Archive for the ‘Charles Hodge’ Category

Charles Hodge Against 4 Point Calvinism

January 16, 2014

From Volume 2 of his Systematic Theology (link):

S: 4. Hypothetical Redemption.

According to the common doctrine of Augustinians, as expressed an the Westminster Catechism, “God, having . . . . elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.” In opposition to this view some of the Reformed theologians of the seventeenth century introduced the scheme which is known in the history of theology as the doctrine of hypothetical redemption. The principal advocate of this doctrine was Amyraut (died 1664), Professor in the French Protestant Seminary at Saumur. He taught, (1.) That the motive impelling God to redeem men was benevolence, or love to men in general. (2.) From this motive He sent His Son to make the salvation of all men possible. (3.) God, in virtue of a decretum universale hypotheticum, offers salvation to all men if they believe in Christ. (4.) All men have a natural ability to repent and believe. (5.) But as this natural ability was counteracted by a moral inability, God determined to give his efficacious grace to a certain number of the human race, and thus to secure their salvation.

This scheme is sometimes designated as “universalismus hypotheticus.” It was designed to take a middle ground between Augustinianism and Arminianism. It is liable to the objections which press on both systems. It does not remove the peculiar difficulties of Augustinianism, as it asserts the sovereignty of God in election. Besides, it leaves the case of the heathen out of view. They, having no knowledge of Christ, could not avail themselves of this decretum hypotheticum, and therefore must be considered as passed over by a decretum absolutum. It was against this doctrine of Amyraut and other departures from the standards of the Reformed Church that, in 1675, the “Formula Consensus Helvetica” was adopted by the churches of Switzerland. This theory of the French theologians soon passed away as far as the Reformed churches in Europe were concerned. Its advocates either returned to the old doctrine, or passed on to the more advanced system of the Arminians. In this country it has been revived and extensively adopted.

At first view it might seem a small matter whether we say that election precedes redemption or that redemption precedes election. In fact, however, it is a question of great importance. The relation of the truths of the Bible is determined by their nature. If you change their relation you must change their nature. If you regard the sun as a planet instead of as the centre of our system you must believe it to be something very different in its constitution from what it actually is. So in a scheme of thought, if you make the final cause a means, or a means the final cause, nothing but confusion can be the result. As the relation of election to redemption depends on the nature of redemption the full consideration of this question must be reserved until the work of Christ has been considered. For the present it is sufficient to say that the scheme proposed by the French theologians is liable to the following objections.

Arguments against this Scheme.

1. It supposes mutability in the divine purposes; or that the purpose of God may fail of accomplishment. According to this scheme, God, out of benevolence or philanthropy, purposed the salvation of all men, and sent his Son for their redemption. But seeing that such purpose could not be carried out, He determined by his efficacious grace to secure the salvation of a certain portion of the human race. This difficulty the scheme involves, however it may be stated. It cannot however be supposed that God intends what is never accomplished; that He purposes what He does not intend to effect; that He adopts means for an end which is never to be attained. This cannot be affirmed of any rational being who has the wisdom and power to secure the execution of his purposes. Much less can it be said of Him whose power and wisdom are infinite. If all men are not saved, God never purposed their salvation, and never devised and put into operation means designed to accomplish that end. We must assume that the result is the interpretation of the purposes of God. If He foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, then events correspond to his purposes; and it is against reason and Scripture to suppose that there is any contradiction or want of correspondence between what He intended and what actually occurs. The theory, therefore, which assumes that God purposed the salvation of all men, and sent his Son to die as a means to accomplish that end, and then seeing, or foreseeing that such end could not or would not be attained, elected a part of the race to be the subjects of efficacious grace, cannot be admitted as Scriptural.

2. The Bible clearly teaches that the work of Christ is certainly efficacious. It renders certain the attainment of the end it was designed to accomplish. It was intended to save his people, and not merely to make the salvation of all men possible. It was a real satisfaction to justice, and therefore necessarily frees from condemnation. It was a ransom paid and accepted, and therefore certainly redeems. If, therefore, equally designed for all men, it must secure the salvation of all. If designed specially for the elect, it renders their salvation certain, and therefore election precedes redemption. God, as the Westminster Catechism teaches, having elected some to eternal life, sent his Son to redeem them.

