Calvin on John 3:16

Status
Not open for further replies.

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
Given all this business that the love of John 3:16 must be the highest form of love (see Turretin and AA Hodge), which apart from being a bare assertion in an attempt to posit a deductivist argument for reading Kosmos there as elect, Calvin, on the other hand, says its the lower form of love, which is general. He notes this in another place, calling it a mere pity to the world at large. And in his commentary on the verse he is explicit too.

But this is something I found in his Sermons on Deuteronomy.

It is true that Saint John says generally, that he loved the world. And why? For Jesus Christ offers himself generally to all men without exception to be their redeemer. It is said afterward in the covenant, that God loved the world when he sent his only son: but he loved us, us (I say) which have been taught by his Gospel, because he gathered us to him. And the faithful that are enlightened by the holy Ghost, have yet a third use of God's love, in that he reveals himself more familiarly to them, and seals up his fatherly adoption by his holy Spirit, and engraves it upon their hearts. Now then, let us in all cases learn to know this love of God, & when we be once come to it, let us go no further.

Thus we see three degrees of the love of God as shown us in our Lord Jesus Christ. The first is in respect of the redemption that was purchased in the person of him that gave himself to death for us, and became accursed to reconcile us to God his father. That is the first degree of love, which extends to all men, inasmuch as Jesus Christ reaches out his arms to call and allure all men both great and small, and to win them to him. But there is a special love for those to whom the gospel is preached: which is that God testifies unto them that he will make them partakers of that benefit that was purchased for them by the death and passion of his son.

And for as much as we be of that number, therefore are we are double bound already to our God: here are two bonds which hold us as it were straightened unto him. Now let us come to the third bond, which depends upon the third love that God shows us: which is, that he not only causes the gospel to be preached unto us, but also makes us to feel the power thereof, not doubting but that our sins are forgiven us for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake... Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon, 28, 4:36-27, p., 167..

Calvin's Sermons on Deuteronomy are considered as reflective of some of his most mature expressions by Calvin scholars.

Anyway, I just thought I would post that for interest's sake. Calvin is always very liberating to read. He cuts through most extra-biblical impositions upon the text.

Take care,
David
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
I think you could read the "world" in John 3:16 in a general sense, or as John commentating on something of God, yet in a temporal, human sense. In that sense, God did love the "world" in general, by sending Jesus Christ to redeem "whoever believes" by His blood and merit. Yet, in the context of John 3 as a whole (and the gospel of John as a whole), I think the argument is still very strong that the Greek word kosmos is far too general and flexible to mean "every single person on earth" in almost any case, much less in this verse.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Hands down, I think A.W. Pink offered the most articulate and reflective exegesis of kosmos, which admittedly has several connotations.

[Edited on 2-16-2006 by Puritanhead]
 

Bryan

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't see any issue with world in John 3:16. Does it say that Christ was sent to save the whole world? No, it says for whosoever will believe in Him. Who those are that believe in Him cannot be determined using that verse alone...if you try to determine who the people are using that verse you end up with universalism.

When I have talked with people who use John3:16 as a text against Calvinistis I'm embarassed for them.


Bryan
SDG
 

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Bryan
I don't see any issue with world in John 3:16. Does it say that Christ was sent to save the whole world? No, it says for whosoever will believe in Him. Who those are that believe in Him cannot be determined using that verse alone...if you try to determine who the people are using that verse you end up with universalism.
When I have talked with people who use John3:16 as a text against Calvinistis I'm embarassed for them. Bryan SDG


Just curious, and I am actually not interested in what other folk think the verse means. Once again, my original post was to point out that the father of Calvinism didnt imagine that the love of 3:16 was this highest love thing. And so, out of bare curiosity, to your claim here, j3:17 says what exactly?

David
 

Bryan

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say that the love in John 3:16 is different then the love God has for the saints. He loves the world but doesn't save it, He loves the saints but saves them. It seems that it must be a different type of love.

Bryan
SDG
 

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Bryan
I would say that the love in John 3:16 is different then the love God has for the saints. He loves the world but doesn't save it, He loves the saints but saves them. It seems that it must be a different type of love. Bryan SDG

G'day there,

I actually dont see an answer to my little question here.


Recall that you had said this:

"Does it say that Christ was sent to save the whole world? No, it says for whosoever will believe in Him. Who those are that believe in Him cannot be determined using that verse alone...if you try to determine who the people are using that verse you end up with universalism.
When I have talked with people who use John3:16 as a text against Calvinistis I'm embarassed for them."

Me now: 3:17 explains the purpose of the gift of Christ to the world. And I might suggest you are misreading the force of the English and Greek subjunctive there *might* be saved, or "should" be saved. There is no reason at all to import any universalist-like conclusions into the force of the subjunctive.

So right? It does say in the next verse that Christ was sent to save the world?

