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Thread: John Calvin on John 3:16

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    In order to be a Calvinist/Reformed you have to at least agree soteriologically with the Calvinist/Reformed churches as stated in the Calvinist/Reformed confessions. There is variation. You can accept or deny eternal justification. You can be an infraplapsarian or supralapsarian. You can't deny the particular atonement and still be reformed. Reformed theology and the Scriptures teach that when Christ went to the cross He intended to save the church. Amyraut taught that His intent was to save everyone but that the Holy Ghost only gives faith to some and faith is necessary to make the atonement efficient. That is not reformed.
    i've always understood that a calvinist, in the soteriological sense, is one who adheres to the five points of calvinism. the thing that i've come to learn recently is that the limited atonement issue is a bit more nuanced in the history of calvinism than many modern calvinists are willing to admit (perhaps for fear that they and their group are not the sole champions of the cut and dried, monolithic, existing-in-a-vacuum calvinism). from my reading, it's not as narrow as you are taking it. but again, i do not wish to go there since historical theological is a unwieldy wild animal very difficult to discuss and come to any consensus on (especially since none of us here are experts on it and even the so-called experts cannot fully agree on the details).

    anyway, i must confess that i did not know there were such things as low, moderate, and high calvinism until the past 6 mos. this was because it was always presented as a monolithic system which seemingly had no variation and no varied history. this was always emphasized with the rhetoric that you weren't a calvinist unless blah...blah...blah and what this amounted to was that if you didn't agree with their particular brand of calvinism then you couldn't possibly be a calvinist. anyway, the definitions that i was using for low, moderate, and high calvinist were based on those given by curt daniel, who did his doctoral work on calvinism, i believe hyper-calvinism in particular (whom i'm sure you have an issue with as well, since it seems you take issue with anyone except those who are of your particular tradition...as i've learned with you everyone is biased and has it wrong except for you and your tradition; forgive me for the tone but i have been tiring of your narrowness and unwillingness to listen if what is given as evidence does not agree with what your tradition or you yourself deem acceptable). dr. daniel also has written a book on the subject he preached 75 messages on. you can find that here:

    http://www.gbibooks.com/final.asp?id=37506

    the issue, as i understand it, with the categories within calvinism refers to the relative emphasis on the divine and human perspectives, particularly with respect to the atonement (with specific reference to the intentionality). here's how i understood it:
    • High - Those who say that Christ only died for the elect, that it, as a single intentionality, to save the elect (sufficiency is collapsed into the efficiency; Christ only died to effectively save the elect, with no qualifications on its sufficiency an no allowance for dual intentionality).
    • Moderate - Those who say that Christ lived and died with a dual intentionality. This position says he died with the intention of making an atonement sufficient for all and with another intentionality to die effectually for the elect.
    • Low - Those who say that Christ lived and died with a single intentional, merely to provide an atonement sufficient for all (efficiency is collapsed into the sufficiency). These would be the Amyraldians. For them, all particularism is located in the application of salvation by the Spirit.
    more info here (http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1027.htm) which i'm also anticipating that you'll have issue with (i guess i need a list of the sources you'll accept info from; again forgive me for my sarcasm but i am awefully frustrated in my interactions with you...perhaps one day you'll consider the possibility that, at times, it may be your perspective that is misinformed, incomplete, or incorrect). here's the relevant quote:

    But second, don’t imagine that there is just one view for the Limited Atonement position and another view for the Unlimited Atonement position. As if there are two polar opposites here and they compete against each other. This is not really an either/or position even among Calvinists. And in fact, historically, the most intense debates about Limited Atonement have come over the past 400 years, they’ve all been intramural debates between Calvinists, among Calvinists. There are at least three major divisions of Calvinists. There are the high Calvinists. They have one opinion about how the atonement is limited; they tend to try to say it’s limited in its sufficiency. You’ve got the moderate Calvinists and you’ve got the low Calvinists and they all have different views and there are many shades and degrees in between. In fact, I doubt if you could find any two Calvinists who agree completely with one another on every text and every nuance related to this verse. You may if you scoured the world find two somewhere but I bet if you could poll every Calvinist in this room you’d find that no two of us agree on every point and every particular related to this issue. There is not just one Calvinist position on limited atonement. There are many. And when you get into individual verses like Second Peter 2, verse 1, there is no such thing as THE Calvinist interpretation of that verse. There are at least six possible Calvinists’ interpretations of it and if we have time at the end I’m going to give you three of them.

    This whole issue of the extent of the atonement caused a huge debate between two separate Calvinist factions during the Marrow Controversy in Scotland in the 1700’s. This was also one of the major issues Andrew Fuller contended with other Calvinistic Baptists about in the late 18th Century in England. It’s been continual fodder for debate among Welsh Calvinists since the beginning of the 1700’s. In fact, The Banner of Truth has recently republished an important book on this issue. I say republished I think that they’re publishing the first English edition of this book, which is an older book called The Atonement Controversy and Welsh Theological Literature and Debate: 1707-1841. Buy that one and keep it by your bed and you won’t have any sleepless nights. Actually though it’s quite a good book by Owen Thomas. It’s a superb study of the various ways Calvinists understand limited atonement. And I recommend it heartily. It’s really quite a good book. I hope they have some in the Book Shack here if they do you should get it.
    Now, how to explain limited atonement continues to be a point of contention among Calvinists of various opinions. Some of you are Calvinists and I warn you now that you may not like everything I have to say about this issue today. But I would advise all of you, Calvinists and Arminians alike, to gain some of your understanding of these complex issues by reading the historical literature on this subject, rather than by simply tuning into Internet debates on this issue. I’m a little weary of those overzealous Calvinists on the Internet who treat everything as simplistically as possible. Always trying to outdo everyone to see who can adopt the highest form of High Calvinism. And as a result, and you can actually see this trend if you watch Calvinist discussions on the Internet.

    Modern Calvinist circles seem to be filled with guys who insist that Christ’s death had no benefit whatsoever for anyone other than the elect and God’s only desire with regard to the reprobate is to damn them period. Too many Calvinists embrace the doctrine of limited atonement, they finally see the truth of it but then they think, “Oh that’s that.” Christ died for the elect and in no sense are their any universal benefits in the atonement, so the atonement is limited to the elect in every sense and it has no relevance whatsoever to the non-elect. I think that’s an extreme position and it’s not supported by many of the classic Calvinist theologians and writers if you read carefully what Calvinists have said throughout history. I want to encourage you read Andrew Fuller and Thomas Boston. Read what people like Robert L. Dabney and William G. T. Shedd and B. B. Warfield and Charles Hodge wrote on the subject of the atonement. Read John Owen too, but don’t imagine that John Owens’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ represents the only strain of Calvinist thought on the issue. It doesn’t. In fact, far from it.

    If you begin to study this issue in depth you will quickly discover that the classic Calvinist view on the extent of the atonement is a lot less narrow and a lot less cut and dried than the typical seminary student Calvinist on the Internet wants to admit. Historic Calvinism, as a movement has usually acknowledged that there are universal aspects of the atonement. Calvin himself had a view of the extent of the atonement that was far more broad and, and far more extensive than the average Calvinist today would care to recognize. And I’ll show you some of that if time allows.

    And, while I’m making concessions to the other side let me also admit, that this is one issue where historical theology is not overwhelmingly on the side of the Calvinists. And until really some of the later Catholic scholastics raised this question and began to debate it some time in the Middle Ages, most of the church fathers and most of the leading theological writers in the church, both orthodox and heretical, most of them assumed that Christ died for all of humanity and that was the end of that.

    Now there are some exceptions. Theodorette of Cyrus, who lived in 393 to 466. He wrote this about Hebrews 9:27-28. He said quote: “It should be noted, of course, that Christ bore the sins of many, not all, and not all came to faith. So He removed the sins of the believers only.” Ambrose, the great writer, who lived 339-397, said this: “Although Christ suffered for all, yet He suffered for us particularly, because He suffered for the Church.” And Jerome, 347-420, a contemporary of Augustine, he wrote this about Matthew 20:28, Jerome said: “He does not say that He gave His life for all but for many, that is, for all those who would believe.”

    Those are classic Calvinist statements coming from some of the church fathers and you can find little remarks like that here and there among the church fathers. I could actually cite more. But for the most part the church fathers, when they wrote about the atonement, they treated it as universal. We’ll acknowledge that up front.

    Now my friend Curt Daniel who is here this afternoon, and who is far more qualified than I am to teach on the history of Calvinism has written an excellent resource that I want to recommend to you. It’s a large, hardbound syllabus called The History and Theology of Calvinism. It is the best single resource on Calvinism I know. It’s filled with copious quotations and wonderful insight. He covers in it, in a kind of extensive outline format every major doctrine related to Calvinism. And in the process he gives a thorough overview of Calvinist history. I love historical theology and in fact this syllabus was practically my first introduction to the subject more than a decade ago. And it remains a favorite resource of mine. I think there are some copies in the bookstore. I asked them to order it, and for those of you who might be interested in obtaining one I don’t think there are many left. But I recommend it enthusiastically. Curt earned his Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. With a massive doctoral dissertation on John Gill and Hyper-Calvinism. So he probably knows more about the doctrine and history of Calvinism than the rest of us put together. And in his syllabus on Calvinist history he has at least three chapters on the extent of the atonement. His view of the atonement is probably, if anything, a little broader than mine. That’s ok. My favorite theological writer of all time is Robert L. Dabney. And Dabney takes a broader view than I do too. We’re all committed Calvinists. As I said, we as Calvinists don’t necessarily agree on the particulars of how to interpret this or that verse, or how to define this or that benefit of the atonement. In fact, one of the things Curt Daniel’s syllabus shows definitively is that among various strains of Calvinists, there are scores of differing opinions on how to explain the universal and particular aspects of the atonement. So I want to underscore that for you again. I want to emphasize for those of you who think there is only one narrow Calvinistic way to understand how the atonement is limited, this is a considerably more complex issue than most Calvinists realize.
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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    (whom i'm sure you have an issue with as well, since it seems you take issue with anyone except those who are of your particular tradition...as i've learned with you everyone is biased and has it wrong except for you and your tradition; forgive me for the tone but i have been tiring of your narrowness and unwillingness to listen if what is given as evidence does not agree with what your tradition or you yourself deem acceptable).
    I'm sorry that this is the way you are taking my statements. Since I'm quoting and responding to those outside of my exact particular tradition and saying what they got right as well as what they got wrong and giving quotes to back it up there's nothing I can do at this point to convince you that that is not my motive.
    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    more info here (http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1027.htm) which i'm also anticipating that you'll have issue with (i guess i need a list of the sources you'll accept info from; again forgive me for my sarcasm but i am awefully frustrated in my interactions with you...perhaps one day you'll consider the possibility that, at times, it may be your perspective that is misinformed, incomplete, or incorrect).
    I will accept quotes from actual Calvininists taken in context without the use of equivocation. When we read terms like "offer" or "condition" we can't read everything into them that we might if the terms were used today.

