Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Answer to a High Critic

One of my recent articles drew criticism of a rather general sort from "anonymous." The criticism warrants a separate blog entry because it encapsulates the criticisms I've received over the last year-and-a-half, and I'd like to make a more prominent response to these criticisms. So here we go, paragraph by paragraph. Anonymous starts with this:

It seems to me that the Calvinists you refer to have understood Calvin correctly, contrary to your friend David. I have read a number of similar arguments that attempt to paint Calvin in Amyraldian terms, including some of those by Moses Amyraut.

Most recently I have criticized Nicole and Cunningham. What about their reasoning makes you agree with them? If you believe Calvin emphatically repudiated universal love or grace, I would like to see it cited so we can look at it. It is interesting and no doubt true that you have read many authorities; but that doesn't help the rest of us. We ought to discuss the authorities, not just protest our erudition.

I guess I've never really understood what the claim that Christ died for all men universally distributive gets you -- even if, for the sake of argument, this is in fact Calvin's view?

Well, I'll tell you what it gets me: first, I don't have to wiggle the plain words of the Bible. I don't have to pretend that John 3:16 refers to the world of the elect. Second, I can feel free to tell unbelievers that there is a savior for them, because Christ died to save them. Third, it realigns (though I did not seek this realignment) my view of God's nature. Whether one sees this as a benefit or not, it is a consequence. The first two consequences I feel as an immense relief. Others who have adopted a more moderate view of Calvinism have reported sharing this same sense of relief. (I encourage those of you who have felt this relief to post a comment sharing this with other readers. Also let us know if you see other positive benefits from adopting a more moderate Calvinistic view.)

If you're an Amyraldian of some sort, and not an out and out Arminian, you would still maintain that God grants the elect the ability and the necessary grace to believe, yes?

I am neither Amyraldian nor Arminian. (As far as I can tell, Amyraut's view of the order of the decrees is as messed up as the others.) It is interesting that you would bring up Amyraut. Why bring him up? I have cited Calvin as my primary authority on universalism. Ignore Amyraut; explain Calvin if you can.

As to your challenge, I agree. God does grant the elect the ability and grace to believe.

In which case Christ's death is useless for some and effectual for others and you're right back affirming Christ's death, at least as far as its efficacy, is only an actual benefit for the "many" and not "all."

Useless? That has always struck me as an odd argument. How dare we (good presuppositionalists that we seem to be) stand as arbiters of the usefulness (of all things) of Christ's work? (Presuppositionalism-cum-pragmatism!) If God deems it good and proper (for whatever reason) to expiate the sins of all, then we dare not say that to believe God is to believe in futility.

But, in fact, Calvin has commented many times on the sin of unbelief rendering Christ's work useless. (Note that Calvin criticizes the unbeliever, not Christ's work!) Calvin said:

We must now see in what way we become possessed of the blessings which God has bestowed on his only-begotten Son, not for private use, but to enrich the poor and needy. And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us.

Institutes 3.1.1

As far as the efficacy of Christ's death to eternal salvation, yes, I agree it is true; Christ's work is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect. That this is the only actual benefit, I am inclined to deny. But questions of benefit are quite irrelevant to the exegetical questions, which are far more pressing.

The only thing a universal atonement would seem to accomplish is to place Christ's life and cross work at odds with the will of the Father and that can never be. (Assuming you would agree that the Father has chosen those who will receive the ability and grace to believe).

Christ's work for all men is completely in keeping with the work of the Holy Trinity, as I have previously explained.

To put it another way, if Christ's death propitiated the wrath of the God on account of sin for all, then why aren't all saved? If you say salvation is given on the condition of faith, well we know that God alone can give the grace to believe and that He extends that grace to the elect alone.

Why aren't all saved? To quote Calvin, "faith is not common to all." And, as you say, God does not grant that all men should repent. If you see that as a problem for my position, I would like to know how.

Therefore, it would follow that Christ's death didn't actually propitiate the wrath of God for any sin in necessarily, but rather faith makes Christ's cross work complete. In which case faith saves and you're back, at least in practical terms, with the Arminian.

No, I'm afraid that does not follow. God's wrath could be propitiated while men reject his beneficence. As far as your argument that my view makes faith into a work, you should know that Calvinists see faith as an instrumental cause, not the meritorious cause of our justification. If that makes me a practical Arminian, then at least I have plenty of good company. But it doesn't.

It seems to me the universalism of Amyraldianism is incoherent and self-refuting. Again, I fail to see any benefit or advantage in this view of the atonement and the decree?

Whatever the universalism of Amyraut may be, I'm writing about the universalism of Calvin. Maybe you see Calvin as incoherent and self-refuting. That would be interesting.

18 comments:

macoman said...

Just a few comments here concerning the “relief” factor in moderate calvinism. It is true, as you say. The “immense relief” you describe is the weight of those things you mention falling off a muddled mind, and bringing into clearer view the infinite value of the blood shed by Christ. I would add two benefits to your short list, the second arising from the first. ;-)

The first is, that the moderate view tends now in my thinking to shift the (general) ground of human value from being created in God’s image to being created in God’s image and redeemable. That translates into real life this way: I walk into a convenience store and purchase a Snickers bar. I approach the counter and the clerk there greets me. It is no longer possible for me to think Christ did not die for that clerk over against the idea, let's say that, the clerk is "probably a reprobate on the path to eternal damnation". That clerk has value to Christ. It is entirely within the realm of my spiritual responsibility and affection for that clerk to share the Gospel with him and/or pray that God will convert him. That, in my experience and opinion is “immense” freedom.

Did I say "affection"? Ok, so I'll add another and make it three in count. That's another sideline relief. I can actually now have affection for the unconverted. Talk about relief.

Steve said...

Yes, Mike, I agree. The shift in our view of God is matched by a shift in our view of man. Very true. Thanks for your comment!

Steve

Anonymous said...

Most recently I have criticized Nicole and Cunningham. What about their reasoning makes you agree with them?

Good question. FWIW I’m the same “Anonymous” that recommended you read that Blacketer piece. Regardless, to answer your question, I think what makes their reasoning more agreeable is that it better mirrors the systematic and logical coherence of Scripture. The Scriptures cannot be broken.