Take care,
David
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Flynn
Given all this business that the love of John 3:16 must be the highest form of love (see Turretin and AA Hodge), which apart from being a bare assertion in an attempt to posit a deductivist argument for reading Kosmos there as elect, Calvin, on the other hand, says its the lower form of love, which is general. He notes this in another place, calling it a mere pity to the world at large. And in his commentary on the verse he is explicit too.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I am new to Greek. Is the English word "loved" in John 3:16 *agape* in the Greek? I have heard it said when arguing against Calvinists that "agape" is the highest form of love which, according to them, would mean God just doesn't love the elect, etc, etc.
 

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
G'day there,

You ask:

I am new to Greek. Is the English word "loved" in John 3:16 *agape* in the Greek? I have heard it said when arguing against Calvinists that "agape" is the highest form of love which, according to them, would mean God just doesn't love the elect, etc, etc.

Me now:
It is agape. The word itself does not denote the "highest form of love" thats a big misreading and common misunderstanding. Lewis' work on the four loves really has confused a lot of folk.

I dont understand exactly the last clause in your comment: "...would mean God just doesn't love the elect, etc, etc."

For example, Turretin, who used this highest love argument in his limitation of the johannine kosmos of 3:16, also believed that God does love all men with a non-electing love. Its mostly modern hypercalvinists (19th and 20thC) who have historically denied whats called a general love of God to mankind. Not even Gill went that far, though his friend and disciple John Brine comes oh so close that its painful to read him (reading Gill is painful enough).

The idea that the love of 3:16 is the highest form of love is a theological claim, not a lexical one. Its also a little self-defeating, if its taken absolutely: for the intra-trinitarian love of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, must surely be the highest form of love.

Bye,
David
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
So right? It does say in the next verse that Christ was sent to save the world?

I think it important for the uninitiated to realize that David here believes that Jesus Christ died to atoned for the sins of every man who has ever lived and God predestines no man to perdition on account of their sins, but rather desires all men to receive the benefits of Christ´s cross work which, in his mind, was made for the reprobate just as much as it was for the elect. Incoherent? Completely, but David has spent years scouring the works of Calvin and others to find a bevy of isolated citations that appear at first glance to support his universalism which he pretends is historic Calvinism.

In response to David, I would offer the following from Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 24 where Calvin gives a fuller explanation of God´s intentions in the universal proclamation of the gospel in light of 2 Peter 3:9, which is considerably different than David´s universalistic presumptions:

But, you will say, if this is so, there will be little faith in the gospel promises, which, in testifying to the will of God, assert that he wills what is contrary to his inviolable decree. Not at all. For however universal the promises of salvation may be, they are still in no respect inconsistent with the predestination of the reprobate, provided we pay attention to their effect. When we receive the promises in faith, we know that then and only then do they become effective in us. On the contrary, when faith is snuffed out, the promise is abolished at the same time. If this is their nature, let us see whether they disagree with one another. God is said to have ordained from eternity those whom he wills to embrace in love, and those upon whom he wills to vent his wrath. Yet he announces salvation to all men indiscriminately. I maintain that these statements agree perfectly with each other. For by so promising he merely means that his mercy is extended to all, provided they seek after it and implore it. But only those whom he has illumined do this. And he illumines those whom he has predestined to salvation. These latter possess the sure and unbroken truth of the promises, so that one cannot speak of any disagreement between God´s eternal election and the testimony of his grace that he offers to believers.

But why does he say "œall"? It is that the consciences of the godly may rest more secure, when they understand there is no difference among sinners provided faith be present. On the other hand, the wicked cannot claim they lack a sanctuary to which they may hide themselves from the bondage of sin, inasmuch as they, out of their own ungratefulness, reject it when offered. Therefore, since God´s mercy is offered to both sorts of men through the gospel, it is faith"”the illumination of God"”that distinguishes between pious and impious, so that the former feel the working of the gospel, while the latter derive no profit from it. Illumination itself also has God´s eternal election as its rule.


"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 tells us that God's love extends beyond the narrow confines of the nation of Israel and to all those He predestined to faith from every nation and throughout the world. John 3:16 is but a restatment of God's covenant with Abraham; "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

For what it's worth I first tangled with David back in 1999 and to engage him is to :deadhorse:
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Magma2
I think it important for the uninitiated to realize that David here believes that Jesus Christ died to atoned for the sins of every man who has ever lived and God predestines no man to perdition on account of their sins, but rather desires all men to receive the benefits of Christ´s cross work which, in his mind, was made for the reprobate just as much as it was for the elect. Incoherent? Completely, but David has spent years scouring the works of Calvin and others to find a bevy of isolated citations that appear at first glance to support his universalism which he pretends is historic Calvinism.

I had a feeling along these lines. Question: you mention "his universalism," do you mean universalism as in ALL will be saved?

:ditto: on your Calvin citation.

