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2008.12.01

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Todd Burus

Peter,
Actually, it appears I can't email you because I can't find your email address. If you would like to email me at tburus@msn.com I will send my response to you. Thanks.

Byroniac

There's another sense of the word "anti-Calvinist" that I'm seeing: refusal to allow Calvinistic expression. I think this is the meaning employed by many (let's say) non-Calvinists. It most certainly is not what Dr. Allen seems guilty of in the light of his commentary on recommendations. Perhaps "non-Calvinism" means neutrality not towards the doctrine of Calvinism itself, but the expression of that doctrine? Do these definitions seem reasonable (I'm trying to understand, here)?

Tony Byrne

Todd,

I hope my earlier point was clear. Translate the statements this way:

This statement...

1) A move toward 5 point Calvinism would be a move away from a sound basis for well-meant offers and God's universal saving will (thus undermining the gospel).

...is no more controversial than this:

2) A move away from 5 point Calvinism is a move away from penal substitution and toward full-blown universalism (thus undermining the gospel).

A high Calvinist is guilty of a double standard if they think that it's fine for them to assert #2, but unfair for their opponents to assert #1. They want to make claim #2 because they presuppose strict particularism and the validity of the double payment argument, but not allow for their opponents to make claim #1 based their universal redemption views (because universal redemption is false, which begs the question).

So, Dr. Allen made the claim that a move toward 5 point Calvinism is a move away from the gospel. That's merely an assertion. Why did he assert that? Because he made (or was going to make) arguments contained in his paper which he thinks are sound. Dr. Allen's opponents should not be outraged by the assertion, for they make similar assertions/statements very frequently (because they're similarly attempting reductio ad absurdum arguments). Rather, the appropriate response is to ask: On what grounds are you making that serious charge?

Dr. Allen did NOT assert this:

3) 5 Point Calvinists are seeking to move us away from the gospel.

Nor did he say:

4) A move toward Calvinism is a move away from the gospel (which is how Timmy "the tabloid blogger" Brister eagerly wanted to portray the statement).

I hope that clarifies things further.

With this, that and the other thing, I am...
Tony :-)

Tony Byrne

Todd quoted Jonathan Edwards as follows:

"From these things it will inevitably follow, that however Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death; yet there must be something particular in the design of his death, with respect to such as he intended should actually be saved thereby."

Todd then said:
"It seems to me that he is keying in on the "in some sense." Yet right off, the fact that Edwards then says "there must be something particular in the design" seems to move towards LA."

Yes, Edwards is qualifying himself when he says "in some sense." While he does say that "there must be something particular in the design," he does use redemption language that is incompatible with the Owenic model, such that Christ "redeems all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death..." This is the portion that people are missing. Dr. Allen and I do see elements of Calvinistic particularity in Edwards. Everyone must acknowledge that. But notice where Edwards see the particularity in the above statement. It is in the "design of his death." Every Calvinist must affirm that Christ has a special motive/design in his coming that pertains to the elect alone. For instance, though Christ came and expressed a love for all of humanity, he especially did so in the case of the elect. While Christ came and expressed a willingness to save all mankind, he especially did so in the case of the elect. Although Christ was gracious to all he encountered, he was especially gracious in the case of the elect. In the doctrine of God's love, God's will and in God's grace, there is always a particularity for those who are Calvinists in their theology. But, notice also that there are universal aspects, such that God loves all mankind, wills all mankind to be saved, and is gracious to all mankind. Observe the following statement in Edwards. After describing the anger of God working in the misery of the damned in Miscellany #232, Jonathan Edwards said:
"And all this will be aggravated by the remembrance, that God once loved us so as to give his Son to bring us to the happiness of his love, and tried all manner of means to persuade us to accept of his favor, which was obstinately refused."

