Friday, July 30, 2010

An Addendum to Calvary

“There is no contradiction here, ‘as if God should will the damnation and salvation of Judas both at one time,’ for Preston is adamant that ‘it is most possible for a man to will and nill one and the same thing upon the same object if it be in different respects’” [Jonathan D. Moore, “English Hypothetical Universalism: John Preston and the Softening of Reformed Theology.” Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans, 2007, page 133; John Preston, “Riches of Mercy,” page 422. A Note from Jonathan Moore: “Preston has implicitly adopted Harsnett’s interpretation (Arminian) of 1 Timothy 2:4 over against that of Perkins (particularist, Calvinist].

I do not like contradictions. The word “contradiction” itself comes from two words, “contra” (against) and “diction” (speaking). To “contradict” something is to “speak against” it, whatever the thing may be. For example, to say that “I DO like chocolate” and then turn around and say “I DO NOT like chocolate” is to speak against the previous statement, “I do like chocolate.”

Contradictions, then, are illogical; and the only thing that can resolve paradoxes (or contradictions) is to qualify the opposites. For example, let’s look at the example from above:

“I do like chocolate”


“I do not like chocolate”

How do we resolve the contradiction here? We qualify the terms:

“I do like chocolate IN THE SUMMERTIME”


“I do not like chocolate IN THE WINTER”

The resolution is not the best one, but it is a good idea of how to resolve the contradiction (by stating seasons in which chocolate is favorable and seasons in which chocolate is not favorable).

Taking this concept into John Preston’s theology, we can see that he is right when he says that “it is most possible for a man to will and nill ONE AND THE SAME THING upon the same object IF IT BE IN DIFFERENT RESPECTS.” What Preston is saying here is, “Qualify the contradictory phrases”!

Preston then provides an example for us:

“A father will not have his son drunk, if he tie him up in a chamber he will not be drunk, yet he will not take such a course, though he hath a will his son should not be drunk, so God though HE DO WILL THAT MEN SHOULD BELIEVE AND REPENT AND BE SAVED, yet HE WILL NOT BE SAID TO USE ALL MEANS FOR THE EFFECTING OF IT IN ALL MEN, because He will glorify his justice as well as his mercy” (Moore, 133; Preston, “Riches of Mercy,” page 422).

There are problems with Preston’s statement here. First, the example never tells us why the father does not lock the son up in a chamber to prevent his drunkenness. Preston gives us no reason why; but when it gets to God not saving everyone, Preston provides an answer: “He will glorify his justice as well as his mercy.”

Next, in his statement on God, we see that, although God is responsible for making men and women come to faith, He will not effectually draw all to faith. And why?
“Because he will glorify his justice as well as mercy.”
In short, God has a “greater good” to which He has committed Himself, apart from the salvation of the world: that is, to display His justice.
But if God “must” display His justice with the damnation of many lives only God could have saved, then what about Calvary? Wasn’t the Atonement the ULTIMATE display of God’s justice and mercy? Didn’t God fully pour out His wrath on Christ on the Cross?

What does John tell us about Christ’s atonement?


So God sent the Son into the world with the intention of saving every creature. John is clear when he says that the purpose for Christ’s coming was not “that He might condemn the world.” God had no purpose of condemning anyone in Christ; therefore, the reason why anyone is condemned is because they do not believe in Christ (John 3:18).

And what about Paul’s words in Romans, which state that because of Christ’s righteousness “there is life-giving justification FOR EVERYONE” (Rom. 5:18, HCSB)? Or Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians that the message of reconciliation states that “in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, NOT COUNTING THEIR TRESPASSES AGAINST THEM” (2 Cor. 5:17)? If God sent Christ so that He could forgive the world of its trespasses, then doesn’t this mean that God has provided a way for every single soul to be saved, should he or she believe on Christ’s name?

The Scriptures portray a different God than does John Preston’s theology; rather, Preston’s theology doesn’t accurately portray the God of the Bible. If God has provided a way for the world to be saved, and His desire in sending Christ was to purchase the salvation of every single person, then how could God turn around and decide not to save every person? The problem with Preston’s theology is that he refuses to give up his Calvinism, with its doctrines of irresistible grace and unconditional election. As a result, he now has to come up with an answer for why the atonement “was not enough” to save the world---why, instead, the world now needs to see the damnation of souls to comfort the elect in their salvation. But doesn’t this provide “an addendum to Calvary?”

I shudder to think that the work of Christ on the cross was not enough to save every single person in the world. The Lord makes it very clear in His Word that He never created hell for any human, but the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). If this is true, then God has never outright intended to damn anyone apart from their rejection of Christ’s atonement and saving grace. God didn’t do a half-job at the Cross; rather, He completely purchased the redemption of the world. He has already judged the world for its sin in Adam; now, He need only judge the world for its rejection of the purchased salvation in Christ.

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