I don't have to pretend that John 3:16 refers to the world of the elect.

I don’t see why you would need to pretend? Kosmos can and is used in a number of different senses and to determine the correct sense from a careful exegesis of Scripture is certainly better than using an ambiguous word to construct a theology. That's why we are to compare Scripture with Scripture.

I can feel free to tell unbelievers that there is a savior for them, because Christ died to save them.

Which may or may not be true. The only way your statement would be always true is if every unbeliever you tell this to is saved. Either that or you must admit that there are some you talk to that Christ’s death does not save simply because at least some of those you talk to and tell this to end up in Hell.

So I guess my preference would be to have what I say to people accurately represent the truth as much as possible.

The first two consequences I feel as an immense relief.

I guess I still don’t see what you were so relieved about? As a former Arminian who believed in human choice as a determinant factor in salvation, I did tell people that Jesus loved them and died for them even though it may or may not have been true. The relief I experienced when coming to see God’s sovereign choice alone in salvation was that He forgives me even for misrepresenting His great work of salvation in my ignorance.

I guess we can conclude that feelings, even the feeling of relief, is not a good determiner of the truth of anything. :)

I am neither Amyraldian nor Arminian . . . Ignore Amyraut; explain Calvin if you can . . . As to your challenge, I agree. God does grant the elect the ability and grace to believe.

I’m glad to hear you’re neither an Amyrauldian or an Arminian.

Aside from that, I don’t think I have to explain Calvin as others more skilled already have. I think the Blacketer piece I referenced contradicts your stated position and with good cause. I think much of your understanding of Calvin is the result of attempting to make isolated statements he made fit your theology rather than let his theology speak for itself. Also, assuming you don’t read either French or Latin, remember that most of us are dealing with translations of Calvin’s works so it is suspect to interpret him in ways that are so far removed from how his immediate followers understood him.

Do I think you can find passages in his many volumes that support your view that Christ died for all and God desires the salvation of all? Sure. So what? I can adduce just as many passages from his work that would contradict that notion. But what will that prove?

Useless? . . . If God deems it good and proper (for whatever reason) to expiate the sins of all, then we dare not say that to believe God is to believe in futility.

My apologies. Useless wasn’t a very good choice of words since the judgment of the reprobate is far from useless. Even the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart to his own destruction was far from useless.

However, to expiate means to put an end to something or to extinguish the guilt incurred, in this case the guilt on account of sin. Consequently, if God has in fact expiated the sins of all then it would follow logically that there can no longer be any guilt on account of sin for anyone. The sins of all have been covered and God’s wrath on account of sin assuaged. Everyone goes to heaven and every man is a child of God. I think your position logically implies universalism.

As far as the efficacy of Christ's death to eternal salvation, yes, I agree it is true; Christ's work is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect. That this is the only actual benefit, I am inclined to deny. But questions of benefit are quite irrelevant to the exegetical questions, which are far more pressing.

I disagree, I think this is the exegetical question. If Christ’s death actually accomplished what you say it does, then why can’t we conclude that Christ’s work is efficient for all? Certainly you don't think His cross work was inefficient do you? Are the sins of all expiated or not? Has God’s wrath against all men been propitiated on account of Christ’s cross work or not? If yes, then Christ’s work is efficient for all and the guilt of sin for all has come to an end. If not, then my remark stands and Christ's death - as far as its salvific efficacy to actually expiate a person’s sins – is useless for some and effectual for others and you're right back affirming Christ's death, at least as far as its efficacy, is only an actual benefit for the "many" and not "all."

FWIW I don’t think your moderate Calvinism explains anything and is incoherent.

Why aren't all saved? To quote Calvin, "faith is not common to all." And, as you say, God does not grant that all men should repent.

Of course faith is not common to all. It’s the gift of God. But, maybe you’re not following me? If the sins of all men have been expiated as you say, then faith and repentance are superfluous. Either that or you must maintain that faith and repentance actually save a person and are necessary preconditions or additions to Christ’s cross work in order for the actual sins of actual people to be actually expiated. Is that any clearer?

God's wrath could be propitiated while men reject his beneficence.

Now I’m confused. Are you saying God’s wrath against the sins of all men has been propitiated except the sin of rejecting his kindness? Then it would follow that God’s wrath on account of sin has not in fact been propitiated. Just most sins. The sin of unbelief excepted.

If that is Calvin’s position and not just your own, then I would agree Calvin’s position is incoherent. I’m just not convinced that is Calvin’s position. Three others already mentioned (Nicole, Cunningham and Blacketer) agree.

Steve said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. I just got back from vactation, where I had no ready access to the internet. I'll try to answer your comment this week.

Steve

Steve said...

Hi anonymous.

I did skim through the Blacketer piece. Thanks for the reference.

You wrote regarding the reasoning of Nicole and Cunnigham: "to answer your question, I think what makes their reasoning more agreeable is that it better mirrors the systematic and logical coherence of Scripture. The Scriptures cannot be broken."

But that doesn't tell me anything specific. I have made specific objections about their reading of Calvin, and your answer is so vague that I can't make anything of it. Besides, their better understanding of scripture is no assurance of their better understanding of Calvin.

Regarding John 3:16 you wrote, "Kosmos can and is used in a number of different senses and to determine the correct sense from a careful exegesis of Scripture is certainly better than using an ambiguous word to construct a theology. That's why we are to compare Scripture with Scripture."

Kosmos may be used in different ways. I don't see a reason to read it as the "world of the elect". Calvin didn't.

You wrote: "The only way your statement would be always true is if every unbeliever you tell this to is saved. Either that or you must admit that there are some you talk to that Christ’s death does not save simply because at least some of those you talk to and tell this to end up in Hell."

Some people to whom I say, "Christ died for you," may indeed end up in Hell. I admit it. Must I therefore admit that Christ's death *does not* save? I think not. Christ's death does indeed save: it saves all who believe, and it will save all the elect ultimately. What you're trying to say is that Christ's death saves ipso facto, which I deny.

