November 28, 2009

Narrowly "Reformed"

Some Reformed Baptists have been complaining about Dr. Scott Clark's narrow use of the term "Reformed," such that 1689 LBCF advocates do not qualify as truly "Reformed." Some of the discussion initially began on Micah Burke's blog here, and James White commented here and then here. I tried to post my following comments on Burke's blog, but got this reply:
Lockheed said...
Sorry Ynottony, I don't welcome your comments here
Here is my attempted post that was not allowed:
Dr. Clark's narrow interpretation of the "Reformed" label is further revealed by the fact that he doesn't think that so called "hypothetical universalists" should be considered "Reformed" or "Calvinists." He can't think, for example, that John Davenant, Matthias Martinius, Carleton, Ward, Goad, Hall, Crocius and Alsted signed the Synod of Dort in good conscience, or that they were truly "Reformed," contrary to what Dr. Richard Muller has said. The same is true of some Westminster divines, such as Calamy, Seaman, Vines, Harris, Marshall, and Arrowsmith. Dr. Richard Muller acknowledges that these men taught forms of "hypothetical universalism." Muller also says that Musculus, Zanchi, Ursinus, Bullinger, Twisse, John Preston and James Ussher also taught a non-Amyraldian "hypothetical universalism," but Dr. Clark cannot agree and think these men truly "Reformed."

Note carefully that Muller says that Ursinus, of Heidelberg, taught a "hypothetical universalism," and Clark [the "Heidelblog" blogger] cannot agree with that, or think Ursinus himself was "Reformed" if Muller is right. Even Robert Godfrey, in his doctoral dissertation, says that Martinius' moderate statement at the Synod of Dort on the extent of Christ's death for all "was almost a direct quotation from Ursinus." Godfrey says, "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." On page 200 of his thesis, 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." Muller even grants that John Bunyan and Jacob Kimedoncius taught a "hypothetical universalism," so Dr. Clark has to view them out of bounds as well, as not true "Calvinists" or truly "Reformed."

My point here is not to argue what atonement view is correct, but just to demonstrate how radically different Dr. Clark's Reformed boundaries are on this issue as compared to Dr. Muller, and Dr. Godfrey. So, Clark's narrow interpretation of the label "Reformed" surfaces in other areas as well, not just on the subject of baptism.
That's all that I was attempting to post on Burke's blog. I might add, now, that James White is just as sectarian as Scott Clark is on the atonement, but not in the area of baptism when it comes to the "Reformed" label. White regularly hosts and approves Turretinfan as a blogger on historic Calvinism, and everything said about Clark above (on the atonement) applies to the anonymous and unaccountable Turretinfan as well. They cannot allow that any of these non-Amyraldian "hypothetical universalists" are truly "Reformed," and they must therefore disagree with the historiography of Dr. Muller and Dr. Godfrey. The concerns of the moderates at Dort about Reformed catholicity were quite valid. We're seeing the fruits of the predicted sectarianism today, especially manifested on the topic of the extent of the atonement.

[Update: A lot more discussion can be found here and here. Dr. Gonzales has an interesting reply here, and he rightly calls Clark's views "sectarian". Dr. Haykin has a response here. White's final thoughts are here.]

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