Free Will
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And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  Genesis 2:7

God has placed these abilities within our souls:
Emotions (love, hate, desire, envy, compassion, joy, passion, calm, etc.)
Rational Thought / Logic.
The desire and ability to worship God.
Will (the ability to choose).

Free Will is an ability God has given to man.
It is one of the aspects that makes man higher and much different from the animals. 
Free Will is the ability to choose.

Choose you this day whom you will serve! 
Joshua 24:15

But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet I choose what I don't want. 
Philippians 1:22

Choosing, choices, is where our spiritual warfare comes in.
Rather, the outcome of our spiritual warfare is determined by what choice we make.

When Satan tempts us, we have to make a choice.
We can choose to listen.
Will we choose to give in?
Will we make the choice to stand firm in Christ and resist the devil, so that he will flee from us?

When there's is a lust due to sexual temptation, will we choose to be the man or woman of God and resist through Christ's strength?

When we hear the Gospel and the minister begins to speak of God's saving grace, we feel a tug at our hearts and we have the desire to become a child of God.  The altar call is given and we feel the urgency of the Holy Spirit to go forward but then Satan starts throwing thoughts our way.  He may say, "People will laugh at you if you go forward or they will think you are stupid if you go up there."  That is when we have entered spiritual warfare.  A choice must be made.

The same happened to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when Satan tempted them with the fruit.  He influenced them to eat the fruit that God said not to.  They made the wrong choice and look where the world is now.   (See

That is spiritual warfare!  That is choices!  That my friends is free will!

                                                    Jeremy Brown 2001-2005

Further early Church Father Proof Texts

Justin Martyr 100-165 AD
"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;' 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."

Dialogue 102 - 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.

Second Apology 7 - Man acts by his own free will and not by fate.

Tatian 165 AD
Greeks 7 -  Jesus created men and angels with free will. Jesus had foreknowledge of what free agents would do. There is no such thing as fate.
Greeks 9 - Demons invented the concept of fate with astrology to enslave man into worshiping them.
Greeks 11 - Our free will enslaved us to sin. (Rom 7) but we can choose to follow righteousness now.

Clement of Alexandria 192 AD
Stromata 2.3 - Christians teach saving faith is a gift that starts with God and is accepted by free choice.
Stromata 2.4 - The ability to freely choose salvation is a gift (started by) God. True faith produces repentance. 
Stromata 5.3 - Faith is the rational assent of the soul exercising free will.

Minucius Tacitus 210AD
Chapter XXXVI.-Argument: Fate is Nothing, Except So Far as Fate is God. Man's Mind is Free, and Therefore So is His Action: His Birth is Not Brought into Judgment. It is Not a Matter of Infamy, But of Glory, that Christians are Reproached for Their Poverty; And the Fact that They Suffer Bodily Evils is Not as a Penalty, But as a Discipline.
"Neither let any one either take comfort from, or apologize for what happens from fate. Let what happens be of the disposition of fortune, yet the mind is free; and therefore man's doing, not his dignity, is judged. For what else is fate than what God has spoken115 of each one of us? who, since He can foresee our constitution, determines also the fates for us, according to the deserts and the qualities of individuals. Thus in our case it is not the star under which we are born that is punished, but the particular nature of our disposition is blamed. And about fate enough is said; or if, in consideration of the time, we have spoken too little, we shall argue the matter at another time more abundantly116 and more fully. But that many of us are called poor, this is not our disgrace, but our glory; for as our mind is relaxed by luxury, so it is strengthened by frugality. And yet who can be poor if he does not want, if he does not crave for the possessions of others, if he is rich towards God? He rather is poor, who, although he has much, desires more. Yet I will speak117 according as I feel. No one can be so poor as he is born. Birds live without any patrimony, and day by day the cattle are fed; and yet these creatures are born for us-all of which things, if we do not lust after, we possess. Therefore, as he who treads a road is the happier the lighter he walks, so happier is he in this journey of life who lifts himself along in poverty, and does not breathe heavily under the burden of riches. And yet even if we thought wealth useful to us, we should ask it of God. Assuredly He might be able to indulge us in some measure, whose is the whole; but we would rather despise riches than possess them:118 we desire rather innocency, we rather entreat for patience, we prefer being good to being prodigal; and that we feel and suffer the human mischiefs of the body is not punishment-it is warfare. For fortitude is strengthened by infirmities, and calamity is very often the discipline of virtue; in addition, strength both of mind and of body grows torpid without the exercise of labour. Therefore all your mighty men whom you announce as an example have flourished illustriously by their afflictions. And thus God is neither unable to aid us, nor does He despise us, since He is both the ruler of all men and the lover of His own people. But in adversity He looks into and searches out each one; He weighs the disposition of every individual in dangers, even to death at last; He investigates the will of man, certain that to Him nothing can perish. Therefore, as gold by the fires, so are we declared by critical moments.

