us.

God has given us free will. He will not force us to live with Him forever in paradise. We have to accept that gracious offer.

But you have to accept it.

This isn’t an insurance policy, or Pascal’s Wager. If you don’t really believe in this stuff, I’m not urging you to say out loud, “I accept Jesus” to hedge yourself. What I do urge you to do–especially if you agree with me that this Jesus fellow had some very wise teachings and clearly understood the human condition–is to read the gospels and learn more about what the Bible actually says. If you are already going to church every week and are quite comfortable with your routine, it doesn’t mean you have to give any of that up–I’m just asking you to read what Jesus Himself said about this stuff, and look at it with fresh eyes.

Also, in the comments on this post, please let’s be civil and patient with people who may throw bombs at us Christians. I can’t possibly harbor ill-will against atheists or non-Christian theists because I was a “devout atheist” myself in college, and tried very hard to “free” my Christian friends from their mental prison. In retrospect, I am astounded at how my initial premises led me to such horrible activities. (Fortunately I don’t think I “won” any souls for the Devil, even though I didn’t realize that’s what I was trying to do.)

39 Responses to “The Way to Salvation”

  1. f4kingit says:

    If believe in Jesus is the only prerequisite to salvation, doesn’t this absolve all immoral actions, from the most mundane to the largest such as starting wars (e.g. “the devil made me do it” post-hoc rationalization, or perhaps worse, “I believe in Jesus, therefore my actions don’t matter”)?

    • Deane says:

      Take what I have to say with a grain of salt, as I have limited experience with the materials in question.

      I think the answer to your concern about intention versus action is rolled into the message presented by Bob’s quotations. The way I read the included quotations, the Way to Salvation is a journey, not a single step. After all, as Wittgenstein argued, plans are revealed through action. Sure, choosing Jesus is an action. But, there are also acts of compassion, acts of justice, acts of benevolence, and so forth. If you merely “plan” to performs such acts, while nevertheless stealing from others and starting wars, those antisocial actions reveal the true nature of your plans. Antisocial actions are simply incompatible with acceptance of salvation.

      Along the same theme of continual positive action, I’d like to draw special attention to John 3:19 through 3:21. Those sentences are saying that men who do evil will shun the light for fear of their evil actions being revealed as such to others. In other words, when you stand before the gates of heaven, the choice to enter is *still* yours. If you choose to keep your secrets, you don’t get in. The price of admission is eternal honesty, eternal transparency.

      • f4kingit says:

        But what if this affect some subconsciously? If conscious belief is all that is required, then I’d suggest it’s possible that a human could subconsciously see lower costs of immoral actions.

  2. hutsondc says:

    Verse 10 of the above quote from Ephesians touches on that: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”. As the book of James touches on, true faith will issue forth in a good life as surely as a good tree bears good fruit and not thistles

  3. Robbie says:

    James 2:20 Faith without works is dead.

    1John3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

    Your examination of Faith and actions are very well thought out. Many times people assume faith only as the end design, but as you have discovered it must be so that our faith in Christ enables us to be living sacrifices on his behalf and serve our Master by serving others in the name of Christ.

    And knowing that we have accepted Christ as our Savior, and knowing that Christ has prepared the way and entered into the rest with the Father, to answer the question “When you die and stand before the gates of heaven, what will you say to gain entrance?” The answer is in your baptism. The name of Jesus Christ.

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  4. Jeff says:

    The only thing I could say at the gates of heaven is that I have put my trust in Jesus to save me from the power of death and sin. And, as I read through the Bible, that’s the only thing that would get me inside.

  5. Sarah says:

    I liked the atheist or at least the agnostic Bob better.

    I have to remember not to visit this blog on Sundays.

    • fundamentalist says:

      And atheists think Christians are close minded and mean?

  6. Robbie-again says:

    You know it is just completely amazing when Joshua 24:15 says “Choose you this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” From a libertarian perspective we abhor control, regulations, fines, taxes, and a myriad of other agency destroying schemes, and then Christianity comes along and gives us the opportunity to actually choose to serve our maker rather than be compelled.

