September 18, 2016

Paul N. Archbald’s Summary of Theodore Beza (1519–1605) on the Grace and Love of God

Beza also occasionally speaks in terms of what could be called common grace. He suggests that, in a sense, Christ died for the wicked, because all things were created by the Father in the Son (1 Corinthians 15:22). The wicked therefore receive life and blessing, but all this turns to a curse for them. Only those grafted into Christ are made partakers of His resurrection-life.66 Beza rejects the idea that the incarnation made all without exception members of Christ. Union with Christ applies to the church alone. It is by covenant, not by nature.67

It is still possible, however, to speak of a universal love of God. At Montbéliard, Andreae asked if God has ever loved those who are now damned, or will be. Beza replied with Augustine’s distinction that God both hates and loves at the same time. He loves what He has created, and He loves His ordaining of human beings as vessels for some use or other. He hates the sinful works of men, the ungodliness which He Himself did not make. God, “in that He makes vessels of perdition of the mass of the lost, does not hate what He does.”68
66. Questions, 21a-22.
67. Ibid., 36-36a.
68. Coll. Mont., 212-213. [“...Deum odisse simul & amare homines: amare videlicet homines quatenus sunt opus suum, odisse vero in hominibus opera hominis, id est peccata...]
Paul N. Archbald, A Comparative Study of John Calvin and Theodore Beza on the Doctrine of the Extent of the Atonement (PhD diss., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1998), 294–295. See also pp. 222–223. William Strong (d.1654), the Westminster divine, also said Beza taught God’s “common love” for all creatures as such, along with Calvin.

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