Calvin on the perishing of the redeemed.

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by MW, Aug 29, 2006.

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  1. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    In his last post on the sufficiency of the atonement thread, David Ponter introduced us to an element of Calvin's world of thought which is severely misunderstood by Calvin's non-Calvinistic would-be followers. Apparently David Ponter follows those extreme Calviniana students who conclude from certain places in Calvin's writings that the redeemed can actually fall away from salvation. I thought it would be good to examine this claim, in order to set it in its proper light, and show how it is to be understood within the general contours of Calvin's thought.

    The quotation from David Ponter is provided below, and underneath it the reader will find the redemption of Master Calvin from the hands of his oppressor.

    So here we are faced with some statements made by Calvin, which seem to suggest that Christ´s redemptive work is not limited to the elect, but is also extended to those who shall ultimately perish. When these are considered in context, it will be seen that they amount to nothing more than what Christ Himself taught concerning the rise of false prophets, that they would deceive even the elect, "œif it were possible," Matt. 24:24. As Calvin says on that passage, "œThis was added for the purpose of exciting alarm, that believers be more careful to be on their guard... yet here is a firm footing on which they may stand; for it is not possible for them to fall away from salvation, to whom the Son of God is a faithful guardian."

    It is in this same vein that Calvin sometimes spoke of those who are redeemed by Christ as hypothetically falling away; it was in order to excite believers to duty, but not to insinuate that they could actually fall away from salvation.

    In his debates with the Romanist Pighius over the doctrines of grace, Calvin hypothesised what might take place should Pighius´ suggestion be observed, and the faithful choose to keep silence amidst defection in the church. Now any person who understands Calvin´s view of the preservation of the saints, would take his words naturally to mean, this is what would happen should Pighius´ silence be kept.

    Regrettably, however, some have seized this statement as an opportunity to show that Calvin taught that the subjects of Christ´s redemptive work are broader than the elect. This is the case with A. N. S. Lane, the editor of Calvin's work, which David Ponter has cited. He writes: "œSee 1 Cor 8:11. Unlike Some later Calvinists, Calvin does not appear to limit Christ´s redemption to those who will eventually be saved." But one is compelled to ask, Where has Calvin extended the redemption of Christ beyond the borders of the elect of God? What has become of paying attention to context? At no point did Calvin suggest that such as have been redeemed by Christ shall in fact perish.

    At the direction of Calvin´s editor, we shall turn to the text of 1 Cor. 8:11, and what does it say? "œAnd through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" A very forceful interrogation by the apostle Paul indeed, one which is fitted to cause alarm that ever Christians should be a means of stumbling to their brethren; but it is an interrogative nonetheless, not a declarative statement. It makes no claim concerning an ill destiny for those who have been redeemed by Christ. And this is exactly the way Calvin understood Paul´s words in his commentary upon this text: "œI read, however, the sentence interrogatively." And the sense of this searching question he gives as follows:

    "œThere is, however, still greater force in what follows "“ that even those that are ignorant or weak have been redeemed with the blood of Christ; for nothing were more unseemly than this, that while Christ did not hesitate to die, in order that the weak might not perish, we, on the other hand, reckon as nothing the salvation of those who have been redeemed with so great a price. A memorable saying, by which we are taught how precious the salvation of our brethren ought to be in our esteem, and not merely that of all, but of each individual in particular, inasmuch as the blood of Christ was poured out for each individual."

    In other words, the purpose of the question is to place Christian brethren on their guard against acting carelessly with those for whom Christ has paid the ultimate price. By so doing he is addressing the cause of an hypothetical perishing, not the possibility of actually perishing.

    This same vein is to be found in a number of extracts from Calvin´s sermonic pieces, which have been quoted by David Ponter in order to show that Calvin held to a redemption of those who shall ultimately perish. Each of these extracts teach nothing more than that it is the duty of Christians not to lay stumbling-blocks in their brethren´s way seeing Christ has died for them, according to the judgment of charity.

    [Edited on 8-29-2006 by armourbearer]
     
  2. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    [I am gonna try and tone this down a little.]

    I thought this thread was over?

    Hypothetical Apostasy?!

    Matthew: When these are considered in context, it will be seen that they amount to nothing more than what Christ Himself taught concerning the rise of false prophets, that they would deceive even the elect, "œif it were possible," Matt. 24:24. As Calvin says on that passage, "œThis was added for the purpose of exciting alarm, that believers be more careful to be on their guard... yet here is a firm footing on which they may stand; for it is not possible for them to fall away from salvation, to whom the Son of God is a faithful guardian."

    David: You are going to cite Matt 24 which speaks of, if anything, a hypothetical deception, not theoretical apostasy. There we have the presence of a conditional IF, and its not actually hypothetical, because the obvious thought is that this is not a possible scenario. So there is no point of comparison here between this verse and Calvin´s comments.

    Matthew: It is in this same vein that Calvin sometimes spoke of those who are redeemed by Christ as hypothetically falling away; it was in order to excite believers to duty, but not to insinuate that they could actually fall away from salvation.

    Matthew: In his debates with the Romanist Pighius over the doctrines of grace, Calvin hypothesised what might take place should Pighius´ suggestion be observed, and the faithful choose to keep silence amidst defection in the church. Now any person who understands Calvin´s view of the preservation of the saints, would take his words naturally to mean, this is what would happen should Pighius´ silence be kept.

