Is Amyraldianism (4-point Calvinism) Confessional?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Semper Fidelis, Sep 12, 2007.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    Quite remarkable that you would even wonder this but I'll quote this from the Canons of Dort. Incidentally, this is not an "optional" requirement for participation on this board. Questions? Yes. Rejection? No.

  2. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

  3. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Confessional Subscripton at the Puritan Board and Amyraldianism

    In another (closed) thread, Don asks:

    I'm glad to oblige - though this seems like moderator-type statement since what I'm going to argue for is a policy matter respecting our confessions on this board. Regardless, here it goes.

    Four-point "calvinism", or more accurately, Amyraldianism, is a doctrinal system in which, of Calvin's five points, only four are retained. Amyraldianism rejects limited atonement - arguing that Christ shed his blood as a perfect atoning sacrifice for every human being, and not only as propitiation for the sins of the elect. This view of Christ's death is a point that Amyraldians hold in common with Arminians, and in fact much of the Christian world.

    It's not my task to explain the ins and outs of Amyraut's position - but to describe in some detail why holding such a position puts one outside the bounds of being true to the confessions that this board requires of its members.

    Let's first begin with Westminster. Here are some pertinent selections from the Westminster Standards:

    Chapter VIII, Section v:
    Chapter VIII, Section viii:

    The statements here clearly point to Christ having satisfied justice and purchased redemption reconciliation, etc., for "all those whom the Father hath given unto him". The purchase therefore is for only those whom Christ was given by the Father.

    From the Westminster Larger Catechism:

    Redemption isn't for all, but for those for whom Christ purchased redemption through his death - those who come (by the Holy Spirit) to believe in Christ and who are saved.

    Only the elect believe. So only the elect are those for whom Christ purchased redemption. Christ did NOT purchase redemption for all men. Limited Atonement is the teaching of the Westminster Standards, as demonstrated quickly by these points. Amyraldianism is not compatible with the Westminster Standards.

    Moving to the London Baptist Confession of 1689, here the arguments are the same. The LBC incorporates the Catechisms as their catechetical standards, and most of the text of the LBC is the same as the Westminster... Sections 5 and 8 of the Chapter in the LBC on Christ the Mediator are the same as the WCF.

    Limited Atonement is the teaching of the LBC and its associated catechisms. Amyraldianism is therefore not compatible with it either.

    Moving on to the Three Forms of Unity, here the case is even more clear. The Canons of Dort explicitly reject any form of unlimited atonement. Here is an example, from Point 2, Article 8:
    In the rejection of errors specified in the second point:

    There is absolutely no argument to be made here - Amyraldianism is rejected in the Canons of the Synod of Dort (and hence, in the Three Forms of Unity).

    There is simply no room among the confessional options for members of this board to uphold for the teachings of Moises Amyraut, i.e. "four-point calvinism".

    Comments are welcome, but I honestly consider the case closed tightly.
  4. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Rich (or another moderator, since I don't have the goods :) )

    Can you merge in this thread with the one I just started? I didn't realize you were going to address Don's question also :)
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Not pretty; but done.
  6. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Hey, it worked, though. :)
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Knowing Spurgeon's ability to say the right thing at the right time I suppose he would have had the good sense not to raise it. A confessional standard sets the boundaries of discussion, it doesn't require everyone in the discussion to hold to the confession 100%. Two essential elements of Christian discussion include a trust in the Holy Spirit to guide into all truth, so that we should not become cynical but always deal with one another in an open and honest manner; and a respect for the authority structures God has ordained for the right protection and nurture of His flock.
  8. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I haven't read the link, but what Spurgeon taught, as I understand it, is a particular redemption - that Christ's death paid the penalty for the elect's sins, and no other. He ALSO taught (and this is commonly held among orthodox Reformed) that Christ's death had some effects outside of redemption. I don't know of anything (again, I'll check the link) wherein Spurgeon AFFIRMS any universal sense to redemption.

    Spurgeon's is NOT Amyraut's position, again, as far as I know, who held that Christ's atoning work is for all men without exception, which is suspended on the condition of faith (and that faith is a gift only to the elect). I'm fairly certain Spurgeon properly subscribed to the LBC.
  9. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    Good job, Todd!

    I agree with you regarding the Canons of Dort and WCF VIII.8 rejecting Amyraldism.

    Actually, they're not. In LBCF VIII.8, the phrase "To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption" becomes "To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption."

