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Feb 22, 2011

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Paul Owen

Hey Peter. To be fair, TULIP is simply an acrostic that matches up with the Synod of Dort's canons in response to the Arminian party. So the "5 points" certainly date back to the early 17th century (1618-19).

I think the point being made is that TULIP did not become a sort of "calling card" for summarizing Reformed theology until fairly recently. Reformed theology has much more to it than TULIP. It also articulates a particular biblical hermeneutic (based on Reformed ecclesiology), a corresponding understanding of the relation between old and new covenants, a particular kind of sacramental theology, a distinct approach to the application of the Mosaic Law, and a revised form of worship that is strictly regulated by the word of God, so as to be at the same time anti-Roman and visibly post-Levitical.

I think the point does stand though. Modern Calvinists are typically so focused on TULIP that they become myopic and navel-gazing pugilists who have forgotten that historic catholic Christianity consists of so much more than articulating the finer points of predestinarian theory. Richard Mouw has made many of the same points as Kenneth Stewart appears to be making. This is also why Baptists should not use the label Reformed. Even though Baptists can affirm the 5 points of Calvinism, their theological outlook is fundamentally different than the Reformed tradition.

peter

Dr. Owen,

Thanks for the clarity. And, yes, I agree.

Perhaps we could legitimately say it like this: Dispensationalists argue "dispensations" existed intrinsically within biblical revelation prior to being systematized or dubbed "dispensations" in the 19th century--a hermeneutical "lens" so to speak, to better see how revelation unfolds. Similarly, the "truly Reformed" offer their lens--TULIP--to gauge soteriological orthodoxy (even if not employed before the 20th C).

And, you got the point exactly: "Modern Calvinists are typically so focused on TULIP that they become myopic and navel-gazing pugilists who have forgotten that historic catholic Christianity consists of so much more than articulating the finer points of predestinarian theory." Still, a hoot for we West Georgians ;^).

Thanks again for logging on, Dr. Owen.

With that, I am...
Peter

EJ

I was going to bring up Dort myself, so thanks Dr. Owen for doing that.

Also Peter - I think that your comparison to dispensationalism is fair and helpful. And on one hand, whether the TULIP as a device existed before Boetner or not, is interesting but doesn't invalidate its use.

As a member of a baptist church (not SBC) and I am both dispensational & would affirm the TULIP - I wonder if part of the focus on the flower is only for the purpose of soteriological distinciton in a church where there is agreement on other issues and doctrines.

I suppose, and I'm only speaking personally, why it is the area where there is the most confrontation/disagreement is not because I think that in order to be an actual part of the body of Christ you must know, adhere to, and defend the TULIP. It is because as I understand it - the doctrines articulated by it are so central that TULIP effects everything else in one way or another.

Dr. James Galyon

Roger Nicole, who passed away recently, was one of those from the Reformed camp who pointed out the novelty of the 'TULIP' some time ago, stating it was L. Boettner who popularized the mnemonic device. The originator of TULIP may have been Cleland McAffee, who utilized it during lectures he gave in 1905.

Stewart's book is an expansion of an article which came out some time ago. It is worth a read, especially as he calls for Calvinists to be more irenic in their tone.

As I've stated many times before, I'm not a big fan of the acrostic. I believe the terms which are employed often muddle the doctrine which they attempt to communicate, and I'm not alone in that estimation.

I realize that doesn't add to the "hoot" factor, but hope it is a helpful contribution to the comment section nonetheless.

Ron Hale

Peter,
T.U.L.I.P. -- if it was good enough for Paul and Silas ...it's good enough for ____. Sorry, I just can't say it.

Thanks for the bit of history.

As I view certain sites, below are the actual words of one TULIP'er on his blog:

"There are two views concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. First, there is what we call Calvinism. Then, there are varying degrees of unbelief.

The essential doctrines concerning salvation, which the Puritans and all good Christians cling to, are summed up in the acronym T.U.L.I.P." [A Puritan's Mind].

He believes I am an unbeliever if I do not subscribe to his system of belief and "all" good Christians cling to the tulip. I cling to the Cross!

Debbie Kaufman

Are you speaking of limited atonement? If so Charles Spurgeon did indeed believe in limited atonement.

http://www.spurgeongems.org/tulip-3.pdf

The Reformed doctrine believes in limited atonement. Romans 9 speaks of limited atonement.

peter

All,

I'm going to bed. Play nice.

With that, I am...
Peter

Roy

@Debbie,

More importantly than the Bible, James WHITE speaks of limited atonement, and often.