Jeremy Brown's response
"Do the passages contradict? Does one cancel out the other in some aspect?
I tell you this, God guards us when we are about to make choices. He stops short of making us puppets in an attempt to influence humans to do good instead of evil. Likewise, we are countless times guarded from doing evil, guarded from accidents, told in Bible what happens if we don't choose good, and more. My friend, our loving God does guard."

The Apostolic Origins of Freewill Doctrine
Studying the Word of God website

Recently I came across a Calvinist rendition of theological history in which the Calvinist theologian, without getting into historical specifics, portrayed Freewill Theology as a heretical offshoot of the true, historic Christian faith. (More specifically Free Will Theology is said to come out of the Pelagian Heresy, which occurred at around the year 400 A.D.) Particularly noteworthy is the Calvinist claim that Freewill Theology is a fairly recent development in Christian history, that freewill doctrine cannot, according to Calvinists, be traced all the way back to the apostles and their successors in the first, second, and third centuries A.D.

As a companion to this claim, although it is unfortunately not exclusively Calvinist, is the secondary notion that Christian theology was in an "evolving" state from the time of the Apostles. Or in other words, many modern theologians, including some Calvinists claim that orthodox Christian doctrine was not "nailed-down" and fully understood from the time of the Apostles and handed down by the Apostles, to their successors. Rather, proponents of this "evolving" theology see orthodox doctrine as a process of discovery that occurred during early periods when the Church was defending and defining itself against heretical movements.

Calvinists often provide one of two alternate views of early Church history (particularly ante-Nicene - prior to 325 A.D. - or pre-Pelagian history - prior to 400 A.D.). In concert with an evolving view of orthodoxy, some Calvinists have suggested that prior to the 4th or 5th century the Church had no established position on free will because it was too preoccupied with trying to understand more weightier matters of the faith. Alternatively, it has been implied that the pre-Pelagian Church was essentially "proto-Calvinistic" in theology regarding issues of free will and divine sovereignty and that Pelagius was the first to challenge this established "proto-Calvinistic" position.

However, with regard to freewill doctrine, both of these claims are easy enough to disprove. The purpose of this article will be to demonstrate the patently false nature of these Calvinist revisions of Church history by simply documenting the comments of pre-Pelagian (in reality, ante-Nicene - prior to 325 A.D.) orthodox Church writers on these matters. These quotations are sufficient to demonstrate both the Apostolic origins of Freewill theology in clear terms and the fact that freewill doctrine was not evolving, but was understood and intact from the times of the Apostles themselves who handed it down to their immediate successors. Conversely, they also prove that, since Freewill is both orthodox and of Apostolic origin, that Calvinism and its principles are the more recent heresy.

Having properly stated the importance of this topic we will now turn to our documentation of the views of the ante-Nicene (pre-Palegian/pre-Augustinian) Church beginning with the epistle of Barnabas.

Barnabas (a.d. 100.)

