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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Gospel According to Galatians, Pt. 7 by C. R. Biggs | Main | Confessions and Pleas »

    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."

    Posted by John on November 3, 2006 06:32 PM

    Comments

    John, you state:

    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:

    Why the harsh tone? Should we not endeavor to spread the Gospel to all?

    The Lord has chosen whom He has chosen. We are commanded to Go and make disciples.

    Why is there the need to constantly debate over "limited atonement"?

    Are there not Christians who are inconsistent in other areas of their Christian life as well? I would venture that most Christians lead lives that are inconsistent in many other areas such as: in holiness, in prayer, and in belief of the authority of Scripture.

    D.A. Carson states in his book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God:

    "I argue, then, that both Arminians and Calvinists should rightly affirm that Christ died for all, in the sense that Christ’s death was sufficient for all and that Scripture portrays God as inviting, commanding, and desiring the salvation of all, out of love (in the third sense developed in the first chapter). Further, all Christians ought also to confess that, in a slightly different sense, Christ Jesus, in the intent of God, died effectively for the elect alone, in line with the way the Bible speaks of God’s special selecting love for the elect (in the fourth sense developed in the first chapter)."

    I would not consider D.A. Carson a universalist.

    John, I know from what I have read from you on this blog, that you truly love the Lord and that you desire for others to do the same.

    All I am saying is perhaps you should take a more irenic approach in your argumentation.

    The arguments for the limited atonement are very strong. However, there are texts in the Bible, as D.A. Carson obviously is alluding to in the quote above, that illustrate that Christ's death was sufficient for all and effective for the elect.

    But even within the Reformed camp, Richard Baxter held to unlimited atonement.

    From Theopedia:

    Richard Baxter held to a form of Amyraldism, a less rigorous more moderate form of Calvinism which rejected the idea of a limited atonement in favor of a universal atonement similar to that of the Arminians. He devised an eclectic middle route between Reformed, Arminian, and Roman doctrines of grace: interpreting the kingdom of God in terms of contemporary political ideas, he explained Christ’s death as an act of universal redemption (penal and vicarious, but not substitutionary), in virtue of which God has made a "new law" offering pardon and amnesty to the penitent. Repentance and faith, being obedience to this law, are the believer’s personal saving righteousness. This particular doctrine is called neonomianism and is sometimes referred to as "Baxterianism."

    Baxter is held in high regard in Reformed circles and yet he differed on the extent of the atonement.

    I do not wish to get into a theological debate in which we argue over the extent of the atonement.

    All I am saying is that if we discuss this, we should discuss it in a cordial way.

    May God bless you as you continue your good work in educating others that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, to Christ alone, by the authoriity of the Scriptures alone, and to the Glory of God alone.

    Hammer

    John (and others),

    I really like this post. It seems to make things very simple with regard to evaluating "4-point Calvinism".

    However, there is a very brief article concerning the "logic of limited atonement" which would seem to challenge your post here. While passages like John 10:11 w/ v.26 and also Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 seem to clearly imply that Christ did not die to secure the provision of the non-elect, and thus I adhere to limited atonement, yet nevertheless the arguments made in this little article have always left a nagging doubt in my mind about this.

    Would anyone be willing to take a stab at evaluating the logical argument made in this post with the counterpoints offered in this article by Dr. Kevin Bauder? I know that I, for one, would be helped by seeing how you guys would go about addressing this.

    Thanks,

    Bob Hayton

    Hammer

    Interestingly, no one took on what I said on the merits of my argument. You merely gave an ad hominem by saying it was harsh. But that is not an argument against it.

    First, let me simply respond to some of your comments. Perhaps it will help make a little more sense of things. ...the belief that Christ's death was sufficient for all and effective for the elect is the standard 5 pt. Calvinist. position, not just DA Carsons'. It appears you may have misunderstood what we believe.

    Further, I am not sure I understand why you think the limited atonement view is harsh. What is important is whether something is Biblical and true. LA strips man of all hope in himself and forces us to recognize that salvation is of grace alone.

    It makes certain that the work of salvation is Christ-centered, not a cooperation between man and God. Those who reject limited atonement and yet claim to believe in irresistible grace are being both inconsistent and unbiblical because irresistible grace and limited atonement are one and the same thing. Grace is of Christ, and given to the elect only, as you yourself would acknowledge - that grace comes from Christ's cross. So you already embrace LA without knowing it. I am trying to show that all believers in irresistible grace already believe in LA.

    The point is, we are called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. If we do so, we should represent Christ to the nations as he has revealed himself, not as we want him to be. If you believe in irresistible grace, then you already believe in limited atonement. The point of the post is that It is contradictory to assert one believes in irresistible grace and then reject limited atonement. It is affirming grace out of one side of your mouth and denying out of the other. Why? Because , two sides of the same coin. Where did irresistible grace come from? From Christ? Yes, and this grace was given to the elect, not the non-elect. So while yes, Christ may have died in some ways for the non-elect, but he only died for the elect redemptively, to secure effectual grace. A grace he did not secure on the cross for the non-elect.

    LA does not stop us from boldly proclaiming the gospel to all creatures as you seem to be saying. On the contrary, God commands us to all indiscriminately cast forth the the seed of the gospel, but it is the Holy Spirit alone who germinates that seed in the hearts of those for whom Christ died. For that grace itself which the Spirit quickens the elect has its source and fountain in the work of Christ. If from Christ then limited atonement is true.

    Indeed I agree that we are all inconsistent at some points. That is why we have one another. If we are wrong about something we should correct one another. What God has revealed in the Scripture is for us, not to be hidden as many are in the habit of doing. If something is Biblical and we do not proclaim it because it makes us feel uncomfortable, then we are not proclaiming the full counsel of Scripture. I am not saying anyone is UNSAVED who does not believe this. Far be it. God saves many people in spite of their bad theology, otherwise grace would not be grace. But this does not mean God does not call us to correct it when we encounter it. To say as four-pointers do that Christ did not die for unbelief, or that the grace to believe is to be had apart from Christ, is not a small error. It impacts a huge amount of other theology.

    Regeneration, which comes just prior to faith had to be purchased on the cross. It does not come out of a void.

    And Yes, we are quite aware that Richard Baxter is an Amyraldian. I am not sure what this has to do with our discussion however. Are you saying that because he was an Amyraldian that we should not correct one another when in error? Not sure I understand your point.

    Why the constant need to debate this? Because the unlimited atonement position is not putting Christ at the center. It affirms that effectual grace can be had apart from Christ. This is erroneous. Yet in affirming irristible grace, they already affirm limited atonement. You cannot seperate the two because all redemptive grace has its origin in Christ's crosswork.

    Blessings
    John

    Bob

    I am not arguing for limited atonement simply because it is logical, but because it is biblical. Christ purchased with his blood men from every tribe, nation and language (Rev 5:9). That is, all men, not only jews, but persons out of every tribe.

    If you have been convinced Scripturally of irrisistible grace (John 6:63-65, 37) then you already affirm limited atonement because it is the same thing, looked at from a slightly different perspective.

    Limited atonement is not the belief that there is in no respect which Christ died for the non-elect. Rather, it is affirming that Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect, that is, redemptively (to secure effectual grace).

    Do you yourself acknowledge that effectual grace comes from Christ and from his work accomplished for us? Is this grace given to the non-elect?. If you answer no then you already affirm limited atonement perhaps without knowing it.

    >>Why the harsh tone? Should we not endeavor to spread the Gospel to all?

    Are you asserting that general atonement is necessary to underwrite the free offer of the gospel? That's a hyper-Calvinist move. In hyper-Calvinism, you need a "warrant to believe." For the hyper-Calvinist you should try to peer into the secret counsels of God. For the Amyraldian, you move knowing Christ died for you.

    >>Richard Baxter

    Baxter was also considered guilty of a holding a form of Amyraldianism that conflated justification and sancification.

    That said, what is missed by today's "4 Point Calvinists" is that Amyralt's doctrine of general atonement is not theirs. For Amyralt, the atonement underwrites what he called a "hypothetical covenant," thus the grace of election could flow from God by a particularlizing principle in the actual covenant. For Amyralt, all the merit of Christ for the totality of humanity's sins in the "hypothetical covenant" was applied to the whole of the elect in the actual covenant. In theory, "nothing is left over or wasted." This has to do with the allegedly infinte value of one offense.

    "4 Point" Calvinists today look at the atonement as a celestial bank account. Election and application of redemption draws on this account, but there is something "left over." The personal dimension of the atonement is lost in this scheme. Christ did not merely die for sins, He died for people. He did not merely hypothetically satisfy God's wrath. He really satisfied it.

    John,

    I believe in Limited Atonement. At least I think I do. The verses I cited and even Rev. 5:9 that you gave seem to clearly imply Christ died for us (the elect) in a different way than for everyone else.

    However, I have not really been able to answer the argument offered in that brief article. He contends that Christ died to secure univeral provision. And that He also died to secure particular application. That we should distinguish between application and provision. And so for him your argument presented in this post does not seem to fly. Christ died to secure universal provision. And while God elected only some, and irresistibly applies to those elect, that universally sufficient provision which Christ's death secures, this does not logically require that Christ only would have died for those God intended to apply the universal blood-brought provision for. Basically, if I understand him right, he would say it remains up for grabs whether God had Jesus die to secure universal provision or not. Sure, all the passages that you, John, and I use to prove that God applies Christ's death stand. But they limit only the application purchased by Christ's death, and have no direct bearing on the provision bought by Christ's death.

    All this hinges on splitting off provison from application with regard to atonement.

    I am trying to play Devil's advocate a bit. Basically, because I can see a little bit of force in his argument. He is basically making it essential that we come up with express negations concerning provision of the atonement, not application. And while I have a few arguments that lean that way, I don't see any clear "express negations"--any clear statements that Christ did not die to provide (do not read apply, here) atonement for such and such person/persons.

    I may just be muddling everything up. I really would like to be able to expose his logical flaw in his argument, and am unable in my own thinking through on this issue as yet. I just wondered (since you are much more versed in this debate and in dealing with multitudinous different arguments) if you could see through his reasoning and point to a fatal flaw or weakness.

    I understand to, if you choose not to take time on this. Because I do believe it is clear enough for me that Limited Atonement is consistent with Scripture. You can well spend your time on other pursuits. And sorry for the length of this post.

