Unconditional Election and Total Depravity are Gnostic Teachings

augustine - Unconditional Election and Total Depravity are Gnostic TeachingsUnconditional Election and Total Depravity are Gnostic Teachings

Unconditional Election (Predestination), is the letter U in the acronym T.U.L.I.P that forms the basis of Calvinism.

The doctrine of Predestination asserts that some people are born already selected for salvation or damnation, which they cannot avoid even by good deeds in this life. For St. Augustine and John Calvin it is a divine mystery that God in His perfect justice makes the apparently gratuitous selection of the elect, with a parallel thought that He has made a similar selection of the damned  “…those whom in His justice He has predestined to punishment,” and “those whom in His mercy He has predestined to grace.”  –Augustine, Enchiridion c, p. 269

We can’t point fingers at John Calvin alone for this heretical teaching because he obtained it from Augustine’s writings.  But where did Augustine get it from?

Prior to Augustine becoming a Christian in 387 AD he adhered to Manichaeism, an Iranian Gnostic religion proclaimed by their ‘prophet’ Mani (216-276 AD) originating in Sassanid Persia (Babylon).  Shortly after Roman Emperor Theodosius I issued a decree of death for Manichaeans in 382 AD and declaring Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire in 391, Augustine supposedly became an ardent opponent of Manichaeism however Manichaeism still influenced his thinking as can be seen with the idea of ‘The Elect’.

Mani divided his church into 2 groups;  The Elect, The Hearers and then The Sinners.

  • The Elect (perfects):  those who had taken upon themselves the vows of Manicheaism
  • The Hearers (auditores):  those who had not taken vows, but still participated in the Church
  • The Sinners:  everyone else width=

Augustine was a Hearer as he never took the Manicheaism vows because he could not live up to their very strict standards (Confessions of Augustine). The life of those who took the vows was a hard one. They were forbidden to have property, to eat meat or drink wine, to gratify any sexual desire, to engage in any servile occupation, commerce or trade, to possess house or home, to practice magic, or to practice any other religion.  Therefore the vast majority of adherents where Hearers and the number of Elect were very small.  When the Elect die their bodies are purified by the sun, moon and the stars – their light particles set free to form little deities in the cosmos surrounding the First-man.  The Hearers have to pass through a long purgatory before they arrive at eternal bliss.  Sinners are thrown into hell, body and soul where they will wander around for eternity in torment and anguish, surrounded by demons and condemned by the angels.

Augustine said regarding Predestination:

“…are rather to understand the Scripture [1 Tim 2:4] as meaning that no man is saved unless God wills his salvation: not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will, but that no man is saved apart from His will…it was of prayer to God that the apostle was speaking when he used this expression.” …. “We may understand by ‘all men,’ every sort of men. And we may interpret it in any other way we please, so long as we are not compelled to believe that the omnipotent God has willed anything to be done which was not done.” –Augustine, Enchiridion, pg. 103

“…the resources of salvation are located in God, outside of humanity. It is God who initiates salvation, not men or women.”   — McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing, 2007.  pg. 19

“God does not choose us because we believe, but that we may believe.”  –Augustine, Predestination of the Saints 17.34

One can now see how easy it was for Augustine to mis-interpret scripture regarding predestination.  He could not achieve Election in Manicheaism, but by twisting scripture he could be Elect in Christianity.

Mani also believed in Total Depravity (also called Total Inability), which forms the T in T.U.L.I.P, where he said;

“…the nature of man can be corrupt to the point that his will is powerless to obey God’s commands.”  — Henry Chadwick, “The Early Church”, Penguin Books Ltd (August 1994), pg. 228.

Calvinism’s definition of Total Depravity asserts that, “as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term “total” in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.)  [Emphasis added]  –-David Steele and Curtis Thomas, “The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, Documented”,  pg. 25.

Augustine said that;

Adam and Eve in punishment for their sin “became a natural consequence in all their descendants”.  Moreover, it is not just a corrupted physical nature that we have inherited from Adam, but our… “human nature was so changed and vitiated that it suffers from the recalcitrance of a rebellious concupiscence….”  –City of God, xiii. pg. 3

We can now too see why Augustine believed such an erroneous doctrine.  In order for Election to work, man would have to be totally depraved or incapable of initiating any contact with God unless God chooses the person first.

Both Total Depravity and Election are 2 Gnostic teachings and even though Augustine opposed Manichaesim he did not divorce himself from their doctrines.

