Saturday, April 26, 2008

Puritan Books

Today I happened to become aware of a website called "Puritan Books." (link to site) I like the basic concept the web site owner has, of selling .pdf versions of old/rare books. I think he may run into some difficulties, because of (a) the fact that he cannot copyright his work (all the books being in the public domain); and (b) the fact that Google Books (and, and the French national library, and the University of Michigan library) has an ever-expanding collection of books with downloadable .pdf versions.

As a caveat, I have not done business with this website. If any of my readers have, I'd love to hear about your experience.


Christ is Risen! He Truly is Risen!

The title of this refrain is what has been and will continue to be shouted in various time zones moving westward tonight as the "Orthodox" old calendar churches celebrate Pascha (i.e. "Easter").

Christ truly is risen.

I realize that there are "Orthodox" folks out there with a very wide variety of beliefs. I hope and pray that many do trust in Christ alone for salvation. I hope that this celebration, which can be a very Christ-centered celebration (even if heavily burdened with old, but merely human, traditions), will remind those present that Christ alone saves, by faith alone in Him alone. That is the once-delivered and everywhere-received gospel: a gospel of repentance from sin and trust in the finished work of Christ our risen Savior!

Praise be to His glorious name!


Misuse of Ezekiel 18, especially Ezekiel 18:20


It seems that the most frequently cited passage against original sin is probably Ezekiel 18:20.

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Taken out of context, this verse might seem quite helpful to the position against Original Sin. Once we read it in context, though, such a view of the verse collapses, for the verse is part of a larger rhetorical message, namely, if you repent, you will be saved - regardless of the sins of your parents or children. We'll see that now, as we turn to the text.


The chapter is a response to the Jewish (extra-Scriptural) proverb, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." The proverb is a challenge to God's fairness. In essence, the proverb is the complaining proverb a people suffering for their sins, but seeking to place the blame elsewhere. God responds to this proverb by telling the people that they should not make excuses: if they will repent, they will be saved.

Detailed Exegesis

By the "sour grapes" proverb, the people are, in essence, saying that they have done everything right, but God is still punishing them, because their fathers were wicked. We can see that this is not something unique to the Jews of Ezekiel's day:

Matthew 23:29-32
29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

You see the Pharisees, like their physical and spiritual ancestors were outwardly religious. They condemned their fathers - but they were not really any better. They did not have the prophets, but they let the greatest prophet of all, John the Baptist, be beheaded. They did not have Isaiah, but they had him of whom Isaiah prophesied, and they slew him.

In fact, they were not right with God. They may have blamed their fathers for the Roman occupation, but they did not deserve better, and they and their children were punished for their sin by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The gist of the proverbs seems to be a comparison to a situation in which a child is born deformed, on account of the father eating bad grapes before conceiving the child. Thus, the child is punished with bad teeth because of the father's bad judgment, or perhaps even his simple mistake.

The underlying theme is that this is unfair. Why should a child be punished for something someone else did? The human mind, full of autonomy (in Ezekiel's day, in Jesus' day, and in our day), doesn't like the idea of responsibility that is outside an individual's control.

God answers to Israel saying that will "not have occasion any more to use this proverb."

He begins by relying on his sovereignty: "All souls are mine," God says, "equally the soul of the father and of the child." God does not stop there but continues, "the soul that sins shall die."

This is God's rhetorical comprise to the complainers. He tells them up front that he can do what he wants with the souls of men - with their lives. The are all his. He has decreed that those who sin will die. This is his right as Creator.

In verses 5-9, God describes a hypothetical righteous man. This righteous man obeys God's law down to even the ceremonial details of not sleeping with his wife during her period. He does everything right, and God says that such a man will live.

Then, in verses 10-13, God describes a hypothetical son of the righteous man. This son does not follow in his father's footsteps. Instead, this son is a robber, a murderer, and an adulterer. He does do everything right - in fact he does everything wrong, and God says that such a man will surely die.

Finally, in verses 14-17, God describes a hypothetical son of the wicked man. This son does not follow in his father's footsteps. Instead, he repents of his father's sins ("seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like") and lives righteously. God says that such a son will live, and that God will not punish such a son for the iniquity of the wicked father.

In verse 18, God clarifies that nevertheless the father who was wicked will nevertheless die for his iniquity. In other words, his righteous son will not redeem the father's wickedness.

But the people are very stubborn. They ask, "Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?" The think they are very clever, because they remember the law:

Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

But they do not understand God's point. So, God answers them: "When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live." God's point is to convict the complaining people of their sin.

God even goes further. He offers the people a morality of pure individualism: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. "

It is as though God says, "Oh, so you want to be considered on your own individual merits: fine, let it be so." It's to their condemnation, not their justification.

God explains further that He will even go further and permit repentance: "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live."

Notice the parallel to the first situation. In the first situation, the person has a wicked father, but he lives righteously, and God lets him live. In the second situation, the person is himself wicked, but he repents, and God lets him live.

You see, if God will turn aside judgment from those who repent, then it does not matter that the father sinned. If a person will repent (see what his father did and do otherwise - or see what he himself has done and do otherwise) he will live.

God completes his thought regarding the acceptability of repentance for life with this comment (which has itself often been misunderstood): "Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?"

What God is saying is that he has not ruled out repentance - that the fact that the wages of sin are death, and that children bear the iniquities of their fathers, these facts do not make God out to be a God who simply wants men to sin and die. No, God has permitted life even for sinners, through repentance.

That this is what God means can be seen not only from the context above, but from God's own explanation by comparison: "But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die."

God provides a comparison: if a wicked man repents he will live, and if a righteous man apostatizes, he will die.

But the people still refuse to acknowledge God's justice. They say, "The way of the Lord is not equal." This is a serious and indeed blasphemous charge against God. Note that "not equal" is the etymological root of "iniquity." They are basically charging God with sin.