    Thanks again,

    Bob

    Bob

    As noted in my post above, I have no probelm whatsoever, with the idea that Christ may have died for the non-elect in some sense. They may have some temporal benefits such as the aversion of God's wrath for a time and the opportunity for many to hear the command and proclamation of the gospel.

    We preach the gospel indiscriminately to the elect and non-elect alike, but you must acknowlwedge that such non-redemptive side-benefits of Christ's redmeptive work is not what Calvinist's are speaking of when we speak of particular redemption (LA). I am not arguming against provision. When we speak of limited atonement we speak of Christ's intent and application in it ... we speak of what Christ's ultimate purpose in it was, that is, to die redemptively for his elect.

    This redemptive purpose of the atonement was not in God's mind for the non-elect. So when we speak of limited atonement we are only referring to its redemptive benefits, not its non-redemptive benefits. So if we acknowledge that the redemptive benefits are given to the elect only then we affirm limited atonement. Christ's purpose in the atonement for the non-elect, while it may have been a lot of things, but it was not redemptive.

    That is why an often better term for limited atonement is "particular redemption". For certainly the gentleman who wrote the essay you pointed to does not deny that redemptive benefits of the atonement only go the the elect, right? The purpose of Christ's redemptive work was only for the elect and only granted to the elect, and we see this discrimination specificlly in effectual grace, which comes from Christ but is given only to some and not others.

    That is why I use the phrase Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect.


    Christian Greetings,

    If the doctrine of limited atonement is the biblical doctrine as you have described above, how is it that believers were at one time children of wrath, even as the rest, as the apostle Paul states in Romans? I am asking the question in earnest because this is an issue I have been wrestling with of late. Is not the death of Christ on the cross the satisfactory payment for our sins, but our faith and repentence is when that death is applied to us individually and personally, and thus our sins are "atoned" for when we believe? Otherwise, if we assert that our sins were atoned for at the cross 2,000 years ago, are we not also asserting eternal justification? I look forward to your response....thanks

    Jon

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. The benefits of Christ's redemptive work applied to us in time by the Holy Spirit, includes several things. Among them are forgiveness of sins, but other benefits exist such as the grace that enables us to believe. That grace does not come from God in a void, as if it were seperate or apart from Christ (and the work of the Holy Spirit) uniting us to Him.

    God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption . Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 cor 1:28-31)

    Your post, if we were to trace the theology behind it, would have us believe that a person can come to Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. But it is the Holy Spirit that unites us to Christ and His benefits, and this grace itself, which enables us to believe, is possible only because of the work of Christ. It is grace in Christ which saves us, not our will (Rom 9:16). We have no natural resources in ourself to believe. Our faith, rather, gives witness that God has done a work of grace in us. It springs from our new nature when the Holy Spirit opens our blind eyes and turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. No one believes the gospel UNTIL the Spirit does this. The Trinity works in harmony. God the Father elects a particular people for Himself (Eph 1:3,4; Rom 9:15-18), the Son redeems them and the Spirit applies that redemption to the same through regeneraiton. Election itself is not salvific, it is God's plan as to how he will save his people through Christ.

    Our faith does not come from natural resources lest we empty the cross of its power. Indeed we must believe the gospel, but the Scripture teaches that no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65) and all to whom God grants it will believe (John 6:37). John 6:63 in the same context says this is the work of the Holy Spririt. Flesh gives birth to flesh but spirit gives birth to spirit.

    Apart from grace (from the cross) no one would believe to begin with but we would be left to our own fallen devices which loves darkness and hates light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20).

    As long as you think faith and repentance are produced from our unregenerated human nature, you underestimate the extent of our fallen condition. 1 Cor 2 says that the Spirit of God is given us that we might understand the things freely given us, ie.e. the gospel. So Christ's atonement, which secures this grace, must be applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit at a time in their life if they are to believe.

    To claim that one can come to Christ apart from grace is simply to deny our condition and seriously undermine the gospel.

    >>If the doctrine of limited atonement is the biblical doctrine as you have described above, how is it that believers were at one time children of wrath, even as the rest, as the apostle Paul states in Romans? I am asking the question in earnest because this is an issue I have been wrestling with of late. Is not the death of Christ on the cross the satisfactory payment for our sins, but our faith and repentence is when that death is applied to us individually and personally, and thus our sins are "atoned" for when we believe? Otherwise, if we assert that our sins were atoned for at the cross 2,000 years ago, are we not also asserting eternal justification? I look forward to your response....thanks

    In Reformed Theology, there is an economy of the Trinity behind each step of salvation. The Father elects, the Son atones, the Spirit applies.

    A person is under the wrath of God "in time" until he is converted. He is converted at the right time in his life when the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of the cross to him in time. Then, he ceases to be a child of wrath. While a child of wrath, he is also elect, so his life is ordered by God to bring him to faith and repentance. God is under no obligation to do any of this, so His mercy is the operative principle.

    What the atonement does, and this is simplified, is atone for the sins of that person and create a covenant obligation between the Son and the Spirit and the Father and the Spirit, such that, in response to the Son's atonement and subsequent intercession before the Father for those from whom He atoned sins, the Spirit takes up His covenant obligation to apply the benefits of redemption to the persons for whom Christ died. They are *not* "eternally justified" (that is hyper-Calvinism), rather they are justified subsequent to the application of redemtpion to them by way of regeneration, which results in their repentance and faith and thus their justification.

    Those who affirm "eternal justification" collapse the ends-means in the decrees of God into the decree of election. That is, they conflate the decree of election, the decree of atonement, and the decree of application into a single decree, and this results in a covenant that is unconditional with respect to both merit (which we affirm) and instrumentality (which we disaffirm, as with Turretin's theology). The decrees and the covenants are not to be conflated. While they are related to each other, they are not the same thing.

    The decrees order the covenants, but there is order within the covenants. There is an unconditional element with respect to merit in the covenant of grace. However, we must still satisfy an instrumental condition as individuals in order to reap the benefits of the cross of Christ. We do this, because the Spirit is faithful to regenerate us through the instrumentality of the gospel, causing us to believe in Christ and repent, casting ourselves on His mercy for all our salvation.

    Now, lying behind your questions might be an idea that since God is timeless this is "all one thing," to Him, eg. eternal simutaneity. A few things can be said to resolve the difficulty.

    Election is ontologically timeless for God (the order of His being) yet "before the foundation of the world", (the order of knowing). Now, whereas election is timeless, salvation is temporal. So we have a difference between the order of being and the order of knowing. God's timelessness results in God knowing everything "in eternal simultaneity." However, salvation is itself timebound, not timeless, so we affirm that justification, which is an occurence in the realm of time, is bound to time.

    Ontologically, God is unaffected by relational sequence as to His person, but He is conscious of sequential duration, because sequential duration is a part of the ordering of his decree. We know this because we have a sense of past, present, and future that, because it exists and will exist, is grounded by His mind. For God, all of these are internally intuited and not arrived at chronologically through a process, but the concept or idea of durational sequence or succession is a distinct epistemological, not ontological category. God knows all our thoughts and actions in the past, present, and future, and at the same time knows His own thoughts and actions in relation to each other and to our own and in what order and what has a cause/effect relation along His decree. Thus, He can inspire Paul to say, "He chose before He created." He knows that He created the sea and dry land before He created birds and fish and animals and man. He knows that Christ atoned for our sins, but He also knows not everybody was born when this happened. He knows when we did not believe and lived in sin and when we believed and repented. In fact, He intervened at the right time for each of us to ensure that happened.

    Thanks, John and Gene, for your responses. I'm a Calvinist, BTW. What I'm getting at here is the theological differences between a "moderate" or "classical" Calvinist and a "high" Calvinist on the atonement issue. Did Christ die for the whole world or just for the elect? The redemptive benefits of his death on the cross, of course, are only applied to the elect. However, since the death of Christ was not a commercial transaction (i.e. so much payment for so much sin)but rather was of infinite value (so that if God had elected 10 more people to redeem, Christ would not have to suffer any more to atone for their sins, for example) was not Christ's death satisfactory for the sins for each man individually? But only applied particularly to the elect? What are your thoughts? Thanks

    The "high" calvinist or hypercalvinist position on the atonement and the (lack of a)command to preach the gospel to all, as such, is a distinctly minority position that none of us here hold to and (which monergism.com strenuously fights against). In many respects, the Classical Calvinist position is about as far from Hypercalvinism as it is from Arminianism. Both of those have lost balance in the gospel in important respects.

    Again, per your inquiry, Christ's atonement, of course, is of infinite worth but only intended for those He made a covenant with in His Son (to redeem them), and with the Spirit (to apply that redemption to bring them into union with Christ).

    Christ as a human being fulfilled God's requirements in the law perfectly on our behalf meriting salvation for as many God gave to Christ (John 6:37). Christ suffererd the full wrath of God for the sins of His elect, and if there were 10 more elect than there werem then it would have been sufficient just the same.

    Your commanets about the worth of Christ's atonement fall into line with why some say Christ is sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect. So your statement is would accurately reflect this.

    Quote:
    "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"

    Actually I believe that is somewhat misleading. According to John Quick in Synodicon de Gallia Reformata, Amyraut said that
    "Jesus Christ died for all men sufficiently, but for the elect only effectually: and that consequentially his intention was to die for all men in respect of the sufficiency of his satisfaction, but for the elect only in respect of its quickening and saving virtue and efficacy; which is to say, that Christ's will was that the sacrifice of his cross should be of an infinite price and value, and most abundant to expiate the sins of the world; yet nevertheless the efficacy of his death appertains only unto the elect; ... for this was the most free counsel and gracious purpose both of God the Father, in giving his Son for the salvation of mankind, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, in suffering the pains of death, that the efficacy thereof should particularly belong unto all the elect and to them only" (ii.355)
    As can be seen there is a particularism there in his understanding of Christ's death.

    Martin

    Quote:
    "That is why an often better term for limited atonement is "particular redemption". For certainly the gentleman who wrote the essay you pointed to does not deny that redemptive benefits of the atonement only go to the elect, right?"

