29 October, 2016

The History of the Free Offer: Chapter Four: “Amyrauldianism”

Prof. Herman C. Hanko

Soon after the Synod of Dort had condemned the Arminian corruptions of sovereign predestination and sovereign grace and had set forth the Scriptural teachings concerning these matters, the School of Saumur in France made a fierce attack against them. The chief light of this school was a man by the name of Moise Amyraut, who founded what became known as the Amyrauldian system of predestination.

The school of Saumur, of which Amyraut was the chief figure, was founded by John Cameron, Amyraut's teacher, who later taught in England and influenced the Davenant School there. Cameron was the one who suggested the lines of thought that Amyraut developed into a hypothetical universalism.

To understand the theological context in which Cameron and Amyraut did their work, we must see clearly first of all that Cameron and Amyraut were both persuaded that the true teachings of John Calvin, especially on the doctrine of predestination, had been distorted by his successors, notably Theodore Beza and the theologians of the Synod of Dort. Cameron and Amyraut were convinced that Beza was in large measure responsible for a shift in Calvinism to a scholastic theology, which has come to characterize Protestant thinking. This shift to scholastic thought had distorted Calvin’s theology, especially on the question of predestination. Cameron and Amyraut, therefore, justified their departures from current Calvinistic thought by claiming that they were returning to pristine Calvinism and restoring Calvin’s true emphasis which had been so badly obscured by men who claimed to be followers of Calvin but who in fact distorted his central teachings.20

These men from Saumur offered as proof of their position the fact that Calvin had not discussed the doctrine of predestination at the beginning of his Institutes so that it was subsumed under the doctrine of God, but had treated it in connection with the doctrine of salvation. They claimed that Beza and Dordt had shifted this emphasis by moving predestination back to theology and had, therefore, made the doctrine speculative. They insisted that predestination indeed belonged to Soteriology where Calvin has placed it and that it must be treated after the doctrines of grace as an explanation ex post facto of why some believe and others do not.

It is interesting that this view, first proposed by John Cameron, has more recently been advanced by others who have had a quarrel with the truth of' sovereign predestination and who have tried to make their attack against this truth sound more reasonable by a reinterpretation of Calvin. It is, however, rarely said by those who suggest this reinterpretation that it is a reinterpretation first proposed by Amyraut. This certainly casts suspicion on it from the outset.

There is a prima facie case against this position, especially as it concerns Theodore Beza. The simple fact of the matter is that Calvin and Beza worked together for a number of years prior to Calvin’s death, that Beza was Calvin’s successor in the Academy in Geneva by Calvin’s express request, that Calvin surely knew Beza’s view on predestination, and that Calvin would never have approved of Beza’s position in the Academy if Beza diverged so greatly from this cardinal doctrine. It is impossible to conceive that Calvin would have never once expressed agreement with Beza’s views and would not have protested vehemently Beza’s appointment to the Academy if Beza was guilty of such great distortion of what Calvin taught. There is here an improbability that no amount of argument can overcome.

While it is true that Calvin developed his views on predestination in connection with Soteriology, it is also true that Calvin did not develop them as an ex post facto explanation of why some believe and others do not, but rather that predestination is the fountain and cause of faith by which the elect believe and the divine explanation of why others do not. That this is true is evident from Calvin’s very teaching concerning predestination in his Institutes from the fact that, although predestination is developed in connection with Soteriology, it is nevertheless mentioned repeatedly throughout the Institutes—also in connection with the doctrine of God; and from his treatment of this truth in his pamphlet on predestination which he wrote in the midst of the Bolsec controversy. Historically, this position is untenable.21

However that may be, this was the motivation behind the teachings of Cameron and Amyraut.

Cameron proceeded from a covenantal position, so he claimed, and taught that God established a twofold covenant: one, an absolute covenant, unconditional and rooted in antecedent love; the other a hypothetical covenant, dependent upon man’s condition of love. The latter was the important covenant because it was the covenant of experience. However, the power of man’s love is always God’s antecedent love.

This was the basis of the distinction that Amyraut developed in his hypothetical universalism.

Moise Amyraut was born in 1596 and died in 1664. He followed Cameron in his views of the covenant and agreed that the hypothetical covenant was the important one because it is the covenant of revelation and experience. Within this covenant the essential elements are obligation and promised reward, the latter conditioned by the former.

An important distinction must be made, according to Amyraut, between the Mosaic covenant that was legal and the gracious covenant of the promise. In connection with the latter, all mankind are the contracting parties, the condition for its fulfillment is faith, the promise is eternal life, the Mediator is Christ, and the efficacy is God’s work of mercy.

From this idea of the covenant followed Amyraut’s views of predestination. These views were developed especially in his Treatise on Predestination that was published in 1634—fifteen years after Dordt had adjourned. In this book he developed his idea of two wills in God: one a particular and unconditional will and the other a universal and conditional will. These two wills of God, so he said, were basically irreconcilable and part of the hidden mystery of God’s decree.

This double-will idea, Amyraut claimed, was taught already by Calvin and was in fact fundamental to Calvin’s teaching. We may note in passing, for we have already discussed this question in connection with Calvin’s teachings on the free offer, that it is true that Calvin made a distinction between the will of God’s decree and the will of God’s precept; but it is also true that Calvin specifically repudiated the idea that these two wills stand in contradiction with each other something which Amyraut insisted was true.

On the basis of the distinction between God’s particular and God’s universal will, Amyraut went on to teach that predestination as universal and conditional was a part of providence. It was a part of what are really “two counsels” in God that He took because of the fall. According to this universal and conditional will, God wills the salvation of all men and promises salvation to all upon the condition of faith. It is only because God knows that man is not able of himself to believe that God also wills particularly and unconditionally to save the elect.

Amyraut admits that he emphasized Calvin’s conditional will more than Calvin himself did, but that this was necessary because orthodox and scholastic theologians repudiated it altogether and he could restore the true balance of pure Calvinism only by emphasizing that which was so sorely neglected. He writes: “These words, ‘God wills the salvation of all men,’ necessarily meet with this limitation, ‘provided that they believe.’ If they do not believe, He does not will it, this will of making the grace of salvation universal and common to all men being in such a way conditional that without the accomplishment of the conditional it is completely inefficacious." Or again, "God wills all men to be saved … He invites them to repent … He extends His arms to them … He goes before them and calls them with a lively voice."

Here we have the essence of the free offer of the gospel as proposed by Amyraut. As we have had occasion to notice, the essential idea of the free offer is the idea that God desires the salvation of all men without exception, or, if that is too broad, God desires the salvation of all who hear the gospel and expresses that desire in the gospel. Amyraut proposed exactly that idea with his hypothetical universalism.

Hence, because the gospel expresses the universal will of God to save all men, it comes to men as an offer to all. At the Synod of Alencon, before which Amyraut was called to appear and answer for his views, he said:

So that those who are called by the preaching of the Gospel to participate by faith in the effects and fruits of His death, being invited seriously, and God vouchsafing them all external means needful for their coming to Him, and showing them in good earnest, and with the greatest sincerity by His Word, what would be well-pleasing to Him: if they should not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but perish in their obstinacy and unbelief; this cometh not from any defect or virtue or sufficiency in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, nor yet for want of summons or serious invitation unto faith and repentance, but only from their own fault.

The external call of the gospel, according to Amyraut, speaks of a sufficiency of salvation for all, a universal will of God to save all, and an objective grace for all which is needful for their coming to Christ. The subjective grace of salvation is dependent and conditioned upon faith. The objective grace is an offer of pardon to all while the subjective grace or salvation is conditional and only for those who come to Christ. These two graces correspond to the double will of God. The universal grace objectively given corresponds to God’s universal will to save all, while the subjective grace flows forth from God’s particular will to save only the elect.

All of this is rooted in the atonement. The atonement is universal in sufficiency, in intention, and in scope, and merits the grace that is objectively for all, but is subjectively given only to those who fulfill the condition of faith.

In his book, The Extent of the Atonement, F. Turretin quotes Testardus, a disciple of' Amyraut as follows:

Some of our ministers teach that by Christ’s atonement a new covenant was established with all, their salvation rendered possible and an offer of it made to them in the gospel.”22

He quotes Amyraut himself as saying:

Since the misery of the human family is equal and universal, and the desire which God has to free them from it by the Redeemer, proceeds from the mercy which He exercises towards us as His creatures, fallen into destruction, in which we are all equal; the grace of redemption, which He has procured for us and offers to us, should be equal and universal, provided we are equally disposed to its reception.23

Such are the views of Amyraut.

There are several remarks to be made by way of summary and evaluation of these views.

It is interesting and significant that at the heart of Amyraut’s views lies his conception of the double will of God. And it is particularly interesting that it is this view of God’s double will which was then and is now so closely linked with the idea of the gospel offer. It is not difficult to see why this should be so. Those who maintain a gospel offer teach that God desires the salvation of all who hear the gospel and expresses this desire in the preaching of the gospel. Thus it is God’s will that all who hear the gospel be saved. But at the same time, if one wants to maintain a semblance of being Reformed and Calvinistic, one must also insist that it is God’s will according to the decree of election to save some only. The only way to include both these ideas in one system of theology is to posit an irreconcilable contradiction within the will of God. On the one hand, God wills that all be saved; on the other hand, God wills that only some be saved.

It will not do to appeal to Calvin in this connection as if Calvin also taught such a double will of God, because it has been proved that he did not. While Calvin made a distinction within the will of God, he found perfect harmony and unity between these two aspects of' God’s will, and did so by denying that God in any sense wills the salvation of all men.

Defenders of the double-will theory will have to admit that their conception of this idea is not a conception that stands in the line of Calvin and Dordt; rather it is to be traced to Amyraut and his hypothetical universalism.

Yet this question lies at the basis of the free offer. We noticed that earlier in the history of the Reformers and of Dordt, certain ideas that were closely related to the free offer were brought up, but that no specific doctrine of the free offer was taught. Especially the Arminians brought up the ideas that stand in relation to the free offer, and these views were condemned by Dordt. But Amyraut is the first to set forth a clear and clearly worked out conception of the free offer of the gospel. The defenders of the free offer ought to take note of this. Their doctrine is not a doctrine that stands in the line of Reformed thinking through Dordt; it owes its origin to Amyrauldianism and the heresy of the theologians of Saumur.

Inseparably connected with the idea of the free offer stands the idea of the universality of the atonement. Dordt spoke, as we noticed, of a certain infinite value to the sacrifice of Christ. But Saumur went beyond this and taught a universality as to sufficiency, intention and scope. Only efficacy was limited to the elect. The connection between this and the idea of the free offer is clear. If God offers salvation to all in a serious and well-meaning way, then it follows that this salvation must somehow be rooted in the cross. And that can mean only that in some sense the atonement is universal. God cannot offer what is not available.

But behind the atonement stands the decree of predestination. We do not want to discuss at length the whole idea of hypothetical universalism as taught by the Saumur theologians, but we ought to notice that a defense of the free offer of the gospel inevitably involves one in a denial of the truth of sovereign predestination. The two may perhaps be maintained side by side in some unhappy contradictory way for a time, but the inevitable consequence is that sooner or later such contradictory ideas cannot both be maintained and predestination always falls by the way. This was true of the school of Saumur and it is equally true today. And no wonder. How can the doctrine of sovereign predestination be maintained when a double-will theory is believed? How can one consistently and clearly maintain God’s sovereign choice of His people and His sovereign damnation of the wicked in the way of their sins when it is also taught that God wills the salvation of all men according to His revealed will? This is utterly impossible.

At the same time, the question of grace also stands connected to this whole question. Amyraut taught a universal objective grace and a particular subjective grace, both merited in the cross. While he did not call this grace common, the idea of objective grace is strikingly similar to what has in more recent times come to be known as “common grace.” And it is very significant, as we shall have occasion to notice in our further discussions of these matters, that throughout history the idea of the free offer has more often than not been connected with common grace. This too ought not to surprise us. If God sincerely wills the salvation of all men, or at least of all who hear the gospel, then through the gospel He shows to them His own favor and love, His own grace and mercy i.e., to all who hear the gospel and not to His people only. It ought to give the defenders of common grace pause to think that this view has always been a view taught in connection with the free offer. And it ought to give the defenders of both pause that both ideas have their origin in Amyrauldianism.

But there is another side to this coin. It is interesting to notice too that Amyraut’s whole conception necessitated the teaching of a conditional salvation. The revealed covenant, according to Amyraut, was conditional; the revealed will of God to save all was conditional; the offer of salvation was conditional; and the promise of Christ was conditional—in every case the condition being faith. This connection between conditional theology and the free offer is also an idea that ought not surprise us. The idea of conditional theology has always been inseparably related to the free offer and an integral part of a conception which presents God as willing the salvation of all men. Nor is this hard to understand. If it is true that God wills the salvation of all men, how is it to be explained that only some are saved? The answer to that question is: Only those are saved who believe. Salvation is conditioned by faith and given only upon the exercise of faith.

While we shall have occasion to discuss this more fully in subsequent chapters, it is important that we understand now that this is a basically Arminian conception. One might object to this by saying that Amyraut (and all who try to maintain a conditional salvation at the same time as they try to maintain a sovereignty and particularism in the work of grace) insisted that the efficacy for believing was in God’s mercy and grace. While salvation was prepared for all, offered to all, and willed for all, it is dependent upon faith for its realization in the hearts of those who accept Christ. But that faith, so it is said, is actually worked by God. It is in this way that the sovereignty and efficacy of grace is said to be maintained. But this is specious nonsense. It is nonsense to say that Christ died (in some real sense) for all and that His cross is efficacious, but that only some are actually saved because its efficacy is limited to some. It is nonsense to say that God entreats all to be saved as His most earnest will, but promises salvation only to those who believe when He is the One giving faith. And all this is nonsense because we stand before one fundamental question: Is faith a part of salvation or is it not? Is election conditioned upon faith as the Arminians teach? If it is then election cannot be the fountain and cause of faith as Scripture teaches, for it cannot be both the condition to election and the fruit of election at the same time. Is faith a part of salvation, or is it a condition to salvation? It cannot be both. If it is a condition to salvation, then it is not a part of salvation. And if it is not a part of salvation then it is not worked by God, but by man. To maintain both at the same time is patent nonsense and impossible for any intelligent person to believe. Is faith a part of the promise proclaimed in the gospel, or is it a condition to the promise? That is, when through the gospel God promises salvation, does He promise it to all upon condition of faith? Then faith is not a part of the promise of salvation, but a condition to it. But then it is also man’s work. Or is it rather true that faith is a part of the promise of salvation, one of the gifts of salvation—of a salvation which is promised only to the elect, proclaimed through the gospel and worked by God in the hearts of those for whom Christ died? The latter is Calvinistic and Reformed. The former is sheer, undiluted Arminianism.

Conditional salvation and a general offer go hand in hand. And they go hand in hand because they are both Arminian and Amyrauldian.

Francis Turretin was deeply involved in the Amyrauldian controversy. He was a contemporary of Amyraut, teaching in Geneva at the time this controversy raged in France. And it was in part in response to this creeping heresy of Amyrauldianism that he helped draw up the Consensus Helvetica. There are a few of these articles which were specifically written against the Amyrauldian heresy and which repudiate the idea of the free offer of the gospel. While this confession never received confessional status in the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, it nevertheless indicates how this great theologian opposed what Amyraut taught. In this first article which we quote, the unconditionality of the covenant and the particularity of the atoning sacrifice of Christ is emphatically set forth.

XIII. As Christ was from eternity elected the Head, Prince, and Lord of all who, in time, are saved by His grace, so also in time, He was made Surety of the New Covenant only for those who by the eternal Election, were given to Him as His own people, His seed and inheritance. For according to the determinate counsel of the Father and His own intention, He encountered dreadful death instead of the elect alone, restored only these into the bosom of the Father’s grace, and these only He reconciled to God, the offended Father, and delivered from the curse of the law. For our Jesus saves His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), Who gave His life a ransom for many sheep (Matthew 20:28, John 10:15), His own, who hear His voice (John 10:27, 28), and for those only He also intercedes, as a divinely appointed Priest, and not for the world (John 17:9). Accordingly in the death of Christ, only the elect, who in time are made new creatures (II Corinthians 5:17), and for whom Christ in His death was substituted as an expiatory sacrifice, are regarded as having died with Him and as being justified from sin; and thus, with the counsel of the Father who gave to Christ none but the elect to be redeemed, and also with the working of the Holy Spirit, Who sanctifies and seals unto a living hope of eternal life none but the elect, the will of Christ who died so agrees and amicably conspires in perfect harmony, that the sphere of the Father’s election, the Son’s redemption, and the Spirit’s sanctification is one and the same.

In the next article the errors of Amyraut are specifically condemned, although Amyraut is not mentioned by name.

XIV. Since all these things are entirely so, surely we cannot approve the contrary doctrine of those who affirm that of His own intention, by His own counsel and that of the Father Who sent Him, Christ died for all men each upon the impossible condition, provided they believe; that He obtained for all a salvation, which nevertheless, is not applied to all, and by His death merited salvation and faith for no one individually and certainly, but only removed the obstacle of Divine Justice, and acquired for the Father the liberty of entering into a new covenant of grace with all men; and finally, they so separate the active and passive righteousness of Christ, as to assert that He claims His active righteousness for Himself as His own, but gives and imputes only His passive righteousness to the elect. All these opinions, and all that are like these, are contrary to the plain Scriptures and the glory of Christ, who is Author and Finisher of our faith and salvation; they make His cross of none effect, and under the appearance of augmenting His merit, they really diminish it.

In Article XIX, the subject of the call of the gospel is addressed.

XIX. Likewise the external call itself, which is made by the preaching of the Gospel, is on the part of God also, who calls, earnest and sincere. For in His Word He unfolds earnestly and most truly, not, indeed, His secret intention respecting the salvation or destruction of each individual, but what belongs to our duty, and what remains for us if we do or neglect this duty. Clearly it is the will of God Who calls, that they who are called come to Him and not neglect so great salvation, and so He promises eternal life also in good earnest, to those who come to Him by faith; for, as the Apostle declares, “It is a faithful saying:—For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” Nor in regard to those who do not obey the call is this will inefficacious, for God always attains that which he intends in His will, even the demonstration of duty, and following this, either the salvation of the elect who do their duty, or the inexcusableness of the rest who neglect the duty set before them. Surely the spiritual man in no way secures the internal purpose of God to produce faith along with the externally proffered, or written Word of God. Moreover, because God approved every verity which flows from His counsel therefore it is rightly said to be His will, that, all who see the Son and believe on Him may have everlasting life (John 6:40). Although these “all” are the elect alone, and God formed no plan of universal salvation without any selection of persons, and Christ therefore died not for everyone but for the elect only who were given to Him, yet He intends this in any case to be universally true, which follows from His special and definite purpose.

This idea of the command of the gospel must be distinguished clearly from the idea of a free or well-meant offer. It is true, as we observed in an earlier chapter, that sometimes among Reformed theologians the word "offer" was used in this sense. And when it is used in this sense, we have no quarrel with the idea that is proposed by it. Nevertheless, the idea must be distinguished from what is commonly taught by those who maintain a free offer. The latter teach that through the preaching God expresses His desire, willingness and intention to save all that hear the gospel because it is His revealed will to save all—a will that is rooted in some sense in an atonement which is for all. That through the preaching of the gospel the command to repent of sin and believe comes to all is an entirely different idea. This command is rooted in the creation ordinance itself. God created man good and upright, capable in all things to will the will of God. When man fell, he lost all ability to obey God and keep His commandments and plunged himself into the ruin of sin and death. But just because man, through his own foolishness and sin, lost the ability to love His God, God does not withdraw His requirements which demand of man that man obey Him. God is just and righteous in all that He does. Whether man can or cannot keep God's law makes no difference whatsoever. God still requires of man that which He originally required when He created man upright and able to serve Him.

Here too Arminianism and Calvinism part ways. Arminianism takes the position that obligation can rest only upon ability. But this is dangerously false and utterly contrary to Scripture. The Heidelberg Catechism puts a stop to such evil thinking once and for all when it says:

Doth not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform? Not at all, for God made man capable of performing it; but man, by the instigation of the devil, and his own willful disobedience, deprived himself and all his posterity of those divine gifts (Q. & A. 9).

It is this truth that forms the basis for the command of the gospel that comes to all to turn from sin and obey God.

Turretin faced the question of what this command to obey God and believe in Christ actually means. In answering this question, he made a distinction in the idea of faith. We quote him at some length because this is a question of some importance. He is dealing with the question how the command not only to repent of sin but also to believe in Christ can come to all. He makes a distinction between believing in Christ and believing that Christ died for one.

What everyone is bound to believe absolutely and simply, directly and immediately, without anything previously supposed, we grant is true. But the case is different in relation to those things that one is bound to believe mediately and in consequence of some acts supposed to be previously done. It is false, however, that all men are bound to believe that Christ died for them simply and absolutely. In the first place, those to whom the Gospel has never been preached, to whom Christ has never been made known, are not surely bound to believe that Christ died for them. This can be affirmed of those only who are called in the Gospel, “How can they believe in him of whom they have not heard, and how can they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13). Secondly, even all those who hear the Gospel are not bound to believe directly and immediately that Christ died for them, but mediately. The acts of faith and repentance are presupposed; they must precede a belief that Christ died for one’s self; for Christ’s death belongs to those only who believe and repent. So far is it from being true that unbelievers are bound to believe that Christ died for them, that he who persuades them so to believe miserably mocks them …24

In order to explain this in the light of the fact that all who hear the gospel are commanded to believe in Christ, Turretin makes the following distinctions:

I shall proceed to distinguish various acts of faith. First, one act of faith is direct which has for its object the offer of the Gospel.25 By this act I fly to Christ and embrace his promises. Another act is reflex, and has for its object the direct act of faith. By this act I discovered that I have indeed believed, and that the promises of the Gospel belong to me. Again, the direct act of faith is twofold. One of its operations consists in the assent which it gives to the Word of God and to the promises of the Gospel, as true in relation to the giving of salvation to all who repent and by a living faith fly to Christ and embrace him. Another operation of saving faith is its taking refuge and trusting in Christ, acknowledging him as the only sufficient Saviour. It is by this we fly to him, rest in him, and from him obtain pardon of our sins and salvation. Now, that faith which is commanded us to the first and second acts which are direct, before it is commanded as to the third act which is reflex, and which necessarily supposes the two former; as it cannot exist unless preceded by them. Hence we are enabled clearly to detect the fallacy of the above objection. When the objection speaks of the faith commanded, it refers to that act by which the sinner lays hold of Christ; but when it speaks of the thing believed, then it refers to the last, by which we believe from the evidence furnished by the direct act in our souls, that Christ died for us. Christ is not revealed in the Gospel as having died for me in particular; but only as having died in general for those who believe and repent. Hence I reason from that faith and repentance which I find actually to exist in my heart, that Christ has, indeed, died for me in particular …

Hence it appears that the command to believe in Christ embraces many things before we come to the last consolatory act by which we believe that he died for us …26

It is clear from this that Turretin is struggling with the question of how the command to believe can come to all when Christ did not die for all. To solve this problem, he makes a distinction between the direct act of faith and the reflex act of faith, the former referring only to the command to believe in Christ as One in Whom is full salvation for those who come to Him; and the latter being the act of faith whereby one personally appropriates Christ as one’s own. Only the former is the content of the command that comes to all who hear the gospel.

But is this distinction satisfactory? While we shall have opportunity to discuss this matter more fully, we ought now to notice that the Scriptures themselves do not make such a distinction in faith when the Scriptures make clear that all who hear the gospel must be confronted with the command to believe.

However, it must be remembered that Turretin is looking at the question more from the subjective point of view; i.e., from the viewpoint of the one to whom the command comes. And then it is clear that, while it is indeed true that the command to believe in Christ surely does include the command to assent to the Scriptures as true and to believe that Christ’s sacrifice is the perfect and complete sacrifice for sin, Turretin’s distinction separates “assent” from “assurance” and seems to do this chronologically as faith operates in the believer. It really is the same distinction which arises in discussions found later in Reformed and Presbyterian theology concerning the question whether assurance is part of the essence of faith. It suggests an historical faith that includes assurance and trust, though it is not personal—i.e., a personal assurance that Christ died for me. But this is not wholly satisfactory, for it is surely true that to believe that Christ’s sacrifice is the perfect and complete sacrifice for sin necessarily implies a personal fleeing from sin and resting in Christ, i.e. a personal appropriation that Christ is indeed my Savior and Redeemer.

We shall have occasion to return to this subject in future discussions, but it is important now to understand several points. In the first place, Turretin repudiated the whole concept of the free and well-meant offer of the gospel, along with its corollary that Christ in some sense died for all. Secondly, Turretin did not deny that the command to believe in Christ comes to all. This truth he steadfastly maintained and those who repudiate the idea of a free offer have always maintained this truth. In the third place, as he attempted to harmonize this with a particular or limited atonement, he distinguished between the activity of faith in such a way that he separated the “assent” of faith from its “assurance.” With this we cannot entirely agree, and there is no Scriptural warrant for doing this. Nevertheless, he clearly maintained that the atonement of Christ was limited to the elect only and that no idea of a universal atonement can serve as the basis for an offer that expresses God’s intent to save all. In this respect Turretin stands in the line of Reformed thought.


20. Although the Saumur School originated this idea, it has become common in the last half century or so to hold to the same idea, namely that Calvin’s teachings, especially on predestination, were distorted by his successors. We have examined this question in detail in a series of articles in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal beginning with the issue of Spring, 1988. The interested reader can find the pertinent material and an examination of this claim in these articles (click HERE).

21. This particular point I have addressed in an article in the Journal, Vol. X, No. 2 (click HERE).

22. Baker Book House, 1978, p. 121.

23. Idem.

24. “The Atonement of Christ,” Francis Turretin, Baker Book House, 1978, pp. 177, 178.

25. Turretin used the word “offer” here in the sense of the general proclamation of the gospel, which is its meaning as derived from the Latin offere.

26. Ibid., pp. 179—181.

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