For what it's worth I first tangled with David back in 1999 and to engage him is to :deadhorse:

Thanks.
 

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
I am flattered:

You say:
I think it important for the uninitiated to realize that David here believes that Jesus Christ died to atoned for the sins of every man who has ever lived and God predestines no man to perdition on account of their sins, but rather desires all men to receive the benefits of Christ´s cross work which, in his mind, was made for the reprobate just as much as it was for the elect. end



There are some interesting ideas here.

1)
Grab any standard work, Turretin, a' Brakel, Zanchi, Heppe, Polanus, etc etc, and you will see that reprobation has two parts, preterition and predamnation. Preterition is the unconditional act of passing by some, of not extending saving grace. Predamnation is the idea that God decrees to punish those passed by, in hell, on account of their sins. Predamnation is not an absolute unconditoinal act, but the act of God as legislator and judge. It was only Herman Hoeksema in the 1920s who argued for unconditional predamnation, in his advocacy of a symmetrical and equal ultimate election-reprobation. Even Gomarus stepped back from positing an unconditional predamnation. So, yes, no orthodox has said that the basis of God predestinating men to perdition is apart from or irrespective of a man's sins. Like I said, read Zanchi, a Brakel, Turretin, etc etc etc.

Even Calvin says that man is the proximate cause of his own damnation, etc etc.

2) The idea that Christ atoned for the sins of the world, to speak that way, I got directly from Shedd, as I have cited. So the problem is?

Sean' s closing comment is a slight misrepresentation <hyperbole>.

But Sean, when and where have we ever engaged in a sustained dialogue? I dont mean a few scattered anathema-engendering emails from you, but a reasoned dialogue? I am curious.

But what is more, I invite you here and now to have a conversation with me regarding Shedd and Dabney.

take care,
David

[Edited on 2-16-2006 by Flynn]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
But Sean, when and where have we ever engaged in a sustained dialogue? I dont mean a few scattered anathema-engendering emails from you, but a reasoned dialogue? I am curious.

Your doctrine, or, better, your hobby, is certainly anathema-engendering, but what I had in mind was about a three or four month period back in 1999. I saved either all or most of your emails. I'll try to find the one where you use the analogy of a house fire where Jesus is pictured helpless outside screaming and pleading for those within to heed his cries and come out before they perish. That was a good one :)

But what is more, I invite you here and now to have a conversation with me regarding Shedd and Dabney.


:lol: :deadhorse:
 

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
You say:
Your doctrine, or, better, your hobby, is certainly anathema-engendering, but what I had in mind was about a three or four month period back in 1999. I saved either all or most of your emails. I'll try to find the one where you use the analogy of a house fire where Jesus is pictured helpless outside screaming and pleading for those within to heed his cries and come out before they perish. That was a good one :)
end

Ah I see now. Does that officially qualify as stalking, Sean? You are stalking me? Here, my little list, elsewhere?

If the year is right, the topic there would have been the free offer and common grace. And that would mean that you didnt believe in either. I am guessing you were associated with Winnen Russ? Are you nowwith the 'Outside the Campers' too? Just wondering.

I invited:
But what is more, I invite you here and now to have a conversation with me regarding Shedd and Dabney.

You reply-comment sarcastically with iconography:

"lol deadhorse"

Well in the spirit of trying to be adult about this:
the invite is well-meant (at least on my terms, impossible on yours;-), when you want to seriously engage Dabney or Shedd, let me know.

To any interested, next week Ill start posting from C Hodge. Hodge is not as explicit as were Shedd or Dabney. He is far far more implicit. But in what he does say, he explains how it is that one could advocate an unlimited imputation and expiation. I wont labour C Hodge too much, just enough to help understand where Dabney and Shedd were coming from.

Take care,
David
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Flynn
You say:
Your doctrine, or, better, your hobby, is certainly anathema-engendering, but what I had in mind was about a three or four month period back in 1999. I saved either all or most of your emails. I'll try to find the one where you use the analogy of a house fire where Jesus is pictured helpless outside screaming and pleading for those within to heed his cries and come out before they perish. That was a good one :)
end

Ah I see now. Does that officially qualify as stalking, Sean? You are stalking me? Here, my little list, elsewhere?

If the year is right, the topic there would have been the free offer and common grace. And that would mean that you didnt believe in either. I am guessing you were associated with Winnen Russ? Are you nowwith the 'Outside the Campers' too? Just wondering.

I invited:
But what is more, I invite you here and now to have a conversation with me regarding Shedd and Dabney.

You reply-comment sarcastically with iconography:

"lol deadhorse"

Well in the spirit of trying to be adult about this:
the invite is well-meant (at least on my terms, impossible on yours;-), when you want to seriously engage Dabney or Shedd, let me know.

