Archive for the ‘Jonathan Edwards’ Category

Phillip Johnson and Amyraldianism

December 12, 2008

Phillip Johnson has an article (to which Trey Austin thoughtfully directed me) in which he provides a fairly helpful and quick guide to some distinctions among Evangelical views of the order of decrees, ranging from Supralapsarianism to Arminianism.

In the section on what Johnson prefers to call Amyraldism (as opposed to Amyraldianism), Johnson states: “Puritan Richard Baxter embraced this view, or one very nearly like it. He seems to have been the only major Puritan leader who was not a thoroughgoing Calvinist. Some would dispute whether Baxter was a true Amyraldian. (See, e.g. George Smeaton, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1991 reprint], Appendix, 542.) But Baxter seemed to regard himself as Amyraldian.” (emphases omitted)

He also cautions: “But Amyraldism probably should not be equated with all brands of so-called “four-point Calvinism.” In my own experience, most self-styled four-pointers are unable to articulate any coherent explanation of how the atonement can be universal but election unconditional. So I wouldn’t glorify their position by labeling it Amyraldism. (Would that they were as committed to the doctrine of divine sovereignty as Moise Amyraut! Most who call themselves four-pointers are actually crypto-Arminians.)”

(source) “Notes on Supralapsarianism & Infralapsarianism”

It is very interesting to me that the same folks Tony Byrne, David Ponter, and some of their associates that have been so anxious to misuse Phillip Johnson’s primer on Hyper-Calvinism are completely unwilling to use his notes on Calvinism.

And, of course, when we see Tony’s chart that he handed out to Dr. Allen for the so-called John 3:16 conference, guess who pops up in the “Moderate/Classical Calvinist” column of the chart:

Amyraut – the very person for whom Amyraldianism is named
Baxter – one of the very few Puritan Amyraldians
Dr. Alan Clifford – The Pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church, which has been holding yearly Amyraldianism conferences for at least three years.

Now, certainly, Tony throws other men into the list, some more or less justifiably. Bunyan, for example, may belong there, but Jonathan Edwards almost certainly does not. Here’s some evidence in support of my position on Edwards:

‘Tis Absurd to suppose that Christ Died for the salvation of those that he at the same time Certainly knew never would be saved. What Can be meant by that expression of Christ dying for the salvation of any one, but dying with a design that they should be saved by his death. or dying hoping that he they will be saved or at Least being uncertain but that they will be saved by his death. When we say that one Person does a thing for another, that which is Universally Understood by such an expression is that he does it with a design of some benefit to that other Person. ‘Tis nonsense to say that Any Person does any thing to the End that Another thing that may be done and ’tis Impossible that he should design Any benefit to Another person that he Certainly knows will have no benefit by it.

‘Tis Nonsense to say that Any thing [is done] with a design that Another thing should be done and to that End that it may be Done, at the same time that he has not the Least expectation that that other thing Ever will be done. and much more when he perfectly knows it never will. It matters not in this Controversy whether we suppose an absolute decree or no if we only allow that God knows all things that he knows future things before they Come to Pass as he declares he does in his word and no Christians pretend to deny But if we don’t deny this it implies a plain Contradiction to suppose that Christ died for in a proper sense.

If it Replied that no other is Intended when they say Christ died for all then that by his death all have the offer of salvation so that they may have salvation if they will accept of salvation – without any expectation or design of Christ that they should be saved by his death. if that be all that is Intended they Are Against no body – all that are Called Christians own that By Christ’s death all that live under the Gospel have the offer of salvation.

– Edwards, Jonathan – Sermon on Galatians 2:20



Jonathan Edwards – Birthday and Works

October 5, 2008

Jonathan Edwards was born 305 years ago today. Arguably, he is the greatest genius in American philosophy and theology to date. He was also a very instrumental preacher. Perhaps today he is most well known for his work on Freedom of the Will (in theology and philosophy) and his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” His works, in 73 volumes, are now available on-line here (link).

Image by Matthew Lankford, (C) 2008, used by permission and with appreciation.


