September 9, 2005

Double Jeopardy?

[11-10-09 Note: In retrospect, the title of this post should be "Double Payment?," since there is a technical difference between that argument and "Double Jeopardy." Also, the reader should be sure to read the comments section of this post, since many other primary sources are quoted. Or one visit my index on "Double Payment" and see many of the references.]

I am weary of so many people repeating John Owen's double jeopardy arguments without thinking it through critically. Contrary to popular opinion among "Calvinists" (they are really more Owenic than Calvinistic), Owen's double payment argument has very serious problems. Here's one of my lastest online interactions:

MD said:
Tony, I'm reading your arguments and the same problem of Double Jeopardy comes to mind with those who hold to unlimited atonement. If we take your arguments and interpretations as true (I'll agree that the word "world" by itself or even in some contexts allows for multiple definitions to be applied), then we have the problem of double jeopardy come up.

...if Jesus actually paid for the sins of everyone, you have double jeopardy if anyone suffers hell, as God exacted payment first from Jesus and THEN from the person. What is more incredible, I think, if it is a possibility for no one to have accepted Christ's sacrifice, then you have the Father exacting punishment on a perfectly just and holy person, this makes God unrighteous for punishing someone who did not break the law. For these reasons I never preach unlimited atonement, I preach Christ paid for the sins of believers.
My reply:

You're confusing a pecuniary payment with a judicial satisfaction, as R. L. Dabney, A. A. Hodge, W. G. T. Shedd and Charles Hodge seek to correct below.

1) If your position is correct, then on what basis are Christians subject to the wrath of God prior to faith? After all, your sins were paid for as one of the elect.

2) How then can God hold you subject to his wrath even as the others? Christ paid for your sins when he died.

3) What kind of double jeopardy is in your own system?

Do not deny that you, as one who professes to be one of the elect, are really subject to divine wrath and judgment prior to your faith. If you do so, then you're speaking contrary to scripture.

NKJ Ephesians 2:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Dabney, the Hodge's, and Shedd, who were solid 5-point Calvinists themselves, have the solution. We must distinguish between a pecuniary and judicial satisfaction. Also, we must look at the covenantal nature of the satisfaction, i.e. there are important conditions and agreements in the terms of this judicial satisfaction or transaction(s).

R. L. Dabney said:
Nor would we attach any force to the argument, that if Christ made penal satisfaction for the sins of all, justice would forbid any to be punished. To urge this argument surrenders virtually the very ground on which the first Socinian objection was refuted, and is incompatible with the facts that God chastises justified believers, and holds elect unbelievers subject to wrath till they believe. Christ’s satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent, but only such a one as enables the Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit. The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over, first in his Savior, and then in Him. See A. A. Hodge on Atonement, page 369.
A. A. Hodge said:
5. The doctrine of the Reformed Church is that there is no limit whatsoever in the Redemption of the Lord Jesus except that which resides in the eternal purpose of God to save thereby the elect and none others. A divine person suffered the penalty due to human sin, and obeyed that law obedience to which was made the condition of man’s well-being. He did this because of his divinity exhaustively and without limit as to intrinsic sin-expiating and justice satisfying sufficiency. If the work itself, therefore, be viewed separately from the intention [Tony's comment: I would qualify this like his father Charles Hodge does by saying "special intention"] with which it was undertaken, it plainly stands indifferently related to the case of each and every man that ever lived and sinned. It is not a pecuniary solution of debt, which, ipso facto, liberates upon the mere payment of the money. It is a vicarious penal satisfaction, which can be admitted in any case only at the arbitrary discretion of the sovereign; and which may have a redemptive bearing upon the case of none, of few, of man, or of all; and upon the case of one and not of another, and upon the elect case at whatsoever time and upon whatsoever conditions are predetermined by the mutual understanding of the Sovereign and of the voluntary substitute. The relations of the Atonement as impersonal and general or as personal and definite do not spring from considerations of the degree, duration or kind of suffering or acts of vicarious obedience which Christ rendered, but solely from the purpose he had in rendering them.
A. A. Hodge, The Atonement (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1867), 368–369.

