Heidegger And Turretin On Amyraut (Hypothetical Universalism)

Canon VI: Wherefore, we can not agree with the opinion of those who teach: l) that God, moved by philanthropy, or a kind of special love for the fallen of the human race, did, in a kind of conditioned willing, first moving of pity, as they call it, or inefficacious desire, determine the salvation of all, conditionally, i.e., if they would believe, 2) that he appointed Christ Mediator for all and each of the fallen; and 3) that, at length, certain ones whom he regarded, not simply as sinners in the first Adam, but as redeemed in the second Adam, he elected, that is, he determined graciously to bestow on these, in time, the saving gift of faith; and in this sole act election properly so called is complete. For these and all other similar teachings are in no way insignificant deviations from the proper teaching concerning divine election; because the Scriptures do not extend unto all and each God’s purpose of showing mercy to man, but restrict it to the elect alone, the reprobate being excluded even by name, as Esau, whom God hated with an eternal hatred (Rom 9:11). The same Holy Scriptures testify that the counsel and will of God do not change, but stand immovable, and God in the, heavens does whatsoever he will (Ps 115:3; Isa 47:10); for God is in finitely removed from all that human imperfection which characterizes inefficacious affections and desires, rashness repentance and change of purpose. The appointment, also, of Christ, as Mediator, equally with the salvation of those who were given to him for a possession and an inheritance that can not be taken away, proceeds from one and the same election, and does not form the basis of election. Read more»

J. H. Heidegger, Francis Turretin | Helvetic Consensus Formula (1675)


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7 comments

  1. “for God is infinitely [sic] removed from all that human imperfection which characterizes inefficacious affections and desires…”

    Unless He makes such His will, right? Does not God have inefficacious affections and desires? I think to deny this would be hyper-Calvinism.

    • Ah, of course – so then I could not be an Amyrauldian, for I read the Scriptures through the same lens of the covenant of redemption (decree), yet also read the propitiation/redemption as given/made for all. In other words, God accomplishes all He has decreed with no alteration to His plan according to human contingency, but in His interaction in time with us, He indeed has “inefficacious affections and desires.”

      This includes making propitiation for our sins, but not for ours (the elect) only, but also for the whole world. Real atonement for all people which God applies according to the secret decree of redemption made between the Persons of the Trinity.

      • Your view sounds Amyraldian.

        What, in your view, was the divine intent in the atonement? According to Heidegger and Turretin, the divine intention/will was to accomplish redemption for those to whom God willed/intended to apply it.

    • According to that definition and what I understand of Amysm., I (and those I have learned from) do not qualify in that we read multiple intents in the atonement, all of which are accomplished perfectly. Yes, all for whom it is intended to save will be saved, and yes, all for whom it is intended to heighten damnation will be held accountable for the rejection of sin truly paid.

      The normal impasse here is the cry of double jeopardy, yet the Scripture may be argued to allow just such an outcome for the reprobate. Dr. Clark, what is your take on the Synod of Dordt wherein I understand at least a minor party argued for a position like mine i.e. hypothetical universalism?

      I’ve been poking around here: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?s=dordt

  2. Canon VI: Wherefore, we can not agree with the opinion of those who teach: l) that God, moved by philanthropy, or a kind of special love for the fallen of the human race, did, in a kind of conditioned willing, first moving of pity, as they call it, or inefficacious desire, determine the salvation of all, conditionally, i.e., if they would believe, . . .

    R Scott Clark says: “They’re discussing the decree, not the revealed will.”

    David: Actually no, the language of “conditional will” as used by Amyraut and the Salmurians and even by Davenant and Calvin, referred to the revealed will.

    You can see this in Amyraut’s Brief Tract, Moyse Amyraut, Brief Treatise on Predestination and its Dependent Principles, trans., by Richard Lum (Th.D. diss, 1986), 42-44.

    For the language of conditional decree, Davenant, like Amyraut meant the revealed will, for example: John Davenant, Animadversions Written By the Right Reverend Father in God, John, Lord Bishop of Sarisbury, upon a Treatise intitled “God’s love to Mankind,” (London: Printed for Iohn Partridge, 1641), 31.

    Cf Amyraut: John Quick, Synodicon in Gallia Reformata (London: Printed for T. Parkhurst and J. Robinson, 1692), 2:354-355. Turretin and co., could not have not known about the rulings from the two major French synods which essentially vindicated Amyraut on this point, or at least spelt out clearly what he had meant by this term.

    Davenant also speaks of multiple ways divine intention can be use by the Divines (of his day), for the secret will or for the revealed will: John Davenant, “On the Controversy Among the French Divines of the Reformed Church,Concerning ‘The Gracious and Saving Will of God Towards Sinful men,’” published with, Dissertation on the Death of Christ, 563-565.

    Calvin, the same: Calvin, The Eternal Predestination of God (London: James Clark, 1961), 105-106.

    When Amyraut and Davenant spoke of a conditional decree, they meant the revealed will which was active in some sense, a true desire which contained elements of God’s legislative determination and determination to do something conditionally, for example, if a person believes, God has, by divine legislative determination promised and willed to save that man. Thus when these guys spoke of a conditional decree they did not have in mind the absolute unconditional decrees of what we, or their opponents, call the secret or decretive will. Baxter is clearer on this, and see Armstrong’s thesis on Amyraut.

    Their version of the revealed will was somewhat different to the Turretin’s for example, which primarily consisted in an approbative delight, rather than a volition or desire in God. For this reason the canon goes on to deny any ineffectual desire at all. Owen likewise denied any “velleities” in God, that is, ineffectual desires, For Owen, particularly, divine love and mercy were not “natural” to God but acts of the will, at least in Death of Death written during his ardent voluntarist period.

    The problem with the canons here is that they claim too much. I doubt Calvin, himself, could have been allowed to teach at Geneva given the strictness of the Consensus’ sweeping claims.

    Now if the the Helvetic Consensus, or anyone else for that matter, meant to attribute something other than their own stated definition of ‘conditional willing’ to the Salmurians, then it is just wrong and inaccurate. It would be a case of presenting a caricature of what they believed.

    Lastly, keep in mind the Consensus was not a confession, but a document for office bearers in some Swiss Reformed cities. It was not accepted by all the Swiss Reformed cities, Lucerne, for example. And it was repealed 20 odd years later, and this by the recommendation from folk in Germany and England, as well as others.

    Thanks for your time,
    David

    • David,

      I understand the Amyraldian case. Your argument is anachronistic. The issues that arose as a result of Amyraut didn’t exist in Calvin’s time and it’s not possible, historically, to say what Calvin would have said. Historically, the question is a non-starter.

      Heidegger and Turretin spoke for a number of orthodox Reformed writers in the period. Yes, there was a division of opinion about Amyraut’s proposal but it’s also the case that, over time the critique made by Heidegger, Turretin, Friedrich Spanheim (1600-1649), Andrew Rivet, and others became the orthodox consensus.

      Amyraut moved the limit from the atonement back a step. Was that a helpful move? Most of us have said no.

      A word of warning. I’m not going to entertain an endless argument with the neo-Amyraldians.

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