    Well by "go to" I assume you mean are effectually applied. What doesn't seem to be widely understood is that the likes of Baxter and Amyraut actually affirmed that the redemptive benefits of the atonement are only applied to the elect. However you go on to say that "The purpose of Christ's redemptive work was only for the elect and only granted to the elect". Yes, its only granted to the elect but I can think of no scriptural reason why the extent of Christ's redemptive work must necessarily be the same as those to whom it is granted.

    Martin

    The main differences between the "high" and "low" Calvinists here is somewhat related to the order of decrees. Highs tend toward a form of supralapsarianism; Lows tend toward infra. However, you will find infras that emphasize the particularizing principle as stringently as highs.

    Strictly speaking, related to the way they view the atonement and its effects, hyperCalvinists are people who are high Calvinists and who also collapse the decrees and conflate the order of being and knowing as I discussed above. Not all "high Calvinists" are hyper-Calvinists, but all hypers are "high Calvinists." High Calvinism spawned hyper-Calvinism about 300 years ago related to discussions among the high Calvinists about the conditionality or unconditionality of the Covenant of Grace.

    In relation to the five points, infras and supras stipulate to the five points for the same reasons, so indexing supralapsarianism to high Calvinism is, for the most part, irrelevant to what underwrites their belief in the five points.

    As to items like common grace, you'll find that there is some difference related to the theoretical way God orders the universe. A supra is likely to see everything in terms of God ordering the universe for His glory for the benefit of the elect. An infra stops at "His own glory" though he will, in priniciple, agree that God is targeting the elect in particular, but he will include the reprobate as well, for they too will see God's glory (but not appreciate it as the elect will).

    Some lows that I know from the internet often complain that highs are using a "decretal grid" to interpret the atonement texts. I would say that if so, then it applies to infras and Amyraldians too.

    Likewise, there are two views on supralapsarianism these days. The supras I know are modified, affirming Reymond's teleological supra scheme, not classicals.

    One of the problems with the objections to the "high" view (not the hyper-view) has to do with the assertion that the atonement is "sufficient for all but efficient for the elect alone" in that it means different things to different people. "Lows" that use this mean something different than Amyraldians, ergo highs view lows with suspicion in that respect. By the same token highs and lows have more in common than not in common.

    A. What a Calvinist means here and an Amyraldian means are different things. The Amyraldian operates with a hypothetical covenant that the Calvinist denies. So, this is lurking behind his use of this phrase.

    B. A Calvinist using this tends to look at the atonement as an atonement for sin and the person side is secondary. If more were elected, the atonement would still cover them. The high view emphasizes the personal nature of the atonement. In principle, they are the same if held in proper tension, and lows and highs get along.

    C. Typically, the low Calvinist will accuse the high of making the atonement a "commercial transaction." Owen is usually his whipping boy on this.

    D. There are several replies to this, some of which are better than others:

    1. The atonement is not just for "sin" it is for specific "people." Christ does not just satisfy God's wrath for sin; He satisfies it for a specific people. In reducing the atonement to "sufficient for all; efficient for the elect" the low Calvinist is the one guilty of the reasoning of which he accuses the high Calvinist, for he posits a commercial value to sin and then extrapolates "infinite value" into each sin. This only moves the question for him back by one step.

    2. Thus, "sufficient for all; efficient for some" really doesn't say anything meaningful unless highly qualified.

    3. We know hell is punishable in degrees, so relative to the "value" of sin, if sin is punished by degrees, why can the atonement not also be of a limited degree? Here, in my opinion, is where low Calvinists often misunderstand high Calvinists. This shows in the way the two usually defend limited atonement. The former will defend via unconditional election; the latter will do that and will also defend it by discussing the teleology of the atonement itself. This leads to the charge that they are thinking in "commecial categories." More on that below related to the purchase of people. Here, I want to make some observations to show high Calvinist thinking here as I understand it:

    i. Again, we have an ontological order and a teleological order related to sin.

    ii. It is true that sin is of "infinite value" if considered ontologically as to its nature. Nobody disputes this.

    iii. However, high Calvinists consider not only that but the telelogical degree of sin. In other words, some sins are more heinous than others. It's true that to sin once is to be guilt of breaking the whole law, but if you commit murder or apostatize you've committed a more heinous sin. The apostate is punished more than the ignorant savage in that respect.

    iv. Apropos iii, so when high Calvinists speak in "commercial categories" they aren't considering the nature of sin (ontology) or a certain number of sins (as they are often characterized as believing) as much as including those things and the teleology of sin (the individual nature of sin and its decree of heinousness and the consequent degree of punishment for it). In short, sin x and sin y are both of infinite ontological nature thus the same. Yet, they are not the same relative to each other in relation to the degree of punishment that is incurred. If not, then statements like Heb. 10:28 - 29 make no sense, and remember, Jesus told Pilate that his sin was "less" than that of the those who had brought Him before him.

    God's justice is exact. Thus at the cross, God's wrath for a particular people is satisfied, including the degree of heinousness of their sins, not just their ontological number or nature. This is all to say that Hodge's statement that "what would save one would save another" is only a partial truth. Rather, ontologically, that is true. Teleologically, that is untrue, because of the intensity of punishment warranted in Scripture itself.

    4. Appeal to the common grace benefits of the atonement, as well as the infinite sufficiency of the atonement, are harmonistic devices by which some Reformed theologians reconcile special redemption with those passages of Scripture which speak of the atonement in universal or cosmic terms.

    But whatever the independent merit of these principles (common grace, infinite sufficiency), we need to recognize them for what they are, which is frankly a makeshift explanation to pave over some pot holes in the exegetical foundation of Reformed theology perceived by those persons.

    5. Speaking of the atonement in "commercial categories" is permissible in Scripture, since we are told we are "bought" or "purchased." Ergo, we are free to use this as a means of discussion as long as we are acknowledging the personal aspects of the atonement and speaking where Scripture speaks. Christ did not just "pay for" sin as much as he also "purhased" specific people. Amyralt saw this, and that is why he inserted the hypothetical covenant. This is routinely ignored by modern "4 Pointers" and critics of "commercial categories." Remember, in Amyralt's theology, the full "value" of the atonement is applied to the elect, nothing is "left over" just in case somebody should believe.

    Note that we keep coming back to the idea of the covenant. The Amyraldians I know are not Presbyterian Covenantalists or Baptist Covenantalists. It seems to me that the only way for a covenantalist to reconcile covenantalism and Amyraldianism is by this "hypothetical covenant" or, as Kendall did, by separating intercession and atonement, neither of which Scripture supports. Thus, as I see this personally, I find covenantalism a remarkably useful and very effective way to defend particular atonement and ultimately avoid these scholastic quibbles about sufficiency and efficiency. "For whom did Christ die" is answered by "The ones whom He represented." Federalism provides the answers.

    6. Keep in mind that Amyraldianism borrows heavily on Thomistic categories of thinking. The formula "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect" has its roots not in Reformed Theology or Amyralt or Calvin, but in Aquinas. Why is it illicit to appeal to "Owen's commercial categories" but not Aquinas scholastic categories?"

    7. Covenantal language in Scripture itself is personal, and that makes it an exclusive contract between the respective parties. For example, we have the OT language of Yahweh as the husband of Israel or Christ as the husband of the Church. Christ says His blood is the very substance of the covenant in the words of institution for the Lord's Supper. We must not neglect this.

    8. From time to time, you'll find somebody seeking to defend limited atonement by way of the application of redemption (calling). But this conflates the role of the Spirit with the role of the Son.

    9. Others will act as if the nature of Christ somehow increases the quality of what was placed on Christ thus this (not the ontological nature of sin) is what make's the atonement of "infinite value." That's a non-sequitur. When Christ ate, He ate enough to satisfy His appetite. He did not eat all the food in the world or increase the value of the meal. Likewise He satisfied the wrath of the Father and His nature gave Him the ability to endure God's wrath and lend an eternal quality to it.

    10. Apropos 10, you'll find an occasional real world Amyraldian who interprets the baskets left over at the Feeding of the 5000 relative to the atonement. There is nothing in the text to support this.

    11. Some will try to separate objectivity and subjectivity. That is Christ is said to have satisfied the whole Law and thus this creates the "infinite sufficiency" of the atonement. On this view, it is not the passive obedience of Christ on the cross but His active obedience in leading His life that makes the value of the atonement "infinite." In short, a life of infinite value was taken, ergo, the sins and lives for which He atoned are infinite.
    This shift is unwarranted in Scripture.

    12. On another level, there are those who will attempt to do this by way of Christ's active obedience removing all the legal obstancles for men. Well, if so, then we're back to unbelief being a sin or not being a sin. If ALL the legal obstacles are removed, then what keeps men from believing or prevents universalism?

    E. Apropos D.6, one of Amyraldianism's major weaknesses in particular here is the way the decrees are viewed. The decree to atone precedes the decree to elect/reprobate. The hypothetical covenant of the former is a harmonistic device to reconcile it to the latter.

    F. Apropos E, the decree to atone is viewed by them as a genuine desire to atone for the sins of all people without exception. However, the particularizing decree, by definition, undercuts this. Ergo, it is the Amyraldian, not the supralapsarian or infralapsarian Calvinist who believes that it is God's decree that keeps men from believing. Supras and Infras both deny that the atonement was for everybody without exception, and we further deny that God has a decretal desire to save everybody. It's true He would "prefer" that everybody repent (Ezek. 33:11), but this flows from His commands, not necessarily His thinking related to His actual saving intentions. As such Amyraldianism is much more liable to valid criticisms from Arminians who allege that the decrees of election/reprobation and application undercut the cross and the "free offer of the gospel."

    G. Related to the "free offer of the gospel" we should remember that this concept is also called a command, a gift, and several other things in Scripture, to continually use this as some do in their criticisms of limited atonement or criticism of high Calvinism (not Hyper-Calvinism) in general neglects this, and it also tells us that they believe knowledge of the atonement is necessary for the sinner to have a "warrant to believe" or in some way underwrites that offer. They are, in my opinion, the mirror image of the hyper-Calvinists if they believe that. If the former, this seems like another harmonistic device to satisfy a hypothetical objection, "If a non-elect person could believe, could they be saved." The low Calvinist is sometimes likely to say yes. The high Calvinist simply says that this is a false dilemma. The hyperCalvinst says "No."