“The Gnostics [placed]…the natural order at so vast a distance in moral value from the supreme God. The influence of fatalistic ideas drawn from popular astrology and magic became fused with notions derived from Pauline language about predestination to produce a rigidly deterministic scheme. Redemption was from destiny, not from the consequences of responsible action, and was granted to a pre-determined elect in whom alone was the divine spark.”  [Emphasis added] — Henry Chadwick, “The Early Church”, Penguin Books Ltd (August 1994), pg. 38

Election was a NEW concept and had not been heard of in Christianity before until Augustine introduced the idea.  He had many opponents who rebuked him and his false doctrines.

Julian bishop of Eclanum, said that Augustine was causing trouble because he;

brought his Manichee ways of thinking into the church… and was denying St Paul’s clear teaching that God wills all men to be saved Henry Chadwick, “The Early Church”, Penguin Books Ltd (1994), pg. 232-3

Vincent of Lérins said that of Predestination;

“…a most disturbing innovation, quite out of line with ‘orthodoxy'”.  — Henry Chadwick, “The Early Church”, Penguin Books Ltd (1994), pg. 223

The following men agreed in the Biblical teaching of free will:

JUSTIN MARTYR (c.100-165 A.D.) said;

Dialogue with Trypho, CXLI:

“God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall certainly be punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably (wicked), but not because God created them so. So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God.”

IRENAEUS of Gaul (c.130-200) said;

Against Heresies XXXVII:

“This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward 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 . . .”

“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 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.”

ATHENAGORAS of Athens (2nd century) said;

Embassy for Christians XXIV:

“Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to both virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them, and others faithless), so is it among the angels.

THEOPHILUS of Antioch (2nd century) said;

To Autolycus XXVII:

“For God made man free, and with power over himself . . . now God vouch safes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him. For as man, disobeying, drew death on himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting.”

TATIAN of Syria (flourished late 2nd century) said;

Address XI:

“Why are you ‘fated’ to grasp at things often, and often to die? Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature. We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.”

BARDAISAN of Syria (c.154-222) said;


” ‘How is it that God did not so make us that we should not sin and incur condemnation?’

-if man had been made so, he would not have belonged to himself but would have been the instrument of him that moved him . . . And how, in that case, would a man differ from a harp, on which another plays; or from a ship, which another guides: where the praise and the blame reside in the hand of the performer or the steersman . . . they being only instruments made for the use of him in whom is the skill? But God, in His benignity, chose not so to make man; but by freedom He exalted him above many of His creatures.”

CLEMENT of Alexandria (c.150-215) said;

Stromata Bk ii ch. 4:

“But we, who have heard by the Scriptures that self-determining choice and refusal have been given by the Lord to men, rest in the infallible criterion of faith, manifesting a willing spirit, since we have chosen life and believe God through His voice.”

Stromata Bk iv ch. 12:

“But nothing is without the will of the Lord of the universe. It remains to say that such things happen without the prevention of God; for this alone saves both the providence and the goodness of God. We must not therefore think that He actively produces afflictions (far be it that we should think this!); but we must be persuaded that He does not prevent those that cause them, but overrules for good the crimes of His enemies.”

In Stromata, Bk ii ch 2, CLEMENT argues strongly that “faith is not established by demonstration.” Faith involves a choice and “choice is the beginning of action.”

TERTULLIAN of Carthage (c.155-225) said;

Against Marcion Book II ch.5:

“I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature . . .

-you will find that when He sets before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God’s calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and by this on no other ground than that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.

. . . Since therefore, both the goodness and purpose of God are discovered in the gift to man of freedom in his will . . .

NOVATIAN of Rome (c.200-258) said;

On the Trinity ch 1:

“He also placed man at the head of the world, and man, too, made in the image of God, to whom He imparted mind, and reason, and foresight, that he might imitate God; and although the first elements of his body were earthly, yet the substance was inspired by a heavenly and divine breathing. And when He had given him all things for his service, He willed that he alone should be free. And lest, again, and unbounded freedom should fall into peril, He laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree; but he was forewarned that evil would arise if perchance he should exercise his freewill in contempt of the law that was given.”

ORIGEN (c.185-254) said;

De Principiis Preface:

“Now it ought to be known that the holy apostles, in preaching the faith of Christ, delivered themselves with the utmost clearness on certain points which they believed to be necessary to everyone . . . This also is clearly defined in the teaching of the church that every rational soul is possessed of free-will and volition.”

De principiis Bk 3 ch. 1:

“There are, indeed, innumerable passages in the Scriptures which establish with exceeding clearness the existence of freedom of will.”

METHODIUS of Olympus (c.260-martyred 311) said;

The Banquet of the Ten Virgins xvi:

“Now those who decide that man is not possessed of free-will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate . . . are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils.”