To any interested, next week Ill start posting from C Hodge. Hodge is not as explicit as were Shedd or Dabney. He is far far more implicit. But in what he does say, he explains how it is that one could advocate an unlimited imputation and expiation. I wont labour C Hodge too much, just enough to help understand where Dabney and Shedd were coming from.

Take care,
David

Dear David,


Jerrold Lewis here. You stayed with me in Vancouver a few years back when you had some visa problems in the USA.
Nice to "see" you again.

I remember you mentioning some research material regarding Calvin that you were interested in sending me. I'd still like to see that if you have the time.

Every blessing brother.

Jerrold

Pastor- APC
Vancouver
www.apcvan.com
www.freewebs.com/knowhim
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
On the basis of Magma2's constant acrid insinuations and his use of hateful and inflammatory rhetoric in virtually every thread in which he has posted... I think EVERYONE should be biased against his words and automatically biased towards those with whom he disagrees...

Seriously. Sean is the kind of "Christian" who would make someone in the world want to be a New Ager (or something).
:2cents:

[Edited on 2-17-2006 by SolaScriptura]
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Speaking of Calvin's thoughts on John 3:16, I found this to be most freeing. He writes:

Christ opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish...

What I found helpful about Calvin's words is that he felt no apprehension about the plain meaning of the words and therefore felt to need to qualify his words saying "God loves only the elect in the word" or some other statement. If Calvin can say "The Fathe rloves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish," without the need to qualify his statement to avoid the appearance of semi-Pelagianism, then so can we. How freeing!

Then he writes:
It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.

What balance! What a helpful understanding of the use of "whosoever!"

[Edited on 2-17-2006 by SolaScriptura]
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Some Calvinist writers who believe John 3:16 is to the elect world: Augustine, Francis Turretin, Martin Bucer, John Flavel, Augustus Toplady, Jerome Zanchius, Robert Haldane, John Knox, Martin Luther, Christopher Love, Jonathan Edwards, John Gerstner, John Owen, Lorraine Boettner, John Newton, John Bunyan, William Whittaker, Thomas Doolittle, Samuel Annesley, Samuel Rutherford, Geroge Gillespie, Alexender Hamilton, Edward Reynolds, (note that the Westminster Assembly voted in favor of Gillespie's exegesis on this as "the elect"), Thomas Vincent.

Some Calvinists who do not believe John 3:16 as special love to the elect: Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon, John Murray, Ezekiel Hopkins, J.C. Ryle, R.L. Dabney, John Calvin.

Calvin said concerning John 3:16, "œChrist opens up the first cause, and, as it were, the source of our salvation, and he does so, that no doubt may remain; for our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Savior. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish." (John Calvin, Calvin´s Commentaries, vol. 17, Harmony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John 1-11 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 122-123.)

"œIt is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term world, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life." (Ibid., 124- 125.)
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
"œThe key to this passage lies, therefore,"¦, in the significance of the term "˜world.´ It is not here a term of extension so much as a term of intensity. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when He gave His son for it. The whole debate as to whether the love here celebrated distributes itself to each and every man that enters into the composition of the world, or terminates on the elect alone chosen out of the world, lies thus outside the immediate scope of the passage and does not supply any key to is interpretation. The passage was not intended to teach, and certainly does not teach, that God loves all men alike and visits each and every one alike with the same manifestations of His love: and little was it intended to teach or does it teach that His love is confined to a few especially chosen individuals selected out of the world. What it is intended to do is to arouse in our hearts a wondering sense of the marvel and the mystery of the love of God for the sinful world"”conceived, here, not quantitatively but qualitatively as, in its very distinguishing characteristic, sinful. And search the universe through and through"”in all its recesses and through all its historical development"”and you will find no marvel so great, no mystery so unfathomable, as this, that the great and good God, whose perfect righteousness flames in indignation at the sight of every iniquity and whose absolute holiness recoils in abhorrence in the presence of every impurity, yet loves this sinful world,--yes, has so loved it that He has given His only begotten Son to die for it. It is this marvel and this mystery that our text would fain carry home to our hearts, and we would be wise if we would permit them to be absorbed in its contemplation"

Warfield, B. B. Biblical and Theological Studies. (Philadelphia: P&R, 1968), pp. 516-517.
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was reading IX.5 "œChrist the propitiation for the whole world" in Calvin's Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God this evening, and while I certainly commend Calvin´s entire argument as further response to some of the selected twisting and forced interpretations of some of Calvin´s writings by some on this thread, I came across the following from James Swan at http://www.aomin.org/TertiumQuid.html. Swan´s immediate focus was the sloppy scholarship and handling of Calvin by Norman Geisler, but I think there are more immediately relevant applications here which, frankly, cannot be chalked up to just sloppy scholarship.


