Amyraldian Anglicans

There is a wonderful tradition of Amyraldian Anglicans who imbibed Calvinism with a Catholic spirit.  J.C. Ryle, John Newton, and Charles Simeon are the main examples.  Another one in that tradition is D.B. Knox.

D.B. Knox (1916-94), former theology professor at Moore College in Sydney, advocated a view of universal atonement in conjunction with a deeply rooted Anglican Calvinism.[1] For Knox the work of Christ extends uniformly to the whole of humanity and this is clear wen based around certain theological heads: (1) Incarnation. When Christ took on human nature, he assumed the nature that all people share, not just the natur of the election; (2) Christ’s Perfect Righteousness. When Christ perfectly obeyed the law of God he fulfilled the obligation that rests on all people equally, not just the obligations of the elect alone; (3) Christ’s Victory. When Jesus defeated the Satan on the cross he defeated the enemy of all humanity, not just the enemy of the elect; and (4) Christ’s Bearing of the Curse. On the cross, Jesus bore the curse that God threatens against all the breakers of his covenant, not the curse that is applicable only to the elect. Thus, the work of Christ, apart from its application, is co-extensive with humanity and it is sufficient for all.[2]

In which case, for Knox, the preacher is perfectly justified to tell his audience that “Christ died for you”. Everyone has an equal interest in the death of Christ. If it were not so it would be impossible for there to be a universal offer of the gospel. For the offer to be universal it must rest on equally universal and adequate grounds for those to whom the offer is made. The gospel is offered to all because Christ died for all. The Arminian and Calvinist are right in what they affirm, but wrong in what they deny. The Arminian is right that Christ renders all people savable, but denies that he saves any. The Calvinist is right that God saves the elect, but speaks as if the atonement in no apparent way affects the savableness of others. The elect and non-elect are made savable by Christ’s death for humanity, but only the elect receive the necessary grace for the work of Christ to be applied to them.[3] Knox concludes:

The object of the doctrine of limited atonement is to ensure the truth that Christ’s death saves his people effectively, as against the Arminian doctrine of general redemption, which holds that by the atonement Christ redeems all men, without necessarily effecting the salvation of any. But while rightly stressing that the atonement saves those whom God intends it to save, we should not speak of the substitution of Christ on Calvary in such a way as to overthrow other Scriptural points of view. Limited atonement as commonly propounded, introduces unscriptural concepts into the doctrine of God’s relation to the world, and may prove an Achilles’ heel for the revival of Reformed theology.[4]

D. B. Knox, “Some Aspects of the Atonement,” in Selected Works: Volume 1 – The Doctrine of God [Kingsford, SYD: Matthias Media, 2000], 253-66.

————————–

[1] Knox, “Some Aspects of the Atonement”, 260-66.

[2] Knox, “Some Aspects of the Atonement”, 260.

[3] Knox, “Some Aspects of the Atonement”, 261.

[4] Knox, “Some Aspects of the Atonement”, 266.

  • Cctwombly

    Thanks, Michael. This is an eye-opener. “Limited atonement as commonly propounded, introduces unscriptural concepts into the doctrine of God’s relation to the world, and may prove an Achilles’ heel for the revival of Reformed theology.” Amen.

  • Cctwombly

    Thanks, Michael. This is an eye-opener. “Limited atonement as commonly propounded, introduces unscriptural concepts into the doctrine of God’s relation to the world, and may prove an Achilles’ heel for the revival of Reformed theology.” Amen.

    • John Michael Platanitis

      The VALUE of Christ’s death IS more than sufficient to actually atone for every person and all sin. No Calvinist that I am aware of denies or debate this. The issue is not the merit of Christ’s sacrifice based on WHO He is, but the efficiency. God is perfectly just. And IF Christ truly atoned for ALL sin of all peoples, then the sin of unbelief was atoned for by Him as well. In which case all humanity MUST be saved and universalism is true, whether they believe or not. John 3:16 links the “God so loved that He gave” clause with “whosoever believes”. Thus the GIVING of Christ to die by God was to actually save “whosoever believes”, NOT potentially save all. Because He ONLY atoned for the sin of those whom God foreknew as His elect – hence, who would by grace, believe. Thus as Jesus said “I give my life FOR the sheep”. IF in fact Christ has truthfully atoned for the sin of all humanity then God ACCEPTED that payment for ALL sin, including unbelief! How then can ANY for whom Christ’s holy and righteous blood was shed, for whom He suffered and endured such agony to save be lost due to the sin of unbelief? God CANNOT justly accept the substitutionary- sacrifice of the “Surety”/”Guarantor” on behalf of those for whom His blood was shed, AND also take full payment from the one the guarantor paid for!

  • David Campbell

    Here is a list of some interesting quotations from Calvin that support Amyraldianism:

    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/calvine.htm

  • David Campbell

    Here is a list of some interesting quotations from Calvin that support Amyraldianism:

    http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/calvine.htm

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  • Seumas

    Thanks Michael. It’s interesting that after 7 years at Moore, this is the first time someone has explained why Amryaldianism is de rigeur among Sydney Anglicans and what it amounts to in that context.

  • Seumas

    Thanks Michael. It’s interesting that after 7 years at Moore, this is the first time someone has explained why Amryaldianism is de rigeur among Sydney Anglicans and what it amounts to in that context.

