Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hyper-Calvinism redux


[From the editors of the book from which the Zwingli passage quoted in the post is taken:]

"The real point is that Zwingli could make the assertion because it was congruent with his whole conception of the divine sovereignty and the election of grace. The redemptive purpose and activity of God was not limited by the chronology or the geography of the incarnation and the atonement. The decree of election upon which all salvation depends was a decree from all eternity, enclosing men of all generations within its embrace. Chronologically the patriarchs and pious Israelites preceded the coming of the Saviour, but this did not prevent their salvation by anticipatory faith. Similarly the pious heathen might well be the recipients of divine grace and redemption even though they remained outside the temporal reach of the Gospel. They were not saved because of their piety, but because of the eternal activity of God in election and atonement. The temporality of the Redeemer's life and death did not set any limit to the possibilities of God's eternal grace. In outward form, no doubt, the assertion was determined by Zwingli's humanistic predilections, but its theological foundation was uncompromisingly Reformed."

Zwingli and Bullinger (Library of Christian Classics) by G. W. Bromiley

# posted by K7 : 1/17/2006 1:43 PM

Um, so does that mean Zwingli believed what Paul Owen does??

# posted by Hello : 1/17/2006 4:21 PM

I posted the above comment perhaps looking for some of the patented sorting-out and getting at the underlying matter and showing just where Zwingli is out of biblical bounds, if he is in the passage quoted by Owen...that Hays is known for being able to do...

I suspect there may be a difference between pre-Incarnation requirements regarding salvation and post-Incarcanation, but that may be a wrong thing to say, in many ways.

Also, I suspect there may be room for debate in the area of Hays' position that God is making a statement regarding people's non-election when He puts them in times and places where they can't hear of Jesus Christ and the position that God's decree of election is not constrained by such temporal and physical limitations (etc., etc.)

Owen probably would like to lasso Zwingli into the view that people who deny Jesus is God come in the flesh can still be saved (Muslims, Jews, for instance), and I think obviously Herr Zwingli is not saying that in that passage.

But I'll gladly step aside and let the Triablogue crew sort it out.

# posted by K7 : 1/17/2006 6:02 PM


Thanks for putting Zwingli in context. K7 has pretty much answered his own question, but I’ll flesh out the answer.

Zwingli is falling into the trap of Hyper-Calvinism. It’s a cardinal error to set time and eternity in a state of opposition, as if all that matters is the eternal decree and its predestined end irrespective of its historical means.

The eternal decree is the fountainhead of history. Providence is the mirror image of predestination.

The content of saving faith varies with one’s position in redemptive history. Revelation supplies the object of faith, but revelation is progressive. OT saints put their faith in the Christ of promise—the Christ of type and prophecy, the Christ who was to come, whereas we, who live on the other side of the cross, on the sunny side rather than the shadow, must put our faith in the Christ of fulfillment, the Christ who has come, for to whom much is given, much is required.

Bracketing the special case of infants and mental incompetents, election and regeneration are not enough. Faith requires an object. The grace of God is coordinated with the means of grace—the Gospel (Rom 10:5-18).

This is not a personal criticism of Zwingli. He was, like all of us, a child of his time. He flattened out the progressively of revelation and redemption.

One of the achievements of covenant theology was to recover the importance of time and place. Chronology and geography are the fingerprints of eternity, as God imprints his invisible decree upon the paper and ink of time and space.

But, unlike Zwingli, Paul-the Hyper-Calvinist-Owen is without excuse.

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