The section from The Eternal Predestination of God is worth quoting at length. Calvin is responding to Georgius (a universalist) on unlimited atonement:

"œGeorgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world. For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficaciously only for the elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me. Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ's death. But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3.15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God's children who will be a partaker of Christ. The evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ as nothing else than by His death to gather the children of God into one (Jn 11.52). Hence, we conclude that, though reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul's testimony (II Cor 5.18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual. As for his talk about no respect of persons, let him learn first what the term person means, and then we shall have no more trouble in the matter.[4]"

If in fact Geisler got this quote from Kendall´s footnote, it should be immediately pointed out that Kendall has taken the quote out of context. Frederick Leahy explains,

"œ"¦those who appeal to Calvin's remarks on the "all" and "world" passages have been less than fair to him, at times, quoting selectively and even out of context. Such manipulation results in distortion. Thus Kendall quotes, out of context, from "Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God," it is "incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world." In context Calvin's intent becomes clear. He is discussing 1 John 2:2:

"œWherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ's death. But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn. 3:15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed."

When Calvin's statement, in italics above, is wrested from its context, it can convey a meaning opposite to the Reformer's intention."


:book2:

[Edited on 2-18-2006 by Magma2]
 

Skeuos Eleos

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Magma2
I was reading IX.5 "œChrist the propitiation for the whole world" in Calvin's Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God this evening, and while I certainly commend Calvin´s entire argument as further response to some of the selected twisting and forced interpretations of some of Calvin´s writings by some on this thread, I came across the following from James Swan at http://www.aomin.org/TertiumQuid.html. Swan´s immediate focus was the sloppy scholarship and handling of Calvin by Norman Geisler, but I think there are more immediately relevant applications here which, frankly, cannot be chalked up to just sloppy scholarship.

...

When Calvin's statement, in italics above, is wrested from its context, it can convey a meaning opposite to the Reformer's intention."
Then please can you explain what Calvin meant by "It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world", what the claimed contextual clues are to this explanation and how they modify the prima facie reading. Then, in order to ameliorate your beligerence towards "some on this thread" I think you will need to back it up with ample evidence of how your explanation comports with the rest of John Calvin's teaching.

In honour of the memory of John Calvin,
Martin
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Then please can you explain what Calvin meant by "It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world", what the claimed contextual clues are to this explanation and how they modify the prima facie reading.

For my purposes, it´s enough that the above citations demonstrate that Calvin cannot be mustered as support for Amyraldianism, or its more logically coherent big brother Arminianism. I think someone should write a piece; Amyraldianism; the Road to Arminianism on the way to Rome ;)

As for "œcontextual clues" I´m not going to try and persuade you of your error since it should be obvious from the above. But to help you along your way and for those who might be, in Calvin´s words, "œenticed by trivialities," Calvin calls the idea that Christ´s atonement is sufficient for all, but efficacious only for the elect a "œgreat absurdity" which Georgius musters for the benefit of his fellow monks. Then after further discussion which "œthis monster" brings in support of his doctrine of universal atonement, Calvin further ridicules Georgius; "œThis fine monk, generous to the stranger as he is, brings all together, and makes members of the household those to whom God closes and bars the gate." Later, when addressing Rom 5:12ff Calvin says; "œIf Paul were there maintaining that the grace of Christ extended to all, I should in silence own myself vanquished." If Calvin believe that the grace of Christ´s cross work extends to all, why would he considered himself "œvanquished" if he were to concede this point? Of course he concedes nothing and says "œPaul interposes his hand. For he explicitly testifies that he speaks of members of Christ only." Again and again Calvin´s argument remains the same; the death of Christ expiates the sins of the whole world, the world of believers.

Rom 1:16; "œFor I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Frankly I'm more than willing to let others hash out the finer points of this thread, but this statement does not appear to me to follow from Calvin's quotation:
Originally posted by Magma2
Calvin calls the idea that Christ´s atonement is sufficient for all, but efficacious only for the elect a "œgreat absurdity" which Georgius musters for the benefit of his fellow monks.
Here is the quote again at length:
"œGeorgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world. For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficaciously only for the elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me. Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ's death. But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3.15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God's children who will be a partaker of Christ.
The dispute (at this narrow point in this thread) is upon the first few sentences of the paragraph. The first sentence is Calvin quoting Georgius. The second sentence is either a statement of fact, namely that the ordinary answer to the universalist--the "common solution" as Calvin terms it, the simple appeal to the sufficient/efficient distinction--has been circumvented by Georgius' sophistry; or it is a continuation of Georgius' assertions, namely that he does not think the "common solution" can stand against his clever argument. But Calvin is unpreturbed, and still calls Georgius' argument "a great absurdity," one that carries "no weight" with Calvin. And in the following sentences he undermines Georgius' supposed "acute" argument.

