November 7, 2006

Hans Boersma on Richard Baxter (1615–1691) and Moïse Amyraut (1596–1664)

The view of Baxter as an Amyraldian theologian needs some modification, especially in light of the view that he did not derive his position on the extent of the atonement from Moyse Amyraut. When, in his Parænesis ad ædificatores Imperii in Imperio (1656), Lewis Du Moulin denounces Amyraut's theology, he comments that "in England only one Baxter is exceedingly pleased with his method." Baxter denies being a proselyte of Amyraut, saying that "this unus Baxterus did write a Book for Universal Redemption in this middle sens[e], before ever hee saw either Amyraldus, Davenant, or any Writer (except Dr Twisse) for that way ..."

Yet, Baxter is not adverse to the views of John Cameron and Amyraut on redemption. On the contrary, when John Tombes reproaches Baxter for his view on universal redemption, Baxter replies: "And to tel[l] you freely my thoughts, that is the point of universal Redemption wherein I think Amyrald doth best, and in that ... I approve of most he saith." What is more, when Baxter distinguishes the absolute promise of the first grace for the elect and the legal moral donation for all, he specifically appeals to Cameron, Amyraut, Davenant, Samuel Ward, and the Canons of Dort for support. Thus, while it does not appear that Amyraut had an immediate impact on Baxter's views on the extent of the atonement, there is an obvious congeniality between the two authors.
Hans Boersma, A Hot Pepper Corn: Richard Baxter's Doctrine of Justification in Its Seventeenth-Century Context of Controversy (Vancouver, BC: Regent, 2004), 197–198.


MacoMan said...

I like the phrase "legal moral donation" when thinking of the universal implications of the atonement. Is this how Boersma defines universal atonement elsewhere or was this a one shot phrase; or am I misunderstanding how the phrase is being used?

Tony Byrne said...

Hi Mike,

I like the expression, "legal moral donation" as well. If one has to work through a 300 page doctoral dissertation just to pick up helpful phrases like that, then it's worth it. I have found that to be the case in the last 3+ years of study in these areas. I underline and circle those helpful ways of putting things.

I still haven't worked through all of Boersma, so I don't know if he uses the expression elsewhere. I wonder if he picked up that expression from Baxter's own writings. I suspect that he did. I will eventually buy Baxter's work on Universal Redemption so I will eventually let you know, if I remember. I think you're probably understanding what the words mean.