W. G. T. Shedd said:
Vicarious atonement without faith in it is powerless to save. It is not the making of this atonement, but the trusting in it, that saves the sinner: “By faith are you saved (Eph. 2:8); “he that believes shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). The making of this atonement merely satisfies the legal claims, and this is all that it does. If it were made but never imputed and appropriated, it would result in no salvation. A substituted satisfaction of justice without an act of trust in it would be useless to sinners. It is as naturally impossible that Christ’s death should save from punishment one who does not confide in it as that a loaf of bread should save from starvation a man who does not eat it. The assertion that because the atonement of Christ is sufficient for all men therefore no men are lost is as absurd as the assertion that because the grain produced in the year 1880 was sufficient to support the life of all men on the globe therefore no men died of starvation during that year. The mere fact that Jesus Christ made satisfaction for human sin, alone and of itself, will save no soul. Christ, conceivably, might have died precisely as he did and his death have been just as valuable for expiatory purposes as it is, but if his death had not been followed with the work of the Holy Spirit and the act of faith on the part of individual men, he would have died in vain. Unless his objective work is subjectively appropriated, it is useless so far as personal salvation is concerned. Christ’s suffering is sufficient to cancel the guilt of all men and in its own nature completely satisfies the broken law. But all men do not make it their own atonement by faith in it by pleading the merit of it in prayer and mentioning it as the reason and ground of their pardon. They do not regard and use it as their own possession and blessing. It is nothing for them but a historical fact. In this state of things, the atonement of Christ is powerless to save. It remains in the possession of Christ who made it and has not been transferred to the individual. In the scriptural phrase, it has not been “imputed.” There may be a sum of money in the hands of a rich man that is sufficient in the amount to pay the debts of a million debtors; but unless they individually take money from his hands into their own, they cannot pay their debts with it. There must be a personal act of each debtor in order that this sum of money on deposit may actually extinguish individual indebtedness. Should one of the debtors, when payment is demanded of him, merely say that there is an abundance of money on deposit, but take no steps himself to get it and pay it to his creditor, he would be told that an undrawn deposit is not a payment of a debt. “The act of God,” says Owen (Justification, chap. 10), “in laying our sins on Christ, conveyed no title to us to what Christ did and suffered. This doing and suffering is not immediately by virtue thereof ours or esteemed ours; because God has appointed something else [namely, faith] not only antecedent thereto, but as the means of it.” (See supplement 6.2.7)

The supposition that the objective satisfaction of justice by Christ saved of and by itself, without any application of it by the Holy Spirit and without any trust in it by the individual man, overlooks the fact that while sin has a resemblance to a pecuniary debt, as is taught in the petition “forgive our debts,” it differs from it in two important particulars. In the instance of pecuniary indebtedness, there is no need of a consent and arrangement on the part of the creditor when there is a vicarious payment. Any person may step up and discharge a money obligation for a debtor, and the obligation ceases ipso facto. But in the instance of moral indebtedness to justice or guilt, there must be a consent of the creditor, namely, the judge, before there can be a substitution of payment. Should the Supreme Judge refuse to permit another person to suffer for the sinner and compel him to suffer for his own sin, this would be just. Consequently, substitution in the case of moral penalty requires a consent and covenant on the part of God, with conditions and limitations, while substitution in the case of a pecuniary debt requires no consent, covenant, or limitations. Second, after the vicarious atonement has been permitted and provided, there is still another condition in the case, namely, that the sinner shall confess and repent of the sin for which the atonement was made and trust in the atonement itself.
W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing 2003), 726–727.

