Select Page

Calvinism and TULIP in the Middle Ages

T.U.L.I.P. - The Doctrines of Grace

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

A look at a few figures and their quotes from the middle ages on Calvinism.

Smaragdus (585-611)
Commenting on the 8th chapter of Romans.
“To those who are called saints according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). That is, according to that which he purposed, to save those whom he had foreknown would believe, not through works of the law, nor legal sacrifices, but by faith alone and the shedding of his blood…For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined…For, those whom he foresaw would be conformed to Christ in life, he wishes and purposes that they be conformed in glory…And those he predestined he also called. Let us not think that predestination compels (vim faciat) the unwilling. Rather, by calling it collects the willing not the unwilling…He who also did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all. He permits him to be handed over so that the free will of those handing him over might remain, and so that he might put forth an example of patience for us through the Lord’s.” (Smaragdus of Saint Mihiel, Collectiones in epistolas et evangelica or Expositio comitis, In natali apostolorum. PL 102:526-8.)

Ambrose Autpert (d. 781)
An abbot at Saint Vincent of Vulturne in Italy.
“How can the one who wills, receive the water of the blessed fountain, if it is only given to a person freely? And surely the Apostle says: It is not of the one willing nor of the one running, but of God who shows mercy (Rom. 9:16). How can one who wills receive, if he receives it freely, unless the grace of God is given for both—grace which makes a person willing from being unwilling, and then once willing, it gratuitously leads him to that which he desires?” (Ambrose Autpert, Expositio in Apocalypsin. On Rev. 22:17. CCCM 27A:867.)

“Truly, it should be known that when it is said: Whoever was not found written in the book of life, it is as if it were said ‘whoever has not been predestined to life.” (Ambrose Autpert, Expositio in Apocalypsin. On Rev. 20:15. CCCM 27A:774-5.)

Felix (d. 745)
The Life of Saint Guthlac, written about 745 by a person named Felix.
“He [Guthlac] finished his journey and reached Crowland on 25 August, the day on which it is usual to celebrate the feast of St Bartholomew with whose help, under divine providence, he had made a beginning of his dwelling in the desert. He was then about twenty-six years of age, when he determined with heavenly aid to be a soldier of the true God amid the gloomy thickets of that remote desert….O how marvelous is the kindness of the divine mercy and how glorious the providence of the Father’s love, how praiseworthy the predestination of the eternal Deity, how inscrutable the judgements [sic] of the everlasting Judge, as the apostle declares: ‘How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!’ For just as with a heavenly voice He brought forth, out of the gloomy mist of the error of the Jews, the supreme teacher of the Gentiles when on his way to Damascus—him whom He had predestined before all worlds to preach the Gospel of His Son; so also He led Guthlac a man of saintly memory from the eddying whirlpool of these turbid times…to the straight path and to the vision of true light. And not only did He reward him with fame and veneration in this present world, but He also established him in the joy and eternal blessedness of perennial glory, as apostolic truth foretold: ‘Whom He did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he also called, them he glorified.” (Bertram Colgrave, ed. and trans., Life of Saint Guthlac by Felix (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1956, 1985), 91-3.)

Alcuin of York, Agobard of Lyons, and Ambrose Autpert, all eminent church leaders, preached and advocated an ‘all of grace’ doctrine of salvation: Free will is bound in sin. Faith is a gift of God. Any movement of free will toward good is inspired by preceding enabling grace. Subsequent good works are done only as enabled through grace. Perseverance in righteous living to the end, resulting in eternal salvation, is also a product of divine grace. Furthermore, this grace is particular in its application, dependent upon divine predestination and election.

Alcuin (d. 804).
Originally from York, England, Alcuin became a leading theologian in the court of Charlemagne.
“What is No one is able to come to me except that no one is able to believe in me unless the Fathers who sent me draws him? One comes, whom the grace of God goes ahead of. About this we must say with the prophet: His mercy will come before me (Ps. 59:11); and again: His mercy will follow me (Psa. 23:6). It will come before us so that we can choose, and follow us so that we can do (cf. Phil. 2:13).” (Alcuin of York, Commentaria in sanctis Johannis evangelium. On John 6:41-42. PL 100:832:)

“Or, if all is to be understood as people, we are able to say all predestined to salvation. About these all, when he [Jesus] spoke above about his sheep, he said that none would be lost (cf. John 10:28).” (Alcuin, Commentaria in sanctis Johannis evangelium. On John 12:32: Aut si omnia ipsi hominess intelligendi sunt, omnia praedestinata ad salutem possumus dicere: ex quibus omnibus, ait, nihil esse periturum, cum supra de suis ovibus loqueretur (Joan. X,28).)

Agobard of Lyons (d. 830)
Bishop Agobard of Lyons in France
Sermon entitled “On the Truth of the Faith” excerpt:
“Let the believer beware that he not presume altogether or even in part on his own powers, but on God’s help, to arrive at the culmination of goodness and to persevere in good works, as the Lord says, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’ The apostle also: ‘It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to accomplish for good favor.’ And again: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.’ Still further: ‘Not that we are able to consider anything by us as though from us, but our sufficiency is from God.’ The Lord says, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me shall draw him.”