    I think that the establishments greatest fear is a Libertarian that has chosen to trust in Christ as their God, not those that war with the establishment in the flesh.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Yeah. To make this observation doesn’t prove that Jesus was God, of course, but it is undeniable that the State needs to do everything it can to destroy religious faith. So long as people truly believe in a personal God, their allegiance to the State will always be circumscribed.

  7. fundamentalist says:

    Nice post! Thanks! Of course you are hopelessly out of step with the general public, which thinks that only natural science possesses anything like objectve truth; every other area of thought, but especially religion, should accept that no objective truth exists, only opinion.

  8. K Sralla says:

    Wonderful testimony Bob! Thank you.

    P.S. A mainstream Calvinist should find nothing in your post to substantially disagree with. Justification is through personal faith in Christ alone. All evangelicals believe that, nobody more than Calvinists. The question that your church questionnaire posed: “When you die and stand before the gates of heaven, why should God let you enter?” I think it was developed (or at least popularized in a similar form) by D. James Kennedy as part of his Evangelism Explosion (EE). Kennedy was about as reformed (Calvinist) and evangelical as it gets (member of Presbyterian Church in America).

    • bobmurphy says:

      Oh, I just meant the part where I said (not in so many words) that your faith in Jesus is a work, so in that sense your action “gets you into heaven.” I thought Calvinists might not like the suggestion that it is the individual who chooses whether or not to believe in Jesus.

      • Bryan Rosander says:

        As a calvinist, I definitely disagree with the idea of faith as an action


        that Jesus leaves our decision of salvation ultimately up to us, hoping against hope that we will chose him while he carefully nudges us along, not wanting to be too obvious.

        • Bryan Rosander says:

          Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be trolling or distracting from the discussion. Disregard if need be.

          • bobmurphy says:

            It’s fine. That’s how I thought a Calvinist would disagree with it, so no problem.

  9. scarson says:

    I’ve come to enjoy these articles very much and say thank you for making the time and effort. My Sunday School class is studying 1st Samuels this month and yesterday we studied Chapter 8. We can’t say that God didn’t warn us about the dangers of Kings and earthly rulers.

  10. Gene Callahan says:

    Oops, but it’s actually works that leads to salvation:”And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and everyone was judged according to what they had done.”

    No, wait, it’s actually grace: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

    Or maybe it’s merely calling on the Lord: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

    Or being born of water and spirit: “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again…Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.'”

    Or forgiveness: “If you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

    Or perhaps the Bible is not univocal on this point?

    • bobmurphy says:

      Fair enough on #1 and #5, but the middle three are consistent with what I said.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        2 – 4 are consistent with what you said, but they are not the same as what you said; for instance, number three doesn’t seem to require me to have faith in Jesus, but just to call out, “Lord, save me!”

        • bobmurphy says:

          C’mon Gene. You’re saying there is a huge difference between these two:

          (A) Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

          (B) Saying, “Lord Jesus, please save me!”

    • fundamentalist says:

      Gene, That’s why we have systematic theology. The Bible isn’t a textbook of systematic theology. It’s mostly a record of God’s intervening in history. Even the letters of the NT were written to discuss particular historical situations. It’s also the reason for hermeneutics. With sound hermeneutics we can pull together a systematic theology from the many historical incidences in the Bible.

      Your example above are examples of what is called “proof texts,” in which people take a particular text and camp on it, insisting it is the beginning and end of all knowledge on the subject. If you do that, you’ll find hundreds of contradictions in the Bible. Systematic theology pulls together all of the relevant texts on a subject, uses sound hermeneutics to interpret them, and arrives at sound doctrine on the subject.

      As in economics there is only good and bad, in theology there is sound hermeneutics and unsound. Unsound hermeneutics leads to all of the different groups in Christianity.

    • Daniel Hewitt says:

      The first set of verses you quoted is not consistent with works leading to salvation. Those whose names are not in the book of life will be judged according to the book of deeds. And since works cannot lead to salvation, all will fall short when judged by their deeds.
      And how does one get their name into the book of life? Well, that is the subject of Bob’s post.

  11. Gene Callahan says:

    “but it is undeniable that the State needs to do everything it can to destroy religious faith.”

    Undeniable on purely a priori grounds, of course. No need to consult actual history and see states continually promoting religion, as that might disturb our a priori calm.