Tony Byrne

Ron Hale,

C. Matthew McMahon, quite frankly, is a kook, and his "Puritan Board" is now overrun by rank Hyper-Calvinists that deny the well-meant gospel offer. Not only that, but McMahon is a part of a Reformed denomination that explicitly rejects the well-meant offer in their confessional statement [which has been influenced by Gordon Clark in that respect]. Contrary to what he thinks, the Puritans were not uniform in their soteriological beliefs, or the extent of Christ's death. McMahon, of "A Puritan's Mind," is so uninformed that he doesn't know that John Howe and Stephen Charnock [two prominent Puritans] believed in a Calvinistic form of universal redemption. Men of this opinion were even present at the Synod of Dort and the Westminster assembly, not to mention the first generation Reformers. This proposition by Debbie above is false: "The Reformed doctrine believes in limited atonement." There is no such thing as "the Reformed doctrine" on the point. The general consensus, especially today, maintains a limited imputation of sin to Christ, but there has always been those in the Reformed tradition that believed in an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ, so that He tasted death for every man.

As Dr. Galyon and others mentioned above, the "TULIP" device is overly simplistic, reductionistic and sloppy. Dr. Richard Muller recently lectured on how that is a problematic device as well.

Ron Hale

Tony,
I'll think more about your note and respond tomorrow. blessings!

Tony Byrne

Let me be more precise. There is such a thing as a broad theological consensus among the Reformed on the design of Christ's death as outlined at the Synod of Dort, but it allows for the universal redemption views of the English and Bremen delegates, as well as the strictly particular views of one like the supralapsarian F. Gomarus. They were specific enough at Dort on the atonement to reject Arminian views, but they were general enough in their language to allow for significant diversity within their own camp.

So what I was saying above is this: to merely associate "the Reformed" view with the Bezan, Turretinian, Owenic or Spurgeonite atonement model [not that these men all agreed in the details] is an error. While their views are certainly within the bounds of confessional Reformed orthodoxy, they do not define it, as if their trajectory alone is "the Reformed view."

Debbie Kaufman

Tony: Sure they defined it as if their trajectory alone is the Reformed view. It's why Spurgeon gave a sermon entitled "Calvinism is the Gospel."

Ron Hale

Tony,
My encounters with different Calvinists through the years paints a picture of varying shades and levels of beliefs (or confusions) about the definations of .... sovereignty,the well-meant gospel offer, grace, love, etc.

You seem to be focused on the ministry of clarity in your system of belief ... and that is a good thing.

In using your "well-meant gospel offer" phrase and comparing it to the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 ... under Effectual Calling, please tell me if point four extends a well-meant gospel offer:

"Others are not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may experience some common operations of the Spirit, yet because they are not effectually drawn by the Father, they will not and cannot truly come to Christ and therefore cannot be saved. Much less can men who do not embrace the Christian religion be saved, however diligent they may be to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the requirements of the religion they profess."

In the maze of meanings of the reformed system ... does the above represent a well-meant offer to everyone?

Blessings!

peter

All,

I thought you might like the clarification I received from Dr. Stewart, the author of Ten Myths about Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition. With the author's written permission, I post the note Professor Stewart sent to me:

Peter:
If you are in west Georgia, here is a word from northwest Georgia! I appreciate your picking up on Roger Olson’s highlighting of my chapter on TULIP. When you get to read my book (and I hope you will) you will see that my point on this issue is that while Calvinists have talked about the points of Calvinism since at least 1700, they did not get around to ‘packaging’ them as TULIP until early in the 20th century. My argument is that it was a step backward to do so, because TULIP sets out Calvinist distinctive in a form that would have excluded many earlier prominent Calvinists. Spurgeon, for example, said that he wanted nothing to do with an atonement that was “limited” in any way; he wanted to stress the adequacy of the atonement rather than the reverse. So, in a nutshell, my argument is that Calvinists have been shooting themselves in the foot by their reliance on TULIP by making their position narrower and more constricting than it was in the 19th century.

Ken Stewart

Debbie Kaufman

If you are in west Georgia, here is a word from northwest Georgia! I appreciate your picking up on Roger Olson’s highlighting of my chapter on TULIP. When you get to read my book (and I hope you will) you will see that my point on this issue is that while Calvinists have talked about the points of Calvinism since at least 1700, they did not get around to ‘packaging’ them as TULIP until early in the 20th century. My argument is that it was a step backward to do so, because TULIP sets out Calvinist distinctive in a form that would have excluded many earlier prominent Calvinists. Spurgeon, for example, said that he wanted nothing to do with an atonement that was “limited” in any way; he wanted to stress the adequacy of the atonement rather than the reverse. So, in a nutshell, my argument is that Calvinists have been shooting themselves in the foot by their reliance on TULIP by making their position narrower and more constricting than it was in the 19th century.


No links, no proof, no anything but words. It is simply not true. It's simply ridiculous. It's about as true as Dave Hunt's book on Calvinism. :)

peter

Debbie,

I'm unsure what you're attempting to prove. I logged out of courtesy an email I received from the author of this book who himself is a Calvinist for crying out loud. Do you not realize your routine engagement is precisely what is *wrong* in blogging today? (and please; that's a rhetorical question so I don't want to argue with you about this).

