Friday, March 25, 2011

High Calvinism exegesis of 2 Cor 5:14-15

In another post I demonstarted that there is really no other conclusion to come to when you exegete this verse then moderate Calvinist's viewpoint.  While I was reading a systematic examination and exposition of the atonement in the book The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness about 48% of the way through I found Jerry the High (or hyper, as I make no distinction) Calvinist came to 2 Cor 5:14-15.  This is what he had to say about it
John Owen masterfully demonstrated in Death of Death in the Death of Christ that the all for whom Christ died is the same all who have died in him, with no wider or more general translation acceptable. 
The best way to argue against the historic Calvinists on this verse is thus: appeal to John Owen and assert that Christ must have died for the elect alone.  I find this interpretation dubious since there is no mention of the verse, no hint of any serious exegetical analysis, just an unsubstantiated appeal to Owen.  Could he have at least summarized Owens argument in a sentence or two for our benefit?
Perhaps by 'elect' he merely means those who benefit by the atonement. He clarifies the question 'who do you mean when you say elect?'
They are the ones who have become united with Christ as their representative in death, and thereby have received the forgiveness and the redemption purchased by the great atonement.  Christ died only for all the ones who have also died in him.
To buttress the argument that Christ's death is useless to the non-elect Jerry re-asserts that Christ couldn't have died for all men as the verse seems to say. As if simply appealing to this thought several times would make it true.
Since we are naturally left wondering why Christ death couldn't be available for the non-elect since Christ died as a man he continues 
To attempt to say that Christ died for those whom he failed to save is to distort and misrepresent the atonement and deny its nature as a single, whole, complete, vicarious transaction.  The death of Christ must save all for whom he died, and all for whom he died must participate by faith in his act of representative, substitutionary death in which he completely changed places with the redeemed.  
Notice again, no appeal to any reason why this must be so, just the argument again.
To his credit Jerry seems to see what is coming next: the argument that the non-elect enjoy common grace.  If the non-elect do not enjoy common grace and God's general love then he's a hyper-Calvinist come out of the closet, but if they do enjoy common grace it will be asked 'on what basis does a just and holy God treat them so well?'  By sovereignty?  If God has the power to merely forgive men or offer grace then why the cross? 
This is not to deny that unbelievers derive great benefits from the fact of Christ atonement.  They enjoy a period of God's patience and all the common graces of living among the people of God.  But these blessings do not mean that the Lord died in a double way- for some vicarious, and for others to give them only a temporary advantage- for that would undermine the Biblical truth that all for whom Christ died also died in him.
To repeat his statement- the non-elect do have a period on this Earth where God doesn't smash their souls, but this is not because of the atonement, because that would imply that the non-elect died in Christ and if both groups died with Christ then they are equilivant, and that would mean the elect are equivalently unsaved.

I'm starting to think that Hyper-Calvinism has only one argument that it clings to ad nauseum (with no scriptural support)- faith has no bearing on reconciliation and Christ's death was useless to the non-elect. 
The key thing here is that there is no mention of the verse, no study of the verse, no interaction of any kind with the verse.  The text itself says that all have died, but only some live. The key difference in these verses between the elect and non-elect is not in the death of Christ, but in the participation with the resurrection and life of Christ.
Because if they really did have the correct interpretation they would show their hand and explain the passage.  Moderate Calvinism stands.


πλήρως υπερ said...

Your argument is incorrect, and there are an infinite number of reasons not to accept it:

1. John Owen proved the atonement is strictly and particularly and in every other sense limited to the elect alone. No other possibilities are even conceivable because John Owen proved this.
2. See number 1.
3. (and following) See the previous reason.

So you see, John Owen's argument is sufficient for all (though it will only be accepted by the few). His argument was offered once for all, and it is powerful enough to convince anyone who has faith in it. In point of fact, this argument is so irrefutable that it is now being considered an auxiliary of the re-inspiration of the King James Bible. Future editions of the One-and-Only Authorized Version will include Owen's argument just before John 3:16 and also near I John 2:2 and John 1:29, and in several other places such as 2 Cor. 5:14. It will also be added to the words of the first martyr, Stephen, because his arguments could not be refuted and must therefore have included a form of the Owenian formula. As if all of this isn't enough, when you take every 13th letter from one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, you find Owen's argument (minus the vowels)!

. . . just kidding.

Phil said...

pleros huper -
Oh that was too good! And to top it off with that link to John Gill's rambling gibberish was priceless!