    The most important thing of course is whether or not a teaching is Biblical and whether or not it is logically coherent. The paradox theology of John Murray in regards to the offer of the Gospel just doesn't hold up and it truly amazes me that so many act like it is such a great writing. The only thing I can think is that because he did write so many great things people swallow the poison along with the meat.

    Do you really believe Richard Baxter was a Calvinist? This isn't just me or the PRCA. The White Horse Inn noted that there was nothing reformed about Baxter.

    The truth is that it is not the case that hyper-Calvinism over-emphasizes the sovereignty of God. True hyper-Calvinism denies man's responsibility, that's what makes it hyper-Calvisism just as Arminianism denies God's sovereignty (and in so doing sets up a new law which denies man's responsibility as well.)
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    disciple:

    Perhaps we could start with a simple Socratic definition of what a Calvinist is. Would you be willing to provide that?

    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    more info here (http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1027.htm) which i'm also anticipating that you'll have issue with (i guess i need a list of the sources you'll accept info from; again forgive me for my sarcasm but i am awefully frustrated in my interactions with you...perhaps one day you'll consider the possibility that, at times, it may be your perspective that is misinformed, incomplete, or incorrect).
    I didn't actually get a chance to look at this link until now. Phil Johnson is a truly bizarre phenomenon. His articles are full of shoddy scholarship and he tends to set Spurgeon up as the standard of Reformed orthodoxy. This is not just my opinion or the opinion of the PRC. I would venture to guess this is the opinion of Darth Gill, BT, and others on this board as well and know from chats with Carla that she feels the same way.

    Phil Johnson is not the standard of who or what hyper-Calvinism is. Unfortunately many on the internet think he is for whatever bizarre reason.

    Common grace as we know it today is not an historic reformed doctrine. Kuyper practically invented it and admitted it was an inovation. The CRC synod of 1924 dogmatically declared that it was an historic reformed doctrine but provided no evidence. Berkhof claimed it was a doctrine which went back to Calvin but provided no real evidence. The CRC is the only denomination I know of that has an official document which its ministers must subscribe to(though some I've talked to are unaware of it) that explicitly states what the doctrines of common grace are. Richard A. Muller who is professor of historical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary(CRC) and is probably the foremost authority on the history of dogma in the post-reformation era has written a four-volume set called Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics. On page 572 of the third volume he deals with common grace and admits that the modern conception of common grace does not belong to the time of Calvin. Maresius, Wendelin, and Leigh are the only voices he can cite which seem to speak of anything representing the modern notion of common grace. Dr. Mouw admits that the PRC is not hyper-Calvinistic in its denial of common grace and recent articles in the Calvin Theological Journal have called attention to the injustice the ministers who were deposed from the CRC and started the PRC received and say that Hoeksema and the PRC fit well within the bounds of reformed orthodoxy and have called to question some of the decisions on doctrine made in 1924.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Perhaps we could start with a simple Socratic definition of what a Calvinist is. Would you be willing to provide that?
    i presume someone who affirms the five points. but as i said, from what i've been learning, the point about limited atonement is a bit more nuanced. in addition, you have not let me know what you mean by low, moderate, and high calvinist nor do i know from where your basis is for your definitions. as i said, i'm going based on dr. daniel who did doctoral work in this area.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Phil Johnson is not the standard of who or what hyper-Calvinism is. Unfortunately many on the internet think he is for whatever bizarre reason.
    i never said that he was, nor did i mean to give the impression that he is the standard on anything. i was giving people an additional link that i could find, besides dr. daniel, who discusses the issue of the calvinist degradations of low, moderate, or high. my sincerest apologies for once again providing a link/resource that you have a problem with.

    honestly, i don't wish to discuss this anymore as i'm getting tired. i've provided links to dr. daniel's material and you can take it for what it's worth. this is the only thing that i could find on the internet that addresses the issue of the history and theology of calvinism in depth. perhaps you have more resources. anyway, as i said before, this issue of historical theology is an unwieldy beast that i do not wish to attempt to tame. thanks for your time.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    a guy named david ponter is creating no small storm in reformed circles as he is researching this very topic. you can find one of his papers here (he used to have a whole site dedicated to his works called "david ponter papers" but it is no longer available):

    http://www.sounddoctrine.net/LIBRARY/Modern%20Day%20Reform%20Teaching/David%20Ponter/Offer_gospel.htm
    David also chats in 5 Solas Bible Fellowship (and other sov. grace chats) from time to time - if anyone would be interested in talking with him on this topic. It's a good one, and alot to take into consideration.

    His nick on PT is "Flynn" (something or other, sorry I can't recall offhand - one of you PalTalkians here might know the full nick).
    "SOLA SCRIPTURA… GRATIA… FIDE… CHRISTUS… DEO GLORIA" Scripture alone, being our final authority, teaches us that salvation is by grace His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    i presume someone who affirms the five points. but as i said, from what i've been learning, the point about limited atonement is a bit more nuanced.
    I agree that someone who really affirms the five points can rightly be considered a Calvinist. But the Five Points are a summary of the Cannons of Dort and so the Five Points cannot really be subscribed to unless someone also subscribes to the Canons. Lip service can perhaps be paid to the Five Points but they cannot actually be subscribed to if someone denies the Canons. Ponter certainly seems to agree that Kuiper denies the Canons.

    This is what Baxter taught as summarized by the New Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia about the atonement (and my own reading of Baxter concurs with it):

    (1) The atonement of Christ did not consist in his suffering the identical but the equivalent punishment (i.e., one which would have the same effect in moral government) as that deserved by mankind because of offended law. Christ died for sins, not persons... (2) The elect were a certain fixed number determined by the decree without any reference to their faith as the ground of their election, which decree contemplates no reprobation but rather the redemption of all who will accept Christ as their Saviour. (3) What is imputed to the sinner in the work of justification is not the righteousness of Christ but the faith of the sinner himself in the righteousness of Christ. (4) Every sinner has a distinct agency of his own to exert in the process of his conversion.
    So you see, Baxter can't really be considered a Calvinist. I'm really not certain what the point is of calling certain people low, moderate, or high Calvinists based on these categories other than to fit people within the Calvinist camp who had no intention of being there. These are hypo-Calvinists. Historically low Calvinism has been used to refer to infralapsarians who affirmed double predestination. High Calvinists taught supralapsarianism.

    I have a dial-up connection so listening to anything from sermon audio.com can be a horrendous experience which keeps me from listening to sermons I would like to listen to from various pastors otherwise. I also am living below the poverty line and receiving financial assistance so I do not think it wise to invest the money in the book. Perhaps sometime when I get a chance I will see if it is available at a local library.

    In modern Calvinis theology the term low-Calvinist has been used to describe those who believe that the atonement soteriologically is only beneficial for the elect but has positive benefits for others as well. I don't believe this can be sustained biblically but it is a popular idea. Nevertheless, even some of those listed by this definition would not fall under the umbrella of low Calvinism.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I agree that someone who really affirms the five points can rightly be considered a Calvinist. But the Five Points are a summary of the Cannons of Dort and so the Five Points cannot really be subscribed to unless someone also subscribes to the Canons. Lip service can perhaps be paid to the Five Points but they cannot actually be subscribed to if someone denies the Canons. Ponter certainly seems to agree that Kuiper denies the Canons.
    as i understand it, calvinism is much bigger/broader than just affirming the canons of dort. that was just dutch calvinism. there was also scottish, british, german, swiss, etc. calvinism which all took on different hues. obviously, there was much intermingling but the movement/theology was much more nuanced than many will admit (from what i'm learning). anyway, enough of that. as i said, historical theology is a very wild and untamed beast. i do not think we'll tame it here (though perhaps you think you have already done so).

