Atonement, strict particularism and WCF 3.1

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
don't want to be argumentative. One reason this is important to me is not so that everyone thinks like me, but so that we don't alienate or "mis-label" someone who doesn't define Christ's satisfaction exactly like the strict particularists. I appeal to Heidelberg 37 and Dort 2nd Head, esp. articles 3, 5 and 6 to demonstrate that setting a universal aspect to Christ's satisfaction works quite well within the system.

Whether you *want* to be argumentative or not, you are being so. You are making arguments and claiming that Hypothetical Universalism is comppatible with the Reformed Confessions. You're on a hobby horse and convinced that it's really the only way to truly account for man's condemnation for failing to believe the Gospel.

We took up this conversation here: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/87650-Why-does-Limited-Atonement-Matter/page5

Therein we cited multiple Puritans and other sources that demonstrated that saving faith was a "condition to interest" in the Covenant of Grace. You think that, by stringing together quotes from multiple Reformed teachers, that you've established the views compatibility as if it fits like a "hand in a glove" with the Westminster Standards. You appeal to Hodge, which in the previous thread it was never established that he gave you the room you thought you had to demonstrate that failure to exercise saving faith (a condition to interest in the CoG for the elect) is the basis upon which men are condemned. It was also demonstrated that when the Puritans spoke in certain ways (that you appropriate for your view) they are not using the language in the way you think they are doing because you are not grasping the way in which they used language even when they stated that Christ "died for all".

The bottom line is that Theology is not a buffet line and appealing to a website that treats theology like a buffet line is not convincing simply because it supports the tune of a one string banjo.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I don't want to argue, so I won't continue.

Tim,

You'll have to make a decision then. It seems to me this is a pretty common pattern now:

1. Ask questions about whether or not the Confessions allow something or how the Confessions can't consistently hold to something.
2. Offer that some Reformed person(s) agree with a view you've developed.
3. Tell us that you used to be a Hyper-Calvinist and that this view was what rescued you from hyper-Calvinism.
4. Tell us how you think the Confessional view would torture Scripture on some points.

But you don't want to argue...
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
As noted, WCF 3.1 teaches that human freedom is not absolute, but is dependent upon divine sovereignty. This means there is no contradiction requiring resolution. It is impossible to assert human freedom apart from divine sovereignty.

As Beza put it in his Confession (1560):

4. God Is Immutable
God is immutable in His counsels (Mal. 3: 6; James 1: 17), so it follows that all which comes or happens to man has been eternally ordained by Him (Eph. 1: 11), according to what we have said of His providence. *
5. The Counsel of God Does Not Exclude Second Causes
This does not cancel but establishes second causes by which all things come to pass. For God, in ordaining what ought to come (2 Sam. 12: 11), ordains also the measures by which it pleases Him that such things should come to pass; yes in such a way that although there is found some vice or fault in the second cause, yet is there no evil in the everlasting counsel of God.​

James T. Dennison Jr.. Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation (Kindle Locations 19584-19589). Reformation Heritage Books.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
If Christ hypothetically died for all men, would it not also follow that Christ hypothetically intercedes for all men (since he intercedes for those for whom he has made atonement)? If so, John 17:9 needs to be rewritten, "I pray for them. I do [hypothetically] pray for the world [and] for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours."

Also, if one wishes to avoid hyper-Calvinism, it is perfectly possible to do so without being a hypothetical universalist. The fact that many orthodox Calvinists are neither hyper-Calvinists nor hypothetic universalists surely demonstrates that point. You could also avoid hyper-Calvinism by being an Arminian, but simply avoiding one form of aberrant theology is hardly a good excuse for embracing another form of aberrant theology.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If Christ hypothetically died for all men, would it not also follow that Christ hypothetically intercedes for all men (since he intercedes for those for whom he has made atonement)? If so, John 17:9 needs to be rewritten, "I pray for them. I do [hypothetically] pray for the world [and] for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours."

That is the problem with something hypothetical. You could say it about everything and have contributed nothing to one's understanding of reality. I read somewhere that Amyraut himself acknowledged that an hypothetical is in reality nothing.

