"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Calvinistic Predestination and How the Blessed Sacrament Disproves It

For those who are unaware, there is a doctrine held by some that God in his infinite Wisdom chose out from humanity a certain number for whom Christ's ransom on the cross would be effective. Those inside this group are called the elect. Those who are outside of this are called the reprobate.

It sounds harsh for a loving God to consign a set number of people to Hell, but this view does have the merits of doing everything possible to uphold the sovereignty of God over all matters. It is also true that there are numerous passages particularly from Romans 8 and 9, Ephesians 1, and other places which would give creedence to this view. Also, before I continue, I wish to note that I believe many, if not all Calvinists, to be believers. However, the Eucharist is what I propose to be the nail in this doctrine's coffin.

In Matthew and Mark's account of the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the Bread and Wine he states that this is his Body and Blood which has been shed for many. Only "for many"? This might lend creedence to the Calvinist belief. But Scripture must be balanced with Scripture. In Luke's account, specifically Luke 22:19-20, Jesus makes the explicit claim this is my Body and my Blood which is given/shed "for you." Furthermore, in John's great Eucharistic discourse recorded in chapter 6, Jesus says "the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (6:51) Unless of course you eat and drink the sacramental Bread and Wine with faith, the Sacrament will not effect life in the recipient. However, that is not the point to be made here. Judas Iscariot took the Bread and Wine in Luke's account, and even though John 6 does not take place in the Upper Room I think it is safe to say that what Jesus said on that mountain held true when he shared the Last Supper with his Apostles. "I give you, Judas, my Flesh and Blood, my Body has been broken for you." Yet, the Scripture and Universal Tradition bear out that Judas was not a believer. Yet, the meal which represents to us and effects in us the redemption of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was offered to him. It does not make any sense to debate whether or not Judas could have changed his mind at the last minute or anything like that. He didn't. But I think Jesus is clear that the Bread and Wine, Himself, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, are offered to even the most wretched-including those who will not repent of their sins.

In the end, when we view the passages regarding predestination in Scripture, I think it would be helpful for us to have the basic understanding that there are things we simply cannot know. It is is better that way. Could I end up being wrong about this? It certainly could be. I doubt it considering what I've cited above. I also doubt that I'm wrong about Calvinism because of Peter's address in his first general Epistle. In verse two he says that all the believers to whom he writes are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God." Again, we want to be careful with this statement because we do not want to fall into the trap that God reacts to what man does. But we should use this verse and the verses pertaining to the Institution of the Eucharist to temper what might appear in other places to be a demonstration that God elects people almost haphazardly. Instead of focusing in on these questions, let us rejoice in the humility of God the Son, who we remember this time of year came as a poor, weak, baby that he might give his life for us and for those who will never care. And may we in return give ourselves fully in gratitude for the "bread which has come down from heaven, and is given for the life of the world."


  1. one of the many things Holy Communion does for me is to remind me that I am indeed nothing without the body and blood of Christ. He chose me, and there is nothing I could have done. I am humbled knowing that he died for me and for all the world even though we did nothing to deserve his sacrifice on our behalf.

    Instead of focusing on that fact by using exclusive terminology, we should focus on our directive from the Lord to take his Gospel into all the world and leave the choosing to Him.

  2. Totally true-but I think when you start from the mindset that there are certain people for whom Christ did not die that is at the very least a psychological hindrance to evangelism. I could be wrong. I was once. ;-)