You wrote: "I guess we can conclude that feelings, even the feeling of relief, is not a good determiner of the truth of anything. :)"

Agreed. Nevertheless. :-)

You wrote: "Aside from that, I don’t think I have to explain Calvin as others more skilled already have. I think the Blacketer piece I referenced contradicts your stated position and with good cause."

No, you surely don't have to engage the authorities. But that's what I am attempting to do. Pointing me to such and such an expert -- Blacketer for example -- is good, but I'm going to have criticisms of Blacketer too. Blacketer hasn't read my piece; he can have no specific answers to my objections. If you don't want to interact with my criticisms on a specific basis I have no ability or desire to force you to do so. But then you can't fault me for holding tightly to my cherished beliefs despite vague and general objections.

You wrote: "I think much of your understanding of Calvin is the result of attempting to make isolated statements he made fit your theology rather than let his theology speak for itself."

I deny it. You will still think it of course, but it isn't true.

You wrote: "Also, assuming you don’t read either French or Latin, remember that most of us are dealing with translations of Calvin’s works so it is suspect to interpret him in ways that are so far removed from how his immediate followers understood him."

If you have a specific objection about a translation, well and good. General objections about "you haven't got the Latin" are not helpful. Same goes for the understanding of his followers. I can cite some of Calvin's followers who taught general expiation.

You wrote: "Do I think you can find passages in his many volumes that support your view that Christ died for all and God desires the salvation of all? Sure. So what?"

The "so what" is that many people find Calvin persuasive and authoritative. Me for one.

You wrote: "I can adduce just as many passages from his work that would contradict that notion. But what will that prove?"

No, I don't believe you can. If you could -- really -- it would prove that Calvin was not an authority but an insane man. By the way, I challenge you to show me this kind of contradiction in Calvin. I will argue this point vigorously. Be prepared.

You wrote: "However, to expiate means to put an end to something or to extinguish the guilt incurred, in this case the guilt on account of sin. Consequently, if God has in fact expiated the sins of all then it would follow logically that there can no longer be any guilt on account of sin for anyone."

On one view of expiation that logically follows. The difficulty is that men are still objects of God's wrath despite the expiation (Ephesians 2:3). That throws the logic askew as it cannot account for this fact. If the elect are objects of God's wrath, then expiation cannot be simple, unconditional, *and personal* as your logic would require. R. L. Dabney, for example, affirmed that expiation is universal and denied that it is personal.

You wrote: "The sins of all have been covered and God’s wrath on account of sin assuaged. Everyone goes to heaven and every man is a child of God. I think your position logically implies universalism."

My position implies it either because you don't understand my position or refuse to acknowledge the distinctions I make. Logic that refuses to acknowledge one's opponent's position is not logic. My position is that no man is saved merely because Christ died for him. There are conditions precedent that must be fulfilled before a man can be saved. (The law of contracts is badly butchered by those who insist on strict commercial analogies to the atonement. An intended third-party beneficiary can be required to perform some condition precedent in order to benefit from a contract between the contracting parties.)

You wrote regarding questions of benefit as opposed to exegetical questions: "I disagree, I think this is the exegetical question. If Christ’s death actually accomplished what you say it does, then why can’t we conclude that Christ’s work is efficient for all?"

My position is that Christ's work does not ipso facto save. To conclude that my position is that Christ's work is efficient for all when I specify that it is not is an odd kind of logic -- not one I could subscribe to as useful for normal purposes.

You wrote: "Certainly you don't think His cross work was inefficient do you?"

Of course it is inefficient. (Calvin agreed with the common formulation "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect." See his comment on 1John 2:2.) Or did you mean to use "inefficient" as a pejorative? If so, I again object to your characterization of God's work.

You ask: "Are the sins of all expiated or not?"

Calvin said, "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."

So yes, the sins of all are expiated to the extent that he is reconciled to the whole world and invites them to salvation. That does not mean that all men will go to heaven, for, as Calvin said, "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." (See his comment to John 3:16.)

You ask: "Has God’s wrath against all men been propitiated on account of Christ’s cross work or not? If yes, then Christ’s work is efficient for all and the guilt of sin for all has come to an end."

God's wrath has been propitiated, but that does not mean all men are forgiven. Your conclusion does not follow. God can be propitiated by Christ's work and therefore offer terms of pardon.

You say: "FWIW I don’t think your moderate Calvinism explains anything and is incoherent."

I understand that is your position, but it doesn't help me. My criticisms of Nicole and Cunningham's reading of Calvin stand unanswered.

You say: "Of course faith is not common to all. It’s the gift of God. But, maybe you’re not following me? If the sins of all men have been expiated as you say, then faith and repentance are superfluous."

I don't share your view of expiation. According to R. L. Dabney, for one, expiation is impersonal and results in forgiveness only when it is applied to the sinner.

You say: "Either that or you must maintain that faith and repentance actually save a person and are necessary preconditions or additions to Christ’s cross work in order for the actual sins of actual people to be actually expiated."

Well ... faith and repentance are required for salvation. No man is saved apart from faith. It is a precondition, yes. It is not a meretorious precondition.

You ask: "Are you saying God’s wrath against the sins of all men has been propitiated except the sin of rejecting his kindness?"

I'm not really content with that formulation, but one might look at it that way.

You say, "Then it would follow that God’s wrath on account of sin has not in fact been propitiated. Just most sins. The sin of unbelief excepted."

Various men have taken various positions on this question. I am not sure of the answer. How do you solve it, specifically with respect to the elect who are not yet forgiven (Ephesians 2:3)?

You say: "If that is Calvin’s position and not just your own, then I would agree Calvin’s position is incoherent. I’m just not convinced that is Calvin’s position. Three others already mentioned (Nicole, Cunningham and Blacketer) agree."

How would you show the incoherency? Thank you for your comments. Feel free to respond to what I've posted here.

Josh said...

It took me awhile to wrap my head around an unlimited expiation.

I was also relieved. There are few words to express that relief.

Another benefit, was seeing common grace as a real viable teachable and livable doctrine. Under modern limited atonement, common grace just felt like a platitude. It felt like a Calvinistic fable used to explain why non Christians prospered in life and health.

