Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism

by drbeck on August 6, 2010

Six months ago I picked up Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism by Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot and Dr. Gary Crampton, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading this little gem of a book.

Dr. Talbot and Dr. Crampton’s work is a “theological primer”, which means it’s an introductory work on the subject, giving a general overview of Calvinism. While it may not go as deep as other works on Calvinism, it is one of the best starting places I’ve read through. If you’re not sure which of these three groups you fit into, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, or Arminianism, I highly recommend reading this book. If you’re a Christian, you’re going to lean towards one of these teachings, so you might as well be conversant in the terminology and Bibles verses that are part of the debate. Not to mention the fact that last year Time magazine named “The New Calvinism” as one of “The Top 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now“. Therefore any time spent on discovering what the Bible says about these doctrines is time well spent.

The authors clearly explain their objectives early on in the book (p. 18), followed up by a quote from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon.

It is our intention to show that the historical faith of the Christian Church is that system of theology which is commonly known as Calvinism. And that it is the only which is consistent with the Word of God. Charles Spurgeon writes:

I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called.

The authors lay out the 5 main points of Calvinism and devote a short chapter to each. Along the way, the authors contrast the beliefs of Calvnism with those of Arminianism. Other chapters are devoted to the topics of the sovereignty of God, Divine Providence, “Is God the author of sin?”, and a final chapter summarizing the three viewpoints mentioned in the title. Each chapter is followed by 5-6 questions which allow you to explore your beliefs on the different doctrines presented.

Occassionally, Hyper-Calvinism comes up, but the majority of the book focuses on Calvinism vs Arminianism. The authors do make a good point on page 20 saying that many who attack the doctrines of Calvinism do so under the guise of calling it “Hyper-Calvinism”. And unless one has a working knowledge of the main points, this type of attack is very ineffective.

Having done quite a bit of in-depth study on Calvinism and Arminianism the past year, I particularly found chapter 5 “the Atonement of Christ” helpful in summarizing the main viewpoints found in Christianity.

The question before us is this: “For whom did Christ die?” There are only four possible answers:

1) Christ died for all of the sins of all men: if this is the correct answer to our question, then, of necessity, all men will be saved. This is inescapable…This is the doctrine of Universalism, which the Word of God refutes. Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:11-15, and other passages as well, speak of a final judgment when some will be sent to hell (see especially Matthew 25:41,46).

2) He died for some of the sins of all men: if this is the answer, then all men must pay the price for those sins which were not atoned for in the death of Christ. Yet, the Bible teaches that just one sin against an eternal God is worthy of eternal punishment (James 2:10, Galatians 3:10).

3) He died for none of the sins of all men: if this is the case, then obviously no one could possibly be saved. Again, every sin of every saved person must be atoned for.

4) He died for all of the sins of some men: this is the only conceivable answer. We have seen that the Bible teaches this view of the atonement of Christ over and over again. Those for whom Christ died, and they alone, will be saved. They are the ones whom the Father has chosen from all eternity (Ephesians 1:4; they are the ones whom the Spirit regenerates and seals (Titus 3:5-6; Ephesians 1:13-14); they are the ones whom the Son redeems (Ephesians 1:7).

The three appendices are nice additions to the book, especially the essay entitled “A Display of Arminianism” by 17th century theologian John Owen. Owen is not always easy reading, but this short essay gives the reader a view into the mind of one of Christianity’s best theologians. (I’m looking forward to reading more of Owen’s works in the coming year, Lord willing.)

I do have two small critiques. The first is that the authors rarely explained where the views of hyper-Calvinism differed with Calvinism itself. Granted, the major errors of hyper-Calvinism were brought out where necessary, but more could have been said in my opinion. Seeing as this term in included in the title, and the fact many of Calvinism’s attackers wrongly classify it as the “hyper” variety, it would have been nice to have a sharper contrast between the two.

The second critique is that a couple of the chapters felt incomplete. Had I been completely new to the views and terminology presented in the book, I could see where I might have been left with some unanswered questions at the end of each chapter. But alas the authors do label it as only a primer so answers to deeper questions must be found in more detailed works.

Overall the book was well written and highly recommended for beginners on this topic. Even if you’re well versed on the subject you will find much use in the short summary, which can be helpful in explaining it to others.

{ 21 comments }

1 David October 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

hey there,

Thanks for stopping by the C&C site.

If you take premise 1 there from your argument, the assumption is that God cannot demand a second punishment for the same sin and guilt. However, of you check out this link: Double Payment/Double Jeopardy Fallacy you will see Charles Hodge, RL Dabney and Shedd refute this double payment argument as claimed by Owen and others.

Thanks,
David

2 Michael Beck October 16, 2010 at 1:46 am

Hi David,

Point 1 above is based on the fact that God demands that justice be served, and sin against God does demand eternal punishment because He is an eternal being. If Christ atoned for the sins of everyone who has ever lived, then everyone that ever lived will be saved.

Shedd’s quotes that you have in no way deny this. The first quote only deals with vicarious atonement, which is not the same issue. Quote # 2 on Sheed actually helps prove point 1 above. That Christ suffered for every sin of a believer. Shedd held to a definite atonement, as evidenced numerous times in his Dogmatic Theology.

Dabney also held strongly to a definite atonement, as you can see here: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/dabney/5points.htm#l

C. Hodge said, “We reason that the death of Jesus Christ was an actual substitution. A real transaction took place. “The sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible; it was the ground of their actual condemnation. So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought” (Charles Hodge, Ibid., pp. 551-552).

While they may have not fully understand Owen’s pecuniary satisfaction, or they simply had issues with the analogy for other reasons, all three men you mention held to a definite (or particular) redemption.

3 David October 16, 2010 at 2:42 am

hey Michael

Michael: Point 1 above is based on the fact that God demands that justice be served, and sin against God does demand eternal punishment because He is an eternal being. If Christ atoned for the sins of everyone who has ever lived, then everyone that ever lived will be saved.

David: That only reasserts the same point, without any proof. C Hodge and Dabney rightly note that this only works on pecuniary assumptions but is not applicable in cases of penal satisfactions.

C Hodge: Charles Hodge on the Double Payment / Double Jeopardy Fallacy

Dabney: Dabney on the Double Payment Fallacy

Keep in mind that imputation is not transference. Christ is treated as though he were a sinner, all the while we remain sinners and the wrath of God remains on us. If we reject Christ, then the wrath continues to remain eternally.

Dabney also points to the fact that the living unbelieving elect are objects of wrath in life. That would be impossible if your assertion is correct.

Michael: Shedd’s quotes that you have in no way deny this. The first quote only deals with vicarious atonement, which is not the same issue. Quote # 2 on Sheed actually helps prove point 1 above. That Christ suffered for every sin of a believer. Shedd held to a definite atonement, as evidenced numerous times in his Dogmatic Theology.

David: To your first part I dont understand it. Shedd’s response was that double jeopardy, which is different to double payment, only holds when the same person can be punished twice. Shedd goes on to say that Christ made a vicarious satisfaction and atonement in behalf of all mankind.

Shedd was also part of the New England tradition which held that expiation/atonement was unlimited and universal, while redemption was particular. So no, Shedd saw no limitation in the nature of the atonement, only in its intention to apply.

Shedd: W.G.T. SHEDD (1820–1894), on the Death of Christ

Michael: Dabney also held strongly to a definite atonement, as you can see here: http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/dabney/5points.htm#l

[bold mine.]

David: Yeah I know that peace. You can see more of Dabney here: Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898) on Unlimited Expiation and Limited Redemption

Dabney, like Shedd, Gardiner Spring, Henry Smith and others of this tradition, held that the expiation was unlimited, made for every man, but redemption is limited. Dabney is clear that the atonement was a vicarious satisfaction for the sins of the world, paying the penal debt of the world. Even Phil Johnson, who hosts the site you refer to notes this about Phil. I know Phil and he is an old friend of mine. He disagrees with Dabney on that point. Go here for information on this: On the Distinction Between Atonement and Redemption

Michael: C. Hodge said, “We reason that the death of Jesus Christ was an actual substitution. A real transaction took place. “The sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible; it was the ground of their actual condemnation. So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought” (Charles Hodge, Ibid., pp. 551-552).

David: Yeah, but that’s not Hodge’s complete story. 1) Read him on imputation, no transference of sin. 2)Regarding “possibility” Hodge says that the expiation A) removes the legal barriers between God and all men, thereby making the salvation of all men possible, AND B) secures the salvation of the elect. However, this security is effected by the work of the Spirit enacting the terms of the Covenant of Redemption. The death itself does not ipso facto save anyone. Hodge was refuting those who said all that the atonement did was to merely make a man savable. Hodge agreed but wanted to say more. But in doing so, he never limits the nature of the expiation. Its unlimited, indefinite, for the sins of all men. And he could say this because he had rejected the quantification view of imputation. All the sin which condemned any one man, was all the same sin that condemned any other one man, and so on. Christ bore all the sin due to one and, and so bore the same sin due to all men. This is a qualitative view of imputation.

C Hodge: This objection again arises from confounding a pecuniary and a judicial satisfaction between which Augustinians are so careful to discriminate. This distinction has already been presented on a previous page. There is no grace in accepting a pecuniary satisfaction. It cannot be refused. It ipso facto liberates. The moment the debt is paid the debtor is free; and that without any condition. Nothing of this is true in the case of judicial satisfaction. If a substitute be provided and accepted it is a matter of grace. His satisfaction does not ipso facto liberate. It may accrue to the benefit of those for whom it is made at once or at a remote period; completely or gradually; on conditions or unconditionally; or it may never benefit them at all unless the condition on which its application is suspended be performed. These facts are universally admitted by those who hold that the work of Christ was a true and perfect satisfaction to divine justice. The application of its benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins. It is the stipulations of the covenant which forbid such a result. Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel. Lutherans and Reformed agree entirely, as before stated, in their views of the nature of the satisfaction of Christ, and consequently, so far as that point is concerned, there is the same foundation for the general offer of the gospel according to either scheme. What the Reformed or Augustinians hold about election does not affect the nature of the atonement. That remains the same whether designed for the elect or for all mankind. It does not derive its nature from the secret purpose of God as to its application C. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:557-8.