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I'm really not certain what the point is of calling certain people low, moderate, or high Calvinists based on these categories other than to fit people within the Calvinist camp who had no intention of being there. These are hypo-Calvinists. Historically low Calvinism has been used to refer to infralapsarians who affirmed double predestination. High Calvinists taught supralapsarianism.
    from what i understand though, this is not what low, moderate and high refer to. they are related, and highs tend to be supras while lows tend to be infra but as i understand this speaks to a different aspect. if you listen to dr. daniel's tapes or get his book, he deals with this (the relation of the lapsarian element to the low, moderate, high element). david ponter also talks about this.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I have a dial-up connection so listening to anything from sermon audio.com can be a horrendous experience which keeps me from listening to sermons I would like to listen to from various pastors otherwise. I also am living below the poverty line and receiving financial assistance so I do not think it wise to invest the money in the book. Perhaps sometime when I get a chance I will see if it is available at a local library.
    perhaps you could download the sermons one at a time (rather than listen to them streaming). if you'd like, email me your home address and i'll burn them to a CD and send them your way. i honestly would be glad to do this. just say the word and i'll get er done.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    as i understand it, calvinism is much bigger/broader than just affirming the canons of dort. that was just dutch calvinism.
    This is a very common misconception. I even had a professor at Calvin College who said that he didn't know of anyone who taught a limited atonement except for a group of dutch people who met in the 17th century. Homer Hoeksema writes in Voice of Our Fathers (19,20):
    One of the most interesting features of the Synod is the presence of the foreign theologians. Of these there were twenty-five, representing the Reformed Churches in Great Britain, the Palatinate, Hessia, Switzerland, Wetteravia, Geneva, Bremen, and Emden. Delegates from France were invited, but were unable to attend because of interference by the French government. Two delegates from Brandenburg were appointed, but because of a storm of Lutheran opposition they did not attend the Synod. In addition, the Synod also received the written opinions of the aged Dr. David Paraeus, from the University of Heidelberg, who by reason of age and infirmity was unable to attend, as well as the written opinion of Petrus Molinaeus, minister at Paris, concerning the Five Articles of the Arminians. Here again one is immediately struck by the fact that at this Synod the very flower of the Reformation was represented....
    In the meantime, we must not imagine that the Synod was really a sort of ecumenical council of the Reformed churches at that time. On the one hand, it cannot be gainsaid that the delegates from the foreign churches had more than an advisory vote, at least in the sense that we speak of an advisory vote today. In consulting Acts of the Synod of Dordtrecht, as well as a detailed history of the Synod such as that of Dr. Wagenaar, it becomes plain that the foreign theologians played a very active part in the Synod and weilded much influence. During the first stages of the Synod they spoke and argued about the attitude and treatment of the Arminians right along with the national delegates. In fact, throughout the sessions of Synod it appears that their influence was large, and that the national delegates were very loath, to say the least, to act without the approval of the foreign delegates. Besides, when it came to the matter of treating the Arminian heresies, all the foreign delegations handed in their opinions concerning the Five Articles along with the national delegations; and these were treated on equal footing. In fact, there are places in the Canons where the particular formulations adopted were so formulated largely through the influence of the foreign delegates. Especially the English theologians, some of whom were very weak, seemed to have much influence, due undoubtedly to the fact that there was close political intercourse between England and the Netherlands at that time. And when finally the Canons themselves had to be formulated, all the doctrinal opinions of the various delegations having been heard, the foreign delegates were very active again. For three of them, Carleton (the English bishop), Scultetus (from the Palatinate), and Diodati (from Geneva), took their places in the committee of nine, which was to serve this Synod with concept Canons. Besides, the Canons as finally adopted were signed not only by the national but also by the foreign delgates, even though the Swiss theologians had been expressly forbidden to do so.
    This is in contrast to the Westminster Assembly which was purely English and Scottish. However, I don't believe the Westminster Confession takes a different position on the atonement either.

    The direct references in the Westminster Confession to the extent of the atonement are found in III, 6, VIII, 5, 6, 8. Chapter VIII is, of course, the crucial chapter, because it deals with Christ the Mediator. The pertinent articles read as follows. VIII, 5: "The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father, and purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him." VIII, 6: "Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect'" VIII, 8: "To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same'" But the reference in III, 6 is also important because it limits the extent of the atonement to the elect emphatically as being the only ones for whom Christ died: "As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only."


    As was true of the doctrine of God's eternal decrees, so it was also true of this doctrine that much debate swirled around it in the discussions on the floor of the Assembly. All agreed that the atonement of Christ was sufficient for all -- as the Canons also express it (II, 3). But the question was, whether the divine intention was determined in its extent by the sufficiency of the atonement or by its efficacy. The latter was the view that prevailed in the Assembly, while the former was defended strongly by those who supported Amyrauldianism. That is, the view that prevailed was that the extent of the atonement, in God's intention, was limited to the elect alone for whom the suffering of Christ was efficacious. The Amyrauldians argued that the atonement was universal in God's intention, because its extent was determined by its sufficiency and it was sufficient for all men everywhere. Not only did such Amyrauldians as Seaman, Vines, Marshall and Calamy defend this proposition, but Richard Baxter did the same. Shaw [16] speaks of this in quoting from Baxter.

    The celebrated Richard Baxter, who favoured general redemption, makes the following remark upon this and another section of our Confession: "Chap. III, sec. 6, and chap. VIII, sec. 8, which speak against universal redemption, I understand not of all redemption, and particularly not of the mere bearing the punishment of man's sins, and satisfying God's justice, but of that special redemption proper to the elect, which was accompanied with an intention of actual application of the saving benefits in time. If I may not be allowed this interpretation, I must herein dissent."
    Universalists, following Baxter, have since the time of the writing of this creed insisted that the creed left room for their position. [17] Subsequent to the adoption of the creed, a great deal of argumentation has appeared in support of this idea (that the Westminster does not specifically exclude universalism) because of the mention of the "offer" in the Westminster Confession. Schaff claims [18] that the idea of the offer contradicts, or at least leaves open, the question of the extent of the atonement as limited to the elect as this is taught in III, 6 and VIII, 8. Mitchell and Struthers claim [19] that the Davenant men accepted the strict statement of the atonement because the articles on the offer left room for their view. And so the argument has continued until the present.


    That the question of the offer is inseparably related to the question of the extent of the atonement is proved by the fact that Calamy argued at the Assembly that universal redemption was necessary to maintain the offer. [20] While we cannot answer this question without considering what the Confession teaches on the subject of the offer, we can point out here that whatever else may be true, the Westminster divines did intend to limit extent of the atonement in its efficacy to the elect only. This is clear from III, 6, quoted above. The question is: What is the extent of the atonement as far as the intention of God is concerned?

    The 'Offer'

    The term itself is used in VII, 3: "Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered (Latin: offert) unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe." The term appears again in X, 2, although the Latin uses a different word: "The effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man; who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered (Latin: exhibitam) and conveyed in it." In Q & A 86 of the Shorter Catechism the word "offer" also appears: "What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered (Latin: offertur) to us in the gospel."


    There is no question about it that these uses of the term"offer" have often been appealed to in support of the idea that the Westminster divines held not only to an intention of God's part to save all men, but that the idea of a general atonement was not specifically condemned so as to make the offer sincere. Whether this is a correct and honest interpretation of the creed is another question. [21]

    There are several considerations in this connection which would seem to militate against this.

    In the first place, the word "offer" as used in X, 2 is clearly not at issue here. The Latin exhibitam shows that the framers of the Westminster had something quite different in mind than any idea of God's intention to save all men.

    In the second place, the word "offer" need not have the connotation it was given by the men of the Davenant School and is given today by the defenders of the free and well-meant offer of the gospel. This is evident, in the first place, by the fact that the term itself in the Latin means "to present". In the second place, it is used in this sense in the Canons in III & IV, 9.

    In the third place, there is evidence that the meaning given to "offer" by the Davenant men was not the meaning of many on the Assembly. According to Warfield, [22] Rutherford, a prominent member of the Assembly, seems to have used the term only in the sense of the preaching of the gospel. Warfield also claims [23] that Gillespie, another gifted divine, spoke of "offer" in the sense of preaching or in the sense of command when he claimed, during the debate, that command does not always imply intention. I.e., when God commands all men to repent of sin and believe in Christ, this does not necessarily imply that it is God's intention to save those whom he commands. Shaw argues the same point and claims that the Assembly used the term "offer" only in the sense of "present". [24]

    In the fourth place, Schaff may claim that the Westminster divines may have contradicted themselves by limiting the atonement on the one hand to the elect, and introducing on the other hand the idea of an offer, something which requires a universal atonement. But there is a prima facie case against this. The Westminster divines knew their theology too well to commit such a blunder. And, if conceivably this were possible, the very fact that the point was argued on the floor would preclude any such conclusion. If then the Westminster divines were intent on limiting the atonement only to the elect, and if they knew that an offer in the sense of God's intention to save all required a universal redemption, they would certainly not have included any such idea in the creed.

    Finally, the language of the article itself all but requires a favorable meaning to the word. The phrase, "requiring of them faith in him that they might be saved" certainly is intended to explain the phrase, "wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ."

    From these consideration we may conclude that the use of this term in the Westminster Confessions has the same meaning as its use in the Canons.

    There is, however, one other matter in this connection. X, 4 speaks of common operations by the Spirit: "Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore can not be saved'." It is quite clear from the remainder of this article that the divines had in mind good influences. It is also clear that later Puritan thinking, especially the Marrow men, connected this with the well-meant offer of the gospel. In fact Cunningham [25] is so bold as to say that all Calvinists maintain that certain benefits of the atonement accrue to all men. The Westminster divines do not give any further explanation for this statement, and we are left to speculate what they may have meant by it. It is possible that they referred to the fact, common in later Puritan teaching, that the preaching of the law can and usually does have some kind of influence upon the unregenerate hearer so that he is able to see his sin, even sorrow to some extent for it, show an interest in Christ as the One through Whom he can escape from sin, and even have a certain longing for the blessedness of which the gospel speaks. In its reaction to the cold dead orthodoxy of the Church of England and the terrible worldliness which characterized so many of her members, and because the Puritans possessed a defective view of the covenant, religious experience was to them a crucial aspect of salvation. And their view of the effect of the gospel, especially the preaching of the law, was influenced by this. If this is indeed true, this idea is condemned by the Canons in III & IV, B, 4. But we can only speculate.
    Quote Originally Posted by disciple
    i do not think we'll tame it here (though perhaps you think you have already done so).
    I have much to learn in regard to historical theology. There is a vast amount that I have not studied, far more than that which I have studied.

    My knowledge is limited to some very select areas that became important to me at various times including common grace, the well-meant offer, and faith as a condition of salvation and so red flags come up when I see equivocation taking place or just plain false statements being made about them. I'm also not afraid to say Calvin was wrong in his interpretation of certain passages. I believe he was wrong in his interpretation of John 3:16. I'm not going to declare him unregenerate because of that. While at Calvin College I read various papers put out by various people with doctorates, all trying to pretend that Calvin's sole duty in life was to promote whatever cause they liked. I have no desire to do that and I'm glad that I read Calvin's Institutes prior to going to Calvin College. I think the churchworld would be a better place if people stopped reading books about Calvin and what he supposedly taught and started to actually read Calvin since he was far more Biblical than his modern supporters are.

