Leonard Woods – “…he wills that all men should be saved.”

September 27, 2012

A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 3G

Dr. Tom Ascol’s chapter “Calvinism Foundational For Evangelism and Missions” by David L. Allen


In the waning pages of the chapter under the heading of “Testimony of History,” Dr. Ascol treats Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice. Ascol implies that their Calvinism was commensurate with his own commitment to TULIP. Such is not the case, particularly with respect to limited atonement.

Judson was not a writing theologian and most of what he did write he destroyed or requested that it be destroyed. Since Judson was trained in the New Divinity tradition at Andover, and it appears his Congregationalist pastor father was cut from the same cloth, it is highly likely his influencers did not hold to limited atonement. Ascol’s quotation of Judson (286) does not support limited atonement. Judson only speaks about election. Interestingly, Judson’s liturgy, Article III, to which Ascol makes appeal, speaks of an inherited sin nature from Adam but not inherited guilt (neither the Baptist Faith and Message nor the Traditional Statement on Soteriology speak of inherited guilt as well). Article V of Judson’s liturgy states that Christ “laid down his life for man . . . by which he made an atonement for all who are willing to believe” (286). This phrase is at least ambiguous as stated and does not indicate Judson believed in limited atonement. In fact, it would appear that the statement that Christ “laid down his life for man” would indicate universal atonement since “man” here probably refers to “mankind.” Notice Judson does not say anything about Christ dying only for the elect but he does speak of the application of the atonement as being “for all who are willing to believe.” None of the quotations of Judson which Ascol uses state that the atonement is limited in its extent. The same applies to Luther Rice as well.

It is interesting to note that Leonard Woods, the preacher who preached the missionary ordination sermon for Judson and Rice on February 6, 1812, clearly articulated a belief in general atonement and furthermore, developed this theological point as an important motive for missions and evangelism. This is all the more interesting since Woods was a Calvinist. For confirmation of this, one can check Sermon Preached at the Tabernacle in Salem February 6, 1812, on Occasion of the Ordination of the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Newell, Adoniram Judson, Samuel Nott, , Gordon Hall, and Luther Rice, Missionaries to the Heathen in Asia, Under the Direction of the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong, 1812), which can be accessed here: archive.org/details/sermondelivereda00wood.

Woods’ text was Psalm 67. In the first paragraph, Woods points out that the Psalmist expresses the heartbeat of God himself that all men may be saved (10). Woods states the purpose of his sermon: “I would persuade you to act, decidedly and zealously to act under the influence of Christian love” (11). The whole tenor of this sermon is wrapped around God’s love for every human being on planet earth and how our love for the unsaved should motivate our missionary endeavors. The outline of his sermon consists in 7 motives for missions and evangelism, the first of which is “the worth of souls” (Ibid.). “The souls of all these are as precious as your own. The wisdom of God, — the blood of the dying Savior has so declared” (12). Woods’ second motive which he urges on his hearers is “the plenteousness of the provision which Christ has made for their salvation” (13). “Were there anything scanty in this provision, — any deficiency in divine grace, — any thing circumscribed in the evangelic offer; our zeal for propagating the gospel would be suppressed” (Ibid.). The following statement by Woods clearly reveals his own affirmation of Christ’s death for the sins of all people.

But my brethren, the word of eternal truth has taught us that Jesus tasted death for every man; that he is the propitiation for ours sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; that a rich feast is prepared, and all things ready; that whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely. This great atonement is as sufficient for Asiatic and Africans, as for us. This abundant provision is made for them as well as for us. The door of Christ’s kingdom is equally open to them and to us. Unnumbered millions of our race have entered in; and yet there is room. The mercy of God is an ocean absolutely exhaustless; and so far as his benevolence is a patter for our imitation, and a rule to govern our exertions and prayers, he wills that all men should be saved (13-14).

Notice here Woods affirms God’s universal saving will for all men and that God has provided the propitiation for the sins of all men. He quotes Hebrews 2:9 that Jesus “tasted death for every man.” All of this is grounded in God’s saving love for humanity. Woods pleads with his hearers to “exert yourselves to the utmost for the salvation of mankind; your exertions will fall far below the height of redeeming love” (14-15). This is not limited atonement.

Woods’ third motive for missionary action is the biblical command to take the gospel to “every creature” which is “an exact expression of the heart of Jesus; a display of the vastness of his love (15). None of Woods’ seven motives for evangelism include the usual things in contemporary reformed writings and sermons such as the glory of God, God’s sovereignty, or the doctrine of election. There is no doubt he believed these things. Woods does not delve into the so called “secret will” of God when it comes to motives for missions; he rather stays within the revealed will of God and speaks of what the Bible clearly speaks about when it comes to why we should do missions and evangelism: the fact that God loves all people, desires all to be saved, has made provision in the death of Christ for the sins of all people so they can be saved should they repent and believe, and that we should give ourselves to missions and evangelism because of God’s love for every lost soul on planet earth, our love for Christ and our love for every single lost soul. As Woods said to Judson and Rice in his concluding charge in the sermon: “You go, we believe, because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost

. . . . The cause in which you have enlisted, is the cause of divine love” (26).

When one compares this sermon and these specific motives for missions and evangelism with Dr. Ascol’s chapter (and Schrock’s chapter as well) in WHW, the contrast is often stark. Missing in Ascol’s chapter is a clear affirmation of God’s universal saving will, God’s universal saving love, and of course, the importance that Christ died for the sins of all people such that a door of mercy and love is thrown wide open to all people should they repent and believe. I will say more about this and its implications for evangelism, missions and preaching in the final concluding installment.

Woods’ own sermon coupled with what we know of the writings of Judson and Rice make it clear that, as Calvinists, Judson and Rice clearly held to the doctrine of election and they believed in the sovereignty of God in missions and evangelism. Whether they held to limited atonement is another question. Evidence that Judson probably did not affirm limited atonement can be found in one of his addresses delivered while on furlough to the United States in March, 1846. Speaking of the death of Christ, he states: “But he did not yield; he suffered on for three more awful hours, until the Father saw that all was accomplished – that the price of our redemption was paid – that enough suffering had been endured to render it possible for every individual of our lost race to find salvation” (Robert T. Middleditch, Burmah’s Great Missionary, 387). The sentence could not be uttered consistently by one who held to limited atonement. The reason is obvious. According to limited atonement, Christ did not die for the sins of the non-elect. Thus, it is not possible that “every individual of our lost race” could find salvation. No atonement was made for the non-elect and salvation is not possible apart from the atonement of Christ.

In his section on “The Testimony of History,” Dr. Ascol has built memorials to great Baptist Calvinists of the past, and rightly so. But he has not demonstrated that such Baptist stalwarts as Carey, Fuller, Judson and Rice held to his brand of five-point Calvinism. In fact, it is clear that some of them did not, and it is likely, in light of what we do know of their writings, that none of them did. To my knowledge, not a single statement in any of the writings of Carey, the later Fuller, Judson or Rice clearly affirms limited atonement.

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David R. Brumbelow

Dr. Allen,
Thanks for the contnuing evidence.

I have also been finding out that while our Southern Baptist founders were certainly Calvinist, many were not of the 5-point kind.
David R. Brumbelow

Shane Dodson

“the importance that Christ died for the sins of all people such that a door of mercy and love is thrown wide open to all people should they repent and believe.”

Waitasec… If Christ paid in full for the sins of all people who ever lived and who will ever live in the history of the world…what happens to those who don’t repent and believe?

I can forsee an answer akin to: “they would go to hell, of course.”

Agreed. However, I’m wondering that if they have their sins paid for and if they have had the wrath of God turned away from them (the very meaning of “propitiation”)…why then do those who die in a state of unrepentance go to hell?

Are they being punished for sins that Christ already bore for them on the cross?

Can somebody untangle this twisted reasoning?

Thank you.

    Robert

    Hello Shane,

    Seems to me that you are asking about how two different elements of the atonement of Christ function. There is the provision of the atonement (i.e. scripture says that Jesus was given as an atonement for the whole world). There is also the application of the benefits of the atonement to an individual (i.e. the atonement is only applied to believers). Some forget this distinction so they end up asking unnecessary questions. To use an Old Testament analogy, on the day of atonement, the sacrifice was given for all of the people of Israel. And yet they were not all saved individuals. So on yom kippur the sacrifice was given for all of the Jews and yet only those who were saved received the benefit of the atonement. Universalism the idea that all will be saved in the end is a false doctrine. In order to be biblical we want to affirm that the atonement was provided for the whole world, and yet its benefits are only applied to those who believe. In this way we remain biblical and yet avoid the doctrinal error of universalism. Put another way, universalism is false while the doctrine of unlimited atonement is true. Hope that helps,

    Robert

      Shane Dodson

      Robert,

      Is Christ’s sacrifice a propitiatory one? You stepped around my question by dismissing it as “unnecessary.”