    H. What's more it is unclear how knowing Christ died for you in particular is a proper warrant to believe unless you believe that the scope of the intercession of Christ, which, per Hebrews is for the elect not every person, is for you too. It is that which creates the covenant obligation of the Spirit to apply redemption to the person for whom Christ died. You can't very well say that general atonement is necessary to underwrite the "free offer" unless you can also say that the intercession of Christ necessarily underwrites it too. Amyralt held them together, but the critics of limited atonement, like Kendall, separated them.

    i. By the way, if you haven't read The Will of God and the Cross: A Historical and Theological Study of Calvin's Doctrine of Limited Redemption by Jonathan Rainbow, you should. It's cheap for a monograph (I purchased mine for about $25 on Amazon).

    ii. Also, Paul Helm's Calvin and the Calvinists is also a must read.

    I. So, to summarize that last bit. For the genuine Amyraldian, God actually intends Christ to redeem him in a hypothetical covenant and then excludes him from the atonement through election into the actual covenant. The Calvinist can get around this by saying "Oh no, his sins were never atoned anyway" the decree does not keep the from believing in an atonement that was accomplished for them, because this particular grace is not extended to the reprobate anyway and their sins were never intended to be included. What's more, there is no support for a "hypothetical" covenant in Scripture. We have only enough data to posit the actual covenant of grace.

    What's more, the internal call and the atonement are coextensive, but the external call and the atonement are not coextensive. The command to repent and believe is extended, but not the internal grace to do so. They are left to their own natures, and they, accordingly, do not believe, so they are to blame, because they comply with the decree to reprobate from their own natures. The Amyraldian can argue this last statement too, but he must contend with a discriminating decree working at cross-purposes to the atoning decree.

    John,

    Thanks for your responses. This is a very valuable thread of discussion. I am thankful too, that Gene Bridges has been commenting.

    In light of all the comments, it seems that "intent" is KEY. Christ's atonement is so potentially efficacious that it surely provides common grace benefits to all. But the substitutionary elemnt of His atonement was only intended to save the elect.

    And Gene's comments about economy in Trinity struck a chord with me. All of that interaction on behalf of the elect is tied up in the concept of covenant. And for many 4 pointers, they deny covenant theology! This might be a big reason they don't get LA.

    That being said, I have faced counter arguments (as illustrated in the article I linked to, but also in personal interaction with many on this topic) where they stress that we must have a specific Scriptural statement to the regard that the intent of the atonement excluded some. To state it differently, they would say that it does not logically follow that since there are Scriptural statements of intent which apply only to the elect, that the opposite is true as well (ie. that God did not intend to save the non elect). They would point out that verses which say Christ died for his sheep/church/ etc. do not state that he did not die also for the non elect, or that he did not intend to save them too.

    So, focusing now on that line of reasoning, do you 1) have any examples of a Scriptural statement of non-intent (ie. excluded intent, or intended not to save) or 2) do you have a good line of argumentation which would cripple their whole argument on this point, which I traced above?

    I hope I am explaining this right, and know that I am learning much from this post! To me statements like Christ died to purchase his church automatically imply the converse that he did not die with intent to save the non elect. But people will claim such an implication is a logical fallacy. Are they correct?

    Thanks for the help.

    Martin T

    You asked >>>>Yes, its only granted to the elect but I can think of no scriptural reason why the extent of Christ's redemptive work must necessarily be the same as those to whom it is granted.

    Brother Martin. That is the whole point of this post. Look at what you just said. You said "..Tom whom it is granted" ... You says this as if the granting can be accomplished apart from Christ. Is it your belief that the grace God gives to bring people to faith a Christless grace? For as soon as you acknowledge the need for Christ in bringing people to faith You are speaking of redemption, of Christ's crosswork. Thus Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect. All redemptive benefits are from Christ (Eph 1:3) ... In other words in order for God to grant the grace that leads to faith, the work of the Trinity must be involved. It is not like God the Father decided to grant faith to individuals apart form the Son. This would be claiming that the Trinity are not working in harmony. Rather, God's choice in election is always IN CHRIST as Paul repeatedly says.

    The point of the post is to show that persons who think God can grant effectual grace in a void apart from Christ have somehow missed the Christ-centered nature of all aspects of redeption, including irresistible grace.

    Irrisistible grace is itself a grace purchaed by Christ's blood. The four-pointers seperate this grace from Christ, which has no biblical merit whatsoever.

    Shalom
    John


    Bob Hayton:

    You asked>>> Do you have any examples of a Scriptural statement of non-intent (ie. excluded intent, or intended not to save)?

    Excellent question...

    Answer: Yes.. Matt 13

    He who has ears, let him hear.
    And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted."
    Again, even more clear....

    John 17:9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

    So according to this passage Jesus prays only for his own, not for those outside God's electing love. His redmptive intent is only for this set of persons and not for the other. He picks up the same language in John chapter 6:37 where he says that all that the Father gives to me will belive on Me. And no one can believe on him unless God grants it (John 6:65).

    Again, can you seperate the effectual grace of Christ from his crosswork? Christ grants people repentance and faith within the context of his crosswork. John 6:63 says it is the spirit who gives life the flesh counts for nothing... Consider this... Jesus must die, be raised, and return to the Father in order to send the Spirit. The Spirit gives life. What life? The life of Christ to us, to those the Father has given the Son (John 6:65), and we all agree that this effectual grace was not given to the non-elect. Jesus says to some of the Jews, you do not believe BECAUSE you are not my sheep (John 10). Again in JOhn 8 he says to other Jews, 8:47Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."

    In other words, some persons are not given the grace of Christ and justly given over to their own boasted wills to do what they please. SOme are of God and some are not. The reason some do not believe is BECAUSE they are not of God.

    John H,

    Thanks so much for that reply.

    You said: "His redmptive intent is only for this set of persons and not for the other."

    I think in light of the covenantal framework of Scripture it becomes absolutely clear that redemption is bound up in covenant. And the idea of a "potential covenant" as proper Amyraldianism proposes, is just that a proposal without Scriptural basis.

    Since so many 4-pointers reject covenant theology, they do not see the tie in between redemption and covenant and hence fail to see the glaring contradictions in their system.

    And yes, the crosswork is pivotal.

    Thanks for the discussion,

    God bless you richly in and because of Christ Jesus,

    Bob Hayton

    John,

    Was Moses Amyraut trying to broker a intellectual deal between the two camps or was this what he really thought?

    Also where would Particular redemption fit into this?

    John or Gene,

    What do you think of the criticism of high Calvinism that states that the high Calvinist collapses God's revealed will into his decretal will, making the decretal will take precedence over His revealed will? Since God's revealed will is subjugated to His decretal will, it turns His revealed will into an intention or desire on God's part, but is not really a "will". I think the term that holds both wills on the same level is "dualism" (I could be mis-stating the position, so I apologize if I am). For example, it really is God's will that we not steal. However, many people still steal. The same would apply with God's revealed will with regard to wanting everyone to come to Christ. It really is His will, but many still do not come. What's your take on this? I appreciate your comments...

    Nate:

    That's a great question. Amyraldianism seems to have appeared due to what they saw as the harshness of the doctrine of particular redemption. How Amyraut himself has become the father of four-point Calvinists and what he really thought would be a good study. My post was more focused on the theology that has appeared today in many dispensational circles which rejects the "L" but accepts "I", The post was showing how this was inconsistent for we need "L" to get "I". "I" is impossible without Christ.

    Jon

    The way I personally see the two wills of God is not unlike the doctrine of the Trinity. We say God is three persons and one essence. This is not a contradiction because we are not speaking of the same thing. i.e. we are not saying God is three persons and one person. This would collapse in on itself. Instead we say "persons" and "essence" which makes it wholly acceptable and non-contradictory in the least.

    God's wills, I believe, are similar. on the one hand he wills that we obey the Ten Commanments. He even commands the reprobate to obey them and punishes them for refusing to do so. So it is obvious that God, in one sense, desires all persons to obey the commands. It would be absurd to say that God commands something He does not, in some sense, want. So his revealed or preceptive will and his decretive will are really speaking of different ideas.

    God may in some sense desire all to be saved. What this would mean is that God desires that men obey the command to believe in His Son. This does not say that He is going to do anything about it. His law remains the same even after the fall .. he does not lower his standards simply because we are sinners. His perfect standard remains. So he commands us to do something we are unable to do, pay a debt we cannot repay. Our inability does not alleviate us of responsibility because the pre-fell command to obey remains. Only his mercy in Christ will now suffice.

    IN other words, God commands us to believe the gospel. This means it is his desire. But it may very well not what He decrees to take place. He desires that WE WOULD DO THIS. Anything contrary to His law deserves his wrath. This is not about what He will do for us.

    Consider this. God ordains all that comes to pass. He ordains, for example, for men to commit unspeakable injustices, yet he calls his people to walk justly. Both principles are operative at once. In Acts 2 & 4 it says God ordained the crucifixion of His Son by evil men. Yet it is God's revealed will that we shall not murder.

    Bob,

    Just a quick note regarding your question as to where one can find an explicit delimiting of God's redemptive intent to the elect:

    Although I think there are passages in which it could be persuasively argued that a delimiting intent is intended (as, for example, Ephesians 5:25-28, and others), I think that before addressing those passages it might be helpful to realize that this demand is arbitrarily assigning only one legitimate form of argumentation as valid, when in fact multiple valid ways of arguing the same point just as effectively are possible. Case in point: if one finds a passage which clearly indicates that Christ's dying for someone carries necessary results; and if those necessary results include things which can only be said of the elect; then we might just as reasonably infer that Christ died for the elect alone. Consider II Corinthians 5:14-17. Paul’s argument there is clear: if Christ died for all then all died; and if all died then all live a new life which is no longer to themselves, but to the one who died for them. And so the chain of reasoning goes, bringing into its circuit such things as being in Christ, being a new creature, etc., all of which are said to flow, necessarily, from Christ’s dying for them. If A, then B. If Christ died for someone, then that person died to himself and lives to Christ.

    By the way, Paul’s reasoning places this particular passage in the same category as Romans 5 – i.e. passages in which he clearly uses the unqualified term “All” to refer to those who possess redemptive realities. Which necessarily leads either to universalism (in effect, not just intent), or to an acknowledgement of the way the word “all” can be used to indicate “all of a certain set” – but that’s just a rabbit trail.

    Other passages as well indicate this same chain of reasoning, e.g. Isaiah 53:11.

