Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Reader

Richard A. Muller

Second Reader

John W. Cooper

Third Reader

Henry Zwaanstra

Fourth Reader

Anthony N.S. Lane


This dissertation finds that Calvin's reformulation of the doctrine of free choice reflects his convictions of the early Reformation heritage, his learning of the tradition from the early church fathers and especially from Augustine, the influences generated by his continuous dialogues with the development of the formulations among the Reformers in the second phase of the Reformation, and his personal theological convictions. Calvin formulated his defense as a Reformer of the second phase of the Reformation defending the early Reformation formulation set by Luther. The early Reformers used various necessitarian arguments to argue their cases. The Reformers in the second phase had the apologetic and pedagogical need to shift from the necessitarian argument. They incorporated theodical concern in their reformulations. They generally affirmed the genuine integrity of second causality, by affirming the existence of contingency, the voluntary nature of the bound will, and the freedom of choice for Adam before the fall. Calvin was quite unique among them, in maintaining several necessitarian concepts similar to Luther's: the rejection of the term liberum arbitrium, an all active concept of divine omnipotence, and the preference for active biblical expressions in affirming divine sovereignty over sins. Calvin grew theologically in debate with Pighius. He clarified his early less nuanced concepts. In the process, he utilized scholarstic distinctions and the witnesses of the early church and medieval church to defend the doctrine. Calvin followed Luther's conviction that the mature Augustine is more biblical. Calvin read Augustine's works, including Against Julian, through the lens of Luther's convictions. Calvin, in his explicit affirmation of the divine ordination of the fall, deviated from the post-fall framework of Augustine and Luther. Because of this, we find that there are two sides to Calvin's formulation. In his reaffirmation of the genuine integrity of the second causality, Calvin is like a classical Augustinian. In his reception of necessitarian concepts and his idea of the divine ordination of-the fall, the deterministic side of Calvin is revealed. This may be the source of various debates among Calvin scholars and the ambiguity in reading Calvin, on the issue of human freedom.



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