      If Christ was offered up as a propitiation for everybody who ever lived and everybody who will ever live in the history of the world, then everybody who ever lived and everybody who will ever live in the history of the world will be saved from His wrath.

      Otherwise, “propitiation” doesn’t mean what it means. Either that, of your soteriology is inconsistent and your reasoning confused.

        Robert

        Shane you ignored the distinctin that I presented, between the provision of atonement versus the application of the atonement. Perhaps it may be more clear and easier to understand if we take your earlier words and talk about how by failing to have this distinctin in mind your words include an equivocation that just confuses thing.

        You wrote:
        “what happens to those who don’t repent and believe?”

        Can we agree that someone who does not repent and believe is NOT A BELIEVER?

        In the case of an unbeliever the atonement is provided for him/her but not applied to him/her.

        and here is your equivocation:

        “I’m wondering if they have their sins paid for and if they have had the wrath of God turned away from them (the very meaning of propitiate”)

        STOP!!

        In this phrase you are clearly referring to a believer. In the case of a believer their sins are forgiven, God no longer has wrath towards them, they are at peace with God and reconciled to God. These things are true of the believer because not only is the atonement provided for them it is also applied to them individually and personally.

        The problem is that in the same sentence in which you refer to a believer, in the continuation of the sentence you then switch boats in mid stream and write:

        “why then do those who die in a state of unrepentance go to Hell?

        Now this seems to refer to a nonbeliever. In the case of the nonbeliever they die in a state of unrepentance and end up in Hell. But you began this SAME SENTENCE with language clealry referring to a believer.

        If we keep the distinction between the provision of the atonement and its applicatiion we avoid lots of error and confusion.

        The atonement is provided for the whole world, but it is only applied to believers who do repent and believe. Take yourself as an example, assuming you are a believer. Then we know that the atonement was both provided to you and applied to you. But when was it applied to you? When you were born? No. Before you repented of sin and believed? No. According to Ephsians 2 the wrath of God is upon on as unbelievers. Until we believe the wrath of God is upon us. So we can say of you that while the atonement was provided for you when Jesus died on the cross, it was not applied to you until you believed. In the case of a nonbeliever a nonrepentant person, the atonement may be provided for them, but it is not applied to them. If you fail to distinguish the provision of the atonement from its application you then involve yourself in senseless questions and disputes. And this u nfortunately is extremely common with calvinists as rather than being satisfied with what the bible presents (the atonement is provided for all but only applied to believers) they contrive these questions that are based on ignoring or intentionally refusing to take into consideration the provision’application distinction.

        Much of this is due to Owen whose monstrosity on the atonement has caused untold confusion in this area because he engages in this nonsense repeatedly. Unfortunately, some modern calvinists simply parrot these same contrived arguments and misunderstandings. And not only have Owens arguments and confusions been dealt with and addressed. In many cases calvinists themselves have refuted Owens’ arguments and shown his confusions to be errors (David provided one example from Dabney already in this thread). If you wanted to show logical errors in action you could use Owens book on the atonement as a model of this kind of thing. The circular reasoing, begging the question, the conflating of things and missing helpful distinctions is rampant in that book.

        Robert

          Shane Dodson

          “If we keep the distinction between the provision of the atonement and its applicatiion we avoid lots of error and confusion.”

          You’re creating a distinction where none exists in the Biblical record, Robert.

          Jesus didn’t merely provide the possibility of salvation.

          He actually purchased (i.e., redeemed) for Himself a people from every tongue, tribe, and nation.

          If your worldview, Christ didn’t perform any actual atonement (or propitiation)…merely a “provision” for the possibility of one. This “provision” is–of course–contingent upon whether or not the individual believes and chooses to accept the benefits of said atonement.

          A “possible” atonement is not one I preach; it is an actual one that saves those whom God chose before the foundation of the world.

            Calvin S.

            Shane writes: “[In Robert’s] worldview, Christ didn’t perform any actual atonement (or propitiation)…merely a ‘provision'”

            Exactly Shane! This is why it is the Arminian (and those who 3 months ago started calling themselves Traditionalists) who actually limit the atonement. With every finger pointed at the Calvinist for limiting the atonement, three fingers are pointing back at the “Traditionalist” for limiting the efficacy of Christ’s atonement and making it a mere possiblity.

            holdon

            “He actually purchased (i.e., redeemed) for Himself a people from every tongue, tribe, and nation.”

            Purchase is the correct word. Your suggestion of “redeemed” means that you don’t see the difference between “purchase” and “redemption”, which is typical for your school.

            But the possibility of availing of the atonement is clear from these texts out of the same book:

            “Blessed are they that wash their robes (see Rev 7:14), that they may have right to the tree of life, and that they should go in by the gates into the city.”
            “And let him that is athirst come; he that will, let him take the water of life freely.”

            It is for the person who is doing the washing; the coming; the willing; the taking freely.

        Calvin S.

        I’ve often wondered to myself “If Christ died for each and every person who ever lived, that means he also died for those who were suffering in Hell at that very time and had absolutely no hope of being saved. Why would Christ propitiate the Father (i.e. take away God’s wrath) for the people who were suffering God’s wrath at that very moment and had no hope of ever having the wrath taken away? What is the point? Moreover, isn’t it nonsensical to die to take away wrath from people of whom the wrath of God will never be taken away? Seems pointless and nonsensical–especially in the case of those who had already died in unbelief.

      Calvin S.

      Shane,

      ert asks the wrong questions, doesn’t she? She does not seem to understand your point. You may have to explain it to her in a different way.

David

Shane,

Dabney’s explanation of problem you are referencing is here:

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

David

    Robert

    Hello David,

    Thanks for providing the Dabney quote. I have a question for you. Owen wrote his book on the atonement hundreds of years ago. In it he developed arguments such as the double jeopardy argument, the tridilemma argument, etc. Calvinists have had hundreds of years to evaluate and critique Owens’ arguments. As many have shown all sorts of problems and logical fallacies in the arguments of Owens, here is my question: as the problems with these arguments have been made abundantly plain by many ******calvinists********, why do some of these calvinists still keep bringing up these arguments? Is it ignorance of the fact these arguments have been dealt with? Why do they keep bringing up these weak and already answered and dealt with arguments, in your opinion? I really wonder about this so I would like to hear your opinion on this. thanks.

    Robert

      Shane Dodson

      “Is it ignorance of the fact these arguments have been dealt with?”

      It could be that these arguments have not been dealt with meaningfully, Robert.

      The way you “dealt” with my question is to respond with a catagory error.

    Calvin S.

    David writes,

    “The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief.”

    So does that mean that Jesus did not die for the sin of unbelief?

David

Hey Robert.

The answer is two world wars, and modern publishing.

With the collapse of English Presbyterianism and Congregationalism in England, America became the place of theological activity. Because of the influence of folk like Edwards and Bellamy, most folk identified the double payment argument and rejected it accordingly, as it is just the original Socinian argument now inverted, but it also treats a properly penal satisfaction as if it has the same efficacy as a pecuniary satisfaction. Hence so may 19thC American Reformed folk rejected it.

In the UK the 18th and 19thC, the developments in America are generally ignored or unknown, eg Spurgeon in England and a swag of Scottish Free Churchman. These men continued to drink directly from the early Puritan well, without knowledge of any of the correctives developed in America or even by later English Puritans.

Then came 2 world wars, and the decline of evangelical Christianity in both old and new worlds. Then, came the 1960s evangelical resurgence. The Reformed movement rode the back of the broader Evangelical revival. Publishing companies like Banner of Truth came into existence and older, once declining companies like P&R picked up again. But now, tho, they generally focused on titles from the early Puritan era, 1640s-1650s, etc with overlap into earlier periods of course. The advancements of folk like C Hodge, Dabney and Shedd and many others were just ignored. Modern Reformed Christians just acted as if they had discovered “Calvinism” in its purest form IN Owen. They also imagined that what they were reading, the theology, was identical to what C Hodge and co said, on the one hand, and what the first and second generation Reformers said on the other hand. They assumed a uniformity of opinion. This has been a shallow and very inaccurate “read” of Reformed history. The assumption is that in reading Owen, one has as much read C Hodge, or one has much read John Calvin or one has much read Martin Luther, and so on. They’ve just assumed that what Owen said, these others must have already said to.

So we are being afflicted, in a sense, because of a selective republication of Reformed material from a small slice of Reformed history and with that, a grand assumption is being passed off that Owen’s theology was and is identical to Calvin, Luther, Dabney and all the other “white hat Calvinists” (as opposed to black hat Calvinists and Arminians).

