November 7, 2009

Dr. Curt Daniel on Bunyan, Luther, Zwingli, Bullinger and Two Reformed Confessions

John Bunyan (1628–1688) tended towards a more universal atonement. In his Reprobation Asserted, he argued that the atonement underlies the Gospel offer. Therefore, we preach to all because Christ died for all. If the atonement was limited to the elect alone, then the reprobate who hear and reject the Gospel deserve no extra punishment. Furthermore, if the atonement were limited, then no man could know that Christ had died for him and, consequently, saving faith could not contain the essential assurance that 'Christ died for me.'
Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism (Springfield, Ill: Good Books, 2003), 76.
Luther and all Lutherans believed in universal atonement. There is no real disagreement on this. Also, all of the first-generation Reformed theologians taught universal atonement. This includes Zwingli, Bullinger, and the others. Universal atonement is explicitly taught in many of the earliest Calvinist confessions, such as the Heidelberg Catechism and the Thirty-nine Articles.
Ibid., 77.
[John] Gill is strangely silent on the most prominent and respected Baptist of the Puritan era: John Bunyan. To our knowledge Gill does not make a single, even indirect, reference to Bunyan. There can only be one reason for this silence. In his later years Bunyan held to universal atonement. Whether he held it in earlier days is not known, but he clearly espoused this position in Reprobation Asserted. This would clearly signal a serious compromise in Gill’s eyes.
Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Ph.D. diss., University of Edinburgh, 1983), 47.

We have recently seen that James Swan thinks the same way about Luther, and that Dr. Richard Muller agrees with Daniel's historical assessment on Bullinger, Ursinus (an author of the Heidelberg Catechism), and John Bunyan.

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