Michael: While they may have not fully understand Owen’s pecuniary satisfaction, or they simply had issues with the analogy for other reasons, all three men you mention held to a definite (or particular) redemption.

David: But look at what youve done there. Dabney, Shedd, Spring, Smith, and others, made a distinction between atonement (aka expiation) and redemption. We can disagree, but historically this is what they did. The atonement was unlimited, made for all men, a vicarious satisfaction for all the sins of all men. Redemption, however, was limited to the elect, and was the effectual application of the expiation, according to election.

In getting to that point, they rejected, and rightly so, Owen’s double payment dilemma. The view you operate by is that both atonement and redemption are limited in nature, design and extent. You are reading your view into Shedd and Dabney.

I would encourage you to think about what Dabney says, the fact that the living unbelieving elect are objects of wrath, itself, refutes the double payment notion. The only way to avoid this is to revert to some sort of idea that the elect were/are never objects/subjects of divine wrath. Yet this is exactly what led to hyper ideas of eternal justification.

Dabney: Nor would we attach any force to the argument, that if Christ made penal satisfaction for the sins of all, justice would forbid any to be punished. To urge this argument surrenders virtually the very ground on which the first Socinian objection was refuted, and is incompatible with the facts that God chastises justified believers, and holds elect unbelievers subject to wrath till they believe. Christ’s satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent, but only such a one as enables the Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit. The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over first in his Savior, and then in Him. See Hodge on Atonement, page 369. Dabney, Lectures, p., 521

The irony is that Dabney is right, historically the double payment argument was a Socinian argument, used against the Reformed.

Thanks and take care,
David

4 Michael Beck October 16, 2010 at 4:16 am

David, I’m not clear what your point is. All 3 men held a definite atonement, as is clear by their writings. If they had issues with Owen’s analogy of double punishment, so be it. No one is 100% consistent in their theology.

“Keep in mind that imputation is not transference. Christ is treated as though he were a sinner, all the while we remain sinners and the wrath of God remains on us. If we reject Christ, then the wrath continues to remain eternally.”

This is illogical. If you’re talking about about the non-elect, how can Christ take their sin but God still counts it against them? That is not satisfaction in any sense of the word. If you’re talking about a believer here, you are incorrect. Our sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to us.

“Dabney also points to the fact that the living unbelieving elect are objects of wrath in life.” Not objects of eternal wrath, as that would be illogical again. The fact unbeliever is elect means he will come to faith and be spared the wrath of God.

“I would encourage you to think about what Dabney says, the fact that the living unbelieving elect are objects of wrath, itself, refutes the double payment notion.”

See my point on this above. Definite atonement is not held up solely by the double payment analogy. It is held up by Scripture first, then logic.

“if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over first in his Savior, and then in Him”

If the elect person has not yet come to faith in Christ, this does not in any way affect Christ’s propitiation for that elect person on the cross. Christ died for all our sins, including unbelief. All the elect commit the sin of unbelief until the moment of regeneration. Imputation was not applied to all the elect in 33 A.D.

David, if you’re argument is to show that Shedd, Dabney and Hodge had some problems or misunderstanding with pecuniary satisfaction, I’ll give you that. But if you expect these 3 theologians to shoot down definite atonement simply based on there few difficult to interpret paragraphs, you need to build a bigger case.

It makes not sense to say God has an elect, then to say Christ died for the non-elect. What’s the point of election? To deny definite atonement you would need to deny election. In the Old Testament, did the high priest atone for the sins of every person in the world, or for God’s elect people?

5 David October 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Hey Michael,

Michael: David, I’m not clear what your point is. All 3 men held a definite atonement, as is clear by their writings. If they had issues with Owen’s analogy of double punishment, so be it. No one is 100% consistent in their theology.

David: That is the point Michael. All men held that the expiation is unlimited, made for every and all men. “Definite” only applies to specific and effectual intention to apply the expiation to some (and not all).

To this end, Dabney and Shedd held that the expiation (aka atonement) was universal and unlimited, but redemption was limited. Redemption was the expiation applied by this effectual intent to apply.

Old David” Keep in mind that imputation is not transference. Christ is treated as though he were a sinner, all the while we remain sinners and the wrath of God remains on us. If we reject Christ, then the wrath continues to remain eternally.

Michael: This is illogical. If you’re talking about about the non-elect, how can Christ take their sin but God still counts it against them? That is not satisfaction in any sense of the word. If you’re talking about a believer here, you are incorrect. Our sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to us.

David: Michael, thats the argument isnt it? You say its illogical, I say why? Why is it? You are just asserting it and then repeating that assertion. I dont find it illogical. Shedd, Dabney and C Hodge did not find it illogical. Many of the Reformers didnt find it illogical. So why should it be?

cut

Michael: See my point on this above. Definite atonement is not held up solely by the double payment analogy. It is held up by Scripture first, then logic.

David: Sure, I respect that you believe that. All I am saying here and now is that double payment itself was 1) rejected by men like C Hodge and Dabney, 2) and they rejected it because it only works on pecuniary assumptions and that with 3) some sort of transference of sin-acts. It fundamentally misunderstands the nature of imputation of sin.

Guilt is charged to Christ, as tho he were a sinner, all the while we remain sinners, doers of sin-actions. And as so we remain objects to the punishing wrath of God. Given this fact, as Dabney says, the double-payment argument is automatically refuted.

Michael: If the elect person has not yet come to faith in Christ, this does not in any way affect Christ’s propitiation for that elect person on the cross. Christ died for all our sins, including unbelief. All the elect commit the sin of unbelief until the moment of regeneration. Imputation was not applied to all the elect in 33 A.D.

David: But thats beside point. The double payment dilemma says God cannot punish the same sin twice, once in Christ and then again in the sinner. Right? Yet the very fact that the living unbelieving elect are objects of divine punishment–“even as the rest are…”–refutes the fundamental premise in the double payment dilemma.

And add to that, the double payment dilemma only works on what Trueman calls a crude commercial theory of the atonement. Once a debt or fine or bill is paid, by anyone, the creditor, or seller cannot demand a second payment at all. Right? Thats all true for a pecuniary satisfaction. But is it necessarily true for a penal satisfaction? C Hodge and Dabney rightly note that it is not.

Michael: David, if you’re argument is to show that Shedd, Dabney and Hodge had some problems or misunderstanding with pecuniary satisfaction, I’ll give you that. But if you expect these 3 theologians to shoot down definite atonement simply based on there few difficult to interpret paragraphs, you need to build a bigger case.

David: A few difficult paragraphs? This might help, can you point out those view difficult paragraphs and give an explanation. Perhaps working through them we might be able to see what they are saying, one way or the other/

Or from another angle, what in their writings, and here I specifically mean Shedd and Dabney, would you, could you point to, that evidences that they held to a limited nature of the expiation/atonement?

Michael: It makes not sense to say God has an elect, then to say Christ died for the non-elect.

David: Dont you see how that so appears to be human logic? How many times have you chided an Arminian for just asserting that such and such seems unreasonable, unfair or irrational? To be properly irrational, it would need to be a case of actual contradiction. What is illogical to say that Christ died for all as to the sufficiency of the expiation, but for the elect as to the efficiency of the expiation? Also, I assume you hold to the Trinity, hypostatic union, etc. We must be careful with our sensibilities as to what is and is not properly logical.

Do you believe in the free and well-meant offer of the Gospel? Do you believe in two-fold aspect of God’s will, do you believe in common grace, etc?

Michael: What’s the point of election?

David: The glory of God.

Micheal: To deny definite atonement you would need to deny election.

David: Why? Many many Calvinists rightly believe in the free offer. And yet many many hyper-calvinists insist that the free offer denies election. The answer to the hyper is the same to you. Now I have no idea what is your position on the free offer. I will assume you accept it.

Michael:In the Old Testament, did the high priest atone for the sins of every person in the world, or for God’s elect people?

David: Well there is your problem. The yearly sacrifice was for the whole nation, for all their people, all their sins, all their wickednesses. Do you believe the yearly sacrifice was only for the elect within the nation? Lev 16.

The argument you use here relies on a type-anti-type relationship. But its challengable at a few levels. One is that the yearly offering was made for all the sins of all the people of the nation of Israel. The type itself does not give you the specific limitation you need for your argument to work.

Hope that helps,
David

6 Michael Beck October 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Couple of points real quick, as I don’t want to add another blog post while commenting on a blog post. I plan to work through Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ” in the coming months. I’ll post here on it when I come to these arguments.

Logic: God invented logic, therefore it is not wrong to use logic. Only when it goes against what Scripture teaches does it become man made logic (Romans 1:19ff.)

Free offer of the Gospel: You appear to be misusing the word “free” here. Free as in we can pay nothing to earn our salvation. This is what most people mean when they use this phrase. You appear to use the phrase as in to say “the gospel was offered to everyone with the equal ability to respond”. This is Arminianism 101. Yes the gospel is offered to everyone and everyone who hears it does not repent and believe. Therefore, either this is part of God’s plan or man has indeed interrupted God’s plan of universal redemption.

“Michael, thats the argument isnt it? You say its illogical, I say why? Why is it? You are just asserting it and then repeating that assertion. I dont find it illogical. Shedd, Dabney and C Hodge did not find it illogical. Many of the Reformers didnt find it illogical. So why should it be?”

Which reformers denied a definite atonement? Arminius and Amraut are not considered “Reformers.” (cf. The Canons of Dordt)

7 David October 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Hey Michael,

You say: Logic: God invented logic, therefore it is not wrong to use logic. Only when it goes against what Scripture teaches does it become man made logic (Romans 1:19ff.)