Now if we press deeper, other things kick in. In a lot of Puritan theology, there was a blending of pecuniary and penal categories. Packer notes this in his dissertation Baxter. Part of this blindness was due to the misreading of words like agorazo, or lutron as denoting literal “payment.” Now of course, most folk know these words refer to deliverance effected, not so much to a payment made to someone. There is a lot of modern lexical work on this. This correct idea only started to gain traction in the 18thC, which is a post-puritan as you know. Owen works on the assumption of the earlier incorrect understanding of redemption primarily as payment made to someone.

And behind the conception of the Bible’s ransom language is the idea that Christ “purchased” things from the Father. In the so-called Covenant of Redemption, it was asserted that the Father and the pre-incarnated Logos established a literal works contract, wherein by his obedience, he would merit and thereby purchase things from the Father for himself (as messiah) and for the elect. This was the intrusion of late 16thC contractualism stemming from the then resurgence of social contract theory in Europe.

So its all multi-layered. The shaping of mid-17thC theology on the basis of extra-biblical intrusions, the misreading of certain lexical meanings, all served to fuse pecuniary and penal categories with contractualism. It took later English Puritans, Howe, Baxter and others, to begin the process of detaching some of these ideas. But the work was seriously taken up by Edwards, Bellamy and others. Charles Hodge, William Shedd and Robert Dabney, are late 19thC authors who profited from the corrective work of the earlier Edwardseans. But as I said, because of historical developments, all there work has been eclipsed by the mass publication of works by Owen and co.

As a note, while many 19thC Reformed folk retained the covenant of redemption, they had, however, removed the crass pecuniary assumptions. The CoR begins to be acceptable if the debased pecuniary ideas are purged.

And then came the “TULIP.” The TULIP as a mnemonic device was invented around 1915ish. It has become a sort of defacto prolegomena for for so many. It is the starting point for everything relative to God’s redemptive dealings with man, from the decrees to why I pray for someone. It is seen as an exhaustive window into Reformed theology. But it shapes and distorts everything. TULIP has saturated everything. It is now everywhere, ubiquitous. But TULIP is a serious distortion of Dort and Reformed theology. Getting folk to see that of course is like trying to move Mt Everest to move 3 inches west.

Hence today, populist Calvinism is saturated by TULIP and Owen for all the reasons Ive outlined.

That is why we find so many modern day TULIPers unable to process what C Hodge, Dabney and others have said. But that is another long story.

Most of all that I say is documented at my blog. Click on my name for the main index page.

Hope that helps.

    Calvin S.

    David:

    I read the “Canons of Dort” and the three volumes of Systematic Theology of Charles Hodge from cover to cover. I couldn’t get through Owen’s “The Death of Deaths”. Now what? Am I supposed to think that TULIP is a distortion? That is not what I came away with from all my reading.

      Calvin S.

      David: Moreover, for me personally as a Calvinist, “Charles Hodge” and his “Systematic Theology” is my favorite author and favorite theology I’ve ever read. So I really don’t follow your take. Have you read Charles Hodge (not just sound bites from his works)? Have you read his Systematic Theology throughly. I have, and I love it.

        David

        Hey Calvin,

        Let me try to combine all your comments and answer them in one reply.

        You say: I’ve often wondered to myself “If Christ died for each and every person who ever lived, that means he also died for those who were suffering in Hell at that very time and had absolutely no hope of being saved. Why would Christ propitiate the Father (i.e. take away God’s wrath) for the people who were suffering God’s wrath at that very moment and had no hope of ever having the wrath taken away?

        David: Yeah but no one says that. Christ died for all as they are alive. To use “Smith” as an example. Christ died for Smith insofar as Smith was alive, wherein there was a provision for him. If Smith dies in unbelief, there is no provision available to him. When folk say Christ died for all men without exception they mean insofar as they are alive. Further, when folk normally say that, they never really mean men in hell. You are right that would be absurd: Christ did not die for men already in hell that they may be saved. And thats really all that needs to be said on that.

        Cut

        Now to Dabney’s comment:

        “The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief.”

        You ask: So does that mean that Jesus did not die for the sin of unbelief?

        David: yes he did. But here is where I suspect you are doing the very thing I mentioned in my longer comments to Robert. While Christ died for the of UNBELIEF, he did not die for belief. Your line of thought, and Owen’s confuses unbelief and belief. The death of Christ is a penal satisfaction for sin, and sin is transgression of the law. Unbelief, itself is not a no-thing, it is a refusal, it really is disbelief. Christ did not die for belief, insofar as Christ did not die for any act of righteousness. I know this is hard to understand. This might help. If would be absurd to say, Christ atoned for belief. But that is the very thing implied in Owen’s dilemma, if we view the satisfaction as a properly penal satisfaction. Belief is not something the atonement pertains to, as it is a satisfaction (from the Latin, satisfactio, meaning “enough”) for sin and offense. Belief is not an offense so a penal satisfaction actually has no bearing upon belief.

        I know you want to say that if he died for the sin of UNbelief, “belief” namely the gift thereof, must infallibly result from the death for unbelief. But that brings is right back to the faulty notion of pecuniary causation being attributed to a properly penal satisfaction, as I mentioned earlier today. The death of Christ does not purchase things, even belief.

        The most you could say is to suggest that the death of Christ purchases people (as per Acts 20:28 etc) but this, as I noted, trades on a misreading of the key words to redeem and purchase, which speak not to a payment made to someone, but to deliverance effected. We are redeemed insofar as that by the death of Christ, and that at the great cost of his life, we have been delivered from bondage.

        What Dabney is saying is that the penal satisfaction, when properly understood, does not work like a debt or fine payment. Christ can die for a given man, and yet if that man fails to believe, that man will be punished in is own person for the same sins for which Christ suffered. Dabney can say this because the *application* of the benefit of the death of Christ is conditionally applied, and that by the condition of faith. You may now say that the very condition of faith is what the death purchases, but now we are once again back to a pecuniary satisfaction with things being purchased.

        And simply, no Scripture ever suggests that the death of Christ, in his person and work purchases faith.

        Calvin: I read the “Canons of Dort” and the three volumes of Systematic Theology of Charles Hodge from cover to cover. I couldn’t get through Owen’s “The Death of Deaths”. Now what? Am I supposed to think that TULIP is a distortion? That is not what I came away with from all my reading.

        David: Think what you like. Check out Ken Stewart’s essay on TULIP in his Ten Myths about Calvinism. He is a Covenant PCA Seminary prof.

        You say: David: Moreover, for me personally as a Calvinist, “Charles Hodge” and his “Systematic Theology” is my favorite author and favorite theology I’ve ever read. So I really don’t follow your take. Have you read Charles Hodge (not just sound bites from his works)? Have you read his Systematic Theology throughly. I have, and I love it.

        David: What I have read is actually irrelevant :-) It’s my arguments and documentation you should attend to, or not. :-)

        Hope that helps,
        David

          David

          Okay so it looks like my first post went through. Last time I posted from home–months ago–it disappeared into the abyss. Here is Charles Hodge on the fallacy of the double payment argument:

          Given that you have read Hodge from cover to cover, you should be very familiar with the following.

          Charles Hodge:

          “There is still another ground on which it is urged that Augustinians cannot consistently preach the gospel to every creature. Augustinians teach, it is urged, that the work of Christ is a satisfaction to divine justice. From this it follows that justice cannot condemn those for whose sins it has been satisfied. It cannot demand that satisfaction twice, first from the substitute and then from the sinner himself. This would be manifestly unjust, far worse than demanding no punishment at all. From this it is inferred that the satisfaction or righteousness of Christ, if the ground on which a sinner may be forgiven, is the ground on which he must be forgiven. It is not the ground on which he may be forgiven, unless it is the ground on which he must be forgiven. If the atonement be limited in design it must be limited in its nature, and if limited in its nature it must be limited in its offer.

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

          David: If you note carefully, his comments diametrically opposes Owen commitment to ipso facto remission. You should also see that he makes a careful distinction between a pecuniary satisfaction and a properly penal one. A penal satisfaction may or may not have added conditions. And as he says:

          “It may accrue to the benefit of those for whom it is made at once or at a remote period; completely or gradually; on conditions or unconditionally; or it may never benefit them at all unless the condition on which its application is suspended be performed.”

          And again:

          “They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins.”

          David: For Charles Hodge, Christ’s penal satisfaction may be made for a given man, and yet that given man fail to be saved. And as you know from your reading of Owen, this suggestion is absolutely impossible on Owen’s understanding of the death of Christ.

          Hope that too clarifies,
          David

            Calvin S.

