Was Calvin a Four Point Calvinist?

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  1. Paul33

    Paul33
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    From Calvin's Commentaries

    Isaiah 53:12:

    I have followed the ordinary interpretation, that "he bore the sin of many," though we might without impropriety consider the Hebrew word Mybr (rabbim,) to denote "Great and Noble." And thus the contrast would be more complete, that Christ, while "he was ranked among transgressors," became surety for every one of the most excellent of the earth, and suffered in the room of those who hold the highest rank in the world. I leave this to the judgment of my readers. Yet I approve of the ordinary reading, that he alone bore the punishment of many, because on him was laid the guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that "many" sometimes denotes "all."

    John 1:29:

    Behold the Lamb of God. The principal office of Christ is briefly but clearly stated; that he takes away the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and reconciles men to God.

    Who taketh away the sin of the world. He uses the word sin in the singular number, for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said, that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says, the sin Of The World, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race; that the Jews might not think that he had been sent to them alone. But hence we infer that the whole world is involved in the same condemnation; and that as all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God, they need to be reconciled to him. John the Baptist, therefore, by speaking generally of the sin of the world, intended to impress upon us the conviction of our own misery, and to exhort us to seek the remedy. Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided that he comes to him by the guidance of faith.

    [Faith is the mechanism by which Christ intercedes on our behalf before the Father, applying the payment for sin that he secured by his sacrificial death on the cross.]

    John 3:16:

    Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, faith ought to look.

    He gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him may not perish.
    This, he says, is the proper look of faith, to be fixed on Christ, in whom it beholds the breast of God filled with love: this is a firm and enduring support, to rely on the death of Christ as the only pledge of that love.

    That whosoever believeth on him may not perish. It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction. For he intended expressly to state that, though we appear to have been born to death, undoubted deliverance is offered to us by the faith of Christ; and, therefore, that we ought not to fear death, which otherwise hangs over us. And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.

    Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father -- that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ.

    Still it is not yet very evident why and how faith bestows life upon us. Is it because Christ renews us by his Spirit, that the righteousness of God may live and be vigorous in us; or is it because, having been cleansed by his blood, we are accounted righteous before God by a free pardon? It is indeed certain, that these two things are always joined together; but as the certainty of salvation is the subject now in hand, we ought chiefly to hold by this reason, that we live, because God loves us freely by not imputing to us our sins. For this reason sacrifice is expressly mentioned, by which, together with sins, the curse and death are destroyed. I have already explained the object of these two clauses, which is, to inform us that in Christ we regain the possession of life, of which we are destitute in ourselves; for in this wretched condition of mankind, redemption, in the order of time, goes before salvation.

    John 3:17:

    He came not to destroy; and therefore it follows, that it is the peculiar office of the Son of God, that all who believe may obtain salvation by him. There is now no reason why any man should be in a state of hesitation, or of distressing anxiety, as to the manner in which he may escape death, when we believe that it was the purpose of God that Christ should deliver us from it. The word world is again repeated, that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only keep the road of faith.


    John 3:18:

    But he who believeth not is condemned already. This means that there is no other remedy by which any human being can escape death; or, in other words, that for all who reject the life given to them in Christ, there remains nothing but death, since life consists in nothing else than in faith.

    [Jesus paid the penalty for sin, but since they do not have faith to believe, he does not apply the payment for sin to their account.]

    John 6:51:

    Which I shall give for the life of the world. The word give is used in various senses. The first giving, of which he has formerly spoken, is made daily, whenever Christ offers himself to us. Secondly, it denotes that singular giving which was done on the cross, when he offered himself as a sacrifice to his Father; for then he delivered himself up to death for the life of men, and now he invites us to enjoy the fruit of his death. For it would be of no avail to us that that sacrifice was once offered, if we did not now feast on that sacred banquet. It ought also to be observed, that Christ claims for himself the office of sacrificing his flesh. Hence it appears with what wicked sacrilege the Papists pollute themselves, when they take upon themselves, in the mass, what belonged exclusively to that one High Priest.