Also, if one wishes to avoid hyper-Calvinism, it is perfectly possible to do so without being a hypothetical universalist.

I would go further and say that to avoid hyper-Calvinism one should reject hypothetical universalism. Why? Because (1) HU makes the free offer of the gospel dependent upon something that can only be known to God (an hypothetical condition which he alone has decreed to fulfil in certain cases). (2) HU requires the individual to have experience of faith and repentance before he can be certain that what is offered is real.

Particular redemption is true Calvinism because it sets forth an actual, real redemption of men as sinners, and the gospel offers this particular redemption to sinners as such. No person has to go up to heaven to discover God's secret decree to give faith and repentance to some. No person has to descend into the depths of their own experience to conclude they have been called. The gospel itself gives a full and free warrant to receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
If Christ hypothetically died for all men, would it not also follow that Christ hypothetically intercedes for all men (since he intercedes for those for whom he has made atonement)? If so, John 17:9 needs to be rewritten, "I pray for them. I do [hypothetically] pray for the world [and] for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours."

I'm not interested in debating the issue at hand, but I also don't want to reduce HU to a caricature representation.

No one advocates a "hypothetical death." Christ actually died. This is not what is hypothetical about HU. Davenant may be helpful in understanding the distinctions that HU makes his Dissertation on the Death of Christ:

Therefore the prayer which Christ specially and effectually put up for the elect, had its foundation in the oblation, in which he specially and effectually offered up himself for them. Observe the force of the argument; Whatever Christ obtains for individual persons by his special intercession, that he merited for them with the Father by the offering of himself which pertained to them especially: But by his intercession he obtains for the elect faith, perseverance, and salvation itself: Therefore he specially offered himself for them, that he might infallibly procure for them these benefits.

https://books.google.com/books?id=P...and effectually put up for the elect"&f=false

The hypothetical comes in concerning intercession this way:

Therefore we do not put asunder those things which God hath joined together; but we teach, that the death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ are joined together in indissoluble union, but in a different way. If we consider the whole human race, that is, each and every man, then we say, not only that the death, but the resurrection and intercession of Christ regards them, as to the possibility of their enjoying these benefits, the condition of faith being pre-supposed. If we consider the elect, we affirm that all these things regard them as to the infallibility of enjoying them, because of this condition of faith being destined for, and in time bestowed upon them. Although, therefore, in some special way, the death and resurrection of Christ, with the great treasure of his merits, may be restricted to the elect alone (of which we shall discourse afterwards), yet it is not to be denied that the death and merits of Christ, who took the one nature of all, and undertook the one cause of all, are of that kind, that they may be announced, offered, and by faith applied to every individual partaker of human nature. This Christ himself hath indicated in a manner sufficiently clear, in those words, John iii 17, 18, God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved; he that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Those, therefore, who never believe, nor will believe, would nevertheless have had life procurable through the death and merits of Christ, according to the ordination of God, if they had believed.

https://books.google.com/books?id=P...eath, resurrection, and intercession"&f=false

We shouldn't confound the helpless God of Arminianism with how God is represented in HU, for while HU promotes a hypothetical benefit for those who are passed over, it nevertheless gives substance to the free offer.

Also, if one wishes to avoid hyper-Calvinism, it is perfectly possible to do so without being a hypothetical universalist. The fact that many orthodox Calvinists are neither hyper-Calvinists nor hypothetic universalists surely demonstrates that point. You could also avoid hyper-Calvinism by being an Arminian, but simply avoiding one form of aberrant theology is hardly a good excuse for embracing another form of aberrant theology.

Agreed. Certainly strict particularism does not equal HC.

We should be careful not to bear false witness against even those positions with which were disagree.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Tim, I read your post earlier and have chosen not to respond until now. I am afraid that I fail to see any sense in the hypothetical universalist position. Nobody was disputing whether or not Christ actually died. To adopt hypothetical universalism as a basis for the free offer of the gospel seems to be basing the free offer on a hypothetical atonement that does not atone for the sins of those for whom it was hypothetically made. On this basis, the free offer is based on a lie. Christ never preached any such thing, and he was quite willing to tell people that he only lays down his life for the sheep and not for those who are not his sheep.
 

Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
Tim, I read your post earlier and have chosen not to respond until now. I am afraid that I fail to see any sense in the hypothetical universalist position. Nobody was disputing whether or not Christ actually died. To adopt hypothetical universalism as a basis for the free offer of the gospel seems to be basing the free offer on a hypothetical atonement that does not atone for the sins of those for whom it was hypothetically made. On this basis, the free offer is based on a lie. Christ never preached any such thing, and he was quite willing to tell people that he only lays down his life for the sheep and not for those who are not his sheep.
If I remember right, John Murray in his Redemption Accomplished and Applied makes the same argument: the particularist, non-hypothetical, atonement is the ground of the free offer of the gospel. We offer Christ crucified having made full satisfaction for sins for sinners. As Rev. Winzer has astutely remarked before, the gospel is offered to sinners as sinners.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Daniel,

Again, I did not respond to argue a position, only to demonstrate how a HU would respond to your comments. I'm still not sure if you're gasping what is hypothetical about the position. According to Davenant, Christ merited faith for the elect alone. This is not hypothetical but very actual. What is hypothetical regards the salvation rejected by the reprobate. Davenant argues that it is untrue to say to someone individually that "if you believe you will be saved" if Christ sacrifice had nothing to do with each person in any sense. In other words, HU believe that the reprobate actually reject salvation because it is actually offered on condition of faith. It is maintained that the condition cannot possibly be met unless Christ meets the condition. However, they maintain this distinction so that it is nevertheless true that if one would repent (even if God didn't decree it), they would be saved.

If you would like to understand it, why not go to a primary source and read Davenant's Dissertation? Again, regardless of anyone's disagreement with it, we should always try to represent it fairly so that we uphold the truth.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Tim, I understand that HUers argue that Christ only actually atoned for the sins of the elect. My point is that they also argue that he in some sense he hypothetically died for the non-elect, and that this position leads to absurdity as it makes no sense when weighed against the scriptures that clearly teach particularism. For what it's worth, my friend wrote a book on hypothetical universalism and John Preston.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
If I remember right, John Murray in his Redemption Accomplished and Applied makes the same argument: the particularist, non-hypothetical, atonement is the ground of the free offer of the gospel. We offer Christ crucified having made full satisfaction for sins for sinners. As Rev. Winzer has astutely remarked before, the gospel is offered to sinners as sinners.

Yes, and this distinction allows for the indiscriminate offer from a strict particularist perspective (which is a great thing!).

The HU would say that salvation is offered to sinners because it is applicable to all sinners, not because it was intended to be infallibly applied to all sinners. Davenant employs the words "reconcilable" and "salvable" with an absolute intention to save the elect alone.

(I've read most of Murray's book by the way. I really like much of it.)
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Tim, I understand that HUers argue that Christ only actually atoned for the sins of the elect. My point is that they also argue that he in some sense he hypothetically died for the non-elect, and that this position leads to absurdity as it makes no sense when weighed against the scriptures that clearly teach particularism. For what it's worth, my friend wrote a book on hypothetical universalism and John Preston.

And this is where the impass in terminology arises. The HU cannot understand why Christ's death is synonymous with Christ's intention to save the elect in the mind of the strict particularist. They would not say that He hypothetically died for the non-elect because Christ's death is not synonymous with His intention to save the elect. Salvation applied does not occur on the cross, but at the point of faith. John Murray makes this clear in his book mentioned above.