Jonathan Edwards, "MISERY OF THE DAMNED", 1726, p. 3. Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, eds. Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, Caleb J.D. Maskell, 2005-. http://edwards.yale.edu/ref/10307/e/p/3


We see Edwards affirming that God once loved those who are now in hell, that he gave his Son to bring them to the happiness of his love, and that He "tried all manner of means to persuade them to accept of his favor," but it was "obstinately refused." Likewise, in the first quote above, he's seeing a universal aspect to Christ's death, such that he "may be said to die for all." This is no mere death that issues in common grace benefits for all, but a death that "redeems all visible Christians, yea, the whole world, by his death..." That's redemption language that strict particularists do not use. They specifically avoid saying that any but the elect are redeemed in the death of Christ.

Notice how Edwards spells out how the particular design as well. It doesn't involve a limited imputation of sin to Christ, such that he only redeems the elect in his death (redemption accomplished), but the limitation of redemption is seen in those who are actually "saved thereby" (redemption applied). This is why Edwards says, "God has the actual salvation or redemption of a certain number in his proper absolute design, and of a certain number only..." By "actual salvation," he's talking about redemption applied. Only a "certain number," i.e. the elect, eternally benefit by his death in their "actual salvation," which occurs when they are granted faith by the Spirit through the preached word. Every Calvinist has to say that "God pursues a proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving Christ to die," but they need not do so to the exclusion of a general design in Christ's death, such that he suffers for the sins of the whole world by the ordination of God.

Edwards goes on to say that "such a particularity and limitation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge, as from that of the decree. For it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which he at the same time most perfectly knows will not be accomplished, as that he should use endeavours for that which is beside his decree." His point is that Christ acted consistently with the Father's eternal "decree" or purpose to save the elect alone. Their "actual salvation" alone or this "limitation of redemption" must follow, given God's foreknowledge of them. There is a limitation in Christ's special intent and in the application of his death to the believing elect (redemption applied), but there is no limitation in redemption accomplished. David Brainard has a similar redemption model, as is seen in his remarks on John 1:29:

Lord’s Day, October 5 Was still very weak. In the morning, considerably afraid I should not be able to go through the work of the day and I had much to do, both in private and public. Discoursed before the administration of the sacrament from John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Where I considered:

I. In what respects Christ is called the Lamb of God, and observed that He is so called (1) from the purity and innocency of His nature; (2) from His meekness and patience under sufferings; (3) from His being that atonement which was pointed out in the sacrifice of lambs, and in particular by the paschal lamb.

II. How and in what sense He “takes away the sin of the world:” not because all the world shall actually be redeemed from sin by Him, but because (1) He has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeem all mankind; (2) He actually does take away the sins of the elect world.

[Jonathan Edwards, ‘The Life of David Brainerd” in Works, Banner of Truth, vol, 2, pp., 374.]


Observe:

1) Christ takes away the sin of the world.

2) Not in the sense that all the world shall be saved from their sins.

3) Rather, Christ "takes away the sin of the world" in that sense that "He has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world."

4) By "world," Brainard clearly means "all mankind," who are not all saved from their sins.

5) It is only "the elect world," i.e. the believing elect" who actually have their sins taken away or forgiven.

Brainard is also distinguishing between redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Redemption accomplished is unlimited, so that he can say that Christ "suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeeem all mankind." However, only "the elect world" actually have their sins taken away, so as to "be redeemed from sin by Him," i.e. liberated from their bondage to it.

I don't see our critics dealing with this portion of the quote in Edwards, where he says "and to redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world." Such language cannot mean the elect alone. Did he believe in limited atonement? Well, it depends on what you mean. Here's what R. L. Dabney thinks about the term atonement:

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

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


If you're using the "atonement" term as Dabney does above, then yes, Edwards believed in a limited "atonement," since only the elect believe unto complete reconciliation. If you're using the term "atonement" to reference Christ's satisfaction itself as is common in modern theological literature, then no. Edwards did not see a limitation in Christ's death itself, such that he only bore the guilt due for the elect alone. There is a limitation in Christ's purpose in the case of the elect and in the gift of salvation that they receive through faith, but there is no limitation in the imputation of sin to Christ. That's how I am reading Edwards.

Todd asked:

"I think the question I would ask you is what do you believe in regards to the atonement?"

