Predestination and Justification

Two Theological Loci


We cannot answer this question without delving into two of the most challenging and hard-fought doctrines in Christian theology: predestination and justification. Both doctrines played a crucial role in the Protestant Reformation, provoking conflicts not merely between the Reformers and Rome but also within the ranks of each. As a deeply Augustinian theologian, trained in one of the leading Catholic universities before converting to Protestant teaching, few men in the sixteenth century were so well-equipped to address these difficult subjects as Peter Martyr Vermigli.

His treatments of these great doctrines, developed as part of a series of lectures on the Book of Romans as Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford from 1550 to 1552, became classic statements of early Reformed theology, exerting great influence on the development of the Reformed tradition in England and throughout Europe. In them, he blends his knowledge of the Augustinian tradition and the doctrinal precision of medieval scholastic theology with the intense study of the Scriptures characteristic of Reformation humanism. Convinced that the work of salvation is wholly the work of a sovereign, irresistible, and gracious God, Vermigli defends the implications of this conviction against both ancient heresies and recent Catholic opposition. Vermigli's work has long been admired for both its erudition and precision, both of which are on display here in his discussion of these sometimes difficult and obscure doctrines.


Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562) was born in Florence and educated in Padua before rising through the ranks of the Augustinian order in Italy. A secret convert to Protestantism in the 1530s, he eventually fled north to Germany in 1542, before holding a series of influential posts at Strasbourg, Oxford, and Zurich. He ranks alongside John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger as among the chief architects of the Reformed Protestant tradition.

Frank A. James III is the President of Biblical Theological Seminary. He was Professor of Historical Theology and then President at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL. He has been one of the leaders of the modern renaissance of Peter Martyr Vermigli studies. In 1993 he completed a D.Phil at the University of Oxford on Vermigli's doctrine of predestination and published Peter Martyr Vermigli and Predestination: The Augustinian Inheritance of an Italian Reformer in 1998. In 1996 he became a general editor of the Peter Martyr Library and served for many years as president of the Peter Martyr Vermigli Society.


The Peter Martyr Library, begun in 1994 by the Peter Martyr Vermigli Society, is a scholarly project to make available to a modern audience, in critical edition translations from the Latin, the key writings of Italian reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli. Published by Truman State University Press until 2017, the Peter Martyr Library is now overseen and published by The Davenant Institute, now for the first time in paperback.