Again, Shedd explained:
Supplement 6.2.7

The expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it. The former, conceivably, might take place and the latter not. When Christ died on Calvary, the whole mass, so to speak, of human sin was expiated merely by that death; The claims of law and justice for the sins of the whole world were satisfied by the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10); but the sins of every individual man were not forgiven and “blotted out” by this transaction. Still another transaction was requisite in order to this, namely, the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner working faith in this expiatory offering and the declarative act of God saying “your sin is forgiven you.” The Son of God, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, “sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12); but if the redeeming work of the Trinity had stopped at this point, not a soul of mankind would have been pardoned and justified, yet the expiatory value of the “one sacrifice” would have been just the same.
Ibid., 758.

Read what Charles Hodge said as well. This is why I posted him.

Some Wisdom from Charles Hodge

Some of those who are holding to a strictly limited atonement are not adequately studying the issues. They are picking up Owen's arguments through popular Calvinistic books, and no one is questioning the assumptions and reasoning processes. It's a major problem among those who adhere to the doctrines of grace. If you think that the Arminian resistance to the doctrines of grace is strong and persistent, then I dare you to try to correct the unbiblical and bad thinking among the High Calvinists. It's at least as bad.

For critical comments on Owen's Triple Choice argument, go to Chambers on "Unbelief as a Sin Atoned For"

A brief word of clarification:

I am not associating High Calvinism with so-called 5-point Calvinism necessarily. I would say that those who hold the L in the strict sense are high, but not every 5-point Calvinist holds the strict view of L in TULIP. Not every 5-pointer holds to a strictly limited atonement view. Those that do I am calling "High." There are other ingredients that go along with High Calvinism, but this strict view is one of them. The strict position is built on limited imputation assumptions, i.e. that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ when he died. The High Calvinist thinks that Christ only bore a legal relationship to the elect when he died as a substitute because his work is exclusively filtered through the grid of the Covenant of Redemption. This is called limited imputation.

One may be a "5-pointer" (or in agreement with Dort's teaching on redemption) and yet not agree with the strictly limited or Owenic view. I am of this variety (even though some of the strict advocates will seek to bias the discussion and call me a "4-pointer" of some sort). Others at the Synod of Dort held my views, but there were differences of opinion present (High's and Low's, etc.). However, all were in agreement that the Remonstrants were wrong, and the delegates all signed the Canons.

UPDATE: I've posted many more relevant quotes in the comment section, so be sure to read those.


Tony Byrne said...


"It is objected that it is unjust to exact personal penalty from any individuals of the human race, if a vicarious penalty equal in value to that due from the whole race has been paid to justice. The injustice alleged in this objection may mean injustice toward the individual unbeliever who is personally punished; or it may mean injustice in regard to what the Divine law is entitled to, on account of man's sin. An examination will show that there is no injustice done in either respect. (a) When an individual unbeliever is personally punished for his own sins, he receives what he deserves; and there is no injustice in this. The fact that a vicarious atonement has been made that is sufficient to expiate his sins, does not estop justice from punishing him personally for them, unless it can be shown that he is the author of the vicarious atonement. If this were so, then indeed lie might complain of the personal satisfaction that is required of him. In this case, one and the same party `would make two satisfactions for one and the same sin one vicarious, and one personal. When therefore an individual unbeliever suffers for his own sin, lie "receives the due reward of his deeds," Luke 23 :24. And since lie did not make the vicarious atonement "for the sins of the whole world," and therefore has no more right or title to it, or any of its benefits, than an inhabitant of Saturn, lie cannot claim exemption from personal penalty on the ground of it. Says Owen (Satisfaction of Christ, sub fine), "The satisfaction of Christ made for sin, being not made by the sinner, there must of necessity be a rule, order, and law-constitution, how the sinner may come to be interested in it, and made partaker of it. For the consequent of the freedom of one by the sacrifice of another is not natural or necessary, but must proceed and arise from a law-constitution, compact, and agreement. Now the way constituted and appointed is that of faith, as explained in the Scriptures. If men believe not, they are no less liable to the punishment due to their sins, than if no satisfaction at all were made for sinners."

