October 2, 2009

Quote of the Day: Leibniz Against Hyper-Calvinism

If there are people who believe that election and reprobation are accomplished on God's part by a despotic and absolute power, not only without any apparent reason but actually without any reason, even a concealed one, they maintain an opinion that destroys alike the nature of things and the divine perfections. Such an absolutely absolute decree (so to speak) would be without doubt insupportable. But Luther and Calvin were far from such a belief: the former hopes that the life to come will make us comprehend the just reasons of God's choice; and the latter protests explicitly that these reasons are just and holy, although they be unknown to us. I have already in that connexion quoted Calvin's treatise on predestination, and here are the actual words: 'God before the fall of Adam had reflected upon what he had to do, and that for causes concealed from us. ... It is evident therefore that he had just causes for the reprobation of some of mankind, but causes to us UNKNOWN' (Leibniz, Theodicy, tr. E. M. Huggard, sect. 338; emphases and ellipsis original).

Leibniz does not give a more specific citation for the Calvin quote, and the edition I have doesn't have much in the way of editor's notes. Leibniz is evidently anticipating a (hyper-)Calvinist objection to his claim that "the wise mind always acts according to principles; always according to rules, and never according to exceptions" (Theod. 337). This, Leibniz insists, need not be understood as in any way undermining the Protestant understanding of the doctrine of election.

Posted by Kenny at October 2, 2009 5:01 PM
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