            David: Maybe I’ve misunderstood you, but it seemed that you were trying to draw doubt on TULIP by using Charles Hodge. It seemed that you would argue that Charles Hodge would not agree with TULIP, such as on Limited Atonement. If that assumption is correct, than I wish to draw your attention to:

            “For Whom Did Christ Die?” by Charles Hodge

            You can find the whole document online. But before I give an excerpt, I believe this document is what you *David* are “misquoting”. You see, in this document, Hodge presents arguements for and against the Augustinian view. You seem to have merely pulled from the arguments against the Augustinian view, which is to misquote Charles Hodge since he fully embraces the Augustinian view.

            Any how, here is an excerpt from Hodge’s “For Whom Did Christ Die?”

            “In view of the effects which the death of Christ produces on the relation of all mankind to God, it has in all ages been customary with Augustinians to say that Christ died ‘suffcienter proomnibus, efficaciter tantum pro electi—’ sufficiently for all, efficaciously only for the elect. There is a sense, therefore, in which He died for all, and there is a sense in which He died for the elect alone. The simple question is, Had the death of Christ a reference to the elect which it had not to other men? Did He come into the world to secure the salvation of those given to Him by the Father, so that the other effects of his work are merely incidental to what was done for the attainment of that object?

            II. Proof of the Augustinian Doctrine.

            That these questions must be answered in the affirmative, is evident, —

            1. From the nature of the covenant of redemption. It is admitted that there was a covenant between the Father and the Son in relation to the salvation of men. It is admitted that Christ came into the world in execution of that covenant. The nature of the covenant, therefore, determines the object of his death….

            Express Declarations of Scripture.

            3. We accordingly find numerous passages in which the design of Christ’s death is declared to be, to save his people from their sins. He did not come merely to render their salvation possible, but actually to deliver them from the curse of the law, and from the power of sin. This is included in all the Scriptural representations of the nature and design of his work. No man pays a ransom without the certainty of the deliverance of those for whom it is paid. It is not a ransom unless it actually redeems. And an offering is no sacrifice unless it actually expiates and propitiates….

            Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel. Lutherans and Reformed agree entirely, as before stated, in their views of the nature of the satisfaction of Christ, and consequently, so far as that point is concerned, there is the same foundation for the general offer of the gospel according to either scheme. What the Reformed or Augustinians hold about election does not affect the nature of the atonement. That remains the same whether designed for the elect or for all mankind. It does not derive its nature from the secret purpose of God as to its application.

            Certain Passages of Scripture considered.

            Admitting, however, that the Augustinian doctrine that Christ died specially for his own people does account for the general offer of the gospel, how is it to be reconciled with those passages which, in one form or another, teach that He died for all men? In answer to this question, it may be remarked in the first place that Augustinians do not deny that Christ died for all men. What they deny is that He died equally, and with the same design, for all men. He died for all, that He might arrest the immediate execution of the penalty of the law upon the whole of our apostate race; that He might secure for men the innumerable blessings attending their state on earth, which, in one important sense, is a state of probation; and that He might lay the foundation for the offer of pardon and reconciliation with God, on condition of faith and repentance. These are the universally admitted consequences of his satisfaction, and therefore they all come within its design. By this dispensation it is rendered manifest to every intelligent mind in heaven and upon earth, and to the finally impenitent themselves, that the perdition of those that perish is their own fault. They will not come to Christ that they may have life. They refuse to have Him to reign over them. He calls but they will not answer. He says, ‘Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.’ Every human being who does come is saved. This is what is meant when it is said, or implied in Scripture, that Christ gave Himself as a propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. He was a propitiation effectually for the sins of his people, and sufficiently for the sins of the whole world.”

          Calvin S.

          Thanks David. I’m going to have to keep this short for now.

          David wrote: “When folk say Christ died for all men without exception they mean insofar as they are alive. Further, when folk normally say that, they never really mean men in hell. You are right that would be absurd: Christ did not die for men already in hell that they may be saved. And thats really all that needs to be said on that.”

          Actually, I think a lot more needs to be said on that. Because what you have taught here is that Christ’s atonement was limited before his first coming and universal after his first coming. Is this the belief of most Traditionalists????? Because I would LOVE to hear more about your belief in limited atonement for the first several thousand years of world history.

          David Allen: Would you mind writing an article about your belief in limited atonement for the several thousand years of world history before Christ came? I would love to hear more about this.

    Robert

    Hello David,

    Thank you for your intelligent, well informed, well articulated and very interesting response to my question. You have obviously thought these things through and so provide a very helpful and informed opinion.

    You speak as if there are two different strains in Reformed thought concerning the atonement:

    “The advancements of folk like C Hodge, Dabney and Shedd and many others were just ignored. Modern Reformed Christians just acted as if they had discovered “Calvinism” in its purest form IN Owen. They also imagined that what they were reading, the theology, was identical to what C Hodge and co said, on the one hand, and what the first and second generation Reformers said on the other hand. They assumed a uniformity of opinion. This has been a shallow and very inaccurate “read” of Reformed history.”

    There appears to be let’s call it the Owens thread (i.e. those who think Owen got it right and now simply parrot his arguments and points) and the more advanced thread (i.e. those following Owen who corrected Owen, showed the problems with Owens’ arguments and points, your examples being “Hodge, Dabney, Shedd, and many others”). It appears the young reformed movement has adopted Owens as the be all and end on with regards to the atonement. If that is true, then that means they are ignoring the more advanced thread, to their own detriment.

    David you also wrote about TULIP:

    “And then came the “TULIP.” The TULIP as a mnemonic device was invented around 1915ish. It has become a sort of defacto prolegomena for for so many. It is the starting point for everything relative to God’s redemptive dealings with man, from the decrees to why I pray for someone. It is seen as an exhaustive window into Reformed theology. But it shapes and distorts everything. TULIP has saturated everything. It is now everywhere, ubiquitous. But TULIP is a serious distortion of Dort and Reformed theology.”

    Could you elaborate on this a bit. I find this fascinating because if you are correct, again the modern young reformed movement has missed the ball yet again.

    You also wrote:

    “Most of all that I say is documented at my blog. Click on my name for the main index page.”

    I went ahead and checked out your blog. Quite impressive, there is a ton of interesting historical information there. I recommend that others who want to be more informed regarding the debates and views within calvinism regarding the atonement to go there. David provides a lot of information on this at his blog.

    Thank you again David for your very good response to my question. Now if only you can persuade these Owens parrots of the problems with his arguments and points ! :-)

    Robert

David

Hey Robert,

One more thing you might keep in mind. Part of the reason Shane is resistant to your ideas is that because of the intrusion of pecuniary causalities into the penal satisfaction, the death of Christ is seen to have the same sort of causal efficacy as paying a fine or a debt has. The judge fines you $100 for speeding, he cannot demand more money when paid the $100. A creditor cannot demand a second payment after the debt has been paid.

One of the phrases used in Scotland to justify and explain this was claimed idea that the satisfaction is ‘self-applying’ or that it ‘carries within itself’ its own application; just as exactly as paying off the fine or debt carries within itself its immediate application: it ipso facto remits the debts. Debt or Fine “forgiveness” has to immediately follow. This is what is lying at the back of Shane’s question. How can forgiveness not follow if Christ died for a man.

So what is being assumed is the idea that there is an unbreakable connection between the payment (of Christ) made, and its application. There cannot be a failure to apply. So your first post probably reads as inexplicable to Shane.

Then behind this causality assumption are two further arguments that attempt to connect the payment made (or satisfaction offered) and its infallible application. The first is that the death of Christ, itself?, purchases faith for all those for whom Christ died. Of course, Scripture never suggests this, and to date, Ive never seen a TULIPer prove this premise.

The second argument is that Christ has high priest effectually prays for, all for whom he died. Again, no Scripture has ever been adduced to prove this.

For sure there are verses which prove that Christ effectually prays for believers, but the missing part of the premise is entirely absent from Scripture. What is needed are not verses showing that Christ prays for believers, but a verse(s) showing that he effectually prays for *ALL* for whom he died. The set “all for whom he died” is larger than the set “believers” and so proving that Jesus effectually prays for the set “believers” does not in itself prove that he also effectually prays for the set “all for for whom he died.” That is a leap in logic.

Disconnecting the payment (or satisfaction offered on the cross) from its application as a necessary connection is one of the hardest things for a TULIPer to grasp.

And this is because of their inaccurate understanding of what vicarious satisfaction means or entails, along with the true nature of imputation.

David

    Shane Dodson

    “The first is that the death of Christ, itself?, purchases faith for all those for whom Christ died. ”

    The “death of Christ ITSELF?”

    Try “the death of Christ HIMSELF” and you’re getting closer to the crux of Biblical soteriology.

    It is not my assertion that the death of Christ purchases faith, friend. It IS my assertion–and it is the New Testament record–that the death of Christ purchases a people that are actually perfected by His sacrifice (perfected in the sense that sin is removed from the sinner and imputed to Christ, and Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law–His righteousness–is imputed to the sinner).