    In the Unaccomodated Calvin, Richard Muller argues that none of the various camps should look to Calvin in support of their view of the atonement since Calvin was not involved in this controversy or adressing the issues the various camps are interested in. I think Muller might be right on this. One of the ways the church grows is through heresy. When a heretic pops up, the church grows by more definitely defining its position on a specific issue. In the third appendix of his pamphlet Grace Uncommon, Rev. Barry Gritters compares and contrasts the differences between common grace as adopted by the CRC in 1924 and what Calvin taught on these issues. I have yet to see him refuted.
    Calvin On Common Grace



    Since Calvin carries considerable weight with those in the Reformed camp, it is worthwhile to hear what Calvin says about the subject. The following is two sections of the author's paper entitled, "Calvin and Common Grace," a paper analyzing Herman Kuiper's Calvin on Common Grace and presented at a Student Club meeting at the Protestant Reformed seminary in 1980:
    On page 29, Kuiper says that Calvin (II-2-11,12) implies, though not expressly, that those who possess miraculous faith are recipients of divine grace, of a non-saving character. This does seem to be the case, and Calvin uses language that sounds like common grace. He speaks of "present mercy...a present perception of His grace which afterwards vanishes away... God enlightens the reprobate with some beams of His grace which afterwards vanishes away.... God so far enlightens the mind that they discover His grace." To understand these statements, we must read farther, as this proponent of common grace does not do.

    Calvin explains it in this way: To some reprobate, God gives a seed of faith, (in this case, miraculous faith) but he "infuses no life into that seed which he drops into their hearts" (Institutes, III,2,12). "Not that they truly perceive the energy of spiritual grace and clear light of faith, but because the Lord, to render their guilt more manifest and inexcusable, insinuates Himself into their minds" (III,2,11). The reprobate are similar to the elect, "only in their opinion" but not in the eyes of God.

    Strikingly, Calvin says that any grace or faith attributed to the reprobate is only "by catechresis, a tropical or improper form of expression; only because they...exhibit some appearance of obedience to it" (III,2,9). He says that this faith and grace are only a shadow or image of faith and grace, and are of no importance, unworthy even of the name. He calls it common only "because there is a great similitude and affinity between temporary faith and that which is living and perpetual." He calls their grace common only "because they appear, under the disguise of hypocrisy, to have the principle of faith in common with them" (III,2,11). to the elect, true faith and, therefore, true grace is given.

    Had this controversy over common grace been an issue in his day, we can be sure that Calvin would have emphasized more often that, when he spoke of common grace, it was only by catechresis: an improper form of expression."

    Those who appeal to Calvin for support of common grace look to the three points of 1924 as the basis for their definition of common grace. But Calvin's common grace has nothing to do with that of the present day. Concerning the first point, that God has a favorable attitude toward all mankind, especially in the offer of the gospel, Calvin has much to say. In connection with the good gifts of God as a "favorable attitude," Calvin says:

    How comes it then that God not only makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, but as far as the advantages of this present life are concerned, His inestimable liberality is constantly flowing forth in rich abundance? Hence we certainly perceive that the things which really belong to Christ and His members, abound to the wicked also...in order that they may be rendered more inexcusable (III,25,9).

    Concerning the "offer of the gospel" Calvin has something to say. But first, it must be noted that Calvin wrote his Institutes in the Latin language. The word translated "offer" in English is, not surprisingly, offere in the Latin. But this word did not necessarily have the same connotations than as it does in English today. The word offere primarily means "to present, to bring towards, to thrust forward, to show, to exhibit." Our word offer has broader connotations and implies the ability to accept or reject, as well as a desire on God's part that the offer be accepted. Calvin says this (which is omitted by Dr. Kuiper):
    His sole design in thus promising, is to offer His mercy to all who desire and seek it, which none do but those whom he has enlightened, and He enlightens all whom He has predestined to salvation (III,24,17).
    That is, God's mercy is offered in the preaching only to those whom He has predestined to salvation!

    What purpose then is served by exhortations? It is this: As the wicked, with obstinate heart, despise them, they will be a testimony against them when they stand at the judgment seat of God; may they (the exhortations of the word: BG) even now strike and lash their consciences (II,5,10).

    When the mercy of God is offered by the gospel (remember, "offered" is "offere," to present, to set forth; BG), it is faith, that is, the illumination of God, which distinguishes between the pious and the impious; so that the former experience the efficacy of the gospel, but the latter derive no benefit from it (III,24,17).

    God wills the salvation only of His elect, and never does Calvin teach that any favor goes out to the wicked in the preaching.

    Calvin writes very little concerning the second point. He writes only that God restrains the outward deeds of the wicked, but never says that God does this in His favor towards them, nor that He restricts the corruption of the heart so that the good in natural man can come out.

    The third point, that by the work of the Spirit the unregenerate is able to do civil good, is in violent contrast to what Calvin says. First, Calvin claims that we have nothing of the spirit except by regeneration (III,3,1). This stands in contradiction to what the third point states.

    Second, Calvin says that we may as well try to draw oil from a stone than expect good works from a sinner (III,15,7).

    Concerning the works of wicked men which are apparently good, Calvin also has something to say. Commenting on a passage by Augustine, Calvin writes: "Here he avows, without any obscurity, that for which we so strenuously content --that the righteousness of good works depends on their acceptance by the Divine mercy" (III,18,5).

    Finally, Calvin says:
    This being admitted will place it beyond all doubt, that man is not possessed of free will for good works, unless he be assisted by grace, and that special grace which is bestowed upon the elect alone in regeneration. For I stop not to notice those fanatics, who pretend that grace is offered equally and promiscuously to all (II,2,6; see also II,2:13 & 18; and III,15,7).
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    The quote about the Westminster Confession was from an article comparing the Westminster and Reformed Confessions which can be read here: http://www.prca.org/articles/article_8.html#Atonement
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    The (Swiss) Helvetic Concensus (1675) also stands in agreement with the Canons and the Westminster standards and and against Amyraut when it says:


    Canon XIII: As Christ was elected from eternity the Head, the Leader and Lord of all who, in time, are saved by his grace, so also, in time, he was made Guarantor of the New Covenant only for those who, by the eternal election, were given to him as his own people, his seed and inheritance. For according to the determinate counsel of the Father and his own intention, he encountered dreadful death instead of the elect alone, and restored only these into the bosom of the Father's grace, and these only he reconciled to God, the offended Father, and delivered from the curse of the law. For our Jesus saves his people from their sins (Matt 1:21), who gave his life a ransom for many sheep (Matt 20:24, 28; John 10:15), his own, who hear his voice (John 10:27-28), and he intercedes for these only, as a divinely appointed Priest, arid not for the world (John 17:9). Accordingly in expiatory sacrifice, they are regarded as having died with him and as being justified from sin (2 Cor 5:12): and thus, with the counsel of the Father who gave to Christ none but the elect to be redeemed, and also with the working of the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies and seals unto a living hope of eternal life none but the elect. The will of Christ who died so agrees and amicably conspires in perfect harmony, that the sphere of the Father's election, the Son's redemption. And the Spirit's sanctification are one and the same.

    Canon XIV: This very thing further appears in this also, that Christ provided the means of salvation for those in whose place he died, especially the regenerating Spirit and the heavenly gift o faith, as well as salvation itself, and actually confers these upon, them. For the Scriptures testify that Christ, the Lord, came to say, the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 15:24), and sends the, same Holy Spirit, the source of regeneration, as his own (John 16:7 8): that among the better promises of the New Covenant of which he was made Mediator and Guarantor this one is pre-eminent, the he will inscribe his law, the law of faith, in the hearts of his people (Heb 8:10); that whatsoever the Father has given to Chris will come to him, by faith, surely; and finally, that we are chose' in Christ to be his children, holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4-5); but our being God's holy children proceeds only from faith and the Spirit of regeneration.

    Canon XV: But by the obedience of his death Christ, in place o the elect, so satisfied God the Father, that in the estimate of his vicarious righteousness and of that obedience, all of that which he rendered to the law, as its just servant, during his entire life whether by doing or by suffering, ought to be called obedience. For Christ's life, according to the Apostle's testimony (Phil 1:8), was nothing but submission, humiliation and a continuous emptying of self, descending step by step to the lowest extreme even to the point of death on the Cross; and the Spirit of God plainly declares that Christ in our stead satisfied the law and divine justice by His most, holy life, and makes that ransom with which God has redeemed us to consist not in His sufferings only, but in his whole life conformed to the law. The Spirit, however, ascribes our redemption to the death, or the blood, of Christ, in no other sense than that it was consummated by sufferings; and from that last definitive and no blest act derives a name indeed, but not in such a way as to separate the life preceding from his death.

    Canon XVI: Since all these things are entirely so, we can hardly approve the opposite doctrine of those who affirm that of his own intention and counsel and that of the Father who sent him, Christ died for each and every one upon the condition, that they believe. [We also cannot affirm the teaching! that he obtained for all a salvation, which, nevertheless, is not applied to all, and by his death merited a salvation and faith for no one individually but only removed the obstacle of divine justice, and acquired for the Father the liberty of entering into a new covenant of grace with all men. Finally, they so separate the active and passive righteousness of Christ, as to assert that he claims his active righteousness as his own, but gives and imputes only his passive righteousness to the elect. All these opinions, and all that are like these, are contrary to the plain Scriptures and the glory of Christ, who is Author and Finisher of our faith and salvation; they make his cross of none effect, and under the appearance of exalting his merit, they, in reality diminish it.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    disciple

    Sorry to keep going on and on about this but I find this subject fascinating and hope to continue to research it. Please don't take anything I have said as a personal attack against you. You can just ignore me if you like. For a review of The Atonement Controversy in Welsh Theological Literature click here: http://www.prca.org/current/Journal/...%20Controversy

    Also, could you provide a Biblical example where it is said that the reprobate receive some benefit from the atonement?
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Also, just for some examples to show that I am not just complaining about Phil Johnson for no good reason. On his website, Phil Johnson has a review done by Matthew McMahon of a book by Prof. Engelsma called Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel. You can read the review here.
    A review of David J. Engelsma's Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel,
    The following quotes are from the review:
    Englesma's book relies on half quotes, bad exegetical work, and does not convince at all.
    This is slander. McMahon provides no examples of Engelsma providing half quotes in order to twist what people are saying. A reviewer in the Calvin Theological Journal found the book very convincing and said that it did provide a solid defense against the charges of hyper-Calvinism. Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly said that it showed that the PRC is a defender of pure Calvinism.