I have no time for nonsense. I'm just too busy.

Please go back to blogging yourself on your site and spray all the color out of life for anyone who cares to read. I want no more of it here.

With that, I am...
Peter

Paul Owen

Debbie,

No offense, but I just have to wonder if you are resistant to what is being said here, because you know that some of the people in your circle are precisely the sort of navel-gazing TULIP worshippers that are the object of criticism. People who think that TULIP is some sort of gnostic password into enlightened Christianity do not want to be told that it can actually be an obstacle to grasping the essence of the Reformed tradition (not to mention Christianity itself).

Tony Byrne

Debbie initially said:

"The Reformed doctrine believes in limited atonement."

Now she says:
"...they defined it as if their trajectory alone is the Reformed view."

Me now:

There's a difference between these two propositions:
1) Debbie thinks that "the Reformed doctrine believes in limited atonement."
And:
2) "they (other unnamed Calvinists) defined it as if their trajectory alone is the Reformed view."

You've switched the topic now, Debbie. I was dealing with your erroneous assertion (#1 above) that the "limited atonement" view [Owenism?] is "the Reformed doctrine." I readily grant that others, such as Turretin, thought that their view alone was compatible with Dort, and thus was "the Reformed view," but such men were also in error. The words of Dort were deliberately left broad enough to include the opinions of all the delegates, but narrow enough to say that Arminianism is outside the bounds of orthodoxy. Dr. Richard Muller even rightly says that the Westminster Confession had the same broad wording:

"The Westminster Confession was in fact written with this diversity in view, encompassing confessionally the variant Reformed views on the nature of the limitation of Christ's satisfaction to the elect, just as it was written to be inclusive of the infra- and the supralapsarian views on predestination."

See also Dr. Muller's words HERE (click), and quotes by W. Robert Godfrey's doctoral dissertation (Tensions within International Calvinism: The Debate on the Atonement at the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619 (Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 1974), HERE and HERE.

As for Spurgeon's historical view, I don't know [and neither does anyone else]. He never spoke about the history of the extent of the atonement, even though his own views were basically in the Owenic trajectory. Nevertheless, there is nothing in the transcripts of his words about his view being exclusively orthodox, or "the Reformed doctrine," and the "Calvinism is the gospel" remark doesn't address the point either. In other words, that's not the same as saying, for instances, "John Davenant's view was not truly Reformed or Calvinistic."

Debbie Kaufman

Peter: If it were true that TULIP came from the 20th century and Boettner, it doesn't matter. The acronym not necessarily in order of TULIP came from the Canons of Dordt. It was in response to Arminians who countered Calvinism. The origin of the exact TULIP acronymn doesn't matter to me. The doctrine is however much earlier than the 20th century. The points are much earlier. You may not have time for such nonsense, but you certainly have time to spread distortions. You just don't have time to discuss those distortions evidently.

Debbie Kaufman

That should be Canons of Dort. Typing fast is not good.

Debbie Kaufman

Tony: I disagree obviously. As for Spurgeon, I gave link to a sermon which to me shows that he definitely believed in Limited Atonement. Spurgeon also said:

There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question.

and

The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work.

I do not believe I have switched the topic. I have however melded the two as one. It is one and the same. My first statement and my second statement. Of course I believe that they spoke as if there view was the correct Biblical view. It's what we believe to be true is it not? I believe it with every fiber of my being as the truth, just as these men did.

"The Westminster Confession was in fact written with this diversity in view, encompassing confessionally the variant Reformed views on the nature of the limitation of Christ's satisfaction to the elect, just as it was written to be inclusive of the infra- and the supralapsarian views on predestination."

Read the Westminster Confession. It and I would disagree with this statement.

http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html">http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html">http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/westminster_conf_of_faith.html

Roy

Methinks Debbie is naught but a bomb-thrower, interested only in winning an argument, and willing to do anything to do so.

@Debbie,

"You may not have time for such nonsense, but you certainly have time to spread distortions. You just don't have time to discuss those distortions evidently. "

This is not honest debate or discussion. Let's all be adults here.

Tony Byrne

Ron said:

"You seem to be focused on the ministry of clarity in your system of belief ... and that is a good thing."

Me now:
Given the level of misunderstanding that exists, I usually stay in the descriptive realm rather than try to prescribe to people what they ought to believe soteriologically. If we are not able to accurately describe what our differing Christian friends believe, then we should not yet move to try to falsify what we think they believe, or prescribe what ought to be believed. While I think the issues of Calvinism matter, I am mostly content when I know another non-Calvinist believer is genuinely evangelical, so I don't seem to them to have an agenda. I rather believe that once I speak with them, and accurately describe what I believe thoroughly, it has enough explanatory power to recommend itself, without any need to press Christians to believe it.

