Helpless Heretics

In hopes that my multiple post review of Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination will not exceed Boettner’s book in length, I press on:

“We now come to discuss the sufficiency of Christ’s work in the matter of redemption. We believe that by His vicarious suffering and death He fully paid the debt which His people owed to divine justice, thus releasing them from the consequences of sin, and that by keeping the law of perfect obedience and living a sinless life He vicariously earned for them the reward of eternal life. His work fully provided for their rescue from sin and for their establishment in heaven. These two phases of His work are sometimes referred to as His active and passive obedience…Had He only paid the penalty for sin without also earning the reward of eternal life, His people would then only have been raised up to the zero point. They would then have been on the same plane as was Adam before he fell, and would still have been under obligation to earn eternal life for themselves” (pp. 172-173).

Contrary to popular Calvinist sentiment, “faith is NOT a condition of or prerequisite to salvation; instead, faith believes that Jesus Christ alone met all the conditions for salvation. Faith is the instrument through which a believer receives the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and is justified” (

Jesus Christ met the condition of a perfect righteousness that answers the demands of God’s law and justice (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10). Regarding the sole condition-meeting of Jesus Christ the CCF states the following:

1. When He became incarnate, Jesus Christ was made subject to the law of God and was obliged to obey all its precepts. He did this perfectly, to the minutest detail. [Psalm 40:8; Isa 50:5; Mat 3:15; 2Co 5:21; Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14-15; 4:15; 7:26; 1Pe 2:22-23; 1Jo 3:4-5]

2. The consummate act of obedience that Jesus Christ paid to the law was in suffering the ultimate penalty for the disobedience of His people that the law demanded. Thus, while upon the cross, Jesus Christ, as a perfect representative, substitute, and sacrifice for His people, became a curse for His people and suffered the unmitigated fury of God the Father, which was equivalent to suffering the very pains of hell. This was not for any guilt He had contracted Himself but for the sins of His people. Their guilt was imputed to Him, and He suffered the penalty their sins deserved. His finished work on the cross appeased God’s wrath in full toward all for whom He died and paid the ransom price in full for all for whom He died, guaranteeing the salvation of all for whom He died. [Gen 22:13; Exo 12:3-13; Lev 16:21-22; 17:11; Psa 22:1-18; 32:1; Isa 53:1-12; Dan 9:24-26; Zec 13:7; Mat 26:28; 27:35-50; Mar 15:24-37; Luk 23:33-46; 24:46; Joh 11:49-52; 19:16-30; Act 17:3; 20:28; Rom 3:24-25; 5:6-11; 1Co 1:30; 5:7; 6:20; 15:3; 2Co 5:21; Gal 1:4; 2:20; 3:13; 4:5; Eph 1:7; 2:13-17; Col 1:14,20-22; 2:13-14; 1Th 5:10; 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Heb 2:9-10,17; 9:12-14,26-28; 10:10-18; 13:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; 3:18; 1Jo 1:7; 2:2; 3:5; 4:10; Rev 1:5; 5:9]

3. The perfect righteousness that Jesus Christ established is imputed to every one of God’s people in time. Because of this imputed righteousness, they are declared blameless before God and reconciled to God. Christ’s righteousness imputed demands God’s favor and fellowship toward them. [Job 29:14; Psa 32:2; 85:10-11; Isa 53:11; 61:10; Jer 23:5-6; Rom 3:21-22; 4:6-8; 5:9-11,17-19; 8:1,31-39; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:18-21; Eph 5:25-27; Col 1:21-22; Tit 3:6-7]

In The History and Theology of Calvinism on the subject of the “Active Obedience of Christ” (p. 356) Curt Daniel names Johannes Piscator as the major proponent of the view that Christ only merited salvation by His death (“passive obedience”), but not by His life (“active obedience”). Boettner was referring to Arminians who deny Christ’s preceptive righteousness is imputed when he spoke of being “raised up to the zero point,” but there are some Calvinists (e.g., A.C. Clifford, Johannes Piscator) who are in basic agreement with the Arminians [1] (surprise, surprise) on this point.

The important question for the aforementioned Arminians and Calvinists is this: If only the “penal half” (cf. Galatians 3:10) of Christ’s righteousness is established on behalf of and imputed to the believer and NOT the “preceptive half” (cf. Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12), then whose righteousness must be established in order to fill up that which is lacking? Paul’s God-breathed words condemn these heretics:

“For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of Law for righteousness to everyone that believes. For Moses writes of the righteousness which is of the Law: The man doing these things shall live by them” (Romans 10:3-5).

[1]  In his book Atonement and Justification, A.C. Clifford notes that Arminius “refused to commit himself on the passive-active obedience debate,” citing volume one, page 632 of Arminius’ works.

Back to Boettner:

“To doubt that any for whom Christ died will be saved, or that righteousness will eventually triumph, is to doubt the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for the work which He undertook in our behalf. On the cross Jesus declared that He had finished the work of redemption which the Father gave Him to do. But as Toplady remarks,

‘the person with power to accept or reject as he pleases must say: ‘No, thou didst not finish the work of redemption which was given thee to do; thou didst indeed a part of it, but I myself must add something to it or the whole of thy performance will stand for naught.’

Only those views which ascribe to God all the power in the salvation of sinners are consistently evangelical, for the word ‘evangelical’ means that it is God alone who saves” (p. 173).

The Toplady quote is a super swelling statement stripped of spine. For Toplady to prove that he has a real spine — and not just the mere semblance of one — he would have to actually apply Romans 10:1-4 to those persons who are (seemingly) being lambasted for adding to the work of Christ. But alas:

“Whether John Goodwin went to heaven or not (which is a question too high for sublunary decision), certain it is as I have already observed, that not one inhabitant of the celestial city ever carried a single particle of Arminianism with him into the gates of that Jerusalem. Of every Arminian now living, whose name is in the book of life, it may be truly said, that if grace do not go so far as to make him a Calvinist on earth, glory [i.e. grace made perfect] will certainly stamp him a Calvinist, in the kingdom of God, at farthest” (Works of Toplady, p. 361).

Augustus Toplady believed that those who perish believing a false gospel (cf. Galatians 1:8-9) will finally believe the true gospel in heaven. I am not equating true Christianity with Calvinism like Toplady appears to be doing since genuine historical Calvinism is a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner, and many Calvinists like Augustus Toplady spoke spiritual peace to the haters of God when there was no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11; 2 John 9-11). Next Page (27)

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