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The Catholicity of Reprobation

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Reprobation has come to be one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued doctrines of the Reformed church. This is seen, for example, in the Rt. Rev. John Davenant’s Animadversions, where the constant refrain of his defense of the Reformed view is “well, we agree that what you’re describing is wrong because we do not even affirm that!” 1 This is often experienced by those who follow after the Reformed in their doctrine of Reprobation. They are derided as “Calvinists” and “Predestinarians,” rather than their proper title of “Catholic.”

Two misconceptions lying at the heart of this misconstrual are, first, as it concerns the origin of this doctrine in Dogmatic theology and the scope of its acceptance, and second, the proper distinctions made in the Catholic doctrine of Reprobation as is shared by the Reformed and the Catholic doctors of the Medieval church, most especially St. Thomas Aquinas. On both fronts, the Reformed, in their doctrine of Reprobation, are truly “Catholic.”

Origin and Scope of the Doctrine of Reprobation