Calvin does not call the "common solution", the sufficient/efficient distinction an "absurdity" at all. Otherwise clearly he would be contradicting himself in a few words later when he writes,
It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3.15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God's children who will be a partaker of Christ.
Now clearly an appeal to this distinction does not make Calvin a proto-Amyrauldian. And it will not do to suggest that all advocates of such a distinction are Amyrauldians.

Calvin clearly guards against Georgius' unversalistic reasoning not by arguing that the world's sins have not been expiated, for he evidently affirms that they have (and clearly Calvin means something by "expiation" other than that personal forgiveness has been made for the individual sins of each member of the human race).

Rather he argues against Georgius by appealing to the Scripture that only promises the benefits of that expiation to believers; further by an appeal to Christ's sovereignty (not the greatness of the power of his sacrifice or it's inherent efficacy, but to whomhe gives himself); and still further by appeals to election and effectual calling.

At no point does Calvin surrender any ground to Georgius, nor grant him his exegesis of the text, nor abolish the sufficient/efficient distinction, nor turn himself into a proto-Amyrauldian, nor compromise the free offer of the gospel. Calvin simply shows that Georgius' is a poor exegete (much like the Hunts and Geislers of today), picking up on a prooftext here or there, and ignoring the systematic balance that real exegesis demands.

[Edited on 2-23-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Frankly I'm more than willing to let others hash out the finer points of this thread, but this statement does not appear to me to follow from Calvin's quotation:
Originally posted by Magma2
Calvin calls the idea that Christ´s atonement is sufficient for all, but efficacious only for the elect a "œgreat absurdity" which Georgius musters for the benefit of his fellow monks.

Here is the quote again at length:
Quote:
"œGeorgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world. For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficaciously only for the elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me. Wherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ's death.

Hi Bruce. Then how would you paraphrase the above? Calvin says the common solution that Christ suffered sufficiently for all but efficaciously only for the elect does not avail. Then he says "œby this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me." What´s the "œgreat absurdity" if not the common solution which he says does not avail?

The dispute (at this narrow point in this thread) is upon the first few sentences of the paragraph. The first sentence is Calvin quoting Georgius. The second sentence is either a statement of fact, namely that the ordinary answer to the universalist--the "common solution" as Calvin terms it, the simple appeal to the sufficient/efficient distinction--has been circumvented by Georgius' sophistry; or it is a continuation of Georgius' assertions, namely that he does not think the "common solution" can stand against his clever argument. But Calvin is unpreturbed, and still calls Georgius' argument "a great absurdity," one that carries "no weight" with Calvin. And in the following sentences he undermines Georgius' supposed "acute" argument.

Of course, your argument, which presumes without evidence that Calvin embraces the "œcommon solution" but objects to Georgius´ use of it, appears to fall on its face when Calvin says; "œWherever the faithful are dispersed throughout the world, John extends to them the expiation wrought by Christ's death." Nowhere does Calvin appear to equivocate on the word expiate and is using the word in one sense when applied to the elect and another yet undefined sense (if there can even be such a sense) when applied to the reprobate. Nowhere in his entire refutation does he assent to the idea that the expiation wrought by Christ´s death extends to all men head for head as Martin, David and others assert. in my opinion their argument is simply a knee jerk response to Calvin´s statement; "œIt is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world." Calvin explains what he means in great detail and in opposition and contradistinction to Georgius and Calvin´s interpreters like Martin and David, not to mention Moise Amyraut. These men would have us to believe that Calvin is in agreement with Georgius on this point. That is sophistry.

Calvin does not call the "common solution", the sufficient/efficient distinction an "absurdity" at all. Otherwise clearly he would be contradicting himself in a few words later when he writes,
Quote:
It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3.15). For the present question is not how great the power of Christ is or what efficacy it has in itself, but to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed. If possession lies in faith and faith emanates from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that only he is reckoned in the number of God's children who will be a partaker of Christ.

First, I think Calvin does consider the "œcommon solution" an absurdity and I think your argument is, well, strained. Second, Calvin´s solution is precisely what the 4 point solution of Amyraldians deny; that the death of Jesus Christ expiated the sins of the elect alone; i.e., those "œwhosoever believes in Him" and to those of "œ whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed." The absurdity is that if Christ´s death expiated the sins of all men, then their sins MUST be, not may be, expiated. The absurdity and heresy of Amyraldianism is that it shifts the ground of justification from Christ´s death to the act of believing which is nothing more than a concession to both illogic and Arminianism.

Now clearly an appeal to this distinction does not make Calvin a proto-Amyrauldian. And it will not do to suggest that all advocates of such a distinction are Amyrauldians.

Calvin clearly guards against Georgius' unversalistic reasoning not by arguing that the world's sins have not been expiated, for he evidently affirms that they have (and clearly Calvin means something by "expiation" other than that personal forgiveness has been made for the individual sins of each member of the human race).