    • Bryan Rosander says:

      When a state promotes religion, it does so to control it and destroy true religious faith.

      Consider the King of England splitting England from its Catholic roots to protestantism, and starting the Church of England, so that the king could divorce his wife.
      Consider communist countries with their state sponsored Churches and strictly censored messages.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        So, Swedish Lutheranism, Tibetan Buddhism, Roman polytheism, and the Judaism of the ancient Kingdom of Israel… all fake religions, huh?

        The idea of government and religion being separated hardly occurred to anyone until the last several hundred years.

        • Bryan Rosander says:

          First of all, ancient Israel started out with something like anarcho-capitalism in the period of the Judges. That lasted for about 500 years. They had a system of appointed priests and so on to go with the Jewish law, but I don’t think that the priests had much political power until much later on. I would be very interested in learning more on this.

          For a state run religion, the government wants everyone to believe the same thing, because, of course, they know best. Roman Polytheism forced people to worship the Roman pantheon and Caesar and condemned Christians as “atheists” because they didn’t believe in it.

          Just because the government is controlling the religion, does not mean that it is “fake”. Some local leaders will still try and teach what they believe, avoiding the Government’s watchful eye. Meanwhile, many of those local leaders will help get people into underground churches.

          What I was really referring to though, is that when a government promotes religion, I cannot trust that it is not trying to control those same elements which also make it fear the religion.

    • bobmurphy says:

      I’m not calm after reading your comments.

  12. K Sralla says:

    “that your faith in Jesus is a work, so in that sense your action “gets you into heaven”

    We must somehow deny that saving faith is an active work that *we* ourselves initiate under our own power, or else we do violence to the gospel. Paul says very clearly: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9

    Faith is a gift of God, with God alone being the first cause. Otherwise some of us who mustered it up under our own inherent power must be more righteous, smarter, or just plain better than the guy who does not choose to believe. That destroys the gospel. The only active work that gets anyone to heaven is the work that Christ did in keeping the law perfectly, and being obedient to the will of the Father to the cross. None of our own works are enough to merrit heaven, only Christ and his works. None of our works are enough to merrit remission of sins, only Christ and his atonement.

    I still like your post though, but don’t work too hard to mess it up. The old grumpy Calvinists strike again.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Well we usually come back to this. I think partly we have to chalk it up to “a mystery.” Yes, you’re right that we don’t do anything to merit salvation, but surely there is a strand running through the Bible that says we have free will and that we must choose to accept Jesus.

      • fundamentalist says:

        I think Feser in his “The Last Superstition” sheds some interesting light on the subject of free will. Scholastic philosophy/theology had a very sound, logical defense of free will in the midst of God’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, that body of great thinking got lost in the Reformation and Protestantism is the poorer for it. It goes along with the loss of the natural law tradition. BTW, I’m a Baptist, but there is so much in Scholastic thought that is truly wonderful and amazing, such as the Late Scholastic theories of money, property and free markets that gave birth to capitalism.

        • Knox Harrington says:

          Do you receive royalties for pushing Feser’s book? Apparently, Feser has something interesting to say on every question – and maybe not just interesting but the definitive answer.

  13. K Sralla says:

    “Or perhaps the Bible is not univocal on this point?”

    Or perhaps God is not univocal on this point?
    Or perhaps Gene is confused?
    Or perhaps Gene is not univocal on this point?

    • Gene Callahan says:

      Or perhaps K Sralla is posting seemingly pointless questions?

  14. K Sralla says:

    ” But this most excellent righteousness-that of faith, I mean-which God imputes to us through Christ, without works-is neither political nor ceremonial, nor is it the righteousness of God’s law, nor does it consist in works. It is quite the opposite; that is to say, it is passive, whereas the others are active. We do nothing in this matter;we give nothing to God but simply recieve and allow someone to work in us-that is, God. Therefore, it seems to me that this righteousness of faith, or Christian righteousness, can well be called passive righteousness.”-Martin Luther, 1531 (Commentary on St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians)

  15. K Sralla says:

    Perhaps Gene.

  16. Dave R says:

    Is there any post here where Bob has listed his testimonial? How does someone who despises the state and authority while priding the individual so much needs to have some higher being to guide his morals? Why only use one book as the foundation of your purpose here on earth? As an economist, do you see how the unknowable belief in heaven leads many to devalue their time on earth causing great pain? Why Jesus? Why believe a literal meaning of 1 section of 1 book (the NT), which has many contradictions?

