Archive for the ‘Systematic Theology’ Category

Wayne Grudem on the Atonement

October 19, 2009

Wayne Grudem has provided his Systematic Theology: an enormous (1291 pages) and apparently popular (the cover of one recent printing claims sales of over 1/4 million) tome. Chapter 27 (pp. 568-607 in what appears to be the 2000 printing) addresses the topic of the atonement. Much of the material serves as a helpful general introduction to the atonement from a broadly Calvinistic perspective. There are a number of helpful explanations in the chapter that are geared toward frequently asked contemporary questions, such as the question “did Christ endure eternal suffering.”

There were also, however, a few disappointments with the chapter. Pages 582-94 include a very lengthy discussion of the credal phrase “he descended into hell.” While this may be an important discussion, it seemed out of place at least as to the proportion of emphasis in the chapter. Grudem’s discussion is quite detailed and provides an uncharacteristically (for Grudem on the atonement) deep look into history. Although it was quite detailed, I think I still prefer the explanation provided by Danny Hyde, which I discussed previously (link).

The chapter was especially weak in its defense of particular redemption, also called “limited atonement.” The exegetical analysis of the passages relied upon by Amyraldians and Arminians seemed cursory at best, and omitted some of the best explanations of the sense of those passages. Furthermore, while little space was devoted to establishing the doctrine from Scripture many times more space was devoted to accommodating those who disagree with this doctrine.

Especially disappointing was Grudem’s naive assertion that “It seems to be a mistake to state the question [of the extent of the atonement] as Berkhof does and focus on the purpose of the Father and the Son, rather than on what actually happened in the atonement.” What actually happened, after all, depends largely on the intent and purpose of the Father and the Son.

In his ecumenical efforts, Grudem ends up providing a number of confused statements regarding characterizations of the atonement, such as affirming that it is proper to say that “Christ died to bring the free offer of the gospel to all people” or “Christ died to make salvation available to all people.” The problem with these statements becomes clear when we realize that Grudem’s statements are statements about the purpose and intent of the atonement (and statements that get that purpose and intent wrong, at least formally), rather than about what the atonement actually did.

The above criticism should not be taken as suggesting that Grudem is an Amyraldian. He is insistent that the atonement only paid for the sins of the elect. Nevertheless, his chapter contains a number of significant weaknesses, which prevent it from receiving the highest praise. Lest we end on a sour note, it should be observed that Grudem provides an interesting (if somewhat incomplete) bibliography at the end of the chapter, as he does at the end of many (perhaps all) of the chapters of his Systematic Theology. All in all, it is a good introduction to the topic, but you can get a more accurate and more detailed explanation in a number of the books to which Grudem refers his readers.

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Reformed Theology en Espanol (in Spanish)

August 25, 2008

I recently came across a blog for the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (link). My Spanish is not excellent, but it appears that this blog could become an excellent resource for those who are interested in Reformed theology, and who speak Spanish (particularly if they speak Spanish better than English). I particularly enjoy the on-going series that is being hosted providing translations various important reformed works on the church’s Systematic Theology blog (link).

Witsius Explains the Righteousness of Christ

August 8, 2008
Herman Witsius
The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man
Book II, Chapter V

XI. But we must proceed a step further, and affirm, moreover to that the obedience of Christ was accomplished by him, be believed, that it was in our room, in order thereby to obtain for us a right to eternal life. The law, which God will have secured inviolable, admits none to glory but on condition of perfect obedience, which none was ever possessed of but Christ, who bestows it freely on his own people. This is what the apostle declares, Rom. v. 16: “But the free gift of Jesus Christ is of many offenses unto justification:” that is, though we want those works, for which the reward may be due; nay, though for so many sins we may have deserved an eternal curse; nevertheless, there is something sufficient, not only for abolishing many offenses, but likewise to be the meritorious cause of righteousness; namely, the obedience of one; and it becomes ours by gratuitous gift. More clearly still, ver. 19, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made [constituted] sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made [constituted] righteous.” The former “one man” was Adam, the root and federal head of mankind. By his disobedience, all mankind, as belonging to him, were involved in the guilt of the curse: and as he sustained the person of all, what he did amiss is accounted as done by all. The other is the “one man” Christ, who neither sinned in and with Adam, nor had the dominion of sin and death passed upon him, and who is worthy to be both lord and head, a second Adam, and the origin and source of the inheritance to be devolved on his brethren. He is possessed of an obedience, even to the whole law of God, which enjoined him to have a perfect love for the glory of his Father, and for the salvation of his brethren. By that obedience, the collective body of those who belong to him are constituted righteous; that is, are judged to have a right to eternal life, no less than if every one had performed that obedience in his own person.

*** Emphasis in original. Edited by TurretinFan (2008) to modernize spelling — found at pages 178-79 of Volume 1 of the 1837 edition of this eminent work in systematic theology ***

Particular Redemption – Quotation from Reymond’s Systematic Theology

June 29, 2008

Monergism.com has provided a lengthy excerpt from Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. on the subject of Ten Lines of Evidence for Particular Redemption (link to excerpt).

Reymond’s Ten Lines:

1) The Particularistic Vocabulary of Scripture
2) God’s Redemptive Love Not Inclusive of Fallen Angels
3) The Irreversible Condition of Lost Men Already in Hell When Christ Died
4) The Limited Number of People, by Divine Arrangement, Who Actually Hear the Gospel
5) Christ’s High-Priestly Work Restricted to the Elect
6) The Father’s Particularistic Salvific Will and Work
7) The Death to Sin and Resurrection to Newness of Life of All Those for Whom Christ Died
8) The Implication in the Particularity of the Gift of Faith, a “Purchased” Blessing, For Christ’s Cross Work, the “Procuring” Act
9) The Intrinsic Efficacy of Christ’s Cross Work (Necessarily Exclusivistic)
10) An Atonement of High Value Necessarily Exclusive of an Atonement of Universal Extension

I encourage those who are considering the issue of Limited Atonement/ Particular Redemption to consider what Reymond has to say on the subject.

-TurretinFan

Grudem On-Line

June 17, 2008

I’ll confess that I greatly prefer Hodge, Shedd, Calvin, Turretin, Dabney, Ames, Ridgley, and Reymond to Grudem, and even prefer Berkhof to Grudem, nevertheless many of my Reformed Baptist brethren seem to enjoy Grudem’s Systematic Theology. That volume is now freely available on-line.

-TurretinFan

I’ve decided to remove the link, after reading the following article (link), which I cannot verify, and which contains certain misrepresentations upon which I won’t elaborate.

Read Systematic Theologies

May 17, 2008

I noticed recently that Peter Beck at “Living to God” has encouraged folks to read Systematic Theologies (link). While I’d rather invert his list (placing items 4 and 5 at the top, followed by 3, and then by 1 and 2, it is valuable to read systematic theologies, particularly those that have withstood the test of time. Such systematic theologies include:

1. Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology
2. Benedict Pictet’s Christian Theology
3. John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion
4. Herman Witsius’ Economy of the Divine Covenants Between God and Man
5. Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology
6. W.G.T. Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology
7. William Ames’ Marrow of Sacred Divinity

Among the contemporary systematic theologies, I would rank in the first place Robert Reymond’s New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (link to a bookstore that sells this book). At least the first six above are freely available on the internet, and Ames’ Marrow is back in print, I believe.

-Turretinfan


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