It is written:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 John 2:19)
The early Gnostics (who were the fathers of the religious system which became known as Calvinism) attempted to combine pagan teaching with Christian Scripture. The post-apostolic church powerfully and ably fought off their influence and teaching, but the Gnostics continued to flourish in some areas. Ken Johnson tells us more of their history:
“Valentinus said saving faith comes from your spirit, if you are one of the chosen (men are born saved),[ xvi] and some are not predestined to be saved but are predestined for hell. The rest might be saved through works.[ xvii] Only those whose spirits are an emanation from Sophia are predestined to be saved. All others are predestined to hell (double predestination),[ xviii] and those predestined for salvation do not need to practice good works.[ xix] So we can see that affirming predestination based on emanation, double predestination…and denying the need for holiness are all Gnostic ideas that Paul would classify as a “doctrine of demons…“With the demise of most of the factions of the Gnostics by the mid second century, the two main schools left were the Valentinian Gnostics (Calvinistic Gnostics) and the Basilidean Gnostics (Pelagian Gnostics). By the mid third century the Basilidean Gnostics had all but died out and the Valentinian Gnostics were growing fewer in number, except in their stronghold in the mountains of Egypt. They had all been forgotten by the church until AD 216, when a man named Manes (Mani) was born. He studied all the major philosophies, then emerged on the scene declaring he was a prophet of God. Manichaeism About AD 252, Manes formed a sect called the Manicheans. They mixed Christianity with Valentinian Gnosticism and other Persian elements. He stated his teaching came from Christ and the Persian Magi. Mani taught that there are two gods, one evil and one good.[ xx] He taught Jesus came to reconcile man to Satan, the dark god,[ xxi] but Jesus did not undergo punishment on the cross.[ xxii] He said Satan is the god of Moses and the prophets.[ xxiii] Man does not have free will,[ xxiv] and some are born with their nature totally depraved,[ xxv] while others are born nearly perfect.[ xxvi] Mani said he was the Comforter (Paraclete) and also the “that which is perfect” of 1 Corinthians 13: 3. Mani taught that vegetarianism, marriage, and having children are sins, [xxvii] and that there was a purgatory for purifying souls.[ xxviii] The church listened to Manes and concluded that he was a heretic. Since Manes denied the Scriptural teaching of the free will of man, he could not be sinless and therefore not an emanation from God….On November 13, AD 354, a child was born who would become known as Augustine of Hippo. He grew up rather wild and rejected the things of God. After a time of seeing the results of his sin, he began his own unique journey into the world of religion and philosophy. After studying for quite a while, he joined the Manicheans. Augustine remained loyal to the Gnostic cult for eight years….Augustine had very little success in his debates, so he decided to go back and see how the Valentinian Gnostics gained their victories over the Basilidean Gnostics. He found most of the time the Valentinians did this by focusing on their doctrine of predestination. The Gnostic version was based on the idea that a man’s spirit was an emanation of a god and therefore incorruptible. This would not fit with Christianity, so he changed it a bit and came up with the idea that a Christian is predestined for salvation, not because of anything in himself but because God simply ordained it without any explanation….Augustinianism was wrong because it denied the free will of man and taught some men were predestined to salvation before birth, no matter what they did in life. After these conclusions, attempts were made to try to redefine the doctrines in such a way that the church would be pleased and would accept them….Calvin used his skill in law to find historical documents that might legally weaken Rome’s hold on the people. He found nothing until he went all the way back to the writings of Augustine. He understood that if he could remove the unpalatable Gnostic doctrines from the writings of Augustine, the Manicheans, and the Valentinian Gnostics, and just use their idea of predestination, it would destroy the Pope’s hold on the people. The Pope of Rome could not send anyone to hell or insure their salvation if they were already predestined for heaven or hell, especially if that predestination could never be changed. Calvin published his first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion in AD 1536.” (Ken Johnson, The Gnostic Origins Of Calvinism, 198-312 (Kindle Edition).
Through the influence of John Calvin, the Gnostic teachings of Augustine were reintroduced into the world during the Protestant Reformation.
Thus we find the history of Calvinistic doctrine originates-not from Scripture-but from pagan heresy which was introduced into the church decades after the death of Jesus on the Cross.
In our next several lessons, we will consider some of the biblical concepts and passages which have been hijacked by Calvinists to propagate their religion. We will focus especially on the five tenants from the acrostic T.U.L.I.P. (Total hereditary depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.