    For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
    (Heb 10:14)

    Note that He did not perfect everybody by this single sacrifice, but only those who are being sanctified (literally “set apart” by God, for God).

    Those who are not perfected–that is, those unelect who die in their sins–those Christ did not die for.

    Btw, why are you speaking to others as though I’m not “in the room?” :-)

      Don Johnson

      Shane,

      When does a person become sanctified?

        Shane Dodson

        “When does a person become sanctified?”

        Great question, Don.

        There is definitely an element of “right now, not yet” in our sanctification. In one sense, the believer was “perfected” upon the basis of Christ’s sacrifice and His sacrifice ALONE (See Heb 10:14–“He HAS perfected”…the past tense is there in the original language).

        In another sense, we are BEING perfected (i.e., sanctified) throughout our lives as believers. While Hebrews contains the clear teaching of the perfecting work of Christ’s sacrifice, the book is also replete with admonitions to the Christian to perform deeds in keeping with our own sanctification (such as Hebrews 2:1; 4:1, 11; 10:24-25, etc.,).

        So, in one sense, Christ “has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Obviously, the elect WILL see their sanctification through to the end of their lives on this earth, but it is still a process for which we have ample Biblical instructions.

          Don Johnson

          Shane,

          A person is sanctified when he comes to faith. Until that time he is neither perfected or sanctfied John 17:17, Eph. 5:26, Acts 26:18.

Steve Martin

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Jesus forgave all upon the cross.

That forgiveness has to touch down somewhere. It must be accessed somehow. That happens when faith comes.

But faith does not come to all people. It does not even come to all people who occupy the pews. “The wheat and tares grow together.”

Herein lies the mystery. Why does it come to some people and not to others?

We don’t know the answer to this. It is above us and God has seen fit not to let us in on it…yet. Maybe He will let us know (or it will make sense to us) when we get to Heaven.

David

Hey Shane,

You quote me: “The first is that the death of Christ, itself?, purchases faith for all those for whom Christ died. ”

Shane: The “death of Christ ITSELF?”

Try “the death of Christ HIMSELF” and you’re getting closer to the crux of Biblical soteriology.

David: Well that is a distinction without a difference. The death is an action of the person; which is a given. The action effects merit, in the terms of Owen’s theology. So lets say, Christ in dying, allegedly purchases faith for all those for whom he died. The problem remains, this has no biblical support.

Shane says: It is not my assertion that the death of Christ purchases faith, friend. It IS my assertion–and it is the New Testament record–that the death of Christ purchases a people that are actually perfected by His sacrifice (perfected in the sense that sin is removed from the sinner and imputed to Christ, and Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law–His righteousness–is imputed to the sinner).

David: Okay, but keep in mind that in the original Owenic trilemma and double payment dilemma, the purchase of faith is the critical premise. Owen called the purchased gift of faith the unconditioned condition.

But to focus on your point, let us agree that the death of Christ purchases people, say the elect. So what? As one of the moderate Calvinists David Allen speaks of in his essays, I hold that Christ died for the elect to effectually secure their salvation. I also believe that Christ suffered for all the sins of all men. Allen agrees with the latter, not the former. That’s fine.

So here are the premises:

1) Christ died to purchase a people that are actually perfected by his sacrifice.
2) Christ died for all the sins of all men.

These statements are not mutually exclusive. Both can be true. If you think otherwise, please do let me know.

Also, I think even Allen could agree with your 1), when stated biblically because then it is biblically true, assuming we leave out the idea of a payment made to someone to purchase things in some literal fashion. I think I could get Allen to admit to these assumptions behind 1) easily enough.

Let’s convert purchase to something like secure. Christ died to secure the salvation of a certain people, obviously believers, by his sacrifice. Even, I think Allen would agree, that by the sacrifice of his life, Christ actually perfects those who believe, and this was a reason why Christ died.

If Allen thinks otherwise I would like to hear it. I base my comment on:

“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.”

David: Here the church is the body of believers. Here Paul says Christ “gave” himself, denoting purpose and intent. This purpose and intent must be a higher or distinguishing purpose than his purpose to die for sinners, simply considered. Clearly Christ has a special relationship with believers than he does with unbelievers, and so Paul notes that for believers, Christ has a special purpose to present them as glories to the Father. And so all the means to that end were also intended and purposed, namely that they should be made perfect by the sacrifice of Christ, which is one of those means.

I labour this to encourage you, Shane, to be more precise in your language.

You cite: For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
(Heb 10:14)

David: Exactly. Those being sanctified, namely believers, are perfected by the once and for all time sacrifice of Christ. Allen would agree. I agree. Indeed, it is this very point that Allen has been trying to make in his recent reviews.

You say: Note that He did not perfect everybody by this single sacrifice, but only those who are being sanctified (literally “set apart” by God, for God).

David: Exactly. The death of Christ only perfects, if I can speak that way, believers. Properly speaking the death of Christ has no sanctifying efficacy even to the living *unbelieving* elect. It only has any sanctifying efficacy with regard to those who believe. As the writer says:

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who *draw* *near* to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for *them.*

David: For whom does Christ intercede? For those who draw near. Exactly so.

You say: Those who are not perfected–that is, those unelect who die in their sins–those Christ did not die for.

David: Ah but the text does not say. It only says, the sacrifice perfects those being (or who have been) sanctified: namely *believers.* The text makes no reference to any wider scope of the death of Christ, that is, for whom Christ died. At most, it only says, those for whom Christ died AND who have believed, these are perfected by the sacrifice of Christ. But I would even challenge that.

If a person does not believe, for sure, there is no available sanctification for him. But none of the verses you cite prove that Christ only died for the ones sanctified. Right? Read the verses again and see if you can work out your problem here.

You ask: Btw, why are you speaking to others as though I’m not “in the room?” :-)

David: I was only encouraging Robert to perhaps change his line of approach when talking to those, like you, who hold to your position.

So now my turn: why do you not comment on what Dabney says? He says the double payment argument is fallacious, and he give reasons. How do you respond to his counter-arguments?

Thanks,
David

David

Hey Calvin,

You say: Actually, I think a lot more needs to be said on that. Because what you have taught here is that Christ’s atonement was limited before his first coming and universal after his first coming. Is this the belief of most Traditionalists????? Because I would LOVE to hear more about your belief in limited atonement for the first several thousand years of world history.

David: I really do think the line you are trying to take is a dead end. I was going to try to preemptively close out this line of response but I thought to myself, its such a trivial line of thought, surely he would not go down that road.

But here goes. Smith is a sinner. Smith stands under the infinite curse of the law. Lets call that X. X can be whatever quantity you may want, tho that idea would be problematic for other reasons. X can be qualitative to, as in the quality of being an infinite offense and demerit.

Christ stands in the place of Smith and bears in his divine person, and suffers X. Keep that thought.

Jones also stands under the same infinite curse of the law, which as it turns out, all things being equal, is also X. Christ did not have to suffer X twice in order to sustain a sufficient satisfaction for Jones as well. I am sure you can work out all the assumptions behind this truth.

White is in the same position, as is the rest of humanity, insofar as they are 1) alive and 2) sinners.

What Christ accomplished as equal bearing and sufficiency for every single person in the OT insofar as they met the conditions of 1) and 2). As much as the death of Christ, retroactively is sufficient for elect Smith in the OT, it is also sufficient for non-elect Jones in the OT. Insofar as the death of Christ is sufficient for elect Smith in the NT, it is sufficient for non-elect Jones in the NT.

If you deny this, then you undermine the very Anselmic theology which shaped the Western church for centuries. You would have to say that either Christ would have had to suffer more for more sin, or that its really a case of X for Smith, then X+1 for Jones, and X+2 for White etc, etc.

So in the sense that Christ suffered X, which is the same X which stands against all men who have lived since Adam’s fall, it can be said, Christ died for all men who have lived since Adam’s fall.

This comes back to the theological reason why the idea of Christ dying for those already in hell is an absurd caricature of every Evangelical position relative to the satisfaction,.

Think about it.

David

David

Hey Calvin,

You say: David: Maybe I’ve misunderstood you, but it seemed that you were trying to draw doubt on TULIP by using Charles Hodge. It seemed that you would argue that Charles Hodge would not agree with TULIP, such as on Limited Atonement. If that assumption is correct, than I wish to draw your attention to:

David: Yes, TULIP is the impersonator of Reformed theology.

It’s easy. Go back to Allen’s points all along. There is a distinction between intent and extent. The intent is limited, the extent… well thats another question. The extent can be unlimited while the intent is limited, because, contrary to Owen, there is no infallible connection between the satisfaction made as an offering, and the satisfaction applied.

So you cite C Hodge. I agree with all that he says.

But note his key terms, which he repeats time and time again, such as:

“His work being specially designed…”

“…the Augustinian doctrine that Christ died specially for his own people…”

In short, Hodge is not setting for exclusivity, but special reference.

