Johannes Braun (1628-1708) on God’s absolute decree and things decreed conditionally

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“Although God has decreed so many various things, nevertheless only a singular decree of God is granted, and this is absolute and by no means conditioned, nor is one thing [which has been decreed] contrary to another, as the Socinians, Vorstius, Episcopius, the Jesuits, and others dream. For by a singular and absolute act of the will he has decreed whatever should come to pass or not come to pass […] Although God may decree certain things under some particular condition, such as Peter’s salvation under the condition that he believes, yet only the thing decreed is conditioned, but not the decree itself: for he has decreed absolutely to give salvation and its condition, namely faith and perseverance in faith.”

– Johannes Braun (1628-1708), Doctrina Foederum, sive Systema Theologiae Didacticae & Elencticae, Vol. I, Pars II, Cap. IX. Section XI

Johannes Braun (1628-1708) on the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of sanctification


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“Since sanctification is a certain change in man, and since every change consists of a motion, it is customary to consider in it a terminus a quo, and a terminus ad quem.* The terminus a quo is the corruption of the image of God. But the terminus ad quem is the restoration of that image. For the old [man] is to be cast off, and the new man is to be put on. (Eph. 4:24). Hence it is also called conversion, namely from evil to good. (Is. 1:16, 17; Ps. 34:14).** Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump (1 Cor. 5:7).”

– Johannes Braun (1628-1708), Doctrina Foederum, sive Systema Theologica Didacticae et Elencticae, Vol. I, Pars. III, Cap. X, 10.

* For the sake of clarity to readers who might be unfamiliar with the Latin terminology, a terminus a quo refers to the starting point of something, literally meaning “the point from which,” whereas a terminus ad quem refers to the end or finishing point of something, literally meaning “the point [or end] to which.” In other words, Braun says that sanctification starts with the image of God being in a state of corruption in man, and ends with the image of God fully restored, upon glorification.

** Braun, in the original, here cites Ps. 34:15 (as it appears in the Vulgate), which is Ps. 34:14 in modern English Bibles.

Johannes Braun (1628-1708) on supralapsarianism

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Johannes Braun (1628-1708) was professor at Groningen who further developed Cocceius’ federal theology by incorporating Cartesian philosophy, for which he took some stick. In the excerpt below he discusses the supralapsarian view of the ordo salutis. While personally I am cautious of making my stand with either supra- or infralapsarianism due to the possible danger of speculating about the hidden mysteries of God (Herman Bavinck wrote well on this issue), if I had to choose between the two I incline to a supralapsarian view (with Romans 9, especially verses 11, 22 and 23 being key to this inclination). Here is Braun on supralapsarianism:

“Some institute parts or acts of predestination from creation itself or from the fall of man; they are called sublapsarians [or infralapsarians] because they so arranged things as if creation and the fall preceded every act of predestination. Others start its actions at the actual end which God has set before Himself in the creation of man, namely at the manifestation of His glory through the exercise of His justice and mercy. For creation itself and the lapse of man were predestinated by God; therefore predestination precedes creation and the fall. Therefore the parts or acts of predestination should be ordered in this way. (1) God decreed to manifest His glory by manifesting His mercy and righteousness. (2) He decreed to create a creature endowed with reason and after His own image, to whom He could manifest His glory. (3) He decreed to create that creature liable to lapse. (4) He decreed to permit his lapse. Who does not see so far that the object of predestination is man creatable and liable to lapse? There follow the remaining acts of predestination, which look to the means and execution or actual exercise of justice and mercy; therefore (5) He decreed to free certain men already lapsed from lapse and misery, to leave others in that state. In this sense the object of predestination is homo lapsus [fallen man], not labilis [liable to fall]; for he who is freed from wretchedness or left in it must of course have already lapsed into wretchedness. Those who say that lapsed man is the object of predestination, in arranging the act of predestination begin with this fifth and last act, that God wishes to free some from wretchedness, to leave others in wretchedness; but this is bad, since the end precedes the execution in every intention. Since then the end is the first act in God’s intention and so the first act in predestination. Thus strictly speaking the object of predestination as regards the end homo creabilis et labilis [man creatable and liable to fall].”

– Johannes Braun (1628-1708), Doctrina Foederum sive Systema Theologiae didacticae et elencticae, I.ii.9.24