David: Great, keep in mind that paradoxes are one thing and can be accepted, but flat out logical contradictions and invalid inferences are never acceptable and must always be rejected. So again that’s why Dabney’s challenge to the double-payment claim is so powerful.

Michael: Free offer of the Gospel: You appear to be misusing the word “free” here. Free as in we can pay nothing to earn our salvation. This is what most people mean when they use this phrase. You appear to use the phrase as in to say “the gospel was offered to everyone with the equal ability to respond”.

David: Not at all. Can you point me to the sentence which implied or entailed that? If you can, I will retract the sentence and clarify it. The free offer speaks to the 1) to God’s free favour and good-will in offering the salvation to sinners, and 2) that reception of this offer is free, costing nothing from us no work of merit, etc, but only faith.

Michael: This is Arminianism 101. Yes the gospel is offered to everyone and everyone who hears it does not repent and believe. Therefore, either this is part of God’s plan or man has indeed interrupted God’s plan of universal redemption.

David: Well I cant imagine where I implied that the free offer entails human liberty of indifference, and innate ability to embrace the gospel without divine effectual aid.

Michael: “Michael, thats the argument isnt it?

David: No, not at all. Its not the argument because I never implied that that I can think of. And if I did, I would readily retract or clarify it faster than you can blink.

Michael: Which reformers denied a definite atonement? Arminius and Amraut are not considered “Reformers.” (cf. The Canons of Dordt)

David: Michael, check out this page from my site: For Whom Did Christ Die?

You will see names like Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger, Musculus, Valdes, Gualther, Hooper, Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer, Marlorate, Vermigli, and many others affirm that Christ made an expiation for all men, all sinners, that he bore the curse of the law for all, even that he died for all, redeemed all. If you know of Richard Muller’s scholarship and reputation, read his comments, which are against posted at the C&C site. (Go to name index and scroll down.)

Stuff like this abound in the writings of the Reformed:

And that speaks not only to those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching God’s word, but to everyone in general. For on this point the Holy Spirit, who must be our guide, is not disparaging the right way to teach. If we wish to serve our Master, that is the way we must go about it. We must make every effort to draw everybody to the knowledge of the gospel. For when we see people going to hell who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that must indeed stir us to do our duty and instruct them and treat them with all gentleness and kindness as we try to bear fruit this way.

And:

But this man of sin, & that son of perdition, & that brothel of all fleshly filthiness, & all wickedness, when he is waited upon, with his train of dancing lecherous ruffians, & buggers, will be under the judgment of no man, nor rend account of his office using unto no manner of man in the world, although he bring infinite souls of men, (that were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ), and bind innumerable people prentices, with the common enemy of mankind the Devil, unto the slaughter-house of everlasting damnation. And even this man it is, that takes upon him, to be the head of the church, and the only and most high shepherd of Christ’s sheepfold.

And:

Moreover it is the office of a Mediator not only to pray but also to offer. And he offered himself upon the Cross for all men. For (as says Paul) “Christ died for all men.” Finally Saint John says that he is the “propitiation for the sins of the whole world“. How then says he that he prays not for the world seeing he died for all men, and was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world?

I would encourage you to do some reading at the file listed above.

And keep in mind, you are exactly right that Arminius was never considered Reformed. However, the Reformed did consider Amyraut a Reformed brother. Again, see the comments by Carl Truman and Richard Muller.

Hope that helps,
David

8 Michael Beck October 23, 2010 at 12:36 am

Amyraut would not be considered a Reformer. Neither would most of those you list here on your site. Because they lived during the Reformation or soon after them does not make them “Reformers” on the level of Calvin, Knox, Luther, etc.

In my opinion, you use a lot of quotes out of context. All Calvinists use the phrase “the atonement is sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect.” Many older Calvinistic theologians said the same, but in a slightly antiquated vocabulary. I believe this is where you can take Hodge and others out of context, but all they are really saying is that the atonement is sufficient for all.

A consistent Calvinist will admit that it is a contradiction to have an elect, but then say the atonement is universal.

9 David October 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Hey Michael,

We seem to have a communication break down.

To be clear, I didn’t say he was a Reformer, I said he was considered and accepted as being Reformed: which he was. Even Francis Turretin accepted that he was Reformed; he just passionately disagreed with him.

Regarding my “quotes,” can you show me which ones are out of context?

Regarding “sufficient for all” do you understand how the classic formula was used and how and why it was revised and what the revised version implied? Did you see folk like Cunningham, Berkhof admit that it was revised? Did you see Turretin’s acknowledgment of the correction?

Lastly, what makes a consistent Calvinist? Augustinians and Predestinarians, since Augustine, held to a) unconditional election, and b) that Christ suffered and died for all men. I am currently reading John Foxe (0f Book of the Martyrs fame) assert that same ideas. I have posted many names with files. Who determines this ‘consistency’ Michael?

To close this out, my real interest is would you kindly show me which quotes are out of context and can you show me how and why? I think that would really help us both out if you could this.

Thanks for your time,
David

10 Michael Beck October 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm

“Lastly, what makes a consistent Calvinist?”

Calvinism can be defined in many ways. At the least, Calvinism is defined as the accepted and historically accurate “5 Points of Doctrine” defined by the Canons of Dordt in 1618, which describe Calvin’s soteriology. This was an international document consisting of delegates from 9 different countries. Calvin himself did not write copiously on the atonement, as it was not a major argument in his day. But there are places here and there where he addressed the issue. (e.g. his commentary on 1 John 2:2.)

However beginning with Amyraut, followed by a few “Reformed” theologians throughout history, men began to take exception to the doctrine of “definite atonement”, thinking it harsh and feeling uncomfortable about it. This has led many moderns to take a revisionist perspective, trying to claim that Calvin himself never believed such a doctrine. Others have searched the writings of past theologians, looking for points where they disagree with Calvin and Dordt on this subject, without considering that all theologians are in a state of modifying their views as they mature (consider Luther’s early writings compared to his later.) If they can compile enough quotes by reformed theologians, they can therefore show the “absurdity” of this doctrine. Today they refer to themselves as “four-and-a-half point” Calvinists, Modified Calvinists or more accurately Amryaldians.

This revisionist history has been refuted in many places, so no need to restate the proof here. See:
http://www.sljinstitute.net/sermons/doctrine/modcalvinism/modcalvinism_master.html
http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/NicoleRogerUniversalCallDefiniteAtonement.htm
http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/NicoleRogerCalvinsLimitedAtonement.htm
http://www.the-highway.com/articleJuly02.html (Paul Helm’s whole book address this issue!)

“Regarding my “quotes,” can you show me which ones are out of context?”

To do this would require a book length study. Let me give just one example.

1.In your posting of Packer’s quote (http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=299) you underline the sentences that you feel help your case, completely ignoring the sentence that reads “The notion is Biblical, but demands careful statement”. All Packer is saying is that he would have liked the Reformers to define their terms and arguments better. But anyone who’s done a cursory study of J.I. Packer knows he agrees with John Owen’s work, even writing the famous introductory essay on “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”, found here (http://www.all-of-grace.org/pub/others/deathofdeath.html). Packer devotes a section in his “Concise Theology” to addressing particular redemption, which may help you in your “free offer of the gospel” question above.

“There is no inconsistency or incoherence in the teaching of the New Testament about, on the one hand, the offer of Christ in the gospel, which Christians are told to make known everywhere, and, on the other hand, the fact that Christ achieved a totally efficacious redemption for God’s elect on the cross.” J. I. Packer, Concise Theology : A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1995).”

I think you do this type of thing in many places on your site, not taking into account the overall theology the quoted theologian held. Theologians make arguments back and forth, often times stating both sides of an argument, making it difficult to determine which view the writer holds. Only a very careful reading of the whole work will determine which argument the theologian is in agreement with.

On another note, are you denying the doctrine of imputation or are you saying there is an imputation of the sins of the non-elect (which is illogical and unbiblical)? Here and on your site, you appear to be doing so. Please state your beliefs instead of Dabney, Shedd, et.al.

Christ laid down his life for His sheep (John 10:14,15).

11 David October 25, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Hey there Michael,

I had asked: “Lastly, what makes a consistent Calvinist?”

Michael answers: Calvinism can be defined in many ways. At the least, Calvinism is defined as the accepted and historically accurate “5 Points of Doctrine” defined by the Canons of Dordt in 1618, which describe Calvin’s soteriology. This was an international document consisting of delegates from 9 different countries. Calvin himself did not write copiously on the atonement, as it was not a major argument in his day. But there are places here and there where he addressed the issue. (e.g. his commentary on 1 John 2:2.)

David: Sure, but Dort is not TULIP. Again, if you have any respect for Richard Muller, he has an excellent article on why not to reduce Calvinism to TULIP. .

At Dort, itself, there were the English delegates holding that Christ died for all men, (Davenant and co). From Bremen, the same was held by Martinius, and co. And there were plenty in between. Post Dort you have many English and Continental theologians who held that Christ died for all, such as Bergius. Prior to Dort, Paraeus, Ursinus and Kimedoncius, as a sampling. Again, all I can say if you have any respect from Richard Muller, and totally reject what I say, believe him.

Michael: However beginning with Amyraut, followed by a few “Reformed” theologians throughout history, men began to take exception to the doctrine of “definite atonement”, thinking it harsh and feeling uncomfortable about it. This has led many moderns to take a revisionist perspective, trying to claim that Calvin himself never believed such a doctrine.

David: Then Richard Muller is a revisionist. That aside, its clear that Musculus, Bullinger, Zwingli, Gualther, Valdez, and others, held that Christ died for all men, suffered for all men, etc etc. All these men predate Amyraut. All the English Reformers held to the same: Cranmer, Hooper, Ridley, Latimer, Foxe, Becan and others.

Michael: Others have searched the writings of past theologians, looking for points where they disagree with Calvin and Dordt on this subject, without considering that all theologians are in a state of modifying their views as they mature (consider Luther’s early writings compared to his later.) If they can compile enough quotes by reformed theologians, they can therefore show the “absurdity” of this doctrine. Today they refer to themselves as “four-and-a-half point” Calvinists, Modified Calvinists or more accurately Amryaldians.