    [Again, the idea that the sacrifice avails for nothing, if we don’t apply it to our hearts. Christ alone is the High Priest who can apply the payment for sin to our account.]

    John 17:9:

    There is only this difference between the two cases, that we pray for the salvation of all whom we know to have been created after the image of God, and who have the same nature with ourselves; and we leave to the judgment of God those whom he knows to be reprobate. But in the prayer which is here related there was some special reason, which ought not to be produced as an example; for Christ does not now pray from the mere impulse of faith and of love towards men, but, entering into the heavenly sanctuary, he places before his eyes the secret judgments of the Father, which are concealed from us, so long as we walk by faith.

    Besides, we learn from these words, that God chooses out of the world those whom he thinks fit to choose to be heirs of life, and that this distinction is not made according to the merit of men, but depends on his mere good-pleasure. For those who think that the cause of election is in men must begin with faith. Now, Christ expressly declares that they who are given to him belong to the Father; and it is certain that they are given so as to believe, and that faith flows from this act of giving. If the origin of faith is this act of giving, and if election comes before it in order and time, what remains but that we acknowledge that those whom God wishes to be saved out of the world are elected by free grace? Now since Christ prays for the elect only, it is necessary for us to believe the doctrine of election, if we wish that he should plead with the Father for our salvation. A grievous injury, therefore, is inflicted on believers by those persons who endeavor to blot out the knowledge of election from the hearts of believers, because they deprive them of the pleading and intercession of the Son of God.

    1 John 2:2:

    And not for ours only. He added this for the sake of amplifying, in order that the faithful might be assured that the expiation made by Christ, extends to all who by faith embrace the gospel.

    Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ 1 suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.

    [Salvation is available to all who believe by faith. Calvin limits this passage to the elect, while agreeing that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world. His death was universal, but the application is particular.]

    2 Corinthians 5:19:

    God was in Christ. Some take this as meaning simply -- God reconciled the world to himself in Christ; but the meaning is fuller and more comprehensive -- first, that God was in Christ; and, secondly, that he reconciled the world to himself by his intercession.

    Now, although Christ's coming as our Redeemer originated in the fountain of Divine love towards us, yet until men perceive that God has been propitiated by the Mediator, there must of necessity be a variance remaining, with respect to them, which shuts them out from access to God.

    Not imputing to them. Mark, in what way men return into favor with God -- when they are regarded as righteous, by obtaining the remission of their sins. For so long as God imputes to us our sins, He must of necessity regard us with abhorrence; for he cannot be friendly or propitious to sinners.

    In the mean time, however, I confess, that the love of God was first in point of time, and of order, too, as to God, but with respect to us, the commencement of his love has its foundation in the sacrifice of Christ. For when we contemplate God without a Mediator, we cannot conceive of Him otherwise than as angry with us: a Mediator interposed between us, makes us feel, that He is pacified towards us. As, however, this also is necessary to be known by us -- that Christ came forth to us from the fountain of God's free mercy, the Scripture explicitly teaches both -- that the anger of the Father has been appeased by the sacrifice of the Son, and that the Son has been offered up for the expiation of the sins of men on this ground -- because God, exercising compassion towards them, receives them, on the ground of such a pledge, into favor 4
    The whole may be summed up thus: "Where sin is, there the anger of God is, and therefore God is not propitious to us without, or before, his blotting out our sins, by not imputing them. As our consciences cannot apprehend this benefit, 5 otherwise than through the intervention of Christ's sacrifice, it is not without good reason, that Paul makes that the commencement and cause of reconciliation, with regard to us.

    [Without the intercession of Christ, God will not blot out our sins.]