Concerning Free-will:

“I say that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already existing some evil, which he had the power of choosing if he wished . . . but that the power of obeying and disobeying God is the only cause.”


The Disputation with Manes:

“For all creatures that God made, He made very good, and He gave to every individual the sense of free-will in accordance with which standard He also instituted the law of judgment. To sin is ours, and that we sin not is God’s gift, as our will is constituted to choose either to sin or not to sin.”

ARNOBIUS of Sicca (c.253-327) said;

Against the Heathen: 64

“I reply: does not He free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the Supreme who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him? To all, He says, the fountain of life is open, and no one is hindered or kept back from drinking . . . ”

Against the Heathen: 65

“Nay, my opponent says, if God is powerful, merciful, willing to save us, let Him change our dispositions, and compel us to trust in His promises. This then, is violence, not kindness nor the bounty of the Supreme God, but a childish and vain strife in seeking to get the mastery. For what is so unjust as to force men who are reluctant and unworthy, to reverse their inclinations; to impress forcibly on their minds what they are unwilling to receive, and shrink from . . .”

CYRIL of Jerusalem (c. 312-386) said;

Lecture IV 18:

“Know also that thou hast a soul self governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator, immortal because of God that gives it immortality, a living being rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth.”

Lecture IV 20:

“There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.”

Lecture IV 21:

“The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator of necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou wert a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory? The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness; since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.”

GREGORY of Nyssa (c.335-395) said;

On Virginity (368/3G8) ch. XII:

“Being the image and the likeness . . . of the Power which rules all things, man kept also in the matter of a free-will this likeness to Him whose will is over all.”

JEROME (c.347-420) said;

Letters CXXXIII:

“It is in vain that you misrepresent me and try to convince the ignorant that I condemn free-will. Let him who condemns it be himself condemned. We have been created endowed with free-will; still it is not this which distinguishes us from the brutes. For human free-will, as I said, depends upon the help of God and needs His aid moment by moment, a thing which you and yours do not choose to admit. Your position is that once a man has free-will he no longer needs the help of God. It is true that freedom of the will brings with it freedom of decision. Still man does not act immediately on his free-will but requires God’s aid who Himself needs no aid.”

Against the Pelagians Book III, 10:

“But when we are concerned with grace and mercy, free-will is in part void; in part, I say, for so much depends upon it, that we wish and desire, and give assent to the course we choose. But it depends on God whether we have the power in His strength and with His help to perform what we desire, and to bring to effect our toil and effort.”

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407) said;

On Hebrews, Homily 12:

“All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end.”

As we can see they all believed in free will, except Augustine.  This idea was then carried over to John Calvin and today Predestination and Total Depravity form part of the base doctrine of Calvinism.

While I was doing my research I found this youtube video by Paul Washer from Heart Cry Missionary Society who is also an ardent Amillennialist (A Roman Catholic doctirine) and dabbler in Contemplative Spirituality.  Paul Washer asserts that an 18th month old baby is totally and utterly evil.  How Paul Washer can make such a statement is beyond reason.  I suppose when you are ‘Divinely Chosen’ you can say the most ludicrous things.  This is a very shocking video.

 width=John Calvin’s reign of terror:

  • He had Servetus burned at the stake on October 27, 1553,
  • Gentile beheaded in 1566,
  • 34 women burned at the stake after accusing them of being witches who caused a plague that had swept through Geneva in 1545,
  • “Freckles” Dunant dies under torture in February 1545 without admitting to the crime of spreading the plague,
  • Several men and women are apprehended including a barber and a hospital supervisor who had “made a pact with the devil.”  in 1545,
  • 2 women executed by burning at the stake for sorcery by spreading the plague in March 7, 1545,
  • Belot (an Anabaptist) chained and tortured – against infant baptism in 1545,
  • 7 men executed concerning the plague outbreak in May 16, 1545,
  • a child was whipped publicly for calling his mother a thief,
  • a girl who struck her parents was beheaded,
  • Jacques Gruet accused of writing a poster against Calvin, was arrested, tortured then executed in July 1546,
  • and the list goes on, his victims ranging in age from 16-80.

If John Calvin was Elect, then so was Hitler!  58 murders is as good as 6 million.