TULIP goes further by limited the extent and the intent. If you read Allen’s articles, its all there.

Someone like me, believes in two references in the satisfaction: a general reference, and a special reference. Indeed, every Evangelical must have some sort of twofold reference in play.

I am off to bed now.

David

    Calvin S.

    David,
    I suppose we are not at an impasse as I first supposed. You say “So you cite C Hodge. I agree with all that he says.”

    You, David, agree with all Charle Hodge says in that quote and I also agree with all that Charle Hodge says in that quote. So you and I are in agreement (though I’m sure all the Traditionalists here would disagree with Hodge)

    WE AGREE:
    “It has in all ages been customary with Augustinians to say that Christ died… sufficiently for all, efficaciously only for the elect. There is a sense, therefore, in which He died for all, and there is a sense in which He died for the elect alone.”

    WE AGREE:
    “Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel.” (i.e. Though the atonement is designed to save the elect only, the gospel is sincerely offered to all. We agree!!)

    WE AGREE:
    “Augustinians do not deny that Christ died for all men. What they deny is that He died equally, and with the same design, for all men…. This is what is meant when it is said, or implied in Scripture, that Christ gave Himself as a propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. He was a propitiation effectually for the sins of his people, and sufficiently for the sins of the whole world.”

    I am glad we share so much agreement with regards to the atonement, David.

David

But Calvin, did you read and pick up on Hodge’s rejection of double payment and why? I want to stay focused on that.

    Calvin S.

    David:

    Yes. But that section which you quote is the second paragraph following in a section titled “If the Atonement Be Limited in Design, It must be Restricted in the Offer”. He flatly debunks this argument and then immediately talks about double payment. But giving you the benefit of the doubt, it merely means that, according to Hodge, the double payment argument is not valid. So be it. I have never relied on it or on Owen. And that is a sidenote in Hodge’s real argument any way, NOT the point he is trying to make. What I appreciate about that section is that Hodge clearly shows that the atonment will only save the elect and yet the offer of the Gospel is legitimately offered to all. And Hodge bases that assumption on the fact that even the elect are under the wrath of God until they believe. Hodge clearly believes in limited atonement in the sense that it is efficacious only for the elect, but he believes that the gospel is legitimately offered to all; for all who believe will be saved without exception. What Hodge does is beautifully explain how salvation can be legitimately offered to all and yet the atonement only redeem the elect.

    “Those for whom it [the atonement] was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins. It is the stipulations of the covenant which forbid such a result. Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel.”

volfan007

The many, many Scriptures describing God’s desire to save all men are what kept me from becoming a Calvinist. The verses helped me to see that God earnestly desires to save all people, everywhere.

David

David

Hey Robert,

You say: It appears the young reformed movement has adopted Owens as the be all and end on with regards to the atonement. If that is true, then that means they are ignoring the more advanced thread, to their own detriment.

Yes. We are still riding the wave generated from the 60s. TULIP was systemically set out by Boettner in his book which was republished and sold for a cheap price in the 50s, 60s etc, when it really took off. This book helped shaped the emergent Reformed movement. And then came the onslaught of republished puritan works. Owen’s Death of Death was published with Packer’s very powerful preface; whether you agree with it or not, it is a powerful piece of oratory rhetoric. Folk read Boettner, Packer and Owen, along with other works, and a boom of all things TULIP tracts and works flourished. TULIP became the form by which all subsequent works were developed.

Old David: “And then came the “TULIP.” The TULIP as a mnemonic device was invented around 1915ish. It has become a sort of defacto prolegomena for for so many. It is the starting point for everything relative to God’s redemptive dealings with man, from the decrees to why I pray for someone. It is seen as an exhaustive window into Reformed theology. But it shapes and distorts everything. TULIP has saturated everything. It is now everywhere, ubiquitous. But TULIP is a serious distortion of Dort and Reformed theology.”

You ask: Could you elaborate on this a bit. I find this fascinating because if you are correct, again the modern young reformed movement has missed the ball yet again.

TULIP is all about focusing on a mechanism, it describes a great theological machine, something like the causal mechanism of God’s redemptive dealings with men. It tells you why and how and to what end. It answers for the reader, all the big questions of life, who am I, where did I come from, where am I going. As such it is an extremely powerful resocializing device which I think non-Calvinists have too long ignored. TULIP also then grounds everything else. Like what do I evangelize? A: Because God uses you as means to gather his elect (Packer). What do I pray? Same answer.

The movement you speak of continues to be shaped by TULIP. TULIP has eclipsed everything else. It has totally eclipsed all the actual diversity and complexity within historic Reformed theology. For example, I’ve shown many that Luther or Zwingli or Bullinger, or Musculus held to an unlimited satisfaction. The response is either one of two options. Absolute denial by way of avoidance, or to accuse me of lying, of taking all or any of those men out of context (assuming that they know who those men were :-).

TULIP has disabled many modern Calvinists, by preventing them from seeing Reformed history as it actually was. If you think of the windows metaphor. The more windows one has in a building, the more angles and perspectives there are to “see” the world outside. TULIP closes all other windows into Reformed history and demands that the “viewer” view Reformed theology though it alone. So it has had a blinding effect. In “category” or filter, both blinds and inform, as it selects what piece of knowledge is acceptable or not. TULIP more blinds than informs.

Check out the chapter on TULIP in Ken Stewart’s Ten Myths of Calvinism.

Prior to TULIP, one way to describe Calvinism was the “Five Points of Calvinism.” Dabney calls the standard 5 points inaccurate, but the point, there was a lot of flexibility for individuals to both 1) define the respective points, and 2) identify which “points” constitutes the 5 points of Calvinism. For example Dabney engages in significant revision of the 3rd point. He was free to do that back then. C Hodge never organizes his soteriology along a 5-point arrangement. American Reformed had a lot more freedom to explain and define what it means to speak of innate depravity, and so on. But once TULIP takes hold, it as an inflexible socializing effect which shapes all the questions. For example, are folk 4 pointers, 4.5 pointers, 6 pointers? All such questions are nonsense once one thinks outside of the TULIP box. Anyway… I will stop there.

Thanks for the kind words and recommendations.

Hope that has helped.
David

David

Hey Calvin

Firstly I cant speak for the “traditionalists” other than what I have. The point really is, on the rejection of the double payment argument, Charles Hodge and Dabney reject it, and here the traditionalists would agree.

You cite:
“It has in all ages been customary with Augustinians to say that Christ died… sufficiently for all, efficaciously only for the elect. There is a sense, therefore, in which He died for all, and there is a sense in which He died for the elect alone.”

David: Actually no. If you hold to Owen’s version of sufficiency, you must disagree with C Hodge. Owen said that the external sufficiency relative to all men was only hypothetical. The satisfaction could have been sufficient for all, had God elected all, etc. Allen has covered this a few times now. I dont want to repeat him needlessly.

Charles Hodge affirmed that the death of Christ actually is sufficient for all, because his concept of the *nature* of the satisfaction is in opposition to Owen’s. Allen has been labouring this point for weeks now.

You cite: “Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel.” (i.e. Though the atonement is designed to save the elect only, the gospel is sincerely offered to all. We agree!!)

David: Actually you cant agree with C Hodge if you agree with Owen. For Owen, only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ. Therein, Christ only suffered the curse of the elect, due to the elect. He did not suffer the curse as due to the non-elect. Therefore, the non-elect are not savable.

You cite C Hodge: “Augustinians do not deny that Christ died for all men. What they deny is that He died equally, and with the same design, for all men…. This is what is meant when it is said, or implied in Scripture, that Christ gave Himself as a propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. He was a propitiation effectually for the sins of his people, and sufficiently for the sins of the whole world.”

David: But here again you cannot have your cake and eat it too. Note 1 Jn 2:2. Owen restricted the expiation noted there to the elect alone. He denied that it indicated that there was a sufficient expiation for all men. C Hodge, on the other hand, followed Aquinas’ reading, if not by name, that the world was all men and so Christ sustained an actual sufficient satisfaction for all men.

Finally, will you address C Hodge’s rejection of the double payment dilemma?

Thanks,
David

    Calvin S.

    Why do you keep talking abou Owen when I haven’t even read Owen? I’ve read Charles Hodge and I agree with him. But you, David, are hard to figure out. Who knows what you believe. It seems you have one foot in the Traditionalist camp and one food somewhere else, and a third food somewhere else? Who knows?

David

Hey Calvin:

You say: Yes. But that section which you quote is the second paragraph following in a section titled “If the Atonement Be Limited in Design, It must be Restricted in the Offer”. He flatly debunks this argument and then immediately talks about double payment. But giving you the benefit of the doubt, it merely means that, according to Hodge, the double payment argument is not valid. So be it. I have never relied on it or on Owen.