    2 Corinthians 5:21:

    Him who knew no sin. Do you observe, that, according to Paul, there is no return to favor with God, except what is founded on the sacrifice of Christ alone? Let us learn, therefore, to turn our views in that direction, whenever we desire to be absolved from guilt. He now teaches more clearly, what we adverted to above -- that God is propitious to us, when he acknowledges us as righteous. For these two things are equivalent -- that we are acceptable to God, and that we are regarded by him as righteous.

    [God does not acknowledge us as righteous until Christ intercedes on our behalf.]

    Galatians 1:4:

    Who gave himself for our sins. He begins with commending the grace of Christ, in order to recall and fix on Him the attention of the Galatians; for, if they had justly appreciated this benefit of redemption, they would never have fallen into opposite views of religion. He who knows Christ in a proper manner beholds him earnestly, embraces him with the warmest affection, is absorbed in the contemplation of him, and desires no other object. The best remedy for purifying our minds from any kind of errors or superstitions, is to keep in remembrance our relation to Christ, and the benefits which he has conferred upon us.

    These words, who gave himself for our sins, were intended to convey to the Galatians a doctrine of vast importance; that no other satisfactions can lawfully be brought into comparison with that sacrifice of himself which Christ offered to the Father; that in Christ, therefore, and in him alone, atonement for sin, and perfect righteousness, must be sought; and that the manner in which we are redeemed by him ought to excite our highest admiration. What Paul here ascribes to Christ is, with equal propriety, ascribed in other parts of Scripture to God the Father; for, on the one hand, the Father, by an eternal purpose, decreed this atonement, and gave this proof of his love to us, that he "spared not his only-begotten Son, (Romans 8:32,) but delivered him up for us all;" and Christ, on the other hand, offered himself a sacrifice in order to reconcile us to God. Hence it follows, that his death is the satisfaction for sins. 3

    [Jesus paid the penalty for sin.]

    That he might deliver us. He likewise declares the design of our redemption to be, that Christ, by his death, might purchase us to be his own property. This takes place when we are separated from the world; for so long as we are of the world, we do not belong to Christ.

    [It is not the death of Christ that makes the payment for sin applicable to us, but the intercession of Christ. Otherwise, the elect would be “not guilty” and “reconciled” to God regardless of whether or not they had faith. The benefit of Christ’s sacrificial death does not take effect until he intercedes on the basis of faith. On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world. At the Father’s right hand he applies the “satisfaction for sins” which he secured at the cross to those who have faith. He secures the right to make payment for our sins by becoming sin for us; he renders payment to our account when he intercedes at the Father’s right hand on the basis of faith.]

    Hebrews 9:24-28

    24. For Christ is not entered, etc. This is a confirmation of the former verse. He had spoken of the true sanctuary, even the heavenly; he now adds that Christ entered there.

    So formerly the Levitical priest stood before God in the name of the people, but typically; for in Christ is found the reality and the full accomplishment of what was typified.

    Christ was indeed our advocate when he was on earth; but it was a further concession made to our infirmity that he ascended into heaven to undertake there the office of an advocate. So that whenever mention is made of his ascension into heaven, this benefit ought ever to come to our minds, that he appears there before God to defend us by his advocacy. Foolishly, then, and unreasonably the question is asked by some, has he not always appeared there? For the Apostle speaks here only of his intercession, for the sake of which he entered the heavenly sanctuary.

    25. But as that only true sacrifice which Christ offered once for all is ever efficacious, and thus perpetual in its effects, it is no wonder that on its virtue, which never fails, Christ's eternal priesthood should be sustained.

    26. For then must he often have suffered, etc. He shows how great an absurdity follows, if we do not count it enough that an expiation has been made by the one sacrifice of Christ.

    Except then the sacrifice of Christ was efficacious, no one of the fathers would have obtained salvation; for as they were exposed to God's wrath, a remedy for deliverance would have failed them, had not Christ by suffering once suffered so much as was necessary to reconcile men to God from the beginning of the world even to the end.


