Canons Of Dort (18): It Was God’s Sovereign Will To Accomplish Complete Salvation For All The Elect

The churches confessed what God intended and what Christ accomplished for and what the Spirit applies to the elect.

As we have surveyed the decisions (Canons) of the Synod of Dort in their historical (social, political) and theological contexts, reading the Canons in light of the Remonstrance in 1610 and the Opinions of the Remonstrance given to Synod in 1618, it has become increasingly clear that there is no tenable position between the Remonstrants and the Reformed. Neither is the so-called “Four Point” or Hypothetical Universalist position compatible with the Synod of Dort.

 

There are those, who one suspects, have spent little time investigating the actual differences between the Reformed Churches and their Remonstrant critics, who have attempted to position themselves between the Reformed and the Remonstrants. Some of these call themselves “tweeners.” There are others who call themselves “Four Point Calvinists,” by which they mean to say that they agree with four of the five points of the Synod of Dort but who reject the Second Head of Doctrine on the atonement.

As we have surveyed the decisions (Canons) of the Synod of Dort in their historical (social, political) and theological contexts, reading the Canons in light of the Remonstrance in 1610 and the Opinions of the Remonstrance given to Synod in 1618, it has become increasingly clear that there is no tenable position between the Remonstrants and the Reformed. Neither is the so-called “Four Point” or Hypothetical Universalist position compatible with the Synod of Dort.

The reader who is aware of the some of the more famous delegates to the Synod will know that a few of the foreign delegates harbored sympathies for forms of what Richard Muller calls non-Amyraldian hypothetical universalism. The delegates to Dort were a diverse body geographically, ecclesiastically, and theologically. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Synod itself did not embrace hypothetical universalism, i.e., the doctrine that Christ died potentially for all. Nowhere, however, is the incompatibility of such a view with the Canons clearer than in 2.8:

Art. VIII. For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.

Synod turned to the “most free counsel” (liberriumum consilium) and the “most gracious will” (gratioissima voluntas) will of God and intent (intentio) of God that (ut) the “ lifegiving” and “saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect…”. Synod settled on the will and intent of God to define the extent of the atonement. The potential Of the atonement, i.e., its inherent power or sufficiency of the atonement was not in question. For Synod, considered in itself, the atonement was inherently sufficient to satisfy for the sins of “all men and every man,” as the Arminians liked to say.

Read More