3. The Scriptures further teach that the gift of Christ secures the gift of all other saving blessings. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. vii 32.) Hence they are certainly saved for whom God delivered up his Son. The elect only are saved, and therefore He was delivered up specially for them, and consequently election must precede redemption. The relation, therefore, of redemption to election is as clearly determined by the nature of redemption as the relation of the sun to the planets is determined by the nature of the sun.

4. The Bible in numerous passages directly asserts that Christ came to redeem his people; to save them from their sins; and to bring them to God. He gave Himself for his Church; He laid down his life for his sheep. As the end precedes the means, if God sent his Son to save his people, if Christ gave Himself for his Church, then his people were selected and present to the divine mind, in the order of thought, prior to the gift of Christ.

5. If, as Paul teaches (Rom. viii. 29, 30), foreknowledge precedes predestination, and if the mission of Christ is the means of accomplishing the end of predestination, then of necessity predestination to eternal life precedes the gift of Christ. Having, as we are taught in Eph. i. 4, 5, predestinated us to the adoption of sons, God chose us before the foundation of the world, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. This is the order of the divine purposes, or the mutual relation of the truths of redemption as presented in the Scriptures.

6. The motive (so to speak) of God in sending his Son is not, as this theory assumes, general benevolence or that love of which all men are equally the objects, but that peculiar, mysterious, infinite love in which God, in giving his Son, gives Himself and all conceivable and possible good. All these points, however, as before remarked, ask for further consideration when we come to treat of the nature and design of Christ’s work.

And again:

Hypothetical Universalism.

A class of theologians in the Reformed Church who did not agree with the Remonstrants against whom the decisions of the Synod of Dort, sustained by all branches of the Reformed body, were directed, were still unable to side with the great mass of their brethren. The most distinguished of these theologians were Amyraut, La Place, and Cappellus. Their views have already been briefly stated in the sections treating of mediate imputation; and of the order of decrees and of the design of redemption. These departures from the accepted doctrines of the Reformed Church produced protracted agitation, not in France only but also in Holland and Switzerland. The professors of the University of Leyden. Andreas Rivet and Frederick Spanheim, were especially prominent among the opposers of the innovations of the French theologians. The clergy of Geneva drew up a protest in the form of a Consensus of the Helvetic Churches which received symbolical authority The doctrines against which this protest was directed are, (1.) That God, out of general benevolence towards men, and not out of special love to his chosen people, determined to redeem all mankind, provided they should repent and believe on the appointed Redeemer. Hence the theory was called hypothetical universalism. (2.) That the death or work of Christ had no special reference to his own people; it rendered the salvation of no man certain, but the salvation of all men possible. (3.) As the call of the gospel is directed to all men, all have the power to repent and believe. (4.) God foreseeing that none, if left to themselves, would repent, determines of his own good pleasure to give saving grace to some and not to others. This is the principal distinguishing feature between the theory of these French theologians and of the Semi-Pelagians and Remonstrants. The former admit the sovereignty of God in election; the latter do not.

This system necessitates a thorough change in the related doctrines of the gospel. If fallen men have power to repent and believe, then original sin (subjectively considered) does not involve absolute spiritual death. If this be so, then mankind are not subject to the death threatened to Adam. Therefore, there is no immediate imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity. As they derive a polluted nature from him, which is the ground of the displeasure of God, they may so far be said to share in his sin. This is mediate imputation. Again, if the death of Christ does not render certain the salvation of his people, then it was not vicarious in the proper sense of that word; nor did He die as a substitute. His satisfaction assumes of necessity the character of a general display, a didactic exhibition of truth. At least this is the logical tendency, and the actual historical consequence of the theory. Moreover, if Christ did not act as the substitute and representativc of his people, there is no ground for the imputation of his righteousness to them. The French theologians, therefore, denied that his active obedience is thus imputed to believers. The merit of his death may be said to be thus imputed as it is the ground of the forgiveness of sin. This of course destroys the idea of justification by merging it into an executive act of pardon. Moreover, the principles on which this theory is founded, require that as every other provision of the gospel is general and universal, so also the call must be. But as it is undeniable that neither the written word nor the preached gospel has extended to all men, it must be assumed that the revelation of God made in his works, in his providence, and in the constitution of man, is adequate to lead men to all the knowledge necessary to salvation; or, that the supernatural teaching and guidance of the Spirit securing such knowledge must be granted to all men. It is too obviously inconsistent and unreasonable to demand that redemption must be universal, and ability universal as the common heritage of man, and yet admit that the knowledge of that redemption and of what sinners are required to do in the exercise of their ability, is confined to comparatively few. The “Formula Consensus Helvetica,” therefore, includes in its protest the doctrine of those “qui vocationem ad salutem non sola Evangelii praedicatione, sed naturae etiam ac Providentiae operibuis, citra ullum exterius praeconium expediri sentiunt,” etc. [574] It is not wonderful, therefore, that this diluted form of Augustinianismn should be distasteful to the great body of the Reformed Churches. It was rejected universally except in France, where, after repeated acts of censure, it came to be tolerated.

