June 16, 2006

Roger Nicole Quoting John Quick's (1636–1706) Synodicon

Moise Amyraut was a dualist on the design and nature of Christ's death (or a double reference theorist), and not an unqualified universalist on the point. If one read's John Quick's Synodicon in Gallia Reformata: or, The Acts, Decisions, Decrees and Canons of the Seven Last National Councils of the Reformed Churches in France (1692), they will see this:
They [the Amyraldians] declared That Jesus Christ died for all Men sufficiently, but for the Elect only effectually: and that consequently his Intention was to die for all men in respect of the Sufficiency of his Satisfaction, but for the Elect only in respect of it's quickening and saving virtue and efficacy; which is to say, that Christ's will was that the sacrifice of his cross should be of infinite price and value, and most abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world; yet nevertheless the efficacy of his death appertains only unto the elect; so that those who are called by the preaching of the gospel, to participate by faith in the effects and fruits his death, being invited seriously, and God vouchsafing them all eternal means needful for their coming to him, and showing them in good earnest, and with the greatest sincerity by his Word, what would be well-pleasing to him, if they should not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but perish in their obstinacy and unbelief; this cometh not from any defect of virtue or sufficiency in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, nor yet for want of summons or serious invitations unto faith or repentance, but only from their own fault. And as for those who do receive the doctrine of the gospel with the obedience of faith, they are according to the irrevocable promise of God, made partakers of the effectual virtue and fruit of Christ Jesus's death; for this was the most free counsel and gracious purpose both of God the Father, in giving his Son for the salvation of mankind, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, in suffering the pains of death, that the efficacy thereof should particularly belong unto all the elect, and to them only, to give them justifying faith, and by it to bring them infallibly unto salvation, and thus effectually to redeem all those and none other, who were from all eternity from among all people, nations, tongues, chosen unto salvation.
Quoted in Roger Nicole, Moyse Amyraut (1596–1664) and The Controversy on Universal Grace: First Phase (1634-1637), 110. See Quick's Synodicon, Vol. ii. p. 354. This quote also appears in Andrew Robertson, History of the Atonement Controversy in Connexion with Secession Church (Edinburgh, Oliphant, 1846), 323-325.

In most critiques of Amyraut, he is dealt with as if he was an unqualified universalist on the "atonement" (Even Nicole assumes it when he begins to argue against Amyraut's position, despite what the quote above says. J. I. Packer does the same thing when criticizing Richard Baxter's dualistic position). It's not true, but it's pervasive in most secondary sources. It's why he's smeared or misrepresented as a "four-point" Calvinist by his critics.

I mentioned to a friend recently that Amyraut is probably more misunderstood than Calvin, but he rightly corrected me. He said that Calvin is more misunderstood because his writings are available for most people to read, and yet he's still not understood. Most of Amyraut's writings are either in Latin or French so people are only acquainted with the secondary sources, and most of these are from his staunch critics. His Brief Treatise on Predestination has been translated into English by Richard Lum in 1985.

Quoting the above material about Amyraut (or speaking about him as I have) to modern high Calvinists (or just putting it on my blog) is like showing the cross to Dracula. It's as if such ideas are a Trojan Horse to them. It's like it's worse than Arminianism because some unseen enemies will come sneaking out of the "friendly" Amyraldian horse at night to kill "consistent" Calvinism. That perception is due to the prevailing misconceptions about Amyraut's teaching, as if he's a "four-point" Calvinist etc. Did he make some mistakes ideologically and verbally? Sure he did, but he's not as bad as some say. Frankly, the man has been successfully smeared, and anyone who even seems theologically close to him will be smeared as well, such as James Ussher, Richard Baxter, John Davenant, John Preston, Edward Polhill and Edmund Calamy.


MacoMan said...

Hi Tony. Recently I was obliged to write a small "study" paper for a group at my church undertaking the topic of the extent of the atonement. One sentence from what I wrote: "The intent has been accomplished because the sufficiency is actually infinite, and this due to the quality of the character of the life [Christ's] lived and position held in relation to mankind." This, I believe, is critical to the sufficiency/efficiency formula because both are equally grounded in the character of the Person; that is, a person of inifinite value will qualify an infinite sufficiency that is actual; a person of questionable or finite value will ground a sufficiency which can only be hypothetical. Anyway, just a few thoughts. God bless. Later.

DrPuritan said...

I have recently published the authorized biography of Roger Nicole, entitled Speaking the Truth in Love: The Life and Legacy of Roger Nicole. It is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the publisher, Solid Ground Christian Books.