    It is clear that TULIP stands or falls altogether. On the other side, once one accepts any of the 5 points then one will consistently and logically end up with the whole TULIP. I believe TULIP on its biblical arguments, not because Augustin or Calvin promoted it.

    John H

    You said:
    "You says this as if the granting can be accomplished apart from Christ."

    Me: Well, I can't imagine what makes you think that.

    You: "Is it your belief that the grace God gives to bring people to faith a Christless grace?"

    Me: I assume this is a rhetorical question and you don't really think I would believe such a thing!

    You: "For as soon as you acknowledge the need for Christ in bringing people to faith You are speaking of redemption, of Christ's crosswork."

    me: Of course...

    "Thus Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect.

    Me: Yes, ... but I still can't imagine why you felt the need to say this - nothing I have said is in disagrement with it. Isn't that what Amyraut also affirms in the quote I gave?

    You: "All redemptive benefits are from Christ (Eph 1:3) ... In other words in order for God to grant the grace that leads to faith, the work of the Trinity must be involved. It is not like God the Father decided to grant faith to individuals apart form the Son. This would be claiming that the Trinity are not working in harmony."

    John, no one is claiming such a thing. This whole argument looks to me like a straw man of your own making.

    "Rather, God's choice in election is always IN CHRIST as Paul repeatedly says.

    Me: Yes, of course it is ... but I just don't see how any of what you say answers my original point about there being no SCRIPTURAL reason "why the extent of Christ's redemptive work must NECESSARILY be the same as those to whom it is granted."

    You: "The point of the post is to show that persons who think God can grant effectual grace in a void apart from Christ have somehow missed the Christ-centered nature of all aspects of redeption, including irresistible grace."

    Well, here is the problem I'm having: who on earth thinks such a thing??? Your whole argument seems to me to be attacking a straw man. The term 'four-point Calvinism' is nothing but a 'shibboleth'. That aside, you say a better term for Limited Atonement is "particular redmption" - well, Amyraldism affirms particular redemption!

    "Irrisistible grace is itself a grace purchaed by Christ's blood."

    Actually the only thing scripture affirms is purchased by Christ's blood is people!

    "The four-pointers seperate this grace from Christ, which has no biblical merit whatsoever."

    Me: Well, perhaps there are some 'four-pointers' somewhere 'out there' who do that, but not Amyraut and not Amyraldism.

    Martin

    Gene,

    I find myself disagreeing with much of what you say but then I am only a beginner in such things. Your comments create the impression that you are well read on this subject. I was wondering: please could you let me know what works by Amyraut or on Amyraut you have read upon which you are basing your comments?

    Many thanks,
    Martin

    Martin

    It may be good to re-read my post. I was neither defending nor opposing historic amyraldianism. The first half of the post, as noted, was something I got from Theopedia. It is not my opinion or analysis. My analysis follows the theopedia entry and is making a theological, not so much a historical point.

    There are large numbers of dispensationalists today influenced by Dallas Theologial Seminary who, in large numbers, consciously affirm four-point Calvinism rejecting Limited Atonement. I interact with them frequently. For historic reasons they are called Amyraldians. If you think this is wrong to use this name, that's fine by me because I am interested in the error itself, not names or titles of erroneous theology. This is a current & pervasive aberrant theology which rejects "L" but affirms "I" mostly among dispensationalists. The post is not a historic argument about what someone did or did not believe in previous centuries. While that may be an interesting question, the purpose of the post is to reveal that those who now reject limited atonement but affirm irrisitable grace are living in a self contradiction. This is because you must have "L" to get "I". The grace of "i" comes from "L" and this grace is particular because it is not extended to the non-elect (as four-pointers will agree) The affirm the paticularity of this grace but somehow miss that this grace must be derived from the work of Christ itself. So Christ died for the elect to secure irrisistible grace for them which he did not secture for the non-elect.

    Just wanted to point out the inconsistency of four-point calvinists in holding two beliefs which contradict each other. I know large numbers of people who will wholeheartedly affirm "I" and reject "L". The only thing I was interested in pointing out AT ALL on the post was that this position is untenable because "I" am "L" are actually the same thing - two sides of the same coin. The grace of "I" is only found in Christ and is not given to the non-elect, so Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect...

    Which I had more time to inteact on this question but work calls...

    Solus Christus
    John

    John,

    In light of what you state above, the title of your post should be reconsidered because you are refuting a position Amyraut apparently didn't hold to. What I'm gathering, having looked into this a bit, is that Amyraut has either been misrepresented or misunderstood. As I understand it Amyraut agrees that the "I" and the "L" are inseparable. I think the point of disagreement is that whereas a high Calvinist believes that the death of Christ only paid for the sins of the elect, the moderate Calvinist or Amyraldian believes the death of Christ was sufficient expiation for the sins of the whole world, but is only effectual for the elect in atoning for their sins. This "atonement" is conditional in that the sinner must put his faith and trust in Christ and repent of his sins, and it is the grace of God in Christ that draws him.

    I think Martin's comments were perceptive. I know you said you were not making a historical argument against Amyraut, but I think that he is in the Reformed doghouse because of this attachment that has been made with him and 4 pointers of various stripes. Also, I've perceived that a lot of criticism for Amyraut has been based on secondary sources, and that those who sometimes speak dogmatically about him have rarely read his works first hand (which is hard to do since there is very little of it in English). So I think Martin's question to Gene is a good one. I look forward to your comments.....thanks

    Jon

    Thanks for your comments, and your thoughts on history certainly has merit ... Good point.

    you said>>>> The moderate calvinist position is that...
    "This "atonement" is conditional in that the sinner must put his faith and trust in Christ and repent of his sins, and it is the grace of God in Christ that draws him."

    This comment you have above leads me to believe you have not carefully read my post.

    No Calvinist of ANY stripe believes the atonement is conditional and that the sinner must first place his trust in Christ for it to be effectual. This is anything but the Calvinist position. Faith is only possible to begin with because of the irrisistible grace (that draws him) which itself is purchased for the elect (not the non-elect) on the cross. So part of the work of Christ (irrisistible grace) is applied to the elect (and only the elect) even before their faith. So irrisistible grace is unconditionaly granted to some and not others (a grace which has its fount in Christ).

    Lets take note of the last part of the sentence you wrote: "It is the grace of God which draws him."

    May I ask you, what grace? Are you speaking of a grace that may be had apart from the work of Christ? Well, to suppose that whatever God requires of us, that we have power of ourselves to do (including believe the gospel), is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect. The Trinity works in harmony and the grace of God which draws us is linked to Christ's atonement, for all redemptive blessings, including irresistible grace, are found in Christ. And since this grace you speak of that draws the elect is not given to the non-elect, it means that Christ's redemptive work itself includes irrisistible grace as part of what it accomplishes.

    The grace (which you speak of above) that draws sinners was itself part of the price of our redmeption, and thus, Christ died for the elect (to secure this grace) in a way he did not for the non-elect. Our faith and the grace that draws, is itself found in Christ, not apart from Him.

    As soon as you acknowledge that the grace that draws men to Jesus is found in Christ then Christ's atonement (and who it is for) is determined AND IS GIVEN PRIOR TO OUR FAITH, because Jesus crosswork is itself the cause of the grace God grants only his elect which draws them to faith.

    Note: This does not remove the importance of preaching the gospel. When the gospel is cast forth, an unregenerate heart will not believe it, but the Holy Sprit germinates the gospel so to speak that it may be heard and believed by the elect when the grace of Christ is applied (prior to faith)..

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your comments.

    You said:

    "No Calvinist of ANY stripe believes the atonement is conditional and that the sinner must first place his trust in Christ for it to be effectual. This is anything but the Calvinist position."

    I think there is an important distinction to make between "expiation" and "atonement". Christ's death paid for the sins of all men, but a man's sins are not "atoned" for until he repents and believes the gospel. Otherwise you would have to say that his sins were "atoned" for 2,000 years ago at the cross apart from his faith in Christ and his repentance from sin. How can any sinners' sins be atoned for without his coming to Christ in time and history? There was a point where he believed, and at that point Christ's shed blood on the cross was applied to his sins. How else could such a one be under God's wrath if his sins were atoned for 2,000 years ago at Calvary?

    With regard to your point about Christ purchasing the irresistable grace that draws His people to Himself, I agree. He certainly did die for the elect in a way He did not for the non-elect--as He did so redemptively for the elect (which includes irresistable grace). His death on the cross, however, was sufficient for the sins of the whole world. I think this allows the text of 1 Jn. 2:2, for example, to speak plainly without being read through an inviolable theological system.

    So, I think what I have articulated is what "moderate" or "classical" Calvinists believe. Some who are more familiar with Calvin's works than I am would assert that this is his actual position. I am certainly open to correction and teachable about the matter....thanks again

    Jon

    You said...>>> Christ's death paid for the sins of all men, but a man's sins are not "atoned" for until he repents and believes the gospel.

    I know of no Calvinist (including moderates) who believe that Christ's death actually pays for the sins of all men. They may believe it is sufficient for all men (powerful enough to cover) but it did not pay for the actual sins, or else those who suffer God's wrath in hell would be paying for their own sins a second time, which would be unjust.

    May I ask, in light of your comment, what of the sin of unbelief? Did Christ die for that sin as well?

    Since the atonement itself must also pay for the sin of unbelief (if it is to cover all sins), so in light of this, the atonement itself is still particular for the elect (for the sin of unbelief is not paid for for the non-elect.).

    The particular redemption that Calvinists speak of is referring to the redemptive aspect of the work, not the non-redemptive aspects.

    John,

    Your question:

    What of the sin of unbelief? Did Christ die for that sin as well?

    My answer:

    Yes, He did die for that sin as well (just like any other sin). However, the blood of Christ doesn't cover his sins until he has been given a new heart to believe.

    As far as Christ suffering for the sins of those that ultimately end up perishing, see 2 Pet. 2:1, where even false prophets are said to have denied the Lord that BOUGHT them. Since Christ's death on the cross is not a commercial transaction (so much suffering for so much sin), it is not that the unrepentant sinner will suffer for his own sins even after Christ has paid the penalty for them, for they did not come to Christ and have His blood applied to them. Do you see what I mean? The defeaters you use to defend your position are only defeaters when using your paradigm.