David: I just now get the impression you are more interesting in labeling and branding rather than engaging the primary sources or the argument.

You cite these links:

This revisionist history has been refuted in many places, so no need to restate the proof here. See:
http://www.sljinstitute.net/sermons/doctrine/modcalvinism/modcalvinism_master.html
http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/NicoleRogerUniversalCallDefiniteAtonement.htm
http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/NicoleRogerCalvinsLimitedAtonement.htm
http://www.the-highway.com/articleJuly02.html (Paul Helm’s whole book address this issue!)

David: Yeah that stuff is so way out of date now. Modern work has refuted a lot of this, eg G Michael Thomas, Richard Muller, Pieter Rouwendal, for example.

The out of alleged context quotation from Packer:

Michael: To do this would require a book length study. Let me give just one example.

1.In your posting of Packer’s quote (http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=299) you underline the sentences that you feel help your case, completely ignoring the sentence that reads “The notion is Biblical, but demands careful statement”. All Packer is saying is that he would have liked the Reformers to define their terms and arguments better. But anyone who’s done a cursory study of J.I. Packer knows he agrees with John Owen’s work, even writing the famous introductory essay on “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”, found here (http://www.all-of-grace.org/pub/others/deathofdeath.html). Packer devotes a section in his “Concise Theology” to addressing particular redemption, which may help you in your “free offer of the gospel” question above.

David: I know that Packer, used to (at least) agree with Owen.

Packer:

The transaction as they described it could be thought of after the analogy either of civil or of criminal law. In the first case, Christ would have paid our debt, the second our penalty. In the first case, his righteousness would be imputed to the believer in its effects: to say that Christ’s righteousness is reckoned his would then be merely a way of saying that he receives the benefit of legal immunity and as a result of Christ’s intervention on his behalf. Christ paid the debt; therefore he himself need never pay it. Such a conception, is simple.

David: So in the first line, it works like simple monetary payment.

But if the transaction were interpreted in the second way, as a case of penal substitution, the idea becomes more difficult and the pitfalls more numerous. This way in fact the main strand in the Reformers’ thought. On the first view, the ground of the sinner’s acquittal from liability to punishment (i.e., his justification) is the fact that Christ paid the debt he had incurred. On the second view, the ground of justification is God’s attribution (imputation) of Christ’s obedience and suffering to the guilty sinner. The notion is Biblical, but demands careful statement, which in the early days of Protestant theology it did not always receive. In those days, the two lines of thought existed side by side in the minds of the some men without any awareness of inconsistency. Both served to illustrate the position which it was the Reformers’ supreme concern to demonstrate and defend, that the sinner’s justification is secured, not by his own work, but by his faith in the work Christ did on his behalf.

Now what Packer says is biblical, but complex, is the penal view. We all agree here. Then he goes on to say that the two lines of thought, the commercial AND the penal view often existed side by side, albeit they are inconsistent lines of thought. That notwithstanding, both served purposes: which I concede.

Ive not taken Packer out of context here that I can see. Packer is saying that within the thinking of early Puritan thought, two inconsistent lines of thought operated, one pecuniary, one penal.

Michael cites Packer on another point: There is no inconsistency or incoherence in the teaching of the New Testament about, on the one hand, the offer of Christ in the gospel, which Christians are told to make known everywhere, and, on the other hand, the fact that Christ achieved a totally efficacious redemption for God’s elect on the cross.” J. I. Packer, Concise Theology : A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1995).

David: I have no problem with this at all. Packer believes that, fine. Its not the point tho. In my explanation page I note that not every author I cite held to or holds to classic moderate Calvinism, but on the given point, they make a valid contribution to the topic.

Michael: I think you do this type of thing in many places on your site, not taking into account the overall theology the quoted theologian held. Theologians make arguments back and forth, often times stating both sides of an argument, making it difficult to determine which view the writer holds. Only a very careful reading of the whole work will determine which argument the theologian is in agreement with.

David: That’`s two assertions. The quotations are generous enough in context and quantity that what I do cite, I believe, is clear enough. If there is a problem, one must look first to the primary source author. For the second assertion, sure, that’s why I spend the time reading every extant work from say, Bullinger, Zwingli, Gualther, Vermigli, etc etc. The implied idea you put forth is that I am being selective in my citations. Sure, okay, then can you show me where and how?

But again, the invitation is sincere, if you can show me where I have taken an author or quotation out of context, please show me.

Michael: On another note, are you denying the doctrine of imputation or are you saying there is an imputation of the sins of the non-elect (which is illogical and unbiblical)? Here and on your site, you appear to be doing so. Please state your beliefs instead of Dabney, Shedd, et.al.

David: I hold that sin as sin, human sin, the sin which condemns all men, sin in all its complexity and diversity and number was imputed to Christ: that is the guilt of sin. Christ was charged as though he had committed every kind and degree of sin. Ergo, he bore the same condemnation due to any man, any given man, all given men. No sin-acts were transferred. All of us remain sinners and sinful.

Michael: Christ laid down his life for His sheep (John 10:14,15).

David: And that he did.

Michael, I don’t get the impression we are moving ahead in conversation. You seem defensive. I see repeated assertions but nothing that indicates to me that you are talking “to” me, but talking at me. Its okay if we agree to disagree. My point was that men like C Hodge and Dabney, with Shedd, for different reasons, categorically rejected Owen’s trilemma argument. It simply doesn’t work on proper penal assumptions. If the satisfaction was a simple pecuniary matter, then it would work for sure. The bottom line is, Owen and those who follow his position, have a different view of the death of Christ, one that conflates false pecuniary categories with proper penal categories (you can see this in the single snippet from Owen I posted in the comments section of C&C this morning). Men like C Hodge, Shedd and Dabney, rightly saw through this conflation and confusion and sought to purge their theology of these erroneous pecuniary premises. Yet in doing so, they came to a position of unlimited expiation aka atonement for all, for men as men, as sinners, with a limited intention to apply to the elect alone. This is the much more explicit in Dabney and Shedd.

Thanks,
David

12 Michael Beck October 25, 2010 at 9:26 pm

David,

I understand you can find some Calvinist outliers, theologians that support your position. The questions is why did they believe what they believe and is it (1) supported by Scripture or (2) is it rational (logical). Dordt is not TULIP, but TULIP is an adequate modern-day summary of Dordt (although better wording might be chosen, as Sproul and others have said.)

Again, all I can say if you have any respect from Richard Muller, and totally reject what I say, believe him.

I have read some of Muller, and he is in agreement with me when he says “Calvin was quite clear on the point: the application or efficacy of Christ’s death was limited to the elect. And in this conclusion there was also accord among the later Reformed theologians.”

http://www.calvin.edu/meeter/lectures/Richard%20Muller%20-%20Was%20Calvin%20a%20Calvinist.pdf

Then Richard Muller is a revisionist.

He may be, but in light of his quote noted above, he does not appear to be so in regards to Calvin and the atonement. Actually the “revisionist” discussion is whether Calvin believed in a definite atonement, not wheter “Musculus, Bullinger, Zwingli, Gualther, Valdez,Cranmer, Hooper, Ridley, Latimer, Foxe, Becan” and the thousands of others you could list.

Yeah that stuff is so way out of date now.

I’m not sure that this information can be “out of date”, but I urge you to listen to Dr. Johnson’s lectures on the subject and let me know if they are not valid arguments against Modified Calvinism.

I know that Packer, used to (at least) agree with Owen.

Do you have evidence that Packer disagrees with Owen’s arguments for a definite atonement? The quote you have is from Packer on Baxter. Baxter is “a whole nother” issue (as we say in TX.)

For the second assertion, sure, that’s why I spend the time reading every extant work from say, Bullinger, Zwingli, Gualther, Vermigli, etc etc.

I admire your studies, truly, but with all due respect, have you spent time in Calvin’s Institutes, sermons and commentaries? If Muller says Calvin held to a definite atonement, maybe there’s something you missed?

On imputation, do you also hold that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us as believers?

Forgive me from moving off of Hodge, Dabney and Shedd. I grant you that the quotes you have on your site appear to have them in opposition with Owen’s argument. However I was attempting to get at the deeper issue here, the whole argument of your site, mainly that Calvin would not agree with the Calvinists on definite atonement and specifically that Owen was incorrect in more fully describing the argument.

13 David October 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hey Michael,

Michael: I understand you can find some Calvinist outliers, theologians that support your position. The questions is why did they believe what they believe and is it (1) supported by Scripture or (2) is it rational (logical). Dordt is not TULIP, but TULIP is an adequate modern-day summary of Dordt (although better wording might be chosen, as Sproul and others have said.)

David: 1) “Calvinist outliers”? You mean, Musculus, Bullinger, Luther, Vermigli, Zanchi, Zwingli? Including Ursinus, Paraeus, Charnock, and dozens of others, all the English Reformers? Ourliers? 2) They believed it because they thought it was Scriptural. 3) The very point Muller makes, and he is right, is that TULIP does not properly capture Dort. Indeed, TULIP is a very repudiation of men like Davenant, Hall, Martinius, Alsted and many others at Dort. It would just be an intellectual lie to pretend that TULIP justly captures the theology of Dort.

Michael: I have read some of Muller, and he is in agreement with me when he says “Calvin was quite clear on the point: the application or efficacy of Christ’s death was limited to the elect. And in this conclusion there was also accord among the later Reformed theologians.”

David: I am not sure how this should be problematic me to. Sure, the application of Christ’s death is limited to the elect. Only a true Universalist would deny that.

Michael: He may be, but in light of his quote noted above, he does not appear to be so in regards to Calvin and the atonement. Actually the “revisionist” discussion is whether Calvin believed in a definite atonement, not wheter “Musculus, Bullinger, Zwingli, Gualther, Valdez,Cranmer, Hooper, Ridley, Latimer, Foxe, Becan” and the thousands of others you could list.

