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G. Michael Thomas on Zanchi and the Death of Christ.

October 15, 2007

Citations from Zanchi from a Secondary Source: G. Michael Thomas, The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus, (Paternoster: UK, 1997). Note: Thomas does not supply the title of the work for some of these references. The page numbers in brackets refer to Thomas’ work.

Zanchi on God’s Conditional Will:

It is granted that he seems to wish many things absolutely, others conditionally, in fact however, if it is spoken of properly, all things whatever God wills he wills absolutely and simply. Consequently all that he wills is done. For whatever he is said to will conditionally refers to the revelation of his will. For there is no conditional will of God.   “De Natura Dei-The Will of God,” [p., 93.]

Christ died only for the elect:

1) Christ according to the plan and will of the Father, neither prayed nor suffered except for the elect. [p., 96.]

2) The elect alone are saved… therefore God wills simply to save only them, and for them alone Christ died and for them alone he intercedes. [p., 96.]

3) regarding the plan and counsel of the Lord, and the eternal will of God, he died for the elect alone.Commentary on Ephesians,”  [p., 96.]

4) It cannot be said that it was properly and simply the will of God that Christ should die for the salvation of all… and… that Christ, according to the Father’s plan died for all… sufficiently. [p., 96.]

Christ died for all men:

1) It is not false that Christ died for all men, regarding the conditional will: namely, if they want to be partakers of his death by faith. For the passion of Christ is offered to all in the Gospel. No-one is excluded from it unless he excludes himself. [p., 96.]

2) We are ordered to believe the gospel, and the gospel both assumes that we have been redeemed through Christ and proclaims that we have been predestined in Christ, so we are commanded to believe simply that we have been predestined in Christ from eternity to obtain redemption. [p., 98.]

3) Those who, looking at the revealed will of God, teach that God both wills that all be saved, and that Christ died for the salvation of all, cannot be condemned. “Confessio,” [p., 102.]

I wanted to post these, even though they are so minimal and not directly from the primary sources in order to follow-up a little on my Twisse post. Most of us today simply condemn certain theologies simply because they sound a little differently. What Zanchi illustrates is another early Reformation attempt to set forth a synthetic position which seeks to do justice to Scripture which speaks to both a limited and unlimited aspect to the death of Christ.

When Zanchi in his definition of the gospel says that mankind is redeemed, it probably was not the case that he was communicating a lie, or that the sinner was to believe in an untruth, or even that Zanchi meant redeemed in some hypothetical (i.e., suppositional) sense, but that in some proper and actual sense. This is confirmed by the above quotations. What is more, in Zanchi, we can see some of the origins of Amyraut’s terminology. Amyraut his Tractatus, spoke of “conditional predestination.”[1]  Another source of Amyraut’s terminology is of course Musculus. And so all this supports and inter-relates with what Twisse has to say and, indeed, Twisse’s own theology.  To close, if per chance, one would still want to foolishly maintain that Amyraut was a disguised Arminian, in all honesty, the charge would have to be extended to both Twisse and to Zanchi.


[1] Amyraut, Moyse, Brief Treatise on Predestination and its Dependent Principles, trans.,Richard Lum, (no place, no publisher, 1985), 82.

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