    There is not a great deal of technical or exegetical work documented at all, which is always a very bad sign if one is going to defend a position, and his conclusions seem to be more parroted than hermeneutical.
    He must have read a different book than I did.

    Oftentimes, any writer from the PRC seems to write with a chip on their shoulder instead of simply exegeting the Bible (this is particularly true of "The Standard Bearer" - their quarterly journal for their denomination). In many of the books and papers I have read on this subject, it is often that they are simply writing to add additional comments on their split with CRC, and I believe that it is not only unnecessary to do this, but more condemning of their own lack of compassion and further aggravation of the subject. It is one thing to stand for the truth, but to continually harp on the split and bring up the same ideas over and over to defend their Hypercalvinism is tedious at best. Englesma's book is a reflection of that attitude.
    The apostles condemned false teaching as well as promoting true teaching. Also, since Engelsma took over editorship of the Standard Bearer in 1988 there were far fewer articles directed against the CRC. When specific issues came up or when the CRC was involved in some new controversy the issues were mentioned but the allegations by McMahon are unfounded.
    He quotes sections of Turretin, which is always refreshing to read, but does not quote everything Turretin said or stated on the views he is attempting to propagate. I would have enjoyed seeing him quote Turretin's use of the love of God for all men.
    I would rather like to see these quotes by Turretin produced by McMahon which deny what Engelsma is saying.

    They do not believe god hates the elect, or ever has (although I have not seen anything well done on Ephesians 2 - were we not "children of wrath" like the others?)
    Engelsma does in fact deal with this passage and makes the distinction between hatred and wrath.

    The denial of common bounty to all men, and the forcefulness of the assertion that God only hates the reprobate are Hypercalvinist ideologies stemming back from the time of John Gill and his mentor John Hussey. The PRC may be better termed the "Husseites", not akin to Jan Huss. Engelsma, in trying to protect his view and his denomination from Hypercalvinism, simply admits to it by their position and this book.
    Engelsma spends a good amount of time in his book refuting the severe error of Joseph Hussey.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    This is a very common misconception. I even had a professor at Calvin College who said that he didn't know of anyone who taught a limited atonement except for a group of dutch people who met in the 17th century.
    i didn't mean to communicate what i did (or to make it sound the way it did to you). i shouldn't have said that was just dutch cavlinism because i understand that the synod of dort was an international synod of sorts and that its impact went further than just holland. what i actually wanted to emphasize was that we must not define all of calvinism simply by looking at one document. that will truncate and limit our/your understanding of calvinism in my opinion. it does not do justice to its variety and its true history (it gives too much emphasis to one document in one region during one time period). in my mind, the two wrong extremes would be to define calvinism by one document on the one hand and to not allow any unity of the different expressions of calvinism on the other.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Sorry to keep going on and on about this but I find this subject fascinating and hope to continue to research it. Please don't take anything I have said as a personal attack against you. You can just ignore me if you like.
    i find it fascinating as well. but as i've expressed, historical theology is like a slippery fish or a wild animal. people do all that they can to color history in their particular camps favor. this in addition to the fact that history is written by those who won. it seems very akin to the arguing about what the church fathers said by the roman catholics and reformers. we end up arguing about the middle men and what so and so meant by what he said rather than spending our time discussing the Scriptures themselves. i'd rather spend the majority of my time in the Scriptures because time is precious.

    also, i don't take it personal, i just think that sometimes you seem unwilling to admit the possibility that you have false or biased information (that it may not represent what truly happened). and i don't wish to just ignore you. interacting with you just sometimes gets frustrating because i don't think i've ever seen you yield any ground or admit any weakness in your position.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    Also, could you provide a Biblical example where it is said that the reprobate receive some benefit from the atonement?
    please note that i'm not really arguing for the correctness of any particular position, but am simply trying to point out that this point is more nuanced historically than many will admit. what i'm learning is that many calvinists (particularly the earlier ones) have historically allowed a duality of the atonement (truly and really, not hypothetically sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect).

    what i've read (again, i have not found the time to do the source work and research myself) is that it was during the period of protestant creedalism or protestant scholasticism in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that a lot of the definitions and details of the atonement were hammered out. some historians are saying that calvinism developed and changed during this period. key influential figures in this change that i've heard about were turretin and owen.

    this period, from what i understand (from my church history class), was a very dry period as to the spiritual life of the church. out of this dryness and deadness came reactions such as pietism in germany, quakers, and other groups who had a tinge of mysticism. i'm sure you have your own opinions on this, but my point is that from what i understand, calvinism as a system developed over the years and later calvinism wasn't necessarily identical with early calvinism, calvinism in one region was not necessarily identifcal with that in other regions--in other words, it is not historically accurate to say that there is one calvinism (i.e., it is not completely monolithic).

    as to the atonement, i know that some (calvin is a case in point but i also have quotes from hodge, shedd, and dabney) have said that he died for the unbeliever to remove any legal obstacles (so that none could claim that no provision was made for them being with any excuse) and that the effect of the atonement for them is merely delayed judgment and blessings via the elects'/church's impact on the world. but from reading the quotes from shedd, hodge, and dabney it does not seem so much to be that they receive any benefits from it, but that it was provision made without no specific application/effect to them (so it would speak to the efficient aspect of the atonement, not the sufficient). therefore this question would have perhaps made little sense to them. the reprobate does not receive any benefit from it, because it was not efficient for them (though it was sufficient). please remember that i'm not arguing the correctness of any particular position, but am merely trying to explain the variety.

    anyway, i know that some of the verses they discuss are such verses as john 1:29, 3:16-17, 4:42, 6:33, 51; 2 co 5:14-15, 19; 1 tim 2:4-6, 4:10; heb 10:26-31; 2 pe 2:1; 1 John 2:2, 4:14 (again, as a reminder, my intention here not to argue the correctness of any particular position but simply allow for the variety).
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    disciple:

    I think perhaps we are misunderstanding one another. I think what you are talking about is what has been considered Calvinism by the churchworld at various times and as far as that goes I agree with you. What I am speaking of or trying to speak of is what Calvinism actually is at least as it is presented in a logical system. I'm not denying that Dabney, Hodge, or Shedd taught these things or declaring them unregenerate for doing so. I think they were wrong on these issues and I'm more interested in the rightness or wrongness of the doctrine. However, to throw people such as Baxter in there as being any kind of Calvinist just doesn't seem right.

    I agree that this variety existed, but I don't believe the variety was good. Someone has to be right on this issue and a whole lot of people have to be wrong.

    There are a variety of causes but I think the major influence for a good deal of the deadness during the era were the state churches. People were recognized as citizens of the kingdom who were merely citizens of a given country and who were by no means strangers and pilgrims on this earth and so worldliness came into the church both through these people who had no business in the church and through the state's involvement. Then those who sought to cure the deadness used the wrong means and methodism and pietism and other movements erupted as if the introduction of false theology could make the churchworld better.

    I know it is popular to criticize people like Voetius or Beza or Turretin, saying that they corrupted Calvin's theology, but I disagree. I believe they further developed it and weeded out the error as each generation in the church ought to do. Concern for theology is never a bad thing. It only becomes a bad thing if we look at it abstractly, if we look at it as an end in itself without using it as a means to know God better.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Wow this thread has taken an interesting twist. Let's define what Calvinism really is .... Now isn't that a broad subject.

    Wildboar and Disicple thanks and carry on haha ... I am enjoying your exchange of ideas and information.

    I believe we can all see that the word calvinist can have a variety of meanings and because of this I feel it can cloud rather than clarify the theological stance of an individual.
    It is what it is

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    The following is from an article written by Raymond Blacketer that appeared in the April 2000 issue of the Calvin Theological Journal. The article speaks of both the well-meant offer and the atonement, so I thought I would supply some quotes from it, analyzing Calvin and Turretin's position and critiquing popular modern interpretations. The full article can be read here http://www.prca.org/articles/ctjblack.html



    Continuing his answer to this objection, Berkhof reminds his readers that the promise of the gospel is conditional, and that "the righteousness of Christ, though not intended for all, is yet sufficient for all."25 Does Berkhof really want to base the well-meant offer on the sufficiency of Christ's atonement? The sufficiency of the atonement only refers to the value or merit of Christ's death, and thus it is theoretical in nature. Had God decreed to save all sinners, the death of Christ would have been more than sufficient to atone for their sins. Berkhof's argument, apparently, is that because Christ's death could have covered the sins of all, therefore salvation can actually be offered to all, including the reprobate. The coherence of this argument is quite questionable: How can that which is not actually acquired or intended for the reprobate be offered to them with the desire that they accept it? In other words, how can Christ be offered to the reprobate, when in fact he has not been offered for them?
    This argument based on the sufficiency of Christ's death, moreover, dates back to the sixteenth century, but it was not the Reformed who employed it. John Calvin rightly calls it "a great absurdity" that "has no weight for me." The question, he says, "is not what the power or virtue of Christ is, nor what efficacy it has in itself, but who those are to whom he gives himself to be enjoyed.' The answer to this question is not all humanity in general, but only those whom God designs to be a partaker in Christ.26 Calvin accepts the distinction between the sufficiency and efficacy of Christ's death,27 but he does not believe that this distinction can be employed to teach that God desires or intends salvation, or makes salvation available, for all persons indiscriminately......