    Jon

    In other words, in your paradigm, the sinners' belief makes up for his previous unbelief thereby paying part of the price of our redemption. The unregenerate person must fulfil a meritorious requirement on top of what Christ has done in order to be saved. Can you demonstrate biblically where our faith makes up for the previous lack thereof as if it were meritorious? You are making our faith into some kind of virtue rather than the infallible result of the work of Christ in us (part the result of the application of his atoning work). The Bible contrasts faith and work, but not if faith is seen apart from the atoning work of Christ. For an unregenerate person does not naturally see the truth, beauty and excellency of Christ. Faith is the result of being united to Christ, not its cause.

    Again you are seperating the grace of Christ from the redemption of Christ. This gift of "a new heart to believe" as you put it, is because the Holy Spirit united us to Christ. 1 Cor 2 says that the unregenerate cannot understand the things of the Spirit and thinks them foolish. And that He gives us the mind of Christ that we might understand the things freely given us (i.e. the gospel). Our faith is not produced by our unregenrated human nature, but part of what Christ died for, the Holy Spirit bringing us into union with Him, giving rise to our faith.

    1 John 5:1 states that "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God..."

    Faith is the result of the new birth not the cause of it. We are a new creation. This means that the Spirit applies the blood that we might believe. Our faith gives witness to the fact that God has done a work of grace in us, it does not cause it. It all happens simultaneously. So all that are born again believe and are justified.

    The view you are expressing, imho, is not the historic or classic Calvinistic view, but is the classic dispensational view.

    Shalom
    john

    John, I'm wondering about the logical inconsistency of the 4-point Calvinists you mention. The very good article that Bob posted earlier by Kevin Bauder shows the problem with the argument from logic: there is a difference between application and provision (Bauder's labels). The same problem exists (seems to me) in the alleged logical inconsistency of the 4-pointers. The provision Christ made for all men is not logically inconsistent with the effectual call of the Holy Spirit to the elect. For myself, I don't see the logical inconsistency.

    Steve

    Jon,

    Regarding 2 Pet. 2:1, the word for "Lord" is not Kurios but Despotes. This points to there being not an atonement "buying" in view. Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology pg. 600) points out that Peter may be drawing an analogy between the false teachers of Peter's day and those referenced in Deut. 32:6.

    There are other answers out there on 2 Pet. 2:1. Everyone must grant that that verse is unclear as to what it is referring to. Why then should we utilize it to build a big point of our doctrine upon it?

    "The word (at-one-ment) is used but once in the New Testament (Rom. 5:11), and there it means expressly and exactly reconciliation. This is proved thus: the same Greek word in the next verse, carrying the very same meaning, is translated reconciliation. Now, people continually mix two ideas when they say atonement: One is, that of the expiation for guilt provided in Christ's sacrifice. The other is, the individual reconciliation of a believer with his God, grounded on that sacrifice made by Christ once for all, but actually effectuated only when the sinner believes and by faith. The last is the true meaning of atonement, and in that sense every, atonement (at-one-ment), reconciliation, must be individual, particular, and limited to this sinner who now believes. There have already been just as many atonements as there are true believers in heaven and earth, each one individual."

    R. L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism (Harrisonbug: Sprinkle Publications, 1992), p. 60.

    If belief can rightly be spoken of as an instrumental condition and "atonement" is what occurs when one believes into Christ (as Dabney plainly says), then that sure sounds like conditional atonement to me. Whoops! :-)

    One cannot consistently say that God had exhaustive foreknowledge about who would be saved and then teach that God punished Christ for the purpose of redeeming every single man that ever lived. Surely we should credit God with having as much sense as a human being. Would God do expend "time an d effort" doing somthing he already knows will never come to pass? What human being would make a great but useless and needless sacrifice? Some say that God punished Christ for the sins of those whom He knew would go to Hell. This theory of the atonement--although synergists do not mention this--involves the matter of Christ's suffering exclusively for the purpose of man's salvation--the substitutionary aspect. They fail to have any appreciation for aspect of propitiation.

    What appears to be lacking is a clear indication of God's intent in the cross and the special object and end of his propitiatory sacrifice. The question is also one of intent. What did God intend in the atonement? Does God the Father, who elects a particular people, have a different intent than God the Son, who redeems them? And the Holy Spirit who applies that redemption?

    Hi John,

    No, I don't believe that our faith is meritorious or that it makes up for our previous unbelief. I believe that salvation is of the Lord from first to last. I agree that faith is the result of being united to Christ, not the cause of it. On these things we agree.

    Please allow me a word of clarification. I have been recently reconsidering my position on whether or not Christ died for the elect only or if He died for all men individually. Having been a convinced Calvinist from practically the day of my new birth, I thought it quite obvious that He died for the elect only. Having been challenged on this point by some brethren who hold that Christ died for all men individually, but only for the elect effectually, I began to re-examine both my assumptions and the scriptural argumentation from each side of the position. I found that in order to defend my already held theological system (high Calvinism) I was interpreting certain verses like 1 Jn. 2:2 and Heb. 2:9 unnaturally and not maintaining a consistent exegetical framework. So, right now I'm wrestling through this issue prayerfully. I'm not a pendulum swinger theologically, nor am I an unstable sort. If you've been a Christian for very long you know the type of person I'm sadly referring to, who gets blown around by every wind of doctrine. I have held to a high Calvinist position for over 12 years. So, it is with fear and trepidation that I seek the Lord for clarity on this issue, as I do not want to believe anything but His truth. Having said that, let me try to better articulate the position of the moderate Calvinist (and Dabney, Shedd, C.Hodge, & others held this view), that Christ's expiation for the sins of the world was for every man, but His atoning sacrifice only covers the sins of those the Father has elected and drawn to the Son. There is a real expiatory satisfaction for sin made by Christ, freely offered in the gospel to all sinners. Consider this quote by Dabney,

    "The word (at-one-ment) is used but once in the New Testament (Rom. 5:11), and there it means expressly and exactly reconciliation. This is proved thus: the same Greek word in the next verse, carrying the very same meaning, is translated reconciliation. Now, people continually mix two ideas when they say atonement: One is, that of the expiation for guilt provided in Christ's sacrifice. The other is, the individual reconciliation of a believer with his God, grounded on that sacrifice made by Christ once for all, but actually effectuated only when the sinner believes and by faith. The last is the true meaning of atonement, and in that sense every, atonement (at-one-ment), reconciliation, must be individual, particular, and limited to this sinner who now believes. There have already been just as many atonements as there are true believers in heaven and earth, each one individual."

    R. L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism (Harrisonbug: Sprinkle Publications, 1992), p. 60.

    If belief can rightly be spoken of as an instrumental condition and "atonement" is what occurs when one believes into Christ (as Dabney plainly says), it sounds like he is proposing conditional atonement.

    I entered into this discussion with you and Gene to see what your angle on this would be. You have been gracious to continue to thoughfully respond, and I appreciate it brother. But it appears to me that at least some of your responses have been to straw man arguments (I'm not saying this is purposeful on your part). I think this is due in part to the general misunderstanding that I see of the Amyraldian position (historic Amyraldianism, that is). Consider some of the arguments I've mentioned before. Did Christ's death 2,000 years ago save the elect? Were the elect children of wrath, even as the rest? Were not the sins of the elect atoned for in time and history when they repented and believed (all of which is the work of God?) The answers that I've heard defending the high Calvinist position have not been as convincing as I perhaps would have hoped. Well, I appreciate your input and hope that I have displayed a Christian spirit in this discussion...

    God bless,

    Jon

    Hi,

    Excellent blog. Regarding the questions at hand, I can make no stronger recommendation (on the human side) than the works of Hugh Martin, on the works of Christ ("The Shadow of Calvary", "The Atonement", and "The Abiding Presence"). Martin continues to be one of the "best-kept secrets" in Christian theological writing. Martin was a Federal theologian among the founders of the Free Church of Scotland (1843). His works never sacrifice evangelical warmth and fervour for dead-accurate theological acumen. His handling of Ralph Wardlaw's Amyrauldianism (p.16-20, "Atonement")is masterful in Scriptural logic, yet without rancour.

    Steve:

    You said>>> The provision Christ made for all men is not logically inconsistent with the effectual call of the Holy Spirit to the elect.

    Again, as I said before, the doctine of limited atonement does not meam that there may not be some respect in which Christ died for the non-elect. This is not, and has never been, the issue of contention. The issue is regarding what the intent of Christ was redemptively. Was the intent of His work on the cross particularly for the redemption, of the elect? The answer is "yes". Jesus never intended to save the non-elect by what he accomplished on the cross. Otherwise He would be trying to accomplish something he knew could never take place since He already determined otherwise for those the Father had given Him (John 6:37, 65)

    Further, the post itself is showing the inconsistency of the fact that four-point calvinists fail to connect the effectual work of the Holy Spirit to the work of Christ on the cross. For if they admit that this effectual grace comes from Christ then they ALREADY admit limited atonement in the sense the Calvinists do. Irresistible grace comes from Particluar redemption. That redemptive grace (from Christ) itself was intended and given to the elect only. So it is clear that Christ died redemptively for the elect and non-redemptively for the non-elect since the non-elect are not given this central element of Christ's work on the cross.

    IN other words, redemption is particular and only comes from the cross. Four-pointers acknowledge irrisitible grace but somehow fail to see that this grace is related to Christ. For if they did, then they would have to acknowledge limited atonement.


    Jon Unyan :

    strawmen? There must be some misunderstanding. I am not a high Calvinist. Have always believed in Calvinism only in the classical (what you call moderate) sense. In fact, no one who posts on this blog is a high Calvinist, or anything close to it. You must somehow misunderstand or read into our position.

    You asked>>> Did Christ's death 2,000 years ago save the elect? Were the elect children of wrath, even as the rest? Were not the sins of the elect atoned for in time and history when they repented and believed (all of which is the work of God?)

    Yes, I affirm that Christ's death 2000 years ago saved the elect and and also affirm that the elect, prior to being united to Christ, WERE indeed children of wrath just like the rest. The sins of the elect WERE ONLY ATONED FOR AND APPLIED TO THE ELECT IN TIME AND HISTORY. YES fully agreed!!!! There is no place where I have said otherwise.