    David: Matthew, there are some things you need to understand about Calvin´s theology. Firstly for him, the church as a body was adopted. And by this he didnt have this Arminian corporate idea. Secondly, for Calvin Regeneration was a process. He never considered it an instanteous event. You can see this in his tract against the Ana-Baptists. For Calvin, whether _you_ like it or not, this process could be voided. For Calvin the true believers would persevere unto the end. But the reprobate would and could void that seed of regeneration. Calvin does not use the later categories you are familiar with. With classic categories from Augustine, there were some that endured to the end, and these were the elect. And there were some that did not, and these were the reprobate. I could show you passages on this from Calvin, but I dont believe you would accept them as they stand either. So lets deal with this "hypothetical" claim.

    Matthew:
    [cut, cut]

    Mathew: "œThere is, however, still greater force in what follows "“ that even those that are ignorant or weak have been redeemed with the blood of Christ; for nothing were more unseemly than this, that while Christ did not hesitate to die, in order that the weak might not perish, we, on the other hand, reckon as nothing the salvation of those who have been redeemed with so great a price. A memorable saying, by which we are taught how precious the salvation of our brethren ought to be in our esteem, and not merely that of all, but of each individual in particular, inasmuch as the blood of Christ was poured out for each individual."

    Matthew: In other words, the purpose of the question is to place Christian brethren on their guard against acting carelessly with those for whom Christ has paid the ultimate price. By so doing he is addressing the cause of an hypothetical perishing, not the possibility of actually perishing.

    David: I got to say Matthew this is a terrible treatment of Calvin.

    Here is the problem. We have a pre-existent historically documented theological category of universal sufficient redemption, which was set side by side with the limited efficacious redemption. But because, you cannot accept that Calvin may have embraced this theological category, you have to _invent_ another one, and then impose that upon Calvin. You have to invent the new category of hypothetical apostasy. No text is adduced: just a claim. Not even a hint that he meant hypothetical apostasy. You just deduce it into existence because you cant accept the alternative.

    But the idea is easily refuted. Consider the following, firstly some house-keeping.

    Calvin: The next thing is--that when the weak conscience is wounded, the price of Christ's blood is wasted; for the most abject brother has been redeemed by the blood of Christ: it is then a heinous crime to destroy him by gratifying the stomach. Calvin, Rom 14:15.

    Now to apostates redeemed but perishing:

    Calvin: Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness ,and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed. Calvin, 2 Peter 2:1.

    Calvin: "œThe only Lord God," or, God who alone is Lord. Some old copies have, "Christ, who alone is God and Lord." And, indeed, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Christ alone is mentioned, and there he is called Lord. But He means that Christ is denied, when they who had been redeemed by his blood, become again the vassals of the Devil, and thus render void as far as they can that incomparable price. Calvin, Jude 4.

    David: I´ve already told you about the earlier exegetical tradition on 2 Pet 2:1. You might consider reading such as Thomas Adams on this.

    David: Matthew, please see reason. These are not HYPOTHETICAL apostates, but actual apostates, of whom he says were actually redeemed. There is no reason, either, to suppose that Calvin was still speaking charitably even after he himself considers and knows them apostate. Nor does he say, who could have been redeemed, or should have been redeemed, cos note the tense.

    Matthew: This same vein is to be found in a number of extracts from Calvin´s sermonic pieces, which have been quoted by David Ponter in order to show that Calvin held to a redemption of those who shall ultimately perish. Each of these extracts teach nothing more than that it is the duty of Christians not to lay stumbling-blocks in their brethren´s way seeing Christ has died for them, according to the judgment of charity.

    David: You chop and change like nothing. Now, how could this hypothetical apostasy apply to people whom Calvin acknowledged as unbelievers:

    However, St. Paul speaks here expressly of the saints and the faithful, but this does not imply that we should not pray generally for all men. For wretched unbelievers and the ignorant have a great need to be pleaded for with God; behold them on the way to perdition. If we saw a beast at the point of perishing, we would have pity on it. And what shall we do when we see souls in peril, which are so precious before God, as he has shown in that he has ransomed them with the blood of his own Son? If we see then a poor soul going thus to perdition, ought we not to be moved with compassion and kindness, and should we not desire God to apply the remedy. Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 47, 6:18-19, pp., 684-5.

    I am going to post some long quotations from Prosper and a short one from Vermigli. This proves that the Lombardian formula was also used to denote a universal sufficient redemption with a limited efficacious redemption. Calvin´s language of PRICE exactly mirrors that of Prosper´s. It proves that it was a known fomula at the time and embraced.

    I know, though, that as soon as I show a single quotation where Calvin speaks of the redemption accomplished of the whole world, or whole human race (or cognate phrases) you will just flip those statements on their heads as well. You need to slow down Matthew and take Calvin seriously. Right now you are in a rush to force-fit him into your paradigm because you are on the precipice here: the consequences are dire for your Hoeksemian views on God.

    There is not much more I can do after showing the obvious statements from Calvin. The most common sense explanation is to admit with honesty that Calvin too held to the classic Lombardian formula, in both its constructions of sufficient suffering and redemption, side by side with efficient suffering and redemption. Calvin himself owns as true the classic Lombardian fomula (comm 1Jn2:2), but its you who wont allow him to speak for himself.

    Take care,
    David

    [Edited on 8-29-2006 by Flynn]
     
  3. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    Prosper of Aquitaine: Defense of St. Augustine, trans., by P. De letter, (New York: Newman Press, 1963).

    1) OBJECTION: The Saviour was not crucified for the redemption of the entire world."