    Hoekema begins his analysis of the issue by reminding his readers that "Hoeksema's theology is dominated by the overruling causality of the double decree of election and reprobation."47 This characterization is based on the conclusions of two critics of Hoeksema's views: AC. DeJong and, indirectly, GC. Berkouwer. 48 Having thus discredited Hoeksema's theological method from the outset, Hoekema defends the well-meant offer by citing numerous texts,49 along with excerpts from John Calvin's comments on two of these texts: Ezekiel 18:23 and 2 Peter 3:9. We will examine Calvin's interpretation of Ezekiel 18 in detail below. Calvin's comments on 2 Peter 3:9 ("not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance") explain that this passage does not refer to God's secret purpose, "according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel." In the gospel, God "stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world."50 Calvin does not say that God desires the salvation of the reprobate. In fact, when he cites this passage in the Institutes, he says that when God "promises that he will give a certain few a heart of stone [ Ezek. 36:26], let him be asked whether he wants to convert all."51


    Hoekema argues that the phrase "ma boulomenos tinas apolesthai" precludes the possibility of limiting this passage to the elect. But he fails to nuance the meaning of the divine will. Calvin obviously relates this passage to God's will of the precept, or revealed will, which does not relate God's will regarding the fate of specific individuals. The Leiden Synopsis makes the following distinction, which could equally be applied to this passage:
    Thus they delude themselves, who extend the grace of God's calling to all, and to every individual. For they not only confuse that love of God for humanity (filanqrwpiva) bywhich he embraces all persons as creatures, with that [love] bywhich he has decreed to receive in grace certain persons from among the common mass of sinful humanity, who were lost in their sin, and that they should follow his beloved Son Jesus Christ; they also rob God--who is bound by none--of any freedom to single out those whom he will from among the rest of his enemies, all equally unworthy of his mercy, in order that he might convey them from a state of guilt to a state of sin.52

    Hoekema does recognize that the passages he cites in defense of the well-meant offer refer to God's revealed will, but he does not appear to properly discern what that revealed will entails.53 What it in fact does entail will become quite clear when we come to Turretin's discussion of the calling of the reprobate. Hoekema also repeats Berkhof's argument that the Synod of Dort agreed with the Remonstrants' contention that God offers salvation to all, but that the synod nonetheless asserted that this offer was compatible with election and limited atonement.54 Like Berkhof, he fails to make a distinction between call and offer.


    The solution that Hoekema ultimately proposes is that We avoid "a rationalistic solution." He mentions the phenomenon of English hyper-Calvinism, which, "like that of Herman Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed Churches, denied the well-meant gospel call."55 This statement is regrettable for several reasons. First, Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed Churches do not deny the serious call of the gospel; they simply deny that this call should be characterized as an offer of salvation or represented as God's intention to impart salvation. Second, the charge of hyper-Calvinism is an unjustified and uncharitable instance of guilt by association.56 Finally, Hoekema charges that the doctrine of the well-meant offer "has tremendous significance for missions," implying, regrettably, that the denial of that doctrine entails a diminishment of missionary motivation.57
    Hoekema asserts that there are two rationalistic solutions that must be avoided: the Arminian proposal of universal, sufficient grace, and the ostensibly hyper-Calvinist contention that the call does not imply God's desire to save the reprobate. We must continue to hold to both election and the well-meant offer, "even though we cannot reconcile these two teachings with our finite minds." We cannot "lock God up in the prison of human logic."58 Hoekema appeals to what he calls the "Scriptural paradox," by which he means that we must believe that apparently incompatible theological statements are in fact somehow resolved in the mind of God.59 .....


    Calvin on Calling and Reprobation


    Berkhof, in his defense of the three points, cites John Calvin in defense of the doctrine of the well-meant offer. He refers to Calvin's commentary on Ezekiel 18:23 and 18:32--but only cites a select portion of Calvin's comments on these texts.63 Calvin affirms that God "calls all equally to repentance, and promises himself prepared to receive them if they only seriously repent."64 Calvin even says that there is a sense in which God wills that all persons should be saved--but only on the condition that they repent. But how can this be reconciled with God's election, since God wills to give saving grace only to the elect?


    Calvin answers: "God always wishes the same thing, though by different ways, and in a manner inscrutable to us. Although, therefore, God's will is simple, yet great variety is involved in it, as far as our senses are concerned."65 Here Calvin shows us his Scholastic side: He is operating with a time-honored distinction in the will of God, a distinction that for centuries had allowed exegetes to make sense of God's command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac without really intending it to occur, his command to Pharaoh to release his people while simultaneously hardening his heart so that he would not do so, and his repentance at Nineveh. This is the distinction between God's will of the precept and his will of the decree. The command to repent and the promise of salvation following upon such repentance belong to the preceptive will of God. This human duty and conditional promise is proclaimed indiscriminately to all. The condition can only be fulfilled, however, when God has decreed to give a person regenerating grace. This is what Calvin means when he says, "God puts on a twofold character."66 Ezekiel's intention in this verse is not to say anything about election and reprobation but only to show that "when we have been converted we need not doubt that God immediately meets us and shows himself gracious."67


    Later, in his comments on Ezekiel 18:32, Calvin again takes up the preceptive will of God:
    when God teaches what is right, he does not think of what we are able to do, but only shows us what we ought to do. When, therefore, the power of our free will is estimated by the precepts of God, we make a great mistake, because God exacts from us the strict discharge of our duty, just as if our power of obedience was not defective. We are not absolved from our obligation because we cannot pay it; for God holds us bound to himself, although we are in every way deficient.68

    Thus God can demand faith and repentance from sinners, even though they have rendered themselves incapable of the required response. Berkhof cites Calvin's comments on this verse, that God "invites all to repentance and rejects no one,"69 but he does not place it in the context of God's preceptive or revealed will, which Calvin contrasts with God's will of the decree or good pleasure. Berkhof, then, presents only one side of Calvin's argument.


    Calvin's treatment of Matthew 23:37 ("O Jerusalem...how often I have longed to gather your children together.., but you were not willing") employs the decretive-preceptive distinction even more explicitly. Hoekema adduces this passage as further support of the well-meant offer. On this text, however, he does not claim Calvin's support, and for good reason. Calvin warns that ''we must define the will of God now under discussion." The opponents of predestination contend that "nothing agrees less with God's nature than that he should be of a double will." But not only do they fail to see that Christ, speaking on behalf of the Godhead, condescends to the human level by employing an anthropopathic figure of speech, they also fail to recognize that, although God's will is one and simple in himself, our perception of it is manifold. Thus God "strikes dumb our senses until it is given us to recognize how wonderfully he wills what at the moment seems to be against his will."70


    Calvin's lectures on Ezekiel extend only through chapter 20; but in his Institutes he does comment significantly on Ezekiel 33:11, in the context of election and reprobation. Opponents of these doctrines object that if God really takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, then he would make it possible for all to repent. Calvin responds that "this passage is violently twisted if the will of God, mentioned by the prophet, is opposed to his eternal plan, by which he has distinguished the elect from the reprobate."71 Here again we see the contrast between the will of the precept and the will of the decree. The prophet's truemeaning, Calvin continues, "is that he would bring the hope of pardon to the penitent only. The gist of it is that God is without doubt ready to forgive, as soon as the sinner is converted. Therefore, insofar as God wills the sinner's repentance, he does not will his death."72 The proposition that God wills the salvation of all must be qualified. According to his preceptive will, God reveals what is required of persons if they are to receive forgiveness. But God in his eternal counsel wills only to bestow the grace required for repentance on the elect.


    Calvin then anticipates the charge that would later be brought by the Remonstrants: If God does not really will the salvation of all, then his universal call is not sincere. Calvin admits that God wills the repentance of those whom he calls to himself "in such a way that he does not touch the hearts of all." But this does not mean that God acts deceitfully, "for even though only his outward call renders inexcusable those who hear it and do not obey, still it is truly considered evidence of God's grace by which he reconciles persons to himself."73 The universal call is a testimony of God's grace but not his common grace. It is a testimony of his saving grace that is only operative in the elect. It is not grace for the reprobate. Calvin teaches that God hates the reprobate--not as his creatures, but as those who are bereft of his Spirit and worthy of condemnation.74 The opponents of predestination claim that God extends his grace to all indiscriminately; but Calvin replies that this is only true in the sense that God extends his grace to whomever he wills in his good pleasure, without regard to any merit.75


    For the reprobate, moreover, the external call is a testimony of God's judgment. "That the Lord sends his Word to many whose blindness he intends to increase cannot indeed be called into question. For what purpose does he cause so many demands to be made upon Pharaoh?"As far as the reprobate are concerned, God "directs his voice to them but in order that they may become even more deaf; he kindles a light but that they may be made even more blind; he sets forth doctrine but that they may grow even more stupid; he employs a remedy but so that they may not be healed."76 It is clear that Calvin sees the intention of the external call vis a vis the reprobate not as an offer of actual salvation but as a sign of his judgment upon human unbelief. This is even more clear from his discussion of calling: "There is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation."77


    Surprisingly, neither the synod of 1924, nor Berkhof, nor Hoekema cite the most relevant of Calvin's works in connection with the issue of the ostensible well-meant offer: his writings on election and reprobation. In his 1552 treatise On the Eternal Predestination of God, directed against the views of Albert Pighius and Georgius Siculus, Calvin responds to Pighius' claim, based on 1 Timothy 2:4 and Ezekiel 33:11, that God desires the salvation of all persons:
    Now we reply, that as the language of the prophet here is an exhortation to repentance, it is not at all marvelous in him to declare that God wills all men to be saved. For the mutual relation between these threats and promises shows that such forms of speaking are conditional. In this same manner God declared to the Ninevites, and to the kings of Gerar and Egypt, that he would do that which, in reality, he did not intend to do, for their repentance averted the punishment which he had threatened to inflict upon them ....Just so it is with respect to the conditional promises of God, which invite all men to salvation. They do not positively prove that which God has decreed in his secret counsel, but declare only what God is ready to do to all those who are brought to faith and repentance.78

    If the distinction between God's preceptive and decretive will is not clear enough, Calvin adds that "as a Lawgiver, he enlightens all men with the external doctrine of conditional life. In this manner he calls, or invites, all men unto eternal life."79 This is an indiscriminate declaration of what is required for a person to receive eternal life, but it is not an offer of salvation to those whom God has decreed to leave in their sin.


