Lets see if a mere layman with convictions, like me for example, can interact with the sources provided by the leader of the new so called Moderate Calvinism, Mr David Ponter.
I am no stranger to attempting in the past to interacting with the man, but, I shall try again and see what happens.
On the subject of Double payment/Double Jeopardy argument, as it is rejected by Ponter and others, let us interact with one of his sources he quotes from the link above.
In this example, Ursinus and his Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism.
Sins of the world and cognate phrases:
2. It was necessary that the ransom which the Redeemer paid should be of infinite value, that it might possess a dignity and merit sufficient for the redemption of our souls, and that it might avail in the judgment of God, for the purpose of expiating our sins, and restoring in us that righteousness and life which we had lost.
The old saying that Christ died sufficiently for the sins of the world but efficiently for the sins of the elect is a saying no reformed person is ignorant of. It's usage shows up in various and sundry places/times and writers, including Calvin himself, who as a matter of fact referred to the saying in a less than positive light.
It seems that Ursinus here is addressing the infinite value of our Lord's sacrifice, and of course no Calvinist has an issue with that expression. However, Is Ursinus here advocating or meaning an infinite value that must be read as an actual expiation for the sins of all mankind as David Ponter would embrace, or is Ursinus merely mentioning the concept that the value of the sacrifice is of such infinite worth, because of whom it is providing the sacrifice? Is he here, in line with other Calvinists, drawing a connection between the sufficiency of the sacrifice, as looked at from one important angle, namely the value or worth because of whom it is that is offering this sacrifice? Namely, our spotless Lamb?
And what is meant when Ursinus makes mention of the expiation of “our” sins? Is the “our” there, meant to convey every single member of mankind, rather than the “our” referring to believers?
These are just basic and simple questions worth asking are they not?
Is Ursinus referring to every individual who ever lived when he mentions the redemption of “our” souls? To whom is he referring? Every single person in history or does he have believers in mind?
These are the exact same questions that arise with the usage of such words found in scripture.
What is being meant exactly? Consider the great passage that supposedly refers to the Universal gospel proclamation, which is found in 1Co 15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,
Is Paul referring here to all men without exception?, or does “our” sins mentioned here refer to those already believing, that is believers present when Paul spoke those words. Was Paul attempting to make this huge Universal statement regarding “Everyone's” sins being expiated by Christ upon the cross?
These are the basic sorts of questions that we need to ask when referring to these expressions.
I am not convinced that David Ponter comes to these expressions with these ideas in mind at all.
He just seems to assume certain things and no one ever stops him to question these assumptions.
I am fairly convinced he has certain presuppositions coming in before these expressions are dealt with.
If that is true, it is no wonder, that not only can and will these writers be open to misrepresentation, but scripture itself gets painted with the same broad brush. Some may think no decent student, such as Ponter would ever treat writers like that! But why not? This happens much more than people realize, and especially within the higher academic subjects, and particularly in modern scholarship, at least in my own studies in such basic matters.
In a rather smart or cunning way, it is a real shortcut to get to your own interpretations. It cuts out the argument from underneath your opponent in many subtle ways, and if your opponent fails to see what is happening, he may find himself going down all of these rabbit trails and or concentrating his efforts in an area he may not need to spend much time on.
Is it a reasonable presumption to ask the questions I am asking? Am I also guilty of bringing in presuppositions when I ask these questions? If I am, at this point bringing in presuppositions, other than simple hermeneutical ones, then I cannot see it. Not at this early stage anyway at least.
Let me continue with Ursinus...
Hence it became the person who would make this satisfaction for us, to be possessed of infinite dignity, that is, to be God; for the dignity of this satisfaction, on account of which it might be acceptable to God and of infinite worth, although temporal, consists in two things–in the dignity of the person, and in the greatness of the punishment.
Great, no problem here. We are seeing here the object who is God Himself, and hence the infinite dignity part of the expression, which we all confirm.