BTW, is your friend Moore?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Tim,

The problem with the "free offer" of the HU position is that it moves from ectypal theology to archetypal theology. It moves from the liberality of the offer being made on a historical basis to sinners to repent and believe that Christ died for sinners to the idea that God has some sort of "hypothetical ordination" that a person would be saved if they believe. Davenport is at least agreeing that the evangelical graces of repentance and faith are what Christ procures for the Elect but he then moves to posit that the only way in which ectypal theology can be true (namely, that Christ came into the word not to condemn but to save) is to posit something about God in Himself (archetypal). The only ground that Davenport (and you it seems) can accept that the offer can be free is to assume something about the hidden counsel of God - namely, that in a hypothetical decree God might have ordained that a person be given all the evangelical graces He ordained in Christ's atonement if a particular sinner believes the Gospel.

This is no basis for the creature to believe the intention of the offer of the Gospel. The Scriptures reveal to men, as creatures, to have creaturely confidence, the maximal possible confidence they can have, that Christ is offered for their salvation in the Gospel. They need not peer into hidden things and wonder about whether they have been hypothetically or really decreed to believe the Gospel. It is sufficient for them to hear and believe or reject the *historical* proclamation of the Gospel.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The gospel offer is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Holy Scripture teaches it in express terms. Nowhere in Scripture do we find a sinner addressed with the offer, "Christ died for you if you will believe on Him." Hypothetical universalism is an invention of the human brain. It is pure sentimentality. It begins with an anthropocentric view of God's love and works its way like leaven through the reformed soteriological system until it has taken away the assurance of faith which reformed soteriology ministers. It swallows up the bread of life in pure conjecture. Having no real basis in the saving work of Christ, it has to create artificial categories and speak of hypotheticals as if they were real.
 

Justified

Puritan Board Sophomore
Tim,

The problem with the "free offer" of the HU position is that it moves from ectypal theology to archetypal theology. It moves from the liberality of the offer being made on a historical basis to sinners to repent and believe that Christ died for sinners to the idea that God has some sort of "hypothetical ordination" that a person would be saved if they believe. Davenport is at least agreeing that the evangelical graces of repentance and faith are what Christ procures for the Elect but he then moves to posit that the only way in which ectypal theology can be true (namely, that Christ came into the word not to condemn but to save) is to posit something about God in Himself (archetypal). The only ground that Davenport (and you it seems) can accept that the offer can be free is to assume something about the hidden counsel of God - namely, that in a hypothetical decree God might have ordained that a person be given all the evangelical graces He ordained in Christ's atonement if a particular sinner believes the Gospel.

This is no basis for the creature to believe the intention of the offer of the Gospel. The Scriptures reveal to men, as creatures, to have creaturely confidence, the maximal possible confidence they can have, that Christ is offered for their salvation in the Gospel. They need not peer into hidden things and wonder about whether they have been hypothetically or really decreed to believe the Gospel. It is sufficient for them to hear and believe or reject the *historical* proclamation of the Gospel.
Well noted, Rich.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Rich,

I'm not sure if I understand your application concerning an ectypal/archetypal distinction in relation to this subject. Are you saying that the free offer has no basis in archetypal theology?

Also, I'm not satisfied with language like a hypothetical decree (Davenant at one place calls it a "conditional decree"). There is only one decree which is not based on any antecedent conditions. However, conditions have their place in second causes. If you're calling the doctrine of second causes ectypal, I'm not sure if this accounts properly for His revealed will. Unfortunately, that would get us into the territory of the sincere offer. Those conversations don't go so well on PB.

Matthew,

I agree that the biblical example is "repent and believe the gospel." There is not a biblical precedent for proclaiming "Christ is dead for you." I don't think what you and I would declare to the lost would sound any different. This conversation concerns the theology behind identical phraseology.

___________

BTW, I'm not sold on HU. I'm convinced that Christ died sufficiently for everyone as I subscribe to Dort, but I'm still studying the distinctions made by HU.

Thanks for continuing the conversation.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I agree that the biblical example is "repent and believe the gospel." There is not a biblical precedent for proclaiming "Christ is dead for you." I don't think what you and I would declare to the lost would sound any different. This conversation concerns the theology behind identical phraseology.

Tim, thankyou for the clarification. I am encouraged by your willingness to weigh things up.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm not sure if I understand your application concerning an ectypal/archetypal distinction in relation to this subject. Are you saying that the free offer has no basis in archetypal theology?