    To put away, or to destroy sin, etc.2 This agrees with Daniel's prophecy, in which the sealing up and the abolition of sins are promised, and in which it is also declared that there would be an end to sacrifices, (Daniel 9:24-27;) for to what purpose are expiations when sins are destroyed? But this destruction is then only effected, when sins are not imputed to those who flee to the sacrifice of Christ; for though pardon is to be sought daily, as we daily provoke God's wrath; yet as we are reconciled to God in no other way than by the one death of Christ, sin is rightly said to be put away or destroyed by it.

    28. To bear, or, take away sins, is to free from guilt by his satisfaction those who have sinned. He says the sins of many, that is, of all, as in Romans 5:15. It is yet certain that all receive no benefit from the death of Christ; but this happens, because their unbelief prevents them. At the same time this question is not to be discussed here, for the Apostle is not speaking of the few or of the many to whom the death of Christ may be available; but he simply means that he died for others and not for himself; and therefore he opposes many to one.

    To "bear sins," is not, as some say, to take them away, in allusion to the scape goat, but to endure the punishment due to them, to make an atonement for them. See 1 Peter 2:24; where the same word to "bear," in connection with "sins," is used; and where it clearly means to bear the penalty of sin; the end of the verse is, "with whose stripes we are healed." -- Ed.

    [On the cross, Jesus bore the sins of the world. He paid the penalty. At the Father’s right hand he applies the payment to the account of those who believe. The benefit of Christ’s death on the cross, namely, the forgiveness of sins, comes by faith to those who believe. The application of the payment doesn’t occur until Christ intercedes.]
     
  2. Southern

    Southern
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    Paul,
    I have seen this huge amount of verses used to teach that Calvin did not hold to "Particular Redemption".

    I want to encourage you to read Paul Helms "Calvin and the Calvinists". This book deals with this very subject, people saying that Calvin did not teach that the cross was effectual in what it intended and that he made a distinction between those He died for and those He interceded for.

    Secondly, who or what Calvin taught is secondary in the light of the Scriptures, which I am sure you would indoubtely agree.I am a Baptist, so this is not something I am going to "go to seed" on! I can defend "Particular Redemption" from the scriptures just like Credobaptism (believers).


    I want to recommend Paul Helms "Calvin and the Calvinist's" From Banner of Truth. He addresse's the majority of the verses that you have listed above. He also has a section on if Calvin made a distinction between those He died for and those He intercedes for as you propose that Calvin did.

    In Christ
     
  3. Wes Outwest

    Wes Outwest
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    Better look at how Jesus describes His sheep! John 10:27&28
    I add John 10:29&30 for good measure
     
  4. russell55

    russell55
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    This is the comment given on Calvins' comments abut 1 John 2:2. The first two sentences would be accepted by almost everyone who adheres to limited atonement. Limited atonement doesn't mean the atonement wouldn't be sufficient for the whole world, or that salvation isn't available to all who believe by faith.

    The third sentence says that this statement by Calvin says that Christ's death was universal. I don't see where that statement comes from. In fact, Calvin makes the benefit of Christ's death common to the whole Church, and that's NOT universal.

    Then, since Calvin so nicely lays out for us what "whole world" means to him here--it means "those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world" or "the whole Church"--one begins to suspect that perhaps in other places where he speaks of "world", he is also defining the word in this same way.

    I'm not sure, but I do think its a possibility.
     
  5. Wes Outwest

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    Is God the God of only something called "the church" or the "elect", or is God the God over all of Creation, and Yes God of All Eternity? You see how Calvin limits God?

    The Scriptures say that Jesus died to atone for NOTHING more than SIN! That was the purpose of his death! He did not die for sinners, He died to atone for SIN, ALL the sins of the world, for all Times.