For the sake of argument, if Calvin agrees that the sins of the world have been expiated and means something else by the word "œexpiate" other than that the sins of each member of the human race has been paid for and He has extinguish the guilt incurred due to sin, then what did he mean? How would you exlain an expiation that doesn´t expiate or a propitiation that doesn´t propitiate? I see no other explanation in the context above or per his entire treatise on predestination that would support any another other explanation than Christ´s death expiated the sins of the whole world of believers.
 

Flynn

Puritan Board Freshman
G'day there contra-Mundum,

I enjoyed your response to Magma.

And as an aside, I would love to have a sustained discussion with Mr Clark regarding Calvin directly. That would be very profitable. But I will leave that till later.

Ive snipped this from the citation you posted, Calvin:

"œGeorgius thinks he argues very acutely when he says: Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; and hence those who wish to exclude the reprobate from participation in Christ must place them outside the world. For this, the common solution does not avail, that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but efficaciously only for the elect. By this great absurdity, this monk has sought applause in his own fraternity, but it has no weight with me..."

Your comments on Calvin were spot on. But lets add his comments from his commentary on 1 Jn 2:2:

Calvin:
He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel. Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world. end

In terms of the sentence structure here there are good parallels. If you could print out both his comments from his tract (cited by you and Magma) and this, these parallels become evident. The same contain the dilemma. Calvin states, to use modern language, a thesis and then an anti-thesis.

When Calvin says, by this great absurdity, he is referring back to the initial claim by the monk, not the formula. We know this is patently true because of the like-wording in his commentary.

So to recap Calvin from the commentary:

"This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. "

Look, there it is, he says its *true* he just does not think it applicable to John's intent in the verse specifically. The only way to avoid the obvious is to gloss over the words. You reading this Sean?

Now, this may actually preempt where I am heading with all my Shedd-Dabney-Hodge agendum, but it may be a suitable lead in.

2 things should be noticed by the sensitive reader:

1)
Look at Calvin's wording here: Christ suffered for all sufficiently. He opts for this wording, not the more abstract and ambiguous wording that we are more familiar with: Christ's death [in an abstracted sense] is sufficient for all.

2) And here is where an especial sensitivity is called for from folk like Scott Clark, Matthew M, and others here. What did Christ suffer in his suffering sufficiently for all?

If that can be unlocked, Calvin's theology is unlocked and so all the questions about his view of the extent of the expiation.

As another aside you make this statement:

Contra-Mumdum: Calvin clearly guards against Georgius' unversalistic reasoning not by arguing that the world's sins have not been expiated, for he evidently affirms that they have (and clearly Calvin means something by "expiation" other than that personal forgiveness has been made for the individual sins of each member of the human race). end

Am I reading you right, that you believe Calvin saying positively that Christ came to expiate the sins of the whole world, which world is bigger than the circle of the elect, but that this expiation is different from the expiation we now have come to understand? I am paraphrasing you a little. I am not trying to challenge you here; just seeking clarity.

Thanks.

Take care,
David
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
:deadhorse:

Calvin:
He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel. Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.

1 John 2:2; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

What should be painfully evident, except to those irreparably wedded to the universal propitiation of Christ´s cross work, is that Calvin denies such a propitiation has been made. If he did then under the "œwhole world" he would, like Ponter, included the reprobate, but he does not. He calls such men who assert such nonsense "œfanatics" and says "œsuch a monstrous thing deserves no refutation." So, where in all of Calvin´s volumes can anyone find where Calvin argues that Christ death propitiated the sins of the reprobate? If he consented to such abject nonsense this verse would have been the place. Was Christ´s death sufficient for the whole world universally considered? Indeed it was, if God´s design was the salvation of the whole world or even one person nothing else would be necessary. But, of course, that wasn´t God´s design and purpose in the death of Christ and Calvin makes it clear above. Calvin rejects the papist nonsense that the salvation Christ won on the cross extends "to all the reprobate." Amyraldianism is just another road to Rome and it seems some here are futher down that road than others.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
From Calvin:[/quote]the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world.[/quote]And what is the solution, according to Calvin? Partly, that
reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect.... while I say it is offered to all,I do not mean that this embassy... reaches to all, but {I mean} that it {the embassy} is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual.
At the second elesion (...) above, Calvin refers to "Paul's testimony (II Cor 5.18)" where "God reconciles the world to Himself." So there is a sense in which Christ's death does something for an undifferentiated mankind. Perhaps the term "expiation" is suitable here? Perhaps its semantic range is strechable to such a general reference? That is the way I am reading Calvin at this juncture anyway.

Yet, this reconciliation does not "reach" all to whom or for whom it comes, specifically it does not reach the reprobate. It may come to this one who be judged the more for rejecting it. Likewise, it may have come in order (for--purpose) that those that never hear are judged in part by not being permitted to hear. Either way it amounts to the same thing--"unable to hear" is "unable to hear."

