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Tuesday
Mar012011

Theological Term of the Week

 

Amyraldism
A system of theology introduced by Moise Amyraut, in which the Calvinist doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints are affirmed, along with (contrary to Calvinism) the teaching that Christ died savingly for all people, making salvation hypothetically possible for all, while only the elect are brought to faith and actually saved; sometimes called Amyraldianism, hypothetical redemption, hypothetical universalism, or four-point Calvinism. 

  • Scripture that argues against Amyraldism:
    He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV)
  • From Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge:

    The Scriptures further teach that the gift of Christ secures the gift of all other saving blessings. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. viii 32.) Hence they are certainly saved for whom God delivered up his Son. The elect only are saved, and therefore He was delivered up specially for them, and consequently election must precede redemption. The relation, therefore, of redemption to election is as clearly determined by the nature of redemption as the relation of the sun to the planets is determined by the nature of the sun.

  • From the Canons of Dordt (ruling Amyraldism out):
    The Second Main Point of Doctrine

    Christ’s Death and Human Redemption Through It

    Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ’s Death

    For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.

  • From B. B. Warfield on Amyraldism, or, as he also calls it, Post-redemptionism, quoted from The Plan of Salvation:

    Post-redemptionism, therefore (although it is a recognizable form of Calvinism, because it gives real validity to the principle of particularism), is not therefore necessarily a good form of Calvinism, an acceptable form of Calvinism, or even a tenable form of Calvinism. For one thing, it is a logically inconsistent form of Calvinism and therefore an unstable form of Calvinism. For another and far more important thing, it turns away from the substitutive atonement, which is as precious to the Calvinist as is his particularism, and for the safeguarding of which, indeed, much of his zeal for particularism is due. I say, Post-redemptionism is logically inconsistent Calvinism. For, how is it possible to contend that God gave his Son to die for all men, alike and equally; and at the same time to declare that when he gave his Son to die, he already fully intended that his death should not avail for all men alike and equally, but only for some which he would select (which, that is, because he is God and there is no subsequence of time in his decrees, he had already selected) to be its beneficiaries? But as much as God is God, who knows all things which he intends from the beginning and all at once, and intends all things which he intends from the beginning and all at once, it is impossible to contend that God intends the gift of his Son for all men alike and equally and at the same time intends that it shall not actually save all but only a select body which he himself provides for it. The schematization of the order of decrees presented by the Amyraldians, in a word, necessarily implies a chronological relation of precedence and subsequence among the decrees, the assumption of which abolishes God, and this can be escaped only by altering the nature of the atonement. And therefore the nature of the atonement is altered by them, and Christianity is wounded at its very heart.

    The Amyraldians “point with pride” to the purity of their confession of the doctrine of election, and wish to focus attention upon it as constituting them good Calvinists. But the real hinge of their system turns on their altered doctrine of the atonement, and here they strike at the very heart of Calvinism. A conditional substitution being an absurdity, because the condition is no condition to God, if you grant him even so much as the poor attribute of foreknowledge, they necessarily turn away from a substitutive atonement altogether. Christ did not die in the sinner’s stead, it seems, to bear his penalties and purchase for him eternal life; he died rather to make the salvation of sinners possible, to open the way of salvation to sinners, to remove all the obstacles in the way of salvation of sinners. But what obstacle stands in the way of the salvation of sinners, except just their sin? And if this obstacle (their sin) is removed, are they not saved? Some other obstacles must be invented, therefore, which Christ may be said to have removed (since he cannot be said to have removed the obstacle of sin) that some function may be left to him and some kind of effect be attributed to his sacrificial death. He did not remove the obstacle of sin, for then all those for whom he died must be saved, and he cannot be allowed to have saved anyone. He removed, then, let us say, all that prevented God from saving men, except sin; and so he prepared the way for God to step in and with safety to his moral government to save men. The atonement lays no foundation for this saving of men: it merely opens the way for God safely to save them on other grounds.

Learn more:

  1. Theopedia: Amyraldism
  2. Sam Storms: Amyraldian Controversy
  3. Martyn J. McGeown: A Critical Examination of the Amyraldian View of the Atonement
  4. Rev. Angus Stewart: Amyraldianism and the Formula Consensus Helvetica (1674)
  5. Curt Daniel: Amyraldism (mp3)

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Reader Comments (2)

Rebecca,

When I was in Bible College and Seminary, I really enjoyed all the differences, shades, hues, and hair-splitting in theology. Now I wonder at it all: what's the point of it? Isn't a personal confession enough?

That's not to say that no-one should enjoy the minutiae of theological study. It's just to suggest that I, personally, found it more stressful in the end than beneficial.

So, how do the minutiae in theology benefit, or bolster your life?

March 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKane Augustus

Kane,

I've responded to your comment here.

March 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

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