    ANSWER: There is not one among men whose nature was not taken by Christ our Lord, though He was born in the likeness of sinful fleshs2 only, while every other man is born in sinful flesh. Thus, the Son of God, who was God Himself, becoming partaker of our mortal nature without partaking in its sin, granted to sinful and mortal men the grace that those who by regeneration would share in His nativity could be freed from the bonds of sin and death. Accordingly, just as it is not enough that Jesus Christ was born for men to be renewed, but they must be reborn in Him through the same Spirit from whom He was born, so also it is not enough that Christ our Lord was crucified for men to be redeemed, but they must die with Him and be buried with Him in baptism." If that were not so, then after our Saviour was born in the flesh of our own nature and crucified for us all, there would be no need for us to be reborn and to be planted together in the likeness of His death. But because no man attains to eternal life without the sacrament of baptism, one who is not crucified in Christ cannot be saved by the cross of Christ; and he who is not a member of the Body of Christ is not crucified in Christ. And he is not a member of the Body of Christ who does not put on Christ through water and the Holy Spirit." For Christ in the weakness of our flesh underwent the common lot of death, that we by virtue of His death be made partakers of His resurrection. Accordingly, though it is right to say that the Saviour was crucified for the redemption of the entire world, because He truly took our human nature and because all men were lost in the first man, yet it may also be said that He was crucified only for those who were to profit by His death." For St. John the Evangelist says: Jesus should die for the nation and not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God that were dispersed. He came into His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave the power to be made sons of God, to them who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Their condition, therefore, is different from that of men counted among those of whom he said: The world knew Him not." In that sense we may say: the Redeemer of the world shed His blood for the world, and the world refused to be redeemed, because the darkness did not comprehend the light. Yet, there was a darkness which did comprehend the light, that, namely, of which the Apostle says: You were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. The Lord Jesus Himself, who said He came to seek and to save that which was lost, also says: I did not come but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel." And St. Paul explains who are those sheep of the house of Israel: For all are not Israelites that are of Israel, neither are all they that are the seed of Abraham children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called." That is to say, not they that are the children of the flesh are the children of God, but they that are the children of the promise are accounted for the seed." Among them are counted those to whom refers what we quoted above: Jesus should die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but to gather in one the children of God that were dispersed. It is not only from among the Jews but also from the Gentiles that the sons of God, the sons of the promise, are gathered into the one Church by Him who calleth those things that are not, as those that are," and who gathereth together the dispersed of Israel,'" in order to fulfil the promise of God to Abraham, that in his seed all the tribes of the earth would be blessed. pp 149-151.


    2) QUALIFICATION ARTICLE 9 : Likewise, he who says that the Saviour was not crucified for the redemption of the entire world does not take into account the power of the mystery of the cross, but considers only the portion of mankind who have no faith.

    For it is certain that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is the price for the redemption of the entire world. But they do not share in the application of this price who either cherishing their captivity refused to be liberated or having been liberated returned to their captivity. The word of the Lord did not fail to be accomplished, nor was the redemption of the world frustrated of its effect. For though the world considered in the vessels of wrath did not know God, yet the same world considered in the vessels of mercy knew God liberated the second, without any previous merit on their part, from the power of darkness and translated them into the kingdom of the Son of His love. pp., 159-160


    3) OBJECTION Our Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer for the salvation and redemption of all men.

    ANSWER: The truly effectual and unique remedy for the wound of original sin, by which the common nature of all men was vitiated in Adam and condemned to death and which is the source of the three forms of concupiscence, is the death of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who being free from all necessity to die and the only sinless one, died for sinful men, who are condemned to die. Considering, then, on the one hand the greatness and value of the price paid for us, and on the other the common lot of the whole human race, one must say that the blood of Christ is the redemption of the entire world. But they who pass through this world without coming to the faith and without having been reborn in baptism, remain untouched by the redemption.l Accordingly, since our Lord in very truth took upon Himself the one nature and condition which is common to all men, it is right to say that all have been redeemed, and that nevertheless not all are actually liberated from the slavery of sin. It is beyond doubt that the redemption is actually applied only to those from whom the prince of the World has been cast out,' those who are no longer vessels of the devil but members of Christ. His death did not act on the whole human race in such a manner that even those who would never have been reborn in baptism would share in the redemption, but so that the mystery accomplished once for all in the person of Christ should be renewed in each and every man by the sacrament of baptism which he is to receive once also. The beverage of immortality prepared from our weakness and God's power is apt to restore health to all men, but it cannot cure anyone unless he drink it. p., 164.

    Reputable supporting documentation:

    see

    Godfrey, W.R. Tensions Within International Calvinism: The Debate on the Atonement at the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619. Ph.D diss., Stanford University, 1974, pp.,74-76.

    and

    Thomas, O. The Atonement Controversy: In Welsh Theological Literature and Debate, 1707-1841. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2002, pp., 112-116.

    Peter Martyr Vermigli, Predestination and Justification, trans., by Frank A. James, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, 2003), vol., 8, p., 62:

    "They [the anti-predestinarians] also grant that "Christ died for us all" and infer from this that his benefits are common to everyone. We gladly grant this, too, if we are considering only the worthiness of the death of Christ, for it is sufficient for all the world's sinners. Yet even if in itself it is enough, yet it did not have, nor has, nor will have effect in
    all men. The Scholastics also acknowledge the same thing when they affirm that Christ redeemed all men sufficiently but not effectually." Vermigli


    Musculus and Calvin were on the same page. We still have Bullinger and his clear statements. Matthew, with as much friendliness and sincerity as I can, you really have not even begun to understand Calvins doctrine of unlimited imputation of sin, his unlimited expiation, and his unlimited satisfaction for all sin.

    Take care,
    David

    [Edited on 8-29-2006 by Flynn]
     
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    With what cruelty do Calvin's task-masters seek to bind his feet fast in the shackles of universalism! Calvin's no uncertain language cried out for deliverance, "yet here is a firm footing on which they may stand; for it is not possible for them to fall away from salvation, to whom the Son of God is a faithful guardian." But the oppressor will not quit his hold for all that. Now Calvin will be bound within the prison house of medieval theology, as if the reformation never took place.