Reformed Dogmatics, vol 2., pp., 442-3.

Tony Byrne said...

Edward Polhill:
Object. 4.

If Christ died for all men, then he was a surety for all, and satisfied for the sins of all, and consequently God hath a double satisfaction; one in Christ the surety, and another in the persons of the damned, which is against the nature of his justice. In this argument are two consequences to be weighed. 1. If Christ died for all, then he was a surety for all, and satisfied for the sins of all. 2. If Christ so satisfied for the sins of all, then God bath a double satisfaction, which is against justice. As to the first consequence, I admit it as a very truth, that Christ was a surety for all, and satisfied for the sins of all; for if all did believe and repent, the sins of all should be remitted, and remitted they could not be; without a surety, and a surety making a satisfaction; therefore, such a surety was Christ for them all. As to the second consequence, if Christ satisfied for the sins of all, then God hath a double satisfaction, and that is against justice. I shall first premise some distinctions, and then answer. 1. I shall premise three distinctions.

1. Either the first satisfaction was made to the creditor or law-giver by the debtor or offender himself, or else it was made by a surety; if it was made by himself, justice forbids a second satisfaction.

2. In the first satisfaction being made by a surety, was either made by a surety of the debtor's or offender's own procuring, or else by a surety procured by the creditor or law-giver; if it was made by a surety procured by the debtor or offender himself, justice forbids a second satisfaction; for it is all one as if he had satisfied by himself.

3 When a surety provided by the creditor or lawgiver makes the first satisfaction, either he makes satisfaction in such sort, as that the debtor or offender shall be thereby immediately, ipso facto, without any more ado, discharged; or else e makes satisfaction in such sort, as that the debtor or offender shall be thereby discharged, but upon the performance of some conditions, and not otherwise; if the surety make satisfaction in the former way, still justice forbids a second satisfaction; but if he make satisfaction in the latter way, then upon the final non-performance of those conditions, justice may admit a second satisfaction. I will illustrate this by two instances. Suppose a man indebted to another in £1,000, the creditor procures his son to lay down the money in satisfaction of the debt, but withal it is agreed between them, that the debtor shall be discharged from his debt if he assent to this payment and not otherwise; if then the debtor dissent, the creditor may justly demand of him a second satisfaction. Again, suppose multitudes of attainted traitors be shut up in prison, and the king procures his son to suffer punishment in their stead, but withal the king and his son proclaim it as a law, that none of the traitors shall be thereby absolved, unless such as honour and do homage unto them; if any traitor refuse to do it, the king may justly exact 1 a second satisfaction; and the reason of both is this, because the debtor or traitor not performing the conditions, can have no benefit by the first satisfaction, and therefore must be subject to a second, as if there had been no first at all. 2. These distinctions premised, I answer, men's I sins are debts and rebellions, and satisfaction for them is due to God as the great creditor and lawgiver; but this satisfaction was not made by men themselves, but by Jesus Christ as their surety, and this surety was not procured by men, but provided by God himself; and being provided by God, he did not pay down his satisfactory blood in such sort, as that men should be thereby immediately, ipso facto, absolved from their debts and rebellions, but in such sort, as that men
may be acquitted from their debts and rebellions if they re pent and believe; wherefore, if they do neither, they can have no benefit by
Christ's satisfaction, and by consequence a second satisfaction may be justly exacted from them.

Now for the more distinct clearing of this momentous objection, I shall propose four things. 1. God out of mere grace procured Christ to be a surety for men; and therefore it was in his power to prescribe the conditions, upon the performance or non-performance whereof men should have or not have benefit by Christ's satisfaction.

2. According to this power, God hath plainly set down the conditions in the gospel, viz. "He that believes shall be saved, and he that believes not shall be condemned."

