Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Does God Will The Salvation Of All Men? (Part 5)

We now move on to the Father Fulgentius of Ruspe (462 or 467 – 527 or 533). As a theologian, Fulgentius's work shows knowledge of Greek and a strong agreement with Augustine of Hippo. Fulgentius, like Prosper before him, had to wrangle with Semi-Pelagians in his capacity as a pastor. And like Augustine and Prosper, he too argued that God did not will the salvation of all men head-for-head.

Fulgentius argued against the Semi-Pelagians that God does not want all men to be saved. He taught that God does everything that he wants invincibly and he cited his refusal to enlighten some with the knowledge that he had made necessary for their salvation.

How the apostle should be understood when he says that God wills to save all

Fulgentius taught that the apostle (I Timothy 2:4) should not be understood to mean that God wants all men to be saved; rather he meant that God wants to be saved all those who are to be, the elect who are called according to his purpose, even the predestined whom he wills to be saved from among all manner of men.

"Truly, by these ‘all persons’ whom God ‘wills to be saved’ are signified not the entire human race completely, but the entirety of all who are to be saved. And, likewise, they are called ‘all’ because divine goodness saves all those from humanity, that is, from every nation, condition, and age, from every language and from every province." (Epistle 17:61)

"And so that we might know more fully who those ‘all’ are, let us listen to the words of the same blessed Peter who, speaking by the Holy Spirit, concluded that Joel’s prediction was fulfilled in the exhortation, where he says: ‘Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, and for your children, and for as many as the Lord our God will call.’ (Acts 2:38-9). And so he says ‘all,’ but also ‘as many as the Lord will call.’ Also, blessed Paul refers to them as ‘those called according to his purpose'" (Romans 8:28). (Epistle 17:63)

"All of the predestined are those whom God ‘wills to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.'" (Epistle 15:15)

"Therefore they are called ‘all’ because they are gathered from all kinds of persons, from all nations, from all conditions, from all masters, from all servants, from all kings, from all soldiers, from all provinces, from all languages, from all ages and from all classes. Thus ‘all’ are saved who God ‘wills to be saved.’" (De Veritate 3:15)

God is omnipotent and none can resist his will to save them

Fulgentius taught that all whom omnipotent God wills to be saved will be converted to him and saved, because he does what he wants invincibly and none can effectively resist him. As the scripture testifies, ‘All things whatsoever he willed, he did’ (Psalm 115:3,) ‘the Lord did all things whatsoever he willed, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in all the abyss’ (Psalm 135:6) and hence ‘the Son gives life to whom he wills’ (St. John 5:21.)

"No one of these [predestined] perishes. Because he who has done all things he wanted wants this, what he wants he always does invincibly. And so that is fulfilled in them which the unchangeable and invincible will of almighty God has, whose will, just as it cannot be changed in its plans, so neither is his power stopped or hindered in its execution." (De Remissione 2.2,2)

"Whence our saviour reproves the malevolence of the unbelieving city with these words: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling?’ (St. Matthew 23:37) Christ said this to show its evil will by which it tried in vain to resist the invincible divine will, when God’s good will neither could be conquered by those whom it deserts nor could not be able to accomplish anything which it wanted. That Jerusalem, insofar as it attained to its will, did not wish its children to be gathered to the saviour, but he still gathered all whom he willed. In this it wanted to resist the omnipotent but was unable to because God who, as it is written, ‘Whatever the Lord pleases, he does’ (Psalm 135:6), converts to himself whomever he wills by a free justification, coming beforehand with his gift of superabounding grace on those whom he could justly damn if he wished." (De Remissione 2.2,3)

"Since scripture testifies, ‘All things whatsoever he willed, he did’ (Psalm 115:3), there is nothing that he has willed and has not done... For, it is evil for someone to say that the Omnipotent is not able to do something that he willed to do... ‘For just as the Father raises and gives life to the dead, so also the Son gives life to whom he wills’ (St. John 5:21). Those whom he wills to be given life are those whom he ‘wills to be saved.’ Therefore, just as he saves whom he wills, he also ‘gives life to whom he wills.'" (Epistle 17:66)

"For the power of God is not less than his will, and therefore he is found to will nothing which he is not able to bring about. [...] For, ‘the Lord did all things whatsoever he willed, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in all the abyss’ (Psalm 135:6). Therefore, since he does all things whatsoever he willed even in the realm of people, whomsoever he ‘wills to be saved’, he makes saved." (De Veritate 3:14)

"Surely the will of the omnipotent God is always fulfilled, because his power is absolutely invincible; for it is he who ‘did all things whatsoever he willed, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in the abyss’, and whose will no one resists." (Epistle 15:15)

Ergo, God does not convert and save all whom he could.  Fulgentius cited God’s refusal to enlighten some with the knowledge that he has made necessary for their salvation as proof that he does not want all men to be saved.

"For our Saviour said, ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son willed to reveal him’ (St. Matthew 11:27). In saying this he certainly shows that he wills to be revealed to some, and does not will to be revealed to others. How then is it said that he wills those to be saved to whom he did not will to reveal himself and his Father?" (De Veritate 3:15)

"'To you it has been granted to know the mystery of the kingdom, but to those who are outside, everything is spoken in parables; so that seeing, those seeing should see but not see, and those hearing should hear but not understand; lest at any time they be converted and their sins be forgiven them’ (St. Mark 4:11-2). It thus appears that the Lord spoke to the multitudes, but nevertheless refused to open the mystery of the kingdom of heaven to them. Certainly in doing this, therefore, he did not will that his words be understood, because he did not will himself to be revealed in that mystery... If therefore God generally ‘wills all persons to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’, how is it that the Truth himself denies the mystery of his knowledge from some?" (De Veritate 3:16)

"If the statement of the apostle is referring universally to all persons entirely, they [who believe this] will be compelled to pronounce that the holy evangelists are liars. For how is it that he who ‘wills all persons to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth’, did not will to give certain ones to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven? Surely if he wills to save all persons entirely, he certainly does not refuse anyone." (De Veritate 3:17)

"'To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ (St. Matthew 3:11) If the Truth willed that all persons would come to his knowledge, how is it that he refused to show them [the way] by which they would come? [...] How, therefore, does he will to come to his knowledge those whom he denies his knowledge? For what is it not to will to reveal the mystery of his knowledge except not to will to save? ... Therefore he willed to be saved those to whom he gave to know the mystery of salvation; but he does not will to be saved those to whom he has denied the knowledge of the mystery of salvation." (De Veritate 3:18)

There can no doubt of Fulgentius' view regarding the question of whether God wills all men to be saved. The obvious answer is, "No."

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