Now I see common grace as part of the design of Christ's work and not some secondary byproduct.

Anonymous said...

Steve writes:
Kosmos may be used in different ways. I don't see a reason to read it as the "world of the elect". Calvin didn't.

I’m just going to limit myself to a few relevant points in your reply. FWIW I honestly don’t care if you are a moderate Calvinist. Historically that’s what Arminians were and even considered themselves to be. With this in mind I think it is also important to remember that while Calvin certainly anticipated the Arminian objections to limited atonement, this was hardly the threat during his lifetime to the Christian faith it would later become. Consequently, it is not surprising that Calvin would make universalistic statements here and there. What is surprising is that in places where he does argue for limited atonement and against a universal desire of God for the salvation of all men.

Now, to your credit, a few blogs below you do actually pause to consider the possibility that perhaps, and on balance, you’ve misread Calvin. Hopefully, I can help provide more evidence for you to consider below.

Steve writes:
Some people to whom I say, "Christ died for you," may indeed end up in Hell. I admit it. Must I therefore admit that Christ's death *does not* save? I think not. Christ's death does indeed save: it saves all who believe, and it will save all the elect ultimately.

See, this is what I mean by incoherence. You write as if “all who believe” and “all the elect” are somehow two separate classes of men, but they’re not. They’re one and the same.

Steve writes:
What you're trying to say is that Christ's death saves ipso facto, which I deny.

This is even more problematic. If Christ’s death does not ipso facto save, what does? If you say belief is the what saves, then you’ve just crossed into the Arminian camp and claims of being a Calvinist vanish. Belief in such a scenario ceases to be a mere instrument by which Christ’s righteousness is reckoned or imputed to a sinner, but faith becomes an added ingredient that completes Christ’s cross work and it is this combination which “saves.” Consequently, it is not Christ who saves, but men by believing save themselves. They make themselves elect. FWIW this is logically implied by a universal atonement.

However, Calvin does not permit this separation between Christ’s work of salvation and those who are actually saved:

“By his obedience, however, Christ truly acquired and merited grace for us with his Father. Many passages of Scripture surely and firmly attest this. I take it to be a commonplace that if Christ made satisfaction for our sins, if he paid the penalty owed by us, if he appeased God by his obedience — in short, if as a righteous man he suffered for unrighteous men — then he acquired salvation for us by his righteousness, which is tantamount to deserving it.” Inst. II.xvii.3.


Steve writes:
Pointing me to such and such an expert -- Blacketer for example -- is good, but I'm going to have criticisms of Blacketer too. Blacketer hasn't read my piece; he can have no specific answers to my objections.

If Blacketer has adduced from Calvin enough evidence to show that he was neither a universalist nor a defender of the so-called “sincere offer,” which he does, then the question is what makes you a more trustworthy scholar? Also, I think it is important to note that Blacketer is a CRC pastor and professor, so he certainly has no ax to grind.

Steve writes:
You wrote: "I can adduce just as many passages from his work that would contradict that notion. But what will that prove?"

No, I don't believe you can. If you could -- really -- it would prove that Calvin was not an authority but an insane man. By the way, I challenge you to show me this kind of contradiction in Calvin. I will argue this point vigorously. Be prepared.


Then please carefully consider just a small sample of counter selection from Calvin (i.e., there is plenty more where these came from :)

Whence it comes about that the whole world does not belong to its Creator except that grace rescues from God’s curse and wrath and eternal death a limited number who would otherwise perish. But the world itself is left to its own destruction, to which it has been destined. Meanwhile, although Christ interposes himself as mediator, he claims for himself, in common with the Father, the right to choose. ‘I am not speaking’, he says, ‘of all; I know whom I have chosen’ (John 13: 18). If anyone ask whence he has chosen them, he replies in another passage: ‘From the world’ (John 15:19), which he excludes from his prayers when he commends his disciples to the Father (John 17:9). This we must believe: when he declares that he knows whom he has chosen, he denotes in the human genus a particular species, distinguished not by the quality of its virtues but by heavenly decree. Inst. III.xxii.7.

Through Isaiah he still more openly shows how he directs the promises of salvation specifically to the elect: for he proclaims that they alone, not the whole human race without distinction, are to become his disciples (Isa. 8:16). Hence it is clear that the doctrine of salvation, which is said to be reserved solely and individually for the sons of the church, is falsely debased when presented as effectually profitable to all. Inst. III.xxii.10.

Christ proclaims aloud that he has taken under his protection all whom the Father wishes to be saved (cf. John 6:37, 39; 17:6, 12). Therefore, if we desire to know whether God cares for our salvation, let us inquire whether he has entrusted us to Christ, whom he has established as the sole Saviour of all his people. Inst. III.xxiv.6.

In response to Heshusius and concerning the Lord’s supper Calvin writes:

But the first thing to be explained is, how Christ is present with unbelievers, as being the spiritual food of souls, and, in short, the life and salvation of the world. And as he adheres so doggedly to the words, I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of
Christ which was not crucified for them? and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins?


How on earth could Calvin argue in this way if he believed, as you maintain, that Christ’s blood was shed to expiated the sins of all men universally? Repeatedly, Calvin affirms limited or particular atonement – not a universal atonement. Frankly, it is not “controversial” to claim Calvin believes in a universal atonement, it’s just silly.

Here’s more:

To this pretended difficulty of Pighius, therefore, I would briefly reply that Christ was so ordained the Saviour of the whole world, as that He might save those that were given unto Him by the Father out of the whole world, that He might be the eternal life of them of whom He is the Head; that He might receive into a participation of all the ‘blessings in Him’ all those whom God adopted to Himself by His own unmerited good pleasure to be His heirs . . . Hence we read everywhere that Christ diffuses life into none but the members of his own body. And he that will not confess that it is a special gift and a special mercy to be engrafted into the body of Christ, has never read with spiritual attention Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Hereupon follows also a third important fact, that the virtue and benefits of Christ are extended unto, and belong to, none but the children of God. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God.

