Consequences of Calvinism –an interview with Barrett and Nettles about their book

Posted: September 3, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Reformed Theology

What about the death of Christ have convictional “four-point Calvinists” perhaps failed to adequately consider?

At least two things: (1) the priestly role of Christ and (2) the Trinitarian unity in redemption planned, accomplished, and applied. First, as Stephen Wellum recently argued in his SBTS faculty address and as David Schrock contends in chapter 4, Christ is the great high priest of the new covenant and therefore acts as a representative, substitute, and intercessor on behalf of God’s people. In doing so he not only pays the penalty for their sin, but purchases everything necessary (including the work of the Spirit) to bring them to salvation. Universal atonement advocates fail to situate Christ’s priestly work in its covenantal context.

Second, to affirm an individual, unconditional, and particular election by the Father and an effectual, unconditional, and particular calling by the Spirit—but then to affirm a universal, provisional, and general atonement by the Son—creates confusion in the mission of the Trinity. Robert Reymond captures what such inconsistency would sound like as Jesus prays in the garden: “I recognize, Father, that your election and your salvific intentions terminate on only a portion of mankind, but because my love is more inclusive and expansive than yours, I’m not satisfied to die only for those you’ve elected. I’m going to die for everyone.” Therefore, as Robert Letham argues, universal atonement “threatens to tear apart the Holy Trinity,” for it means the Father and Spirit have different goals than the Son. But as the Reformed slogan opera trinitatis indivisa sunt reminds us, the works of the Trinity are indivisible. The Father plans redemption, the Son accomplishes redemption, and the Spirit applies redemption, and all three persons of the Trinity are simultaneously and actively involved in each other’s salvific work on behalf of the elect.

How should we think about Calvinism in relation to the gospel?

We love the doctrines of grace because they serve as the foundation on which the gospel itself is built. Behind the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a God who has already determined the end from the beginning, including the destination of every living soul—not on the basis of anything we will do but purely because of his good pleasure. He is a God who sends his Son to die for those he has predestined. He is a God who sends his Spirit to effectually call and monergistically regenerate those he has elected and for whom he has sent his Son to die. And he is a God who will not be defeated, but rather will preserve his children to the very end. It is this big God we can rest assured will triumph in the end. His purpose will stand, and he will do all that he pleases (Isa. 46:9-10; 45:7; Lam. 3:37-38; Dan. 4:34-35). Since he is sovereign over all things, rather than having his sovereignty limited by libertarian freedom, he can guarantee that his gospel will go forth to the nations, actually having the power to accomplish his saving purpose. His gospel will not fail to save those for whom it is intended.


read the whole interview here


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