    Regarding the promise of the gift of conversion in Jeremiah 31:33, Calvin remarks that "a man must be utterly beside himself to assert that this promise is made to all men generally and indiscriminately."80 Actual salvation, then, is not offered to all; but the way of salvation is proclaimed to all. The proposition that God desires the salvation of every individual cannot be maintained, Calvin argues, because not even the external preaching of the word comes to everyone, let alone the illumination of the Spirit: "Now let Pighius boast, if he can, that God wills all men to be saved!"81 If God does not intend salvation for all, how can he "offer" it to all? "No one but a man deprived of his common sense and common judgment can believe that salvation was ordained by the secret counsel of God equally and indiscriminately for all men."82


    Returning to Pighius' use of 1 Timothy 2:4, where Paul says that God "wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth," Calvin argues that this passage does not mean that God wants each and every individual to be saved. "Who does not see that the apostle is here speaking of orders of men rather than of individuals? Indeed, that distinction which commentators here make is not without great reason and point; that classes of individuals, not individuals of classes, are here intended by Paul."83


    When Calvin turns to the arguments of the monk Georgius Siculus, he makes a comment that could be construed to support the 1924 synod's well-meant offer. His opponent claimed that God had made salvation available to all, since, as 1John 2:2 declares, Christ became a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Calvin responds that "although reconciliation is offered unto all men through him [Christ], yet, that the great benefit belongs particularly to the elect."84 But clearly Calvin does not mean that reconciliation is offered, in the modern sense of the term, to all without distinction. Given what Calvin has already said about God's not intending the salvation of all who are called, it is doubtful that he here reverses his course and affirms that God in fact offers reconciliation to the reprobate, that is, that he holds it out for them to take. Fortunately, we have Calvin's French version of this treatise, where he himself translates the phrase in question "la reconciliation faicte pare luy se presente à tous"--the reconciliation accomplished by him is presented to all. 85


    The reason why Calvin does not think that God intends or offers salvation to all becomes clear, in an accidental fashion, from his commentary on that same passage. Calvin mentions the common dictum that "Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect." He admits that this is true, but he denies that this really applies to 1John 2:2, since John only has the elect in mind. Calvin adds, however, that "under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world."86


    There is another passage, moreover, in which Calvin makes it quite clear that he rejects the concept of a universal atonement. Combating Tilemann Heshusius' doctrine of the physical presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, Calvin poses the following rhetorical question: "I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins?"87 We might also ask, how can redemption be offered to those for whom it was neither intended nor actually obtained? Again, how can Christ be offered to the reprobate, when in fact he has not been offered for them?


    Calvin touches on this matter again in his short piece, Response to Certain Calumnies and Blasphemies, a rejection of Sebastian Castellio's objections to Calvin's doctrine of predestination. Castellio contends that God created the whole world to be saved, and that he works to draw to himself all who have gone astray. Calvin admits that this may be true in one sense, with regard to the doctrine of faith and repentance. This doctrine is published or declared (proposé) to all in general, but with a twofold purpose: to draw his elect to faith, and to render the rest inexcusable.88 God summons and exhorts all to come to him, but he does not draw all of them to himself; the promise to do so is only given to a "certain number," the elect.89


    Castellio thinks that God desires the salvation of every individual because all are called. But Calvin responds that Castellio does not understand that most basic truth about God's calling (Calvin calls it the ABCs of the Christian faith): the distinction between the external and the internal call. The external call comes "from the mouths of men," while the internal call is the secret work of God. Moreover, Calvin adds, 1 Timothy 2:4 means that God desires the salvation of all who will come to a knowledge of the truth, that is, the elect.90 Castellio would do well to profit from "the little book written by our brother, Mr. Beza." This little book is Beza's Summa totius Christianismi, which includes his famous table of predestination. Far from characterizing the external call as an offer of salvation, Beza writes that God justly hates the reprobate because they are corrupt.91 As for the reprobate who hear the external call, Beza explains that
    their downfall is much more severe, since he in fact grants them the external preaching, but who, despite being called, are neither willing nor even able to respond, because, they are content in their blindness, and think that they see, and because it is not given to them to embrace and believe the Spirit of truth. Consequently, although their obstinacy is necessary, it is nevertheless voluntary. This is why they refuse to come to the banquet when they are invited; for the word of life is foolishness and an offense to them, and ultimately a lethal odor that leads to death.92

    Turning back to Calvin's trouncing of Castellio, he concludes his brief treatise by once more employing the distinction between God's preceptive and decretive will. It is true, he says, that God often uses a form of speech such as "Return to me, and I will come to you." But the purpose of such language is to show us what we ought to do, not what we are able to do.93


    Calvin later expanded his refutation of Castellio's antipredestinarian views in a treatise on the Secret Providence of God (1558). Here again, Calvin makes it clear that the proposition in 1 Timothy 2:4, that God desires the salvation of all persons, must be qualified. "Since no one but he who is drawn by the secret influence of the Spirit can approach unto God, how is it that God does not draw all men indiscriminately to himself, if he really 'wills all men to be saved'?"94 For Calvin, this passage can mean that God wants all kinds, races, and classes of people to be saved; or it can mean that God wills that if anyone is to be saved, that person must repent and believe, and that this preceptive will of God is to be preached indiscriminately to all. But it does not mean that God earnestly desires the salvation of all who hear the preaching of the gospel.


    Francis Turretin and the Calling of the Reprobate


    Francis Turretin (1623-87), who held the chair of theology at the Genevan Academy from 1653 until his death, was a great synthesizer and defender of Reformed orthodoxy.95 He frequently defends and exposits the declarations of the Synod of Dort in his Institutes ofElenctic Theology His interpretation of the Canons and his exposition of the Reformed doctrine of the calling of the reprobate shed a great deal of light on this subject and demonstrate the coherence of this doctrine. At the same time, he leaves no room for the well-meant offer of salvation as it is presented by the 1924 synod and its defenders.


    In his discussion of the calling of the reprobate, Turretin repudiates two assertions: First, that the reprobate are "called with the design and intention on God's part that they should become partakers of salvation;" and second, that it follows from this that "God does not deal seriously with them, but hypocritically and falsely; or that he can be accused of some injustice." Turretin states the Reformed position as follows:
    we do not deny that the reprobate.., are called by God through the gospel; still we do deny that they are called with the intention that they should be made actual partakers of salvation (which God knew would never be the case because in his decree he had ordained otherwise concerning them). Nor ought we on this account to think that God can be charged with hypocrisy or dissimulation, but that he always acts most seriously and sincerely.96

    God has both a common and special end in his call. The common end, that is common to all who receive it, is "the demonstration of the mode and way of salvation and the promise of salvation to those who profess the prescribed condition.."97 The special end for the elect is "the actual bestowal of salvation upon those whom on that account he calls not only imperatively but also operatively; not only by prescribing duty, but by performing that very duty, working within us by his Spirit what he externally commands by his Word."98 For the reprobate, God's end "is their conviction and inexcusability."99


    The question, according to Turretin, is not whether "God wills to bestow any grace upon reprobates over and above those who are destitute of this blessing (such as the heathen and other infidels) but whether he intends to give saving grace or salvation to them and calls them with this purpose, that they may really become partakers of it .... "which Turretin denies. Here Turretin may acknowledge the possibility of some other kind of grace besides saving grace; the call itself may even be a (temporary) blessing.100


    Turretin proceeds to demonstrate, in six arguments, how God can deal seriously with the reprobate, even when he does not intend their salvation.


    1. "God cannot in calling intend the salvation of those whom he reprobated from eternity and from whom he decreed to withhold faith and other means leading to salvation. Otherwise he would intend what is contrary to his own will and what he knew in eternity would never take place, and that it would not take place because he, who alone can, does not wish to do it. This everyone sees to be repugnant to the wisdom, goodness, and power of God."101


    2. "God does not intend faith in the reprobate; therefore neither does he intend salvation, which cannot be attained without faith."102


    3. "Christ, in calling the reprobate Jews, testifies that his proposed end was their inexcusability" (ajnapologiva; cf. John 9:39, 15:22).103


    4. "Those who are called with the intention of salvation are 'called according to purpose' (kata prothesin, Rom. 8:28), the purpose of which is that they love God, be justified, etc.104


    5. "Salvation according to the intention of God is promised to none other than those having the prescribed condition .... Since this cannot be said of the reprobate, it equally cannot be said that they are called by God with the intention that they should be saved."105


    6. "It can no more be said that God calls each and every individual with the intention that they should be saved, than that they should be damned. For a conditioned promise includes the opposite threatening, so that every unbeliever will be condemned as every believer is to be saved .... It can no more be concluded that God wills all to be saved for the reason that he promises pardon of sin and salvation to all promiscuously (if they repent), than that he does not will the salvation of all for the reason that he denounces a curse and death upon all (unless they repent and believe)."106


    Turretin can use the term offer (oblatio, the nominal form of offero, which can also mean "presentation"107) in explaining how the reprobate are called seriously yet without the intention of salvation; but he does so in a way that is quite incompatible with the claims of the welgemeende aanbod des heils:
    Although God does not intend the salvation of reprobate by calling them, still he acts most seriously and sincerely; nor can any hypocrisy or deception be charged against him--neither with respect to God himself, because he seriously and most truly shows them the only and most certain way of salvation, seriously exhorts them to follow it and most sincerely promises salvation to all those who do follow it, namely, to those who believe and repent; nor does he only promise, but actually bestows it according to his promise; nor in regard to men, because the offer [or presentation, oblatio] of salvation is not made to them absolutely, but under a condition, and thus it posits nothing unless the condition is fulfilled, which is wanting on the part of man.108

