Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bullinger and Predestination I

The work to consult with respect to Bullinger and predestination is Cornelis P. Venema, Heinrich Bullinger and the Doctrine of Predestination: Author of “the Other Reformed Tradition”? (2002).

The previous post contained a quotation from Bullinger’s Decades which was cited by the Remonstants at the Synod of Dort. It is a good example of the golden rule of giving proper consideration to the context of the quotation.

This quotation is to be found on page 509 lines 24-33 in Peter Opitz, Heinrich Bullinger Werke – Dritte Abteilung: Theologische Schriften. Band 3: Sermonum Decades quinque de potissimus Christianae religionibus capitibus (1552) (2008).

The quotation occurs in sermon IV.i which is given the title “Of the gospel of the grace of God, who hath given his son unto the world, and in him all things necessary to salvation, that we, believing in him, might obtain eternal life” (De evangelio gratiae dei, qui filium mundo dedit et in hoc verae salutis omnia, ut credentes in ipsum vitam consequamur aeternam).

We note the clear emphasis on grace. Indeed the first section of this sermon prior to the quotation above focuses on grace. Some of the marginal comments are: evangelium annunciate gratiam, gratia dei quid sit, causa gratiae divinae, operatio gratiae divinae, pugna s.Agustini et Pelagii de gratia dei, gratia iustificamur, in Christo suam nobis gratiam deus.

It is evident that Bullinger’s understanding of grace permits no room for any synergism.

The second thing to note from the title of sermon IV.i is the emphasis on believing in Christ. For Bullinger the reprobate are those who choose not to believe in Christ.
The quotation above from IV.i also needs to be read alongside the following quotations from IV.iv (this sermon is about God’s providence and has the sermon title ‘That God is the creator of all things, and governeth all things by his providence: where mention is also made of the goodwill of God to usward, and of predestination’ (Deum esse creatorem omnium ominiaque sua gubernare providentia, ubi et de bona dei erga nos voluntate ac de praedestinatione disseritur)).

“The predestination of God is the eternal decree (decretum) of God, whereby he has ordained either to save or destroy men; a most certain end of life and death being appointed unto them. Whereupon also it is elsewhere called a foreappointment (praefinitio)”.

This is found on page 596, lines 23-25 of Opitz’s critical Latin text of the Decades.

“Praedestinatio autem decretum dei aeternum est, quo destinavit homines vel servare vel perdere certissimo vitae et mortis termino praefixo. Unde et praefinitio alicubi eadem appelatur”.

“Furthermore, God by his eternal and unchangeable counsel has foreappointed who are to be saved, and who are to be condemned. Now the end or the decree of life and death is short and manifest to all the godly. The end of predestination, or foreappointment, is Christ, the Son of God the Father. For God has ordained and decreed to save all, how many soever have communion and fellowship with Christ, his only-begotten Son, and to destroy or condemn all, how many soever have no part in the communion or fellowship of Christ, his only Son”.

This is found on page 597, lines 4-9 of Opitz’s critical Latin text of the Decades.

“Caeterum ab aeterno immutabili consilio praefinivit dues, qui salvari quive damnari debeant. Finis autem sive decretum vitae et mortis breve est et omnibus piis perspicuum. Finis praedestioninis vel praefinitionis Christus est dei patris filius. Decrevit enim deus servare omnes, quotquot communionem habent cum Christo unigenito filio suo, perdere autem omnes, quotquot a Christi filii sui unici communione alieni sunt”.

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