    Section 5 in the same chapter says "purchase" in both confessions. The WCF, then, draws a one-to-one correlation between those purchased and those whom redemption is applied.

    The LBCF, for some reason, decides to buck the WCF and change the phrase to "obtained eternal redemption." Why? Possibly because a 4-pointer would say that Christ "bought" or "purchased" all of humanity, but only "obtained eternal redemption" for the elect.

    Perhaps the LBCF writers deliberately changed the language to not be divisive among 4 and 5 pointers. All of the benefits of "obtaining eternal redemption" in Section 8 are post-effectual calling (belief, governing their hearts, etc.) so the obtaining could be at the cross, as a 5-pointer would see it, or upon regeneration, as a 4-pointer would see it.

    But I could be wrong. If someone has a better theory for the change, I'd love to hear it.

    There is a misconception that 4-point Calvinists do not affirm any particular nature of the atonement at all. That is not the case. 4-pointers affirm a particular love for the elect manifested in the atonement, that God only intended the elect to be saved, that only the elect are effectively called (thus affirming WLC Qs. 66-68) and have the redemption applied to them (thus affirming WLC Q. 59)

    Anyway, sorry to go on and on about this and I'm sorry if I've upset any of you unnecessarily. This issue is debated frequently among Baptists, and especially Southern Baptists (and from what I hear, esp. at SBTS), and I think it's helpful to know what is common and what is different among the two positions.

    Also, I'd hate to see my beloved Spurgeon denied by PB because I really like using him as my avatar.
  10. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior


    I seriously hope you are not suggesting that Christ paid for their sins, yet, doesn't own them. If Christ purchased ALL off humanity, that would make them His. If ALL of humanity belongs to Christ, this is what we call "universal redemption". You can't "buy" something and not own it. I've actually had a 4-pointer tell me awhile back that you can buy somethign at the store but it's not yours until it's put in your hands.
  11. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    I don't think he'd be denied... because in the link you provided, he makes very clear that he is rejecting the notion of a universal redemption (again, a hallmark of amyraldianism). A prime source of quotations from Spurgeon is found at this link.
  12. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Perhaps some who call themselves 4-pointers speak this way, but it isn't in the origins of the belief system itself.

    What Amyrault taught was that the atonement was in fact for all, but that its application was particular and conditioned on faith (and faith that was given to the elect only). So there is a particularism in Amyraldianism - but it's in application, not in actual purchase.

    As was noted by Andrew, 4-pointers will often say that purchase isn't complete until you seal the deal. They'll liken Christ's atonement in very much the same way as the Arminian does, with some word picture like "Christ bought the ticket, and it's no good unless you accept it". The Amyraldian would take this word picture and assert that he believes in election because God elects those who ultimate accept Christ's purchase (which was tickets for everyone).

    This is simply not Calvinism, and as far as I assess it, incompatible with any of our board's accepted confessional standards.
  13. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior


    Your theory is pretty weak. I hope you're not hanging your hat on this?? If you buy it its yours!

    Now I'm not a Baptist and have no idea what's going on with 4-pointers, which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one, and SBTS but as Rich has stated, questions yes but rejection of limited atonement no!

    So you're going to have to decide where you're at.
  14. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Whether there's a change in the LBC in section 8 is irrelevant. Section 5 of Chapter 8 says the following in BOTH confessions:

    Christ has PURCHASED an inheritance, by his obedience and death, for (all? NO) all those whom the Father has given him.

    You can't argue that section 8 was changed to appease 4-pointers when section 5 explicitly denies their beliefs.
  15. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I am always fascinated that people reject Limited Atonement of all the 5. I frankly think people would have a problem with the nature of man's depravity, the unconditional nature of God's election, or the power with which he overcomes men's sinful hearts.

    Limited atonement is as simple as this: When Christ atoned for sins it was once and for all. If Christ's sacrifice atoned for the sins of every man, woman, and child who ever lived then there is now no condemnation. If Christ's death actually atoned for sin then to say that He died for all is to say that all sins are actually atoned for.

    Of course, to state that Christ's sacrifice paid for the sins of all mankind and to uphold the nature of that sacrifice one would need to be a universalist. At least the universalist preserves the perfect and complete nature of the Atonement.

    But, what I will not accept, and what I find repugnant to the Scriptures is that we add to the atonement by our faith - that Christ died for us but something must be added by us. That is to say that Christ's sacrifice atones for all the sins of mankind - evenly spread out and applied to all - but in the end there is yet left some sin unatoned for that must be procured by our faith.