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  • George Athas

    To extend the picture, if we use the Levitical system as the basis for understanding atonement, which most of us implicitly do, then we will notice that it has three ritual categories: (1) unclean; (2) clean; and (3) holy. The language of ‘forgiveness’ is associated only with those sacrifices that move one from ‘unclean’ (ie. having some kind of debt before God) to ‘clean’ (having no debt). However, being in the ‘clean’ category does not give one a relationship with God. Rather, it merely makes one able to have a relationship with God. There are further sacrifices required that effectively indicate allegiance or tribute to God, and it’s these that take one from ‘clean’ to ‘holy’. Using this analogy, the forgiveness that Christ’s sacrifice applies to everyone. It means that everyone now is able to be in relationship with God because their debt to him has been paid. But it is only the elect who receive the Holy Spirit that makes them ‘holy’ (ie. sanctifies them) and actually gives them the relationship with God, by binding them to the Son, who is the perfect sacrifice of tribute as well. If we make no distinction made between ‘clean’ and ‘holy’, then forgiveness is associated automatically with salvation. However, the biblical categories would suggest that this is not quite what is happening.

  • George Athas

    To extend the picture, if we use the Levitical system as the basis for understanding atonement, which most of us implicitly do, then we will notice that it has three ritual categories: (1) unclean; (2) clean; and (3) holy. The language of ‘forgiveness’ is associated only with those sacrifices that move one from ‘unclean’ (ie. having some kind of debt before God) to ‘clean’ (having no debt). However, being in the ‘clean’ category does not give one a relationship with God. Rather, it merely makes one able to have a relationship with God. There are further sacrifices required that effectively indicate allegiance or tribute to God, and it’s these that take one from ‘clean’ to ‘holy’. Using this analogy, the forgiveness that Christ’s sacrifice applies to everyone. It means that everyone now is able to be in relationship with God because their debt to him has been paid. But it is only the elect who receive the Holy Spirit that makes them ‘holy’ (ie. sanctifies them) and actually gives them the relationship with God, by binding them to the Son, who is the perfect sacrifice of tribute as well. If we make no distinction made between ‘clean’ and ‘holy’, then forgiveness is associated automatically with salvation. However, the biblical categories would suggest that this is not quite what is happening.

  • http://johngreenview.wordpress.com/ John Thomson

    2Cor 5:14-15 (ESV)
    For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    The death of Christ here seems universal in scope. Paul uses its universal scope to establish that judiciously all men are dead (humanity is judged and condemned). ‘Those who live’ seems to be a sub-set of ‘all have died’.

    Sufficient for all and efficient for a few.

  • http://johngreenview.wordpress.com/ John Thomson

    2Cor 5:14-15 (ESV)
    For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    The death of Christ here seems universal in scope. Paul uses its universal scope to establish that judiciously all men are dead (humanity is judged and condemned). ‘Those who live’ seems to be a sub-set of ‘all have died’.

    Sufficient for all and efficient for a few.

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  • Andy

    To be fair, as I understand the Calvinist position, it’s that Christ’s death is sufficient for all, but efficient only for those who put their trust in Christ. The Amyraldian position seems to be in reaction to the notion that Christ’s death is sufficient and efficient only for some, a doctrine that seems clearly incompatible with Scripture, and one that – as far as I know – Calvinists do not believe.

    • Cctwombly

      Andy, I’m with you on the “incompatible with Scripture” part; as for the “Calvinists do not believe” this part, I’d say it’s time to tip-toe through the TULIP. (Spare me, five-pointers, if I oversimplify here.)

      T = total depravity
      U = unconditional election
      L = limited atonement
      I = irresistable grace
      P= perserverance of the saints

      Not all Calvinists subscribe to all five points, but many do. “L” is the one that addresses whether Christ’s death/atonement is “sufficient and efficient only for some.” For those who know Calvin’s own teachings (as opposed to his 17th century “Calvinist” followers) much better than I do, some serious nuance may need adding.

  • Andy

    To be fair, as I understand the Calvinist position, it’s that Christ’s death is sufficient for all, but efficient only for those who put their trust in Christ. The Amyraldian position seems to be in reaction to the notion that Christ’s death is sufficient and efficient only for some, a doctrine that seems clearly incompatible with Scripture, and one that – as far as I know – Calvinists do not believe.

    • Cctwombly

      Andy, I’m with you on the “incompatible with Scripture” part; as for the “Calvinists do not believe” this part, I’d say it’s time to tip-toe through the TULIP. (Spare me, five-pointers, if I oversimplify here.)

      T = total depravity
      U = unconditional election
      L = limited atonement
      I = irresistable grace
      P= perserverance of the saints

      Not all Calvinists subscribe to all five points, but many do. “L” is the one that addresses whether Christ’s death/atonement is “sufficient and efficient only for some.” For those who know Calvin’s own teachings (as opposed to his 17th century “Calvinist” followers) much better than I do, some serious nuance may need adding.

    • John Michael Platanitis

      The VALUE of Christ’s death IS more than sufficient to actually atone for every person and all sin. No Calvinist that I am aware of denies or debate this. The issue is not the merit of Christ’s sacrifice based on WHO He is, but the efficiency. God is perfectly just. And IF Christ truly atoned for ALL sin of all peoples, then the sin of unbelief was atoned for by Him as well. In which case all humanity MUST be saved and universalism is true, whether they believe or not. John 3:16 links the “God so loved that He gave” clause with “whosoever believes”. Thus the GIVING of Christ to die by God was to actually save “whosoever believes”, NOT potentially save all. Because He ONLY atoned for the sin of those whom God foreknew as His elect – hence, who would by grace, believe. Thus as Jesus said “I give my life FOR the sheep”. IF in fact Christ has truthfully atoned for the sin of all humanity then God ACCEPTED that payment for ALL sin, including unbelief! How then can ANY for whom Christ’s holy and righteous blood was shed, for whom He suffered and endured such agony to save be lost due to the sin of unbelief? God CANNOT justly accept the substitutionary- sacrifice of the “Surety”/”Guarantor” on behalf of those for whom His blood was shed, AND also take full payment from the one the guarantor paid for!


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