Now, what good is the general effect of Christ's death to any man in particular? Not much (nothing effectual) except that the gospel may be truly said to be freely and honestly offered to him.

What I understand about the criticism of Amyrault (which is not deep--please do not question me), as expressed above or elsewhere, is that while Calvin's theology is thoroughgoing and all hangs together, Amyrault does not offer the same balance or breadth. Calvin offers a criticism of Georgius that points not merely to a "sufficient/efficient" distinction, but to the interconnectedness of faith, sovereignty, election and effectual calling.

Therefore, Calvin affirms a "limited atonement" insofar as that term is relevant to the scope and design of the covenant of grace. He evidently does not have much time or inclination to discuss in-depth, here or elsewhere, much in the way of a general benefit of the atonement. Such a benefit, where it can be discerned, is only incidental to the central benefit of the atonement, which is exclusively for and effectual unto the elect.

Hence such a general benefit receives practically no mention upon the pages of Scripture. It's main import would seem to be to ground the indiscriminate offer of the gospel. In persons who reject the gospel, the free offer is quickly eclipsed by the realities of judgment--only a small portion of which (though perhaps great in moment) is the gospel rejection. By that rejection the great weight of his guilt is not removed, and judgment for all those sins crashes in.

Let me be clear: I do not believe, nor do I think that Calvin believed, that whatever general benefit Christ's death procured for the undifferentiated fallen race, that men indiscriminately were forgiven and pardoned of their sins thereby. The atonement was essentially limited. The reprobate will not be judged simply for the "one act" (a sin? but not covered? how?) of rejecting Christ, as so many Arminians, and perhaps others, avow. No, they will die "in their sins."


I hope this has clarified. I really have gotten into this thread deeper that I wished. I first wished to point out what I perceived as a misreading of Calvin. I still think that I have understood Calvin's statements correctly, especially in light of the commentary. I'm all for debate, I just recognize that it has to be conducted with scupulous fairness to the words of each other and the authors we quote. That is all. I'm out.
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
Excellent balance Bruce.

I have been reading on David's list for sometime now and have wresytled with these issues much. I think I now get the jest of what is being argued from david's persepective.

I think that I have settled the issue in my own mind atleast, I don't know if I am in full agreement with David but I think there is now more in common between us than before.

This is what I have settled on to this point. If we look at the sacrifice of Christ within the framework of the covenant of redemption Christ becomes for his people, i.e. the elect what Adam was for his posterity, Charles Hodge puts it like this:

"He came in the same relation to his people, which Adam, in the original covenant, bore to the whole race. He came to take their place; to be their substitute, to do for them, and in their name, what they could not do for themselves. All He did, therefore, was vicarious; his obedience and his sufferings. The parallel between Adam and Christ, the two great representatives of man, the two federal heads, the one of all his natural descendants, the other of all given Him by the Father, is carried out into its details in Romans v. 12-21. It is assumed or implied, however, everywhere else in the sacred volume. What Adam did, in his federal capacity, was in law and justice regarded as done by all whom he represented. And so all that Christ did and suffered as a federal head, was in law and justice done or suffered by his people."

But, if we look at the sacrifice of Christ in a general sense outside of the covenant of redemption, there is a sense in which the work of Christ has referance to all men in general, for Christ is the God-man, he took the nature that is common to all men and bore the penalty for sin that is common to all men, but because the covenanat of redemption sets the parameters of the effectual application of this all suffiecient sacrifice, those that are not given to Christ in the CoR only recieve a temparary/common beneifit, i.e "grace" from it.

I believe the distinction is made thus:

1. Christ bore the full wrath of God that all men deserve as transgressors of the law, therefore the sacrifice of Christ is suffiecient for one sinner or many sinners. Whether one sinner or many sinners, the sacrifice is one all sufficient and indivisable sacrifice. Therefore it has a "general/common" referance to all men, thus Christ can be said to "represent" all men in this sense only. In this general sense the gospel can be sincerely offered to all, for it has a "general" referance to all men who are the children of Adam and are covenant breakers having fallen with Adam in the covenant of works.

2. In the covenant of redemption, the Father and the Son agreed to redeem an elect people. The Father chose this number and gave them to the Son, Christ agreed to become their covenant head and fulfill the law and suffer the penalty for their "sins", thus providing the grounds of their justification by pleading the merits of his expiation for them alone, their "sins" (personal) being imputated to him and his righteousness (personal) being imputed to them by faith, a faith which is, in the covenant of redemption, "purchased" for them along with every other grace applied in salvation from regeneration unto glorification. Thus a "double jeopardy" arguement does apply, but the injustice would be done to Christ not to the man if one of those given to Christ falled to come and/or be ultimately glorified. These saving "graces" that are "purchased" by Christ in the covenant of redemption are applied to the Church in the covenant of grace by faith alone.


My :2cents:

Blessings,
Terry
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top