John MacArthur and Grace to You ministries has this to say regarding Predestination:

I love the doctrines of grace and don’t shy away from the label “Calvinist.” I believe in the sovereignty of God. I’m convinced Scripture teaches that God is completely sovereign not only in salvation (effectually calling and granting faith to those whom He chooses); but also in every detail of the outworking of Providence.  –“Why I am A Calvinist”  — Phil Johnson, Grace to You ministries, http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/10194

The Five Points of Calvinism:  Defined, Defended and Documented
Afterward by John MacArthur


I am thankful for this timely revision of wonderful classic that has already been an immense blessing to countless thousands. Notwithstanding its success over the years, the only question that ultimately matters about the “five points of Calvinism” is whether these doctrines are biblical. This book has demonstrated (conclusively, in my judgment) that the “five points” are nothing more or less than what the Bible teaches. The doctrines of grace and divine sovereignty are the very lifeblood of the full and free salvation promised in the gospel.

Today Calvinism is being subjected to constant attack. Several recent, popular, published critiques have tried to discredit John Calvin the man, or they have unfairly blamed Calvinism for the dubious politics of the Reformation era. But the doctrines of Calvinistic soteriology must stand or fall by the test of Scripture, period.

Scripture speaks with absolute, unmistakable clarity on these vital issues: (1) Sinners are utterly helpless to redeem themselves or to contribute anything meritorious toward their own salvation (Rom 8:7-8). (2) God is sovereign in the exercise of His saving Will (Eph 1:4-5). (3) Christ died as a substitute who bore the full weight of God’s wrath on behalf of His people, and his atoning work is efficacious for their salvation (Isa. 53:5). (4) God’s saving purpose cannot be thwarted (John 6:37), meaning none of Christ’s true sheep will ever be lost (John 10:27-29). That is because (5) God assures the perseverance of His elect (Jude 24; Phil 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5).

Those are the five points of Calvinism. I believe them not because of their historical pedigree, but because that is what Scripture teaches.

John F. MacArthur Jr.

Well John MacArthur, your Calvinistic version of Salvation falls and it falls hard!

The correct Biblical interpretation is this:

  • CONDITIONAL ELECTION – God has chosen that all humanity be righteous by His grace, yet has called us to respond to that grace by exercising our God restored human freedom as a condition of fulfilling election.
  • DEPRAVATION – Human beings are sinful and without God, incapable (deprived) on their own of being righteous; however, they are not irredeemably sinful and can be transformed by God’s grace; God’s prevenient grace restores to humanity the freedom of will.

Jesus Christ died for ALL mankind, not just for the Gnostic Elect.

Calvinism is not the gospel as Calvinists would love to have you believe.  Calvinism is a horribly devious doctrine in that it sounds biblically correct for the most part, until you reach the MOST IMPORTANT PART: Salvation.  Here you are presented with Predestination and Total Depravity; teachings out of the pit of hell.   If a person is locked into a false sense of salvation, then Satan has done his job well.

UPDATES:  Please see this article that EXPOSES John Calvin as a FREEMASON:  Huguenots, John Calvin and Freemasonry

Please share:

Deborah (Discerning the World)

Deborah Ellish is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

154 Responses

  1. Listen carefully Cal. You don’t make any demands on this site. You have the right to comment here but no demands. We had some technical problems with our site and lost some comments, one of which was yours. I am starting to think you cannot answer my questions. Indeed you can’t because there is not a single verse in Scripture describing salvation as an invasion. You are wasting my time. Either you do or gracefully leave this site because you are deliberately making foxy dodgings. Now, either you show some respect for the Bible or you leave. It’s your choice (pun intended).

  2. Cal says:

    Tom Lessing,

    I only listen to the Lord and walk according to His Word.
    I do not take to threats….I do not listen to liars, accusers of the brethren….manipulator’s of the truth…who hide in the dark…..planning traps…..hypocrites…..
    You have revealed your true colors…….
    Pro 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
    Pro 1:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
    Pro 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices

    I pray the Lord to save you and forgive you your hatred for the truth and honesty.

  3. Goodbye Cal. Your blessings upon us in some of your previous comments are a farce. Don’t come back. You are merely heaping upon your head more and more coals of divine judgment. When you can’t answer simple questions, you go into a frenzy of deep hatred and erroneously quote Scripture to validate your hatred. I repeat, GOODBYE!!!

  4. Deborah (Discerning the World) says:

    Cal, if you don’t mind me speaking, which I’m going too anyway.
    I noticed the intense hatred towards women in your testimony, hense the real reason for your celebacy or should we just call it ‘spiritual homosexuality’ – like in the Roman Catholic church. The same false Christ who calls for celebacy among priests in the RCC is the one who called you into to it as well.)

    As Tom said we are having a problem with the comments section and lost quite a few comments, one being yours.

    You deny you are not a Calvinist yet your views on your website tie up 100% with Calvinism and I see you attract Calvinsts to you website like flies – you’re a Calvinist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *