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Augustine, Prosper, Gottschalk and Aquinas

April 21, 2009

Scott Clark has again posted a provocative post on the history of the doctrine of the atonement.

I say provocative–in a most friendly manner of course–because of some critical points left out.

While one may say that most of the elements of definite atonement can be found in Augustine, Augustine also said that Judas Iscariot was redeemed by Christ, along with the whole world.

On Prosper, he did actually say Christ was also crucified for the entire world; and more still.

On Aquinas, while it is true that he said Christ died only effectively for the human race, its also true that he said Christ satisfied for the whole human race.

The thing to keep in mind is that for the Augustinians, it was not an either/or but a both-and. Christ died for all men in one sense, and for the elect alone in another sense. Christ redeemed all men in one sense, but redeemed the elect alone in another sense. Satisfied for the sins of all men in one sense, for the elect alone in another sense. Christ shed his blood for all men in one sense, but for the elect alone in another sense.

As to Gottaschalk, let’s also remember that, as far as I can see, no one cites Gottschalk with approval as an authority on the extent of the atonement.  Davenant cites him, but shows how his position was rejected.  It was Prosper who was always seen as the true exponent of Augustine.

To state again, all that is said above is said in as friendly manner as possible, with the view to clarify and expand our understanding.

Thanks
David

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    April 21, 2009 5:55 pm

    I cannot wrap my head around why the both-and model is so troubling. It is the only solution that does justice to the universal passages and the particular passages without fancy foot working one group into the other group.

    The 1/2 Calvinist’s (only seeing the particular passages) really work some amazing gymnastics with the definition of Lord in 2nd Peter 2:1 and perform awful surgery with the definition of world in multiple passages.

    Being fair, I used the same defenses for years. The either-or model only restricts a fuller understanding of the atonement, it does not REMOVE limited atonement.

    I think it is fair to say, the moderate/historical position does not turn TULIP into TUUIP, it is just a broader definition of the Atonement part of Limited Atonement that includes rather than ignores the rest of mankind and how they relate to the reasons for and application of Christ’s death and resurrection.

    Theology should be seamless and make sense of all the passages involved. The 1/2 Calvinist’s strict definition and application is a hermeneutic that is driven by using logic to force feed a preconceived doctrine onto contrary passages to force a harmonized system.

    I think this whole argument can pretty much be boiled down to your either-or verses both-and models. As seen with the above post and the post that created the response.. the either-or, logic (driven) over analogy of faith model forces its users to only see and recognize only 1/2 of the application of Christ’s atonement.

    Our position is not some anemic version of atonement and redemption, theirs is.

  2. Flynn permalink*
    April 23, 2009 4:28 pm

    Hey Josh,

    Josh: I cannot wrap my head around why the both-and model is so troubling. It is the only solution that does justice to the universal passages and the particular passages without fancy foot working one group into the other group.

    David: I think it is because the way in which things have been loaded. To “satisfy” has been portrayed as having a sort of absolute efficacy, such that its conceptually impossible for Christ to make a satisfaction for sin for a man, and yet that man have to make his own satisfaction were he to reject Christ. Secondly, we have loaded up the merit language. The satisfaction not only satisfies God’s legal curse, by meeting all its demands, it merits something positively. So like this, the satisfaction not only fills in what has been missing, but it also buys something on top of that. So if Christ satisfied for a man, that satisfaction not only meets all the laws demands against that man, it purchases faith, regeneration, indeed, salvation, for that man. This meriting was viewed as being equivalent to purchasing.

    This idea of the satisfaction infallibly purchasing salvation has led to all the confusion on the time of justification, and to the hesitancy of many (like Owen) to admit that the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath of God in the same way as the living unbelieving reprobate are. At this point, the doctrine of total depravity is qualified.

    When the satisfaction is set in these constructs, it becomes impossible to conceptualize the both-and model.

    Josh says: The 1/2 Calvinist’s (only seeing the particular passages) really work some amazing gymnastics with the definition of Lord in 2nd Peter 2:1 and perform awful surgery with the definition of world in multiple passages.

    David: Yes. For example, if go here, you will see, first, Waldron’s attempt to avoid the common sense force of 1 Cor 15:3 by positing speculative alternatives, none of which are rooted in any exegetical argument. Secondly, see Kanga’s response, which I think for the most part is spot on. I think he is exactly write in noting who exactly has the burden of proof. For example, it is one thing to show that in a given instance, an “all” or a “world” or a “our” may not include every member of the intended audience without ANY exception, for all that establishes is the possibility of permissive parity. It is entirely another thing to use those “examples” to claim that in the given disputed text, the noun or pronoun must equally be taken in the same way, as NOT denoting the entirety of the audience. Many make the mistake of moving from permissive parity to alleged entailment of probability, etc.

    If I come back to your point, yes. Kanga could have come closer there–in that discussion with Andrew–by pointing out that verses which speak to specificity of intended destiny, does not preclude the other half of the Scripture data relating to the universality of the work of Christ.

    Josh: Being fair, I used the same defenses for years. The either-or model only restricts a fuller understanding of the atonement, it does not REMOVE limited atonement.

    David: exactly, it does not deny that Christ self-consciously died to infallibly secure the salvation of the elect. What it does deny is the idea that the satisfaction has the functional efficacy of a pecuniary satisfaction (an old holdover from Rome).

    Josh: I think it is fair to say, the moderate/historical position does not turn TULIP into TUUIP, it is just a broader definition of the Atonement part of Limited Atonement that includes rather than ignores the rest of mankind and how they relate to the reasons for and application of Christ’s death and resurrection.

    David: I was talking to Richard Muller about this, and he too does not the TULIP, it is a modern construct. He points out that in Dutch, the Tulip is TULP. And he says TULIP is not Dort. He is exactly right. It’s a shame that we have made something coined probably in the beginning of the 20thC a litmus test of orthodoxy. Our uber apologist friends should tone down on some fo their rhetoric on this.

    Josh: Theology should be seamless and make sense of all the passages involved. The 1/2 Calvinist’s strict definition and application is a hermeneutic that is driven by using logic to force feed a preconceived doctrine onto contrary passages to force a harmonized system.

    David: I thought about what you said. Your point plays a twist on the so-called 4 point Calvinism. Or as some say, 4.5 point Calvinism. Limited atonement, would be actually half of the early Calvinist doctrine of the atonement: in that it only underlines one half of Christ’s work. But overall, the point language needs to be dropped: its anti-intellectual in its core and naively reductionist.

    Josh: I think this whole argument can pretty much be boiled down to your either-or verses both-and models. As seen with the above post and the post that created the response.. the either-or, logic (driven) over analogy of faith model forces its users to only see and recognize only 1/2 of the application of Christ’s atonement.

    David: More often than not, the either/or model is driven by logic and sometimes speculative logic at that.

    Josh: Our position is not some anemic version of atonement and redemption, theirs is.

    David: Agreed. The both-and position is very robust. Take for example Kanga’s objection in the comment discussion with Andrew (link above), most of his objections would be a non-issue. I think thats why Dabney’s defense of effectual redemption is the best and most thoughtful.

    Thanks,
    David

  3. Josh permalink
    April 23, 2009 5:08 pm

    Nice reply, you filled in some gaps for me.

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