Now this means that Calvin’s idea of providence is strictly God – causes – I don’t say “determined,” but “God-caused.” And if, as he realizes, some people feel that this is not what we can say about God, and that this kind of providence is a horrible thing, then he answers, “Ignorance of providence is the greatest of miseries; the knowledge of it is attended with the highest felicity.: The belief in providence liberates us from anxiety, dread, and care. This period, at the end of the Middle Ages, was one of catastrophes and transformations, externally, and of profound anxiety internally. The doctrine of providence in Calvin is not an abstract one but is a doctrine which is supposed to heal anxiety, to be able to give courage, and for this reason he praises it.
But of course there is something more involved in this doctrine, namely his famous doctrine of predestination. Predestination is providence with respect to the ultimate aim of man. It is providence which leads man through his life to his final aim. And so predestination is nothing more than the logical implication and the final fulfillment of the doctrine of providence.
Now what does “predestination” mean? How does this problem arise? Why is it that most of the great names in religion, from Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, to Luther, are adherents of “predestination,” while those who do not adhere ,always are nearer to a moral interpretation of Christianity than to a strictly religious interpretation.? This is a problem which we must ask ourselves. If we deny predestination, we deny the high line of religious personalities and their theology.
Now the question behind this doctrine is: Why does not everybody receive the same possibility to reject or to accept the truth of the Gospel? Why doesn’t he get it historically? – -he never knew Jesus. Why does he never get it psychologically? – his preconditions are such that he could not even understand the meaning of what is said to him. This is a question we must ask today, every day.