And another from CEPG:

For our present question is, not what the power or virtue of Christ is, nor what efficacy it has in itself, but who those are to whom he gives Himself to be enjoyed. Now if the possession of Christ stands in faith, and if faith flows from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that he alone is numbered of God among His children who is designed of God to be a partaker of Christ. Indeed the evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ to be none other than that of ‘gathering together all the children of God’ in one by His death. From all which we conclude that, although reconciliation is offered unto all men through him, yet, that the great benefit belongs peculiarly to the elect, that they might be ‘gathered together’ and be made ‘together’ partakers of eternal life.

Calvin believed in limited atonement.

Now, do some of the things he wrote lend themselves to a universal atonement? I think so in some cases and not so much in others. Are there inconsistencies in Calvin on this question? Yes, I think there are some, but overall Calvin very much held to a view of the atonement that was in complete harmony with the doctrine of sovereign and particular election. It would be insane if he didn’t since the one doctrine implies the other. Conversely, to deny the one is to deny the other. That is why those who are consistent in affirming universal atonement have been Arminians. Calvin was no Arminian.

Steve writes:
You wrote: "However, to expiate means to put an end to something or to extinguish the guilt incurred, in this case the guilt on account of sin. Consequently, if God has in fact expiated the sins of all then it would follow logically that there can no longer be any guilt on account of sin for anyone."

On one view of expiation that logically follows. The difficulty is that men are still objects of God's wrath despite the expiation (Ephesians 2:3). That throws the logic askew as it cannot account for this fact. If the elect are objects of God's wrath, then expiation cannot be simple, unconditional, *and personal* as your logic would require.


This is rather poor exegesis Steve. Eph. 2:3 does not say that the elect were objects of God’s wrath. It says the elect, living apart from Christ, were “by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” They were certainly deserving of God’s wrath. Verse 3 says nothing about God’s wrath toward the elect, rather it explains our dire situation as sinners apart from Christ’s atonement being applied to us when we first believe. However, in God’s eyes – even in this natural state of sin and death – we were the objects of God’s love (vs 4,5); “because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . . .”

How can this be? Well, Paul tells us in the previous chapter that God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . . .”

The elect were always viewed as objects of God’s love because they were always view in Christ even before the foundation of the world. The elect were predestined “in love.” Not predestined and elected out of wrath.

Eph. 2:3 does not say what you think it does Steve.

Steve writes:
Of course it is inefficient. (Calvin agreed with the common formulation "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect." See his comment on 1John 2:2.) Or did you mean to use "inefficient" as a pejorative? If so, I again object to your characterization of God's work.

This is a very good example of the kind of truncated reading of Calvin that I have been objecting to. Calvin writes:

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 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.


First, Calvin says the assertion that Christ’s death expiated the sins of the whole world is the “dotages of the fanatics.” I don’t think you’re senile, but you do assert that the expiation Christ extends to the sins of the whole world. Wouldn’t that make you one of “the fanatics” Calvin has in mind? I think it does.

Calvin even says that using this passage as a pretense in order to maintain that the salvation Christ secured extends “to all the reprobate” is “monstrous.” So why do you ignore all this, but latch on to "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect" as if Calvin were affirming this idea in the same sense you do? You and Calvin could not be father apart and a clearer affirmation of limited atonement is hard to find anywhere from anyone.

Yet, rather than reading his agreement with the “schools” who try to avoid the absurdity that Christ expiated the sins of the whole world by asserting that “Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect” you simply ignore the preceding. A much more charitable reading would be that Calvin agrees that Christ’s death is sufficient for the whole world, if in fact Christ actually died for the sins of the whole world and this is something Calvin unequivocally denies.

Again, I think your reading of Calvin here is indicative of your reading of Calvin elsewhere and it’s not very charitable or very credible. You even have Calvin affirming what he most emphatically denies in the harshest terms in others.

If Calvin was saying what you think he was saying, you’re right, he would be insane.

Steve writes:
Well ... faith and repentance are required for salvation. No man is saved apart from faith. It is a precondition, yes. It is not a meretorious precondition.

How does a man come to believe? Is it an act of God or an act of man or some sort of combination of both? If an act of God alone, then your universalism has been refuted.

Steve writes:
You ask: "Are you saying God’s wrath against the sins of all men has been propitiated except the sin of rejecting his kindness?"

I'm not really content with that formulation, but one might look at it that way . . . Various men have taken various positions on this question. I am not sure of the answer. How do you solve it, specifically with respect to the elect who are not yet forgiven (Ephesians 2:3)?


I’ve explained how I would solve it and Eph. 2:3 is completely in harmony with limited atonement. But it is interesting that you affirm the idea of Christ propitiating all the sins of every man except the sin of unbelief. So it would follow in judgment all sinners not found in Christ will be sent to hell for the sin of unbelief alone. I think you would be very hard pressed to find any biblical support for that Steve.

Thanks for your time.

Steve said...

Josh, thanks for your comment. You're right on! Good comment about the "fables" we set up to justify our positions. Thanks much!

Steve

Steve said...

Long comment, anonymous. I'm going to make my best effort, but don't expect answers to everything.

Anonymous wrote:
See, this is what I mean by incoherence. You write as if “all who believe” and “all the elect” are somehow two separate classes of men, but they’re not. They’re one and the same.

Steve answers:
It is not incoherent to treat two terms ("elect", "believers") as descriptive of two classes, even if the members of those classes are identical. But in this case, the members are not identical.

It is, on the other hand, unbiblical to treat them as identical. What of those elect who will believe tomorrow or the next day? Are they in the class of believers today?

Anonymous wrote:
If Christ’s death does not ipso facto save, what does? If you say belief is the what saves, then you’ve just crossed into the Arminian camp and claims of being a Calvinist vanish.

Steve answers: I never said belief ipso facto saves. Do you believe that the elect are born justified? If you answer no, then you don't believe that Christ's death ipso facto saves either.

Anonymous wrote:
However, Calvin does not permit this separation between Christ’s work of salvation and those who are actually saved:

“By his obedience, however, Christ truly acquired and merited grace for us with his Father. Many passages of Scripture surely and firmly attest this. I take it to be a commonplace that if Christ made satisfaction for our sins, if he paid the penalty owed by us, if he appeased God by his obedience — in short, if as a righteous man he suffered for unrighteous men — then he acquired salvation for us by his righteousness, which is tantamount to deserving it.” Inst. II.xvii.3.


