Is Amyraldianism (4-point Calvinism) Confessional?

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toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Seems to me Clifford is just a buffoon. Here's a letter that shows his belief system:

The Editor, English Churchman
6 June 2000
Sir, - In an otherwise valuable sermon (parts of which I thank him for), the Revd Edward J. Malcolm has supplied some highly flawed information ('The Death of Christ', The Journal, May 2000, pp. 23-8). I refer to his dubious assessment of Amyraldianism. Concerned to reaffirm John Calvin's authentic teaching in the face of ultra-orthodox 'high' Calvinism', the French Reformed theologian, Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664) also distanced himself from semi-Pelagian Arminianism. His concern was to avoid unbiblical extremism. Had his teaching been as compatible with Rome's as is suggested, the Edict of Nantes (1598) might possibly have stood. It was revoked by Louis XIV (in 1685) precisely because of the continuing incompatibilities between the Reformed churches and Rome! The internal Reformed debates over the extent of the atonement had nothing to do with it (for further information, see my book Calvinus: Authentic Calvinism, A Clarification).

As for the Huguenot refugees who settled in this country [England], those who agreed with Amyraut simply reinforced the original sixteenth-century 'Anglican Calvinism' of the Prayer Book and the Thirty-nine Articles (see Arts. 2, 15 and 31). Notwithstanding clear teaching on predestination (see Art. 17), the doctrine of limited atonement is as alien to Reformation Anglicanism as it is to the teaching of Amyraut and Calvin. In the seventeenth century, scholastic influences in Reformed theology affected this country as well as France. Thus the 'over-orthodox' distorted Calvinism of Dr John Owen and many (but not all) of the Westminster divines was rejected by Richard Baxter and others. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the balanced biblicism of Calvin, the other Reformers, Amyraut and Baxter was maintained by the Nonconformists Matthew Henry, Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge, and the Anglicans John Newton, Charles Simeon and Bishop Ryle. While I regret Ryle's espousal of episcopacy, his authentic Calvinism is unquestionably on target! According to this view of the New Testament, while ultimately only the elect effectually partake of salvation, the universally designed and sufficient atonement of Christ makes the gospel available to the whole world. This is true Christianity and true Calvinism!

A C Clifford
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
John Calvin

"Behold our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory, abased himself for a time, as says S. Paul Now if there were no more but this, that he being the fountain of life, became a moral man, and that he having dominion over the angels of heaven, took upon him the shape of a servant, yea even to shed his blood for our redemption, and in the end to suffer the curse that was due unto us (Gal 3:13): were it convenient that notwithstanding all this, he should nowadays in recompense be torn to pieces, by stinking mouths of such as name themselves Christians? For when they swear by his blood, by his death, by his wounds and by whatsoever else: is it not a crucifying of God's son again as much as in them lies, and as a rending of him in pieces? And are not such folk worthy to be cut of from God's Church, yea, and even from the world, and to be no more numbered in the array of creatures? Should our Lord Jesus have such reward at our hands, for his abasing and humbling of himself after that manner? (Mich 6:30) God in upbraiding his people says thus: My people, what have I done to you? I have brought you out of Egypt, I have led you up with all gentleness and loving-kindness, I have planted you as it were in my own inheritance, to the intent you should have been a vine that should have brought me forth good fruit, and I have tilled thee and manured thee: and must thou now be bitter to me, and bring forth sower fruit to choke me withal? The same belongs to us at this day. For when the Son of God, who is ordained to be judge of the world (John 5:22), shall come at the last day: he may well say to us: how now Sirs? You have borne my name, you have been baptised in remembrance of me and record that I was your redeemer, I have drawn you out of the dungeons where into you were plunged, I delivered you from endless death by suffering most cruel death myself, and for the same cause I became man, and submitted myself even to the curse of GOD my father, that you might be blessed by my grace and by my means: and behold the reward that you have yielded me for all this, is that you have (after a sort) torn me in pieces and made a jestingstock of me, and the death that I suffered for you has been made a mockery among you, the blood which is the washing and cleansing of your souls has been as good as trampled under your feet, and to be short, you have taken occasion to ban and blaspheme me, as though I had been some wretched and cursed creature. When the sovereign judge shall charge us with these things, I pray you will it not be as thundering upon us, to ding us down to the bottom of hell? Yes: and yet are there very few that think upon it."
Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 33, 5:11, p., 196.
 