God responds with justified indignation: "O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?" God convicts the people of Israel of sin. He is righteous, they are sinners.

Again, the people say, "The way of the Lord is not equal."
And again, God replies: "Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?"

God then repeats essentially the same thing he just said. First, if a righteous man apostacizes, he will die: "When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die." Second, if a wicked man repents, he will live: "Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die."

Again, a third time the people say, "The way of the Lord is not equal."
And again, God replies: "Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?"

So, God gives them one last chance to repent, and he makes clear that this what he is offering, regardless of their fathers' sins, regardless of their own sins, and yet - in doing so - he reveals the missing link in the chain:

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."

Did you notice what is the missing link in their chain? "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." That's what they need - something they cannot provide for themselves.


We have seen that the passage is talking about repentance, and how inherited guilt is no bar to repentance. We may still repent and live - and that God has provided the opportunity for repentance. On the other hand, we have also learned that repentance requires a drastic change in a person. A change of heart. As we learn from other parts of Ezekiel (and other parts of the Bible), that's something God does:

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Thus, we pray with the Psalmist:

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

That is a prayer to be prayed by anyone who finds himself in sin - prayer for a repentant and contrite heart, so that we may turn from our sins and live.


Psalm 103

For those who enjoy music - for those who are merry - for who simply wish to worship God - here's a beautiful rendition of Psalm 103 - feel free to sing along:

Bless God and don't forget his grace!


Friday, April 25, 2008

TartanArmy on Calvinism and Evangelism

Mark (TartanArmy) has provided an excellent embedded video on Calvinism and Evangelism here (link).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Romans 5 a ProofText for Universalism?

Recently a poster over Steve Gregg's forum, using the handle "Homer," suggested (it seems, he was a bit oblique) that if Romans 5 demonstrates Original Sin, that it also is a "prooftext for Universalism."

I had written: "Calvinists affirm what Paul taught in Romans 5, that Adam's guilt was imputed to his family, just as Christ's righteousness is imputed to his family."

Homer responded that perhaps my statement seemed right when Romans 5 was "read through [a] Calvinist lens," but then went on to claim that if Romans 5:12-15 and 18-19 are talking about spiritual death, then we have a "proof-text" for Universalism.

Before my answer, here is a reproduction of the passage (Romans 5:8-21):

Romans 5:8-21
8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. 12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

I answer:

a) Both do refer to spiritual death.

b) They are only a "prooftext" for universalism to the extent that the "many" to whom the grace of Christ has abounded (in verse 15), the "all men unto justification" in verse 18, and the "many" that shall be made righteous (in verse 19) are co-extensive with the "all men" in verse 12, "all men to condemnation" in verse 18, and the "many were made sinners" in verse 19. If, however, (as we would suggest) the latter group is all in Adam (i.e. Adam's family) and the former group is all in Christ (i.e. Christ's family), then there is no reason to reach a universalist view from the text.

c) But let's go a step beyond. Could they refer to physical death alone? How could God permit an innocent man to die (even purely physically) without imputing sin to that person? For whose sins do infants die?


Warfield's Famous Chart on the Plan of Salvation

Since the topic of Supralapsarianism, Infralapsarianism, Amyraldianism, and Arminianism have come up repeatedly on this blog, I think it may be helpful for my readers to have a chance to those different views arranged in textbook fashion by B. B. Warfield:

Please note that you will probably have to click on the image to be able to view it in a readable size, unless you have some sort of eagle eyes.


UPDATE: Please note that in case you don't like the scanned image above, Vox Veritatis has found and posted a more readable version (here).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yet More Territorial Squabbling in the East

Further to my post (here), we have another example of "Orthodox" priests (and congregants) who seem to find combat appropriate for territorial reasons (link). This post also helps to put some recent controversies within Reformed circles in perspective. Whatever else may be going on, it has not yet come to palm fronds!


Innocent from Man's Perspective or God's?

A poster at Steve Gregg's forum, using the handle "Suzana" made an interesting argument in favor of the supposed innocence of young children. I've presented here basic argument below, followed by my response.

Suzana's basic argument is based on Psalm 106:37-38

Psalm 106:37-38
37Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, 38And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

Then, her implicit argument was that because it says "innocent blood" it means that the children had no guilt of sin.

My response to is as follows:

With respect, I think you're overreaching to view "innocent" there to refer to absolute innocence. It seems easier to understand that passage as referring to innocence in the eyes of man's law. Compare, for example, Deuteronomy 19:10, in which the person who kills his neighbor without malice is considered "innocent," even though surely you would agree that a person who is old enough to be out chopping wood has committed at least one sin in his life in view of "all have sinned ...."

If then it is simply a statement that the children did not commit any capital crimes, then there is no reason to infer absolute sinlessness to such people.

It's actually a frequent idiom in Hebrew to say "shed innocent blood" as a way of saying "murder." (see, for example, 2 Kings 21:16, Proverbs 6:17, Isaiah 59:7, Jeremiah 22:3 & 17, and Joel 3:19).

Let us not hesitate to stand up against the shedding of innocent blood at the hands of women and their doctors, who sacrifice their children not on the altar of Molech but to the altar of convenience.


Further Response regarding the Sufficiency of Christ's Death

GodIsMyJudge (Dan) has provided a further response (link) to my previous two posts (first) (second).

Dan believes I have been inconsistent. Dan insists that if a reprobate person turned from their sins and repented, Christ's blood would not save them under a consistent Calvinist model. Dan's reason for this is that Christ did not offer himself for them, and therefore they have no redemption under a consistent Calvinist position. I agree that if Christ did not offer himself for them, Christ's blood will not save them. Dan, however, seems to have conflated what will be with could be. We are speaking hypothetically, and so we need to consider the hypothetical world, not the actual world.