Steve answers:
This quote of Calvin seems completely unrelated to your proposition. Christ merited grace, yes, and he did acquire salvation for us, yes. This does not contradict my position.

Anonymous writes:
If Blacketer has adduced from Calvin enough evidence to show that he was neither a universalist nor a defender of the so-called “sincere offer,” which he does,

Steve answers:
So you say. But I remain unconvinced. Again, you answer specific objections with vague generalities. Do you have anything specific from Blacketer you wish to discuss?

Anonymous wrote:
Then please carefully consider just a small sample of counter selection from Calvin (i.e., there is plenty more where these came from :)

Steve answers:
The answer to all those quotes from Calvin is basically the same. They don't prove the point you desire to prove.

One at a time, then:

3.22.7: This is Calvin's teaching on election. I agree with all of it. It is irrelevant to the discussion on limited atonement.

3.22.10: Same answer. I have never said or believed that Christ's blood is effectually profitable for all.

3.24.6: I agree with all Calvin says in this place. Again it doesn't touch the point I'm trying to make.

Heshusius: I have made a lengthy argument on Heshusius, which you might have a look at. Suffice for now to say that poor Calvin has been badly abused and misused, both by Heshusius and now by his own followers!

Regarding the quotes from Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, they completely agree with what I have said.

Regarding the Calvin quotes in general, you have produced quotes showing Calvin's strong predestinarian views, which I grant. Of *course* Calvin believed in election. You imagine that any time Calvin teaches election, or God's sovereignty, or efficacious grace that you have proved your case on limited atonement. But such is not the case, for my position is that Calvin taught all those things *and* unlimited expiation.

Anonymous wrote:
Eph. 2:3 does not say that the elect were objects of God’s wrath. It says the elect, living apart from Christ, were “by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” They were certainly deserving of God’s wrath. Verse 3 says nothing about God’s wrath toward the elect, rather it explains our dire situation as sinners apart from Christ’s atonement being applied to us when we first believe. * * *

The elect were always viewed as objects of God’s love because they were always view in Christ even before the foundation of the world. The elect were predestined “in love.” Not predestined and elected out of wrath.

Eph. 2:3 does not say what you think it does Steve.


Steve answers:
According to you, verse 3 says *nothing* about God's wrath against the elect. (Do you have a bridge to sell me too?) It is an extremely odd rule that says that though the elect *were* by nature the children of wrath (even as others ... who are the others?), they were *not* the objects of God's wrath. The Bible says they are and you say they are not. Speaking of incoherence.... I know you are distinguishing between nature on the one hand and object on the other; but I just don't buy that as a reasonable exposition of 2:3. For example, what about Psalm 5:5 and many others that teach of God's anger against the wicked? Are elect unbelievers wicked?

And since we are discussing Calvin's views, you should recognize that Calvin taught (in the Institutes no less) that the elect are both loved and hated by God prior to their conversion. Refer to 2.16 paragraphs 2, 3, and 4.

Regarding Calvin's view of the atonement in general, here's a quote from The Eternal Predestination of God: "It is also a fact, without controversy, that Christ came to atone for the sins 'of the whole world.' But the solution of the difficulty is immediately at hand, in the truth and fact, that it is 'whosoever believeth in Him' that 'shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.' For our present question is, not what the power or virtue of Christ is, nor what efficacy it has in itself, but who those are to whom He gives Himself to be enjoyed."

Which is precisely my point. (Also notice that *Calvin* didn't believe that Christ's atonement saved in and of itself.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding Steve. I can see there is not much to pursue since the citations from Calvin in which he unequivocally affirmed a limited atonement you simply swept aside with virtually no interaction at all. I'm sure I'm partially at fault since I provided so much and my reply was too long.

However, you fail to see, for some odd reason, that Calvin draws no distinction between election and the atonement since it is intended only for God’s chosen, the elect, which by definition consists of a limited number. Which explains, I suppose, your failure to see the relevance of Inst. II.xvii.3.

Perhaps other things in your studies will continue to give you more reason to pause, since I am quite convinced (and the history of the P&R faith certainly backs me up), that your universalism as it relates to the atonement is not from Calvin.

FWIW the “Moderate Calvinism” you advance is not Calvinism at all, but I didn’t expect to dissuade you given the huge amount of personal capital you have invested. Let’s face it, you weren’t dissuaded from your path by the brilliant minds of scholars like Roger Nicole or William Cunningham, how could I ever hope to fare any better. :)

It is not incoherent to treat two terms ("elect", "believers") as descriptive of two classes, even if the members of those classes are identical. But in this case, the members are not identical.

No, in this case and in every case the class of believers are the same as the class of the elect, since only the elect believe. There are no believers who are not elect and there are no elect persons who will not believe. Belief is certainly one of the many blessings won by Christ through his atoning cross-work, but not the only blessing. The elect is a limited and definite number of persons and everyone of that class will all believe and none others, since that particular blessing, the blessing of faith, is given to the elect alone even through the preaching of the gospel.

It is, on the other hand, unbiblical to treat them as identical. What of those elect who will believe tomorrow or the next day? Are they in the class of believers today?

Irrelevant since only the elect believe and will ever believe.

Steve answers: I never said belief ipso facto saves. Do you believe that the elect are born justified? If you answer no, then you don't believe that Christ's death ipso facto saves either.

No, I don’t believe the elect are born justified, they are justified the moment they first believe and the benefits Christ won on behalf of those He suffered and died, and those alone, are imputed to the elect by faith alone. However, it is what Christ accomplished on the cross completely outside of a person which saves since Christ alone paid the price which no man can pay.