David: Muller on Calvin on the extent of the atonement believes that Calvin is indeterminate. However, when he names many others, such as Bullinger to Ursinus, he says they did hold to a form of non-Amyraldian hypothetical universalism.

Michael: I’m not sure that this information can be “out of date”, but I urge you to listen to Dr. Johnson’s lectures on the subject and let me know if they are not valid arguments against Modified Calvinism.

David: If Musculus, Bullinger, Zwingli, Luther, and dozens of others, both contemporary to Calvin and post-Calvin (but prior to the 1620s say) held to an unlimited expiation and redemption with limited intended application, then its impossible for this to be a form of “modified Calvinism.” All you are doing is trying to “brand” and “label” again, but the effect is to just disinform and insert ab anachronistic idea into history. The labeling serves to bias and caricature the facts. One abuse of labeling and branding is that it serves no other purpose than to rhetorically disenfranchise ones’ opponent.

Michael: Do you have evidence that Packer disagrees with Owen’s arguments for a definite atonement? The quote you have is from Packer on Baxter. Baxter is “a whole nother” issue (as we say in TX.)

David: No idea. I didnt say he did or didnt now. I do know he has loosened up considerably in his latter years.

Michael: I admire your studies, truly, but with all due respect, have you spent time in Calvin’s Institutes, sermons and commentaries? If Muller says Calvin held to a definite atonement, maybe there’s something you missed?

David: I have. Take a look at my Calvin file and you will get a sense of what Ive read.

See like this from Calvin: And that speaks not only to those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching God’s word, but to everyone in general. For on this point the Holy Spirit, who must be our guide, is not disparaging the right way to teach. If we wish to serve our Master, that is the way we must go about it. We must make every effort to draw everybody to the knowledge of the gospel. For when we see people going to hell who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that must indeed stir us to do our duty and instruct them and treat them with all gentleness and kindness as we try to bear fruit this way. There are dozens of like statements found in Calvin. The idea of “redeemed souls” perishing was a standard idea found in Tyndale, Lever, Gualther, Vermigli and others.

Regarding Muller, be careful not to equivocate. Muller says that on the extent of the satisfaction, Calvin is indeterminate. He does not see enough clear evidence one way or the other. And that is perfectly compatible with the comment you cite above.

Michael: On imputation, do you also hold that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us as believers?

David: Sure. Why would’nt I?

Michael: Forgive me from moving off of Hodge, Dabney and Shedd. I grant you that the quotes you have on your site appear to have them in opposition with Owen’s argument. However I was attempting to get at the deeper issue here, the whole argument of your site, mainly that Calvin would not agree with the Calvinists on definite atonement and specifically that Owen was incorrect in more fully describing the argument.

David: To be clear, I don’t say that Calvin would disagree with the Calvinists on definite atonement. Muller is right here. Its better to see Reformation theology as trajectories. Certain men, or clusters of men, developed certain sets of responses to Rome, etc. There is a lot of continuity and yet there is also some discontinuity between some of these trajectories. These trajectories ebb and flow, sometimes fusing with others, etc. That thing we now call “Calvinism” should not be sourced as if it came solely from Calvin or Dort. So for example, we have documentation that Bullinger and Calvin disagreed on some points. No one saw Calvin as the yardstick on this. So out of the broad Reformation response to Rome, various men developed various responses. Owen is but one expression of one of these trajectories, but which had evolved and changed.

Gotta go,
David

14 Michael Beck October 26, 2010 at 10:37 pm

David, I agree with much of what you have to say, and thank you for the discussion. But we will have to agree to disagree on the issue of the expiation and redemption, and that Owen’s argument supports the relation between these two. I would also disagree with you on Calvin and his view of propitiation (expiation) considering his commentary on 1 Jo. 2:2, which is the verse you would use to best support your view. Calvin clearly equates the two (as most theologians do) when he says on this verse “…the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.” He goes on to say “I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretence extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself.” Calvin is clearly linking propitiation and redemption and saying that propitiation is not extended to the reprobate. This statement is far from indeterminate and I’m not sure how much clearer it could be.

15 David October 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Hey Michael,

You say: I would also disagree with you on Calvin and his view of propitiation (expiation) considering his commentary on 1 Jo. 2:2, which is the verse you would use to best support your view.

David: Actually its not the verse to best support my view. I don’t know where you got that from. Ive posted about 200 citations from Calvin on redemption for the world, redemption voided by unbelief, redeemed souls perishing, Christ suffering for the many, that is all human race, Christ making an expiation and satisfaction for the world, all the world, all mankind, and on and on. Against all this documentary evidence, all folk like Helm and Nicole can do is produce the single comment from Calvin on 1 Jn 2:2. The comment to Hesushius is decredited by Cunningham and refuted by Rouwendal. And on Calvin’s comments on 1 Jn 2:2 both Bell and Kennedy offer solid reasons why Calvin is not limiting the expiation in its nature, but only in its application, contrary to his true universalist opponent, who includes even Satan in its application. Calvin is saying John here limits the extent (ie application) to believers. Its actually not a statement about Calvin’s wider conception of the nature and extent of the expiation. You can find all these names and their respective comments by scrolling through my name index. I intend to post the Cunningham comment soon, as a post in its own right.

I would encourage you to read the Calvin file.

Michael: Calvin clearly equates the two (as most theologians do) when he says on this verse “…the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.”

David: Well there are some problems with that. A large number of Reformed have taken it as unlimited, world as mankind, elect and non-elect. Luther, Bullinger, Musculus, right down to C Hodge, Shedd and Dabney and many others. And also, Owen’s reading and Calvin’s reading are not identical. Owen makes “world” the elect per se, Calvin makes world believers scattered throughout the world, which is why he speaks of the application of the expiation.

Michael: He goes on to say “I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretence extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself.”

David: I bolded “extend.” If you read the context, extend here for Calvin is used to denote apply.

Michael: Calvin is clearly linking propitiation and redemption and saying that propitiation is not extended to the reprobate. This statement is far from indeterminate and I’m not sure how much clearer it could be.

David: Sure you can say this, but from where I sit its not reasonable.

For example, if you want to really take Calvin seriously (academically etc) at some point you have to begin addressing statements like this:

Hence it ought to be observed, that whenever the Church is afflicted, the example of the Prophet ought to move us to be touched (sumpatheia) with compassion, if we are not harder than iron; for we are altogether unworthy of being reckoned in the number of the children of God, and added to the holy Church, if we do not dedicate ourselves, and all that we have, to the Church, in such a manner that we are not separate from it in any respect. Thus, when in the present day the Church is afflicted by so many and so various calamities, and innumerable souls are perishing, which Christ redeemed with his own blood, we must be barbarous and savage if we are not touched with any grief. And especially the ministers of the word ought to be moved by this feeling of grief, because, being appointed to keep watch and to look at a distance, they ought also to groan when they perceive the tokens of approaching ruin. John Calvin, Isaiah 22:4. John Calvin (1509-1564) on Unlimited Expiation

There are so many statements like this from Calvin’s whole corpus, commentaries, tracts, letters, sermons etc. And the expression is exactly alike to what we find in men like Gualther, Tyndale, and others.

And if we change the approach, there is not a single instance where Calvin attempts to ever limit the nature of the expiation. Its completely absent from his entire corpus. Indeed, at times he stresses things like ‘and by many, I mean all, not some, not a part of the human race, but the whole human race.’ And whats cool is that Augustine Marlorate in his commentaries reproduces some of Calvin’s comments on “the many” but with clearer expression. Augustine Marlorate (1506-1562) on the Death of Christ

There is just way too much evidence from Calvin to imagine that his comments on 1 Jn 2:2 are definitive. And this is why Richard Muller, with folk like Peterson et al, hold that Calvin is indeterminate.

We could also flip this as a challenge/thought experiment:

If a limited reading of 1 Jn 2:2 (say for Calvin) proves that he held to limited atonement (as you define it) would you allow the converse be true, that an unlimited reading of 1 Jn 2:2 prove that a given author (say C Hodge, Dabney, Luther, Musclus, et al) held to unlimited atonement?

Or would say say no, it would not be conclusive? If yes, why couldn’t that be an equal possibility (tho inverse) for regarding Calvin on 1 Jn 2:2? Think about it.

Thanks for your time and take care,
David

16 Michael Beck October 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm

David: Calvin is saying John here limits the extent (ie application) to believers. Its actually not a statement about Calvin’s wider conception of the nature and extent of the expiation.

David, let’s be intellectually honest here. Calvin’s statement on 1 Jn 2:2 is very clear. Here’s Calvin again:

“the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.” He goes on to say “I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretence extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself.”

You claim expiation and redemption have two different goals, and that Calvin held this view. Yet here we have Calvin equating the two, in the same comment on 1 Jn. 2:2. This is of great importance, considering the verse reads “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” The verse is in regards to expiation. Some who read this verse assume “the whole world” means every single person who’s ever lived. Therefore Calvin is attempting to correct this bad interpretation of the text, and in doing say we have him on record as saying those who receive expiation are those who believe. Not those who do not believe, as you would say. Sure we can learn from all the other views on what Calvin says, and both stack up theologians who support our view, but common logic tells us what Calvin meant here.

And let’s please stop with the listing of everyone who doesn’t hold to a definite atonement. No one would call Luther a Calvinist, and it is debatable if he held to a definite atonement. Even if you list 100 people after Calvin who didn’t hold to definite atonement, that’s not the issue either.

Now we move from a clear text in Calvin’s 1 Jn 2:2 comment to a comment on Isaiah that you take out of context. Calvin is speaking of the Church. The souls who perish are not unbelievers, but martyrs (church members) who are being killed during the Reformation persecution.