Dan's charge is incorrect.

First, let's be clear: regardless of whether one is Calvinist or Arminian, a reprobate person is (by definition) someone who is not saved. Thus, when we speak of a hypothetical situation in which a reprobate person is saved, we are denying that the person is (in our hypothetical world) reprobate. Furthermore, there are only two categories of people: elect and reprobate. So, if our hypothetical man is not reprobate, he is elect. We know that Christ (in consistent Calvinism) died on the cross for each and every elect person. Moreover, we know that the Trinity operates consistently with itself. Thus, the Holy Spirit regenerates the elect, and without regeneration the "reprobate" man in our hypothetical would never repent and believe. Thus, to be consistent, if we are to say that the "reprobate" man repents and believes and is saved by Christ's blood (which is the only way men are saved) we are also saying that the man was one of the elect. In short, if the reprobate man were to repent and believe it would also (for consistency) also be the case that the Holy Spirit regenerated him, and that Christ died for him. But Christ's death itself in no way has to be changed to accomodate that man. It's not as though Christ would have needed to suffer longer, have more blood mixed with water gush from his side, or have an extra prick in his crown of thorns. No. Christ's death itself (considered in itself) is sufficient for all men - and for more men than there are.

The point of the remark is something that Dan seems to have missed at least twice now. The point is that Christ's death has infinite intrinsic sufficiency. If one imagines the transaction between the Father as judge, and Christ as substitute to be a barter, Christ's blood is so valuable that in exchange for it, God would have permitted all mankind without exception to be considered as righteous.

Dan seems to be focused on the temporal aspects of Christ dying in 33 A.D., whereas this reprobate man lives now. Dan states, "Today, for someone to say that Christ can save everyone, it has to be based on what Christ actually did on the cross, not what He could have done on the cross." What Christ actually did on the cross was die. That action would not have been different if he had died only for (i.e. in the place of) Paul the Apostle, or for each and every human being. Anyone who is saved is saved by that death, and that death is a price that has intrinsic sufficiency to save anyone Christ wants to save by it. It is an offering that the Father accepts.

Perhaps Dan has misunderstood our argument. We are not saying that salvation is still open. We are not saying that there is a non-zero probability of a reprobate person being saved. The probability of the reprobate person being saved is zero (it's actually zero in Molinism and classical Arminianism as well, though that's for another day). Nevertheless, the sacrifice of Christ considered in itself, and as to its intrisic value, could save more men than there are atoms in the universe.

I'll take Dan to task for one other minor thing: the affirmation of the sufficiency of Christ's death is not a compromise to Arminianism. It is not designed to make anything more or less palatable to anyone. It is instead simply the nature of the matter. Christ death is itself sufficient for all. Because, however, Christ only offers this sacrifice for (and intercedes for) the elect, it is only they to whom the sacrifice is efficient. The Trinity works together so that all the elect believe, and receive the promise of eternal life, a promise that would be given to the reprobate were the reprobate to believe (since God cannot lie).


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Insight Theological Seminary

Today I received some spam for the "Insight Theological Seminary." It is, apparently, a new seminary that is offering on-line theological education. Apparently the way it works is that the seminary assigns course-work in the form of textbook readings. Then, the tests are passages taken from those textbooks, in which key words have been removed. The student fills in the blanks as a test of the student's knowledge.

It may be helpful for some people - and I hope it is. It is, of course, not accredited. I have not seen the curriculum, and clearly the value of the program is largely dependent on what one puts into it as well as on the curriculum. Obviously, one needs to realize that a degree from ITS is not particularly significant in the academic world.

Oh well. It was interesting to hear about the program. I hope it will actually be of benefit to people, and not simply be a way to generate diplomas for people who want to say they have a degree in thus-and-such.


Scripture as a Rule of Faith


Scripture is the Reformed rule of Faith. It is our ultimate authority in matters of doctrine. It is our trusted revelation from God. When people come along claiming that their organization or prophet teaches something, we determine how true it is by comparison to Scripture.

1. Does Scripture Teach It?

In comparing someone's doctrine to Scripture, the first question we ask is whether Scripture teaches it. If Scripture teaches something, it must be believed. By "must," of course, we do not mean that a person will not be saved simply because they fail to fully reverence the teachings of Scripture, instead we mean that Scripture commands reverence, because it is God's word. On the other hand, if Scripture does not teach something, we are not required to believe it.

2. Does Scripture Teach Against It?

In comparing someone's doctrine to Scripture, the next question we ask is whether Scripture teaches AGAINST it. Sometimes we will already know the answer to this question by reference to the first question. If Scripture teaches against a doctrine, we must reject that doctrine. It is, unfortunately, a frequent mistake to skip the first question above and jump straight to the second question. Thus, some people will accept all sorts of fabricated doctrines, simply because they cannot find teaching in Scripture AGAINST the doctrine.

3. What if the answer to some particular question is not readily discernible?

Occasionally, it happens that some question may not be readily discernible. For example, in this verse:

Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

it may (at first) be unclear whether "of the firstborn" is a reference to Christ (the firstborn among many brethren) or to the elect, who are God's portion for himself.

What we do is, first of all, perform historical/grammatical exegesis. In this case, looking at the situation here, we quickly discover that the "firstborn" is plural in the original and that is only English that is ambiguous.

As part of the h/g exegesis we look to the context. There we see,

Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

which contains a reference to the blood sprinkling that preserved the firstborn of the Israelites, and which entitled God to them as a purchased possession. In the process, of course, we are making use of the historical connotations of "firstborn" in the Old Testament, with which the audience of this epistle is expected to be familiar.

