Augustine gets a pass (2)

Commenting on the subject of “Preservation and Predestination,” Curt Daniel writes:

“Now there have been several unusual variations and modifications of this doctrine concerning predestination and preservation. Augustine and some Lutherans taught that one of the non-elect might believe, be saved, then fall away from salvation and end up in Hell. Hence, only the elect make it all the way to the end. Such a theory is closer to Arminianism than to Calvinism. Still, Augustine was correct to state that predestination guarentees [sic] preservation and perseverance of the elect. But such a theory fails to explain how one of the non-elect ever supposedly got saved in the first place. Scripture indicates that only the elect will ever be saved” (Curt Daniel, The History and Theology of Calvinism, p. 411).

Daniel remarks that Augustine’s view is “closer to Arminianism.” But so what? Both Augustine and the Arminians are Daniel’s brothers in Satan. How much more blatant can it get? Here is Augustine going even further than Daniel’s God-hating blasphemy that Christ made some kind of “potential propitiation” for those in hell. Augustine not only spews what Daniel does, but he spews even larger chunks by asserting that someone who has believed and been saved can then fall away and perish. If I recall correctly, Augustine (and others like-minded) might have severely twisted passages like the “rocky soil” passage in the gospels to come up with that.

Here are some differences between Curt Daniel’s and Augustine’s blasphemy:

Curt Daniel believes that Christ is able to save all those who are regenerate but does NOT believe that Christ is able to save all those for whom He died and was resurrected on behalf of.

Augustine (at least at one point in his life) did NOT believe that Christ was able to save all those for whom He died, nor did he believe that Christ was able to keep saved those whom He had regenerated and granted faith to believe. These regenerate persons who fall away from the faith and perish are among the non-elect so says the self-righteous “church” father Augustine of Hippo.

Daniel had wondered:

“But such a theory fails to explain how one of the non-elect ever supposedly got saved in the first place.”

It is interesting that you should wonder about that since you believe that Jesus Christ died for BOTH the elect AND the non-elect. In your view Jesus Christ died for the non-elect, so how could the non-elect possibly get saved in the first place? It comes as no surprise that a self-righteous God-hater like you would wonder how on earth a person for whom Christ died could be “saved in the first place.”

How does your (Daniel’s) theory explain how the elect get “saved in the first place” while the non-elect do not? Though you assert that Jesus Christ died for BOTH, yet you do NOT wonder how the elect “got saved in the first place.” Oh I get it. It’s because the non-elect failed to do something that the elect did not fail to do. And what would that “something” be? The non-elect failed to keep Christ from failing while the elect succeeded in keeping (or saving) Christ’s work from failing. Daniel prays to a god who cannot save. He prays to a little block of wood that he blasphemously calls “Jesus”; he must pick up and assist and save this “savior.” Daniel is an extremely blind idolater.

I speculate how on Daniel’s self-righteous terms, a non-elect person could get “saved in the first place” and just maybe the answer to Daniel’s bewildered query might be found in another one of his brothers in Satan, A.A. Hodge:

“To all men the presumption is that Christ died for himself and for each other man until final reprobation proves the reverse. Therefore we are all under obligation to carry ourselves, and to regard and treat all other men as those for whom Christ died until the contrary is proved. And God prevents the natural tendency of his elect to apostatize, in part at least, by means of the passages in question, warning them truly of the natural and certain effect of sin. Children ought to know that God’s sovereign and eternal decrees carry the means as well as the end. If the non-elect believes, he will be none the less saved because of his non-election. If the elect do not believe and persevere to the end, he will none the more be saved because of his election (A.A. Hodge, The Atonement, p. 429; underlining emphasis mine–CD).

How about that for an answer, Daniel? No? Why not? Hodge says if the non-elect believes he will be saved. Augustine says that the non-elect believed and so he was saved. But then he did not persevere like the elect are said to infallibly do. In Augustine’s view is salvation by Christ, or is it by the sinner? The sinner, obviously. But hey, so what right? Your view is similar to Augustine’s as I’ve shown above. In BOTH yours and Augustine’s pestilent views as long as “predestinating unconditional special regenerating grace” is enabling the elect sinner to maintain his justified state then it’s all of grace, right?

