Archive for the ‘Double Jeopardy/Double Payment Fallacy’ Category


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1) Obj. 2. All those ought to be received into favor for whose offences a sufficient satisfaction has been made. Christ has made a sufficient satisfaction for the offences of all men. Therefore all ought to be received into favor; and if this is not done, God is either unjust to men, or else there is something detracted from the merit of Christ. Ans. The major is true, unless some condition is added to the satisfaction; as, that only those are saved through it, who apply it unto themselves by faith. But this condition is expressly added, where it is said, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” ( John 3 : 16.)  Ursinus, Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G.W.Willard, (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1994), 107. [Italics and underlining mine.]

2) Obj. 4. If Christ made satisfaction for all, then all ought to be saved. But all are not saved. Therefore, he did not make a perfect satisfaction. Ans. Christ satisfied for all, as it respects the sufficiency of the satisfaction which he made, but not as it respects the application thereof; for he fulfilled the law in a two-fold respect. First, by his own righteousness; and secondly, by making satisfaction for our sins, each of which is most perfect. But the satisfaction is made ours by an application, which is also two-fold; the former of which is made by God, when he justifies us on account of the merit of his Son, and brings it to pass that we cease from sin; the latter is accomplished by us through faith. For we apply unto ourselves, the merit of Christ, when by a true faith, we are fully persuaded that God for the sake of the satisfaction of his Son, remits unto us our sins. Without this application, the satisfaction of Christ is of no benefit to us. Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G.W.Willard, (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1994), 215. [Underlining mine.]

[Notes: 1) Ursinus’ objector was most probably a Socinian. The Socinians were arguing for true universalism. The objector is attempting a reductio argument against Ursinus, saying if Ursinus does not grant his universalism, then he must say that Christ’s sacrifice and satisfaction was imperfect, i.e., defective or that God is unjust for not receiving all men into favor. 2) The Socinian’s argument is tabled on the assumption that Ursinus held that a proper sufficient and penal satisfaction was made for all men. However, the application of this sacrifice is not applied to all. 3) The Objector, in essence, has inverted Owen’s trilemma argument, arguing that given that Christ has died for all, all must be saved, else God is unjust.  For his part, Ursinus rejects the premise that though a satisfaction may be made for a man, this does not mean that God would be unjust were he to not receive that man into favor (entailing that the man can be punished in his own person for his own sin). 4) For Ursinus, the application of the satisfaction of Christ is conditioned by faith. 5) In the final analysis, then, we can see that Ursinus rejected the assumption that if Christ died for a man, any man, it is impossible for that man to be rejected and not saved. This is a repudiation of the critical premise in Owen’s famous, but fallacious, trilemma.]


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Obj. 1. If Christ has suffered the penalty of the law, not only for the elect, but also for the non-elect, how can it be just that they themselves should be made to suffer it over again forever in hell?

Ans. Because Christ did not die with a design to release them from their deserved punishment, but only upon condition of faith; and so they have no right to the release, but upon that condition. It is as just, therefore, they should be punished, as if Christ had never died, since they continue obstinate to the last; and it is just, too, they should have an aggravated damnation, for refusing to return to God, despising the offers of mercy, and neglecting so great salvation. (John iii. 16-19.)

Joseph Bellamy, “True Religion Delineated,” The Works of Joseph Bellamy (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1853), 1:301.

[Notes: 1) While one may not agree with all of Bellamy’s theological assertions, this point holds good and echoes the same rebuttals from men like Ursinus, Davenant, Polhil, Hardy, C. Hodge, and Dabney. 2) Regarding the issue of Governmentalism, Dorus Rudisill, in his book, The Doctrine of the Atonement in Jonathan Edwards and His Successors, points out that for Edwards and Ballamy, and other early New England theologians, it is not the case that Christ simply suffered God’s rectoral justice and not his penal justice. He notes that for these early American theologians, Christ satisfied God’s penal and rectoral justice. However, later New England theologians located Christ’s sufferings as a singular satisfaction for God’s Rectoral justice. 3) A possible counter to Bellamy here might be John Owen’s retort which alleges that Christ’s death absolutely purchases “faith” as the condition for all whom Christ died. However there are some critical problems with this response: A) Nowhere does Scripture ever affirm that “for all whom Christ died, faith is absolutely and infallibly purchased.” B) For, if the bestowal of faith is an unconditioned condition, then it is impossible that the gift of faith, and its attending benefits such as justification, should not have been bestowed at the time of Jesus’ death, and/or that the elect are not born in a justified state. Any circumstance upon which the bestowal of faith hinges is itself a condition. One could not counter that faith is condition as to why the elect are not born in a justified state, because the purchased gift of faith itself is the unconditioned condition. C) If Owen is correct regarding the impossibility of God demanding two “payments,” along with the claim that for all whom Christ died, faith is the purchased unconditioned condition, then there is no just reason why God should withhold justification from any elect at birth or delay it, as many of the elect suffer the affliction of present wrath (before conversion) often for a greater part of their earthly lives. 4) The counter-factual to Owen still holds good, that the living unbelieving elect are recipients of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3, 5:6; Romans 1:18), which would be impossible if the purchased gift of faith is an unconditioned condition, as Owen alleged.  5)  Owen’s apparent assertion that the elect never actually endure present wrath (Works, 10:285) contradicts Scripture’s plain teaching.  6) The supplemental argument of the unconditioned gift of faith notwithstanding, it is a separate argument and in no way establishes the premise that if Christ satisfies for a given man, it is absolutely unjust and improper for that man to suffer in his own person for his own sins.]


Edward D. Griffin (1770-1837) on the Double Payment Fallacy

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THERE are certain figurative expressions in common use in the Church, partly derived from the Scriptures and partly of human invention, which are calculated to present to the imagination in a summary and striking manner, without the process of reasoning, the general influence of Christ’s mediation. This advantage gives them, (at least a part of them,) a claim to be retained in our prayers and popular discourses. But the difficulty is that they have been introduced into logical discussions with a literal meaning, and as premises from which literal conclusions are drawn. This has been one of the most prolific sources of mistake.

The expressions are such as these; that Christ purchased the Church, that he, paid their debt, that he is one with them, that their sins were imputed to him, that he bore the curse of the law in their stead, that he satisfied divine justice for them, that his righteousness is imputed to them, and .that they are considered righteous.

It is said in Scripture, “Ye are bought with a price;” and hence, as if ransom was used but in a single sense, it is inferred, “As is the ransom must be the release.–Were redemption universal, salvation would and must be of equal extent.”1 And as if the whole was a commercial transaction, it is alleged that just enough was paid in a way of atonement to redeem a certain number, and that this number can claim a release of justice itself. ” If Christ fully paid the price of redemption for all and each, then all and each ought to be saved, and none ought to perish.”2

Because Christ answered the purpose of our punishment, men have chosen to say that he paid our debt: and from that expression, manifestly figurative and of human invention, they have gone on to infer, as though the whole transaction was of a pecuniary nature, that he became the Bondsman of a certain number, and brought himself under obligations to law and justice to discharge their debt, and actually paid it in kind; and that they, as exonerated debtors, have a claim on justice to a release.

Edward D. Griffin, An Humble Attempt to Reconcile the Differences of Christians Respecting the Extent of the Atonement (New York: Published by Stephen Dodge, 1819), 113-114.  [Italics original; footnote values modernized; and underlining mine.]

[Note: Even though Griffin does not reference the phrase “double payment” or  a cognate form of this expression, the  idea is entailed and its rebuttal is remains the same.]


1See a popular little book entitled Gethsemane, published first in London, and republished in Philadelphia, with high recommendations, In 1817, (containing extracts from many writers.) p. 21.

2The delegates from Zealand in the Synod of Dort. Acts of Synod, Part III. p. 156.


Ralph Wardlaw (1779-1853) on the Double Payment Fallacy

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[This is tight reasoning and requires careful and attentive reading; see notes below.]


III. The third view, then, as has been already observed, holds the atonement to have been a general remedy, with a particular application; a vindication or display of the righteousness of God, such as to render forgiveness honorable to that perfection of the divine character; leaving the supreme Governor and Judge, in the free exercise of the mercy in which He delights, to dispense it according to His sovereign pleasure, more or less extensively. Dr. Symington states the difference between the two theories thus; and, with very slight exception, we should not object to the statement: “On the extent of Christ’s atonement, the two opinions that have long divided the church are expressed by the terms definite and indefinite. The former means that Christ died, satisfied divine justice, and made atonement, only for such as are saved.

The latter means that Christ died, satisfied divine justice, or made atonement for all mankind without exception, as well those who are not saved as those who are. The one regards the death of Christ as a legal satisfaction to the law and justice of God, on behalf of elect sinners; the other regards it as a general moral vindication of the divine government, without respect to those to whom it may be rendered effectual, and of course equally applicable to all.”1 The extent of such exception to the view given in this statement may appear in discussing the respective claims to preference of the two theories, which, while they differ in expression, come as near to one in reality as can well be.