    The result of Atonement is that Man no longer is under the death penalty that sin brings, and man does not die for his own sins, and indeed since Jesus, NO MAN has died for his own sins. Many have died as the consequence of sinning it is true, but not because the penalty for the sin was death. For example, having sex with one who has HIV is a sin, but having sex usually does not cause death. The consequence then, of one doing so, is that one catches the disease and subsequently dies from it.

    The Atonement is universal because it is for ALL the sins of the World in All times. Salvation is not universal, because salvation requires man's faith, and not all men will come to faith in God.
     
  6. russell55

    russell55
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    Wes,

    What I meant by that is that I don't see where in the statement from Calvin on 1 John 2:2 Paul (or whoever it is that made those editorial comments) concludes that Calvin is saying that Christ's death was universal. Calvin doesn't say that.
     
  7. Wes Outwest

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    Thanks for the clarification Russell55, neither was I quoting Calvin.

    I was merely explaining the principles as I believe the scriptures explain them.
     
  8. BobRyan

    BobRyan
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    Calvin believed in the perseverence of the saints - how then could he ever be described as a 4PT Calvinist?

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  9. Paul33

    Paul33
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    russell55

    It isn't the actual explantion that I was referencing in my comments on 1 John 2:2. It was the standard explanation of the text that Calvin agrees with but doesn't apply to this text that I was referencing.

    Totally confused, now? [​IMG]
     
  10. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    I've been a student of John Calvin for sometime and I have heard these arguments about his not believing in the "L" of TULIP, but I don't believe that is acurate.

    Much can be established about ones beliefs by those who disagreed with him. The Arminians who coined the acrostic TULIP did so in order to list there points of contention. I dare say that if Calvin and his followers didn't believe "L" they would have said so. Instead they wrote in the Synod of Dort:

    I think that pretty much clears it up.
     
  11. JohnB

    JohnB
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    R. T. Kendall, who suceeded Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the Westminster Chapel, wrote a dissertation asserting that Calvin rejected Particular Atonement. I mention this because Westminster was the bastion of Calvinist orthodoxy in the mid-20th Century. Kendall also suggested that Lloyd -Jones, a scion of 5 point Calvinism, found his argument convincing, but could not bring himself to give up this belief.

    Check out his autobiography, interesting reading: "In Pursit of His Glory."
     
  12. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Skandelon,

    Article 8 doesn't clear anything up.

    Certainly the elect are redeemed by the blood of Christ. But Article 8 does not say that Christ died only for the elect.

    The debate continues.
     
  13. Paul33

    Paul33
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    John B,

    Thanks for bringing up Kendall's connection to Lloyd-Jones.

    Kendall's chapter on Calvin in his dissertation is well-researched and accurate. A solid contribution to scholarship.
     
  14. Kiffen

    Kiffen
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    Paul33, The quotation of Skandelon is from the Synod of Dort that systemized TULIP. So it does teach Limited Atonement if you read all of it in context. Dort is a very Evangelical confession and Limited Atonement is often misunderstood and distored by Non Calvinists, Arminians, Lutherans, hypercalvinists and at times Calvinists themselves.

    I am a 5 point Calvinist but I personally prefer Calvin and Dort to define my Calvinism rather than the Westminister or 2nd London in that Calvin and Dort espouse a more evangelical practical Calvinism (not that I haver any major problems with the Westminister or 2nd London.)

    It is hard to say conclusively that Calvin was a 5 point Calvinist though I believe he was. It is not a big deal to me, one way or the other. I think you must read all of Calvin's writings as a whole. He was at the very least a 4.5 point (better known as a Amyrault Calvinist such as Richard Baxter). It is however difficult to tell the differance between a 4.5 point Calvinist and a 5 point Calvinist.
     
  15. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Kiffen,

    I agree. I personally prefer Calvin and Dort to define my Calvinism as well.

    Would you say the difference between a 4.5 and 5 point Calvinist is that the 4.5 doesn't go crazy in demanding that someone say "Christ died ONLY for the elect"?

    Even Westminster doesn't use the phrase "Christ died only for the elect.
     

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