Original Research - Special Collection: Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619) - Synod's meaning and influence in South Africa

Luther and Calvin on predestination: A comparison

Ignatius W.C. van Wyk
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 52, No 2 | a2342 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v52i2.2342 | © 2018 Natie Van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 December 2017 | Published: 19 June 2018

About the author(s)

Ignatius W.C. van Wyk, Department of Church History and Polity, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Alexander Schweizer propagated the thesis that predestination is a central theme of Calvin’s theology and that later Calvinism had to defend his teaching as the distinguishing point between the Lutheran and reformed traditions. In this article it is shown that election is also an important element of Luther’s theology. The historic development of the two reformers’ thinking about election is presented. In spite of different nuances, the difference between the two are minimal. The main reason why the differences could be underplayed is because it is shown that Calvin’s thesis of ‘double predestination’ only forms one part of Calvin’s doctrinal thinking on this subject. Calvin has actually two sets of statements on predestination. When the unacceptable statements about ‘double predestination’ are not emphasised, but rather his early works and sermons, he and Luther share the same opinions on election in Christ through grace. Both of them understand election as the final word on justification.


Luther; Calvin; predestination; election; sermons; justification


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