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. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

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

  2. terry72

    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.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2007
  3. terry72

    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)
  4. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    So, Terry, are you saying that John Calvin did NOT believe in limited atonement?
  5. terry72

    terry72 Puritan Board Freshman

    Some more John Calvin

    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.
  6. terry72

    terry72 Puritan Board Freshman


    I'm just posting some interesting quotes.

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  7. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

  8. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    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?
  9. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    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.
  10. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    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!
  11. terry72

    terry72 Puritan Board Freshman


    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
  12. terry72

    terry72 Puritan Board Freshman


    You said:

    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,
  13. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    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

  14. Andrew P.C.

    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.)

    Suggested Reading:
    John Calvin's view of Limited Atonement
  15. JohnOwen007

    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.
  16. Semper Fidelis

    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?
  17. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear Rich,

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

    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.

    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.
  18. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    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.


  19. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    My prayers are with you that you'll sleep. :pray2:
  20. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    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 Peter 2:1-3

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

    Calvin DID NOT teach general redemption in these two texts.
  21. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    Roger Nicole and Paul Helm do a great job at showing that Calvin was a Calvinist.
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    :lol: :up:
  23. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    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).
  24. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    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.
  25. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    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.
  26. Jim Johnston

    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.
  27. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    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.

    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.
  28. C. Matthew McMahon

    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.
  29. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  30. DMcFadden

    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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