3. These conditions being thus set down by God himself, no man falling short of them can have benefit by Christ's satisfaction. If men will not receive the atonement, (Rom, v. 11), how can they be at peace? If they will not receive remission of sins, (Acts x. 43), how can they be pardoned? We are all in a worse dungeon than Jeremy's, and if we will not put the cords of grace under our arms, we cannot get out; we are all servants of sin, and if we say to it, we love thee and will not go out free, we must be bored for eternal slaves. Christ hath opened the fountain of his blood, but we must wash in it, (Zach. xiii. 1); Christ hath made a purchase of souls, but we must believe eis peripoiesin psuches, to the purchasing of the soul, (Heb. x. 39) : not that faith is part of the purchase-money, but that it is the condition of the gospel, without which the glorious purchase of Christ profits not; if men live and die in unbelief, ek eti apoleipetai, there remaineth no more sacrifice for them. (Heb. x. 26). Indeed Christ offered a sacrifice for them, but ek eti, the benefit of that sacrifice cloth no more remain unto them; upon their final unbelief they have no more benefit by it than if there had been none at all for them : in which sense I understand that of the father, Si non credis, non tibi descendit, non tibi passus est Christus.

4. If final unbelievers can have no benefit by Christ's satisfaction, then God may justly require a second satisfaction of them, because they cannot plead the first; and so it is in law as to them as if there had been no first at all. Shimei had a pardon from Solomon, but passing over Kidron lost it; and therefore (notwithstanding the same) was justly put to death for his offence: Jesus Christ as a surety made satisfaction for men, but they through their final unbelief lose the benefit of it; and therefore (notwithstanding the same) God may justly require a second satisfaction from them. It Shimei had pleaded his pardon, Solomon would have told him, That is nothing to thee, ever since thou didst pass over Kidron; and if unbelievers should plead Christ's satisfaction, God would tell them, That is nothing to you, seeing you have lived and died in unbelief.

Edward Polhill, "The Divine Will: Considered in its Eternal Decrees," in The Works of Edward Polhill (Soli Deo Gloria, 1998), pages 168-169.

Tony Byrne said...

Curt Daniel:

8. The Double Payment Argument.

A. This is another argument that needs refinement. It can easily be misused by either side. It is summed up in the famous lines from A. M. Toplady's hymn, "Rock of Ages", viz, "Payment cannot God twice demand, First at my bleeding surety's hand, and then again at mine." If Christ paid the debt for al men, then all men must necessarily be saved. If someone goes to Hell, then God demands payment twice - first at the Cross, and then in Hell.

B. But this has weaknesses. First, it is nowhere taught in Scripture, explicitly or implicitly. Why cannot God hold men extra guilty on account of the death of Christ? I would rephrase the argument as follows. Christ died in one sense for all men. Some are given the gift of faith to believe in Christ crucified, and this ratifies the payment of their debt. The rest do not receive faith, for the atonement is never applied to them. Does that mean their debt was totally paid? No, it means that the account was never finally settled. The potential payment for them was never ratified. But since there was a payment in some sense, this redounds to greater condemnation. Calvin spoke of such persons as "doubly culpable." They are punished first for their sins, and secondly because Christ provided a payment that they never accepted.

C. The Double Payment argument lies behind John Owen's famous "Treble Choice" argument, viz: Christ died either for (1) all the sins of all men; (2) all the sins of some men, or (3) some of the sins of all men. He then argued that, (1) if the first were correct, then why are not all men saved? (2) If the third were correct, then no man will be saved, for there would remain some sins still on the books. (3) Hence, only the second can be true, namely, Christ died for all the sins of only the elect.

D. This sounds like impeccable logic, but it has flaws. First, Scripture never says that a man goes to Hell because there was no atonement provided for him. Rather, some men perish, and their punishment is compounded because they rejected the atonement. Second, the reasons why men are said to perish are twofold: (A) They were not chosen, (B) They did not believe. Third, it could be counter-argued that in a sense Christ died for all men, but He does not apply this to al men. The limitation was not in the provision, but in election and in the application.

Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Good Books, 2003), page 371.

Tony Byrne said...

John Davenant's Reply to the Double Jeopardy Issue

Unknown said...

Very helpful listing of sources. I am working through the issue and you've helpfully pointed me toward answers to the real nub of the issue: can we talk about the non-elect's sins being imputed to Christ.

Soli Deo gloria

Tony Byrne said...

One may also want to read my post On Penal Substitution. I deal with some of the subjects related to the Double Jeopard argument there as well.

Tony Byrne said...

Clifford on Owen’s Triple Choice

“Under the influence of Aristotle’s teleology and the commercial theory of the atonement, Owen proposes a ‘dilemma to our universalists’ in a powerful piece of reasoning. After stating that there was a qualitative and quantitative ‘sameness’ in the sufferings of Christ and the eternal punishment threatening those for whom he died, Owen affirms, ‘God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some of the sins of all men’. This is Owen’s famous ‘triple choice’ position, which, in his view, conclusively settles the controversy in favour of a limited atonement. The last choice is quickly ruled out: if the atonement fails to deal with all sins, then the sinner has something to answer for. The first choice invites Owen’s question, ‘Why, then, are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?’ He therefore concludes that the second choice alone fits the case; the atonement is exclusively related to ‘all the sins of some men’.

Owen anticipates the universalist objection that men are only lost through an unbelieving rejection of the atonement. He asks:

But this unbelief, is it a sin or not: If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death?. If he did not, then did he not die for all the sins.

For all its apparent cogency, this compelling argument raises some important problems. It is clear that unbelievers are guilty of rejecting nothing if Christ was not given for them; unbelief surely involves the rejection of a definite provision of grace. It also makes nonsense of the means of grace, depriving general exhortations to believe of all significance.

A further objection arises from an unexpected quarter. In Owen’s view the sufferings of Christ not only deal with the guilt of the believer’s pre-conversion unbelief, they are causally related to the removal of unbelief. But Owen’s pastoral experience taught him that even true believers – or those who have grounds to regard themselves as elect – continue to be plagued with unbelief. Should this be the case if Christ had died to purchase faith for them, or are they perhaps deceived? Owen certainly denies that lapses of unbelief in the elect are not sinful if Christ has paid the penalty for them. Neither would he question the fact that doubting believers fail to participate fully in the subjective blessings Christ’s death has purchased for them. In other words, his argument applies as much to supposed believers as it does to unbelievers, with interesting consequences. For if partial unbelief in a Christian hinders him from enjoying the fullness of those blessings Christ has died to purchase for him, this is no different in principle from saying that total unbelief in a non-Christian hinders him from ‘partaking of the fruit’ Christ’s death makes available for him too.

Basic to Owen’s argument is his theory of the nature of the atonement, which will be discussed in the next chapter. Suffice it to say that making the sufferings of Christ commensurate with the sins of the elect in a quantitative, commercialistic sense explains and reinforces his teleology of the atonement. This was the consideration which led him to modify the sufficiency-efficency distinction. His apparent acceptance of it is really little more than lip-service; his deliberate redefinition of it means that the atonement is only sufficient for those for whom it is efficient. In other words, if the atonement is strictly limited, then the ‘credit facilities’ of the gospel are only available to the elect.