    The key to understanding how God can seriously call the reprobate without intending their salvation is the distinction between the will of the decree and that of the precept:
    if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here, as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills that they should fulfill it by approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree. Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (envarestiva), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself haddecreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature, namely, that one should come to him; but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.109
    It is one thing to will reprobates to come, i.e. to command them to come...another to will that they should not come, i.e. not to will to give them the power to come. God can in calling them will the former and yet not the latter without any contrariety because the former has to do only with the will of precept, while the latter has to do with the will of the decree For a serious call does not require that there should be an intention and purpose of drawing him, but only that there should be a constant will of commanding duty and bestowing the blessing upon him who performs it, which God most seriously wills.110

    Turretin also clarifies the relationship between the will of God in calling and the role of the preacher in proclaiming the gospel. The preacher can proclaim that Christ is the Savior of all who will come to him in faith -- a truth that even the reprobate can believe.111 Pastors are to "invite all their hearers promiscuously to repentance and faith as the only way of salvation, and, supposing these, to salvation; and they ought to intend nothing else than the gathering of the church or the salvation of the elect."112 Pastors do not know who will benefit from their preaching. They certainly cannot distinguish between the elect and the reprobate. In charity they may wish the best for all; and they dare not judge any person to be reprobate. At the same time, however, their intention is none other than that of the Lord: they intend only the salvation of the elect, whoever they may be.113
    In his discussion of the various distinctions in the will of God, Turretin makes it clear that it is the will of the decree (or good pleasure) that is more properly referred to as the will of God; this is usually what is meant by "the will of God." The decree of the precept (or complacency) "does not properly include any decree or volition in God, but implies only the agreement of the thing [commanded or prescribed] with the nature of God." Thus it is "less properly called the will of God."114 Thus, when we ask whether God wills all to be saved, the answer is, properly speaking, no.





    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I think perhaps we are misunderstanding one another. I think what you are talking about is what has been considered Calvinism by the churchworld at various times and as far as that goes I agree with you. What I am speaking of or trying to speak of is what Calvinism actually is at least as it is presented in a logical system. I'm not denying that Dabney, Hodge, or Shedd taught these things or declaring them unregenerate for doing so. I think they were wrong on these issues and I'm more interested in the rightness or wrongness of the doctrine.
    so in essence, we are talking about and emphasizing two different things. i'm talking about historical calvinism and it's variety and you're talking about which calvinism is most biblical (or perhaps which has the correct interpretation of true calvinism...whatever true calvinism may be).

    in my opinion, these are two different discussions requiring two different paths of research. the one you are attempting is what i keep saying that i don't know that we'll be able to tame here (if the "scholars" and historians can't come to a consensus, i'm not sure that we will). if one is ambitious, he will research the topic himself doing his own source work. but as i've said before, i do not have time for this nor is it very high on my list of priorities.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    However, to throw people such as Baxter in there as being any kind of Calvinist just doesn't seem right.
    but as i was saying before, some researchers say that early calvinists saw a duality in the atonement. and from what i understand, baxter affirmed the sufficient for all men, efficient for the elect formula. therefore, he did believe in a limited aspect of the atonement. plus, from what i understand, he also heartily affirmed the four other points. but as i said before, i have not read him so i'm simply passing on information i've heard from other sources. nor am i trying to champion baxter, but am simply allowing for the possibility that he would be historically classified as a calvinist based on the historical usage of the term (not on what i've decided is the one true calvinism).

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I agree that this variety existed, but I don't believe the variety was good. Someone has to be right on this issue and a whole lot of people have to be wrong.
    with all due respect, and not to be rude, but all that i've seen from you thus far is links from the PRCA. i know that you believe that they are the holders of the mantle of truth, but you've certainly already limited yourself if that's the only position that you'll (a priori?) accept as truth. again, my point here is not to decide for everyone else what is the one true calvinism. people can make that decision for themselves without reading more polemics (this may be best done by reading actual source work or the work of historians and not the work of theologians who are often only interested in defending their particular tradition).

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    There are a variety of causes but I think the major influence for a good deal of the deadness during the era were the state churches. People were recognized as citizens of the kingdom who were merely citizens of a given country and who were by no means strangers and pilgrims on this earth and so worldliness came into the church both through these people who had no business in the church and through the state's involvement. Then those who sought to cure the deadness used the wrong means and methodism and pietism and other movements erupted as if the introduction of false theology could make the churchworld better.

    I know it is popular to criticize people like Voetius or Beza or Turretin, saying that they corrupted Calvin's theology, but I disagree. I believe they further developed it and weeded out the error as each generation in the church ought to do. Concern for theology is never a bad thing. It only becomes a bad thing if we look at it abstractly, if we look at it as an end in itself without using it as a means to know God better.
    this is a different perspective, of course. but from what i've been learning in church history (which i just finished), hermeneutics (which i'm now taking), as well as from david ponter's papers and dr. daniel's lectures is that, right or wrong, many changes and developments took place during the period of protestant creedalism/scholasticism/orthodoxy. some argue that beza and turretin (i'm not familiar with voetius) took calvin further that he would have been willing to go because they misunderstood him in places.

    also, from what i understand, this period was marked by a battlefield of polemics, controversy, schisms, hatred, slander/libel, etc. again, this why such movements as pietism came about because the life of the church was waning. from what i've read, it was much like medieval scholasticism where there was a dead orthodoxy, debating the fine points of theology with very little practice, life, and heart in their Christianity with heavy emphasis on tradition.

    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/pietism.htm
    http://library.sebts.edu/sprescott/C...%20Pietism.htm
    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/scholasp.htm
    http://www.christiancounterculture.c...eweoppose.html

    i know the following is out of context quotes, but there is a listing of quotes from calvin that one can further investigate if they are ambitious that are believed by some to support what has been historically called amyraldism (or amyraldianism, whichever you prefer):

    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/calvine.htm
    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/amyraldi.htm

    you can check them in context here:

    http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/
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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    with all due respect, and not to be rude, but all that i've seen from you thus far is links from the PRCA.
    Raymond Blacketer's article appears on the PRCA website but he is not a member of the PRCA and defends the doctrine of common grace. However, he denies the well-meant offer. You can also read the same article in its original source which was in the Calvin Theological Journal which of course is affiliated with the CRC.

    I read Calvin's Institutes before I read anyone's interpretation of Calvin. The first person I remember reading who interpreted Calvin was Sproul and I remember wondering how he got some of the things he did out of Calvin's writings. This was well before I ever heard of the PRC. I hear allegations from time to time that the PRC takes Calvin out of context but I really haven't seen anything to back it up. The PRC writings are usually quite willing to say when Calvin is wrong on a given issue.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: John Calvin on John 3:16

    a forum started by david ponter is found here:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Calvin_and_Calvinism/

    here is cut and paste of a post from there by ponter:

    1) We have the consistant Calvinian exegesis: eg: (multiple statements) of Jn 3:16 (universal), Mt 23:37 (God-man and universal), 2 Pet 2:2 with Jude 4 (men go to hell whom Christ had ransomed and shed his blood for), 2 Pet 3:9 (universal). Roms 14:15 with 1 Cor 8:11-12 (folk for whom Christ died back on the road to perdition etc). Add to this Jn 12:47, etc. I have called this the patterned exegesis of Calvin. These are general verses which no strict particularist could similarly exegete.

    2) We have Calvin's own direct statements where on expiation/redemption verses he takes a universal reading, eg, Isa 53:11-12, Jn 1:29, 1 Tim 2:6, Mark 14:24.

    3) We have the many so-called "wasted-blood" statements, stated in passing in general non-polemicical contexts.

    4) We have the similar many universal expiation passages, again in general contexts.

    5) We have the very internal evidence from within Reformed theologians, then and now, who admit that the sufficiency-efficiency formula was changed so as to exclude any sense that Christ intentionally died *for* all sufficiently. These same writers even admit that the early Reformers held to this construction, eg, Owen, Cunningham, Walker, Berkhof, etc. These guys admit the formula was redefined to exclude that idea. We have early Reformers affirming that Christ suffered, died or redeemed all men sufficiently.

    6) We have the rise of Federalism which reshaped Reformed Soteriology. We even have folk like AA Hodge saying that with the rise of Federalism the universal aspects of Christs work faded into the background.

    7) We have the documented resistence of writers at the time these theological changes were happening, like Amyraut, Baxter and Usher.

    8) We have well documented information that at Dort, for example, there was tremendous diversity of opinion regarding the extent of the atonement.

    9) We also have the various attempts to move back to a moderate position such as by Boston and the Marrow Men and their attempts to root their ideas in earlier Reformation history.

    Against all this we have:

    1) the one statement from Calvin in his tract on communion where he says that Christ did not shed his blood for these wicked folk who think they can rightly partake of communion.

    2) the passage in 1 Jn 2:2, where Calvin says of that verse, not of the doctrine, that world means elect. But nowhere does he say that Christ only died, only suffered for the elect, etc. Indeed, there he affirms that Christ suffered for all sufficiently.

    3) Calvin's statement of all kinds in 1 Tim 2:4. But at no point does he restrict the redemption or the will to some of all kinds of folk, eg, all kinds of elect folk.

    Theologically, against the position, men like Helm and Nicole import later arguments for limited atonement back on to Calvin, like the high priestly prayer argument, the double-payment argument, and the impossiblity to separate impetration and the application of the expiation. But these arguments are not found in Calvin as far as I can tell. And they never actually cite him using the arguments. Its really only these later arguments which sustain their case. Eg., if we didnt import the double-payment argument into Calvin, there would be no reason to deny the straightforward statements.

    For all the reasons, I find the Helm/Nicole polemic untenable.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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