“Jerusalem is interpreted “vision of peace.” What else is the vision of peace…except the open acknowledgment of faith in the holy Trinity by all the Gentiles predestined to life?” (Elipandus of Toledo, Ad Migetium. In Ioannes Gil, ed., Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum [=CSM], Vol. 1 (Madrid: Insitutio “Antonio de Nebrija,” 1973), 68-78; PL 96:859-67; Elipandus, Ad Fidelem. CSM 1:80-81; PL 96:918-9.)

“…that predestination to life or to death is in the power of God and not in ours.” Pope Hadrian quoting Elipandus, Letter 95. MGH, Epist. 3:642: alii ex ipsis dicunt, quod predistinatio [sic]ad vitam sive ad mortem in Dei sit potestate et non nostra.

Gottschalk of Orbais, a Medieval “Five Point Calvinist”
(For a number of good articles on Gottschalk see Francis Gumerlock’s writings at

“Indeed, just as He [God] predestined all of the elect to life through the gratuity of the free grace of His kindness, as the pages of the Old and New Testaments very clearly, skillfully, and soberly show those seeking wisdom on this matter, so also He altogether predestined the reprobate to the punishment of eternal death, of course, through the most righteous judgment of His immutable justice.” (Reply to Rabanus Maurus, Gottschalk of Orbias)

In his book, The Reformation’s Conflict with Rome, Why it must Continue!, Robert Reymond mentioned Gottschalk as one of the few medievals to have a clear conception of Paul’s teaching on salvation by grace alone (see p. 68 & 82).

The son of a Saxon nobleman, Gottschalk was placed in the abbey of Fulda when a child. When he grew up his abbot, Rabanus Maurus refused to release him from his monastic vows. However, he allowed him to move to the monastery at Orbias in north eastern France. Gottschalk was an ardent disciple of Augustine of Hippo. His passionate teaching of Augustinian views on sin, grace and predestination got him into hot water with his old abbot, Rabanus. Eventually his doctrine was condemned at the council of Mainz in 848. Following that, his archbishop, Hincmar of Rheims deposed Gottschalk from the priesthood, had him flogged within an inch of his life and imprisoned him in the monastery of Hautvilliers, where the turbulent monk spent the rest of his days.

One of Gottschalk hymns, “Freely You created my by Your goodness; Freely create me afresh, I pray and restore me to life! Freely You bestow Your gifts, which is why we say they are “by grace”. O Holy Spirit, You bring instant life to those You breathe into: Together with the Father and His Son, You thunder forth, govern and give light. You increase and You quicken the faith Which You grant to whomever You choose.”

Gottschalk’s teaching was championed by Remigius of Lyons, Florus of Lyons and Prudentius of Troyes.

Gottschalk and Free will:
“If anyone says that the reprobate have the free will to do good or even can have it, the Son of God, clearer than light and more brightly than the sun itself, convicts such one of error.”

Concerning the Holy Spirit, “Whom the world cannot receive (John 14:17).”

“Consequently, holy Augustine rightly says concerning the will of the reprobate: O bad will without God! Therefore it is clear without a scruple, is evident without ambiguity, is manifest without a cloud that just as the reprobate do not have [freedom] to do good, but [only] evil, so also they certainly do not have it to say the truth but [only] to lie.” (Lambot, 150-1;)

“Nevertheless, just as even a very healthy eye, being put in darkness, without the assistance of light from without cannot discern anything, so also undoubtedly without God’s grace and help, the free will cannot do anything good.” (Lambot, 152-3;)

“Indeed, just as He [God] predestined all of the elect to life through the gratuity of the free grace of His kindness, as the pages of the Old and New Testaments very clearly, skillfully, and soberly show those seeking wisdom on this matter, so also He altogether predestined the reprobate to the punishment of eternal death, of course, through the most righteous judgment of His immutable justice.” (Fragment preserved in Hincmar’s De praedestinatione, 5.)

Reply to Rabanus Maurus, “All those whom God wills to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4) without doubt are saved. They cannot be saved unless God wills them to be saved; and there is no one whom God wills to be saved, who will not be saved, since our God did all things whatsoever He willed (Psa. 135:6).15 (Preserved in Hincmar’s De praedestinatione, 21;)

“All those impious persons and sinners for whom the Son of God came to redeem by shedding His own blood, those the omnipotent goodness of God predestined to life and irrevocably willed only those to be saved.” (Hincmar’s De praedestinatione, 21;)

“Again, about the redemption of only the elect, the apostle Paul says: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). Therefore, if Christ redeemed the reprobate from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for them, they therefore will not be cursed reprobates, but entirely blessed. However, the reprobate will not be blessed, but rather it is evident that they are surely accursed. To them the Son of God is going to say: Depart from me, you accursed ones, into everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41). Therefore, Christ did not redeem the reprobate from the curse of the law, nor was He made a curse for them. Again, the apostle Paul says: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not even spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also give us with Him all things (Rom. 8:31-32). Therefore, if God gave His Son even for all of the reprobate, then He has given to them with Him all good things, and through this also eternal life. But He has not given them with Him all good things. Therefore, He did not give Him up for them. Again: But God commends His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more having now been justified in His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Rom 5:8-9).