In some cases, depending on the question, we may not be able to resolve an answer to our own satisfaction from the text. For example, someone might ask, in the verse,

Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

whether "Clement" is the same Clement to whom the epistles of Clement are attributed. Scripture does not seem to give an answer. Thus, we should hesitate to be dogmatic about this. Is that just throwing up our hands, or giving up on the verse? Of course not. It is simply letting the verse say what it says, and not trying to read something into it that is not there.

4. What if someone disputes a view we previously held?

We go through the same steps above. We search the Scripture to see if their contentions hold weight. We need to bear in mind that it is possible for us to make mistakes. We need to mindful of our fallibility and of the human tendency to be stubborn and thickheaded. We must not be buffeted by every wind of doctrine, but we must not refuse to submit our doctrines to God's word.


So, what if someone comes along with doctrines, whether that be the present blogger or a visiting head of state? The answer is the same: we take those doctrines to Scripture, and see whether they are something Scripture teaches or whether Scripture contradicts what they are saying. We must be careful not to give up on a difficult or seemingly ambiguous text, though we should be willing to acknowledge that not every question we may ask may find an answer in Scripture. Finally, we need to be submissive to God's word. That does not mean we must hold Scriptural doctrines loosely. Quite to contrary, we must hold them tightly! Nevertheless, we must hold all of our doctrines as open to revision, should it be shown that Scripture teaches otherwise.

May God give all of us humility to subject our doctrines to Scripture,


Response to Counter-Analogies on the Atonement

In response to my earlier post regarding One of my Theological Opponents on the Atonement, Dan (GodIsMyJudge) has provided some objections:

Dan wrote:

"I found your analgesic tablet example inapplicable to Arminius’ point. Your using the tablet comes after someone having provided the tablet by putting it on your shelf. But in your view, the decree of election comes before Christ’s death. So while the tablet (after it’s been put on your shelf) is still able to alleviate your headache, Christ’s death (after Christ died) is unable to save the reprobate."

a) It may be important to differentiate between historical order and decretal order. Certainly, with analgesics and with Christ's death vis-a-vis post-Apostolic believers, the order of history is that provision is made and then the provision is applied. Obviously, there is no difference between the Arminian and Calvinist as to the historical order for the post-apostolic NT era.

b) The decree of election doesn't change the intrinsic power of Christ's sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice is still of infinite merit - even though it has been provided to save a finite, definite number of people.

c) The counter-analogy is unfair, because it compares a situation without any election (analgesic on shelf) to a situation with election. To fix that, we would need to add election to the analgesic part of the analogy.

Suppose that a pharmacist has a huge supply of analgesics behind the counter. Suppose also that 5 men come to him with headaches. Finally, suppose that he elects to give 4 of them the analgesic, but withholds the analgesic from the fifth person. Has the pharmacist's election affected the analgesic's properties in any way? Of course not. The analgesic still has the same intrinsic ability to cure headaches.

To make the analogy closer, though, we may need to stretch our minds a bit. Suppose instead of the pharmacist, we have a miracle worker, and instead of a headache we have blind men. Now, suppose that the miracle worker becomes aware of blind men in his city. Suppose he takes pity on three of the blind men who happen to beg on his street. Therefore, the miracle worker creates a staff that will heal the blindness of anyone who it touches. The miracle worker than takes the staff and touches those three blind men and no one else. Has the miracle worker's election (even prior to the provision of the staff) affected the staff's intrinsic properties such that it could not heal the other blind men in the city, if the miracle worker wanted to use the staff that way? Of course not. The staff still has the same intrinsic ability to cure blindness.

Even so, God has shown favor on some of mankind. He has provided for them His Son's blood - blood of infinite intrinsic efficacy. Yes, the blood WILL not do the reprobate any eternal good, but it WOULD do the reprobate good if the reprobate turned from his sin and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, it WOULD do the reprobate good if Christ had offered it for the reprobate, in short it WOULD work for the purpose of expiating the sins of the reprobate if it were applied to that use.

Dan continued: "A Calvinist saying Christ is able to save the reprobate (or that Christ’s death was sufficient for them) is kinda like me saying I am able to speak French, because I could have taken French in college (even though I didn’t)."

This is also not a fair analogy, because we conventionally take "able to speak French" to mean something other than intrinsic ability to learn French. To make the analogy fair, we need to change the situation into one in which one elects not to exercise an intrinsic ability one already has.

Thus, for example, suppose that the King of your local jurisdiction declares that "He who speaks French shall die," (and "pardon my French" is not a defense). Well, if - in that case - you had carefully studied French until you were thoroughly familiar with the language, you might say that you were able to speak French, and that the law (and your fear of death) do not affect your intrinsic ability to speak French.

But, in any event, the comparison to linguistic skills is somewhat foreign to Scripture. Instead, the better comparison is to that of a penal price. Christ's death is a price that would have been accepted by the Father not only for the elect, but for all those for whom it was offered if it had been offered for more than for the elect.


William Cunningham on Several Views of the Atonement

Having posted (and, I trust, refuted) a post from a theological opponent on the atonement, I thought I would post an article from one of my theological allies. In this case, that ally is William Cunningham. In Chapter XXIV, of Cunningham's Historical Theology (in Volume 2, beginning at page 323 of the 1864 (2d) edition), the following is Section VIII, one of several sections on the Atonement and relevant to the present controversy that has been brewing on the doctrine of the Atonement. The entire work (including this section) is freely available here (link). I believe I can fully endorse the article below, except (perhaps) for the issue of distinguishing between Socianized Arminians and un-Socinianized Arminians. One word used in the article that may not be familiar to many readers, is the word "impetration" (and various forms thereof). According to Webster's 1828 dictionary, impetration means "The act of obtaining by prayer or petition." (source)

Sec. VIII. Extent of the Atonement.