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terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
John Calvin

“Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all.” (Institutes Book 2, Chapter 13, paragraph 3)
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
Some more John Calvin

Jude 4. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
John Calvin's Commentary on the last Clause:

The 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. That Christ, then, may retain us as his peculiar treasure, me must remember that he died and rose again for us, that he might have dominion over our life and death.
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
Todd,

I'm just posting some interesting quotes.

Blessings,
Terry
 
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toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Todd,

I'm just posting some interesting quotes.

Blessings,
Terry
Seems to me that these are far from merely "interesting quotes". Your blog indicates your position with respect to John Calvin and the people for whom Christ's death was given. Why not be equally transparent here about what that position is?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
“Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all.” (Institutes Book 2, Chapter 13, paragraph 3)
This particular quote is completely a-contextual if it were used to demonstrate that Calvin is trying to imply a universal atonement. The point of Calvin is driving at is that Christ is truly human and that, when Luke quotes Christ's geneology he goes back to Adam to show that Christ is the savior of the world and not the Jews only.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
“Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all.” (Institutes Book 2, Chapter 13, paragraph 3)
This particular quote is completely a-contextual if it were used to demonstrate that Calvin is trying to imply a universal atonement. The point of Calvin is driving at is that Christ is truly human and that, when Luke quotes Christ's geneology he goes back to Adam to show that Christ is the savior of the world and not the Jews only.
Exactly... and if Calvin were not making the point that Rich elucidates above, we're left only with the alternative that not only was Calvin a teacher of Amyraldian soteriology, but that he was a thorough-going universalist!
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
Semper,

I am posting these interesting quotes from Calvin in light of Todd calling Clifford a buffoon. Now, I don't know anything about Clifford, I've never read him, but in light of some of the interesting language that Calvin uses in just these few quotes alone, it shows that Calvin isn't as easily understood as some would like him to be. So, based on what Todd quoted from Clifford one can hardly call him a buffoon, because whether or not Clifford can absolutely make the case suggested in Todd's quote, he at the very least has an argument that must be taken seriously enough that it just can't be dismissed with the wave of the hand.

So, these quotes are just as relevant to the thread as the Clifford quote, in my opinion.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
Todd,

You said:

Why not be equally transparent here about what that position is?
I'm not trying to be less than transparent. Sometimes I think it is beneficial to just let a quote stand for itself and let the person reading it doing the thinking.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Todd,

You said:

Why not be equally transparent here about what that position is?
I'm not trying to be less than transparent. Sometimes I think it is beneficial to just let a quote stand for itself and let the person reading it doing the thinking.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry
Just so the board doesn't have to wonder, I will be very transparent with this statement: Terry is suspended because I believe he is an Amyraldian.

See here: The Reformed Christian Muse » Blog Archive » Christ’s Represenation of THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE in His Substitutionary Death

Dean,

The context of the Calvin quote is his argument for the true human nature of Christ in the incarnation. This fits perfectly into a “Chalcedonian” representation of all the whole human race. I want you to notice in the following quotes how Calvin is explicit about the WHOLE HUMAN RACE and all members thereof (without exception) being those for whom Christ substituted for in His death. Any honest appreciation of the following commentary on Isaiah 53 will show that Calvin was not working with the later Protestant Scholastic categories (what we today view as “Owenic” categories).
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Todd,

You said:

Why not be equally transparent here about what that position is?
I'm not trying to be less than transparent. Sometimes I think it is beneficial to just let a quote stand for itself and let the person reading it doing the thinking.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry
Unfortunately, since I've discussed this issue with you multiple times, you only quote Calvin when it bests suits your position. (Which I contend, are out of context.)

Suggested Reading:
John Calvin's view of Limited Atonement
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Amyraut Misunderstood

Dear folks there is much that is misunderstood about all things Amyraut.