Ron said:

"In using your "well-meant gospel offer" phrase and comparing it to the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 ... under Effectual Calling, please tell me if point four extends a well-meant gospel offer."

As far as your quote of the 1689 LBC, I don't think the words you cited are sufficient enough to say they taught a well-meant gospel offer. I believe the Baptist signers DID believe in a well-meant offer [and that their confessional statement is compatible with a well-meant offer], but I don't think the above confessional words say enough. It DOES say that some non-elect are "called by the ministry of the Word," and experience "common operations of the Spirit" [i.e. common grace], but it does not explicitly address the truth that God desires their salvation by "calling" them [but I do think it is presupposed]. The 1689 LBC also speaks of the gospel as an offer, but something more is needed, I think, to bring out the truth that they believed in a well-meant offer.

This is why, for example, I go to the writings of the major Westminster divines to show what they believed about the will of God in order to get their thoughts on the nature of God's gospel offer when they signed the confession. The same goes with the 1689 LBC signers. The issue for me is, "what did these men say about the offer and call of the gospel in their own writings?" Also, what did later interpreters of these confessions within these traditions believe about the nature of the gospel offer? This gets to the issue of authorial intent, much like understanding our national Constitution.

Ron asks:

"In the maze of meanings of the reformed system ... does the above represent a well-meant offer to everyone?"

Me now:
In summary, I would say that the above 1689 quote is compatible with a well-meant gospel offer, and that it was presupposed by those who signed it, but the words themselves fall short of an explicit affirmation, in my view, unfortunately.

Grace to you,
Tony

Tony Byrne

Debbie said:

As for Spurgeon, I gave link to a sermon which to me shows that he definitely believed in Limited Atonement.

Me now:
Here's you're changing the topic yet again. You've moved from 1) 1) Debbie thinks that "the Reformed doctrine believes in limited atonement," to 2) 2) "they (other unnamed Calvinists) defined it as if their trajectory alone is the Reformed view," to 3) Spurgeon believed in limited atonement. These are three different propositions, and the third in no way establishes the first or second. In other words, even though Spurgeon believed in a limited imputation of sin to Christ, it does not follow that he therefore thought his view was exclusively "the Reforned view." Certainly it means he thought it was A Reformed view, but not THE Reformed view. You seem to be missing that difference.
Anyway, to deal with your third topic now, you should have read my words above: "...his [Spurgeon's] own views were basically in the Owenic trajectory."

Debbie said:

I do not believe I have switched the topic.

Me now:
You have not only switched the topic twice, but three times now, and you switch it a forth time below, which I am about to show.

Debbie said:

I have however melded the two as one. It is one and the same. My first statement and my second statement. Of course I believe that they spoke as if there view was the correct Biblical view. It's what we believe to be true is it not? I believe it with every fiber of my being as the truth, just as these men did.

Me now:
Now you've switched the topic to: 4) These unnamed me [except for Spurgeon] and Debbie believe their views on limited atonement are true and/or biblical. Of course they believed their views were true, otherwise they would not have taught it. But that is not the same thing as saying that they thought their opinions were exclusively orthodox. Confessional orthodoxy is not equivalent to truth. For example, differing Reformed men can be either Infra- or Supralapsarian, and think their positions true, but men in each camp can think the other is within the boundaries of Reformed orthodoxy, though they disagree.

I quoted Dr. Muller saying:

"The Westminster Confession was in fact written with this diversity in view, encompassing confessionally the variant Reformed views on the nature of the limitation of Christ's satisfaction to the elect, just as it was written to be inclusive of the infra- and the supralapsarian views on predestination."

Debbie said:

Read the Westminster Confession. It and I would disagree with this statement.

Me now:
Not only are you condescendingly assuming that I have not read the Westminster Confession, particularly in the revelant areas pertaining to the scope of the atonement, but you are condescendingly assuming that Dr. Richard Muller [THE most distinguished Reformed historian when it comes to post-Reformational Reformed Dogmatics] has not read it. You're also assuming that Dr. Robert Godfrey [another Reformed scholar] is ignorant in the area, even though his doctoral thesis dealt with the topic extensively.

I am well-aware of what the Confession says, and what the Canons of Dort say. You're mere assertion that "It...would disagree" with Muller's statement is not an argument. I would encourage you to read Lee Gatiss' article Shades of Opinion within a Generic Calvinism: The Particular Redemption Debate at the Westminster Assembly that was published in Reformed Theological Review 69.2 (August 2010) pages 101-118. He talks about the disputed language and its leniancy in some parts of the confession, and he is basically within the Owenic trajectory in his own views.

