A.A. Hodge on the Atonement

In A.A. Hodge’s “Outlines of Theology,” there is a chapter (Chapter XXV) on the Atonement (pp. 401-25 in the 1999 Banner of Truth Printing). The chapter is well organized and provides a good introduction to the subject. It seems to be designed to serve as a seminary textbook, and while it varies somewhat from the style of modern textbooks, it is quite systematic in its presentation, including general subjects, exegetical issues, responses to various objections, and even an historical discussion of the various positions and expressions of the issues.

I found A.A. Hodge’s definition of impetration interesting:

Impetration signifies the purchase, or meritorious procurement by sacrifice, of that salvation which God provides for his own people, and Application signifies its subsequent application to them in the process commencing with Justification and Regeneration, and ending in Glorification.

John Owen’s classic “The Death of Christ,” is not forgotten. A.A. Hodge brings it up as the definitive answer to the errors of Amyraldians such as those of the French School of Saumur and Richard Baxter. It appears again in the “Literature” section of the chapter.

A.A. Hodge devotes a short passage to the so-called “Marrow Men.” These were a group who A.A. Hodge somewhat overly emphatically assert were “perfectly orthodox” in their view of the atonement. They denied that Christ died for all, but asserted that Christ was dead for all, i.e. available.

A.A. Hodge describes the universal effects of the atonement, such as the removal of all legal obstacles out of the way of all men, and the rendering of salvation to any hearer of the gospel objectively possible (and so forth), as being incidental effects of the atonement, but holds that the design of the atonement was specifically to impetrate the actual salvation of the elect. Furthermore, A.A. Hodge describes this specific design as “his real motive” for dying, and cites in support of his view, Calvin’s comments on 1 John 2:2.

A.A. Hodge’s summary seems very good exegetically. The influence of Turretin can be seen almost immediately. One area where A.A. Hodge is relatively weak is in answering objections. Although A.A. Hodge identifies the positions of the Amyraldians, Romanists, Lutherans, etc., he does not provide very thorough answers to those objections himself. For a positive presentation of the Reformed doctrine of the atonement, however, A.A. Hodge is worth reading.


2 Responses to “A.A. Hodge on the Atonement”

  1. natamllc Says:

    Just as an aside first, after listening to your Dividing Line broadcast with Doc. White today, the broadcast done in December on these matters, I would think Turretin would have you close to him as well if he knew you and your depth of understanding of these things, TF! Doc. White certainly fell over himself in praise for your good work! I heartily agree with him, TF!Now, to this from A.A. Hodge:"….A.A. Hodge describes the universal effects of the atonement, such as the removal of all legal obstacles out of the way of all men, and the rendering of salvation to any hearer of the gospel objectively possible (and so forth), as being incidental effects of the atonement, but holds that the design of the atonement was specifically to impetrate the actual salvation of the elect…."That right there seems to me from where I am sitting now to be the dividing line and the hard horse pill to swallow and hard nut to crack!You can indeed say there is a "universalism" to the death of Christ. And as you pointed out regarding the Amyraldians in the broadcast in December, they change the meaning just enough for it to heretical.I cannot help but draw from my experiences in the Court Room as a Jurist on several occasions. We convicted people of criminal acts that they protested their innocence to. They were legally convicted. They were legally sentenced to serve the sentence. There were no plead bargains with these criminals, no admission of guilt so as to accept a lessor degree of punishment.It is the same for the Elect and nonelect with regard to the forgiveness of sins and conviction and suffering for the guilt. The Elect, when God gives them hearing by the Word of God, accept their guilt and readily appeal to the Gospel to receive the gift of the forgiveness of sins. That does not at all mean we have a free pass to go on sinning. Whatever we sow we will reap and there is no respect of persons with God.The nonelect, however, have some amazing stories as to why they should not have to suffer the consequences of Adam's fall.We read this in John and this in Jude:John:Joh 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: Joh 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; Joh 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; Joh 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. There at verse nine, my rhetorical question is, "why don't they believe" so as to receive His Righteousness? I do. I believe Jesus died on a cross for my sins and for the sins of all the Elect, He was buried and He rose again and has indeed "gone back to the Father" so God declares me righteous, imputing His Righteousness to my account, a guilty sinner.Why don't others believe? For me it is a simple answer. They do not believe the Gospel so as to receive His Faith because God has not revealed to them that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Why? Because they are not of the Elect.To all He does reveal Christ, let the hearer understand, to the Elect He is offering an Eternal relationship of fellowship in His Presence, Paradise or Heaven for the rest of their eternity.God reveals Christ. Christ doesn't do that. Christ is only given the Authority to reveal the Father to us.Now to the nonelect Jude has a deeper sense and understanding when describing them to us.Jude:Jud 1:10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Jud 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. Jud 1:12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; Jud 1:13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. Jud 1:14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, Jud 1:15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Jud 1:16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. Jude here says for the most part in a more descriptive way with words what Jesus said at John 16.At the end of the day, the point is exactly what both say, there is coming a day when unbelievers, those not elected to dwell with God and Jesus, will be convicted for their unbelief.The Elect have been tried and convicted already in Jesus Christ. He was allowed to be treated in such a manner that by the treatment done to Him and His innocent Soul, we are freed from the wrath to come.Psa 89:38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. Psa 89:39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. Psa 89:40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. Psa 89:41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. Psa 89:42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. Psa 89:43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. Psa 89:44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. Psa 89:45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah Psa 89:46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Psa 89:47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! Psa 89:48 What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah Psa 89:49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? Psa 89:50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, Psa 89:51 with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. Psa 89:52 Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.To those who simply want to receive salvation based on some merit of their own, they are in unbelief.Martin Luther saw this during his tenure as a Reformist and called it the theology of "glory".I am of the theology of the "cross".What do I bring to this exchange?My sinful nature, period. I agree with God, no matter how morally sound and good I seem or might believe I am, that I have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. I agree that there is "none" righteous, no not one. My righteousness, not my filth or wicked deeds, but my righteousness is counted as filthy rags before Him. He made that distinction, not me.There is at times a bit of judgment in me that needs a good dose of the Cross of Christ, that ugly sinner raising up my ugly head thinking, well, now I am better off than I once was and I certainly am not as bad as some of you in here! Yuck!Dead people don't have any life to offer the Living God. He sent Christ to be the "life giving Spirit" and if there is any Life being giving, it is always one way not two.For some, this is hard to accept seeing they see so many Scriptures that appear to mean and say, now that we have from God, we can now bear fruit and must.No, it is passive, the Atonement, the Redemption, the Righteousness of God. He is responsible for it all!It doesn't get any clearer than this:::>1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. The inheritance is from God. It is protected by God and it is His power, not my own, that guards through faith the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, for me.There is nowhere in those verses where God leaves anything for me to do with regard to that "inheritance" He caused me to receive through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!I'm kept!

  2. Turretinfan Says:

    Yes, our blessed Saviour has not just purchased something for us: he has purchased us. We are his!It is, in a way, like in the old days when a bride might be purchased. Imagine our joy to be the bride of such a groom!It is, in a way, like when slaves were puchased in the market. Imagine our joy to be the servants of such a master!It is, in a way, like when God brought up his people from Egypt, protecting them from judgment, and bringing them out with “a strong hand.”Praise be to his glorious grace!-TurretinFan

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