The Amyraldian View Undone
Have a look at the following defintion of Amyraldianism, and then I have a follow-up question at the end which should put to rest all arguments against limited atonement by the universalists once for all. At the end of the essay I will demonstrate why this is important and may help us become more consistent with the word of God, and recognize this not just a debate about semantics but about the work of Christ in our salvation:
What is Amyraldianism?
Amyraldism developed historically following the Synod of Dort as a compromise between Calvinism and the early Arminianism by giving up some aspects of Calvinism which some found hard to embrace. The Amyraldian view, named after French Theologian Moses Amyraut, 1569-1664, is associated with Calvinism because it retains a particularistic element by acknowledging God's distinguishing grace in the election of individuals.
Amyraldians, however, place divine election after the decree to provide an atonement. This makes the atonement universal in nature and the application of the atonement particular in nature through divine election. This view is sometimes referred to as Four-Point Calvinism since it gives up the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement in favor of a universal atonement. It is also known, perhaps more descriptively, as Hypothetical Redemptionism. Although Amyraldianism may be a recognizable form of Calvinism because it retains the principle of particularism in election, it is not necessarily a good form of Calvinism. According to B. B. Warfield, "it is a logically inconsistent and therefore unstable form of Calvinism. For another more important reason, it turns away from a substitutionary atonement, which is as precious to the Calvinist as his particularism," (Plan, p. 98).
This view maintains that Christ died for all men alike, making all men savable, with actual salvation conditioned on individual faith. Then God, seeing that no one would respond because of their depravity, chose (or elected) some to receive the grace to believe. ... the primary characteristic of the Amyraldian scheme is the placement of election after the atonement. However, opponents contend that Scripture indicates Christ came in order to execute the purpose of election. He came to die for and give eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him. See John 10:15 and 17:2, 9. If this point is true, then the decree to elect some of mankind should necessarily precede the decree to provide an atonement. The Amyraldian scheme assumes the reverse to be true. - Source Theopedia
Comment & Question: Now my question is related to the Amyraldian assertion (which we read above) that only "some receive grace to believe".
Let's take a moment to specifically focus on that word grace. According to a four-point Calvinist, what is the source of this grace that causes people to believe? Is it derived from the crosswork of Christ or outside the crosswork of Christ? As you can see from the answer to this question, four-point Calvinism removes Christ from the effectual aspect of our redemption, for to be consistent we must acknowledge that effectual grace is just as much a part of our redemption as the rest, yet some do not acknowledge this grace as havings its source in Christ's work of redemption.
How is it possible to contend that God gave His Son to die for all men alike and for the same purpose, and at the same time grant the redemptive benefit of effectual grace (for which Christ died to procure) only for some which He would select? Have you ever considered that effectual grace is also a redemptive benefit for which Christ died? What is Christ's relation to this effectual grace four-point Calvinists speak of? Is this grace (that Amyraldians affirm) to be found outside of Christ? Or in Christ? Surely it is not a Christless grace but they have effectually removed Christ from the equation by not linking effectual grace with the atonement. The Trinity works in harmony and God saves his people through Christ's redemption, not outside of it. So if this grace is found in Christ then Christ died in a way for the elect (to procure effectual grace) that He did not for the non-elect.
Effectual grace is a redemptive benefit, no? Redemption is the work of Christ. So what is the source of this elective grace that Amyraldian's embrace, if the source is not from Christ? But if the grace is from Christ (as indeed it is), then the Amyraldian inconsistency is laid bare once for all. For even Amyraldians affirm only the elect receive this grace. You cannot claim that effectual grace is a redemptive benefit procured by Christ's crosswork and then assert that Christ died for the non-elect to procure this same grace. In conclusion, four-point Calvinism is an untenable position and draws persons away from a Christ-driven interpretation.. In fact, all who affirm the Biblical concept of irresistible grace (John 6:65, 37) must consider the source of irresistible grace. As Christians, we all should affirm that every aspect of our redemption, including effecual grace, is Christocentric. So if that grace, which Amyraldians speak of, is found in Christ, and in Christ alone, then four-point Calvinism is not even a remote possibility ...
The point of this blog post is not about Warfields' claim above which was taken from a Theopedia definition, so please don't challenge me on that. Rather, I am responding to the assertion in this Theopedia post that a so-called four-point Calvinist (because of Scripture) is persuaded (rightly) of effectual grace but somehow has overlooked and seperated that grace from the work of Christ. My purpose is to reclaim that centrality of Christ in grace. All redemptive benefits have their source in Christ (Eph 1:3), including effectual grace. So when we proclaim the gospel to the world, the Holy Spirit applies effectual grace and regeneration to the hearts of the elect that they would respond to it. The command to believe the gospel goes out to all men, but since we do not have the resources in our natural state to respond the cross and grace of Jesus Christ effectually enables us to do what we would not do for ourselves, that is, believe the gospel. This cannot be done apart from the work of Christ.
Jonathan Edwards, in a public lecture in Boston July 8, 1731, said "We are dependent on God, not only for redemption itself but for our faith in the Redeemer; not only for the gift of His Son but for the Holy Ghost for our conversion."