Debbie, just out of curiosity, I wonder if you believe that God desires the salvation of any of the non-elect in the revealed will, in the sense that John Murray believed. Do you affirm what is called the "well-meant gospel offer", i.e. that God, in offering the gospel to some who are non-elect, is favorably disposed to them, such that He is interested in their eternal well-being in that offer? To put it simply: do you believe there is any sense at all in which God wills the salvation of any of the non-elect? And do you know if your opinion is the same as Wade Burleson's?

Dr. James Galyon

Signatories found on the 1689 Baptist Confession include Hansard Knollys, William Kiffin, Hercules Collins, and Benjamin Keach -- men whose ministries reflect a strong belief in the "well meant offer." Spurgeon held to the 1689 Baptist Confession as well, and was well known for believing in the "well meant offer." In other words, holding to the 1689 and the "well meant offer" are definitely compatible.

Tony Byrne

I totally agree, Dr. Galyon. I will soon be investigating all the writings of these signatories to the 1689 in order to see what they said about the will of God and the offer of salvation, but not much from them is available on EEBO (Early English Books Online) and ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online). I've already done exhaustive searches for all of these men. We're also going to check out the 1644 LBC signatories and the writings of the Westminster divines that are available. The long-term project is to have an exhaustive list on our blogs of what these men said about the love of God, the will of God, the grace of God, the gospel offer and the atonement. No one I know has the kind of exhaustive or encyclopedic name list I am putting together to search.

On the atonement, here's a fact I discovered that I can't find in any literature for hundreds of years: Paul Hobson, a 1644 LBC signatory, not only believed that Christ died for every man, tasted death for every man, and bought all men, but he went so far as to say, "Christ tasted death for every man, and to deny it is heresie..." Such a view from a Particular Baptist would certainly not be welcome in Reformed Baptist circles today :-)

I've also personally discovered more Westminster divines who believed that Christ suffered for the sins of all men, such as Henry Scudder and George Walker. These are no where listed with Vines, Calamy, Arrowsmith, Harris, Seaman and Twisse. One certainly cannot find out these things by reading the frequently biased biographical presentations of these men in Beeke's Meet the Puritans. Benjamin Brook's The Lives of the Puritans is better, I think, though, as an older work, it obviously lacks the information about modern reprints.

Don Johnson

Tony,

"Do you believe there is any sense at all in which God will's the salvation of any of the non-elect?"

Yes, God desires the salvation of all the non-elect.

All unsaved people other than Jews are the non-elect. One does not become "elect" until they are first born again.

I suspect I might get a verse or two trying to refute my previous statement. I ask for exegesis of any Scripture given, not simply saying it exlains itself.

Thanks

Debbie Kaufman

Tony: The Gospel is to be offered to all. If anyone comes to Christ they are the elect. We do not know who the elect are. So yes, I guess you could say that I believe in what you call the "well meant offer." Giving the Gospel to all. Giving the plea to come to Christ to all. No, I do not know Wade Burleson's view on this.

Tony Byrne

Thanks for your response, Debbie, but it doesn't get to the thing I was asking. I wasn't asking about the requirement of saved human beings to offer, indiscriminately preach or give the gospel to all. Nor was I asking if those who come to Christ are the elect.

Rather, I was specifically asking if you think God himself desires the salvation of any of the non-elect who hear that offer and call of the gospel. Do you believe there is any sense in which God wills the salvation of any non-elect people who ultimately perish?

Thanks,
Tony

Tony Byrne

Hi Don,

Thanks for your response as well, but my question was for Debbie, and therefore specifically worded in such a way that probably fits her theological paradigm. In other words, since she seems to be a "sovereign grace Baptist" type, or a TULIPer (so to speak), they use the terms "elect" and "non-elect" in systematic theological ways that she will understand.

You say:

"All unsaved people other than Jews are the non-elect. One does not become "elect" until they are first born again."

Me now:
I understand that the Jewish nation in the OT are called the "elect," and so by implication, those outside can be called "non-elect." That is one sense in which those terms can be used. Also, I understand that the term "elect" in the New Testament is probably always used of saved people, or those who are "born again," and not of an abstract group of people appointed to eternal life, whether existing or not yet existing, whether saved or not yet saved (which is how Calvinists or TULIPers) often use these terms).

Since Debbie believes in a Calvinistic form of predestination, I was using the term "non-elect" in a systematic theological sense, i.e. for those people whom God has not ordained or predestined unto faith and eternal life.

I don't want to pursue this topic further (though it is a worthwhile and interesting), so I hope that helps to explain and clarify why and how I am using the terms "elect" and "non-elect."