BARNABAS: Let us be spiritually-minded: let us be a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances. The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, "Many are called, but few are chosen." (8) (THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS(1) CHAP.IV.--ANTICHRIST IS AT HAND: LET US THEREFORE AVOID JEWISH ERRORS.)

NOTE: The idea of Christians who "rest at ease," "fall asleep in our sins" and are "thrust away from the kingdom of the Lord" is incompatible with the Calvinist mandate of eternal perseverance of the saints (once saved always saved.) Not only does Barnabas attest to the authenticity of the passage "many are called, but few are chosen," but his reference to it here indicates his understanding that many Christians who had been called by God could end up not among the elect. This demonstrates the belief that Christians could lose their salvation and walk away from their calling, which itself negates Calvinism because it allows for Christians to resist God calling after they have received the Gospel.

Clement (a.d. 30-100)

CLEMENT: 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]. (THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAP. VIII.--CONTINUATION RESPECTING REPENTANCE.)

NOTE: In this passage above, Clement asserts quite plainly that God wills all sinners to repent. This alone negates Calvinism because under the Calvinist scheme, whether or not a man will repent is exclusively determined by God's own choice. Thus, if God willed all sinners to repent, then all sinners would repent under a Calvinist view. God cannot simultaneously determine that some men will not repent while at the same time willing all men to repent. But furthermore, Clement directly asserts that "if ye be willing and obey" or "if ye refuse." With these words, Clement not only makes obedience to the Gospel a matter of man's own willingness but he also puts resisting and rejecting the Gospel under man's power of choosing as well. According to Clement, man can either willingly accept or refuse the Gospel. This is freewill, not Calvinism for it stands in direct contrast to the Calvinist notion that the drawing of God to the Gospel by his Holy Spirit is irresistible. How can it be irresistible if a man can refuse it, as Clement clearly taught?

CLEMENT: We see,(3) then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength. (CHAP. XXXIII.--BUT LET US NOT OWE UP THE PRACTICE OF GOOD WORKS AND LOVE. GOD HIMSELF IS AN EXAMPLE TO US OF GOOD WORKS.)

NOTE: In the passage above, Clement further asserts that man has the free will to choose whether or not to accept or reject the Gospel. Here Clement instructs his audience to "accede to God's will without delay." With this statement, Clement clearly places it within a man's own power of choosing whether or not he will submit to God's will. This means that God's will is not irresistible or compulsory. Each man can choose for himself whether or not to submit.

CLEMENT: The good servant(4) receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: "Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work." (5) He exhorts us, therefore, with our whole heart to attend to this,(6) that we be not lazy or slothful in any good work. Let our boasting and our confidence be in Him. Let us submit ourselves to His will. Let us consider the whole multitude of His angels, how they stand ever ready to minister to His will. (CHAP. XXXIV.--GREAT IS THE REWARD OF GOOD WORKS WITH GOD. JOINED TOGETHER IN HARMONY, LET US IMPLORE THAT REWARD FROM HIM.)

CLEMENT: Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not unto us, but to the will of God. (CHAP. LVI.--LET US ADMONISH AND CORRECT ONE ANOTHER.)

NOTE: Here again in the above 2 passages, Clement instructs his audience to "submit to God's will" indicating that man has in his own power the choice to either submit to God's will or resist God's will. God's will is not irresistible according to Clement.

CLEMENT: For thus speaketh all-virtuous Wisdom:(14)" Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of My Spirit, and I will teach you My speech. Since I called, and ye did not hear; I held forth My words, and ye regarded not, but set at naught My counsels, and yielded not at My reproofs; therefore I too will laugh at your destruction; yea, I will rejoice when ruin cometh upon you, and when sudden confusion overtakes you, when overturning presents itself like a tempest, or when tribulation and oppression fall upon you. For it shall come to pass, that when ye call upon Me, I will not hear you; the wicked shall seek Me, and they shall not find Me. For they hated wisdom, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; nor would they listen to My counsels, but despised My reproofs. Wherefore they shall eat the fruits of their own way, and they shall be filled with their own ungodliness." ...(15) (CHAP. LVII.--LET THE AUTHORS OF SEDITION SUBMIT THEMSELVES.)