The doyen of Protestant Scholasticism, Richard Muller, argues that Amyraut, his mentor John Cameron, and the School of Saumur generally, had a doctrine of the atonement that was within the confessional boundaries of the Reformed tradition (especially Dort). Here is one quote from a recent article about John Cameron from Muller:
"This [Cameron's covenantal] pattern has major implications for understanding the Salmurian soteriology. It indicates a covenantal or federal continuity with Reformed predestinarianism that has been left unexamined in discussions of hypothetical universalism. Against, Moltmann's assessment, it offers an element of the Salmurian theology that presses it away from rather than toward Arminianism; and against Armstrong's thesis, it demonstrates the point, recognized even by seventeenth-century opponents of Amyralidianism like Francis Turretin, namely, that views of Cameron and his Salmurian successors were not heresy and, like it or not, were consciously framed to stand within the confessionalism of the Canons of Dort. In the specific case of Cameron's covenantal thought, it ought to be understood not as a protest against various developments in Reformed theology but rather an integral part of the rather fluid and variegated history of early Reformed covenantal thought." ("John Cameron and Covenant Theology" in MJT 17 (2006):36-37)

Muller also draws this conclusion in volume 4 of his Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.

To say that Amyraut is a 4 point Calvinist is unhelpful. He (and Cameron) affirmed that Christ's death actually secured the redemption of the elect completely, but also affirmed that Christ's death made all people saveable. That was the classic interpretation of Peter Lombard's formula, "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect". John Owen, of course, provided another way to interpret the formula.

People who held views very similar to Amyraut before Amyraut (like John Davenant, Samuel Ward etc.) were at Dort, and could sign off on the canons with good conscience.

Moreover, people like Edmund Calamy (Richard Vines and Lazarus Seaman) who also held views akin to Amyraut were not only present at the Westminster Assembly but could also sign it with no conscience problems.

All these folks believed that Christ's death infallibly secured the salvation of the elect. It's just that they also believed Christ's death made all people saveable. The basic complaint about why they held to both ideas was that it was illogical. The reason why they held their views was because they wanted to make sense of all scriptural data, whether it appeared illogical or not, especially those passages that seemed to suggest Christ's death made all saveable such as 1 John 2:2; John 3:16; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 Cor. 8:11; 1 Tim. 4:10 etc.

A good theology is designed to explain all parts of scripture not explain away some parts of Scripture.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
OK Marty, unhelpful definitions aside, let me ask you a plain question: Do you believe that those who have a theology that oppose Amyraldianism are designed to explain away some parts of Scripture that Amyraut did not? Do you essentially agree with Amyraut?
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear Rich,

It seems you're throwing down the gauntlet before me? I'm happy to respond.

OK Marty, unhelpful definitions aside, let me ask you a plain question: Do you believe that those who have a theology that oppose Amyraldianism are designed to explain away some parts of Scripture that Amyraut did not?
No definitely not (if I understand your question aright). It seems to me that all sides are wanting to make the best sense of Scripture. I have no doubt in my mind about this. However, I (personally) find some of the explanations of certain verses from the high Calvinist camp very strained indeed, particularly in the verse's context.

One example: John Owen is probably my favourite theologian, but I really struggle with his construal of "saviour" (soter) in 1 Tim. 4:10 as "sustainer". The word never means that in the Pastoral Epistles, nor (as far as I can find) in the Pauline corpus. I think responsible exegesis must conclude soter means "saviour". How then do we make sense of this, in light of Christ's particular atonement is altogether another question. Read on.

Do you essentially agree with Amyraut?
Nope. There is much about Amyraut's theology with which I struggle. I strongly affirm that Christ infallibly secured the salvation of the elect on the cross. What else could Rev. 5:9 mean (the most compelling verse in my own opinion for particular redemption)?

However, to be frank, I don't quite know how to harmonize this with certain verses in the NT (like 1 Tim. 4:10). Amyraut's solution (with his ordering of the decrees) seems to me to be quite flawed. Charles Hodge's distinction (followed by Dabney) between penal and pecuniary justice, I think, is the best explanation that copes with most of the NT data. But it still leaves me dissatisified.