    David Ponter suggests Calvin's theology contains "a pre-existent historically documented theological category of universal sufficient redemption," even though he has not provided one instance where Calvin teaches that Christ died "with an intention" to save all men. Of course quotations can be multiplied where Calvin says Christ died for the world, because, as has been shown repeatedly, there is a sense in which Christ's sufferings are sufficient to expiate the sins of all men. But nowhere does Calvin say that Christ, by His sufferings and death, INTENDED to save all men. He taught the exact opposite.

    On 1 John 2:2, "And not for ours only," a passage universalists never tire of quoting, Calvin's comments are explicitly particularistic. Now David Ponter fondly quotes Calvin's comments on this verse as providing an example of the reformer's acceptance of the scholastic formula of sufficient for all, efficient for the elect. But he ignores the fact that Calvin qualifies the sense in which he understand the formula in the following words:

    Now if Calvin had accepted the idea of universalist sufficient redemption, he would not have been compelled to explain the true meaning of the biblical text, and show that contextually the words "world" and "all" should be understood in a particularistic manner. As it stands, he made that qualification repeatedly; and Calvin can only be bound into a universalist understanding of redemption if his qualifications are ignored, which David Ponter happily does.

    On 1 Tim. 2:5, "And one Mediator between God and men," Calvin writes:

    This is the typical manner in which Calvin interpreted the universalistic terms "all" and "world." Such particularism did not originate with Owen, or a later Calvinist tradition, but with Calvin himself.

    On John 1:29, "Who taketh away the sin of the world," Calvin had the prime opportunity to express any universalistic tendencies he might have had. However, he contextually commented:

    Quotations could continue to be multiplied, but what has been provided suffices to prove the point -- Calvin was a particularist, not a universalist.

    There are other passages in the commentaries in which Calvin specifically says that the work of Christ was restricted in the persons whom it was intended to benefit. On Matthew 1:21, "He shall save his people from their sins," Calvin limits the saving work of Christ to the one body of the church.

    Calvin's treatise on the eternal predetination of God (p. 94) has already been quoted in an earlier thread. There we find Calvin speaking factually. His words cannot be mistaken. He was laying down what, for him at least, was an important point, namely, "that the virtue and benefits of Christ are extended unto, and belong to, none but the children of God." There is no reading into Calvin's words something that is not there. It is there in black and white for all to see. It can therefore be nothing short of incompetency to take incidental statements in Calvin's writings, where he is not specifically dealing with the issue of redemption, and to force him to teach that there are benefits in Christ's death which belong to others who are not the children of God.

    Calvin's thought MUST be interpreted according to the mind of Calvin. For the reformer, there is no grace of God for the non-elect. In his sermon on Eph. 1:4, he states:

    Calvin went on to state an underlying principle of the way in which he thought about the work of grace:

    Therefore, David Ponter's attempt must be regarded as futile, wherein he seeks to find in Calvin's teaching some sort of benefit in Christ's death which extends to those whom God has not elected to salvation. Let the reader discern who invents categories by which to understand the thought of the reformer.

    Now let us look at how the oppressor cruelly twists the limbs of the reformer in order to bind him into universalistic chains.

    What are we missing here? Nothing less than the whole context, in which Calvin is speaking of what a Christian's actions tend towards, not what will be the inevitable outcome of their actions. It has already been shown from Calvin's comments on Matt. 24:24 that those under Christ's guardianship shall never perish. We may now add, within the context of Paul's teaching on the weaker brother, what Calvin has to say on the apostle's reassurance in verse 4, "Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."

    Calvin's comments on the weaker brother perishing should not be misconstrued as if he taught that those in whom the grace of God has begun a good work can actually fall away; but rather should be understood contextually as impressing upon Christians the need to take care with their weaker brethren, lest their actions cause them to stumble -- which, considered in itself, could tend towards their brother's perdition, but considered under the power of God, we are reassured they will never actually perish, because God will make them to stand.

    Calvin's comment leaves ample room for the idea that these ones, who have been redeemed and who have fallen away, were only regarded as being redeemed according to their own profession. There is nothing in Calvin's words, as there is nothing in the Holy Spirit's words he is commenting on, which requires us to understand that he is speaking of those who have actually been redeemed by Christ. That Calvin's theology allowed for phenomenological professing believers is clear from all his writings. Ditto for the Puritan tradition which followed him.

    This statement again emphasises the responsibility of believers to each other. It looks at what certain actions tend towards, not what shall be the inevitable outcome. In Calvin's theology, as in Calvinistic theology which followed him, God provides warnings as means of preserving the people whom He has redeemed by the blood of Christ.

    So we have come to the end of the Calvin-fest, and what has it proven? That Calvin was a thorough-going Calvinist, and an experimental Calvinist at that. The reformation context of Calvin is much to be preferred to the medieval one which David Ponter seeks to impose upon him.

    [Edited on 8-30-2006 by armourbearer]
     
  5. Flynn

    Flynn Puritan Board Freshman

    G´day Matthew:

    Here we go again.

    This is going to be my last on this. You can reply after this. I´ve made my case. The fact that you have repeatedly glossed over and"“as one old friend coined"“creatively reconstructed Calvin which is something I cant change.

    Matthew: David Ponter suggests Calvin's theology contains "a pre-existent historically documented theological category of universal sufficient redemption," even though he has not provided one instance where Calvin teaches that Christ died "with an intention" to save all men. Of course quotations can be multiplied where Calvin says Christ died for the world, because, as has been shown repeatedly, there is a sense in which Christ's sufferings are sufficient to expiate the sins of all men. But nowhere does Calvin say that Christ, by His sufferings and death, INTENDED to save all men. He taught the exact opposite.

