van Genderen and Velema on the Atoment

In their massive work, Concise Reformed Dogmatics, van Genderen and Velema provide a section (Section 32) within their chapter on Christ, the Mediator (Chapter 10), called “Aspects of the Work of Christ,” which includes a subsection on “Atonement (reconciliation)” and a sub-section on “Victory.” These subsections may be found at pages 511-38 of 2008 printing of the Bilkes and van der Maas translation of this work.

The book provides a relatively recent discussion (the Dutch original published in 1992) of the Reformed view of the atonement as it is held in the conservative Dutch reformed churches. In general, the discussion is descriptive. While certain erroneous views are identified as errors, generally only a cursory response to the error is provided. There is little attention paid to the patristic data – although there is a surprising amount of attention paid to modern erroneous views of the atonement.

The presentation appears generally to be sound. One interesting aspect of the book’s presentation is the reliance on a significant number of Dutch writers, whose works are not presently accessible in English or whose works have only recently become available in English. For example, looking through the “Some Literature” section, at the conclusion of Chapter 10, the number of English writings identified are scant.

As hinted at in the book’s prefaces (both the publisher’s preface and the authors’ preface), Bavinck is heavily relied-upon. In this section, the work of Bavinck is supplemented with John Murray, Wentsel and others.

One particularly interesting discussion provided by van Genderen and Velema is with respect to the issue of the relation between the atonement and the gospel offer. After explaining that Dordt explicitly rejects the idea that the gospel is only for some, not for all, van Genderen and Velema explain:

It is not, however, the mandate of the church to tell everyone: Christ has died in your place; all your sins have been atoned for and forgiven (cf. Bavinck, R.D., 4:36). The apostolic proclamation is: “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them . . . . We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:19-20).
No one may conclude from the gospel of atonement that Christ has reconciled him or her with God, without more ado. This can only be confessed in faith. “I can receive . . . the satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ … and apply to myself in no other way than by faith alone” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 23). This agrees with Scripture. There we continually encounter the first person singular or plural: “I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). “We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Rom. 5:11).

(pp. 528-29)
As one would expect, given such a clear statement of the classical, confessional Reformed doctrine of limited atonement and the consistency of the universal qualified gospel offer with the limited atonement, van Genderen and Velema identify as error the school of Samaur including Amyraut and Cameron, which (relying on Graafland) they identify as closer to Arminius than to Calvin.


One Response to “van Genderen and Velema on the Atoment”

  1. natamllc Says:

    When you read such scholarly work, you must keep in mind the simplicity of it also, as in the "order".There is no belief until God gives "His" Faith to the hearer. The hearer is blind and deaf and dumb as to the Gospel.Dumb in this sense as you listen to or read some who profess His Faith, clearly you hear not the "Work" or "Word" of the Spirit in their words.We are indeed to "test" ourselves to see if we are in the Faith. We, equally are to test the spirits because not all men have Faith.Paul's direction to Titus is more in line with what I mean when I place the idea in here about the simplicity of the Gospel and "order":Tit 1:3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; Tit 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– Paul also made this appeal:Rom 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Rom 16:18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Rom 16:19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. Rom 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. So I conclude that as we see the battle in Paul's day, the battle during the "great" repentance/reformation of these giants of the Faith, so we see the same issues rising up today.What does that tell me?It tells me the Word of God is True. God is Living and I am dead in trespasses and sins until the Living God "makes" me alive in "Him/Christ" and then His Faith goes to work to bring about the "order", so that the doctrine is adhered too! I'm monergistic.In the mean time, will we ever get back to this:::>Tit 3:8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Tit 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Tit 3:10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, Tit 3:11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Thanks for sharing those words of van Genderen and Velema on the atonement.

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