Predestination and Justification: Two Theological Loci

Predestination and Justification: Two Theological Loci

Predestination and Justification: Two Theological Loci

Predestination and Justification: Two Theological Loci


Predestination and justification are two of the most distinctive and familiar doctrines associated with the Protestant Reformation. Martyr, an influential Protestant theologian and biblical exegete of the sixteenth century, engages advocates and detractors alike in his most extensive discussions of these controversial theological topics, drawn from his monumental commentary on the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans. The great value of these two treatises is that they provide a vital if unheralded Protestant perspective on what were two of the most controverted doctrines of the Reformation era -- not only between Roman Catholics and Protestants, but also among the Reformed, Lutheran, and Anabaptists as well.



1. [404] in case our reasoning should stray too far, which might easily happen in so large a field as God’s predestination, a subject full of twists and turns, we intend to divide the subject into four principal parts.

First, I will examine carefully the nature and definition of predestination. Second, I will ask what the cause of predestination is, since nothing can be known adequately unless its cause is known. Third, I will consider the effects that predestination brings forth in men; there are many things that are most plainly understood from their effects. Last, I will ask whether its power is such that it brings necessity to man, whether it takes away or hinders the freedom of the human will, and whether it can be changed. After each of these parts has been discussed, we will end this discourse.

Yet I will not promise to say all that can be said, for there are innumerable things that present themselves to those considering this matter. For the moment, I will touch only those things that seem most necessary and are most controversial. Since my treatment is so compact, it will not be hard for others to gather many things elsewhere.

Before we proceed to the definition of predestination, there are two things I must answer: first, whether it befits true Christian religion to dispute or to preach about predestination: if it is not lawful, we would seem to be acting wickedly by writing on the topic. Second, Logicians first pose the question of whether a thing exists naturally goes before the question of what it is. Lest we go against that order, let us consider whether or not there is such a thing as predestination, so that afterward we may define it more certainly.

Should predestination be TAUGHT?

Touching the first question, it is to be understood that God makes various choices, for there are some that serve to perform specific duties, such as election

the locus on predestination follows Martyr’s commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans, chap. 9, In Epistolam S. Pauli ad Romanos commentarii doctissimi. . . (Basel: Peter Perna, 1558). It begins on p. 404; numerals in square brackets indicate page numbers in the 1558 Basel edition. Section divisions are from the Loci Communes . . . ex variis ipsius authoris scriptis, in unum librum collecti & in quatuor Classes distributi (London: Thomas Vautrollerius, 1583), bk. 3, sec. 4, are included for convenience. Subject headings are given by this editor.

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