Thanks for your questions Rich, God bless you brother.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Dear Rich,

It seems you're throwing down the gauntlet before me? I'm happy to respond.

OK Marty, unhelpful definitions aside, let me ask you a plain question: Do you believe that those who have a theology that oppose Amyraldianism are designed to explain away some parts of Scripture that Amyraut did not?
No definitely not (if I understand your question aright). It seems to me that all sides are wanting to make the best sense of Scripture. I have no doubt in my mind about this. However, I (personally) find some of the explanations of certain verses from the high Calvinist camp very strained indeed, particularly in the verse's context.

One example: John Owen is probably my favourite theologian, but I really struggle with his construal of "saviour" (soter) in 1 Tim. 4:10 as "sustainer". The word never means that in the Pastoral Epistles, nor (as far as I can find) in the Pauline corpus. I think responsible exegesis must conclude soter means "saviour". How then do we make sense of this, in light of Christ's particular atonement is altogether another question. Read on.

Do you essentially agree with Amyraut?
Nope. There is much about Amyraut's theology with which I struggle. I strongly affirm that Christ infallibly secured the salvation of the elect on the cross. What else could Rev. 5:9 mean (the most compelling verse in my own opinion for particular redemption)?

However, to be frank, I don't quite know how to harmonize this with certain verses in the NT (like 1 Tim. 4:10). Amyraut's solution (with his ordering of the decrees) seems to me to be quite flawed. Charles Hodge's distinction (followed by Dabney) between penal and pecuniary justice, I think, is the best explanation that copes with most of the NT data. But it still leaves me dissatisified.

Thanks for your questions Rich, God bless you brother.
Thank you for answering plainly.

I'm going to try to go back to bed now. I'm in the United States for a week and I can't sleep. Slept like a rock last night out of pure exhaustion but tried hitting the rack at 10:30 pm and had to get back up at midnight. It's 1:46 am now so I'll hopefully be able to sleep.

Blessings!

Rich
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Unfortunately, since I've discussed this issue with you multiple times, you only quote Calvin when it bests suits your position. (Which I contend, are out of context.)
So I dont have to "hunt" you guys down...


By the request of Tony:

I have spoken to Terry about certain passages that HE contends teach general redemption. Let me quote from his favorite commentator.

1 John 2:2
2. And not for ours only. He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.

Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ 1 suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.

2 Peter 2:1-3
1. But there were. As weak consciences are usually very grievously and dangerously shaken, when false teachers arise, who either corrupt or mutilate the doctrine of faith, it was necessary for the Apostle, while seeking to encourage the faithful to persevere, to remove out of the way an offense of this kind. He, moreover, comforted those to whom he was writing, and confirmed them by this argument, that God has always tried and proved his Church by such a temptation as this, in order that novelty might not disturb their hearts. "Not different," he says, "will be the condition of the Church under the gospel, from what it was formerly under the law; false prophets disturbed the ancient Church; the same thing must also be expected by us."

It was necessary expressly to shew this, because many imagined that the Church would enjoy tranquillity under the rein of Christ; for as the prophets had promised that at his coming there would be real peace, the highest degree of heavenly wisdom, and the full restoration of all things, they thought that the Church would be no more exposed to any contests. Let us then remember that the Spirit of God hath once for all declared, that the Church shall never be free from this intestine evil; and let this likeness be always borne in mind, that the trial of our faith is to be similar to that of the fathers, and for the same reason -- that in this way it may be made evident, whether we really love God, as we find it written in Deuteronomy 13:3.

But it is not necessary here to refer to every example of this kind; it is enough, in short, to know that, like the fathers, we must contend against false doctrines, that our faith ought by no means to be shaken on account of discords and sects, because the truth of God shall remain unshaken notwithstanding the violent agitations by which Satan strives often to upset all things.

Observe also, that no one time in particular is mentioned by Peter, when he says there shall be false teachers, but that all ages are included; for he makes here a comparison between Christians and the ancient people. We ought, then, to apply this truth to our own time, lest, when we see false teachers rising up to oppose the truth of God, this trial should break us down. But the Spirit reminds us, in order that we may take the more heed; and to the same purpose is the whole description which follows.