Therefore, if Christ died even for the reprobate, then the reprobate too, having been justified in His blood, will be saved from wrath through Him. But the reprobate will not be saved from wrath through Him. Therefore, Christ did not die for the reprobate. There follows: For, if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved through His life (Rom 5:10). Therefore, if the reprobate were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, they would be saved through His life. But they will not be saved through His life. Therefore, the reprobate were not reconciled to God through the death of His Son. Again, the apostle Paul says: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them (2 Cor. 5:19). Therefore, if God the Father, who was in Christ hanging on the wood of the cross, reconciled even the reprobate world to Himself, then He neither has counted, nor is counting, nor will count their sins against them. But God indeed has counted, is counting, and will count the sins of the reprobate world against them.” (Lambot, 157-8;)

“I believe and confess that the omnipotent and immutable God has graciously foreknown and predestined the holy angels and elect humans to eternal life, and that He equally predestined the devil himself, the head of all the demons, with all of his apostate angels and also with all those reprobate humans unto merited eternal death, most certainly because of their own foreknown future evil merits, through His most righteous judgment.” (Lambot, 52;)

Prudentius (d. 861)
THE TRACTORIA of Prudentius of Troyes
Prudentius shows how Prosper of Aquitaine and Fulgentius of Ruspe defended Augustine’s doctrine. Quotes – Jerome, Augustine, Fulgentius, Leo, Gregory the Great, Isidore of Seville, and Bede. The first chapter expresses the inability of the human will to choose anything good after the Fall, and assigns the beginning of a good will to the grace of God. The second asserts two-fold predestination. The third says that the blood of Christ was shed for all believers; and the fourth states that the saving will of God extends to those who are actually saved. Prudentius poured through the writings of the Fathers, and found that Augustine and others did teach that the punishment of the reprobate, merited by their sins, was divinely foreordained. This he expressed in his Letter to Hincmar and Pardulus.

Concerning Free Will
First. Evidently, that one should confess that free will, lost in Adam by the merit of disobedience, is restored to us and freed through our Lord Jesus Christ. Meanwhile [we live] in hope [of salvation]; later [we shall possess it] in reality, just as the Apostle says, “For in hope we have been saved” (Rom. 8:24). Nevertheless, we should assign the grace of the omnipotent God to every good work, whether in proposing, beginning, working out, or finishing with perseverance. And we should know that without it we are in no way able to do anything good, whether to propose, or to will, or to work.

Concerning Twofold Predestination
Second. That one should believe and confess that by the most high and secret counsel of the omnipotent God, some were predestined to life by the gratuitous mercy of God before all ages, and some were predestined to punishment by an inscrutable judgment. Evidently, whether unto salvation or unto damnation, He has predestined what he had foreknown He was going to do in judging, as the prophet says, “He who made the things that are future” (Isa. 45:11).

Concerning the Death of Christ
Third. That one should believe and confess with all catholics that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for all persons believing in Him throughout the whole world, but not for those who never believed in Him, do not believe today, or will never believe, as the Lord Himself says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Concerning the Will of God
Fourth. That one should believe and confess that the omnipotent God wills to save whomever [He wants], and that no one is in any way able to be saved unless He saves them; and all those to be saved, He willed to be saved. And from this, [concerning] those who are not saved, it is clearly not His will that they should be saved, as the prophet says, “All things whatsoever God willed, He did in heaven and on earth, in the sea, and in all of the abyss” (Psa. 135:6). Also, it may be that some have consented, approved, and subscribed to other opinions, which the Church universally condemned against Pelagius. Nevertheless, against him and his companions, the Church every day rejoices over, confesses, preaches, holds, and will hold these things, having been delivered from his very depraved opinions through the apostlolic see, at the insistence of the most blessed Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, and Augustine, with two hundred and fourteen other bishops, and having been made common throughout the whole world through many epistles as well as books. May He [God], through His bounty, deign to forever preserve these things happily through all of your consent, [knowing that] your praiseworthy paternity and fraternity is unbreakable and very strong through heavenly grace.

Anselm (d. 1033): “If you die in unbelief, Christ did not die for you.”

Offsite Banner Ad:

Help Support APM

Search the Site

Reformed Theology at A Puritan's Mind
Get APM in Your Inbox

Get APM in Your Inbox

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from A Puritan's Mind, as well as coupons and our newest books published by Puritan Publications.

You have Successfully Subscribed!