David: but here is where you are wrong on Owen. The double payment delimma is THE argument that supports his trilemma. If Christ died for the sins of all men, all men must be saved. You should go back and reread Owen’s actual logic. If the DP argument fails, the whole trilemma fails, because his alleged reductio fails (see below).

You say: And that is a sidenote in Hodge’s real argument any way, NOT the point he is trying to make. What I appreciate about that section is that Hodge clearly shows that the atonment will only save the elect and yet the offer of the Gospel is legitimately offered to all.

David: A side note it may be, but it is nonetheless accurate and correct. It not only refutes the DP argument it shows us that C Hodge had a fundamentally different conception of penal satisfaction: as he said, Christ must suffer for a man and yet that man fail to be saved (my paraphrase). Such an idea is absolutely denied by Owen.

Also, Allen would totally agree with you that C Hodge believed that all whom Christ designed to save, will be saved. Allen rightly draws the distinction between intent and extent. C Hodge held to a limited intent. All you are doing is confirming that. But Owen held to a limited intent and limited extent. This is a big difference, one which Allen is trying to get folk to understand and acknowledge.

You say: And Hodge bases that assumption on the fact that even the elect are under the wrath of God until they believe. Hodge clearly believes in limited atonement in the sense that it is efficacious only for the elect, but he believes that the gospel is legitimately offered to all; for all who believe will be saved without exception. What Hodge does is beautifully explain how salvation can be legitimately offered to all and yet the atonement only redeem the elect.

David: Sure, and it works for C Hodge because he held that the death of Christ was actually sufficient for all. But this is denied by Owen. But limited intent to apply being affirmed by C Hodge, in no way speaks to anything Allen has said, neither does it support a limited extent or the DP argument.

And C Hodge’s point is the DP argument fails because 1) the death of Christ does not work like a debt/fine payment, and 2) the living unbelieving elect are subject to wrath in life, before faith. This is a deadly counter-factual to the DP argument.

You cite: “Those for whom it [the atonement] was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins. It is the stipulations of the covenant which forbid such a result. Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel.”

David: Sure. But nonetheless, for Owen’s trilemma to work it can only work if the DP argument is valid. If it is invalid, then there is no logical reason to assert that the proposition “Christ died for all the sins of all men” must lead to universalism. Given that the DP argument fails, the allege reductio that such a claim must lead to absolute universalism, fails. For the reductio works only on the basis of the DP argument: God cannot punish the same sin twice, first in the person of Christ, then again in the person of the sinner, *therefore*, all men must be saved, etc, etc.

There are two issues here. You need to keep them separate.

1) Is the DP argument valid? C Hodge answers no.

2) Did C Hodge believe in a limited intent in the death of Christ. C Hodge answers yes.

1) is invalid according to C Hodge, 2) is affirmed by C Hodge. Both of which Allen would acknowledge.

However, focusing on 2) will not make the import of 1) go away.

All I have tried to do is show that 1) is invalid. That’s all I need to show in order to respond to Shane’s original contention, and your follow-up remarks.

Take care,
David

    Calvin S.

    Hodge never said limited “intent”. That is your language that you are putting in his mouth. Hodge never said it. Charles Hodge says he believes that the atonement is efficacious for only the elect but sufficient for all. That is what I believe too.

    I am not interested in using yours and and “Allen’s” words to describe what Hodge believed. I’ll use the words that Hodge chose to use.

David

Typo correction”

Should read: Christ may suffer for a man and yet that man may fail to be saved (my paraphrase).

David

Robert

An anonymous poster who calls himself/herself “Calvin S” wrote (for short I will call him/her “CS”):

“I’ve often wondered to myself “If Christ died for each and every person who ever lived, that means he also died for those who were suffering in Hell at that very time and had absolutely no hope of being saved.”

This appears to be some sort of attempt to mock or ridicule the unlimited atonement view (typical of **anonymouse** calvinist posters).

What does a non-calvinist mean by claiming that Christ died for the whole world/1 Jn. 2:2?

We mean that Jesus was given as a provision of atonement for all people. And that “all people” includes people who lived and died before Jesus ever came to the earth and died on the cross in the time of Pontius Pilate.

One problem that I have with CS’s statement here is it seems to present a problematic view of hell. Matt. 25:31ff presents the fact that the final judgment (i.e. presented as a separation of sheep from goats) spoken of there is connected with Jesus’ second coming. Since this judgment in which individual eternal destinies are assigned has not occurred yet, how are we to claim that nonbelievers are already in hell suffering? The fate of the “goats” is eternal punishment/ hell according to the proper interpretation of the Mat. 25 passage.

So nonbelievers are not yet in hell because they will not end up in hell until after the final judgment.

Isn’t hell a consequence of the final judgment for the nonbeliever???

The final judgment, has not yet occurred (unless CS wants to argue for some sort of extreme preterist position), so nonbelievers are not yet suffering in hell. CS’s argument here is predicated on the claim that nonbelievers were already in hell when Jesus died on the cross (“he also died for those who were suffering in Hell at that very time”). But that premise is false if Matt. 25:31ff is true.

But let’s overlook the erroneous view on hell and ask what is the argument trying to suggest? How is it trying to be a problem for the unlimited atonement view?

It seems to be bringing up the fact that the crucifixion of Jesus occurred in time after some nonbelieving people had already died, so how could Jesus have died for these people who already had died as nonbelievers?

The problem with this dubious reasoning is that if we are going to argue that Jesus could not have died for people who had already died, this would mean that Jesus did not die for the sins of OT era believers either.

What about true believers who died before Jesus died on the cross?

Did Jesus not die for them simply because they died before the cross happened?

Does the cross of Christ provide atonement only for people from the time that Jesus died on the cross until now?

This illustrates again the problems caused when you neglect the distinction between the provision of the atonement and its application.

It is true that the provision of atonement was made at a specific time and place (i.e. when Jesus died on the cross). But here is the thing, the application as it is done by ***God Himself***, can be done at different times than the specific time when Jesus died on the cross. CS tries to muddle things with his appeal to a hypthetical nonbeliever already in hell suffering when Jesus died on the cross.

But let’s take a better and more biblical example.

Isaiah was a believer and a prophet who wrote and lived ***hundreds of years*** before Jesus died on the cross. Isaiah had the misfortune of writing at a time when Israel as a whole was very unfaithful to God, full of unbelievers among their ranks. Isaiah says in Isaiah 53 that a coming one would die for their sins (and he meant all of the Jews, which included both believers and nonbelievers). Who was he talking about in Isaiah 53? Jesus. And he says that the atonement that was coming (and literally would come HUNDREDS OF YEARS LATER) was for Isaiah and his other fellow Jews (both those who were believers like Isaiah and others who were not).

So Isaiah tells us that Jesus was going to die for Isaiah and other Jews, even though these same Jews *****will have been dead for hundreds of years***** when Jesus actually dies on the cross. Isaiah was clearly speaking of the provision of atonement that Jesus death on the cross would provide.

Apparently Isaiah had not read enough Owen or other calvinist advocates of limited atonement.

So this ASSUMPTION on the part of CS of the absurdity of Jesus having died for the sins of people already dead, just completely collapses if we take Isaiah and Isaiah 53 seriously.

Now if CS wants to claim well of course Jesus could died for people like Isaiah, because Isaiah was a believer. But this is then completely arbitrary to claim well Jesus died for Isaiah but not for unbelieving Jews from the OT era. Isaiah in Isaiah 53 makes no distinction between Jesus dying only for believing Jews and not dying for nonbelieving Jews. Instead, Isaiah speaks of the Jews as a whole, that Jesus will die for the sins of the people/meaning all of the Jewish people both believing and nonbelieving (cf. when the high priest gave sacrifices on the day of Atonement it was for the entire nation, a nation that always included both believers and unbelievers).

The provision of atonement was made at a particular time and place (i.e. when Jesus died on the cross). The application of the atonement to individual believers on the other hand happens at different times. In my opinion, though the animal sacrifices of the OT era did not lead to forgiveness of sin for people, God applies the atonement of Christ to OT believers. The blood of animals did not cover the sins of OT believers, but the blood of Jesus does so. And that is what atonement involves a covering for sin.

Robert

    Calvin S.

    Some **anonymouse** poster calling herself Robert did not like my question.

    Whether Hell comes before or after the final judgment is not in question. What is in question is whether Jesus died for people He never intended to save (those who had already died in unbelief before His death). Perhaps this anonymouse poster i’ll refer to as “ert” would like to explain her belief in limited atonement prior to the first coming of Christ?

David

Hey Calvin,

I will combine your two latest into one. If I have missed one of your comments, please let me know. I find the set up here with the layered comments confusing.

You say: Why do you keep talking abou Owen when I haven’t even read Owen?