Also, I'm not satisfied with language like a hypothetical decree (Davenant at one place calls it a "conditional decree"). There is only one decree which is not based on any antecedent conditions. However, conditions have their place in second causes. If you're calling the doctrine of second causes ectypal, I'm not sure if this accounts properly for His revealed will. Unfortunately, that would get us into the territory of the sincere offer. Those conversations don't go so well on PB.

My problem is this from your quote:
Those, therefore, who never believe, nor will believe, would nevertheless have had life procurable through the death and merits of Christ, according to the ordination of God, if they had believed.
The idea is that there is a "hypothetical ordination" where, had the sinner believed, he would have been ordained to believe unto eternal life. Archetypal theology is God's knowledge in Himself. There is no hypothetical ordination, there is only what is ordained. Davenport is arguing that the basis that the sinner can ultimately know that the Atonement is sufficient is to know that, even if not ordained unto eternal life, if he *could* believe then in some possible world the Atonement is sufficient to save if he had been given the evangelical graces that Christ procured for him in another possible world where the Father decrees to give him to the Son.

Proper theology must avoid speculation about the hidden counsel of God and that includes speculating about how God might have ordained other worlds as the basis for the sufficiency of the Atonement. There is no room for the creature to base his assurance of God's willingness to save based upon the sufficiency of the Atonement in possible worlds.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Rich,

Have you read Davenant's book? I don't believe he ever talks about things being ordained hypothetically. He makes a distinction between "mere sufficiency" and "ordained sufficiency." I'm not sure if you are properly understanding Davenant's usage of "ordained."

(As an aside, we are talking about the Reformed theologian Davenant, not the Catholic theologian Davenport, right?)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I don't believe he ever talks about things being ordained hypothetically.

He falls back on a "conditional decree." This is another problem with the different varieties of hypothetical universalism. Because the death of Christ draws its virtue from God's decree (as Christ came to do the will of the Father), it has to fall back on the decrees in order to substantiate the hypothetical reference. This is the more significant when it is kept in mind that the French Synods, reflecting on the charges against Amyraut and Testard, gave direction that teachers abstain from speaking of conditional decrees.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
I don't believe he ever talks about things being ordained hypothetically.

He falls back on a "conditional decree." This is another problem with the different varieties of hypothetical universalism. Because the death of Christ draws its virtue from God's decree (as Christ came to do the will of the Father), it has to fall back on the decrees in order to substantiate the hypothetical reference. This is the more significant when it is kept in mind that the French Synods, reflecting on the charges against Amyraut and Testard, gave direction that teachers abstain from speaking of conditional decrees.

Yes, I agree that a "conditional decree" is highly problematic. I believe (but could be mistaken) that the French synod to which you refer specifically rejected the Amyraldian scheme which promoted a failed decree of God to save all men prior to the decree to elect a part of them. Regardless, any kind of conditional decree is problematic because the decree of God has no antecedent conditions, and scripture always represents the decree as one and eternal based on the unchanging God.

Below is a quote from Charles Hodge's ST. I'll break up the quote for some observations, but it is not cut-and-pasted from all over, but continuous from 3.8.2:

Admitting the satisfaction of Christ to be in itself of infinite value, how can it avail for the non-elect if it was not designed for them? It does not avail for the fallen angels, because it was not intended for them; how then can it avail for the non-elect, if not designed for them?

Davenant had a significant portion dedicated to this subject.

How can a ransom, whatever its intrinsic value, benefit those for whom it was not paid? In this form the objection is far more specious. It is, however, fallacious. It overlooks the peculiar nature of the case. It ignores the fact that all mankind were placed under the same constitution or covenant. What was demanded for the salvation of one was demanded for the salvation of all. Every man is required to satisfy the demands of the law. No man is required to do either more or less. If those demands are satisfied by a representative or substitute, his work is equally available for all. The secret purpose of God in providing such a substitute for man, has nothing to do with the nature of his work, or with its appropriateness. The righteousness of Christ being of infinite value or merit, and being in its nature precisely what all men need, may be offered to all men.