    David: But thats never what I had to prove. Thats just a plain misleading imposition. All I have had to prove is whether or not in Calvin´s theology Christ´s redemption had both an unlimited and limited aspect according to the Lombardian formula. And I have explained my method in doing this. That you try and change the thesis is just terrible, Matthew. So because you have taken to do this, I will cite some more of Calvin.

    Remember the accusation of double-reference? You threw that at me. All I´ve had to prove is that Calvin did have a dual aspect of the redemption. You now switch the terms of discussion.

    But now to your post:

    Matthew: On 1 John 2:2, "And not for ours only," a passage universalists never tire of quoting, Calvin's comments are explicitly particularistic. Now David Ponter fondly quotes Calvin's comments on this verse as providing an example of the reformer's acceptance of the scholastic formula of sufficient for all, efficient for the elect. But he ignores the fact that Calvin qualifies the sense in which he understand the formula in the following words:

    Matthew cites:
    David: Yeah. Do you think this surprises me? Do you think I didnt know about his comments there when I first cited Calvin on 1Jn 2:2. But honestly, Matthew, why should I talk about this when you cant address his plain statements? He says, Christ suffered for all, sufficiently, for the elect efficiently. We know that he meant he suffered the wrath of God for the sins of all, sufficiently. He allows that: but he says that does not apply here. For he says: JOHN´s meaning is such and such. At no point could or should one conclude that _everytime_ Calvin used the term world, he meant the elect or all kinds of elect, or the church scattered throughout the world. And once again I´ve got the necessary quotes, Matthew.

    So in Calvins theology, what did Christ *suffer* _for_ all men sufficiently? What? Remember, even AA Hodge acknowledges that Calvin used the Lombardian form of the formula, so the "œfor" is there for a reason.

    Matthew: Now if Calvin had accepted the idea of universalist sufficient redemption, he would not have been compelled to explain the true meaning of the biblical text, and show that contextually the words "world" and "all" should be understood in a particularistic manner. As it stands, he made that qualification repeatedly; and Calvin can only be bound into a universalist understanding of redemption if his qualifications are ignored, which David Ponter happily does.

    David: So what did Calvin believe Christ suffered? when he suffered for all, sufficiently?.

    That was basically my first answer to you from the beginning, but which youve so for not answered.

    Matthew: On 1 Tim. 2:5, "And one Mediator between God and men," Calvin writes:

    Matthew: This is the typical manner in which Calvin interpreted the universalistic terms "all" and "world." Such particularism did not originate with Owen, or a later Calvinist tradition, but with Calvin himself.

    David: Typical manner? So you want to say every Calvinian instance of world and all he means elect of all classes and kinds? That aside: that verse does not speak to the atonement, does it. You are only shifting the terms of the discussion in order to avoid what you know to be true. There are answers and responses, but I will not be drawn into that until you answer Calvin on the redemption quotations and the question above. So far I havent even introduced a single redemptive all. Your trying to distract from the terms of the discussion.

    Matthew: On John 1:29, "Who taketh away the sin of the world," Calvin had the prime opportunity to express any universalistic tendencies he might have had. However, he contextually commented:

    Matthew citing:
    Matthew: Quotations could continue to be multiplied, but what has been provided suffices to prove the point -- Calvin was a particularist, not a universalist.

    David: And that proves what? Lets get some more context here:

    "œWho taketh away the sin of the world." He uses the word sin in the singular number, for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said, that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says, the sin OF THE WORLD, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race; that the Jews might not think that he had been sent to them alone. But hence we infer that the whole world is involved in the same condemnation; and that as all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God, they need to be reconciled to him. John the Baptist, therefore, by speaking generally of the sin of the world, intended to impress upon us the conviction of our own misery, and to exhort us to seek the remedy. Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided that he comes to him by the guidance of faith. Besides, he lays down but one method of taking away sins. Calvin, John 1:29.

    David: this sin-bearing is extended to the whole human race. The whole world is involved in the same condemnation, and that as all men without exception are guilty. Thats pretty universal. Btw: to take away here for Calvin is initially to carry it, to bear it,.

    Matthew:
    There are other passages in the commentaries in which Calvin specifically says that the work of Christ was restricted in the persons whom it was intended to benefit. On Matthew 1:21, "He shall save his people from their sins," Calvin limits the saving work of Christ to the one body of the church.

    David: Matthew, you really need to slow down. You are just mis-reading Calvin all over the place.

    Lets look at that.

    Calvin: Thou shalt call his name Jesus. The reason of the name is given by Matthew: for he shall save his people from their sins, (Matthew 1:21.) And so the name contains a promise of salvation, and points out the object for which Christ was sent by the Father into the world, as he tells us that he "œcame not to judge the world, but to save the world," Luke 1:31.

    Calvin: By Christ´s people the angel unquestionably means the Jews, to whom he was appointed as Head and King; but as the Gentiles were shortly afterwards to be ingrafted into the stock of Abraham, (Romans 11:17,) this promise of salvation is extended indiscriminately to all who are incorporated by faith in the "œone body" 1 Corinthians 12:20) of the Church. Matthew 1:21.

    David: In the first instance he connects the people with the world. Note the allusion to John 3:17/12:47. In the second, he connects the people with the Jews. So are you with me so far?

    So how does Calvin, not you, not me, define the Jews and the world there? Matthew: Please read the following Calvin quotations with extreme care.