We proceed now to the third and last division, namely, the consideration of the peculiar views, in regard to the atonement, of those divines who profess to hold Calvinistic doctrines upon other points, but on this concur with, or approximate to, the views of the Arminians; and this, of course, leads us to examine the subject of the extent of the atonement, a topic which is much discussed among theologians in the present day, and is, on this account, as well as from its own nature and bearings, possessed of much interest and importance.

There are now, and for more than two centuries, that is, since the time of Cameron, a Scotchman, who became Professor of Theology in the Protestant Church of France, there have always been, theologians, and some of them men of well-merited eminence, who have held the Calvinistic doctrines of the entire depravity of human nature, and of God s unconditional election of some men from eternity to everlasting life, but who have also maintained the universality of the atonement, the doctrine that Christ died for all men, and not for those only who are ultimately saved. As some men have agreed with Arminians in holding the universality of the atonement who were Calvinists in all other respects, and as a considerable appearance of Scripture evidence can be produced for the doctrine that Christ died for all men, it has been generally supposed that the doctrine of particular redemption, as it is often called, or of a limited atonement, forms the weak point of the Calvinistic system, that which can with most plausibility be assailed, and can with most difficulty be defended. Now, this impression has some foundation. There is none of the Arminian doctrines, in favor of which so much appearance of Scripture evidence can be adduced, as that of the universality of the atonement ; and if Arminians could really prove that Christ died for the salvation of all men, then the argument which, as I formerly intimated, they commonly deduce from this doctrine, in opposition to the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, could not, taken by itself, be easily answered. It is evident, however, on the other side, that if the Arminian doctrine of the universality of the atonement can be disproved, when tried upon its own direct and proper grounds and evidences, without founding upon its apparent inconsistency with the other doctrines of the Calvinistic system, then not only is one important principle established, which has been held by most Calvinists, that, namely, of a limited atonement, that is, of an atonement limited as to its destination or intended objects, but great additional strength is given to the general body of the evidence in support of Calvinism.

This is the aspect in which the arrangement we have followed leads us to examine it. Looking merely at the advantage of controversial impression, it would not be the most expedient course to enter upon the Arminian controversy, as we are doing, through the discussion of the extent of the atonement, since Arminians can adduce a good deal that is plausible in support of its universality, and found a strong argument against Calvinistic predestination on the assumption of its universality, considerations which would suggest the policy of first establishing some of the other doctrines of Calvinism against the Arminians, and then employing these doctrines, already established, to confirm the direct and proper evidence against a universal, and in favor of a limited, atonement. But since we have been led to consider the subject of an atonement in general, in opposition to the Socinians, we have thought it better to continue, without interruption, the investigation of this subject until we finish it, although it does carry us into the Arminian controversy, at the point where Arminianism seems to be strongest. We have thought it better to do this than to return to the subject of the extent of the atonement, after discussing some of the other doctrines controverted between the Calvinists and the Arminians. And we have had the less hesitation about following out this order, for these reasons: first, because we are not afraid to encounter the Arminian doctrine of a universal atonement, upon the ground of its own direct and proper evidence, without calling in the assistance that might be derived from the previous proof of the other doctrines of Calvinism; secondly, because the examination of the whole subject of the atonement at once enables us to bring out more fully the principle, which we reckon of fundamental importance upon this whole question, namely, that the nature of the atonement settles or determines its extent; and, thirdly, because, if it can be really shown, as we have no doubt it can, that the Scripture view of the nature, and immediate object and effect, of the atonement, disproves its universality, then we have, in this way, what is commonly reckoned the weakest part of the Calvinistic system conclusively established, on its own direct and proper evidence; and established, moreover, by the force of all the arguments which have been generally employed not only by Calvinists, but by the sounder or un-Socinianized Arminians, in disputing with the Socinians on the truth and reality of an atonement.

In proceeding now to advert to the subject of the extent of the atonement, as a distinct, independent topic, we shall first explain the doctrine which has been generally held upon this subject by Calvinists, commonly called the doctrine of particular redemption, or that of a limited or definite atonement; and then, secondly, advert to the differences between the doctrine of universal or unlimited atonement or redemption, as held by Arminians, and as held by those who profess Calvinistic doctrines upon other points.

The question as to the extent of the atonement, is commonly and popularly represented as amounting in substance to this: Whether Christ died for all men, or only for the elect, for those who ultimately believe and are saved? But this state of the question does not bring out the true nature of the point in dispute with sufficient fullness, accuracy, and precision. And, accordingly, we find that neither in the canons of the Synod of Dordt, nor in our Confession of Faith, which are commonly reckoned the most important and authoritative expositions of Calvinism, is there any formal or explicit deliverance given upon the question as stated in this way, and in these terms. Arminians, and other defenders of a universal atonement, are generally partial to this mode of stating it, because it seems most readily and obviously to give to their doctrine the sanction and protection of certain scriptural statements, which look like a direct assertion, but are not, that Christ died for all men; and because there are some ambiguities about the meaning of the expressions, of which they usually avail themselves. I have no doubt that the controversy about the extent of the atonement is substantially decided in our Confession, though no formal deliverance is given upon the precise question, whether Christ died for all men, or only for the elect; and it may tend to bring out clearly the true state of the question, as well as contribute to the subsidiary, but still important, object of assisting to determine what is the doctrine of our Confession upon this subject, if we advert to the statements it contains regarding it, and the manner in which it gives its deliverance upon it. We have already had occasion to quote, incidentally, the principal declarations of the Confession upon this subject, in explaining the peculiar views of the Arminians, with regard to the atonement in general; but it may be proper now to examine them somewhat more fully. They are chiefly the following: "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." [FN: C. iii., s. vi.]