Hodge takes the position of what Davenant calls "ordained sufficiency" instead of what he calls "mere sufficiency," which is what Owen promoted.

It is thus offered to the elect and to the non-elect; and it is offered to both classes conditionally. That condition is a cordial acceptance of it as the only ground of justification.

According to Hodge, the same condition is required for the elect and non-elect. Hodge states earlier the certainty that the elect would meet this condition when he said: "The effect of a ransom and sacrifice may indeed be conditional, but the occurrence of the condition will be rendered certain before the costly sacrifice is offered."

If any of the elect (being adults) fail thus to accept of it, they perish. If any of the non-elect should believe, they would be saved.

Of course, none of the non-elect will (or could) exercise faith and none of the elect can fail to exercise faith. It seems that if we are measuring only by God's decree (which Hodge warns against), there could be no truth to Hodge's assertion, but, it would seem, according to hypothetical necessity, the statement is true and does not necessitate a "conditional decree."

It seems to me that this mode of representation is consistent with 2 Thes. 2:10, among many other passages.

I know that speaking of "conditions" for salvation has been debated recently, but certainly the Reformed do not all represent this issue identically. I quoted Hodge since he represents one who makes the sufficient-efficient distinction, promotes hypothetical necessity in relation to the Atonement and was a Westminster Presbyterian.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Yes, I agree that a "conditional decree" is highly problematic. I believe (but could be mistaken) that the French synod to which you refer specifically rejected the Amyraldian scheme which promoted a failed decree of God to save all men prior to the decree to elect a part of them.

According to Quick's Synodicon the decision of the Synod does not make mention of post-redemptionism or the order of the decrees, but only prohibits teaching conditional decrees, that is, a conditional will "in" God which denies conditionality is an anthropopathism. Amyraut explained that he meant it anthropopathically and that he was really only exploring the issue from the human side (an admission of the speculative nature of his scheme). I gather that he received the right hand of fellowship because the Synod accepted this explanation and understood that he would no longer speak of conditional decrees.

Davenant had a significant portion dedicated to this subject.

Davenant's presentation simply repeats what all the Reformed taught on intrinsic sufficiency, but tries to demonstrate a problem with limiting it to the absolute decree. We find him falling back on a conditional design to support the idea that the sufficiency has some kind of conditional intention for all men.

Hodge takes the position of what Davenant calls "ordained sufficiency" instead of what he calls "mere sufficiency," which is what Owen promoted.

From where do you derive this idea? Owen has a significant passage on sufficiency in Death of Death (book 4, section 1), and he appears to me to grant to this sufficiency everything which Hodge would later maintain.

As noted by J. I. Packer in the introductory essay, "we should observe that the old gospel of Owen contains no less full and free an offer of salvation than its modern counterpart. It presents ample grounds of faith (the sufficiency of Christ, and the promise of God), and cogent motives to faith (the sinner’s need, and the Creator’s command, which is also the Redeemer’s invitation)."

Of course, none of the non-elect will (or could) exercise faith and none of the elect can fail to exercise faith.

The "could" part of this statement sounds necessarian and diametrically opposed to the very idea of an offer. As far as the gospel offer is concerned all men "could" exercise faith as a point of natural capability and responsibility. It is because they "will not" exercise faith as a result and manifestation of their own natural depravity that they are entirely inexcusable. As noted previously, I think it creates confusion to bring election and reprobation into the gospel offer.

I know that speaking of "conditions" for salvation has been debated recently, but certainly the Reformed do not all represent this issue identically.

There are nuances to the idea of "conditions," and it is possible that readers misunderstand some of these nuances; but there is a boundary of "irresistible grace," which should restrict discussion and ensure that "conditions" are identified as revealed "connections" in the divine purpose of bestowing salvation.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you, Matthew, for your thoughtful response.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do see a nuanced difference between the scholastic sufficient-efficient and Owen's. I've quoted Davenant and Owen below with the distinctions underlined.