OTOH, there is a sense in which the elect can said to be justified from eternity and Abraham Kuyper and Richard Bacon (in more recent times) have both advanced similar arguments, but there are also serious pitfalls with this idea of eternal justification which I think both these men have avoided. More importantly, both Kuyper and Bacon are in agreement that the actual benefits of Christ’s death are only applied to the individuals for whom Christ died in time, so I think the distinctions they draw are a matter of perspective. I also think it provides a way to explain passages like Numbers 23:21a; “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel.” To this Bacon replies:

“What does the passage mean by stating that God “has not beheld iniquity in Jacob?” Does that mean that there were no sinners in the assembly of Israel on that day? Of course not. It means that God was seeing them in Christ! He was seeing them justified. God does not see any perverseness in his elect. He does not see perverseness in his elect because he sees his elect justified.”

This also provides a key for understanding Eph. 2:3.

According to you, verse 3 says *nothing* about God's wrath against the elect.

No, it’s not according to me. Read the verse and then read the subsequent verses. You cannot have something in your conclusion not already found in one of your premises. God’s wrath against the elect is not taught in Eph. 2:3, you simply have attempted to infer that it does. Some might accuse you of eisegesis here. ;)

It is an extremely odd rule that says that though the elect *were* by nature the children of wrath (even as others ... who are the others?), they were *not* the objects of God's wrath.

It’s not an odd rule since v. 3 says nothing concerning God’s disposition or attitude toward his elect. Verses 4 and 5 provide that and Paul tells us that even in this natural state, as children of wrath, deserving only God’s wrath and just hatred, God loved us. How can that be? Well, I think Pastor Bacon and Abraham Kuyper have provided a solution and from the perspective of God’s eternal decree.

You do hold to the idea that all things fall out in accordance with God’s eternal decree don’t you or is that another Reformed doctrine rejected by moderate Calvinists?

For example, what about Psalm 5:5 and many others that teach of God's anger against the wicked? Are elect unbelievers wicked?

Psa 5:5; The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity. This verse says precisely nothing about God’s disposition toward the elect, only the wicked. Are Christ’s beloved now to be counted among the wicked? Again, as a matter of proper hermeneutics, not to mention logic, you need to restrict your conclusions to things which are present in the premises. You cannot infer from v. 5 that God’s anger is against elect unbelievers, since per the analogy of faith Paul says that God loves the elect even when they were mired in sin and death. Beyond that, Paul says that God’s love and hatred extends even to the womb, before anyone has done anything either good or evil so that the purpose of God according to election might stand (see Rom. 9).

Now that's Calvinism. Amen. :-)

Steve said...

Anonymous said...

I can see there is not much to pursue since the citations from Calvin in which he unequivocally affirmed a limited atonement....

Except that you haven't proved this. You just cite Calvin and say you've proved something when the quotation you cite says nothing of what you wish to prove. You have more work to do on this point. I suggest that you take ONE of the quotes (any one, but only one) and show me how it contradicts anything I've said. Alternatively, show me where ONE of the quotes you cited prove limited atonement (apart from Heshusius, which I have written a lot about).

However, you fail to see, for some odd reason, that Calvin draws no distinction between election and the atonement

Again, that is what you have to prove. Your bare assertion is not proof and not helpful against my analysis. You have failed to justify any of the connections you claim to have made.

Let’s face it, you weren’t dissuaded from your path by the brilliant minds of scholars like Roger Nicole or William Cunningham, how could I ever hope to fare any better. :)

I criticized Nicole and Cunningham as having misused Calvin, which criticism stands unanswered.

No, in this case and in every case the class of believers are the same as the class of the elect, since only the elect believe. There are no believers who are not elect and there are no elect persons who will not believe.

You consistently wish to appear to work with logic while you defy logic. You say that the difference between "elect" and "believer" is irrelevant, but I have alleged Ephesians 2:3 as a problem for your view based precisely on that class of people which you have now claimed is irrelevant. It can't be irrelevant for it is exactly that group of people about whom I am speaking.

No, I don’t believe the elect are born justified,

That being the case, there is some difference in the classes of "elect" and "believers." The one class contains some members who are not justified while the other class contains no members who are not justified.

This also provides a key for understanding Eph. 2:3. * * * Read the verse and then read the subsequent verses. You cannot have something in your conclusion not already found in one of your premises. God’s wrath against the elect is not taught in Eph. 2:3, you simply have attempted to infer that it does. Some might accuse you of eisegesis here. ;)

You see a syllogism here? Set out the syllogism you have imagined, if you don't mind. To the contrary, the verse contains my conclusion; no syllogism required. "[W]e all ... were by nature the children of wrath...." I know you would accuse me of eisegesis; but who didn't know you would do that?

Psa 5:5; The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity. This verse says precisely nothing about God’s disposition toward the elect, only the wicked. Are Christ’s beloved now to be counted among the wicked? Again, as a matter of proper hermeneutics, not to mention logic, you need to restrict your conclusions to things which are present in the premises. You cannot infer from v. 5 that God’s anger is against elect unbelievers, since per the analogy of faith Paul says that God loves the elect even when they were mired in sin and death. Beyond that, Paul says that God’s love and hatred extends even to the womb, before anyone has done anything either good or evil so that the purpose of God according to election might stand (see Rom. 9).

Now that's Calvinism. Amen. :-)


No, it's not Calvinism. Calvin never taught any such thing.

Try this for a syllogism:

All workers of iniquity are hated by God (Psalm 5:5);
Some elect persons are workers of iniquity (Ephesians 2: 1-3);
Therefore some elect persons are hated by God.

Very simple; and supported by scripture. Simple Calvinism too. Calvin cites Augustine with approval as follows: "Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made." Institutes 2.16.4

Steve said...

A p.s. to my last comment in response to anonymous. The main point of my reference to Ephesians 2:3 is to get to this point: some elect persons are not justified, which you admitted in your last comment. Ergo, Christ's atonement does not ipso facto justify. There is something additional -- some state or action -- that must precede justification.

Steve said...

Ergo your definition of expiation is flawed. And further ergo ... your criticism of my logic as leading to absolute universalism where everyone is automatically saved is also flawed.

Anonymous said...

Paul says that God’s love and hatred extends even to the womb, before anyone has done anything either good or evil so that the purpose of God according to election might stand (see Rom. 9).

Now that's Calvinism. Amen. :-)

No, it's not Calvinism. Calvin never taught any such thing.