    The difference I see between our positions is that we believe the Holy Spirit is who brings people into union with Christ IN TIME, that is, applies the work of Christ to them, effectually enabling them to believe. This itself is part of the work of the atonement. It occurs simultaneously with faith. But it is the cause of it. Therefore, being prior to faith, the atonement itself is particular. This occurs through the preaching of the word which the Holy Spirit germinates (with Christ) so to speak that persons might believe.

    Belief is necessary but made possible by of our redemtption in Christ. This effectual aspect is particular. Do not disconnect effectual grace from Christ. If it is OF CHRIST then you already acknowledge that our redemption in Christ is particular and so what are we debating about?

    Bob,

    Thanks for your comments. I wasn't using that verse to build a doctrine on top of it, I was citing it as an example of universal expiation. I could also cite 1 Jn 2:2 and Heb. 2:9, among others...

    John,

    I have been discussing this topic with Tony and the above Dabney quote was a part of that discussion.

    You said:

    "One cannot consistently say that God had exhaustive foreknowledge about who would be saved and then teach that God punished Christ for the purpose of redeeming every single man that ever lived. Surely we should credit God with having as much sense as a human being. Would God do expend "time an d effort" doing somthing he already knows will never come to pass? What human being would make a great but useless and needless sacrifice?"

    That is not really what the Amyraldian position is saying. It acknowledges that God elects a people to redeem for Himself, but it makes a distinction between the satisfaction Christ made for sin on the cross, or expiation, if you like, and the atonement which is applied to the sinner when (by God's grace and call) he comes to Christ and repents of his sin. That is what the Dabney quote was stating. It wasn't God's purpose to redeem every single man that ever lived, it was and is His purpose to save His elect. However, would it be a great but useless and needless sacrifice for Christ's death to be sufficient for every man, even if they are not one of the elect of God? Is it not greater condemnation for an unrepentant sinner to have an atonement for sin available to him, but to reject it, rather than for him to have no expiation because the Father did not intend to elect Him, the Son did not intend to die for him, and the Holy Spirit did not intend to draw him?

    Thanks for your comments, I will soberly consider them...

    John Unyan

    We affirm that we are not united to Christ primarily because of faith, but rather we have faith because we are united (through the gospel by the Holy Spirit) to Christ and his redemptive work on the cross and His resurrection (in time) which infallibly gives rise to faith. No one is denying the benefits of the atonement is available to anyone who would believe. The problem is there is no one who naturally fits that description. We preach the gospel command to all indiscriminately ... but only God in Christ can enable persons to obey the command. That enabling power itself is from the Holy Spirit applying the work of His cross and resurrection power and this cannot be seperated from the atonement. This is not given to the non-elect. So the atonement is particular, not universal in intent and application.

    Part of the work of Christ on the cross is, therefore, is to send the Holy Spirit (IN TIME) to apply His work to those who the Father has given to the Son. It is the grace of Christ's cross effectually applied that causes us to believe. Faith is the witness that God is doing a work of grace in us by Christ. That is part of Christ's redemptive work.

    While God may know from eternity who is justified, but in time He does this by the Holy Spirit by GRACE THROUGH faith.

    It may be of historical interest to see Article 8 of the Canons of Dort here:

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

    Note: The bold emphasis is mine - the rest is verbatim. The Canon was where limited atonement was originally worked out doctrinally so the debate against LA should begin here ... and it is saying exactly what I have been from the start.. Notice carefully that the framers took great care to unite the work of Christ to effectual grace. In other words, this has always been the Reformed position that it should be worked out in time by the Holy Spirit. Faith infallibly arises in the believer only as the benefits of the atonement are appied to them at a specific point.

    Next: Like you we affirm that Unbelievers are condemned for rejecting the gospel. We hearald what Christ has done
    to all men, recounting his redemptive work. But we make clear that the benefits are only for believers. Christ does only for those who would believe. OUR inability to repay our debt does not alleviate us of responsibility to believe.
    And the sinners inability does not keep us from preaching. For only through the preaching of the word are sinners drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit (part of Christ's work on our behalf).

    Further, there are many persons who are condemned who have never heard the gospel. All men suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Thus the vigorous need for world missions.

    Hello again John,

    I submitted my last comments before you updated yours. The question we are debating is "Did Christ die for every man or just for the elect?" When the Bible says that Christ died for the world, or that He tasted death for everyone should we read words like "world" or "everyone" as if they really mean the "elect". For example, "For God so loved the elect that He gave His only begotten Son..etc." That is, in essence, how we're reading the text if we say that Christ only died for the sins of the elect. I discovered that I was doing that not because of the text itself, but because of the theological system I held to....

    Brother Jon

    Thanks for your thoughts... I personally arrived at the limited atonement position exegetically, not philosophically or due to some system since this is how I understood Christ's work well before I even knew what Calvinism was.

    I don't know if you saw my previous post or not, but I responded to your claim that all of your posts were fighting against a position we did not hold (high calvinism) and so the entire time you thought we did not believe in the application of redemption in time. I hope you understand that that is not the case. We affirm it vigorously - that is why, with God's help, I was fortunate enough to have been given the privelege of spending 10 years working overseas to plant churches and doing evangelism. I affirm that no one is justified apart from faith in the gospel!!!!

    Next, to answer your question, as far as statements like "world" and the like, it is important that we put these statements in thier historical context. When Jesus spoke these words we was speaking to Jews who knew only God's favor to Israel. He is not thinking of every single person in the world, that is, all persons without exception but all without distinction .. that is, Jews and Gentiles. So this would have come of a HUGE surprise to most Jews at the time. He purchased with his blood MEN FROM EVERY TRIBE. language etc.., so the emphasis is not all men in every tribe. This is a perfectly exegetically sound position to take when viewing texts like the ones you describe.

    And to further understand a text like John 3:16 it must be read in its immediate context. It says whosoever believes. So the verse itself focuses on Christ dying for all who would believe. But who are they that believe? The text following says that but men loved darkeness and hate the light and will not come into the light. So who is it that this passage says are the ones who believe? Jesus says, only those who are "born again" can see or enter the kingdom of Heaven (also see John 1:13, 6:65) Again, there is no one who naturally submits to the humbling terms of the gospel. Where does the new birth come from? From Christ and the particular work he has done for the elect. God does not pull this grace out of a hat. It comes from the work of Christ (the cross) and the new birth, as we both agree, is not given to the non-elect. Is the new birth part of the work of redemption or not?

    If John 3:16 is read isolated from the passage on the new birth then it will only be understood in terms of what we are commanded to do. But, in context, it plainly teaches that no one believes the gospel unless they are born again ...which is a major part of what Chrit's atonement accomplished.

    Also "world" is often used not so much to mean how many as the degree of evil.

    Shalom

    Hello John,

    So much to catch up with! :-(

    Just as an aside to all, I want to say that I think it is most edifying to see the irenic nature of the discussion so far. All too often internet discussions seem to degenerate into something unworthy of bearing the name Christian. I can see that you in particular John must have needed much patience as it looks as though you have felt the need to repeat yourself several times.

    I think it is clear that there are some understanding/language differences. I’m going to try to to see if I can get to the heart of them.

    You said:
    "One cannot consistently say that God had exhaustive foreknowledge about who would be saved and then teach that God punished Christ for the purpose of redeeming every single man that ever lived. Surely we should credit God with having as much sense as a human being. Would God do expend "time an d effort" doing somthing he already knows will never come to pass? What human being would make a great but useless and needless sacrifice?"

    Me:
    I wouldn’t quite put it like that: that “God punished Christ for the purpose of redeeming every single man that ever lived” but I do affirm that there is an intent in Christ’s death towards all men. But it is not equal as this might imply. It is sufficient for all, effective for the elect. However, it is your next comment that is interesting. Accepting the obvious anthropomorphism, (and ignoring any common benefits, e.g. I suppose it could, for example, be argued that it could be worth it in God’s inscrutable wisdom to have Christ die for the reprobate in order to increase their condemnation) I wonder what you think any extra ‘time and effort’ would actually be ‘expended’ upon? Do you think Christ would have had to suffer more if more people’s sin was imputed to Him? Surely the design of the expiation, that is the expiation as an act considered in and of itself would be the same how ever many men’s sins were imputed to Christ? The discussion surely relates only to the intent behind it, the decree to provide a satisfaction to God’s justice that precedes Calvary thus what extra time and effort would there actually be?


    Secondly, you say:
    “The difference I see between our positions is that we believe the Holy Spirit is who brings people into union with Christ IN TIME, that is, applies the work of Christ to them, effectually enabling them to believe. This itself is part of the work of the atonement.”

    Me:
    The Amyraldian position and indeed I myself affirm the first sentence here. So there is no difference there. However it is the second sentence that I think points us at a part of the problem. I think you have said something similar previously. I think it would help if you could show how the enabling of the Elect in time to believe is actually “part of the work of the atonement”. “Made possible because of” yes, but I just don’t understand or see how it is ‘part of’. NB I am assuming here that by ‘atonement’ you are referring to Christ’s propitiation and not to the believer’s reconciliation in time when they have the benefits of that propitiation applied to them through faith.

    Many thanks,
    Martin

    James,

    You mentioned Hugh Martin. I found this http://www.the-highway.com/atonement1_Martin.html

    If that is representative of Hugh Martin I’m afraid I cannot share your enthusiasm. I found it unnecessarily wordy, lacking in clarity and somewhat condescending in tone (e.g. the implication that if I disagree with him I don’t have a logical mind). In spite of its many words it seemed to short on arguments and even shorter on scripture. It starts out by making an assumption that the Atonement must be considered within the context of the Covenant of Grace without presenting any evidence for why that should be accepted. In fact, given the variety of historical views, one might add: whose definition of the Covenant of Grace? It comes as no surprise then to find that his objection to Wardlaw comes not on some point of scripture but upon an alleged denial of the covenant of grace being made with Christ. I have not read the referenced work by Wardlaw so cannot comment on whether he presents Wardlaw’s position accurately. What I can say is that it is not an accurate representation of Amyraldism and so the argument carries no force against it. I guess it only appears ‘masterful’ to those who have already bought into the High-Calvinist and Federalist pre-suppositions? ;-)

    Having said that and, accepting that I found him lacking in clarity such that it could be that I have not grasped his precise meaning, feel free to make explicit what you think his master-stroke is that he delivers that defeats Amyraldism. However, before you do so I should point out that what he is tackling here is not Amyraldism but rather what appears to be so-called four-point Calvinism. Consequently, even if you were to persuade me of his logic it would still not be a valid criticism of Amyraldism.

