April 19, 2012

Some Important Moderate Calvinist Writings

First there is James Ussher. One should first read his The True Intent and Extent of Christ's Death and Satisfaction Upon the Cross, and then his An Answer of the Archbishop of Armagh to Some Exceptions Taken Against His Aforesaid Letter. The student would do well to start here.

Then there is John Davenant's very important work A Dissertation on the Death of Christ, As To Its Extent and Special Benefits. It's contained in volume 2 of his exposition on the book of Colossians.

Edward Polhill's Essay on the Extent of the Death of Christ (extracted from his treatise on The Divine Will Considered in It's Eternal Decrees, and Holy Execution of Them) is also important reading. It counts as both a reaction against Owenism and against Arminianism.

Richard Baxter's work on the Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ (or here for a recent edition) should be read as well. His work does have some problems, though, and it's not organized very well. It doesn't surprise me that it has not been reprinted. Nevertheless, it is important, even as a response to John Owen's Death of Death from a moderate Calvinistic perspective. In addition to his above work, one could also read this brief extract from his Catholick Theologie on "Of Universal Redemption". For more from a Baxterian perspective, these extracts from John Humfrey's Peace at Pinners-Hall Wish'd and Attempted in a Pacifick Paper Touching The Universality of Redemption, the Conditionality of the Covenant of Grace, and our Freedom from the Law of Works and The Middle-Way in One Paper of Election & Redemption, as well as from his Free Thoughts are worthwhile. William Lorimer is an example of another Baxterian.

Note: The above writings by Ussher, Davenant, Polhill and Baxter should not be considered "Amyraldism," as they did not depend upon Amyraut, though there are definite conceptual similarities and shared historical reliance on earlier thinkers (i.e. early church fathers and early Reformers). Modern Reformed historiography, such as in Richard Muller's recent lectures and writings (as well as Jonathan Moore's work on John Preston), has shown that the moderate English variety of so called "hypothetical universalism" (originally a pejorative label) is distinct from the Saumur variety, and existed prior to Amyraut, even going back to early Reformers such as Musculus, Bullinger, Ursinus, and others. With that said, if one wants to learn about the Amyraldian variety of moderate Calvinism, see the writings listed here (click).

One can consult sections from books that can be found here:


And here:


If one wants a modern book written from a classic-moderate perspective on the extent of the atonement, then I would recommend the following:

Norman F. Douty, Did Christ Die Only for the Elect? A Treatise on the Extent of Christ's Atonement (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998). 

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