There are two questions which may be, and, indeed, have been, started with respect to the meaning of these words; attempts having been made to show that they do not contradict or exclude the doctrine of a universal atonement, as it has been sometimes held by Calvinists. The first question is as to the import of the word "redeemed;" and it turns upon this point, Does the word describe merely the impetration or purchase of pardon and reconciliation for men by the death of Christ? or does it comprehend the application as well as the impetration? If it be understood in the first or more limited sense, as descriptive only of the impetration or purchase, then, of course, the statement of the Confession clearly asserts a definite or limited atonement, comprehending as its objects those only who, in fact, receive all other spiritual blessings, and are ultimately saved; whereas, if it included the application as well as the impetration, the statement might consist with the universality of the atonement, as it is not contended, even by Arminians, that, in this wide sense, any are redeemed by Christ, except those who ultimately believe and are saved. Indeed, one of the principal uses to which the Arminians commonly apply the distinction between impetration and application, as they explain it, is this, that they interpret the scriptural statements which seem to speak of all men as comprehended in the objects of Christ's death, of the impetration of pardon and reconciliation for them; and interpret those passages which seem to indicate some limitation in the objects of His dying, of the application of those blessings to men individually. Now, it seems very manifest that the word "redeemed" is to be taken here in the first, or more limited sense as descriptive only of the impetration or purchase of pardon and reconciliation; because there is a distinct enumeration of all the leading steps in the great process which, originating in God's eternal, absolute election of some men, terminates in their complete salvation, their redemption by Christ being evidently, from the whole structure of the statement, not comprehensive of, but distinguished from, their vocation and justification, which constitute the application of the blessings of redemption, the benefits which Christ purchased.

The second question to which I referred, applies only to the last clause quoted, namely, "neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only." Here it has been made a question, whether the concluding restriction, to "the elect only," applies to each of the preceding predicates, "redeemed," called," "justified," etc., singly and separately, or only to the whole of them taken collectively; that is, whether it be intended to be here asserted that not any one of these things, such as "redeemed," can be predicated of any but the elect only, or merely that the whole of them, taken in conjunction, cannot be predicated of any others. The latter interpretation, namely, that there are none but the elect of whom the whole collectively can be predicated, would make the declaration a mere truism, serving no purpose, and really giving no deliverance upon anything, although the repetition of the general statement about the consequences of election, or the execution of God's eternal decree, in a negative form, was manifestly intended to be peculiarly emphatic, and to contain a denial of an error reckoned important. The Confession, therefore, must be regarded
as teaching, that it is not true of any but the elect only, that they are redeemed by Christ, any more than it is true that any others are called, justified, or saved. Here I may remark by the way, that though many modern defenders of a universal atonement regard the word redemption as including the application as well as the impetration of pardon and reconciliation, and, in this sense, disclaim the doctrine of universal redemption, yet a different phraseology was commonly used in theological discussions about the period at which the Confession was prepared, and in the seventeenth century generally. Then the defenders of a universal atonement generally maintained, without any hesitation, the doctrine of universal redemption, using the word, of course, to describe only the impetration, and not the application, of spiritual and saving blessings; and this holds true, both of those who admitted, and of those who denied, the Calvinistic doctrine of election. Of the first of these cases (the Calvinists) we have an instance in Richard Baxter's work, which he entitled," Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ;" and of the second (the Arminians) in Dr. Isaac Barrow's sermons, entitled, "The Doctrine of Universal Redemption Asserted and Explained."

The other leading statements upon this subject is the Confession, are those which we have already had occasion to quote from the eighth chapter, secs. 5, 8 : "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:" and again: "To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption" (that is, pardon and reconciliation), "He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them; and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey," etc. Now, this latter statement, as I formerly intimated, contains, and was intended to contain, the true status quaestionis in the controversy about the extent of the atonement. It is to be explained by a reference to the mode of conducting this controversy, between the Calvinists and Arminians, about the time of the Synod of Dordt, and also to the mode of conducting the controversy excited in France by Cameron, [FN: It is a curious circumstance that the followers of Cameron maintained that the Synod of Dort did not condemn their views, because it did not make any statement precisely similar to this of our Confession. Dallaei Apologia pro duabus Synodis, p. 623. ] and afterwards carried on by Amyraldus in France and Holland, and by Baxter in England. The fundamental position of all who had advocated the doctrine of atonement against the Socinians, but had also maintained that it was universal or unlimited, was that Christ, by His sufferings and death, purchased pardon and reconciliation for all men, without distinction or exception; but that these blessings are applied or communicated to, and, of course, are actually enjoyed by, those only who came, from whatever cause, to repent and believe. This, of course, is the only sense in which the doctrine of universal atonement, or redemption, could be held by any who did not believe in the doctrine of universal salvation. And the assertion or denial of this must, from the nature of the case, form the substance of the controversy about the extent of the atonement, whatever diversity of phraseology may be, at different times, employed in discussing it.