This prevented Owen from seeing that there was an alternative way of dealing with his ‘triple choice’ challenge. For earlier generations of Calvinists the solution was a simple one. Viewing the sufficiency of the atonement in terms of a universal provision of grace, they would embrace the first choice (all the sins of all men) with respect to the atonement’s sufficiency, and the second (all the sins of some men) with respect to its efficiency. As an earlier chapter has demonstrated, the sixteenth-century Reformers taught – both in their writings and in their confessions of the faith – that the atonement was relevant and applicable to all, though it was applied only to the elect. This much is clear: Calvin and his companions believed that the sufferings of Christ were related to the sins of the whole world; men are lost, not for lack of atonement, but for not believing. Unlike Owen, the Reformers had little difficulty in establishing the basis of human guilt. While guilt is undoubtedly defined in terms of transgressing the law, a very significant component of it arises from ungrateful neglect of the gospel remedy. But on Owen’s account, if the atonement relates only to the sins of the elect, then it is doubtful justice to condemn anyone for rejecting what was never applicable to them.

Owen’s acceptance of common grace is surely in conflict with his view of the atonement’s sufficiency, for it implies a broader view than his narrower theory will allow. As a corollary, his acceptance of the ‘free offer’ of the gospel is embarrassed by his strict commercialist position. He does indeed assert that the gospel is to be preached to ‘every creature’ because ‘the way of salvation which it declares is wide enough for all to walk in’. But how can this be if the atonement is really only sufficient for the elect? Calvin and his colleagues had no difficulty in speaking like this, but Owen cannot consistently do so. Not surprisingly, Gill and his fellow hypercalvinists employed the very kind of commercialism espoused by Owen, but did so to deny the validity of universal offers of grace.”

Alan C. Clifford, Atonement and Justification (Oxford, 1990), p. 111-113.

Tony Byrne said...

"Obj. 1. If Christ has suffered the penalty of the law, not only for the elect, but also for the non-elect, how can it be just that they themselves should be made to suffer it over again forever in hell?

Ans. Because Christ did not die with a design to release them from their deserved punishment, but only upon condition of faith; and so they have no right to the release, but upon that condition. It is as just, therefore, they should be punished, as if Christ had never died, since they continue obstinate to the last ; and it is just, too, they should have an aggravated damnation, for refusing to return to God, despising the offers of mercy, and neglecting so great salvation. (John iii. 16—19.)"

Joseph Bellamy, "True Religion Delineated," in The Works of Joseph Bellamy (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1853), 1:301.

Tony Byrne said...

Carl Trueman was asked about the double jeopardy argument in an interview on Reformation 21:

"Following on from the previous question, it is sometimes argued that the Hodges (Charles and Archibald Alexander) as well R. L. Dabney, did not agree with Owen’s view of “limited atonement,” in particular disagreeing with the use of the “double jeopardy” argument that Owen employed. What do you make of this?

Aha, here you probe one of my weaknesses. I rarely read the Hodges and gave up on Dabney many years ago. Indeed, I am an early modernist in terms of scholarship, and, with the exception of Warfield, have really no interest in American theology and have never found any non-contemporary American theologian to be that helpful compared to the European Reformed Orthodox of the seventeenth century. Thus, I have to plead ignorance on their comments on this point. As to the `double jeopardy’ argument, that is not a strong element of the limited atonement argument; I would not rest my case on that point; and neither did Owen. Far more significant is the covenant of redemption (which, as noted above, was seen by the Reformed Orthodox to be defensible on exegetical grounds), and the issues raised by the Socinian critique of what we now call penal substitution, along with Hugo Grotius’s response to the same."

For more by Trueman, and a critique of one of his articles by Flynn, see HERE.

Tony Byrne said...

Relavent Ursinus comments:

"Obj. 2. All those ought to be received into favor for whose offences a sufficient satisfaction has been made. Christ has made a sufficient satisfaction for the offences of all men. Therefore all ought to be received into favor; and if this is not done, God is either unjust to men, or else there is something detracted from the merit of Christ.

Ans. The major is true, unless some condition is added to the satisfaction; as, that only those are saved through it, who apply it unto themselves by faith. But this condition is expressly added, where it is said, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” ( John 3: 16.)"

Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans., by G.W. Willard (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1994), p. 107.

"Obj. 4. If Christ made satisfaction for all, then all ought to be saved. But all are not saved. Therefore, he did not make a perfect satisfaction.