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Charles Hodge on Rome

December 30, 2009

David Waltz is trying to make something of Prof. Hodge’s comments on Roman Catholicism (link to Waltz’s post). It is worth noting that Waltz has chosen to selectively present one side of Hodge’s coin. The other side is that Hodge viewed Rome as both apostate and antichristian (link to example of such teaching) and also as antichrist and a synagogue of Satan (link to example of such teaching) to which we may add the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin (link to example of such teaching).

Waltz does not explain his motivations for choosing to highlight only part of what Hodge taught, and for doing so in a way that grossly exaggerates the differences between Hodge and some of my friends at Triablogue. Yes, my friends and I may well agree with Thornwell and others that Hodge (no doubt due to the softness of his heart) conceded too much to Rome in places such as those Waltz highlights, but the difference between Hodge and us is a lot smaller than Waltz’s article would suggest to the unwary reader.

-TurretinFan

>Further Response to Dyer

March 16, 2009

>Dyer has produced a further response (link) and my response to him is below.

Dyer wrote: “1. Turretinfan is at it again, in an audio response to my audio response, found here. To begin with, he says I mischaracterize the reformed position according to Charles Hodge about Jesus suffering the wrath of God, which is not true. Charles Hodge most definitely held to this awful, anti-Trinitarian view. Turretinfan says I misquoted, because Hodge was simply laying out various views. On the contrary–it is most certainly his view.”

a) My objection was to the idea that Hodge held that Jesus had to spend an eternity in hell. That was not Hodge’s view, though Mr. Dyer made it sound like that.

b) Hodge, of course, held the perfectly orthodox view that Jesus suffered the wrath of God.

c) Mr. Dyer has not shown that this orthodox view is anti-trinitarian, nor (apparently) can he do so. We’ve given him several tries to do so, and all we can do is ask him again to try to set forth his demonstration.

Dyer wrote: “Hodge clearly says that the Father turned His favor from the Son for a period.”

I answer: ok

Dyer continued: “That is an undeniable division in the Trinity, if one accepts the orthodox view that Jesus is a divine Person.”

I answer: Why on earth should that be? Mr. Dyer just asserts this, but he in no way substantiates this.

Dyer continued: “Note that Hodge doesn’t want to go there, as its “vain to enquire.” Yes, it is, because its heretical.”

I answer: That’s just a silly argument from Hodge’s unwillingness to speculate.

Dyer continued: “For more examples of this heresy, Nick of Nick’s Catholic Blog has listed several quotes here.”

I answer: I’m actively debating “Nick” on the topic of the atonement, and so (in fairness to Nick) I’ll decline to address Nick’s quotations using this mechanism, as that might be viewed as trying to circumvent the word limits imposed on that debate. The debate will be over in a month or two, at which point I will be free to respond at greater length if need be.

Dyer again: “2. Turretinfan goes on to remark that St. Augustine had some things in common with Rome, but others in common with Protestantism. He implies its the same with St. Athanasius. This is not the case. I showed last year in this article that St. Augustine is thoroughly a Roman Catholic, and its not just “monasticism” as Turretinfan tries to say. St. Augustine was a Catholic Bishop. Consider his view of the papacy, as shown here.”

