Rose Publications often puts out good stuff. Great charts and maps and quick reference material for Sunday School teachers, Bible Study leaders and also the curious lay person. In my store one of their most successful product lines are their Rose Publishing Pamphlets we have on a spin rack. They are thin glossy pamphlets that often open up to about seven or eight folds and cover a range of subjects from the “Life of Moses” to “Comfort for Loss” to “How to Study the Bible” to “Evidence of the Resurrection”.
But seldom – if ever – have I noticed a Rose Publication pamphlet enter the foray of intra-Christian controversial subjects. So I came to a speeding halt today when I noticed a pamphlet on the top rack titled “Free Will vs. Predestination” and a picture of Calvin on one side (with the designation “Calvinism” under it) with a picture of Arminius on the other (and the designation of “Arminianism” under that one).
Normally I have found that Rose Publication offers fairly reliable historical overviews, but not so here. In fact, I’d suggest that how Rose presents the history of “Predestination” and “Free Will” is down right deceptive.
The middle of the pamphlet opens up to two comparisons of the history of each, “Predestination in History” and “Free Will in History”. This history is laid out like this:
Around 400 A.D. Augustine concluded that human nature was corrupt by the effects of sin. Pelagius responded to Augustine at about that same time but – the publication is sure to emphasize – the church “declared Pelagius’s teaching heretical”.
This is the presupposition the chart works out of. Trace Augustine’s line until you get to the great reformers. Trace Pelagius’ line until you get to Arminius. The implications are clear. The heresies of Pelagius live on through Arminius and all other Free Will advocates.
This delusive approach is reminiscent of the person who will try to prove that the KJV goes right back to Paul but that the NIV is corrupted by Alexandrian heretics. In other words, these are ridiculous distortions of history.
See, if the pamphlet really wanted to present an unbiased history of predestination (by which it means particular predestination which is one way to understand the biblical teaching, but not the only way) then why does it begin in 400 A.D.? The controversy between a view of particular predestination and free will can be found in the Church Fathers – all of whom held to free will. Some of them vigorously debated some leading Gnostic heretics who held to the view of particular predestination. But that doesn’t seem to be a part of the story Rose Publication is interested in telling.
I don’t intend to suggest that particular predestination is heresy, Gnosticism was condemned for other reasons. I’m simply pointing out that this pamphlet goes beyond bias and is actually Calvinistic propaganda.