He does not, indeed, paint each sect in its own colors, but particularly refers to profane men who manifested contempt towards God. The ,advice, indeed, is general, that we ought to beware of false teachers; but, at the same time, he selected one kind of such from whom the greater danger arose. What is said here will hereafter become more evident from the words of Jude, who treats exactly of the same subject.

Who privily shall bring in. By these words he points out the craftiness of Satan, and of all the ungodly who militate under his banner, that they would creep in by oblique turnings, as through burrows under ground. 1 The more watchful, then, ought the godly to be, so that they may escape their hidden frauds: for however they may insinuate themselves, they cannot circumvent those who are carefully vigilant.

He calls them opinions of perdition, or destructive opinions, that every one, solicitous for his salvation, might dread such opinions as the most noxious pests. As to the word opinions or heresies, it has not, without reason, been always deemed infamous and hateful by the children of God; for the bond of holy unity is the simple truth. As soon as we depart from that, nothing remains but dreadful discord.

Even denying the Lord that bought them. 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. Hence, that the doctrine of the gospel may remain whole and complete among us, let this be fixed in our minds, that we have been redeemed by Christ, that he may be the Lord of our life and of our death, and that our main object ought to be, to live to him and to die to him. He then says, that their swift destruction was at hand, lest others should be ensnared by them. 2

2. And many shall follow. It is, indeed, no slight offense to the weak, when they see that false doctrines are received by the common consent of the world, that a large number of men are led astray, so that few continue in true obedience to Christ. So, at this day, there is nothing that more violently disturbs pious minds than such a defection. For hardly one in ten of those who have once made a profession of Christ, retains the purity of faith to the end. Almost all turn aside into corruptions, and being deluded by the teachers of licentiousness, they become profane. Lest this should make our faith to falter, Peter comes to our help, and in due time foretells that this very thing would be, that is, that false teachers would draw many to perdition.

But there is a double reading even in the Greek copies; for some read, "lasciviousness," and others, "perdition." I have, however, followed what has been mostly approved. 3

By reason of whom the way of truth. This I consider to have been said for this reason, because as religion is adorned when men are taught to fear God, to maintain uprightness of life, a chaste and virtuous conduct, or when at least the mouth of the wicked is closed, that they do not speak evil of the gospel; so when the reins are let loose, and every kind of licentiousness is practiced, the name and the doctrine of Christ are exposed to the reproaches of the ungodly. Others give a different explanation -- that these false teachers, like filthy dogs, barked at sound doctrine. But the words of Peter appear to me on the contrary to intimate, that these would give occasion to enemies insolently to assail the truth of God. Though then they would not themselves assail the Christian faith with calumnies, yet they would arm others with the means of reproaching it.

3. With feigned words. Peter endeavors by all means to render the faithful displeased with ungodly teachers, that they might resist them more resolutely and more constantly. It is especially an odious thing that we should be exposed to sale like vile slaves. But he testifies that this is done, when any one seduces us from the redemption of Christ. He calls those feigned words which arc artfully formed for the purpose of deceiving. 4 Unless then one is so mad as to sell the salvation of his soul to false teachers, let him close up every avenue that may lead to their wicked inventions. For the same purpose as before he repeats again, that their destruction delayed not, that is, that he might frighten the good from their society. For since they were given up to a sudden destruction, every one who connected himself with them, must have perished with them.

Keep in consideration the previous commentary of on the first chapter.

Calvin DID NOT teach general redemption in these two texts.
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Roger Nicole and Paul Helm do a great job at showing that Calvin was a Calvinist.
Well, I must confess that I remain unconvinced of their reading of Calvin. To be frank, I think it's very difficult to harmonize all that Calvin says when it comes to the extent of the atonement. It's all too easy to read later categories developed back into Calvin.

