Friday, April 03, 2009

More on Nicole and Calvin's "Wasted Blood" passages

In my previous post on Nicole's rebuttal to the "wasted blood" argument, I omitted one point. In referring to those difficult passages that give reformed theologians pause (i.e., Romans 14:15, 1Corinthians 8:11, Hebrews 10:29, and 2Peter 2:1), Nicole says this:

The warnings of Hebrews and 2 Peter ... do relate to people who will ultimately be lost. * * * There is no way in which these benefits can in these verses be extended to the universality of mankind. If these apostates are thought to have been regenerate at any time, however, it would appear that the scope of the atonement exceeds the scope of ultimate salvation. This would also raise a difficulty with the doctrine of perseverance. The solution may be found in viewing the description of Hebrews and 2 Peter as expressing what the apostates at one time professed to have rather than what they had in fact.

This is in any case what Calvin has opted for, as is apparent when he calls the offenders of Heb 10:29 “hypocrites…usurping a place among the faithful.” * * * Calvin’s silence on the relationship of these four texts to the extent of the atonement should not, in all fairness, be construed as an endorsement of universal atonement, not any more than his silence in his commentaries on the relation of these texts to the doctrine of perseverance provides a substantial basis for affirming that Calvin did not believe in perseverance. Other passages prove beyond dispute that he did believe in it!

Nicole, 214-15.

If I may be permitted to rephrase, Nicole's argument runs thus:

Interpreted a certain way, these passages cause us to question not only limited atonement but also perseverance! Calvin certainly believed in perseverance; and since we don't doubt that Calvin believed in perseverance, his silence on the scope of the atonement from these passages should not cause us to doubt his belief in limited atonement.

The problem, of course, arises from the fact that Calvin was not silent on the scope of the atonement in his commentary to these passages. It is Calvin's non-silence that causes the problem. Besides, the idea Calvin's belief in perseverance ought to argue for his belief in limited atonement is the kind of argument that is music to the ears of the choir but leaves the rest of us cold. At the end of the day, Nicole has utterly failed to explain what Calvin meant by the "wasted blood" statements.

No comments: