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Augustine's Writings on Unconditional Election: Origins of Islam and Calvinism

In Calvinism and Islam, the heretical doctrine of Unconditional Election is the defining point within the entire doctrine of predestination. It is the doctrine that wholly gives God all of the control regarding salvation, saying that He chose randomly which people should obtain eternal life before He created them. This concept in Roman Catholicism was first penned by Augustine, who laid the foundations for modern day Calvinism and, I believe, had a significant influence on the creation of Islam.

Augustine of Hippo's Views on Predestination From the Time of Creation with Refutation

Augustine (354 - 430 A.D.) described in numerous writings his belief that God has predestinated the elect to have eternal life ever since the world began. Though Augustine does quote scripture from Ephesians 1 and Romans 11 in these commentaries, his interpretations will be debunked throughout this post.

(Augustine) On Predestination and the Saints Book 1 Ch.36 God Chose the Righteous; Not Those Whom He Foresaw as Being of Themselves, But Those Whom He Predestinated for the Purpose of Making So: "Let us, then, look into the words of the apostle and see whether He chose us before the foundation of the world because we were going to be holy and immaculate, or in order that we might be so. 'Blessed,' says he, 'be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in all spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ; even as He has chosen us in Himself before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted.'(Ephesians 1:3-4) Not, then, because we were to be so, but that we might be so. Assuredly it is certain,— assuredly it is manifest. Certainly we were to be such for the reason that He has chosen us, predestinating us to be such by His grace."

From looking at other passages throughout scripture, we can see that God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and that he does not want anyone to perish in Hell (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, since Ephesians 1 says that God has chosen Christians before the foundation of the world that they should be holy, and God wants everyone to become Christians by getting saved, it can be inferred that God has chosen that all who believe on Christ would be holy and unspotted, and that this has been in place since the foundation of the world.

(Augustine) On Predestination and the Saints Book 1 Ch.41 Predestination Defined as Only God's Disposing of Events in His Foreknowledge: "To whomsoever, therefore, God gives His gifts, beyond a doubt He has foreknown that He will bestow them on them, and in His foreknowledge He has prepared them for them. Therefore, those whom He predestinated, them He also called with that calling which I am not reluctant often to make mention of, of which it is said, 'The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.' (Romans 11:29) For the ordering of His future works in His foreknowledge, which cannot be deceived and changed, is absolute, and is nothing but, predestination."

Augustine's mistaken interpretation of Romans 11:29 here is that the gift of God is faith, but the Bible specifically defines the gift of God as eternal life. It is on this false foundation that he builds his doctrine of predestination.

(True Christianity) Romans 6:23 King James Version: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

(Augustine) On Predestination and the Saints Book 1 Ch.36 God Chose the Righteous; Not Those Whom He Foresaw as Being of Themselves, But Those Whom He Predestinated for the Purpose of Making So: "In this mystery of His will, He placed the riches of His grace, according to His good pleasure, not according to ours, which could not possibly be good unless He Himself, according to His own good pleasure, should aid it to become so. But when he had said, 'According to His good pleasure,' he added, 'which He purposed in Him, that is, in His beloved Son, in the dispensation of the fullness of times to restore all things in Christ, which are in heaven, and which are in earth, in Him: in whom also we too have obtained a lot, being predestinated according to His purpose who works all things according to the counsel of His will; that we should be to the praise of His glory.' (Ephesians 1:9-12a)"

The quote here by Augustine proves that he either ignored the second half of Ephesians 1:12 or was reading from a corrupted Bible that did not have it. From this, he built his doctrine of predestination unto salvation from verses that are actually describing the destiny that people get when they believe on Jesus Christ. The full verse is included in the following, stating that they first trusted in Christ and were to the praise of his glory.

(True Christianity) Ephesians 1:12-14 King James Version: "12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."

Also, when one looks at verse 13, it says that the people trusted in Christ after they heard the word of truth, that is, the Gospel. Then, after they believed, they were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise. Augustine is teaching the exact opposite because he communicates the idea that God seals some people for salvation beforehand, not that they are sealed after believing.

Similarities With Islam's Predestination Doctrines

Throughout the Islamic sources, the belief in destiny, Allah controlling people people's belief in him, and even people's deeds is stated in a much more direct way, not in such ramblings that Augustine does in his commentaries. This shows that, when Islam was created, this idea had matured and been boiled down into simple statements that could be more easily understood.

(Islam) Quran 17:13-14 Abdel Haleem Translation: "We have bound each human being's destiny to his neck. On the Day of Resurrection, We shall bring out a record for each of them, which they will find spread wide open, 'Read your record. Today your own soul is enough to calculate your account.'"

(Islam) Quran 4:48 Abdel Haleem Translation: "God does not forgive the joining of partners with Him: anything less than that He forgives to whoever He will, but anyone who joins partners with God has concocted a tremendous sin.

(Islam) Sahih Muslim 6728 The Book of Al-Qadr: "I heard the Messenger of Allah with these two ears of mine, saying: "The Nutfah (sperm drop) stays in the womb for forty nights, then the angel comes down to it." - Zuhair (one of the narrators) said: "I think he said: 'The one who shapes it.'" - "He says: 'O Lord, male or female?' And Allah makes it male or female. Then he says: 'O Lord, physically sound or unsound?' And Allah makes him physically sound or unsound. Then he says: 'O Lord, what is his provision? What is his lifespan?' Then Allah makes him doomed or blessed.""

(Islam) Sahih Muslim 6724 The Book of Al-Qadr: "One of you may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is nothing between him and it but a cubit, then the Decree overtakes him and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it. And one of you may do the deeds of the people of the Fire until there is nothing between him and it but a cubit, then the Decree overtakes him and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise, and enters it."

We also see several passages that talk about how Allah created some people to be evil and to be thrown into Hell. Normally, this would be associated with Limited Atonement, but in the context of showing the antithesis of Unconditional Election, this could be called unconditional damnation.

(Islam) Quran 11:118-119 Abdel Haleem Translation: "118 If your Lord had pleased, He would have made all people a single community, but they continue to have their differences- 119 except those on whom your Lord has mercy- for He created them to be this way, and the word of your Lord is final, 'I shall definitely fill Hell with both jinn and men.'"

(Islam) Quran 7:179 Abdel Haleem Translation: "179 We have created many jinn and people who are destined for Hell, with hearts they do not use for comprehension, eyes they do not use for sight, ears they do not use for hearing. They are like cattle, no, even further astray: these are the ones who are entirely heedless."

Refuting Unconditional Election of Islam and Catholicism and Proving Free Will in the Bible

The Bible clearly states that the one condition that a person must meet to be saved is to believe on Jesus Christ and no one else. This is done using our free will.

(True Christianity) John 3:16 King James Version: "16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

(True Christianity) Acts 16:29-32 King James Version: "29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house."

(True Christianity) Revelation 22:17 King James Version: "17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." [the water of life is the gift of eternal life through believing on Jesus Christ]

This post is part of the series The Hard Truth About Calvinism and Islam under The Catholic Origins of Calvinism and Islam

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