    Lets take a peek at Calvin:

    To the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He bestows the designation of sheep of the house of Israel not on the elect only, but on all who were descended from the holy fathers; for the Lord had included all in the covenant, and was promised indiscriminately to all as a Redeemer, as he also revealed and offered himself to all without exception. It is worthy of observation, that he declares himself to have been sent to LOST sheep, as he assures us in another passage that he came to save that which was lost, (Matthew 18:11.) Now as we enjoy this favor, at the present day, in common with the Jews, we learn what our condition is till he appear as our Savior. Calvin Matt 15:24

    David: Calvin says Christ was *sent* the house of Israel, not to the elect alone, but to the reprobate Jews as well. Calvin says Christ was promised"“obviously he means by God"“to all the House of Israel: and so he is offered to all without exception. Are you still with me? He was sent to all to seek their salvation.

    Calvin: But go rather to the lost sheep. The first rank, as we have said, is assigned to the Jews, because they were the firstborn; or rather, because at that time they alone were acknowledged by God to belong to his family,
    while others were excluded. He calls them lost sheep, partly that the apostles, moved by compassion, may more readily and with warmer affection run to their assistance, and partly to inform them that there is at present abundant occasion for their labors. At the same time, under the figure of this nation, Christ taught what is the condition of the whole human race. The Jews, who were near to God, and in covenant with him, and therefore were the lawful heirs of eternal life, are nevertheless pronounced to be lost, till they regain salvation through Christ. What then remains for us who are inferior to them in honor? Again, the word sheep is applied even to the reprobate, who, properly speaking, did not belong to the flock of God, because the adoption extended to the whole nation; as those who deserved to be rejected, on account of their treachery, are elsewhere called the children of the kingdom, Matthew 8:12.) In a word, by the term sheep, Christ recommends the Jews to the apostles, that they may dedicate their labors to them, because they could recognize as the flock of God none but those who had been gathered into the fold. Matt 10:6.

    Calvin on the mission of Christ, sent to save the world:

    If any man hear my words. After having spoken concerning his grace, and exhorted his disciples to steady faith, he now begins to strike the rebellious, though even here he mitigates the severity due to the wickedness of those who deliberately--as it were--reject God; for he delays to pronounce judgment on them, because, on the contrary, he has come for the salvation of all. In the first place, we ought to understand that he does not speak here of all unbelievers without distinction, but of those who, knowingly and willingly, reject the doctrine of the Gospel which has been exhibited to them. Why then does Christ not choose to condemn them? It is because he lays aside for a time the office of a judge, and offers salvation to all without reserve, and stretches out his arms to embrace all, that all may be the more encouraged to repent. And yet there is a circumstance of no small moment, by which he points out the aggravation of the crime, if they reject an invitation so kind and gracious, for it is as if he had said, "œLo, I am here to invite all, and, forgetting the character of a judge, I have this as my single object, to persuade all, and to rescue from destruction those who are already twice ruined." No man, therefore, is condemned on account of having despised the Gospel, except he who, disdaining the lovely message of salvation, has chosen of his own accord to draw down destruction on himself. Calvin, John 12:47. You might want to scope out Calvin´s theology of Jn 3:16 at time point.


    David: You probably wont like this one either:

    Calvin: Simon´s mistake lies only in this: Not considering that Christ came to save what was lost, he rashly concludes that Christ does not distinguish between the worthy and the unworthy. That we may not share in this dislike, let us learn, first, that Christ was given as a Deliverer to miserable and lost men, and to restore them from death to life.
    Translator's footnote:
    "œQue Christ a este donne pour liberateur au genre humain, miserable et perdu;"--that Christ was given as a deliverer to the human race, miserable and lost." Calvin, Luke 7:36.


    Cut cut

    Matthew:
    Calvin's thought MUST be interpreted according to the mind of Calvin. For the reformer, there is no grace of God for the non-elect. In his sermon on Eph. 1:4, he states:

    David: Man youve really tried to switch the topic. So now youve decided to go on an offensive move to try and change the subject. But I am not going to go there right now until you resolve the other issue.

    Cut cut

    Matthew: Therefore, David Ponter's attempt must be regarded as futile, wherein he seeks to find in Calvin's teaching some sort of benefit in Christ's death which extends to those whom God has not elected to salvation. Let the reader discern who invents categories by which to understand the thought of the reformer.

    David: And thats a refutation of what exactly?

    Matthew:
    Now let us look at how the oppressor cruelly twists the limbs of the reformer in order to bind him into universalistic chains.

    David: Oppressor?? Oh nice. :)

    Matthew cites:
    Matthew adds: What are we missing here? Nothing less than the whole context, in which Calvin is speaking of what a Christian's actions tend towards, not what will be the inevitable outcome of their actions. It has already been shown from Calvin's comments on Matt. 24:24 that those under Christ's guardianship shall never perish. We may now add, within the context of Paul's teaching on the weaker brother, what Calvin has to say on the apostle's reassurance in verse 4, "Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."

    David: Like I´ve said: he is not talking about a hypothetical apostasy of the redeemed elect. Thats actually an absurdity. Here it is: its impossible that if redemption is efficacious, to then posit that someone redeemed could hypothetically fall away unto perdition. Its an impossible hypothetical: which is a contradiction in terms. But now, if you say: well we presume that a man is redeemed, and if he falls away, thats acceptable. No problem. But does Calvin say: you cause to go to destruction someone whom we _thought_ was redeemed? No. What does he says? He says, a man perishes who _has_been_redeemed_. The redemption is still a prior reality even upon knowledge of their apostasy. Secondly, he says "œprice of Christ's blood is wasted." Now, if the apostate is only presumed to have been redeemed, no one would properly say: his perishing entails that the price of Christ´s blood was wasted (which is exactly what Calvin says). For we know it was not, for he was never redeemed in the first place, the price of the blood was never made for him in the first place. Calvin is not speaking from the perspective of our presumption, but from the perspective of what he considered to have been objectively accomplished, by Christ, for this person who perishes because of our arrogance. So lastly, he speaks of those whom he theoretically knows have apostatized, as having been redeemed (past tense).