Calvin:

“Then this testimony of the prophet shows the reason why the Lord conferred on Jacob the primogeniture: and it is taken from the first, chapter of Malachi, where the Lord, reproaching the Jews for their ingratitude, mentions his former kindness to them, — “I have loved you,”
he says; and then he refers to the origin of his love, — “Was not Esau the brother of Jacob?” as though he said, — “What privilege had he, that I should prefer him to his brother? None whatever. It was indeed an equal right, except that by the law of nature the younger ought to have served the elder; I yet chose the one, and rejected the other; and I was thus lied by my mercy alone, and by no worthiness as to works. I therefore chose you for my people, that I might show the same kindness to the seed of Jacob; but I rejected the Edomites, the progeny of Esau. Ye are then so much the worse, inasmuch as the remembrance of so great a favor cannot stimulate you to adore my majesty.” Now, though earthly blessings are there recorded, which God had conferred on the Israelites, it is not yet right to view them but as symbols of his benevolence: for where the wrath of God is, there death follows; but where his love is, there is life.

Another good example of why “high” Calvinists like Roger Nicole and William Cunningham, not to mention Raymond Blacketer and Paul Helm (see http://www.the-highway.com/articleJuly02.html ) who also present Calvin in stark contrast to your distortions are to be trusted and not so-called “controversial Calvinists” and Amyrauldians and Arminians who wrench Calvin’s meaning to suit their own universalistic incoherence.

Admittedly, what is frustrating is that you latch on to single phrases and passages but completely ignore the context as you did again per Calvin’s quote of Augustine above where Calvin said:

“For this reason, Paul says that the love with which God embraced us “before the creation of the world” was established and grounded in Christ [Ephesians 1:4-5]. These things are plain and in agreement with Scripture, and beautifully harmonize those passages in which it is said that God declared his love toward us in giving his only-begotten Son to die [John 3:16]; and, conversely, that God was our enemy before he was again made favorable to us by Christ’s death [Romans 5:10].”

Interestingly exactly the same points made by “high calvinists” Kuyper and Bacon. God’s love toward the elect, His chose, “was established and grounded in Christ.” Something only possible on the basis of a limited atonement, for as Calvin said; “for where the wrath of God is, there death follows; but where his love is, there is life.”

Anyway you said you wanted a syllogism from a sound exegesis of Eph.:

All the elect are objects of God’s love from eternity on account of Christ.

All the elect while living apart from Christ are deserving only of God’s wrath.

The elect are objects of God’s love even while deserving His wrath.

Anyway, Steve, may God bless your studies of Calvin since I believe not only have you misrepresented what he wrote, but you also in the process misrepresent what God wrote per the Scriptures. While Calvin can err, God's word never does.

Steve said...

At this point, the only *real* argument (the rest has amounted to nothing more than squabbling) is the question of the definition and effect of expiation. Here is anonymous's position:

If Christ’s death actually accomplished what you say it does, then why can’t we conclude that Christ’s work is efficient for all? Certainly you don't think His cross work was inefficient do you? Are the sins of all expiated or not?

There's more to it ... but that gives the gist. I was able to get anonymous to concede that some elect persons are not justified. That being the case, there is some problem in anonymous's definition of expiation. The sins of the elect have been expiated ... and yet some of the elect are not justified. He has not really engaged this issue.

The argument on the meaning of Ephesians 2:3 became irrelevant when anonymous conceded that the elect are not justified merely by virtue of their election and Christ's death for them.

The argument about anonymous's "Calvinism" (the *entire* paragraph starting with "Psalm 5:5" ... not just convenient parts of it) is also irrelevant, because my quotation of Psalm 5:5 was meant to show that elect unbelievers are objects of God's hatred. This is now moot because anonymous has conceded that the elect are not born justified.

Anonymous appears to be giving up on the discussion, which is fine; but the real issue has not been addressed. If the elect are not justified at their birth, then how is anonymous's "limited" atonement any better than the "unlimited" atonement I am alleged to espouse? It still lacks ("wants" ... to use the old word) something. We may never know.

Anonymous said...

If the elect are not justified at their birth, then how is anonymous's "limited" atonement any better than the "unlimited" atonement I am alleged to espouse?

Well, the obvious benefit to the idea of limited atonement, other than being historically Reformed and consistently biblical, is that the opposite logically implies the Arminian doctrine of the atonement.

The reason is simple, if Christ died for all and God desires or wills the salvation of all as you maintain, then the ground of election/reprobation is not found in the will of God, God's eternal decree, but in man.

Confusing and conflating the ideas of God's preceptive and decretive will solves nothing for to desire the outcome of something cannot be divorced from God's decretive will. Consequently, if God desires a given outcome that will not or does not come to pass, which is necessarily the case per your universalism, then the God of Scripture is lost.

Like the Arminian, the "controversial Calvinist" make the logical error of trying to infer something in the indicative from something written in the imperative. Luther had some choice words for Erasmus who made this same blunder (he called such theologians "stupider than schoolboys"), so it would be quite amazing if Calvin were no better than Erasmus on this score.

Finally, as one rabid Arminian website clearly recognizes the idea of TULIP presents a logical system of doctrine. The Arminian rightly realizes that if one of the petals in this little Reformed flower can be removed, say "L", then rest of the petals fall like so many dominoes.

FWIW the Arminian is exactly correct and each doctrine in TULIP logically implies the other. Too bad "controversial Calvinists" can't see this.

Steve said...

This post continues anonymous's habit (assuming that it's the same "anonymous") of not answering challenges. I got your point; I wish I had some indication that you were reading my answers or had the slightest interest in dialog.

Anonymous said...

This post continues anonymous's habit (assuming that it's the same "anonymous") of not answering challenges. I got your point;

I have tried to answer all of your "challenges" (unless I've missed one), but perhaps not in the way you would like.

Limited atonement is a cornerstone of the faith of the Reformers, foremost John Calvin. Faith is not a cause of justification, but is the sole instrument that was wrought by Christ's cross work is applied to those for whom He died. Faith itself saves no man.

Those for whom Christ died were chosen in Him before the "foundation of the world." Not one drop of Jesus' precious blood was spilled in vain. Tragically, per your theology, much of it was.