    Grace and peace,
    Martin

    Martin

    Thanks for your email and I appreciate your follow up. Apologies for not responding ... I am way too busy as I receive 100s of emails a week. I was not sure there was much new to respond to that I had not already covered.

    Again, as I previously mentioned, I am not so interested here in historic amyraldianism as I was in the quote at the top of the post from Theopedia about it which I responed to. You may be confusing the theopedia post with what I believe. But to believe in irristible grace and reject limited atonement is a theology oft repeated and believed today among dispensationalists. Here, at least, I am not worried about what someone may have believed 100s of years ago except as it relates to the error propagated now. I am interested in the error, not so much what it is called. Those modern day persons who call themselves amyraldians or four-point calvinists who reject limited atonement is what the post was about. In the USA the numbers who hold to this false doctrine is not small. If you personally believe in some kind of historic Amyraldianism that rejects four-point calvinism, then great.

    But we should be clear that what God plans in eternity (particular election) he carries out in his Son (redemption) which is applied to His people in time by the Holy Spirit (regeneration, effectual calling). It is worth remembering that election saves no one, it is only a blueprint of what God plans to do for us in Christ. Limited atonement is speaking of the intent of the Trinity in the work of redemption. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit work in harmony and did not intend to accomplish conflicting things in Christ's death. The cross' redemptive purpose was to save the elect and the elect only, not the non-elect. Thus, anyone who already believes in irrisistible grace/effectual calling actually already embraces limited atonement because limited atonement and irrisitible grace are, in fact, are inextricably linked and part of the same worked out intent of God. One infallibly springs form the other. the cross and irrisitible grace cannot be seperated. As soon as you acknowledge irrisitible grace you acknowledege limited atonement for that irrisitible grace comes from Christ and His finished work and, as we both agree, was granted only to the elect. This means that Christ intended to die redemptively only for the elect, for he gives the grace to do so (from Christ's crosswork) only to them. There was a clear intention in the cross that was not meant for the non-elect and this is always what five point calvinists have embraced from the beginning.

    As for your statement, "Sufficient for all, effective for the elect" this is what EVERY Calvinist believes. I have yet to meet any Calvinist who rejects this. The statement is oft repeated by Calvinists and we all believe it, but you say it as if we do not. Maybe some kind of hypercalvinist, but hypercalvinism is a misnomer. It is has no more in comon with Calvinism than it does Arminianism. Please don't confuse the two.

    Limited Atonment was first worked out doctrinally at Dort. It may be worthwhile to look again at what it says.

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

    In other words, effectual grace is what the original Synod was speaking of when it refered to the Father's intent being worked out in time through the Son and Spirit. Faith does not come before effectual grace but infallibly arises from it. So the crosswork is applied to people before they believe in a VERY important respect. Therefore saving faith was only granted to the persons God intended it for in eternity. Without the cross no such faith could be granted.

    you said >>>>have Christ die for the reprobate in order to increase their condemnation

    When we preach the gospel to unbelievers we look to the Bible for how the cross is presented. We should proclaim that Christ lived a perfect life fulfilling the law, and died the death we all deserve because we fall woefully short of God's holy commands. He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe in Christ and take hold of His promises. He died so that all who believe would have eternal life. in other words, he died for all those who would believe. We proclaim that all those who believe, can know with certainty, based on God's promise that they have eternal life.

    Consider that the ten commandments are required of all people on earth even though God does not give all people provision to obey them. he is not obligated to . He can and does require of us things we are morally unable to do. This is not unlke squandering 100 million in borrowed capital in Las Vegas. You inability to repay doe snot alleviate you of responsibility. You are required to repay it. In the same way, God requires holiness of us, but he does not have to save anyone. That He gives to anyone is his mercy.


    So God's command to believe in Christ, that he died for sinners ... and anyone who believes that they justly deserve the wrath of God save in Christ's mercy alone has eternal life. Our commandeing people to believe in Jesus does not require God make provision for it. They should obey without him doing anything for them. They don't, but this is our fault, not God's.

    May the peace of Christ abide with you richly.

    Shalom
    john

    I realise I am responding to psts from two years ago but I hope the topic is still'live'!
    It is stated that you know no calvinist who rejects the formula about the Atonement- 'sufficient for all, efficient for the elect.'
    However there is indeed a minority view that won't follow this. They hold to what is termed the 'Quid pro Quo' view, that Christ paid for the sins of the elect and theirs alone is what He is punished for. The Victorian Presbyterian, Rev Robert Parker of Aberdeen, Scotland held it and today I believe Dr Thomas J.Nettles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary also offers persuasive arguments in its favour.
    The Atonement is 'Covering'- whoever is covered by Christ's wings is covered by His righteousness. Now one can either view the Covering as wide as humanity/creation itself, in which case it would seem one is born naturally under this protection and must proceed to reject it through conscious effort; or- the Covering is limited and requires conscious effort to shelter under.
    Another aspect- if Christ spreads His wings over us, will He subsequently eject us?
    These are the points of contention for the Calvinist who sees the work and application of the Atonement being initiated by God in grace.

    Bishop J. C. Ryle pointed out that we should not be more systematic than the Scriptures are. My Old Testament professor and mentor, R. B. Keyes continually emphasized to us that any conclusion drawn from a system of theology is only valid if it will run from Genesis to Revelation without hitting any snags. Again, Ryle pointed out that it is idolatry to put a system or its conclusions above the plain, natural sense statements of Scripture.
    The Scripture does indeed state that Christ died for those who were elect in Him. And that only those would come to Him. However, St. John, who develops this doctrine of election more profoundly than anyone else, also states that He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world. And there are others, like Peter's statement that the false prophets, whom Jude says were foreordained to condemnation, deny the Lord who bought them. Therefore, one must conclude that both are true, and not one truth subservient to another.
    I also think that you make an error in assuming a Christocentric source for redemption and election. The passages in John which you quote state that all this originates in the Father and his counsels and purposes and come through Christ, not that all this originates in Him. Is it possible that there is (are) element(s) in the process of the decrees which remain secret and cannot be ferreted out by even accurate and true logical processes? I suspect so. And I also suspect that one reason the Holy Spirit has not cleared this up may be that any statement about how these two things can both be true in the eternal counsels of God may be beyond human understanding, or that the Holy Spirit just deems that we don't need to know.

    As for logical consistency, look at the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus says to the sheep, "Come and enter a kingdom prepared to you before the foundation of the world. Then he turns to the goals and says, Depart from me you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared to the Devil and his angles. Logically Jesus should have said to the goals "enter the eternal fire prepared for you before the foundation of the world. But he doesn't. It was never God's intent to send human beings into this place. And the reason they go, is not because of some eternal decree but rather because of their godless lives.
    In short, Gomarian Calvinism rest more of logic than God's revelation in Scripture.

    By preaching Christ tasted death for every man (context of hebs.2:9 indicates every child), one forgets, neglects, and nullifies the point of preaching as Christ did to the woman of Canaan, "I amnot sent but to the lost sheept of the house of Israel." Here one has a bald and bold declaration by Jesus Himself that His atonement is intended for another and has not the person in view who is making application for help. What is forgotten, if it is indeed known, is that paradoxes come as opposites, as impossibilities, and the very help the person seeks lies in submission to, embracing of, following up on the very contradictory truth being presented. The woman worshipped. Then Christ presented her with another, even more difficult truth" It is not meet to cast the bread of children to dogs. Dogs was picture of the unclean, of depravity, even of reprobation, which proves as some early writers thought, that the very opposite is the best, most intense, most compelling and winsome offering. After all, the woman embraced the truth, saying, "Truth,Lord.I am just what you say, a dog, unclean, depraved, disabled, reprobate, but no one would insist on giving to the children the very crumbs that fall from their table. No, they are permitted to the poor whelps underneath the table. And just a crumb will more than meet my needs. That's how great your power, grace, and mercy, are in a crumb to a poor dog, it is more than enough to resolve the whole issue." Our Lord thought that was something else, "Great is your faith. Be it unto you as you please." A cart blanche! Paradoxical interventions or therapeutic paradoxes carry the Lord's own purpose and grace to accomplish His purposes in using them. Humility is one of the effects, and the other is the greatest glory to Christ. Imagine a thousand generations and every soul in those generations on earth and among a million, million planets throughout the universe!

    You either believe in limited atonement or unlimited atonement and you cannot have both!

    The nature of limited atonement is clearly seen in Holy Scripture. Text such as "many are called, but few are chosen" clearly show us that salvation belongs to God (not our freewill) and is imparted by God as He wills. Those who are part of the Elect were and are born from above, born of God and empowered to do so by God, the Holy Spirit. Amyraldianism is a form of dyslexic calvinism.

    Or as B. B. Warfield termed amyraldianism "an inconsistent and therefore unstable form of Calvinism"

    If the sin of unbelief is covered/atoned for by Christ's blood, then unbelief cannot be the final determining factor in a person's destiny. Ultimately we must trace that back to sheer gratuitous grace and the decree to save particular persons. In other words, we are presented with Limited Atonement, covering solely the unbelief of the Elect.
    As for saving faith, it is the gift of God, the Holy Spirit who is sent by Christ and promised to His flock. 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see...'

    I must say this is one of the most useful threads on this very vexed subject. One of the best phrases I have come across on the topic is here- irresistible grace and limited atonement are but the same thing from slightly different angles. Excellent!

    Hugh Martin's works have been mentioned here and indeed as a Free Church of Scotland man myself I am only too happy to endorse his razor sharp defence of particular atonement. However my own favourite treatments of the subject are: J.A.Haldane's The Doctrine of the Atonement ( another polemical work from Victorian Scotland ) and the late Dr Jonathan Rainbow's The Will of God and the Cross- the latter dealing with Calvin's position.

    // Where did irresistible grace come from?//

    My understanding of confessional reformed theology is that the effectual grace to believe is from the DECREE of God, not the death of Christ. This has been the argument of many of the reformed scholars.

    Philippians 1:27-29 is usually the passage that they point to for support. What passage do we have to answer this?

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