    As for Spurgeon, I've stated over and over that I'm not a fan of ad populum arguments. Nobody is consigning him to outer darkness and he's not here on the board applying for membership. I agree with Todd that I've read enough of what he wrote on the subject to categorically reject that he is, in any way, a "4-pointer".

    Spurgeon is hardly a 4-pointer. The only people I ever hear claim that are Calvary Chapel. Consider this:
  16. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    and, if you deny the L you have to deny substitutionary atonement. Shudder.

    Jesus wasn't a player. He died for his bride. He loves his bride. He didn't die for other women too.

    Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

    If Jesus can commit adultary, can we?

    Jesus isn't a player.

    The idea that Jesus could be a guest on Jerry Springer isn't confessional. :)
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2007
  17. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Nice. :amen:
  18. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

  19. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    May I quote you?
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2007
  20. mbj0680

    mbj0680 Puritan Board Freshman

    Let's put a spin on this topic of 4-point Calvinism. Always wanted to know what Calvinists thought about this. I am under the impression from a lot of Calvinist that if you don't subscribe to Calvinism then your hermeneutics are all off and the lens unto which you view scripture will always be wrong. I actually heard a pastor say this. So that leads me to ask the direct question that if you are not a Calvinist are you a Christian?

  21. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Fortunately, we have a bunch of inconsistent Arminians running around. ;)
  22. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    From what I understand a number af Amyraldians signed up to the WCF.
  23. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    By this do you mean that there were Amyraldians in the Westminster Assembly?

    This is certainly true... (Calamy, for instance - see Warfield's volume on the WA and its work, pp. 138ff) Their views did not prevail, though, as one can gather from the aforementioned sections VIII.5 and 8, and also III.6. Their mere presence at the Assembly
    doesn't mean the Assembly allowed for Amyraldianism (just as Twisse's presence at
    the Assembly doesn't mean it allowed for eternal justification, which it clearly came down

    Now after the Assembly, did the Amyraldians subscribe to the WCF? Of that I'm not historian enough to know - but if they did, they ceased teaching their error, I would hope. Perhaps Chris Coldwell (or through him, Chad van Dixhoorn) could find out something about this? I'm interested :)
  24. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I am not sure of the history, I was just told by a friend a while ago that Amyraldians did not feel that the WCF ruled out their view and the evidence being that they signed up to the Confession.

    They came out against a certain understanding of EJ but there is an orthodox view that is compatable with the Westminster Standards. But this thread is not the place to discuss this :handshake:
  25. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I found this:

    2. Claim: The Confession does not exclude Amyraldianism

    It is well known that there were several members of the Westminster Assembly who adhered to the hypothetical universalisrn of the Amyraldian school. It has been alleged last century and more recently that this position is not excluded by the Confession.

    In 1961 a Calvinistic church was formed in Tasmania from several congregations of former Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. It is now known as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). The tendency to reaction from their previous Arminian mysticism led to suspicion of the doctrine of the free offer as if it was based on a universal atonement in the Amyraldian sense. In debate with their near kin, the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia, the leaders of the EPC held that the issue was not resolved by the Confession since, while the Confession was accepted in 1647 as in no way contrary to received doctrine, it was claimed by the EPC that before 1647 the Church of Scotland did not hold to any limitation on the extent and intent of the atonement. It was not until the Acts of the Church of Scotland condemning the Marrow teaching in 1720 and 1721 that any such limitation existed, they claimed. The EPC therefore relied on these Acts to reject the related ambiguities and contradictions they saw as inherent in the free offer teaching as expounded, for example, by John Murray and Ned Stonehouse, and they went on to adopt a position on common grace rather similar to that of Herman Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed Churches in the USA.

    The response to this line of reasoning is to reject the claim that the Confession does not exclude Amyraldian views, to reject the allegations about the pre-1647 teaching of the Church of Scotland, and to regard the Acts condemning the Marrow as making partial and selective use of aspects of the Marrow and as irrelevant. The Acts against the Marrowmen would only be competent if they were true Declaratory Acts, that is, Acts declaring existing law. The force of the Acts, though unrepealed, is exceedingly dubious because of the peculiar circumstances. It is true that they were appealed to in the Macleod Campbell case in 1831. Campbell, unlike the Marrowmen, really did teach universal pardon, and the great historian Thomas McCrie (1772-1835) thereupon published several articles to vindicate the Marrowmen from some of the unjust charges in the Assembly Acts. It is a libel on the Scottish Church to suppose the love of God in the free offer was ever doubted or regarded as inconsistent with a strict Calvinism.