The death of Christ is the universal cause of the salvation of mankind, and Christ himself is acknowledged to have died for all men sufficiently, not by reason of the mere sufficiency or of the intrinsic value, according to which the death of God is a price more than sufficient for redeeming a thousand worlds; but by reason of the Evangelical covenant confirmed with the whole human race through the merit of this death, and of the Divine ordination depending upon it, according to which, under the possible condition of faith, remission of sins and eternal life is decreed to be set before every mortal man who will believe it, on account of the merits of Christ. (Dissertation, 401-402)

It was, then, the purpose and intention of God that his Son should offer a sacrifice of infinite worth, value, and dignity, sufficient in itself for the redeeming of all and every man, if it had pleased the Lord to employ it to that purpose; yea, and of other worlds also, if the Lord should freely make them, and would redeem them. Sufficient we say, then, was the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of the whole world, and for the expiation of all the sins of all and every man in the world. (Owen, Death of Death)

It seems that there is a nuanced distinction with Owen that's different from scholastic literature.

1. Scholastic distinction allows for the phrase "Christ died sufficiently for all."

2. Owen could only say that the price paid was sufficient for all, not that Christ died sufficiently for all.

Certainly Owen does not reject the free offer. But it would seem that the scholastic distinction of sufficient for all is used by Hodge and others as the basis of the free offer, the condition of faith being equal for every individual to whom it is offered regardless if salvation was procured for them by God's design.

Davenant makes an interesting observation regarding God's absolute decree and the intention of Christ's sacrifice:

For we do not contend that God by his absolute will (which not only predetermines the ordination of means to an end, but also the infallible production of the end) intended actually to procure the salvation of each and every man through the death of Christ; but that he appointed, willed, and ordained that the death of his Son should be, and should be esteemed, a ransom of such a kind that it might be offered and applied to all men individually. (391)

He stops short of saying that God absolutely willed the salvation of all, but rather that He absolutely willed that the sacrifice would be applicable to all so that it could be offered to all.

Davenant further defines this in relation to sufficiency:

Now to this mere sufficiency, which regards nothing else than the equal or superabundant worth of the appointed price of redemption, I oppose another, which, for the sake of perspicuity, I shall call ordained sufficiency. This is understood when the thing which has respect to the ransom, or redemption price, is not only equivalent to, or superior in value to the thing redeemed, but also is ordained for its redemption by some wish to offer or actual offering. (403)

Even though I disagree with Davenant's occasional usage of "conditional decree," he makes an interesting observation concerning the (absolute) decree/design of the Atonement and the free offer. This seems consistent with Hodge's application (although admittedly both Hodge and Davenant would promote a sincere offer from God).

Thanks again for your willingness to discuss. I really do appreciate it (and I really don't want to come across as being argumentative). I'm enjoying the conversation and learning a lot.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do see a nuanced difference between the scholastic sufficient-efficient and Owen's.

Owen's view allows everything quoted from Hodge, which leads me to conclude there is no solid basis for alleging Hodge maintained something different. As for the scholastics or Davenant, they had their own modes of reasoning.

What does Davenant's idea of conditional ordination amount to? Conditional sufficiency. That is not conducive to faith. Owen taught absolute sufficiency as a certain ground of faith. That appears to me to be a stronger basis for the gospel offer than God ordaining something on the condition that men perform their part.

Hodge's comment is quite pertinent. The same thing is offered to all men on the same conditions. There is not one gospel for the elect and another for the non-elect. We should be holding out the sufficiency of Christ to all men indefinitely, not the sufficiency of Christ to some men conditionally and to others unconditionally.
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
Matthew Winzer wrote: That is the problem with something hypothetical. You could say it about everything and have contributed nothing to one's understanding of reality. That is exactly the point; "hypotheticals" are fun when discussing sports, politics etc. But I've discovered, as a pastor, that all too often a "hypothetical" in theology, dogma and doctrine can easily fall prey to bold and curious searching into his secrets which LC 105 makes clear is forbidden.
 
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