Ans. Christ satisfied for all, as it respects the sufficiency of the satisfaction which he made, but not as it respects the application thereof; for he fulfilled the law in a two-fold respect. First, by his own righteousness; and secondly, by making satisfaction for our sins, each of which is most perfect. But the satisfaction is made ours by an application, which is also two-fold; the former of which is made by God, when he justifies us on account of the merit of his Son, and brings it to pass that we cease from sin; the latter is accomplished by us through faith. For we apply unto ourselves, the merit of Christ, when by a true faith, we are fully persuaded that God for the sake of the satisfaction of his Son, remits unto us our sins. Without this application, the satisfaction of Christ is of no benefit to us. Ibid., p. 215.

HT: Flynn

Anonymous said...

I came across the argument below, earlier today in a book that I was skimming through in the library. The book overall seems to be very good, but this particular argument reminded me of the Double Payment or Double Jeopardy issue. So I googled it and came to your site. It lays out the argument very well. I think that the God's wrath over the elect issue that you mentioned earlier still hangs over it.

(a) According to penal substitution, Jesus' death fully pays the debt of those for whom He died.

(b) Jesus died for all people.

(c) From (a) and (b) it follows that Jesus' death fully pays the debt of all people.

(d) But the Bible teaches that some people will pay their own debt in hell.

(e) From (c) and (d) if follows that God is unjust, for in hell He demands payment for a debt already paid in full by Christ. In other words, He punishes the same sins twice.

(f) This conclusion (e) is unthinkable, and so we must reject penal substitution (a) on which the whole argument rests.

The conclusion drawn is the Limited Atonement and a further discussion moves into John Owen

The book is Pierced for Our Transgressions : Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution

by Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sach

Anyway... just thought I'd mention it. I think a new category should be created - 5 point Owenist (in contradistinction to either 4.5 or 5 Point Calvinist).

Tony Byrne said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for bringing that reference to my attention. Google books has a preview of that book, so I was able to see that particular page with the argument. I may deal with that in a future post. For now, I think there are some assumptions that need to be brought out. A penal substitutionary view is not equivalent to a commercial view, which makes Christ's death function like literal money debt. Both the strict particularist and the rejector of penal substitution seem to share that assumption in the book and therefore arrive at two wrong conclusions.

For more sources on this subject, check my "Double Payment" label, and the label on Calvin and Calvinism.

Grace to you,

Bill said...

I am not arminian, in that I believe that God saves sinners monergistically without human cooperation, nobody can come to faith nor contribute anything, god in his sovereign grace brings sinners to faith. Faith is a gift of God that nobody should boast, we do not contribute one thing it is freely given to us. With that having been clarified, the double payment argument from John Owen is completely flawed. John 3:16 is very clear that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, yet this love of God does not save a single soul individually, least of all people that were not even born at the time of Christ's death. The love of God for the world expressed in John 3:16 includes all human beings, both elect and reprobate (read Calvin's commentary), yet it does not save apart from faith anybody, not even the elect. Jesus in John 3 clearly states that we must believe, whosoever believes in him shall have eternal life, this is an indiscriminate gospel proclamation to all sinners. For God so loved the world, Christ never said for God so loved the elect that he sent his only begotten Son. No, earlier in chapter 3 of John, Jesus made it cleat that a man must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, must be regenerated. The death of Christ and the love of God did not save a single sinner, even though it is sufficient for the salvation of all sinners, only through repentance and faith those that are called are saved Prior to God's calling both the elect and reprobate are equally dead in trespasses and sins, they are sinners and there is no different between one and the other. It is not the sufficiency of Christ's payment at the cross that saved us, but the receiving of this payment at the time God calls us to faith that saves us. And only the elect receive Christ's payment, which is sufficient for all men but becomes effectual at the time we come to faith (effectual calling). It is the effectual call that makes Christ's satisfaction effectual.