I apologize for my absence. I've been very busy and away for a while.
I am sorry to disappoint you DH, but I have a limited understanding of what Calvin thought. As I said, I am about halfway through Institutes
. However, I think I can safely say that Calvin thought that so-called "irresistible grace" (to my knowledge he never used the term) in this context only
applies to when someone comes to faith. He was not a determinist or a fatalist. When the Arminians wrote up their five points of disagreement, they
brought forth the idea that God dispenses equal grace to all people (they called it 'prevenient grace')- but only enough to "enable" them to choose or reject faith. In response, Reformed theologians argued that God's call to the elect is effectual and that they infallibly come to Him, hence this grace could not be given to all people, otherwise all people would come to faith.
I personally cannot comment on Mary and her willingness or rejection of being the Mother of God. The Scriptures only speak of man's inability to comprehend and accept the Gospel or his own will, and that only those drawn by the Father come to the Son, and everyone
the Father draws will
come to the Son. Many Reformed theologians speak of "effectual" grace because it more accurately portrays this concept. The grace God gives in regeneration is effective in drawing the person and restoring the person so that they are able to (and definitely will) believe the Gospel. "Willed assent" is still "required" but in my opinion, the Gospel - as "the power of God" - when presented to one whose will has been regenerated is such a powerful message that those who are regenerated always believe it. Conversely, those whose wills are dead and enslaved to sin cannot
believe because they are unable to do so. All sides (used) to agree on this - we just all argue about who
is given grace and when
. Roman Catholics teach that God responds to desire and dispenses grace to the willing, or to those who are baptized as infants (correct?). Arminians teach that all people are given enough grace to allow them to choose or reject faith. Calvinists and Lutherans teach that God must first act on the person to enable them to believe. Every one of these positions teach that without God's grace, no one can believe.
With reference to sin, although God restores our will's ability to believe, He does not remove our sin nature. Hence, as Paul said, although we are no longer slaves of sin (Rom 6:6) and we are supposed to "put aside" the old man on "put on" the new (Eph 4:22-24), we continually battle between the "new man" and the "old man" (Rom 7:21-25). John said that true believers will sin, and if they claim to not sin they are liars (1 John 1:8-10). We will only be free from this sin nature when Jesus destroys sin and death in the Kingdom and all believers will finally be restored to our original state (Rev 21:1-8, Rev 22:3-5).
I think part of the problem is that you apparently see "grace" as singularly faceted - i.e., that it can only be applied the same way. Thus if grace is "irresistible" in the context of regeneration and the call of the Gospel, it must also be "irresistible" in the day-to-day life of the believer. I believe this to be in error. I think grace is contextual. Sometimes God does in fact decree something irresistibly, such as in the case of pharaoh not letting Israel go. Other times God allows things to happen according to His decree, such as when the believer chooses to sin (or resists temptation). Even the Roman Catholic Church has the idea of normal "grace" and "special grace."
Campion, Gal 2:11.