The dignity of the person who suffered appears in this, that it was God, the Creator himself, who died for the sins of the world; which is infinitely more than the destruction of all creatures, and avails more than the holiness of all the angels and men. Hence it is, that the Apostles, when they speak of the sufferings of Christ, almost always make mention of his Divinity.” God hath purchased the Church with his blood.” “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Yea, God himself, in Paradise, joined together these two: “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Acts 20:28. 1 John I:7. John 1:29. Gen. 3:15.)
Now, apart from the statement underlined “died for the sins of the world”, what else is mentioned here that promotes Ponter's theology of the cross? Did Ursinus, by using the word “world” mean every single person without exception? Does he mean that? Is he suffering to world of believers?
Again, these are the basic questions that need to be addressed are they not?
Why does Ursinus then mention in connection with the language of “purchase” the explicit statement the “Church” with His blood? Is that important, or does it at the very least give us some scope to consider as far as what or whom is purchased by the blood of this Infinite dignity found in Christ?
What does Ursinus mean by the term “world”? Does he mean what Ponter means when using this term? These questions need to be answered.
The greatness of the punishment which Christ endured appears in this, that he sustained the dreadful torments of hell, and the wrath of God against the sins of the whole world. “The pains of hell gat hold upon me.” “God is a consuming fire.” “The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” (Ps.116:3. Deut. 4:24. Is.53:10.) From this we may perceive why it was, that Christ manifested such signs of distress in the prospect of death, whilst many of the martyrs met death with the greatest courage and composure. [p., 88.]
Again, what does Ursinus refer to when using such expressions? If he was meaning all the sins of every single person who ever lived, and was really saying the same thing as Ponter teaches, then logically, why would Ursinus end the statement with a comment about the Martyrs? Is he not thinking about believers here, or is he on the same page as Ponter? I let the reader decide.
2) Or, we may, in accordance with the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth questions of the Catechism, define the gospel to be the doctrine which God revealed first in Paradise, and afterwards published by the Patriarchs and Prophets, which he was pleased to represent by the shadows of sacrifices, and the other ceremonies of the law, and which he has accomplished by his only begotten Son; teaching that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; which is to say that he is a perfect Mediator, satisfying for the sins of the human race, restoring righteousness and eternal life to all those who by a true faith are ingrafted into him, and embrace his benefits. [p., 102.]
When Ursinus refer here to “us” as in those who have been made to know wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, is he not referring to us believers? Is he to be made to say that all men attain these benefits? Surely not, but that is how we would be forced to read him according to Ponter!
Is Ursinus saying that Christ has made satisfaction for the sins of every sing person who ever lived?
Saying “human race” does not necessarily imply what Ponter presupposes.
And of course it goes without saying that if Ponter is reading into these little words all the baggage of universal language with his own peculiar views, the whole context changes completely does it not, and not only that, but harmonizes with the views Ponter is refuting, as has been shown by others in their interactions with Ponter.
Let us depart for a moment from this text by Ursinus, that Ponter uses to prove his universal expiation doctrine, and let us depart and consider Ursinus writing upon another subject, and let us simply examine what he says there and see if it can be consistently wedded to the picture Ponter presents us with.
Let us turn to Ursinus on the subject of “our righteousness before God.”
This may be helpful in one explicit sense. I have noticed that those who promote a more “general atonement”, or the views espoused by Ponter, tend to be what has been called Biblical theologians rather than Systematic Theologians, and for those familiar with these terms, you may see where I am going with this.
Once we take these great doctrines or concepts that we find in scripture, we can then proceed to attempt to gain greater understanding and consistency by doing the hard work of systematizing those great teachings so that they are in harmony with the rest of scripture. It is all bound up in this thing we call Hermeneutics and the hard task of exegesis of scripture.
In my own studies, I have increasingly become aware that those advocating general atonement theories are the least consistent and on many fronts the least interested, when doing exegesis and attempting to understand systematic theology. There is a kind of disdain for systematic theology and I think such is not only dangerous, but reflects a general movement spreading across Christianity for some time.
Now, here is Ursinus on another subject. I have underlined certain statements for emphasis.
WHAT IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD?
URSINUS, COMMENTARY ON THE HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, page 327
Interesting reading that last line above isn't it?