Was Calvin a Calvinist? The question has often been caste in the wrong categories. On one hand it's clear that the theology of Calvin is not identical to the WCF. We must take into account development in the reformed tradition. However, on the other hand, the WCF's theology is not a betrayal of Calvin (as many are want to say).
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Roger Nicole and Paul Helm do a great job at showing that Calvin was a Calvinist.
Well, I must confess that I remain unconvinced of their reading of Calvin. To be frank, I think it's very difficult to harmonize all that Calvin says when it comes to the extent of the atonement. It's all too easy to read later categories developed back into Calvin.

Was Calvin a Calvinist? The question has often been caste in the wrong categories. On one hand it's clear that the theology of Calvin is not identical to the WCF. We must take into account development in the reformed tradition. However, on the other hand, the WCF's theology is not a betrayal of Calvin (as many are want to say).
Both sides would be guilty or reading into Calvin, at worst.

I think it is possibly difficult to harmonize Calvin, when we try to harmonize him with our categories of thought and ways of speaking.

As far as Nicole and Helm (there are others, too), I think that not only are the hermeneutical arguments from Calvin's works a very plausible construal, I think they make the best sense out of the historical facts as well. The lack of debates one would think the followers of Calvin and the followers of Beza would have got into, etc. There argument is broader than just reading Calvin's *words.* It's here that I think they win the war. Their case can be used as an abductive argument.
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
As far as Nicole and Helm (there are others, too), I think that not only are the hermeneutical arguments from Calvin's works a very plausible construal, I think they make the best sense out of the historical facts as well. The lack of debates one would think the followers of Calvin and the followers of Beza would have got into, etc. There argument is broader than just reading Calvin's *words.* It's here that I think they win the war. Their case can be used as an abductive argument.
Yes, it's certainly true that the argument is broader than Calvin's words. However, I'm far from convinced about the history. Many reformers of Calvin's generation (Musculus, Vermigli, Bullinger, Viret) were making the same noises about the extent of the atonement. It was after this generation that the debates began in earnest, particularly with the rise of the remonstrants, and hence the supposed rough edges of the earlier tradition began to be smoothed out (for good or ill), along with other issues.

The fact of the matter is that all positions after Calvin appealed to Calvin to vindicate their position, especially men like Davenant and Amyraut. Indeed, Dort's final canons were formulated to allow enough latitude on the extent of the atonement for people like Ward and Davenant to sign in good conscience as well as Gomarus. Helm, Nicole et. al. don't give enough credence to this.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hem, Nicole, et. al. don't give credence to that because it's false. A believer in unlimited atonement would not have written Dordt that way. It says nothing about Christ dying for every single man, it only says he died for the sheep. Thus Dordt:

"In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle."

And so at best universalists who signed on agreed to not a universal atonement, but a superfluous atonement. Any universalist who can call the atonement for non-elect superfluous is a strange universalist indeed!

All of Calvin's so-called universalist passages can be easily interpreted in a way other than universalism, but there are other passages of his that the universalist cannot so easily live with. “I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins.”

Anyway, at the end of the day, the real question is if universalism is supported by Scripture. The death of Christ was the death of a high priest for his people. Scripture knows of no other death. The very intelligibility of the death are the preconditions set out in the OT. Every atonement was always and only made for Israelites. To say Jesus died for those who he was not priest over is totally foreign to Scripture. To say he did die for all men as their priest gets you to universal salvation. Jesus interceded for all those he dies for. All he interceded for go to heaven. All those he died for go to heaven. It is interesting indeed that the longest teaching on the atonement in the NT (Hebrews) only teaches a particular atonement! Nary a word of universalism. Things that make universalists go hmmmm.
 

JohnOwen007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hem, Nicole, et. al. don't give credence to that because it's false. A believer in unlimited atonement would not have written Dordt that way.
I'm not sure what you mean by "unlimited atonement" here (and misunderstandings about the extent of the atonement in the reformed tradition are legion), but Davenant and co. would have eschewed holding to something like that. They believed that Christ secured the complete salvation of the elect in his death (including their faith). However, they also believed that Christ's death had reference to all humanity, but in a different sense to that of the elect.

It says nothing about Christ dying for every single man, it only says he died for the sheep.
Precisely. They didn't make a ruling on it but left it open and this enabled Davenant and co. to sign in good faith. They could well affirm:

Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death
This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Article 6: Unbelief Man's Responsibility
However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent or believe in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross is deficient or insufficient, but because they themselves are at fault.