I answer:

a) I don’t know why it is so difficult for Mr. Dyer to accept that Athanasius and Augustine both had points of agreement with the Reformed church as well as points of agreement with his (Dyer’s) church. It’s like he wants to exclusively “own” the early church.

b) But, the early church cannot be “owned” by anyone. They are who they are, which was neither “Protestant” nor “Roman Catholic.” That’s why I continue to insist that it is improper to pick a few doctrines where a particular father is not “X” (whether “X” is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Reformed) and then conclude that a particular father is consequently “Y” (where “Y” is whatever the person making the claim himself is). This is not only an absurd anachronism, it is a display of one’s ignorance of the full range of any particular father’s beliefs as expressed in writing.

c) Certainly, on particular doctrines, we can say that a particular father held to “the Roman position” or “the Reformed position,” but what I’m objecting to here is therefore concluding that they were “thoroughly” this or that, based on one or a few points of agreement.

d) Augustine’s view of the papacy was not the same as post-Vatican I Roman Catholicism’s view. This is the sort of undeniable historical truth that everyone who has seriously explored the topic has to agree. If Dyer is suggesting otherwise, and it sounds like he is, then he is either ignorant of the definition of papal infallibility in Vatican I, or ignorant of Augustine’s mode of thought.

Dyer continued: “Turretinfan says St. Athanasius had no view of papal authority as we do, yet he hasn’t read much of St. Athanasius, since had he done so, he would know St. Athanasius, an Eastern Patriarch, appealed to Rome to Pope St. Julius. for condemnation of Arius. All one has to do is read his Apologia Contra Arianos, which I have.”

I answer: The idea that Athanasius appealed to a bishop of Rome is an example of Athanasius not acting like a modern Reformed person. There is no doubt about that. But why has Dyer conveniently forgotten about Athanasius’ opposition to Pope Liberius, Julius’ successor? If one wants to deal honestly with Athanasius, one has to recognize that parts of Athanasius not only that agree with one’s theology, but that disagree with it as well. It seems that Dyer would prefer to remember only a part of Athanasius’ life and writings, but not the remainder of it.

Dyer wrote: “Yes, I am quoting a second-hand work, but I’ve read Contra Arioanos. Within, St. Athanasius reproduces the entire Arian contrversy, including the papal appeals. It can be read here. I’m willing to bet, however, Turretinfan has not read it. He’s sure, nevertheless, about the Christianity of Augustine and Athanasius’ day.”(errors in original)

I answer: The entire Arian controvery would span many volumes (with Athanasius’ “Against the Arians” providing a partial summary). If, however, Mr. Dyer can find one time where Athanasius claims that the doctrine of the Arians is wrong using the reasoning that (a) the pope says it is wrong, and (b) the pope is infallible, then I’ll be happy to revise my view of Athanasius. I’m sure I can give plain statements where Athanasius appealled to the infallibility of Scripture – does Dyer think that Athanasius appealed in as clear terms to anything else as infallible besides Scripture alone?

Dyer wrote: “3. Inregards to Jaroslav Pelikan, with whom Turretinfan is obviously unfamiliar, since he didn’t know he was the chief editor of Luther’s works and became Serbian Orthodox, I admit to not knowing the Serbian pronunciations of names (as he made fun of me for doing). And yes, Pelikan if of Serbian descent. However, Pelikan is world renowned as both a patristics scholar and asa textual scholar. I’ve read several of his books, and I highly recommend them, including others beyond his 5 volume set, such as his work on the Cappadocians, his book on textual traditions, and his book on Mary in history. I mean, seriously–we used Pelikan at Bahnsen Seminary.”

I answer: As with so many things, Dyer is wrong in assuming that I’m unfamiliar with Jaroslav Pelikan. There’s no doubt that he’s a famous historian – and it is for that he is known, not for being a great theologian. If you recall, however, Mr. Dyer cited him as a theologian in his original audio clip, and I took him to task for that. He may well have edited/translated one edition of Luther’s works (actually, an impressive 22-volume edition in English, if I recall correctly), but (of course) the primary editions of Luther’s works came out long before Pelikan was a twinkle in his father’s eye.