And lastly, the English delegation at the Synod of Dort made a request that the Synod remove its condemnation (waaa!) of those who held to views similar to that of Augustine. Leithart explains:

Reading Robert Letham’s excellent recent book on the Westminster Assembly (P&R Publishing, 2009) reminded me again of the variety of the Reformed tradition. By Letham’s lights, the Assembly aimed to produce a Confession that summed up “generic Calvinism.”

During one session of the Assembly, for instance, Edmund Calamy defended the position known as “hypothetical universalism.” He argued that “Christ did pay a price for all, absolute for the elect, conditionall for the reprobate, in case they doe believe.” Thus, “Christ in giving himselfe did intend to put all men in a state of salvation in case they doe believe.” Christ’s death was “hypothetically” salvific for all men, though effective only for the elect. About one-third of the delegates who participated in the debate took Calamy’s side.

Though the majority decided against this view, yet, Letham writes, “Calamy and his supporters continued to play their part in the Assembly.” The Assembly opposed Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and antinomian theologies, but was not a “partisan body.” Within the framework of Reformed teaching, the Assembly “allowed differing views to coexist.”

Not-blackballing was the Reformed way. It had been for a long time.

Reformed theologians differed on the related issues of temporary faith and temporary enjoyment of the benefits of salvation. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, some in the Protestant church of England held to what they described as the “Augustinian” view that some reprobates could temporarily enjoy soteriological benefits. The English delegation to the Synod of Dort (1618) submitted a request that the Synod remove its condemnation of the view that some reprobates may be regenerated and justified for a time. High as high Calvinism can get, the Synod of Dort accepted the petition and removed the condemnation.

According to Samuel Ward’s account, the English delegation’s argument was threefold:

We ourselves think that this doctrine is contrary to Holy Scriptures, but whether it is expedient to condemn it in these our canons needs great deliberation. On the contrary, it would appear

1. That Augustine, Prosper and the other Fathers who propounded the doctrine of absolute predestination and who opposed the Pelagians, seem to have conceded that certain of those who are not predestinated can attain the state of regeneration and justification. . . .

2. That we ought not without grave cause to give offence to the Lutheran churches, who in this matter, it is clear, think differently.

3. That (which is of greater significance) in the Reformed churches themselves, many learned and saintly men who are at one with us in defending absolute predestination, nevertheless think that certain of those who are truly regenerated and justified, are able to fall from that state and to perish and that this happens eventually to all those, whom God has not ordained in the decree of election infallibly to eternal life. Finally we cannot deny that there are some places in Scripture which apparently support this opinion, and which have persuaded learned and pious men, not without great probability.

This is an altogether remarkable statement. It views Reformed theology as a continuation of a tradition going back to Augustine, continuing through the middle ages, and strives to maintain continuity with that tradition: Any confession that excludes Augustine, they implied, can’t be good. It worries about offending Lutherans. It advocates a Reformed confession that expresses the views of the “saintly men” who serve as ministers of the Reformed churches, rather than an impersonal confession that reflects the views of only one segment of the church. Substantively, it defends the Reformed credentials of a view that would summarily be excluded from nearly every Reformed church today.

As Letham makes clear, Barth was wrong in thinking that the Assembly was the death sentence for Reformed theology. Yet, the Confession can do real damage in the hands of zealous defenders who have whittled the Assembly’s “generic Calvinism” into a bludgeon to impose a sectarian version of Reformed theology, who convert a Confession produced by an Assembly with an admirable habit of not-blackballing into an instrument for just the opposite. (Peter J. Leithart, On Not Blackballing, Credenda Agenda).

No matter how blasphemous, no matter how Christ-dishonoring, it evidently does NOT matter. With a name like Augustine it HAS to be good. But if “deplorable” then make excuses, give him a pass by saying “you’re not perfect,” “your theology is not perfect,” “I’d like to see YOU do better if you were in his situation,” etc., etc. But whatever you do, do NOT call a spade a spade. Do NOT call a damnable heretic a damnable heretic. And especially do NOT do this if you respect the face of man and care more for the glory of man than for the glory of God that shines brightly in the face of Jesus Christ.