Grace to you,
Tony

Ken Stewart

Debby Kaufman provided a service by giving the link to Spurgeon's sermon on the atonement. But close inspection of this will illustrate that the sermon is itself an important piece of the puzzle of how Calvinism across the 20th century and into the 21st has come to be so rigid.
1. As far as can be known, the existence of TULIP cannot be traced earlier than 1905 (an appendix in _Ten Myths_ reproduces the relevant 1913 magazine article)
2. Yet the Spurgeon Sermon (really on Particular Redemption) has had the terms 'Limited Atonement' added by editors in parenthesis.
3. Spurgeon's autobiography has Spurgeon utterly repudiating the language of 'limitation' regarding the atonement. He says that if he really believed that the atonement was limited, he would "cast it to the wind". "Particular atonement" is the customary way that English Calvinistic Baptists had spoken of Christ's death. By it they emphasized that Christ had really wrought something in dying, rather than accomplishing something only contingently or hypothetically (depending on human response to it).
4. Thus it is fair to assume that the editors of Spurgeon's sermons, sometime in the second half of the 20th century (when TULIP had taken hold) in effect put Spurgeon's sermon on a Procrustean bed and made it conform to a style or expression of Calvinism which was not Spurgeon's. But they will have done this with the best of intentions, and probably utterly guilelessly, inasmuch as they will have accepted what we no longer accept - i.e. that TULIP has been perennial.

Debbie Kaufman

Dr Stewart: Particular Redemption. Reading the sermon of Charles Spurgeon, and knowing what Limited Atonement is....is that not one in the same? A reading for me says yes.

Tony: I am going to tell you that I do not know the answer to this. I desire the salvation of all, so since I am born again with the Holy Spirit in me, I would lean toward God desiring the salvation of all. But not all are saved are they?

Debbie Kaufman

Dr. Stewart if you could cite the exact quote from Spurgeon's autobiography where he rejects Particular Redemption aka Limited Atonement it would be helpful. Being an avid reader of Charles Spurgeon I have not read this, but admit not having read his biography.

Debbie Kaufman

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0181.htm


Here is the sermon without the Limited Atonement put in. BTW I believe it is obvious that Limited atonement has been put in by the author. My point was that he believed in limited atonement and having read much of his works even before he died, cannot find where he rejected it. I do not reject it.

Debbie Kaufman

I might also add that Dave Hunt made this same assertion in his book and was proven to be wrong. Dr. Stewart claims to be Calvinist, but I am having my doubts on this. I do not believe there is such a thing as a three or four point Calvinist. All the points are relevant to each other and show the work of God and mercy of God to us in salvation. There are many who claim to believe this doctrine while attempting to tear it apart. No one has been successful because scripture taken in context is hard to refute.

Tony Byrne

Debbie said:

"Tony: I am going to tell you that I do not know the answer to this. I desire the salvation of all, so since I am born again with the Holy Spirit in me, I would lean toward God desiring the salvation of all. But not all are saved are they?"

Me now:

OK, Debbie. Thanks for your response. I think you're reasoning is correct, even if only intuitive. We desire the holiness and happiness of our neighbors because the Holy Spirit has put that desire in us by virtue of being born again. As Jonathan Edwards said:

"There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men...There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection."
I won't elaborate on this further, but I do think you may find Piper and Dabney worth reading and helpful on the subject.
Ken Stewart

Debbie:
The second Spurgeon link you have provided confirms my suspicion. As originally printed, Spurgeon will have used (and deliberately used) the terminology of 'Particular redemption'. In his autobiography (C.H. Spurgeon: The Early Years, p. 173) he explicitly distances himself from any talk of 'limitation' in the atonement. Thus, he (for one) did not accept that 'particular' and 'limited' were mere synonyms, for each seeks to emphasize something distinct. 'Particular' atonement views enshrine the confidence that Jesus died for particular persons known to him (the multitude which no man can number). 'Limited atonement' places the emphasis on circumscribing the number of those atoned for. Since the Synod of Dordt (which TULIP purports, falsely, to summarize) taught that the death of Jesus was abundantly sufficient for redeeming the sins of more than the whole world (as to its actual worth) it is pretty difficult to maintain that the Dordt position is properly characterized as 'limited'. According to Dordt and to Spurgeon, Christ's atonement is capacious because as to value, no upper limit can be placed on it; it was an atonement which at the same time was undergone for sinners known to Christ.

Those who want to read the TULIP article in its unrevised form (it is revised in _Ten Myths_) can see it here: http://www.covenant.edu/academics/undergrad/bible/faculty/stewart

Debbie Kaufman

Dr. Stewart: I would disagree. The definition you have given for Particular atonement is the same definition given for Limited Atonement. This can be seen in any writing on Limited atonement. Limited atonement simply states that Christ died for those who would be elect, the number no one knows. It could be an infinite number, in fact I would say that there possibly(and I believe probably) more in heaven than in hell.

In the definition of atonement you will find the words "limited number of people", this is not referring to number but type. Those who God chooses to save. Christ's death and atonement does not cover the sins of those who do not have Christ as their Savior does it not? Charles Spurgeon makes this clear in his sermon. I do not see where he ever thought differently but as I say I did not read his biography, but those who have reject that he ever turned from it, citing text that shows he did not.