Dyer continued: “Turretinfan continues to say I do’t understand Nestorianism when what I mentioned was various possibilities for Nestorian outcomes. “

I answer: I think in his attempts to be polemical against Calvinism, Mr. Dyer brings a lot into the definition of Nestorianism beyond what Nestorianism actually is.

Dyer further stated: “There are different ways of being Nestorian, since Nestorius was not always clear, and even admitted a “hypostatic union,” yet always denied a single subject, as McGuckin explains.”

I answer: As I’ve pointed out numerous times already, Nestorius did not define Nestorianism, his theological opponents did. Trying to get Dyer to recognize this difference between Nestorius and Nestorianism seems to be as difficult as getting Amyraldians to recognize the difference between Calvin and Calvinism.

Dyer continued: “St. Cyril did not misunderstand Nestorius, and I have read selections of actual writings of Nestorius at tertullian.org.”

I answer: It’s hard to say whether Cyril misunderstood Nestorius or whether Cyril knowingly misrepresented Nestorius. Nevertheless, it does not appear, on the historical record that we have before us, that Cyril accurately represented Nestorius in his characterization’s of Nestorius’ views. I’m not sure why Dyer is so set on defending Cyril on this point. Why not just admit that Cyril was fallible, and may have misunderstood Nestorius for a variety of reasons? Nestorius’ own words can be found (to a limited extent) on-line here (link).

Dyer continued: “I mentioned Pelikan on this because he quotes from Nestorian works.”

I answer: I only addressed the Pelikan issue because it seemed that Mr. Dyer wanted to consider him a theologian rather than an historian.

-TurretinFan

Charles Hodge on Intercession of Saints

October 15, 2008
Charles Hodge
on
Intercession of Saints
(extracted from his Systematic Theology)

There is but one Mediator between God and man, and but one High Priest through whom we draw near to God. And as intercession is a priestly function, it follows that Christ is our only intercessor. But as there is a sense in which all believers are kings and priests unto God, which is consistent with Christ’s being our only king and priest; so there is a sense in which one believer may intercede for another, which is not inconsistent with Christ’s being our only intercessor. By intercession in the case of believers is only meant that one child of God may pray for another or for all men. To intercede is in this sense merely to pray for. But in the case of Christ it expresses an official act, which none who does not fill his office can perform. As under the old economy one Israelite could pray for his brethren, but only the High Priest could enter within the veil and officially interpose in behalf of the people; so now, although we may pray, one for another, Christ only can appear as a priest before God in our behalf and plead his merits as the ground on which his prayers for his people should be answered.

Protestants object to the intercession of saints as taught and practised in the Church of Rome.

1. Because it supposes a class of beings who do not exist; that is, of canonized departed spirits. It is only those who, with the angels, have been officially declared by the Church, on account of their merits, to be now in heaven, who are regarded as intercessors.

This, however, is an unauthorized assumption on the part of the Church. It has no prerogative to enable it thus to decide, and to enroll whom it will among glorified spirits. Often those thus dignified have been real enemies of God, and persecutors of his people.

2. It leads to practical idolatry. Idolatry is the ascription of divine attributes to a creature. In the popular mind the saints, and especially the Virgin Mary, are regarded as omnipresent; able at all times and in all places, to hear the prayers addressed to them, and to relieve the wants of their worshippers.

3. It is derogatory to Christ. As He is the only and sufficient mediator between God and man, and as He is ever willing to hear and answer the prayers of his people, it supposes some deficiency in Him, if we need other mediators to approach God in our behalf.

4. It moreover is contrary to Scripture, inasmuch as the saints are assumed to prevail with God on account of their personal merits. Such merit no human being has before God. No man has any merit to plead for his own salvation, much less for the salvation of others.

5. The practice is superstitious and degrading. Superstition is belief without evidence. The practice of the invocation of saints is founded on a belief which has no support from Scripture. It is calling upon imaginary helpers. It degrades men by turning them from the Creator to the creature, by leading them to put their trust
in an arm of flesh, instead of in the power of Christ. It, therefore, turns away the hearts and confidence of the people from Him to those who can neither hear nor save.

*** End of Hodge’s Comments ***

-TurretinFan


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