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AA Hodge on the Removal of Legal Obstacles

December 3, 2008

AA Hodge (sample):

1) 4th. Nor as to its actual application. Arminians agree with Calvinists that of adults only those who believe are saved, while Calvinists agree with Arminians that all dying in infancy are redeemed an saved. 5th. Nor is there any debate as to the universal reference of some of the benefits purchased by Christ. Calvinists believe that the entire dispensation of forbearance under which the human family rest since the fall, including for the unjust as well as the just temporal mercies and means of grace, is part of the purchase of Christ’s blood. They admit also that Christ did in such a sense die for all men, that he thereby removed all legal obstacles from the salvation of any and every man, and that his satisfaction may be applied to one man as well as to another if God so wills it.  AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1879), 416.

2) The design of Christ in dying was to effect what he actually does effect lo the result. lst  Incidentally to remove the legal impediments out of the way of all men, and render the salvation of every hearer of the gospel objectively possible, so that each one has a right to appropriate it at will, to impetrate temporal blessings for all, an f the means of grace for all to whom they are providentially supplied. AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1879), 417.

19. What was the doctrine of the “Marrow Men” in Scotland?

The “Marrow of Modern Divinity” was published in England, 1646, and republished in Scotland by James Hog of Carnock, 1726. The ” Marrow Men ” were Hog, Thomas Boston, and Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, and their followers in the Secession Church. They were perfectly orthodox with respect to the reference of the atonement to the elect Their peculiarity was that they emphasized the general reference of the atonement to all men They said Christ did not die for all, but he dead for all, i.e, available. “God made a deed of gift and grant of Christ unto all men.” They distinguished between “giving love,” which was universal and his “electing love,” which was special (“Marrow of Mod. Divinity “). Dr. John Brown said before the Synod of the United Secession Church, 1845, ” In the sense of the Universalist, that Christ died so as to secure salvation, I hold that he died only for the elect. In the sense of the Arminian, that Christ died so as to purchase easier terms of salvation, and common grace to enable men to comply with those terms, I hold that he died for no man. In the sense of the great body of Calvinists, that Christ died to remove legal obstacles in the way of human salvation by making perfect satisfaction for sin, I hold that he died for all men” (Hist. of Atonement controversy in Secess. Church, by Rev. And Robertson). AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1879), 417-418.

4) The question does not relate to the APPLICABILITY of the satisfaction rendered by Christ to the exact legal relations and to the necessities in order to the salvation of every lost sinner in the world. Christ did and suffered precisely what the law demanded of each man personally and of every man indiscriminately, and it may be at any time applied to the redemption of one man as well as to another, as far as the satisfaction itself is concerned. Putting these two things together, therefore, the sufficiency for all and the exact adaptation to each, it is plain as the sun in the heavens that the death of Christ did remove all legal obstacles out of the way of God’s saving any man he pleases. In this sense, if you please, Christ did make the salvation of all men indifferently possible, a parte Dei. He can apply it to any whomsoever he will ; but since his will never changes, there can be no distinction between his present will and his eternal design. AA Hodge, The Atonement ((London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1868), 329-330.

[Summary note: Firstly, while it appears that may have Turretin denied this doctrine, BB Warfield explicitly rejected it.  However, on this point, the affirmation of this doctrine is more continuous with mainstream Calvinist thought; contra Warfield.  Secondly, AA Hodge’s ‘removal of legal obstacles’ is itself not exactly reflective of classic and moderate Calvinism on this (and I think it can be said with good grounds that it was not even the position of his father, Charles Hodge). Given that AA Hodge affirms that Christ actually only sustained a legal and penal relationship with the elect, in his suffering, it cannot be said that the legal and penal obstacles which stand between the non-elect and God have been removed, other than a bare hypothetical removal. That is, all AA Hodge is saying here, is that the suffering of Christ is of such a nature–that is, he suffered objectively the same curse of the law which condemned the elect as it did every man–God could have applied it to any man, had he so chosen.  Had God so chosen to elect more than is currently elected, the same death of Christ could have equally been applied to them, because objectively the death of Christ enables God to save any one he pleases. However, this is far from saying that the present legal barriers between God and the present non-elect have been removed. This seems to be a contradiction within AA Hodge’s doctrine that he did not discern. Thirdly, Jonathan Moore has argued well that for John Preston (the source the Marrow of Modern Divinity cites), the phrase “Christ is dead for you” denoted “Christ died for you,” and thus both Thomas Boston and David Lachman have misunderstood both John Preston and the author of the Marrow when they assumed that the phrase referred to the more simple idea of the intrinsic sufficiency of Christ’s death, abstracted from any divine intentionality; see, Moore, J.D. “Calvin Versus The Calvinists? The Case of John Preston (1587-1628),” Reformation & Renaissance Review, 6 (2004): 327-348.]

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