Then, on your page which I have renamed John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Use of Biblical Language, you paste copious quotes of Calvin essentially saying Christ died for all men, sins of the whole world, etc. I could have saved you a lot of hours researching those and pointed you to John 3:16, 1 Tim 4:10, 1 Jn 2:2, Heb 2:9, and 1 Tim 2:6. In effect all you have done on that page is show that Calvin used Biblical language. Yet the question still remains, what does “the whole world” and “all men” mean in the Bible. It’s clear from Calvin’s comment on 1 Jn 2:2 what he thought “the whole world” and “all” meant. “…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 [unregenerated elect] as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world.”

When we apply Calvin’s understanding of “all” and “the whole world”, your quoting of him using these phrases does not serve you well at all.

We could also flip this as a challenge/thought experiment

It is clear from Dabney’s writings that he held to a definite atonement. But I’ll not spend much time defending Hodge or Dabney, as they don’t contribute near as much to understanding of Scripture as Calvin did. Also, we don’t call it Hodgism or Dabneyism, and we’re not discussing Lutheranism either.

Please be clear and state your main argument. Are you saying:
(1) Calvin did not hold to a definite atonement
or
(2) that Calvin did hold to a definite atonement but not a particular expiation (which thereby means you are splitting the two).

If you hold to (1), even your friend Muller is against you when he says “Calvin was quite clear on the point: the application or efficacy of Christ’s death was limited to the elect. And in this conclusion there was also accord among the later Reformed theologians.”. If you hold (2), most Reformed theologians are against you, as is Calvin, theological dictionaries and the Scriptures themselves.

17 David October 28, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Hey Michael,

Michael says: David, let´s be intellectually honest here. Calvin´s statement on 1 Jn 2:2 is very clear. Here´s Calvin again:

“the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.” He goes on to say “I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretence extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself.”

David: Ive bolded the key line there. From his tract he has the same sentiment:

Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ’s death… For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed.

From his commentary:

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

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.

Elsewhere in his writings “extend” has the same import as apply.

Michael: You claim expiation and redemption have two different goals, and that Calvin held this view.

David: I did? I didn’t actually. I said that for Shedd, Dabney and others in New England, the idea developed that expiation was universal while redemption was limited. I was very clear I believe.

For Calvin, and others of his time-frame, expiation and redemption had both a universal aspect and a limited aspect.

Michael: Yet here we have Calvin equating the two, in the same comment on 1 Jn. 2:2. This is of great importance, considering the verse reads “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” The verse is in regards to expiation. Some who read this verse assume “the whole world” means every single person who´s ever lived. Therefore Calvin is attempting to correct this bad interpretation of the text, and in doing say we have him on record as saying those who receive expiation are those who believe.

David: Ive added the bold to your comment there. Why would I dispute that? Only a true universalist would claim otherwise?

Michael: Not those who do not believe, as you would say.

David: I would? Where? Of course only those who believe receive the expiation, receive its benefit and application. However, as Dabney says:

In 1 John 2:2, it is at least doubtful whether the express phrase, “whole world,” can be restrained to the world of elect as including other than Jews. For it is indisputable, that the Apostle extends the propitiation of Christ beyond those whom he speaks of as “we,” in verse first. The interpretation described obviously proceeds on the assumption that these are only Jewish believers. Can this be substantiated? Is this catholic epistle addressed only to Jews? This is more than doubtful. It would seem then, that the Apostle´s scope is to console and encourage sinning believers with the thought that since Christ made expiation for every man, there is no danger that He will not be found a propitiation for them who, having already believed, now sincerely turn to him from recent sins. Dabney, Lectures, 525.

Michael: And let´s please stop with the listing of everyone who doesn´t hold to a definite atonement. No one would call Luther a Calvinist, and it is debatable if he held to a definite atonement. Even if you list 100 people after Calvin who didn’t hold to definite atonement, that´s not the issue either.

David: But the folk I have listed are either Reformed or Reformers. Ive cited Calvin’s own friends and mentors, like Bullinger, like Musculus and those who were taught by him, or who were part of his tradition.

Michael: Now we move from a clear text in Calvin´s 1 Jn 2:2 comment to a comment on Isaiah that you take out of context. Calvin is speaking of the Church. The souls who perish are not unbelievers, but martyrs (church members) who are being killed during the Reformation persecution.

David: 1)Can you show me where the souls of believers perish? How does that happen? In biblical and Reformed theology, the soul of a believer does not perish. 2) A word comparison from Calvin will show that “perish” and go to and go to “eternal destruction” or like phrases are cognates.

Examples from my Calvin file:

But how can such an imprecation be reconciled with the mildness of an apostle, who ought to wish that all should be saved, and that not a single person should perish?

But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3:15).

I see moreover a poor soul that is going to destruction: ought I not to pity him an to help him if it lie in my power? And although I be not able: yet ought I to be sorry for it. This (say I) are the two reasons which ought to move us to pity when we see that God afflicts such as are worthy of it. Then we bethink ourselves, sure either we must needs to be hard- hearted and dull-witted, or else we consider thus, behold a man that is formed after the image of God, he is of the selfsame nature that I am, and again behold a soul that was purchased with the blood of the Son of God if the same perish ought not we be grieved.

This seeing how truly the Devil has blinded humankind, we are right to feel dejected and sad. Why? Because to see souls created in the image of God move toward their own damnation is hardly a light matter, especially souls that were redeemed at such a cost by the blood of God´s Son.

souls redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from perishing, from entering into eternal death.

That should be enough. In my Calvin file I have examples where Calvin says explicitly that the elect never perish.

3) The Church in this context is the visible church, which for Calvin at this stage included the Rome.

Michael: Then, on your page which I have renamed John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Use of Biblical Language, you paste copious quotes of Calvin essentially saying Christ died for all men, sins of the whole world, etc. I could have saved you a lot of hours researching those and pointed you to John 3:16, 1 Tim 4:10, 1 Jn 2:2, Heb 2:9, and 1 Tim 2:6.

David: I am not sure how that helps you. I mean, are you saying that a given reading of these verses somehow determines Calvin’s position? The problem is, on Jn 3:16 Calvin takes world as all mankind. On 1 Tim 4:10 he adopts the reading of God has preserver of all men, especially those who believer. On Heb 2:9 he says nothing that determines the situation. And on 1 Tim 2:4-6, he says the will is the revealed will, every man of all kinds, and Christ is the common redeemer, etc.

Michael: In effect all you have done on that page is show that Calvin used Biblical language. Yet the question still remains, what does “the whole world” and “all men” mean in the Bible. It´s clear from Calvin´s comment on 1 Jn 2:2 what he thought “the whole world” and “all” meant. “…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 [unregenerated elect] as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world.”

David: Sure. I totally accept that on 1 Jn 2:2 Calvin takes John’s world there as believers scattered throughout the world. But in other instances he takes world as mankind universally, elect and non-elect, as per John 3:16 and other times the whole human race:

Whenever, therefore, we hear this designation applied to the devil, let us be ashamed of our miserable condition; for, whatever may be the pride of men, they are the slaves of the devil, till they are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ; for under the term world is here included the whole human race. John Calvin, John 14:30.

“But that the world may know.” Some think that these words should be read as closely connected with the words, “Arise, let us go hence,” so as to make the sense complete. Others read the former part of the verse separately, and suppose that it breaks off abruptly. As it makes no great difference in regard to the meaning, I leave it to the reader to give a preference to either of these views. What chiefly deserves our attention is, that the decree of God is here placed in the highest rank; that we may not suppose that Christ was dragged to death by the violence of Satan, in such a manner that anything happened contrary to the purpose of God.

It was God who appointed his Son to be the Propitiation, and who determined that the sins of the world should be expiated by his death

. In order to accomplish this, he permitted Satan, for a short time, to treat him with scorn; as if he had gained a victory over him. Christ, therefore, does not resist Satan, in order that he may obey the decree of his Father, and may thus offer his obedience as the ransom of our righteousness. John Calvin, John, 14:31.

Sometimes he takes world as the world of the reprobate: Calvin in John 17 says world there means the reprobate, and yet also says in the same context:

If it be objected, that never was there any thing less glorious than the death of Christ, which was then at hand, I reply, that in that death we behold a magnificent triumph which is concealed from wicked men; for there we perceive that, atonement having been made for sins, the world has been reconciled to God, the curse has been blotted out, and Satan has been vanquished. John Calvin, John 17:1

Michael: When we apply Calvin´s understanding of “all” and “the whole world”, your quoting of him using these phrases does not serve you well at all.

David: Okay…

Michael: It is clear from Dabney´s writings that he held to a definite atonement. But I´ll not spend much time defending Hodge or Dabney, as they don´t contribute near as much to understanding of Scripture as Calvin did. Also, we don´t call it Hodgism or Dabneyism, and we´re not discussing Lutheranism either.

David: So you just avoid my challenge?

Micaheal: Please be clear and state your main argument. Are you saying: (1) Calvin did not hold to a definite atonement or (2) that Calvin did hold to a definite atonement but not a particular expiation (which thereby means you are splitting the two).

David: For Calvin and all the original Reformers, they believed that Christ suffered for all sin, for all the sin of the world. Likewise, he effected a redemption of the whole world, all mankind. In Reformation theology, redemption consisted of two aspects, the universal objective purchasing and taking possession of the whole world from the dominion of sin, Satan and death (due the curse of the Law). And subjected particular redemption which applied the objective, thereby effecting deliverance of the penitent from the dominion of sin, Satan and death (due the curse of the Law). For Calvin, the limitation is in the application of the expiation, not in its nature and extent.

I confess I don’t even understand your 2) there.

Michael: If you hold to (1), even your friend Muller is against you when he says “Calvin was quite clear on the point: the application or efficacy of Christ´s death was limited to the elect.

David: Okay… even tho Muller’s words there should be obvious. I am at a loss as to why you think that I should have a problem with what Muller says there, or disagree.

Michael: And in this conclusion there was also accord among the later Reformed theologians.”. If you hold (2), most Reformed theologians are against you, as is Calvin, theological dictionaries and the Scriptures themselves.

