Turretin: Amyraut’s Doctrine Of The Atonement Was Not Reformed

VI. Those of our ministers who defend universal grace yield to this opinion, if not entirely yet in a great measure. For as they hold a universal philanthropy (philanthrōpian) and love of God towards the human race, so they think Christ was sent into the world by the Father through that love (as a universal remedy to procure salvation for each and every one under the condition of faith); and that Christ with that intention died for all under the same condition (although the fruit and efficacy of his death will be enjoyed by a few only to whom God by a special decree determined to give faith). In this manner, they teach that the decree of the death of Christ preceded the decree of election and that God in sending Christ regarded not some more than others, but appointed Christ as a Savior equally for all; yea that he did not absolutely intend so much salvation in him, as the possibility of salvation (viz., the removal of impediments which justice opposed to their salvation) by a satisfaction afforded to him and thus opened a door of salvation that God (being appeased) might make a new covenant with them in consistency with the claims of his justice and think of giving salvation to them. For this end he took care by a universal call that Christ so given and dying for all might be offered to each and every one. But because he foresaw that no one would believe (on account of the innate depravity of the heart), they contend that God (by another special decree) determined to give faith to some by which they might believe on Christ and certainly become partakers of salvation, the rest being left in unbelief and on account of it most justly condemned. In this they rightly differ from the Arminians. All this can be clearly gathered from their writings. Thus Cameron says, “The death of Christ belongs, under the condition of faith, equally to all men” (Opera [1659], p. 389 on Heb. 2:9). Testard says, “The design of giving Christ for a propitiation in his blood was the making of a new covenant with the whole human race and the possible call to salvation and the salvation of all men, justice no longer resisting” (Eirenikon seu Synopsis Doctrinae de Nature et Gratia, Th. 77* [1633], p. 54). And: “In this sense, indeed, no one can deny that Christ died for each and everyone, that his faith may stand in the word of God” (Th. 79, ibid., p. 56). Amyrald says, “The redemption of Christ is to be considered in two ways: either as absolute, inasmuch as some truly embrace it; again as it is affected by a condition, inasmuch as it is offered on these terms—that if anyone will embrace it, he shall become partaker of it. In the former mode, it is particular; in the latter, universal. In like manner, its destination is twofold: particular, inasmuch as it has a decree to give faith connected with it; universal, inasmuch as that decree is separated from it” (“Doctrinae de gratia universali,” in Mosis Amyraldi … Dissertationes Theologicae Quatuor [1645], pp. 37–38). This he had more expressly taught previously: “Since the misery of man is equal and universal, and the desire which God has to free them from it by so great a Redeemer proceeds from the mercy which he has towards us as his own creatures fallen into so great ruin, in which his creatures equally lie, the grace of redemption, which he has procured for and offers to us, should be equal and universal, provided we are equally disposed to receive it” (Brief Traitte de la Predestination 7 [1634], p. 77).

VII. Though all agree that Christ died for each and every one, still they do not explain their meaning in the same way. For some say openly that Christ died conditionally for each and every one and absolutely only for the elect (as appears from the above extracts). Others, however, seeing the great absurdities pressing upon this view, abstain from such a manner of speaking and prefer to say that Christ did not die for men on condition that they would believe, but absolutely, whether they would believe or not. Thus the approach to salvation might be free to all who would believe and the way to a new covenant might be opened equally to all (viz., the obstacle of justice being removed by the death of Christ, an obstacle preventing God from being reconciled to men). Yet they all come to the same point when they say that Christ made satisfaction for each and every one and obtained reconciliation, remission of sins and salvation for them; of which (if many are deprived) the cause is not to be sought in the insufficiency of the death of Christ, or in a defect of his will and intention, but only in the unbelief of those who perversely reject the offered grace of Christ.

VIII. But the common opinion of the Reformed is that Christ (from the mere good-pleasure [eudokia] of the Father) was appointed and given as a Redeemer and head, not to all men, but to a certain number of men. By the election of God, these compose his mystical body. For these alone, Christ (perfectly acquainted with his call) in order to fulfill the decree of election and the counsel of the Father, was willing and determined to die; also to add to the infinite price of his death a most efficacious and special intention to substitute himself in their place and to acquire faith and salvation for them.

—Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, 3 vol. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 2.457–58 (14.14.6–8). Emphasis added.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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