For a working definition of Limited Atonement and a fuller explanation I give this:

http://www.apuritansmind.com/tulip/LimitedAtonement.htm

Debbie Kaufman

Limited Atonement simply states that Christ died for the Universal Church.

Ian D. Elsasser

Debbie said, "Dr. Stewart claims to be Calvinist, but I am having my doubts on this."
Debbie, you may want to check out the College where he teaches by clicking on the link to his article.

Further to your comments to Dr. Stewart, just because some define Calvinistic soteriology by very specific and narrow terms does not mean that it is the only understanding of soteriology within Calvinistic thought. By saying your Calvinistic position is the only true Calvinistic position, you are in error and are excluding other legitimate Calvinistic voices from the 1500s onward. I believe this is what Dr. Stewart is attempting to correct so that these other voices and those who share those positions are not excluding from the camp, so to speak.

Dr. Stewart:

Thank you for engaging with comments on Peter's blog and your efforts to bring clarity to this subject.

Ian D. Elsasser

Good afternoon, Tony! It's good to see you interacting with this subject and to read your gracious and reasoned responses.

I hope you have been well.

Ian D. Elsasser

"are not excluding from the camp, so to speak" should be "are not excluded from the camp, so to speak."

Tony Byrne

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the compliments. I've been well but a little sick with a cold the past several days, so I took some days off of work. Consequently, I have had more time than usual to interact here. Things are back to normal now so I won't be commenting as much.

I would have liked to interact with Dr. Stewart on the Lombardian Formula or the sufficiency topic within Calvinistic history, but he may be discouraged to interact further here since his clear and sincere Calvinistic convictions are being questioned/doubted. Perhaps that dialog can wait for some other time and context.

Anyway, thanks also to Dr. Stewart for taking the time to comment and for the link you posted where some of your writings are available.

GTY,
Tony

Tony Byrne

Debbie said:

"Limited Atonement simply states that Christ died for the Universal Church."

Me now:
Actually that wording is imprecise to describe your belief. You should add the word "only" and "for the sins of," and then exchange "universal church" with the "elect" (since some "elect" are yet unbelieving and thus not yet in the universal church) to capture what you mean by the restrictive label "limited atonement." Your statement would more precisely read:

"Limited atonement simply states that Christ ONLY died for the sins of the elect."

Why these changes?

1) Everyone, even the non-Calvinistic Baptist, believes that Christ died for the universal church, but not everyone believes that Christ ONLY died for them, hence the need for that qualification.

2) "For the sins of" gets at the limited imputation of sin to Christ idea that is the highly controversial point, especially since some strict Calvinists speak of Christ "dying for all" in a general sense involving common grace benefits, etc., even though they don't think He died "for the sins of" all.

3) The "universal church" describes believers, and not all the "elect" are yet in a believing state (i.e. in the universal church), so exchanging the former terms ("universal church") for the latter ("elect") is necessary to capture your intended meaning. Surely you, Debbie, think that Christ died for more than those who are now in a believing state (i.e. also for all the elect that will yet believe).

Debbie Kaufman

Tony: I didn't question Dr. Stewart's salvation for crying out loud. I questioned his being a Calvinist. There cannot be a four, three, two point Calvinist. All the points are intersecting. If limited atonement is not believed then Total Depravity and Unconditional Election also has to be denied. That in turn would be free will. I don't necessarily have a problem with that other than it is then not Calvinist but Free will claiming to be Calvinist.

As for *3 I would again disagree. All who come to Christ and are true born again believers are the elect. Past, present and future. The Westminster says this:

. . . Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in 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.

So I will put it this way since I thought this clear considering my past comments, but evidently not. Christ died for the Universal Church past, present and future.

Debbie Kaufman

I could also say that Christ died for all who believe and will believe. So in a way I do agree with your point *3.

Ken Stewart

Tony: I would be glad to interact with you off-list.
As for the strong differences of opinion expressed on this list, it comes with the territory. The bone of contention right now is "who gets to define the Calvinist mainstream?" If I wasn't agitated about the way it has been defined in recent times, I wouldn't have written as I have. It does make for cage-rattling, though. Please contact me off-list at kstewart@covenant.edu

Tony Byrne

I said above:

"...his [Dr. Stewart's] clear and sincere Calvinistic convictions are being questioned/doubted."

Debbie then portrays this statement this way:
"Tony: I didn't question Dr. Stewart's salvation for crying out loud. I questioned his being a Calvinist."

Me now:

Debbie, I don't know what is causing the confusion, but your portrayal of my words both misrepresents what I said and then confirms what I said at the same time. I didn't say you questioned his salvation, but I did say you questioned/doubted his Calvinism, just as you repeated. Please read more carefully, especially on topics that involve such important theological matters and the personal reputations of well-credentialed professional teachers.