    While A.F. Mitchell thought Amyraldianism may not be excluded by the Confession in 3:6, William, Cunningham is sure it is and Warfield agrees. The issue really seems settled by the terms of WCF 8:8 which state that all for whom Christ purchased redemption have the same applied effectually to them. John Carneron held that the absence of such a statement in the findings of the Synod of Dort 1619 meant his Amyraldianism, was not excluded, thus we take it Westminster does exclude it. Christ made satisfaction for those the Father gave to Him, and Christ, through the Spirit, effectively applies this redemption to those for whom He died.

    The seeming inconsistency in the Confession excluding views which were held by several of its members perhaps may be explained on the supposition that the Confession was going to be the public Confession of the British church, but would not be imposed by a tight subscription. While such an idea would not have been acceptable in Scotland it was a position some of the English divines held. On this supposition the Amyraldians would not have been able to teach against the Confession but might have held their own views as private opinions. At any rate, the terms of the Adopting Act in Scotland leave no doubt that Amyraldianism is excluded as an option for strict subscribers.

    Recent Criticisms of the Westminster Confession of Faith
  26. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Perhaps this isn't the thread to discuss it, but I couldn't disagree with you more strongly than I do. Justification is an act that takes place in time and not in eternity past, I'm not particularly concerned as to how you decide to slice it. Certainly it is utterly incompatible with the Confession - since the Confession spells out in no uncertain terms that justification is an act that takes place for each believer at a particular time in their lives. Quite honestly I thought that issue was dealt with already and closed in another thread.
  27. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior


    The quote you site is an old tired argument that has been used to get around the plain reading of the Standards as well as the plain reading of other Reformed Confessions. Yes there were Amyraldians at the Assembly along with Erastians and Independents. But just like the Amyraldians, the Erastians and Independents lost out (though the Church of Scotland thought that the sections about the magistrate were a little too Erastian). In fact the Independents went on to write their own Confession, the Savoy Declaration. Some have pointed out that the Standards was a concensus document. This is true as everyone who was there could vote on it. But this does not mean that the Standards are a "big tent" for every possible view that's out there.

    Some have argued that Burgess held the view of Baptismal Regeneration (which is hogwash) so Baptismal Regeneration is an acceptable view per the Standards. This can't be farther from the truth. Nowhere do the Standards even hint at Baptismal Regeneration.

    The idea that because Joe Puritan was at the Assembly therefore his views were acceptable regardless of what the Standards actually say is shear conjecture, which is what your article is. Since the Church of Scotland was the only church that fully accepted the Standards and the Standards went bye bye when the King was restored in England we have no idea what the Church of England would have or would not have allowed under the Standards.

    So Amyraldianism is out and is anti-confessional and anti-biblical.

    As far as eternal justification is concerned, this makes absolutely no sense at all. As has been noted the Standards and Scripture are clear as a bell. Note that in Ephesians Paul says that before they were saved they were children of wrath, outside of the covenant, without God! For Paul to make such statements he would have had to believe that prior to their effectual calling they were not justified in any sense of the word.

    Now I'm going to put my Super Moderator hat on.

    We have allowed discussions to go on regarding a number of subjects. Many have been very edifying and helpful to those who are new to the Reformed Faith. We have even allowed folks to ask questions about various doctrines so that they can come to a better understanding. But as Rich has noted above, questions are fine but rejections of established doctines that are apart of the Confessions that are articulated in the Board Rules is not going to be allowed.
  28. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I believe that without L there is no gospel so please do not assume that I am defending the view that Amyraldianism is confessional I was merely pointing out that I have been told that Amyraldians can sign up to it in good conscience. Indeed, if I recall correctly, the leading Amyraldian Dr A C Clifford signs upto the Three Forms of Unity. :handshake:
  29. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    I hear you Richard. I remember your posts from the last thread. Sorry if I came across as if I were coming down on you. Its just that I have heard this type of argument so many times that it makes my head spin!

    I don't know Dr. Clifford but I guess it just goes to show that one can rationalize away just about anything they want. Including pertinent sections of the Canons of Dordt.
  30. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Well, perhaps he does, but his signing up is absolutely worthless since the TFU (of all confessional standards) is the most explicit in its denunciation of Amyraldian doctrines. Just goes to show you how far people's wax-nose versions of confessional standards can be twisted. His claim to 'subscription' is simply a falsehood.
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