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Hypothetical Sufficiency vs Hypothetical Efficiency

January 18, 2009

According to the Sufficiency formula of High Orthodoxy, ie High Calvinism, the extrinsic sufficiency of the expiation for all is hypothetical. Thus in the words of men like Witsius, Turretin and Owen, “had or if God so chosen, the atonement would have been sufficient for all.”

If we want to understand the import of this change, it may help to realize that in terms of the classic Lombardian formula, it is in the efficiency side of the equation where any hypotheticality is located: that is, the atonement is hypothetically efficient for all. For, while the sufficiency is actually for all, even equally for all, it is the case that had God so chosen, the atonement could have been efficient for all.

It is a subtle point, but significant nonetheless.

In High Calvinism, however, we also have a sort of redundancy: for the efficiency and sufficiency are collapsed into one because as much as the efficiency of the atonement could have been for all, had God so chosen, so too is the sufficiency of the atonement: both are now only hypothetically available for all.

For documentation, go to here, and scroll down to the Sufficiency section.


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