Did the Early Church Fathers Teach Calvinism?

In which Dr. Leighton Flowers interviews premier Augustinian scholar Dr. Ken Wilson regarding how the Early Church Fathers saw the depravity and free will of man. They respond to an article by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon of A Puritan’s Mind and quotes used by Dr. Michael Horton in Putting Amazing Back in Grace to claim that Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, Origen, and Ambrose taught a form of Calvinism. In what is a fascinating discussion, they show that these ECFs, taken in their context, similar to the Scriptures, do not actually teach anything resembling Calvinism and indeed clearly affirmed free will theism.

Dr. Ken Wilson’s book
Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VTS48L6
Paperback version: https://www.amazon.com/dp/108280035X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

238 thoughts on “Did the Early Church Fathers Teach Calvinism?


    During Augustine’s later years and the dramatic reversals of his doctrinal views, there arose a theological dilemma, when it became evident that some baptized infants turned into godly adult Christians while other baptized infants would fall away from the faith and live-out immoral lives. The current doctrine at that time stipulated that infants possessed the Holy Spirit by baptism. So, Augustine the intellectual, and Catholic Theologian, was thus presented with the question of how to explain the difference.

    Augustine deduced that God must give a SECOND gift of grace called perseverance. And that God only gives this gift to a FEW baptized infants. Without this SECOND gift, a Christian, even though they have the Holy Spirit via baptism, cannot persevere. So Augustine deduced – when you see Christians falling away – you can conclude they were not given the SECOND gift.

    This EXPLANATION (somewhat changed today) is known as the “P” in TULIP. The Perseverance of the saints.

    Dr. Ken Wilson – The foundation of Augustinian Calvinism
    But notice how the current doctrine of perseverance differs significantly from Augustine’s theory – which concluded that not all TRUE Christians persevered in faith and good works. For Augustine – baptized babies who received the Holy Spirit and were regenerated – but could fall away if God did not give the SECOND gift of perseverance.

    Augustine’s theoretical invention of a SECOND gift was created for the very purpose of *EXPLAINING* what was then evidenced through observation. That babies who became true Christians through baptism did not in fact persevere despite having the Holy Spirit.”
    -end quote

    How many times have you heard a Calvinist boast – that only Calvinism has the -quote EXPLANATIONS?

    And how many times have you observed that Calvinists often appear to have a never-ending supply of ad-hoc inventions, and the ability to COAX verses from scripture into affirming them?

    I submit to you – this practice of AD-HOC INVENTIONS to come up with EXPLANATIONS – and the COAXING of scripture to affirm a never-ending supply of theoretical inventions – is in fact a Calvinist birthright. It is Augustine’s Modus Operandi.

    This practice thus serves as the very “finger print” of Augustinian-Calvinism.

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