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Zanchius on the Death of Christ

October 26, 2007


Mankind redeemed:

1) I. The gospell, what it is.

Concerning the gospell therefore, according to the signification received and used in the church, we beleeve that it is nothing else but the heavenly doctrine concerning Christ, preached by Christ himselfe and the apostles, and contained in the bookes of the Newe testament, bringing the best and most gladsome tidings to the world, namely, that mankinde is redeemed by the death of Iesus Christ, the onely, begotten Sonne of God. So that there is prepared for al men, if they repent and beleeve in Iesus Christ, a free remission of al their sinns, salvation, and eternall life. Wherefore it is fitlie called of the Apostle: ‘The gospel of our salvation’. Source: Girolamo Zanchi De religione christiana FidesConfession of Christian Religion, Edited by Luca Baschera and Christian Moser, (London: Brill, 2007), 253.

Conditional election:

1) VII. Everie one ought stedfastlie to beleeve he is elect in Christ, yet we may be more assured by the feeling of our faith in Christ.

Hence it is manifest, although no man in generall ought to exempt himself out of the number of the elect, sith the scripture doeth not so, but rather stedfastlie to trust that, when he is called to Christ, he is called according to the eternall decree and election of God. Yet, if any man will be more assured of his certaine election, he must run to his faith and the witnes of his conscience, whether he perceive that he truely beleeveth in Christ and whether he carrie a sincere love towards God and his neighbor. Yea, if he finde himself herein not altogether soundlie and thoroughlie setled, yet let him not desparre, but desire of God that he will helpe his unbeleefe, hoping that he may in time be better assured. Source: Girolamo Zanchi De religione christiana FidesConfession of Christian Religion, Edited by Luca Baschera and Christian Moser, (London: Brill, 2007), 141-142.


Hypothetical universalism and conditional election:

1) Thirdly therefore consider we the constant Doctrine of Divines, not that reprobates are bound to believe, but that all that hear the Gospel are bound to believe: but in what sense? Piscator says, as I remember, that the thing, which all such are bound to believe, is the Gospel; according to that Mar. 1. “Repent ye and believe the Gospel.” Now to believe the Gospel is one thing, the sum whereof is this, “That Jesus Christ came unto the world to save sinners;” but to believe in Christ is another thing, which yet this Author distinguishes not, though it appears by the course of his argumentation, that he draws to this meaning, and that in a particular sense, which is this, “to believe that Christ died for them;” as appears expressly in the latter end of this Section. And no marvel if this Author carry himself so confidently in this, being, as he is, armed with such confidence. But I am glad that in one place or other, he springs his meaning, that we may have the fairer flight at him, to pull down his pride, and sweep away his vain confidence: though we deal upon the most plausible argument of the Arminians, and which they think insoluble. My answer is; first, Look in what sense Arminius says Christ died for us, in the same sense we may be held to say (without prejudice to our Tenet) of absolute reprobation, that all who hear the Gospel are bound to believe that Christ died for them. For the meaning Arminius makes of Christ’s dying for us, is this, Christ died, for this end, that satisfaction being made for sin, the Lord now may pardon sin, upon what condition he will; which indeed is to die for obtaining a possibility of the redemption of all, but for the actual redemption of none at all.

Secondly, But I lift not to content myself and this; therefore, I farther answer, by distinction of the phrase dying for us, that we may not cheat ourselves by the confounding of things that differ. To die for us, or for all, is to die for our benefit, or for the benefit of all: Now these benefits are of a different nature, whereof some are bestowed upon man only conditionally (though for Christ’s sake) and they are the pardon of sin and Salvation of the Soul, and these God does confer only upon the condition of faith and repentance. Now I am ready to profess, and that, I suppose, as out of the mouth of all our Divines, that every one who hears the Gospel (without distinction between Elect and Reprobate) is bound to believe that Christ died for him, so far as to procure both the pardon of his sins, and the salvation of his soul, in case he believe and repent. But there are other benefits, which Christ by his obedience has merited for us, namely, the benefit of faith and repentance…

Now I demand from this Author can say truly, that tis the constant opinion of our Divines, that all who hear the Gospel, whether elect or Reprobate, are bound to believe that Christ died to procure them faith and repentance. Nay does any Arminian at this day believe this, or can he name any Arminian that does avouch this? Now does himself believe this? If he does not, if he cannot show any Arminian that does, with what face can he charge this opinion upon us, as if we should extend the obligation to believe, much farther then the Arminians doe, whereas usually they criminate us, for not extending it so far as we should…

And here first I observe, Zanchy is not charged to maintain, that every hearer of the Gospel, is bound to believe, that he is elect in Christ unto faith and repentance, but only to salvation: that puts me in good heart, that Zanchy & I shall shake hands of fellowship in the end, and part good friends. Secondly I distinguish between absolute-Election unto Salvation and election unto Salvation-absolute. The first only removes all cause on man’s part of election, the latter removes all cause on man’s part of salvation. By cause of salvation I mean only a disposing cause, such as faith, repentance, and good works are, as whereby (to express it in the Apostle’s phrase) we are “made partakers of the inheritance of the Saints of light.” Now albeit Zanchy maintains as we do, that all the elect are absolutely elected unto salvation, there being no cause on man’s part of his election, as we learned: yet neither Zanchy nor we maintain that God does elect any unto salvation absolute, that is to bring him to salvation, without any disposing of him thereunto by faith and repentance. Now to accommodate that opinion of Zanchy, I say it may have a good sense, to say that every hearer is bound to believe, both that Christ died to procure salvation for him, in the case he do believe, and that God ordained that he should be saved, in case he do believe; where belief is made the condition only of salvation, not of the Divine ordination; and the confusion of these by the Arminians, does usually make then confident and insolent, and in a word, Magnas Tragaedias excitare. But take away the confusion of things that differ, their combs are cut, their locks are shorn, and they are bit as another man. Now having showed in what sense every hearer is bound to believe that Christ died for him, and in what sense not, let us consider of what worth this Author’s arguments are, breathing nothing but smoke and fire, I will not say, like the great potan, but like fell dragon; but I nothing doubt we shall pair his nails, and make him calm enough ere we have done with him, so that a child shall be able enough to lead him.

1. The first is, because it is God’s will that the shall not believe, because “it is his peremptory will, that they shall have no power to believe.” I answer, it is indeed the will of God’s decree, that is, he has decreed not to give any Reprobate a justifying faith, but hence it follows not, that both Christ has merited, and God has ordained, that as many as do believe shall be saved. For this, as I take it, is not usually account by our Divines a justifying faith, but rather it comes within the compass of such a faith, as is commonly counted faith historical.

William Twisse, The Riches of God’s Love unto the Vessels of Mercy, consistent with his absolute hatred or reprobation of the Vessels of Wrath (Oxford, 1653), 1:153-155.


G. Michael Thomas quoting Zanchi:

Zanchi on God’s Conditional Will:

1) 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.]

Source: G. Michael Thomas, The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus, (Paternoster: UK, 1997).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    June 12, 2008 8:26 am

    I have updated the Zanchi file. The source is a small work which as far as I can tell is not his Confessions. The new date confirms G. Michael Thomas’ quotations. See: Primary Sources, Effectual Redemption.

  2. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    October 15, 2008 9:50 am

    I have updated the Zanchi file by adding a secondary source note from Davenant on Zanchi’s doctrine that every man is bound to believe he is elected.

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