The ubiquity of Arminianism in the modern evangelical church can make it difficult for some to seriously consider the possibility of the truth of an alternate doctrinal system such as Calvinism. However, this over-sensitivity toward Arminian theology is not a result of a discovery of its own alleged truth. Rather, it demonstrates only how easily heresy can spread and gain legitimacy in a culture and church that is by and large theologically illiterate, apathetic, and ignorant of the historical Christian faith.
It’s not uncommon in the internet world to encounter those who would like to associate the origin of Calvinism with the great Reformer, John Calvin. In truth, little more than the modern name of this theological system originated wih Calvin. Calvinism, as it has come to be called, is simply a nickname for historical Christianity. ”Calvinism” and “Arminianism” are only modern labels of the same issues that the church has always been dealing with. While the “5 Points of Calvinism” did not develop until the need to produce a concise response during the 17th century conflict with the Arminian Remonstrance, the truths declared in these points were largely believed by those who denounced the great heresies, and have always been accepted and cherished by some portion of the Christian Church from its beginning.
What follows are sample quotations from early Church fathers who supported these doctrines of grace.
Barnabas (A.D. 70): “Learn: before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak.”
Ignatius (A.D. 110): “They that are carnal cannot do the things that are spiritual…Nor can the unbelievers do the things of belief.”
Justin Martyr (A.D. 150): “Mankind by Adam fell under death, and the deception of the serpent; we are born sinners…No good thing dwells in us…For neither by nature, nor by human understanding is it possible for me to acquire the knowledge of things so great and so divine, but by the energy of the Divine Spirit…Of ourselves it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God…He has convicted us of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life…Free will has destroyed us; we who were free are become slaves and for our sin are sold…Being pressed down by our sins, we cannot move upward toward God; we are like birds who have wings, but are unable to fly.”
Clement Of Alexandria (A.D. 190): “The soul cannot rise nor fly, nor be lifted up above the things that are on high, without special grace.”
Origen: “Our free will…or human nature is not sufficient to seek God in any manner.”
Eusebius (A.D. 330): “The liberty of our will in choosing things that are good is destroyed.”
Augustine (A.D. 370): “If, therefore, they are servants of sin (2 Cor. 3:17), why do they boast of free will?…O, man! Learn from the precept what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power…Let human effort, which perished by Adam, here be silent, and let the grace of God reign by Jesus Christ…What God promises, we ourselves do not through free will of human nature, but He Himself does by grace within us…Men labor to find in our own will something that is our own, and not God’s; how can they find it, I know not.”
Clement Of Rome (A.D. 69): “Let us therefore approach Him in holiness of soul, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, with love towards our gentle and compassionate Father because He made us an elect portion unto Himself…Seeing then that we are the special elect portion of a Holy God, let us do all things that pertain unto holiness…There was given a declaration of blessedness upon them that have been elected by God through Jesus Christ our Lord…Jesus Christ is the hope of the elect…”
Barnabas (A.D. 70): “We are elected to hope, committed by God unto faith, appointed to salvation.”
Ignatius: “To the predestined ones before all ages, that is, before the world began, united and elect in a true passion, by the eternal will of the Father…”
Justin Martyr: “In all these discourses I have brought all my proofs out of your own holy and prophetic writings, hoping that some of you may be found of the elect number which through the grace that comes from the Lord of Sabaoth, is left or reserved [set apart] for everlasting salvation.”
Irenaeus (A.D. 198): “God hath completed the number which He before determined with Himself, all those who are written, or ordained unto eternal life…Being predestined indeed according to the love of the Father that we would belong to Him forever.”
Clement Of Alexandria (A.D. 190): “Through faith the elect of God are saved. The generation of those who seek God is the elect nation, not [an earthly] place, but the congregation of the elect, which I call the Church…If every person had known the truth, they would all have leaped into the way, and there would have been no election…You are those who are chosen from among men and as those who are predestined from among men, and in His own time called, faithful, and elect, those who before the foundation of the world are known intimately by God unto faith; that is, are appointed by Him to faith, grow beyond babyhood.”
Cyprian (A.D. 250): “This is therefore the predestination which we faithfully and humbly preach.”
Ambrose Of Milan (A.D. 380): “In predestination the Church of God has always existed.”
Augustine (A.D. 380): “Here certainly, there is no place for the vain argument of those who defend the foreknowledge of God against the grace of God, and accordingly maintain that we were elected before the foundation of the world because God foreknew that we would be good, not that He Himself would make us good. This is not the language of Him who said, ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you’ (John 15:16).” Read More Here.