    So no matter how you spin it, it does not make sense. Nor does Calvin insert any of the needed qualifiers Matthew suggests. At no point can you prove any of your interpolations from the text at all. At every piont, you can only assert the meaning.

    Matthew: quotes:

    Matthew: Calvin's comments on the weaker brother perishing should not be misconstrued as if he taught that those in whom the grace of God has begun a good work can actually fall away; but rather should be understood contextually as impressing upon Christians the need to take care with their weaker brethren, lest their actions cause them to stumble -- which, considered in itself, could tend towards their brother's perdition, but considered under the power of God, we are reassured they will never actually perish, because God will make them to stand.

    David: Well thats not what he says,is it. And by the way, appollumi does not mean a mere stumbling, a temporary mis-step.

    Matthew cites:
    Matthew: Calvin's comment leaves ample room for the idea that these ones, who have been redeemed and who have fallen away, were only regarded as being redeemed according to their own profession. There is nothing in Calvin's words, as there is nothing in the Holy Spirit's words he is commenting on, which requires us to understand that he is speaking of those who have actually been redeemed by Christ. That Calvin's theology allowed for phenomenological professing believers is clear from all his writings. Ditto for the Puritan tradition which followed him.

    David: Oh man. "leaves ample room" only for the eisegetical imposition Matthew. Again, he is no case of a presumed believer, but a known apostate: whom he says voided the price of their own redemption by their unbelief. There is not even a hint that Calvin invoked a judgment of charity or a judgment from human perception. Its clearly, these whom we now know are apostate, were redeemed, and by falling away, voided the price of their own redemption. Show me where he says they were only *regarded* to have been redeemed? Please, do show me: from the text.

    Matthew quotes:
    Mathew: This statement again emphasises the responsibility of *believers* to *each* *other*. It looks at what certain actions tend towards, not what shall be the inevitable outcome. In Calvin's theology, as in Calvinistic theology which followed him, God provides warnings as means of preserving the people whom He has redeemed by the blood of Christ.

    David: But you left off the opening line, Matthew? Why is that? Because it directly refutes you.

    Let me post it: However, St. Paul speaks here expressly of the saints and the faithful, but this does not imply that we should not pray generally for all men. For wretched *unbelievers* and the ignorant have a great need to be pleaded for with God; behold them on the way to perdition. If we saw a beast at the point of perishing, we would have pity on it. And what shall we do when we see souls in peril, which are so precious before God, as he has shown in that he has ransomed them with the blood of his own Son?

    This falsehood on your part is the most worrisome to me of all your glosses.

    David: Matthew, now you are clearly deceiving readers. Calvin speaks of *unbelievers*, but you add the gloss, "˜believers have a responsibility to each other.´ Youve totally reconstructed Calvin. What is more, he speaks of the generality of unbelievers for whom we are to pray.

    David: Note, his subject is UNBELIEVERS, and these unbelievers are going to perdition. And of these unbelievers going to perdition, he says they were RANSOMED (past tense) by the blood of Christ. See that Matthew: UNBELIEVERS going to hell, which Calvin says have been RANSOMED, already, by the blood of Christ.

    Again: he says the blood of Christ ransomed these souls, which souls are going to perdition.


    Matthew: So we have come to the end of the Calvin-fest, and what has it proven? That Calvin was a thorough-going Calvinist, and an experimental Calvinist at that. The reformation context of Calvin is much to be preferred to the medieval one which David Ponter seeks to impose upon him.

    David: Matthew, your comments are just glosses. Each time you have to import ideas not present in the text. Each time the straight forward prima facie meaning is denied. And you impose qualifications. Everything Calvin says dies the death of a thousand accretions with you.

    So here is your method. I post a quotation. Every time all you have done is say: "˜well it doesnt mean that, it means this.' But this meaning is never derived from the text, but is just imposed by you. You know, if Calvin had said or used the word hypothetical, or anything like it, you might have a case. If Calvin had said they appeared to have been redeemed, or they claimed to have been redeemed, you might have a case. But he didnt.

    So each time you have to just speak (verbally ex nihilo) an interpretation into existence. Well I am not going to pander to that, Matthew.

    And apart from that, you have change the wording. You conveniently leave out sections (see above) or you convert phrases (eg, suffered the wrath for the sins of all mankind, became: suffered the wrath due to sinners of mankind), or you have to insert ideas which you could never prove from the text at hand. But that you do this so systemically, so programatically, its clear to me that its pointless, Matthew. I just have no confidence that you can deal honestly with the text. I am not trying to be mean, just honest.

    Not having established a single interpreation of yours from the text at hand: you just overlay and insert it into the text. I know that to many, they may find this convincing, but to others like myself, its not. Its taking licence with the text. Its a refusal to listen to the text. And its just bad bad hermeneutics. I know why the denial: becuse once again, all your hoeksemian categories stand or fall on this. If Calvin is allowed to speak on his own terms here, all of yours and Hoeksemas hypercalvinist historical claims implode.


    Okay, thats the last from me on this.

    Ill take a break and then follow up on the second causes. My closing post on that was swallowed by this machine. I will revisit it. And too, I would like to demonstrate your view on general love: as per your claims against Murray are also quite crooked historically speaking. But later.

    Take care,
    David

    [Edited on 8-30-2006 by Flynn]
     
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I had written:

    David Ponter's reply:

    This is incorrect. It shows David Ponter's shifting thesis and the fact that he is not properly appreciating the theology he claims to be dealing with in a purely historical manner. On the earlier thread he quite specifically wrote:

    So he has been specifically arguing for "a two-fold intentionality." It is the intention aspect in his hypothesis which seeks to make Calvin teach something different from what Owen later taught.