    Eastern philosophy has been preaching Jesus’ peace and empathy msg for over 12,000 years. Read “Living Jesus, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh as a great introduction to this history.

    When on the journey of spiritual freedom, right before you get to “enlightenment”, you get existentialism, which is one of the most empty feelings out there. However, shortly after that, the appreciation of the subtle, mundane and everyday blessings we have becomes stronger than ever. Life becomes more fulfilling and death becomes simply another state of being. Yes, we are alone in the end, but it’s OK:-)

    • Michael Hand says:

      I am also a Christian Anarcho-capitalist, so maybe I can feild some of your questions Bob didn’t answer.

      1. I despise the state because it unjustly takes from me. God, being omnipotent, cannot by definition unjustly take from me. Christians believe that God is perfectly good. that good = God in a way. It isn’t that we hate authority but are being contradictory in loving God; we hate unjust claims of power, which the state does all the time.

      2. The Bible really isn’t one book, it is several books written in different languages by authors of different social backgrounds and cultures. But even if I take your argument for what you meant, I would say that it isn’t the only book. God-inspired writing could come anytime God wills it. It is possible that religious or ethical texts from other geographical areas (such as the East) reflect Christ-like principles as you state. God is the God of every person, and it is possible he inspired other authors in other areas of life to write moral codes similar to the one he gave the Israelites. The only extra-biblical texts we reject are those specific theologies which reject Christ as God.

      3. If I understand correctly, you are saying that some people who believe in an afterlife do not properly value life on earth now as they should, and do terrible things because of that. I would agree. Just because people can take the notion of an afterlife and devalue life now doesn’t mean the afterlife isn’t there. As Christians, we receive joy from modeling our lives like our LORD, Jesus. This means that if we live a non-violent life of sacrifice humility and forgiveness, we will be happier because of it.

      4. Why Jesus? All I can tell you is that it is like having your eyes open for the first time. A relationship with the creator of the universe is better than I can decibel. It borders on Sci-fi/fantasy, I know. I don’t expect others to understand how I know Jesus is God, I just try to convince them to ask Him themselves.

      5. The NT’s supposed contradictions have been answered by theologists many times over, I won’t go over them, but if you google search or read the NT yourself you will find your answers.

      I recommend C.S. Lewis’ book ‘mere Christianity” if you want to read a book about how we Christians think that isnt found in the Bible. =)

  17. K Sralla says:

    “Scholastic philosophy/theology had a very sound, logical defense of free will in the midst of God’s sovereignty”

    Aquinas was largely with Augustine on this issue, and held strongly to sanctification through the first cause of God alone. Aquinas (and Scholasticism in general) is often misrepresented in his view of soteriological free will, and was every bit as much a predestinarian as Augustine, or even Luther and Calvin. He most definately did not teach free-will in a libertarian sense, but rather as a second cause, steming from God’s first and decisive action to enlighten the person to faith In the Lord Jesus, thereby resulting in works of contrition. The Protestant Reformers parted with Aquinas on the strict sacramental system of Roman Catholicism endorsed by Aquinas, but not on his view of predestination.

    Luther sought to re-affirm much of Augustine’s theology from the 4th Century, and saw himself stongly in the tradition of the great Church philosopher-theologians of both the Scholastic and Augustinian traditions. It was devastating to Luther to be placed under the rebuke of the papal bull, and he very nearly recanted of his views at the Diet of Worms. Luther believed that the Ecumenical Councils of the 15-16th Century had moved strongly away from Augustinian views of soteriology, and Luther saw himself as a defender of the ancient teachings of Roman Catholic doctrine, and not as a rebel trying to split the church.

    In Geneva, Calvin parted ways only tangentially with the Scholastics, and held them in high regard as evidence by his many respectful citations in the Institutes. He likewise borrowed strongly from Augustine, and both the Institutes and Calvin’s Commentaries are crammed full of passages straight from Augustine.

    For those who may doubt whether Aquinas was a strong predestinarian, please read Question 23 in Summa Theologica: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1023.htm