David: Okay, I would encourage you to read Owen’s “Death of Death.”

You say: I’ve read Charles Hodge and I agree with him. But you, David, are hard to figure out. Who knows what you believe. It seems you have one foot in the Traditionalist camp and one food somewhere else, and a third food somewhere else? Who knows?

David: I am not even a Baptist. :-) I am a Presbyterian. I am Reformed. And I am whats called a moderate Calvinist. On the About page of my C&C site I explain where I am coming from: it is not as if I am hiding anything. :-)

You say: Hodge never said limited “intent”. That is your language that you are putting in his mouth. Hodge never said it.

David: What I am saying about C Hodge comes from statements like these, read them carefully and think about what he is saying:

His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel. Lutherans and Reformed agree entirely, as before stated, in their views of the nature of the satisfaction of Christ, and consequently, so far as that point is concerned, there is the same foundation for the general offer of the gospel according to either scheme. What the Reformed or Augustinians hold about election does not affect the nature of the atonement. That remains the same whether designed for the elect or for all mankind. It does not derive its nature from the secret purpose of God as to its application. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:558.

On the nature of the satisfaction, Lutherans and Augustinians agree. You have to think about that for a few minutes. The Lutheran doctrine of satisfaction in the 19thC was that Christ died for all men. Hodge is saying that election does not set limits on the nature of the satisfaction.

And now this:

So Dr. Cox, in his introductory chapter, speaks of “the limitation of the nature” of the atonement, and represents those whom he opposes as holding that it is as “limited in its nature as in its application.”–Pp. 16, 17. If these gentlemen would take the trouble to read a little on this subject they would find that this is all a mistake. They are merely beating the air. Those who deny that Christ died for Judas’ as much as for Paul, for the non-elect as much as for the elect, and who maintain that he died strictly and properly only for his own people, do not hold that there is any limitation in the nature of the atonement. They teach as fully as any men, that “an atonement sufficient for one is sufficient for all.” It is a simple question relating to the design, and not to the nature of Christ’s work. That work, as far as we know or believe, would have been the same had God purposed to save but one soul or the souls of all mankind. We hold that the atonement as to its value is infinite, and as to its nature as much adapted to one man as to another, to all as to one. The whole question is, for what purpose did he die ? What was the design which God intended to accomplish by his mission and death? That this is the true state of the question is obvious from the fact that the Reformed and Lutherans do not differ at all as to the nature of Christ’s satisfaction, though they do differ as to its design. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the atonement,” in Essays and Reviews, (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 170-1.

David: Hodge is clear. Lutherans and Augustinians, as C Hodge understands them, do not disagree on the nature of the satisfaction. Where they disagree is on the “design” of the satisfaction. Here is what C Hodge’s language of special reference and special application, etc. Go back to the first quotation I cited here and its context again: “His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain.”

For C Hodge, the nature of the satisfaction has no limitation. The limitation is only in the special reference. It is only at this point that his theology ‘parts ways’ with Lutheran theology. There is a lot more from Hodge on this but this will have to be enough here.

You say: Charles Hodge says he believes that the atonement is efficacious for only the elect but sufficient for all. That is what I believe too.

David: Alright. If you stop there, you will not be in conflict with Dort, or C Hodge, but you will be out of sync with Owen and the standard TULIP. TULIP posits a limitation in the nature of the satisfaction itself, not just its design (ie for whom it was specially intended to effect salvation).

You say: I am not interested in using yours and and “Allen’s” words to describe what Hodge believed. I’ll use the words that Hodge chose to use. I do wonder tho, if you are not interested in Allen’s words, why are you commenting here?

David: Alright. Then we are have a lot of common ground. But if you follow C Hodge, then note that the double payment argument is fallacious, and the basis of any sort of Owenic trilemma argument is also fallacious.

Part of the confusion you have right now is due to the fact that I think you have misunderstood my intentions. My aim in all this was quite *modest.* It was only to show that any argument that relies either explicitly or implicitly on the double payment dilemma is false.

Christ can suffer for a given man, and yet if that man does not believe, he will suffer in his own person for his own sin.

Here I Googled it and found it:
– – – – –
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

All the sins of all men.
All the sins of some men, or
Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in
the whole world, and this is the truth.

But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”
– – – – –
David now: This site basically follows Owen’s wording and meaning in his Death of Death pretty closely. Google the wording and find this page. If I post the link here I worry this comment will disappear in the void as they did here months ago.

You should be able to see the logic of the follow-up premises there. If Christ suffered for all the sins of all men, why are these men punished for their sins?

That supporting argument IS the double payment argument. But given that it is false, for all the reasons C Hodge and Dabney mention, the whole force of the trilemma collapses.

That is the essence of my claim.

Secondary to that was to simply point out that C Hodge had a different concept of vicarious satisfaction, in opposition to TULIP, when he could affirm that even if Christ suffered for a person, if that person failed to believe, he would be punished in is own person. This simple statement from Hodge indicates that there is a theoretically breakable connection between those for whom Christ died and the application of salvation. In terms of Owen and modern TULIP, that theoretical breakability is anathema.

It seems that because you don’t have a handle on what Owen actually said, or even what the standard TULIP is teaching, my words and arguments are either confusing you, or I am talking passed you. I am sorry about that.

Anyway, we are now covering the same ground over and over. Feel free to email me at any point. My email address is on my About Page. Click on my name there, go to the about page tab and scroll down to the bottom.

Thanks for your time,
David

David

Ah I screwed up my email address, Calvin. If my reply does not appear after a reasonable time, I will repost it from work. Thanks for your patience.

David

    Calvin S.

    David, no problemo. I look forward to it.

dr. james willingham

I am aware of the differences in Calvinism, so-called, from one theologian to the next, but here is the funny part: I get the largest designs for the Atonement out of John Owen and what some call his monstrosity. Funny, too, that Andrew Fuller did likewise. Owen speaks of sufficiency for thousands of worlds, and that ought to warn the critics that they might not have understood the man. After all, he is one of the more subtle theologians. From him, Edwards, Fuller, Spurgeon, and Ames (via Eusden) I derived the idea that Particular Redemption could be the most inviting doctrine of all, and I mean the most intensely evangelistic appeal every made, reaching the whole earth beginning, hopefully, in this generation and continuing for a thousand generations (20 yrs, per means 20,000 years and if man should regain his longevity, we are talking of 500,000 years and, providing man goes to the stars, a multitude of planets. All of this just so God can cheer His own with the humorous remark in Rev.7:9, “a number no one can number.” Jesus declares in the presence of the woman of Canaan that He is not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. At that point the woman sees His exclusivistic statement (after all, she is not a Jew) as an invitation to worship and adoration. Then He speaks directly of her depravity and reprobation, using the term dogs, a derogatory and degrading term, if ever there was one (and she surely knew that the Jews thought of Gentiles as dogs that return to their vomit as Peter says). And the woman treats our Lord’s harsh words (though alleviated with the diminutive) as an invitation to discuss and debate with Him her desire for His help. John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims, asked, “Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word?” There is a subtlety and a depth to the word of God that defies human comprehension, and yet the way to blessing lies through that challenging difficulty. Most believers today are not aware of several changes in Protestantism that took place from the 17th to the 19th century, that the movement transformed into an outgoing, we will-persuade you with truth, foregoing the methods of coercion and manipulation, rising above the general understanding of the Bible as rubber stamping slavery (when it makes the converted slave one’s brother???), providing the checks and balances idea from about the 8th century in some monastery in Italy that will enable depraved masses to work together in nation hood, providing freedoms and prosperity like the world has never seen, opening the doors (and that by the hand of calvinists, regardless of a few at the onset who did not know and could not see paradoxes or their value in being therapeutic, that is, therapeutic paradoxes and paradoxical interventions.

How about TULIP becoming the theology that wins the whole world beginning in this generation and continuing to do so for a 1000 generations and reaching the populaces of a million billion planets in the solar system? As Eusden stated in his Introduction to his new translation and edition of William Ames’ Marrow of Divinity (called the Marrow of Theology in the 2nd edn.), “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage,…” That remark 40 years ago set me to studying the Bible with a view to seeing, if our Lord and His disciples used the doctrines of grace as invitations to sinners to be saved. I cited Mt. 15 as suggestive, but the new birth message of our Lord in Jn.3 is even more suggestive as the person who has the least to do with the process is the baby. He or she is just there for the event. Others very much count in the process of delivery. The paradox of paradoxes, however, is found in Jn.5:25, where our Lord Jesus Christ said, “The hour now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” He is talking about the spiritual resurrection, and He is speaking of it to lost sinners. Why? Because it is an invitation to do the impossible, attempt the impossible, to throw man into a state of dependency on Christ for every thing from the very start of salvation to the very finish of the same.

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