Jansenism is a Catholic heresy that seems strangely like Calvinism to my eyes. It says that in the Fall human beings lost clarity in reason to the extent that it ought not to be trusted, that salvation is by faith through grace and it is irresistible. It was for this reason that it was deemed heretical since the Catholic Church holds that salvation comes by the free action of God answered by the free choice of man.

When we were discussing it in class last week I felt instinctively that my lecturer, (a brilliant teacher), was being a bit unfair on these boys who included Blaise Pascal in their number. But I didn’t want to bring it up. Also, it turns out they loved to whip themselves so I dodged a bullet there.

I realise now why. I didn’t bring it up because of a lack of conviction in much of what Calvin taught but by true conviction. I really do agree that the Fall has had catastrophic effects on human reason. Everything we think we know ought to be held with a loose hand because we keep finding out how our objective knowledge turns out to be fatally subjective.

If I truly agree with Calvin that human reason is too easily led astray, then the appropriate response to those who are too optimistic about our ability to work things out for ourselves is humble agnosticism.

So why have Calvin-ists ended up being known as the most dogmatic and arrogant of groups in Christianity?

Your Correspondent, Bids you, “Godspeed”

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