David: Given that I don’t even understand your point 2, there is not a lot I can say to that last. It does seem convenient, Michael, that when you want to cite the wider body of Reformed theology thats okay, but when I try to cite names you dismiss them and demand that I don’t bother.

Thanks,
David

18 Michael Beck October 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

But the folk I have listed are either Reformed or Reformers. I’ve cited Calvin’s own friends and mentors, like Bullinger, like Musculus and those who were taught by him, or who were part of his tradition.

Friends and followers do not always have the same beliefs and ideas. While this might help your case in proving that Reformed theology is not monolithic, it does little to prove what Calvin believed. Do you agree with everything your teachers ever taught you? Even Beza clearly took some different paths than Calvin on a few arguments, yet what does this prove about Calvin?

Can you show me where the souls of believers perish? How does that happen? In biblical and Reformed theology, the soul of a believer does not perish.

First, the context clearly shows Calvin’s whole comment on Isaiah 22:4 is speaking of the church. Nowhere is he talking of the unelect. To pull one phrase out and change its meaning is dishonest. Secondly, for a “soul to perish” is an English term sometimes used for physical death. While I do not have access to the underlying Latin for this commentary, it would be interesting to see. Thirdly, Calvin uses the term “souls” here simply to mean a person, a life. This is not only common in modern English, but you quote Calvin speaking like this on your own website.

” When we see two people at odds with each other, we should feel pity for two souls redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but who are in danger of perdition” and elsewhere on your page ” the pope and his ilk, calling him an antichrist, a murderer, a robber who kills poor souls”. Is Calvin saying the Pope has the power to kill an eternal spirit? No, of course not because he would have known Matt. 10:28 which says only God can do that. Soul means a person, a life in these quotes from Calvin.

In the Bible the words life, person and soul are often interchanged. (See Ac 7:14, 27:37, Ro 13:1 and 1 Pe 3:20 for where the Greek term psuche is translated as “persons”). Again, Calvin is simply using Biblical language.

And in case you come with other citations, let me say that just like in the Bible, Calvin sometimes uses “soul” for the eternal spirit. The same with your quotes on “the world”. Calvin uses it different ways, just like the Bible, just like we do today when we say things like “the world’s gone crazy”, “who in the world would do that”, “the world is round”, “don’t be like the world”, etc., etc.
So you just avoid my challenge?

No. I have stated my defense above on these issues. But they are side issues. Your ultimate goal of citing Dabney, Hodge, and Shedd is to prove Calvin does not agree with the modern day reading of the TULIP. (Actually I’m assuming this is your argument, as you have still not been clear. See below.) With that in mind I would rather ‘cut to the chase’ and discuss Calvin.

Calvin and all the original Reformers, they believed that Christ suffered for all sin, for all the sin of the world. Likewise, he effected a redemption of the whole world, all mankind.

With this statement you, not Dabney or Shedd, but you are trying to split the atonement and expiation. To suffer for the whole world is to satisfy (propitiate, expiate) the wrath of God for the whole world.

Again, we’re back to what your argument actually is. It appears from some of your arguments that you’re trying to prove Calvin did not hold to the 5 points we call the L in what we call TULIP today. When I prove that he indeed did, you then move to a more refined argument which attempts to split the recipients of the atonement and expiation. Please state your main argument.

Look, if Calvin held to what you think he did, the following statement would be nonsense.

“They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect…Though then I allow what has commonly has been said is trueCommenary on 1 Jn 2:2.

Now if Calvin believed what you say, he would not have agreed with this statement. He would have said “Christ suffered efficiently for the whole world, but redemptively for the elect.” And the issue here isn’t “application” or even “extending” of the atonement. Here the phrase is “suffered for”, which is propitian/expiation.

For Calvin, the limitation is in the application of the expiation, not in its nature and extent.

You have not shown any conclusive evidence of this from Calvin. You mention ” Elsewhere in his writings “extend has the same import as apply.” Please cite your sources as the word extend has a very different meaning than does “apply”.

19 David October 29, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Hey Michael,

cut

Old David: Can you show me where the souls of believers perish? How does that happen? In biblical and Reformed theology, the soul of a believer does not perish.

Michael: First, the context clearly shows Calvin’s whole comment on Isaiah 22:4 is speaking of the church.

David: Sure, but is it the visible church or the invisible church? How do you preclude the former?

Michael: Nowhere is he talking of the unelect.

David: Ive already shown from texts from Calvin that for a soul to perish refers to eternal destruction. You just ignored all that and asserted with no textual evidence from Calvin.

Calvin: There is not one who does not help those in need because of their physical health. As for us, we are not moved even when we see our neighbors perish in body or soul. Calvin, Sermons on Acts, 222

Calvin: Also Luke teacheth in the same words, that it cannot be that any of the elect should perish. Calvin, Acts 13:48.

Even if “soul” for Calvin meant the “life” or “person” the person and life of the believers never perish. Soul for Calvin does not mean body, apart from soul.

Calvin: Accordingly, while he “profanes” his Church, that is, abandons her, and gives her up as a prey to her enemies, still the elect do not perish, and his eternal covenant is not broken. Calvin, Isaiah 47:6.

David: The church is abandoned? But the elect never perish. This speaks to visible church, in which the elect within do not perish.

But now the positive evidence that some redeemed souls go to hell in Calvin’s theology.

Calvin: Again when we see a man scourged at God’s hand as fore as may be: let us consider not only that he was created after the image of God: but also that he is our neighbor, and in manner all one with us. We be all of one nature, all one flesh, all one mankind, so as it may be said that we be issued all out of one selfsame spring. Sith [since] it is so, ought we not to have consideration one of another? I see moreover a poor soul that is going to destruction: ought I not to pity him an to help him if it lie in my power? And although I be not able: yet ought I to be sorry for it. This (say I) are the two reasons which ought to move us to pity when we see that God afflicts such as are worthy of it. Then we bethink ourselves, sure either we must needs to be hard-hearted and dull-witted, or else we consider thus, behold a man that is formed after the image of God, he is of the selfsame nature that I am, and again behold a soul that was purchased with the blood of the Son of God if the same perish ought not we be grieved. John Calvin, Sermons on Job, Sermon, 71, 19:17-25, p., 333

Calvin: On the other hand, when Luke speaks of the priests, he is speaking of the responsibility of those who public office. Principally, they are ordained to bear God’s word. So when some falsehood appears or Satan’s wicked disseminations proliferate, it is their duty to be vigilant, confront the situation, and do everything in their power to protect poor people from being poisoned by false teachings and to keep the souls redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from perishing, from entering into eternal death. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 9, Acts 4:1-4, p., 112.

Calvin: It follows, moreover, that the poor souls whom our Lord Jesus Christ has bought so dearly that he did not spare himself to save them, perish and are given into Satan’s possession. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, 5:11-14, p., 525.

Calvin: 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. John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 47, 6:18-19, pp., 684-5.

David: Wretched unbelievers, redeemed, yet perish and go to perdition (old word for HELL).

Calvin: You should have kept silence, says Pighius. It would have been a treacherous and abominable silence by which God’s glory, Christ, and the gospel were betrayed. Is it possible? So God shall be held up as a laughingstock before our eyes, all good religion shall be torn apart, wretched souls redeemed by the blood of Christ shall perish, and it shall be forbidden to speak? …shall the church be plundered by the thieving of the ungodly, shall God’s majesty be stamped under foot, shall Christ be robbed of his kingdom, while we watch and say nothing? John Calvin, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, 19.

David: Its impossible that Calvin would call believing martyrs wretched souls.

Calvin: On the other hand, when Luke speaks of the priests, he is speaking of the responsibility of those who public office. Principally, they are ordained to bear God’s word. So when some falsehood appears or Satan’s wicked disseminations proliferate, it is their duty to be vigilant, confront the situation, and do everything in their power to protect poor people from being poisoned by false teachings and to keep the souls redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from perishing, from entering into eternal death. John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 9, Acts 4:1-4, p., 112.

David: Its impossible that Calvin spoke here of believing martyrs, or even believers perishing, thereby entering hell.

Calvin: And that speaks not only to those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching God’s word, but to everyone in general. For on this point the Holy Spirit, who must be our guide, is not disparaging the right way to teach. If we wish to serve our Master, that is the way we must go about it. We must make every effort to draw everybody to the knowledge of the gospel. For when we see people going to hell who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that must indeed stir us to do our duty and instruct them and treat them with all gentleness and kindness as we try to bear fruit this way.

All the textual evidence conclusively shows that for Calvin “to perish” means to pass into eternal ruin and death. Against this all you can do is posit naked assertions.

I tell you Michael, it would be far more rational to assert–if you insist that Calvin conclusively held to limited atonement based on his comments on 1 John 2:2–alone–that Calvin contradicted himself, rather than attempt to proffer your present interpretation of what he meant regarding redeemed souls perishing.

Michael: To pull one phrase out and change its meaning is dishonest.

David: I am being dishonest? Come on, Michael.

Michael: Secondly, for a “soul to perish” is an English term sometimes used for physical death. While I do not have access to the underlying Latin for this commentary, it would be interesting to see.

David: The underlying Latin and French, respectively, refers to souls perishing and that–when specified–refers to perdition.

Michael: Thirdly, Calvin uses the term “souls” here simply to mean a person, a life. This is not only common in modern English, but you quote Calvin speaking like this on your own website.

David: Can you cite any evidence from Calvin for this assertion? When we engage in biblical hermeneutics, we define words by context and use: and that of the original author, and you’ve adduced neither.

Michael: ” When we see two people at odds with each other, we should feel pity for two souls redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but who are in danger of perdition” and elsewhere on your page ” the pope and his ilk, calling him an antichrist, a murderer, a robber who kills poor souls”. Is Calvin saying the Pope has the power to kill an eternal spirit? No, of course not because he would have known Matt. 10:28 which says only God can do that. Soul means a person, a life in these quotes from Calvin.