The doctrine of a universal atonement necessarily implies, not only that God desired and intended that all men should be benefited by Christ's death, for this, in some sense, is universally admitted, but that, in its special and peculiar character as an atonement, that is, as a penal infliction, as a ransom price, it should effect something bearing favorably upon their spiritual welfare. This could be only by its purchasing for all men the pardon of their sins and reconciliation with God, which the Scripture plainly represents as the proper and direct results or effects of Christ's death. The advocates of this doctrine accordingly say, that He impetrated or purchased these blessings for all men; and as many are never actually pardoned and reconciled, they are under the necessity, as I formerly explained, because they hold a universal atonement, both of explaining away pardon and reconciliation as meaning merely the removal of legal obstacles, or the opening up of a door, for God's bestowing these blessings, and of maintaining that these blessings are impetrated for any to whom they are never applied. Now this, of course, is the position which the statement in the Confession was intended to contradict, by asserting that impetration and application, though distinct, are co-extensive, and are never, in fact, separated, that all for whom these blessings were ever designed or procured, do certainly receive them; or, conversely, that they were not designed, or procured, for any except those who ultimately partake of them. This, then, is the form in which the controversy about the extent of the atonement is stated and decided in our Confession of Faith; and, whatever differences of phraseology may have been introduced into the discussion of this subject in more modern times, it is always useful to recur to this mode of stating the question, as fitted to explain the true nature of the points involved in it, and to suggest clear conceptions of the real import of the different topics adduced upon both sides. Those who are usually represented as holding the doctrine of particular redemption, or limited atonement, as teaching that Christ did not die for all men, but only for the elect, contend for nothing more than this, and cannot be shown to be under any obligation, in point of consistency, to contend for more, namely, that, to all those for whom Christ hath purchased Redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; and all who take the opposite side, and maintain that Christ died for all men, that His atonement was universal or unlimited, can, without difficulty, be proved to maintain, or to be bound in consistency to maintain, if they really admit an atonement at all, and, at the same time, deny universal salvation, that He purchased redemption that is, pardon and reconciliation for many to whom they are never applied, who never are put in possession of them.

We would now make two or three observations, suggested by this account of the state of the question. First, the advocates of a limited or definite atonement do not deny, but maintain, the infinite intrinsic sufficiency of Christ's satisfaction and merits. They regard His sufferings and death as possessed of value, or worth, sufficient to have purchased pardon and reconciliation for the whole race of fallen man. The value or worth of His sacrifice of Himself depends upon, and is measured by, the dignity of His person, and is therefore infinite. Though many fewer of the human race had been to be pardoned and saved, an atonement of infinite value would have been necessary, in order to procure for them these blessings; and though many more, yea, all men, had been to be pardoned and saved, the death of Christ, being an atonement of infinite value, would have been amply sufficient, as the ground or basis of their forgiveness or salvation. We know nothing of the amount or extent of Christ's sufferings in themselves. Scripture tells us only of their relation to the law, in compliance with the provision of which they were inflicted and endured. This implies their infinity, in respect of intrinsic legal worth or value; and this, again, implies their full intrinsic sufficiency for the redemption of all men, if God had intended to redeem and save them. There have been some Calvinists who have contended that Christ's sufferings were just as much, in amount or extent, as were sufficient for redeeming, or paying the ransom price of, the elect, of those who are actually saved: so that, if more men had been to be pardoned and saved, Christ must have suffered more than He did, and if fewer, less. But those who have held this view have been very few in number, and of no great weight or influence. The opinion, however, is one which the advocates of universal atonement are fond of adducing and refuting, because it is easy to refute it; and because this is fitted to convey the impression that the advocates of a limited atonement in general hold this, or something like it, and thus to insinuate an unfavorable idea of the doctrine. There is no doubt that all the most eminent Calvinistic divines hold, the infinite worth or value of Christ's atonement, its full sufficiency for expiating all the sins of all men.

A distinction was generally employed by the schoolmen, which has been often adverted to in this discussion, and which it may be proper to explain. They were accustomed to say, that Christ died sufficiently for all men, and efficaciously for the elect, sufficienter pro omnibus, efficaciter pro electis. Some orthodox divines, who wrote before the extent of the atonement had been made the subject of full, formal, and elaborate discussion, and Calvin himself among the rest, admitted the truth of this scholastic position. But after controversy had thrown its full light upon the subject, orthodox divines generally refused to adopt this mode of stating the point, because it seemed to ascribe to Christ a purpose or intention of dying in the room of all, and of benefiting all by the proper effects of His death, as an atonement or propitiation; not that they doubted or denied the intrinsic sufficiency of His death for the redemption of all men, but because the statement whether originally so intended or not was so expressed as to suggest the idea, that Christ, in dying, desired and intended that all men should partake in the proper and peculiar effects of the shedding of His blood. Calvinists do not object to say[ing] that the death of Christ viewed objectively, apart from His purpose or design was sufficient for all, and efficacious for the elect, because this statement in the first clause merely asserts its infinite intrinsic sufficiency, which they admit; whereas the original scholastic form of the statement, namely, that He died sufficiently for all, seems to indicate that, when He died, He intended that all should derive some saving and permanent benefit from His death. The attempt made by some defenders of universal atonement to prove, that a denial of the universality of the atonement necessarily implies a denial of its universal intrinsic sufficiency, has nothing to do with the settlement of the state of the question, but only with the arguments by which the opposite side may be defended: and, therefore, I need not advert to it.

Secondly, It is not denied by the advocates of particular redemption, or of a limited atonement, that mankind in general, even those who ultimately perish, do derive some advantages or benefits from Christ's death; and no position they hold requires them to deny this. They believe that important benefits have accrued to the whole human race from the death of Christ, and that in these benefits those who are finally impenitent and unbelieving partake. What they deny is, that Christ intended to procure, or did procure, for all men those blessings which are the proper and peculiar fruits of His death, in its specific character as an atonement, that He procured or purchased redemption that is, pardon and reconciliation for all men. Many blessings flow to mankind at large from the death of Christ, collaterally and incidentally, in consequence of the relation in which men, viewed collectively, stand to each other. All these benefits were, of course, foreseen by God, when He resolved to send His Son into the world; they were contemplated or designed by Him, as what men should receive and enjoy. They are to be regarded and received as bestowed by Him, and as thus unfolding His glory, indicating His character, and actually accomplishing His purposes; and they are to be viewed as coming to men through the channel of Christ's mediation, of His sufferings and death. [FN: Witsius, De OEcon. Foed., Lib. ii., c. ix., sec. iv.; Turrettin., Loc. xiv., Qu. xiv., sec. xi]

