Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590): Should the doctrine of predestination be taught and preached?

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Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) thought that it was dangerous to propagate the doctrine of predestination either by preaching or writing, since it may discourage Christians from assurance of their salvation and encourage the wicked to sin. In his work The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination, Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590) replied to such objections by employing the insights of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Martin Bucer (1491-1551). Zanchi’s argument in favour of the preaching and teaching of predestination, which can be found in p. 97-107 of his work, has been neatly summarized by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones in their work A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, on p. 131:

  • God teaches us predestination in His Word, and we must not be ashamed of His doctrine but proclaim it with reverence and trust in His wisdom.

  • This doctrine humbles our pride and magnifies God’s grace, for it shows us that we can do nothing to save ourselves – God alone saves sinners.

  • Faith by nature receives doctrines of God that it cannot see and fully comprehend by human reasoning.

  • Election comforts and sustains the saints with God’s unchangeable love for them when Satan attacks with doubts and accusations.

  • Predestination reveals the infinite glory and sovereignty of the eternal and unchangeable God so that we know Him and worship Him.

  • Predestination guards the gospel of salvation by grace alone.

  • This doctrine brings us a vibrant vision of God’s special love for His people in Christ Jesus, which is the joy of His people and fuel of their love to Him.

  • Predestination moves God’s people to diligent holiness of life.

Joel Beeke on “modeling” the Christian faith for our children

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“Though children learn from what we say, they learn even more from who we are and what we do.  Our faith, our praying, our teaching, and our living must be parts of a seamless whole.  Thus, the implementation of our teaching as parent-prophets necessitates godly modeling…. What children need to see is not a perfect mom or dad, and certainly not a mom or dad who never says, “I’m sorry.”  They need to see in us an unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ, an unconditional love for them, and a strong bond of love for each other as husband and wife…

You and I will never be perfect parents.  Our children will always see flaws in us, no matter how hard we try and how seriously we take our calling.  We are sinners, and they know that.  So, we should let them also see our tender, praying hearts and dependence on the Lord.  They need to hear our prayers for help and see from our lives that we need God.  That is extremely important.  What a tragedy it is when children grow up without seeing the reality of a dependent life of faith in their mothers and fathers.  Parents, your children desperately need to see that you need God…

Our children need to see broken and contrite spirits in us.  They must see us confess our sins and grieve over our iniquities.  They must see us plead the blood of Christ for our souls.  God will bless our priestly intercession by impressing on our children that the one thing needful is to be reconciled with God through the death of His Son, and to be saved by His life (Rom. 5:10).”

– Joel Beeke, Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace, p. 85, 88 & 119