June 19, 2006

Norman F. Douty (1899–1993) on The Charge of Amyraldianism

I've been meaning to post this material by Norman F. Douty for some time now. Since I have discussed something of the nature and charge of "Amyraldism" in my last two posts, I will make this the last one for now. Douty writes:
The Charge of Amyraldianism

Derogatory terms are useful in disparaging what people do not approve, and “Amyraldianism” is one of them. As in most other instances, the user generally has no definite understanding of the term’s origin. Because of this, something should be said about Moses Amyraldus (the Latinized form of Moise Amyraut) and his views.

Moise Amyraut (1596–1664) was a Calvinist, not an Arminian. It was Calvin’s Institutes that induced him to shift from the pursuit of law to that of theology. At Saumur, in France, he eagerly studied this masterpiece under the Scotsman, Cameron, and later (in 1633) he became Professor of Theology there. The following year he published his Treatise on Predestination, which led to a succession of accusations against him (in 1637, 1644 and 1659), each time followed by exoneration on the part of his French brethren. Ernest Friedrich Karl Mueller, once Professor of Reformed Theology in the University of Erlangen, states:
In France the harmlessness of his teaching was generally recognized; and the controversy would soon have died out but for the continual agitation kept up abroad, especially in Holland and Switzerland.
Those who wish to see a brief summary of Amyraut’s numerous productions – 90 of them, plus many separately published theses – may consult Roger Nicole’s article on “Amyraldianism.” In his last years, Amyraut avoided controversial subjects and dwelt much on the theme of Christian ethics. Brian G. Armstrong’s Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy deals extensively with Amyraut’s writings; his bibliography covers no less than 30 pages. In one place he says: “There are many passages in which he [Calvin] makes the universal reference of Christ’s atoning work quite explicit.”

According to Mueller, Amyraut’s
main proposition is this: God wills all men to be saved, on condition that they believe—a condition which they could well fulfill in the abstract, but which, in fact, owing to inherited corruption, they stubbornly reject, so that this universal will for salvation actually saves no one.
This simply means that God’s will to save everyone is His kindly disposition, not His sovereign determination—which does not differ in essence from what I have cited from Crawford, Hodge, Stonehouse and Murray in my second chapter. Mueller continues:
God also wills in particular to save a certain number of persons, and to pass over the others with this grace. The elect will be saved as inevitably as the others will be damned. But those who are passed over and damned are persons who resist God’s offer of salvation. The essential point, then, of Amyraldianism is the combination of a real particularism with a purely ideal universalism.—
the former expressing the divine sovereignty, the latter the divine benignity.

Some of Amyraut’s views do not commend themselves to us, such as his assertion of a conditional predestination of the non-elect, and his denial of the imputation to believers of Christ’s active obedience. But neither do some of the reasonings of his critics, William Cunningham and George Smeaton strike us as solid and conclusive. The air of superiority and finality of these two authors—to the utter disparagement of all those theologians who think otherwise on this subject—is reprehensible indeed. It is such examples that encourage arrogance in men of far less learning, but, I fear, of far more self-assurance.

It is repeatedly apparent that the effort to downgrade the idea of General Redemption by the use of the term “Amyraldian” is simply a confession of inability to cope with the substantial arguments for that position, if not of an actual indisposition to come to grips with the real issues in the case. It is so much easier to employ derogatory terms.
Norman F. Douty, Did Christ Die Only For the Elect? (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 164–166.

See also Norman F. Douty Describes Dualism


Anonymous said...

Interesting quote from Douty there Tony.

Now I know how to answer high/hyper Calvinists when they sneeringly ask: "you're not an Amyraldian are you?". I'm thinking along the lines of:
"Is there any point in me answering that question since Norman Douty identifies use of the term "Amyralidan" as a "confession of inability to cope with the substantial arguments for that position". LOL

On a separate note: I note that Douty mentions the oft-criticised view that Amyraut had of a "conditional predestination of the non-elect". I don't recall seeing anything about this in Armstrong. Do you?


Tony Byrne said...

Hi Martin,

I don't recall seeing that in Armstrong either. If you read the encyclopedia article (I don't recall him saying it in his doctoral dissertation) by Roger Nicole from the C&C list, then you will see that he maintains that Amyraut held to a conditional predestination of the elect. I need to work through Amyraut's Brief Treatise on Predestination to see if it's there.

Talk to you later,