I think so, for above I have underlined all those expressions that Ponter would underline in the other context of universal expiation when quoting Ursinus elsewhere, but note well, that when we come to read Ursinus here with regards to the subject of imputed righteousness, we can understand his “us” and “Our” to refer to us believers. Ursinus is consistent, but the same cannot be said for Mr David Ponter.
Now I may post more later, but please keep in mind that both Ponter and his followers, particularly Tony Byrne treat their sources in this way. Not only do they do this with their sources, but they read arguments that came way down the road back into the contexts and situations where our forefather's were not addressing issues and or disputes during their own particular and unique at times situations. They do this with all of the Classic reformers such as Calvin, and what they do is anachronistically load their own presuppositions back into these other men's writings, and as they are not around to correct this kind of thing, we must do it on their behalf. Well, at least I try to do it, but it takes much time and effort.
Even right now, when someone who is alive, like Phil Johnson for example, is cited in a wrong away by Dr Allan at the John 3:16 conference with reference to Phil's primer upon Hyper Calvinism, due to the determined work of Tony Byrne edging him on with Byrne's notes and charts, do they admit error and apologize? No, they dig in their heels and even worse, argue the situation to such a level, that men who are brothers and great friends are so twisted by Byrne in his ever so narrow quest to major upon the minors, that he is actually guilty of trying to pit brother against brother. It is so sad to see this going on, but one wonders where it is all leading, as the saga still unfolds every day.
Incidentally, the quote from Ursinus above regarding imputed righteousness, immediately after he says “which God graciously imputes to us, and all believers. “ then goes on to complete his thoughts by saying the following,
“This satisfaction is equivalent to the fulfilling of the law, or to the endurance of eternal punishment for sin, to one or the other of which the law binds all. "I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." "Ye are complete in him." "By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." "With his stripes we are healed." "He was bruised for our iniquities."
"This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
"Being justified freely, by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood."
"Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven." "Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." "We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
"He redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 Cor. 2:2, Col. 2:10, Rom. 5:19, Is. 53:5-6, Luke 22:20, Rom. 3:24, 45; 4:7; 5:9-10, 2 Cor. 8:9, Gal. 3:13, Eph. 1:7, 1 John 1: 7).
Christ fulfilled the law by the holiness of his human nature, and by his obedience, even unto the death of the cross. The holiness of his human nature was necessary to his obedience; for it became our mediator to be holy and righteous in himself, that he might be able to perform obedience, and make satisfaction for us. "For such a High Priest became us, who is holy," etc. (Heb. 7: 26). This obedience now is our righteousness, and it is upon the ground of this that God is pleased with us. The blood of Christ is the satisfaction on account of which God receives us into his favor, and which he imputes unto us, as it is said, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, both of commission and omission. The shedding of his blood is the complement of his satisfaction, and is for this reason called our righteousness. ”
URSINUS, COMMENTARY ON THE HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, page 328
Some good reading there folks! Try and read all of that through “universal expiation” eyes.
The next section addressed by Ursinus from the Catechism is an interesting subject.
3) Q 20. Are all men, then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ? Ans: No; only those ingrafted into him, and receive all his benefits by truth faith.
Anyway, Ursinus, when referring to universal language, is speaking at that point to universal sufficiency and he makes the necessary distinction between sufficiency and efficiency, which is well known in reformed writers, and nowhere is teaching that Christ has actually and really expiated the sins of the whole world, which Ponter teaches.
Divine intention is not found in the sufficiency idea which is protecting the inherent dignity of the Savior, which had God intended, is able to save a hundred billion worlds, had that been His intention, and in that sense, the sufficiency question has meaning, but in the two-fold effect of the efficient call of the gospel to all men, which results in the saving of the elect and the hardening of the rest. I see nowhere that Ursinus teaches actual universal expiation for all, but sufficiency language is used, but that does not prove what Ponter needs to prove does it?
No, he needs Ursinus to say that all the sins of every person who ever lived have been expiated by the death of Christ, not bare sufficiency which says nothing about for whom He died. Why do these universal/general atonement guys not grasp this?
I also noticed that Ursinus uses freely the term Propitiation! You will not find Ponter use that term. But why?
Well, that's another issue and I am worn out writing all of this!