Let it be observed, then, that by denying the restriction of the atonement’s efficiency to be in its application alone, he must be considered as affirming the definiteness to be, in some sense, in the atonement itself. Now, I must at once acknowledge myself at a loss to conceive how an atonement admitted to be infinite, can with any consistency be, at the same time, affirmed to be a definite atonement; how the atonement can be held to have been made “only for such as are saved;” “as a legal satisfaction to the law and justice of God on behalf of elect sinners;” while yet, in the atonement made, a value is admitted to have been contained, infinitely beyond the actual amount of salvation that shall arise from it. The explanation given is, that it is definite in its destination. But does not this come as near as possible to a purposed restriction in its application? The difference appears to me very slender; and, so far as there is a difference, the latter view seems to be the more self-consistent of the two. For observe the sense in which the restriction is in the atonement. It is not in its value, but in its destination, that is, in the circumstance of God’s having meant it as an atonement for a certain number only, and of its having been made for them alone. But, with all deference, this is a very different thing from definiteness in the atonement itself. With what propriety can the epithet definite be applied to that of which the author writes in the following terms:–”For these reasons” (reasons urged against the exact equivalent scheme), “we reject the theory of atonement against which the objection is pointed, and hold by the view already explained, namely, that the sufferings of Christ are to be regarded in the light of a moral satisfaction to the law and justice of God, which would have been requisite had there been but one sinner to be saved, and had that sinner had but one sin; and which would have been adequate had the number to be saved been to any conceivable extent greater than it is.”2 Is there any propriety in calling this a definite atonement, which must have been the same for one sin as for the sins not only of the actually saved, but of any indefinite number more? Does it not follow, that the definiteness must lie in the purposed application, seeing in itself it was so indefinite as to be necessary for one and enough for millions? Is the difference at all material, or deserving of the eagerness and the copiousness with which it is insisted upon, between the purposed application of the atonement and its divine destination? It seems to me a hardly divisible hair’s breadth, and to approach as near as may be to a logomachy. This may the more appear to you, when you hear a few sentences more: “It” (the exact equivalent scheme) “is at variance with what we have before established, namely, the infinite intrinsic value of the atonement of Christ. It overlooks the grand design of the atonement, which was, not simply to secure a mere commutative satisfaction to the justice of God, but to glorify all the divine perfections, and to make an illustrious manifestation of the principles of His government before the whole universe of moral creatures. It leaves no room for such an unlimited offer of Christ in the Gospel, as to render without excuse those who reject Him; for if the atonement of Christ bore an exact proportion, in point of worth, to the sins of those who are actually saved by it; then the salvation of any others was a natural impossibility, and no blame could attach to such for neglecting to embrace the proffered boon: indeed there would be no ground on which such an offer could be made.”3 This is surely as near as it is possible to come to the hypothesis of a general remedy with a limited application, or, as he defines an indefinite atonement, a “general moral vindication of the divine government,” such a vindication as leaves the Divine Governor free to extend the benefits of it to whom He will. When the definiteness is made to lie in the atonement itself, and in answer to the question, ” What is the atonement of Christ?” the following answer is given: “It has been ‘already defended and explained as that perfect satisfaction to the law and justice of God, on account of which sinners are delivered from condemnation. Or, in other words, it is that which removes the offence subsisting between God and men, and procures a reconciliation. It supposes a compensation to be made to the lawgiver, in consideration of which certain specific blessings flow out to men. From its very nature, then, all for whom the atonement is made must reap its fruits. It is no atonement without this.” When the admissions made are remembered, namely, of the infinite value of the atonement, and of its grand design as being “to glorify all the divine perfections, and to make an illustrious manifestation of the principles of His government before the whole universe of moral creatures,” what more can this mean, consistently with itself, than that all those whom it was the sovereign purpose of God to save on the ground of the atonement, must be saved. If it does go further, if it means that there was any thing in the atonement itself by which this limitation was necessitated, no matter by what designation it be called, then does it come under the objection formerly shown to hold against the commutative justice, the personal compensation, the debt and credit system; the same objection which contributes to the explosion of the scheme of exact equivalent. And, accordingly, as might also have been anticipated, the idea of destination in the atonement, or of its being an atonement exclusively for the elect considered individually, comes to be so associated, I might say identified, with that of personal compensation, as naturally to lead to the placing of the actual virtue of the atonement in procuring the pardon and salvation of those whom the destination included, and for whom alone it was intended, on the ground of commutative justice. The following passage will show this. The object of it is to show that the distinctive and limited destination of the atonement is required by the rectitude of the divine character.

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When, therefore, we say God would that Christ should lay down a price sufficient, and so applicable to every man, it is to be understood in a conditional way, upon the terms of faith and repentance. And hence it is, that though Christ dying suffered that punishment which was designed to be satisfactory for the sins of every man, yet God doth justly inflict the punishment upon the persons of all them who are not by faith partakers of Christ’s death, because it was intended to satisfy for them only upon condition of believing.

Nathanael Hardy, The First General Epistle of St John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applied (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 140. [Underlining mine.]

[Notes: As this stands, hardy’s brief comment would not be persuasive to some, but when his thought is combined with that of C Hodge or Edward Polhill the point is clear. The penal satisfaction of Christ (unlike a pecuniary satisfaction) does not ipso facto discharge the “debt” for  all those for whom it was made. A condition is annexed to it. Upon completion of this condition, the benefit of the satisfaction is reckoned to the penitent; but not before. Prior to the this condition being met, the sinner is still subject to the wrath and punishment of God. Lastly, what Hardy says here on conditional unlimited satisfaction exactly images the language of Buy canadian viagra and Paraeus.]