January 21, 2009

Robert Godfrey on Matthias Martinius (1572–1630)

In his twenty-fourth thesis Martinius described his reasons for defending at such length the notion that Christ died for all:
The clear reasons why I follow this opinion are three: 1. So that the Scriptures can be reconciled in a way that is not perplexing. 2. So that the glory of truth, mercy, and justice remain to God in the Evangelical commands, promises and warnings, and that God is not judged by these things to wish or to do anything other than what his words declare. 3. So that it is manifested that the guilt for the destruction of the impious is in themselves, not indeed in a defect of the remedy through which they might have been saved.45
Martinius, like Davenant, was concerned to speak about God's general concern for his creation and the conditional promises offered truly to all on the basis of the death of Christ . . . Like Davenant, although not with the clarity of his treatise, Martinius based his defense of this notion on an expanded view of sufficiency.

Thesis XXV summarized his position: ". . . Merit, I say, and application are equally broad and not equally broad in different respects; and there is no contradiction. Christ died for all with the intention of saving them and he did not so die for all."46 Some of the strict Calvinists might well have taken considerable exception to this. But Martinius had a surprise waiting for them if they did, for though he did not cite the source of his thesis, Martinius' statement was almost a direct quotation from Ursinus.47 Ursinus was one of the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism, one of the very documents that the Synod had been convoked to defend against the attacks of the Remonstrants. A little later in his Theses Martinius did cite Ursinus explicitly in his own defense.

Martinius' seven theses on the death of Christ as it related to the elect noted that there was a special decree which accomplished for the elect and applied to them the saving benefits of the death of Christ. In the fifth thesis, an especially significant thesis, Martinius affirmed that saving faith is solely a gift of God and is given to the elect alone. This thesis revealed that however much Martinius, like Davenant, wished to expand the notion of sufficiency beyond the bounds that most of the strict Calvinists were willing to accept, he maintained the Calvinist position that all efficacy in the process of salvation came from God alone. Thus, in no sense could Martinius rightly be associated with the Remonstrants or 'semi-Remonstrant' cause.
45. Acta Synodi, II, 137–138.
46. Acta Synodi, II, 137.
47. Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, translated by G. W. Willard (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1954), p. 223.
W. Robert Godfrey, Tensions within International Calvinism: The Debate on the Atonement at the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619 (Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 1974), 196–198.

On page 200, Godfrey says that Martinius' Theses in fact showed that he "really was within the camp of orthodox Calvinism and that he definitely accepted the received distinction and at least in large part the received restriction on efficacy."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The piece from Godfrey is very good. One little problem, tho, is that what Godfrey says was from Ursinus is actually from Paraeus. It is that inserted section, written by Paraeus when he published Ursinus' Latin commentary on the HC.