One could say, “But such and such later Reformed confession or theologian denies this theology.” To that we would say, “So what? How does citing a man or confession a century or more later, disprove the historical truth that earlier Reformation theologians held to unlimited expiation and redemption? It doesn’t. In terms of proper historical investigation, citing sources from a century later is irrelevant. Such a strategy is just smoke and mirrors.”(source) Leaving aside Mr. Ponter's erroneous interpretation of the works of the early reformers for a moment, this is the sort of concession that I knew would have to come from Ponter eventually. As I had pointed out in an earlier post, Ponter's hypothesis requires one to imagine that Calvin held not simply to an infralapsarian Calvinistic position, but to a full-blown Amyraldian position: one that contradicts all the major Reformed confessions and which consequently is properly placed outside the bounds of "Reformed" theology, whether or not it was held by earlier theologians.
Ponter's admission may come as a bit of a surprise to some of his supporters, such as those in the PCA, who do not realize that Ponter's agenda is aimed at placing the Reformers in conflict with the confessions.
Of course, this sort of deflection with respect pre-WCF reformers doesn't extend past the 17th century. Even a very deceitful person cannot reasonably hope to fool many people into thinking that Charles Hodge taught universal redemption, contrary to the WCF, for example.
And, as has already been pointed out, quoting loosely worded statements by Reformers from before the Arminian controversy is a recipe for confusion, just as it would be improper to try read the "New Perspective on Paul" controversy back onto Calvin and his contemporaries, it is likewise improper to try to read the Arminian/Amyraldian controversies back into the minds of the pre-controversy Reformers.
There are some quotations, and Ponter's post provides two examples, that taken out of their historical context and placed into ours sound very Arminian or Amyraldian. Ponter's argument seems to be: "no one made a fuss about these comments at that time, so when Amyraldians make such arguments today, everyone should just accept them as part of the 'Reformed' perspective." Such an argument is the result of shielding one's eyes from the value that the Arminian/Amyraldian controversy had in developing and working out clearly the Scriptural doctrine of the Atonement. The debates with Romanists for the most part focused elsewhere.
Ponter's apparent underlying strategy is to amass as many decontextualized quotations as possible from early Reformers, and then argue that despite the Scriptural resolution of the Arminian/Amyraldian controversies (in favor of TULIP, which Ponter so loathes), such positions (the positions contrary to the Reformed confessions) should still be viewed Reformed.