David: He means the Pope has the power to bring cause the death and stumbling of souls. Like this:

Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Michael: In the Bible the words life, person and soul are often interchanged. (See Ac 7:14, 27:37, Ro 13:1 and 1 Pe 3:20 for where the Greek term psuche is translated as “persons”). Again, Calvin is simply using Biblical language.

David: But that clearly is not Calvin’s specific meaning. Soul in Scripture can refer to the life, the person, or the soul apart from the body. You are just picking a meaning without any support from Calvin. And indeed, if we grant it means life or person, or soul itself, either way, the ‘life,’ the person, the soul of the believer never perishes. To assert the contrary is just to false negate Scripture itself. Body may die, rot and perish, but the life, the person and the soul of the believers partake in everlasting life.

Michael: And in case you come with other citations, let me say that just like in the Bible, Calvin sometimes uses “soul” for the eternal spirit. The same with your quotes on “the world”. Calvin uses it different ways, just like the Bible, just like we do today when we say things like “the world’s gone crazy”, “who in the world would do that”, “the world is round”, “don’t be like the world”, etc., etc.

David: And this just flies in the face of all the evidence, Michael. This is why I say the conversation has wound up. When it get to the point where you will not deal with the text of Calvin, what more can I say? What more evidence could I adduce? If Calvin saying unbelievers, who need to prayed for, evangelized, have been redeemed by Christ and yet perish in hell is not enough for you, nothing will. Nothing will matter, no evidence will count.

Old David: So you just avoid my challenge?

Michael: No. I have stated my defense above on these issues. But they are side issues. Your ultimate goal of citing Dabney, Hodge, and Shedd is to prove Calvin does not agree with the modern day reading of the TULIP. (Actually I’m assuming this is your argument, as you have still not been clear. See below.) With that in mind I would rather ‘cut to the chase’ and discuss Calvin.

Sorry, Michael. This is your blog for sure, and you are free to delete this comment, but the point was, citing Calvin on one example is inclusive, because the method used is dodgy. If the one reading categorically proves limited atonement, then the converse reading of the same passage should also categorically prove unlimited atonement. Eg, C Hodge, Dabney and Shedd both take the world of 1 Jn 2:2 as all mankind, and the expiation made for all men. But you would have to say that would not conclusively prove that they held to unlimited atonement. I say, ditto for Calvin on 1 Jn 2:2.

Old David: Calvin and all the original Reformers, they believed that Christ suffered for all sin, for all the sin of the world. Likewise, he effected a redemption of the whole world, all mankind.

Michael: With this statement you, not Dabney or Shedd, but you are trying to split the atonement and expiation. To suffer for the whole world is to satisfy (propitiate, expiate) the wrath of God for the whole world.

David:

It would seem then, that the Apostle’s scope is to console and encourage sinning believers with the thought that since Christ made expiation for every man, there is no danger that He will not be found a propitiation for them who, having already believed, now sincerely turn to him from recent sins. Dabney, Lectures, 525

Dabney: Remember, the limitation is precisely in the decree, and no where else. It seems plain that the vagueness and ambiguity of the modern term “atonement,” has very much complicated the debate. This word, not classical in the Reformed theology, is used sometimes for satisfaction for guilt, sometimes for the reconciliation ensuing thereon; until men on both sides of the debate have forgotten the distinction. The one is cause, the other effect. The only New Testament sense the word atonement has is that of katallage, reconciliation. But expiation is another idea. Katallage is personal. Exhilasmos is impersonal. Katallage is multiplied, being repeated as often as a sinner comes to the expiatory blood. Exhilasmos is single, unique, complete; and, in itself considered, has no more relation to one man’s sins than another. As it is applied in effectual calling, it becomes personal, and receives a limitation. But in itself, limitation is irrelevant to it. Hence, when men use the word atonement, as they so often do, in the sense of expiation, the phrases, “limited atonement,” “particular atonement,” have no meaning. Redemption is limited, i.e., to true believers, and is particular. Expiation is not limited. Dabney, Lectures, 528.

Shedd:

Since redemption implies the application of Christ’s atonement, universal or unlimited redemption cannot logically be affirmed by any who hold that faith is wholly the gift of God, and that saving grace is bestowed solely by election. The use of the term “redemption,” consequently, is attended with less ambiguity than that of “atonement,” and it is the term most commonly employed in controversial theology. Atonement is unlimited, and redemption is limited. This statement includes all the Scripture texts: those which assert that Christ died for all men, and those which assert that he died for his people. He who asserts unlimited atonement, and limited redemption, cannot well be misconceived. He is understood to hold that the sacrifice of Christ is unlimited in its value, sufficiency, and publication, but limited in its effectual application. William G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1971), 2:470.

David: As Ive said, this was an 18th-19thC idea that atonement was unlimited, redemption was limited.

Michael: Again, we’re back to what your argument actually is. It appears from some of your arguments that you’re trying to prove Calvin did not hold to the 5 points we call the L in what we call TULIP today. When I prove that he indeed did, you then move to a more refined argument which attempts to split the recipients of the atonement and expiation. Please state your main argument.

David: Let me state this again. Reformed theology cannot be reduced to “Calvinism,” as popularly defined. Dort cannot be reduced to the modern TULIP (as Muller well defined and explains). TULIP, the mnemonic was invented in the 1910s. For Calvin and the original Reformers, the expiation (satisfaction, propitiation etc) was unlimited made for all. Christ objectively redeemed the whole world of all mankind (Augustine, Prosper, et al). The limitation is in the application of the expiation and redemption by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit.

However, at the beginning of the 18thC, a new idea was posited that atonement was unlimited but redemption was limited. Here redemption was defined simply as deliverance (from sin, the world, the curse of the law, Satan, etc) Previous to this, redemption entailed acquisition and deliverance. You can see documentation for this here: On the Distinction Between Atonement and Redemption

Michael: Look, if Calvin held to what you think he did, the following statement would be nonsense. “They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect…Though then I allow what has commonly has been said is true” Commentary on 1 Jn 2:2.

Now if Calvin believed what you say, he would not have agreed with this statement. He would have said “Christ suffered efficiently for the whole world, but redemptively for the elect.” And the issue here isn’t “application” or even “extending” of the atonement. Here the phrase is “suffered for”, which is propitian/expiation.

David: I can see you really do not understand what Im saying. In context, Calvin’s opponent was a true universalist. He believed all the reprobate and even Satan would be reconciled eventually. Calvin disagrees. Then Calvin appeals to the classic Lombardian formula, Christ suffered for all as to the sufficiency of the expiation, for the elect as to the efficiency of the expiation.

The Lombardian formula taught that the death of Christ was a sufficient satisfaction for all sin. However, it was only efficiently applied, by intention and decree, to the elect. Sufficient for all, Efficient for the elect, alone>/b>.

Calvin says that recourse to this formula, does not prove Pighius’ argument, even tho he accepts the truth of the formula itself: it just not apply as proof for Pighius, or t 1 Jn 2:2.

You are misreading the meaning of “efficiency” in the formula. The efficiency is only for the elect. The sufficiency pertains to all men, as men, even non-elect as man, in that it is able to save them, were it the intention of God to apply it to them.

Old David: For Calvin, the limitation is in the application of the expiation, not in its nature and extent.

Michael: You have not shown any conclusive evidence of this from Calvin. You mention ” Elsewhere in his writings “extend has the same import as apply.” Please cite your sources as the word extend has a very different meaning than does “apply”.

David: I already have. Its not a different meaning: when you extend something you impart something, you give them something.

Its right there as an example: I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate. Extend means to apply, to impart, etc. Commentary, 1 Jn 2:2.

Michael, honestly and with respect, there is not much point in continuing down this line unless you seriously take up Calvin’s words and address the texts. Just citing Scripture–reflecting your own interpretations and assumptions–and then imposing them upon Calvin is just a circular assumption.

Anyway, I hope I have clarified my position now. If you have any more questions about what I believe or about my reading of Calvin, I will gladly answer. However, I see no point in continuing the line of discussion on Calvin at this point. And/or it may be better to discuss this by email if you wish.

Thanks for your time,
David

20 Michael Beck October 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm

David, you’re correct, there is no point in continuing the discussion on this subject. Irrationality on your part has brought us to a stand still. If I say Calvin was for TULIP, you quote Muller. If I use Muller to show you even he thought Calvin held to definite atonement, you start talking about redemption being extended to all mankind but only applied to the elect. Then when I address this issue, showing Calvin did not “split” the atonement into one group for extension and one for application, you pull out rapid fire quote on top of quote, bolding out of context. When I show you’re taking it out of context, you ignore this and simply quote and bold some more. To give 19 instances of Calvin using “souls that perish” as a phrase meaning “unbelievers”, does not prove that this is the case in the Isaiah 22 commentary, especially considering the context of the whole page is in regards to the church. This is irrational logic. I even said that there’s no need to come back with 20+ citations, because the context was clear. But the quotes out of context do not stop and death by a 1000 papercuts it shall be!

In closing this discussion, I’ll grant that Calvin said things that would be indeterminate on certain doctrines, IF we did not have him specifically stating otherwise, as in the 1 Jn 2:2 comment. It does not follow that if you find 1000 citations of indeterminate quotes on the atonement you can therefore change the clear meaning of his comment on 1 Jn 2:2.

David, you state your man revisionist point again when you say “Calvin and all the original Reformers, they believed that Christ suffered for all sin, for all the sin of the world. Likewise, he effected a redemption of the whole world, all mankind.

I’ll let you argue with Richard Muller on this point, who is NOT attempting to be a revisionist when he says, “Calvin was quite clear on the point: the application or efficacy of Christ’s death was limited to the elect. And in this conclusion there was also accord among the later Reformed theologians.”

21 David November 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Hey Michael,

I am still completely none the wiser why you think the comment from Muller should be problematic for me. I am completely baffled.

I see you are studying at RBS. Say hello to Robert Gonzales for me when next you talk to him. He is a good friend of mine.

Take care,
David

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