Paul Owen

Debbie,

For goodness sakes, Dr. Stewart teaches at Covenant College, which is a PCA school. Obviously he is a Calvinist. And the notion that a Calvinist can't deny Limited Atonement (or at least phrasing it that way) is historically incredible. There were Reformed divines at Dort AND Westminster (not to mention Bullinger and apparently Calvin before them) who believed that Christ provided a sufficient atonement for the whole world by means of his death, and that this sufficient atonement was the basis upon which the gospel could be sincerely proclaimed to all men. Zwingli, Luther, Bullinger, Vermigli, and Calvin all had differences of opinion about predestination, its philosophical implications, and how it relates to the fate of the reprobate.

Stewart only seems to be quibbling at the term limited atonement, because it seems to imply the sort of extremist view argued by Tom Nettles (a hyper-Calvinist Particular Baptist), who insists that we should NOT speak of Jesus' death as "sufficient for all," because of the logic of penal substitution and predestination.

Your post is illustrative of the very point Dr. Stewart is making. TULIP has become such a central feature of Calvinist theologizing today, that the details pertaining to the extent of the atonement, the nature of human ability (the Saumur theologians and modern theologians like Edwards and Shedd have argued that man still has a natural ability to believe, albeit a moral inability), and the perseverance of the saints (both Augustine and some of the British divines at Dort, not to mention Calvin, argued that the reprobate can fall from a state of regeneration and reconciliation with God), have come to occupy a prominence and position all out of proportion with the place of such questions in the context of 15th and 16th century Reformed theology. There used to be allowance for a breadth of views on such questions, because the Reformed party simply saw themselves as catholic Christians, not neo-Gnostics called to a ministry of enlightening the masses about the mysteries of Calvinism. Most Calvinists today are not even aware that compatibilism was never a necessary part of Reformed thinking, and in fact has been openly rejected by Calvinist libertarians like Buswell and Donald Macleod. Their thinking is so full of assumptions that they have no grasp of the breadth of the Reformed tradition itself.

How often do we see modern Calvinists delight in showing their less-informed brethren that in fact, the word "world" in John 3:16 does not mean the world, and 2 Peter 3:9 does not really mean God is not willing that any should perish, and Matthew 23:37 does not really mean that God desires the salvation of people who frustrate his will through their refusal to repent, etc. One gets the feeling from some "Calvinists" (Calvin would shudder) that it is only the 5-points that really make Christianity interesting. The gospel, rather than being about Christ and the cross, and communion with the Triune God, becomes a talking point to argue about, and a chance to demonstrate how learned the Reformed party is, compared to others. How often do we hear so-called apologists for Reformed theology suggesting that if everyone just got rid of their "traditions" and read the Bible without bias, they would all accept the 5 points! Talk about glib.

David

On the sufficiency topic, I probably would link to this page on my blog, as the names, dates and issue of the formula's revision is set out for all to see:

The Classic “Sufficient for all, Efficient for the elect” and its Revision

The indexes at the top are the best way to search through my blog.

Thanks,
David

Ian D. Elsasser

Dr. Stewart and Tony:

I am disappointed that your discussions will be offline, for I would love to read and share in the interaction. I think it truly beneficial for all to see the alternative perspectives under the Calvinistic umbrella. Too often only one perspective is presented as true and all others judged invalid or inconsistent.

Would you reconsider and continue the discussion online?

peter lumpkins

Debbie,

I am not going to continue allowing you to antagonize commenters on this thread. Enough is enough. For the life of me, I do not understand. Not only has Tony been patient with you, but you had the opportunity to dialog with at least two accomplished scholars--Drs. Owen and Stewart--both of whom are squarely with mainstream Reformed theology. What do you do? You attempt to argue with them rather than learn from them. And, you even questioned whether Dr. Stewart was a real Calvinist. Is there any wonder Dr. Stewart would want to take the discussion off-line? A discussion that may have benefited all of us?

Here's what I am suggesting: I suggest you back away and do not log back on here again until you can deliver the respect due.

With that, I am...
Peter

Bobby Grow

We have a book coming out that will be highlighting one the strains of Calvinism that developed in Scotland contemporaneous with English Puritanism. It is non-Federal, but certainly Calvinist! http://tftorrance.wordpress.com/ec-book/

That's not to mention The Spiritual Brethren that developed amongst the Intellectual Fathers in English Puritan development. This stuff has been out there for years, but has been poo-pooed by the "post-Reformed orthodox" for years. See Janice Knight's: Orthodoxies in Massachusetts: Rereading American Puritanism. And I just heard an excellent paper on John Eaton at the Pac NW regional ETS meeting that supports Knight's contention.

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