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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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  • « Didactic Music | Main | Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ »

    Short Response to so-called 4-Point Calvinists

    This is a quick response I wrote to someone who claimed to be a four-pointer:

    A 4-point calvinist is actuallly an impossible suppostion. Consider, if you affirm the doctrine of irresistible grace (as all 4-pointers claim to do), then you already believe in limited atonement, because irresistible grace comes from Christ and Christ alone, and this effectual grace is granted to the elect only. In other words, Christ died for the elect in a way (a redemptive way to procure irresistible grace) which he did not for the non-elect. Irresistible grace is not some generic grace to be had apart from Christ, for all redemptive blessings flow from Christ, including that one. For Jesus purchased with his blood, men from every tribe, nation, language (Rev 5:9). The doctrines of grace are, therefore, Christocentric, with Christ always at the top of the chiasm, making all other graces effectual and meaningful. In other words, to reject the "L" is to remove Christ from the equation and make the doctrines of grace into a theological abstraction. So ultimately 4-point Calvinism is no Calvinism at all for Christ is the center of all true Calvinism. More specifically 4-point Calvinism is simply being inconsistent with what they already know: Irresistible grace is not Christless.

    Solus Christus
    John

    Posted by John on September 4, 2009 03:11 PM

    Comments

    well said John...I have used your line of reasoning with some success.

    I find that many find limited atonement contrary to their perception to God as being loving, kind, and all accepting.

    What I have come to understand is that many of them do not understand the full implications of grace.

    It might benefit readers of this article to acquaint themselves with Amyraldism.

    In Christ,
    CD

    Thanks for your input. In short, the redemptive elements of Christ's atonement are intended for the elect only. That is the heart of the doctrine of particular redemption. While there may be other benefits of the atonement that non-elect partake of, but that is not nor has it EVER been the issue of this doctrine. The issue is who were the REDEMPTIVE benefits intended for on the cross.

    I guess it is fair to conclude that as only God knows who the elect are it must behoove us to work at it - unless we all are the elect (universal atonement?). If the latter, then working at it at least makes the world a little nicer place for the ride home. If not, at least we tried.

    I find these discussions always pitting two positions against each other as if there were no other thoughts to be had on the subject. But there is another position.
    One can believe that Christ died with the purpose of satisfying the wrath of God concerning His broken law which involves all mankind. His justice is satisfied by Christ fulfilling God's law completely both in his life and in death so that God's justice is satisfied toward sin as a principle.
    But there is a second object in the death of Christ. Since men are totally depraved, unwilling and unable to come to God on their own, Christ's death purchases for the elect, not only the satisfaction of God's wrath against His broken law, but also regeneration, repentance and faith in Christ. These are applied in the effectual calling of the elect. So, a general amnesty is purchased and declared for all mankind through the death of Christ, which is an act of amazing grace in itself, while a further extending of grace is purchased for the elect enabling, even compelling them,to repent and believe. This is a moderate form of 5 point Calvinism which maintains ultimate value and worth for the death of Christ and at the same time makes the offer of the gospel universal as well as sincere.

    Thus the sinner is never justified until, by faith he accepts Christ and the offer of amnesty is accepted, but only the elect will ever do this because of man's inherit depravity. To me this is the middle ground that the debate always seems to ignore.

    Michael, very, very good. And, I would add, it does not require minimizing the role of the Father and the Holy Spirit in salvation for the sake of adherence to a philosophical principle (ala "L" at the top of the chiasm). This moderate 5-point Calvinism you describe is what is called 4-point Calvinism.

    Now what you will see is the 5PC will say that what you are describing is no Calvinism at all (see John's first post), because (they claim) 1) you are making God's grace generic, 2) you are making irresistible grace Christless, and 3) you are pitting the three persons of the Trinity at odds with one another in the enterprise of salvation.

    I hear what they are saying. They are simply wrong. 1) Grace is not generic, but it is offerred to all through the Cross. It is not God's problem that mankind is unable and unwilling to respond to that grace separate from the Father-initiating, Christ-providing, Holy-Spirit performing work of regeneration. 2)It is not making irresistible grace Christless; rather, what it is doing is properly acknowledging the Holy Spirit's role in regeneration. 3)Rather than pitting the 3 persons of the Trinity against each other in the enterprise of salvation, 4PC acknowledges that each Person has a role to play. It is 5PC, with its unbiblical insistence on the "L", that requires its Christocentrism to subvert the Holy Spirit's primal role in regeneration. If you disagree with them, they claim you are removing Christ from the equation and making the doctrines of grace into a theological abstraction. This is simply not so.

    John's statement probably is a good description of what 5PC calls Calvinism. It is not what 4PC calls Calvinism. To say mine is the "true" Calvinism and yours is not is the wrong question to be focusing on. The better question is, which man-made theological construct is closer to what the NT as a whole actually teaches.

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