Edwards on the Trinity

September 1, 2008

I enjoyed reading Paul Helm’s recent blog article at Helm’s Deep on Edwards on the Trinity (link). Prof. Helm defends Edwards from various charges of Heterodoxy in the course of the article. Naturally, as one of the standards for Reformed orthodoxy, Helm and Edwards’ critic both refer to Turretin (with Helm placing Turretin in context). The title of the Blog, though reminiscent of Tolkien, is quite appropriate, since Helm’s work plumbs great depths.


Edwards and the Other Hodge on Merit and the Covenant of Works

August 9, 2008

Here are two more folks’ thoughts on merit and covenant of works:

If this principle be correct, if the law demands entire conformity to the nature and will of God, it follows:

1. That there can be no perfection in this life. Every form of perfectionism which has ever prevailed in the Church is founded either on the assumption that the law does not demand entire freedom from moral evil, or upon the denial that anything is of the nature of sin, but acts of the will. But if the law is so extensive in its demands as to pronounce all defect in any duty, all coming short in the purity, ardor, or constancy of holy affections, sinful, then there is an end to the presumption that any mere man since the fall has ever attained perfection.

2. It follows also from this principle that there can never be any merit of good works attributable to men in this world. By merit, according to the Scriptural sense of that word, is meant the claim upon reward as a matter of justice, founded on the complete satisfaction of the demands of the law. But if those demands never have been perfectly fulfilled by any fallen man, no such man can either be justified for his works, or have, as the Apostle expresses it, any καύχημα [kauchema, boasting], any claim founded on merit in the sight of God. He must always depend on mercy and expect eternal life as a free gift of God.

3. Still more obviously does it follow from the principle in question that there can be no such thing as works of supererogation. If no man in this life can perfectly keep the commandments of God, it is very plain that no man can do more than the law demands. The Romanists regard the law as a series of specific enactments. Besides these commands which bind all men there are certain things which they call precepts, which are not thus universally binding, such as celibacy, poverty, and monastic obedience, and the like. These go beyond the law. By adding to the fulfillment of the commands of God, the observance of these precepts, a man may do more than is required of him, and thus acquire an amount of merit greater than he needs for himself, and which in virtue of the communion of saints, belongs to the Church, and may be dispensed, through the power of the keys, for the benefit of others. The whole foundation of this theory is of course removed, if the law demands absolute perfection, to which, even according to their doctrine, no man ever attains in this life. He always is burdened with venial sins, which God in mercy does not impute as real sins, but which nevertheless are imperfections.

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, volume 2, pages 185-86 (1872 ed.)

3. It is in this doctrine that the most essential difference lies between the covenant of grace and the first covenant. The adverse scheme of justification supposes that we are justified by our works, in the very same sense wherein man was to have been justified by his works under the first covenant. By that covenant our first parents were not to have had eternal life given them for any proper merit in their obedience; because their perfect obedience was a debt that they owed God. Nor was it to be bestowed for any proportion between the dignity of their obedience, and the value of the reward; but only it was to be bestowed from a regard to a moral fitness in the virtue of their obedience, to the reward of God’s favor; and a title to eternal life was to be given them, as a testimony of God’s pleasedness with their works, or his regard to the inherent beauty of their virtue. And so it is the very same way that those in the adverse scheme suppose that we are received into God’s special favor now, and to those saving benefits that are the testimonies of it. I am sensible the divines of that side entirely disclaim the Popish doctrine of merit; and are free to speak of our utter unworthiness, and the great imperfection of all our services. But after all, it is our virtue, imperfect as it is, that recommends men to God, by which good men come to have a saving interest in Christ, and God’s favor, rather than others; and these things are bestowed in testimony of God’s respect to their goodness. So that whether they will allow the term merit or no, yet they hold, that we are accepted by our own merit, in the same sense, though not in the same degree, as under the first covenant.

(Works of President [Jonathan] Edwards, Volume 5 (of 10), pp. 447-48, 1829 ed.)


Jonathan Edwards Resources

June 21, 2008

Hopefully, many of you will be as excited as I was to see this helpful catalog of Jonathan Edwards Resources, provided by Ryan Martin at the blog Immoderate. (link) I cannot emphasize his disclaimer enough: “Google should not be used as a substitute for your careful reading and study of these materials in their complete form.” That said, using Google Books current interfaces you can, in many instances, download the complete form of the books, and read and study them carefully.


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