The truth of this position has been considered as affording some warrant for saying, in a vague and indefinite sense, that Christ died for all men; and in this sense, and on this account, some Calvinists have scrupled about meeting the position that Christ died for all men with a direct negative, as if they might thus be understood as denying that there was any sense in which all men derived benefit, and in which God intended that they should derive benefit, from Christ's death. But this position does not at all correspond with the proper import of what Scripture means when it tells us that Christ died foremen. This, as we prove against the Socinians, implies that He substituted Himself in their room and stead, that He put Himself in their legal position, that He made satisfaction to God's justice for their sins, or that He purchased redemption for them; and this, we contend, does not hold true of any but those who are actually at length pardoned and saved. The advocates of universal atonement, then, have no right to charge us with teaching that none derive any benefit from Christ's death except those who are pardoned and saved; we do not teach this, and we are not bound in consistency to teach it. We teach the opposite of this; and we are not deterred from doing so by the fear lest we should thereby afford to those who are opposed to us a medium for proving that, in the proper scriptural sense, He died for all men, or that the leading and peculiar benefits which His death procured for men, the benefits of salvation, were designed or intended for all mankind.

There is no very material difference between the state of the question with respect to the extent of the atonement, and to that at present we confine our attention, according as its universality is maintained by Arminians, or by those who hold Calvinistic doctrines upon other points. The leading distinction is, that the Calvinistic universalists are obliged to practice more caution in their declarations upon some points, and to deal somewhat more in vague and ambiguous generalities than the Arminians, in order to avoid as much as possible the appearance of contradicting or renouncing, by what they say upon this subject, their professed Calvinism upon other topics.

As the controversy with regard to the extent of the atonement does not turn, though many of the universalists would fain have it so, upon the question of the infinite sufficiency of Christ's sufferings and merits, it must turn upon the question of the purpose, design, or intention of God in inflicting sufferings and death, upon His Son, and of Christ in voluntarily submitting to them. Universal atonement thus indicates and proves the existence, on the part of God and Christ, of a purpose, design, or intention, in some sense or other, to save all men. And for the Calvinistic universalists to assert the existence of such a purpose, design, or intention, in combination and in consistency with the doctrine that God has from eternity elected some men to everlasting life, and determined to save them, requires the introduction of a good deal of confusion and ambiguity into their mode of stating and arguing the case. They cannot say, with the Arminians, that Christ died equally for all men; for they cannot dispute that God's special purpose of grace in regard to the elect, which Arminians deny, but they admit, must have, in some sense and to some extent, regulated or influenced the whole of the process by which God's purpose was accomplished, by which His decree of election was executed. They accordingly contend for a general design or purpose of God and Christ indicated by the alleged universality of the atonement to save all men; and a special design or purpose indicated by the specialty of the bestowal of that faith (which they admit which the Arminians, practically at least, deny to be God's gift) to save only the elect. But this, again, belongs rather to the argument of the case than to the state of the question. The substance of the matter is, that they concur with the Arminians in denying the great truth laid down in our Confession of Faith, that redemption, that is, pardon and reconciliation, are actually applied and communicated to all for whom they were procured or purchased; and, to a large extent, they employ the very same arguments in order to defend their position.

It may be worth while briefly to advert to one of the particular forms in which, in our own day, the state of the question has been exhibited by some of the Calvinistic universalists. It is that of asserting what they call a general and a special reference of Christ's death, a general reference which it has to all men, and a special reference which it has to the elect. This is manifestly a very vague and ambiguous distinction, which may mean almost anything or nothing, and is, therefore, very well adapted to a transition state of things, when men are passing from comparative orthodoxy on this subject into deeper and more important error. This general reference of Christ's death, its reference to all men, may mean merely, that, in consequence of Christ's death, certain benefits or advantages flow to mankind at large, and in this sense it is admitted by those who hold the doctrine of particular redemption; or it may describe the proper Arminian doctrine of universal or unlimited atonement; or, lastly, it may indicate anything or everything that may be supposed to lie between these two views. It cannot, therefore, be accepted as a true and fair account of the state of the question about the extent of the atonement, as discussed between Calvinists, and may not unreasonably be regarded with some jealousy and suspicion, as at least fitted, if not intended, to involve the true state of the question in darkness or ambiguity. The universality of the atonement had been defended before our Confession of Faith was prepared, by abler and more learned men, both Calvinists and Arminians, than any who in modern times have undertaken the same cause. The authors of the Confession were thoroughly versant in these discussions; and it will be found, upon full study and investigation, that whatever variety of forms either the state of the question, or the arguments adduced on both sides, may have assumed in more modern discussions, the whole substance and merits of the case are involved in, and can be most fairly and fully discussed by, the examination of their position, namely, that "to all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same." This position proceeds upon the assumption that He purchased redemption for men. The truth of this assumption is involved in the establishment of the doctrine of the atonement, of Christ's death being a ransom price, in opposition to the Socinians, and must be admitted by all, unless, while professedly holding the doctrine of the atonement, they virtually sink down to Socinianism, by explaining it entirely away. And this being assumed, the position asserts, that all for whom redemption was purchased, have it applied or communicated to them; and that, of course, Christ died for the purpose, and with the intention, of procuring or purchasing pardon and reconciliation only for those who ultimately receive them, when they repent and believe.


That concludes Section VIII. I hope that those who disagree with me on the Atonement (particularly those who consider themselves Calvinists, and most especially those who claim to be confessional) will avail themselves of a careful reading of Cunningham's chapter above. I have removed emphasis from the chapter throughout, and modified some of the formatting and spelling. If we could all agree with Cunningham, I believe there would be no great difference between us. I will not add further comment at this time.