    What David Ponter fails to grasp is the fact that INTENTION is everything in reformed theology. It is the gracious purpose of God which determined that Christ's sufferings would be a substitutionary satisfaction. It is the divine INTENTION which makes Christ's death a ransom for any. This is the point of reformed theology, earlier and later, which David Ponter is not reckoning with. The reformed tradition repeatedly calls upon us to see Christ's death in the context of election. It is election which makes grace uncommon, and distinguishes one man from another; election is the ultimate reason why one is benefitted by the death of Christ and another is not.

    Coming now to the writings of the reformer, David Ponter acknowledges that he knew what Calvin had said on 1 John 2:2. Then why was there no mention of this earlier? It was obviously too difficult to reconcile with his thesis.

    What is his claim?

    But what David Ponter still refuses to recognise is the fact that Calvin said "under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate." Hence, in Calvin's thought, Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the elect world only.

    David Ponter asks the question:

    He suffered the penalty of sin, death, which was the penalty which every man's sins deserve; so that Christ's death is the penalty which the world's sins deserved. Any person who reads Calvin often and in context will see this is the point he repeatedly makes. Nothing more, nothing less.

    There are two significant applications which Calvin stops to make when adopting the "all" language. (1) That if Christ died for all, He did not die for Himself. Thus it was vicarious suffering. (2) That if Christ died for all, then He is the ONLY Redeemer to whom we must come in order to be saved. This is the sum and substance of what Calvin means by saying that Christ's death is "sufficient" for all. It is the same teaching as is to be found in other reformers, and in the later reformed tradition as taught by Owen and co. When once we realise that Calvin did not teach Christ died with the INTENTION of saving all men, his position, though expressed in slightly different language because of the era in which he wrote, is not substantially different from what Owen later acknowledged.

    As for David Ponter's attempted rebuttal of the portion of my post where I interact with Calvin's commentaries and sermons, nothing has been affected by the sophistry of my interlocutor. The final verdict rests with the individual, and whether or not they are prepared to read Calvin according to the hermeneutical and theological markers I have provided from his own writings, or the superimposed, unarticulated, confused medieval universalism which David Ponter reads into Calvin.

    [Edited on 8-31-2006 by armourbearer]
     
  7. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    David and Matthew,

    I'm going to close this thread as well.

    What David is teaching has been soundly refuted not only by Reformed thinkers (though I know you disagree), but by those on the board who have interacted thus far.

    I would suggest rethinking some of Roger Nicole's work on this specific issue. He is, probably, the best anti-Calvinius polemicist that the church has today on Calvin (and he was my mentor so I am profoundly aware of the issues surrounding this topic). Nicole has not only refuted soundly what you are propagating (which is a form of universalism for the reprobate), but has clearly laid out the issues and solutions to those issues in a number of journal articles.

    It may be that you are simply unclear, and after reading these two threads thus far, you are either truly settled on being in that universalistic camp, or are confusing some important points that Nicole has untwisted by advocates of your flavor.

    In any case, I must step in to say that what is being propagated is not Confessional, and the rules of the board overall demonstrate clearly, that the doctrines taught here must be of a Confessional nature. The "Universal sufficiency" (contra Dordt which is very clear) that you are propagating is not part of a confession that we accept on the board int he manner you are teaching it. I'd ask to stick with confessional subjects.

    In other words this sounds like you:

    Amyraut held that God, moved by compassion for the plight of fallen mankind, designed to save all men and sent His Son Jesus Christ as a substitutionary offering for the sins of all men and of every man --- this is Amyraut's universalism. This sacrifice is not effectual unto salvation, however, unless God's offer of grace is accepted by man in repentance and faith, which acceptance is the fruit of God's special grace, conferred on those only whom He has chosen --- this is the hypothetical aspect of Amyraut?s view. (Moyse Amyraut [1596-1664] and the Controversy on Universal Grace, First Phase [1634-1637], Ph.D. thesis, Roger Nicole, Harvard University, 1966, 3-4).

    Nicole acutally takes up some important points to consider in propagating any kind of hypothetical universalism.

    Roger Nicole: "œAmyraut thought he could establish a bridge that would make it easier for Roman Catholic people to embrace the Reformed faith. He seemed to remain oblivious to the fact that most bridges carry two-way traffic: he unwittingly made it easier for Reformed people to turn to Romanism" (Westminster Theological Journal, vol. 54, no. 2 [Fall, 1992], p. 396).

    Roger Nicole: "œThe doctrine of hypothetical universalism acted as a corrosive factor in the French Reformed Church. Tolerated at first because it was felt that an outright condemnation would lead to schism, it slowly undermined respect for the confessional standards and disrupted internal unity and cohesion "¦ it did provide a bridge toward Arminianism and perhaps toward the Semi-Pelagian tendencies of the Church of Rome. The advantages that Amyraut had envisioned failed to materialize, and the dangers against which his opponents had warned did in fact eventuate" (Standing Forth [Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2002], p. 326).

    Let's NOT propagate this on the board ever. As Nicole rightly comments, this is not Calvin's view, and cannot be construed to be Calvin's view.

    Amyraldianism implies a twofold will of God, whereby he wills the salvation of all humankind on condition of faith but wills the salvation of the elect specifically and unconditionally. The theological difficulty of God's will having been frustrated by the fact that not all are saved is met by the argument that God only willed their salvation on the condition of faith. Where an individual has no faith, then God has not willed the salvation of that person? (Andrew McGowan, Amyraldianism, The Dictionary of Historical Theology [Eerdmans, 2000], 12).

    For a clear treatment of how God's will works, I would suggest my own thesis, "The Two Wills of God."

    [Edited on 8-31-2006 by C. Matthew McMahon]
     
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