NOTE: In this last example, Clement quotes Proverbs in support of the notion that men "choose not to fear the Lord," which again places men's acceptance or rejection of the Gospel under their own power of choosing.

Ignatius (a.d. 30-107)

IGNATIUS: Let not then any one deceive you, as indeed ye are not deceived; for ye are wholly devoted to God. For when there is no evil desire within you, which might defile and torment you, then do ye live in accordance with the will of God, and are[the servants] of Christ. Cast ye out that which defiles[10] you, who are of the[11] most holy Church of the Ephesians, which is so famous and celebrated throughout the world. They that are carnal cannot do those things which are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual the things which are carnal; even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith. But ye, being full of the Holy Spirit, do nothing according to the flesh, but all things according to the Spirit. Ye are complete in Christ Jesus, "who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." [12] (CHAP. VIII.--RENEWED PRAISE OF THE EPHESIANS.)

NOTE: It should be noted that Ignatius was a disciple of John the Apostle. In this passage above, like Clement, Ignatius instructs his audience to submit to God's will, which attests to his belief that his audience could choose to obey God's will or choose to resist God's will. Also, Ignatius quotes Paul and attests to the idea that Jesus' atonement is for all mankind and especially of those that believe. This stands in contrast to the Calvinist notion of limited atonement and it further emphasizes that Jesus atonement is freely available to all men if they would only choose to believe. God does not place restrictions preventing men from accepting the salvation made available to them.

IGNATIUS: You ought therefore to "hate those that hate God, and to waste away [with grief] on account of His enemies."(9) I do not mean that you should beat them or persecute them, as do the Gentiles "that know not the Lord and God;"(10) but that you should regard them as your enemies, and separate yourselves from them, while yet you admonish them, and exhort them to repentance, if it may be they will hear, if it may be they will submit themselves. For our God is a lover of mankind, and "will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (11) Wherefore "He makes His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust;" (12) of whose kindness the Lord, wishing us also to be imitators, says, "Be ye perfect, even as also your Father that is in heaven is perfect."(13) (CHAP. III.--AVOID SCHISMATICS.)

IGNATIUS: And I myself give thanks to God for you, because ye have received them: and the Lord will also receive you. But may those that dishonoured them be forgiven through the grace of Jesus Christ, "who wisheth not the death of the sinner, but his repentance." (CHAP. XI.--THANKS AND SALUTATION.)

NOTE: Here Ignatius again attests to men's power to choose to submit to God's will. But he goes on to reaffirm that God wills all men to be saved. This is incompatible with Calvinism since Calvinism's assertion that God exclusively determines who will be saved and who won't by only drawing some men to salvation and imparting to them saving faith through the Holy Spirit while withholding this from others.

Mathetes (a.d. 130)

The anonymous author of this Epistle gives himself the title (Mathetes) "a disciple(1) of the Apostles."

MATHETES: I do not speak of things strange to me, nor do I aim at anything inconsistent with right reason;[3] but having been a disciple of the Apostles, I am become a teacher of the Gentiles. (CHAP. XI.--THESE THINGS ARE WORTHY TO BE KNOWN AND BELIEVED.)

NOTE: Here Mathetes attests to being a disciple of the apostles, which is important because it asserts that his views concerning freewill are of apostolic origin.