Davenant argued later that Dort taught: Christ died sufficiently for all and efficiently for the elect. He believed that was the best way to make sense of all the Biblical data.

Whether he's right is another matter. But it's critical to understand the various views in the reformed tradition, not least those at Dort.

BTW for a variety of perspectives on Calvin's quote to Heshusius you cited try here, here, and here (to name a few). I don't want to specifically take it up because it's been done to death in the past.

God bless TomB.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Persoanlly speaking, I think it is threads like this that seem to cloud the issue more than help.
For example, before I'd throw up a gaunlet to "sorta kinda" rescue Amyraut (??) from being "heretical" or even in "grave error", I be exceedingly well versed in exegetically knowing my position on the "hard texts". In other words, before I became a good historical theologian, I'd be a good Christian and exegete.

I had the unique pleasure of having Dr. Nicole as my mentor in seminary. His collection of original Amyraut books is the best in the world, and his knowledge of Calvin verses Calvinius kinds of theology is his forte.

I personally had some exstensive conversations at the hands of Amyraut's original works with Nicole, and find his conclusion to his lifelong study of those works as a great comfort to knowing that I had not gone historically or biblically astray with the notions surrounding Christ's death.

He said,"If of all the points in TULIP I had to give up save one, I would not give up the "L". It is the lynchpin to imputation, justification and atonement in every respect. It is that Jesus died for ME."

Personally, after doing my own Master's Thesis on Arminius and his theology, including the ol' 4 pointer question, I believe that historically and theologically there is a 95% ratio of good theologians over 5% of bad theologians like Amyraut. In other words, those who are spending time reading Amyraut are wasting precious days. Read something more worthwhile.

In terms of biblical theology and exegesis, Amyraut was downright wrong in his conclusions. If the Scriptures are contradictory in any sense of the word, then, 1) they are not of God, and 2) they can't help me because I'm persoanlly more logical than a book "supposedly" inspired by God, and that would call into question the veracity of the Bible.

Instead, what I need to be in the first place is ABLE to deal hermenuetically with those passages that seem hard (but aren't). It just means I need to be a better exegete instead of taking other people's word that the passages are hard. Then I will find out, later, that history is in agreement with good interpretation, and threads and discussion like these "go away" rather quickly.

As for the Westminsterian and Reformed confessions, its a bit funny to see that those in those assemblies conformed to a Reformed interpretation, instead of adding extra clauses or exceptions. They signed THOSE documents, not others.

I'm happy to say, that the Refrmed confessions demonstrate a solid 5 point position. Its helpful on those to read surounding documents of the position given. One would find and overwhelming majority of works dedicated to the Christian (Calvinistic) faith in that regard.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Dr. Curt Daniel is known for his dissertation on Hypercalvinism, having devoted seven years in Edinburgh to the exhaustive study of it for a PhD. However, he makes some interesting observations apropos the questions in this thread about Amyraldians.

A. In subsequent centuries, the debates continued. There have been representatives of all these variations. One of the main ones has been slightly lower than Owen (High) and slightly higher than Davenant (Low). Respecting the extent of the atonement, this moderate school would agree that there are benefits in the atonement for the non-elect, such as common grace.

This universal aspect is said by some to underlie the universal offer of the Gospel. Still, there are benefits of the atonement only for the elect, namely salvation and faith. This is basically the position of Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd and R.B. Kuiper. It probably does best justice to the Reformed view of election and those Biblical passages pointing to the special intent of the atonement.

B. Amyraldians and other Low Calvinists are still Calvinists. Highs might pointout that they are inconsistent Calvinists. Perhaps that is so, especially when they toy with Hypothetical Universal ism. On the other hand, there are many who consider themselves “Four Point Calvinists” who are not even that high. Many who say they are 4-Point are 3-point or less. In the final tally, what matters is, “What saith the Scriptures?”


As one who spent many years in the 4 pt. camp, I have NO desire to return (and thus feel quite comfortable with the confessional boundaries of this board). However, neither would I consign them to the outter darkness either.
 
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