I'm in agreement with Edwards :-) Or, if it easier for you to take, I agree with how I explain Edwards' own views above. Just as I see double aspects to God's love, God's will and God's grace, even so I see a double aspect in Christ's death, which includes an unlimited imputation of sin to Christ, so that he may properly be said to redeem all mankind by the death he died.

Todd Burus

Tony,
Thank you for your reply. I do not have a great deal of time right now to be long with this, but there are two things I wanted to mention.

When you quote Brainard through Edwards he says:

II. How and in what sense He “takes away the sin of the world:” not because all the world shall actually be redeemed from sin by Him, but because (1) He has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeem all mankind; (2) He actually does take away the sins of the elect world.

The way I read this, and the way I think John Piper, someone who would most likely be termed an Owenic Calvinist, reads this (based on his Limited Atonement lecture) is that, yes, Christ "has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeem all mankind," but this simply means that he is not lacking in his afflictions. In order to actually or effectually redeem the whole world, Christ would not have to suffer any greater than he already has. This is why he says "sufficient to answer." It is not that he has answered, but it is that were it his intent to "redeem all mankind" then the suffering that has already taken place would be "sufficient to" do this; it just so happens that that is not his intent, but it is only to "answer for the sins of" the elect.

Similarly, I think John Piper holds along with Edwards that there is in "some sense" a universal aspect to Christ's death, but in his atoning work this is strictly limited to the elect.

I'm sure I have misread or over-looked something you've said and so I apologize if anything is redundant, these were just the immediate thoughts I had upon reading your reply.

Have a nice day.

RazorsKiss

I wrote a small post here, discussing the continuing controversy.

Tony Byrne

Hi Todd,

You won't ever hear an Owenic Calvinist speaking of Christ "redeeming" anyone other than the elect. While Piper and others may speak of Christ's death being sufficient for all, they will not say that he "redeemed all," since they know that would mean he paid their ransom price, and suffered for everyone's sins. According to the Owenists, Christ did not answer for the sins of any of the non-elect, so they cannot say that. Such a statement would undermine the double payment argument. Just as you put it, they speak in hypotheticals, that Christ "could have" redeemed all, had God so intended, but He did not. You put it this way:

"It is not that he has answered [that's contrary to Edwards and Brainard], but it is that were it his intent [hypothetical begings here] to "redeem all mankind" then the suffering that has already taken place would be "sufficient to" do this; it just so happens that that is not his intent, but it is only to "answer for the sins of" the elect."

Even you, as an Owenist, cannot say that Christ "redeemed" anyone other than the elect. That's not compatible with Edwards. Do not try to Owenize Edwards :-) It won't work. For he says that Christ redeemed all visible Christians and the whole world. He didn't say that Christ COULD HAVE redeemed all, had God so intended.

Anyway, I will leave the discussion at that. Thanks for the irenic discussion, Todd.

Tony

Tony Byrne

Let me add this one last point. Todd said:

Similarly, I think John Piper holds along with Edwards that there is in "some sense" a universal aspect to Christ's death, but in his atoning work this is strictly limited to the elect.

Piper does hold to a universal aspect, but it is not an aspect that includes Christ REDEEMING ALL VISIBLE CHRISTIANS AND THE WHOLE WORLD. Piper's universal aspect, as with most High Calvinists, involves incidental common grace benefits flowing to all by virtue of Christ's work on the cross. They may speak of Christ dying for all in that sense, but he did not redeem any but the elect. So, again, you will never hear Piper use redemptive language for any but the elect, since he does not think the sins of the non-elect were imputed to Christ.

That's the end of my comments in this thread.

Grace to you,
Tony

Cary

Additionally, the John 3:16 Conference was billed as a “biblical and theological evaluation of and response to five-point Calvinism.” /

In all of the presentations that I have heard thus far, the speakers must not have received this memo. There is little to no Biblical evaluation of five-point Calvinism present in this conference. And, yes, that includes drilling down on the Gr. word "pas."

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