MATHETES: This [messenger] He sent to them. Was it then, as one[16] might conceive, for the purpose of exercising tyranny, or of inspiring fear and terror? By no means, but under the influence of clemency and meekness. As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God[17] He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him, not as vengefully pursuing us; as loving us He sent Him, not as judging us. For He will yet send Him to judge us, and who shall endure His appearing? (CHAP. VII.--THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST. THE EPISTLE OF MATHETES TO DIOGNETUS)

NOTE: Here Mathetes argues that God does not force or compel anyone to accept the Gospel against their own will. Instead, Mathetes argues that God simply attempts to humbly persuade. As Mathetes sees it, for God to compel men to accept salvation against or apart from their own will would violate his own character.

MATHETES: And do not wonder that a man may become an imitator of God. He can, if he is willing. (CHAP. X.--THE BLESSINGS THAT WILL FLOW FROM FAITH.)

NOTE: Here Mathetes specifically states that whether or not a man becomes an imitator of God is determined by whether or not the man himself is willing. This is a clear assertion of freewill.

Finally, we arrive at Justin Martyr. Justin Martyr was a Gentile born in Flavia Neapolis, in Samaria. He lived 110-165 A.D and studied in philosophers' schools prior to his conversion. Below we have listed the relevant excerpts in their immediate context beneath the section heading where they can be found in Justin's writings.

Justin Martyr 110-165 A.D.

JUSTIN MARTYR: "I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ;... 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;" (JUSTIN MARTYR, THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN, CHAP. LXI.--CHRISTIAN BAPTISM.)

NOTE: According to Justin, the early Christians "learned from the apostles this reason" for water baptism: "since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or order that we may not remain the children of necessity and ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge" we who "choose to be born again" come forward to dedicate ourselves to God in the ritual of water baptism. Not only did Justin Martyr feel that we get born again by our own choice and knowledge, but Justin also testifies to the fact that the apostles themselves held this same opinion and handed it down to their successors all the way to Justin's day. And that gives us a firm, complete refutation of Calvinist principles by testifying unequivocally to the consistent belief in Freewill in the orthodox Church of the first century originating from the apostles themselves.

JUSTIN MARTYR: "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." (The First Apology of Justin Chap. CXLI - Free-Will In Men And Angels.)

NOTE: Here Justin asserts very clearly that God created men and angels free to do righteousness and possessing reason so that they might know that, if they sin, they need to repent. In fact, according to Justin, part of the reason that God created men free is so that if they sinned, they might through reason repent beforehand. This is another clear assertion of freewill. According to Justin, men and angels are capable of freewill by their very nature.

JUSTIN MARTYR: For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings. And that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who follow him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold. For the reason why God has delayed to do this, is His regard for the human race. For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born.(4) In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative. And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things,(5) he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness. (JUSTIN MARTYR, THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN, CHAP. XXVIII.--GOD'S CARE FOR MEN.)

NOTE: Here again, Justin attests to the notion that God created men free to choose truth and obedience. Furthermore, Justin goes on to assert that those who reject the notion of freewill are forced to one of 2 conclusions. Either God does not care for right or wrong or that God does not exist. For Justin, denying freewill logically results in a God who does not care for right or wrong or a God who wills wrongdoing. I believe that Calvinism cannot escape this charge for it makes God exclusively responsible for determining whether or not men choose to repent and end sin. Thus, since not all men repent, God must will for some men to continue in sin. Therefore, as Justin says, God must will vice and evil.

Irenaeus (a.d. 120-202).

It is important to note 2 things about Irenaeus. First, he was a disciple of Polycarp (a.d. 65-100-155) who was a disciple of John the Apostle. Second, the quotes below are taken from the extensive work "Against Heresies" in which Irenaeus is both chronicling and refuting the Gnosticism teaching of his day. So, we may find similarities between the Gnostics and basic Calvinist concepts.

Because of their length, I will let Irenaeus' quotes speak for themselves.

NOTE: In the following section from Irenaeus, Marcion and Valentinus are Gnostic teachers.



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 519 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...
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 520 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... 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... (1)


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 hose 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 556 over our affairs, nay, one who even approves of all sins.

from Studying the Word of God website

Jeremy Brown 2001-2005

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