Thomas Crawford on 1 John 2:2; moving in the right direction

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in 1 John 2:2

Before leaving this topic, I must briefly notice an objection to the fatherhood of God as manifested by the atonement, which may possibly be urged by some of those who hold with us limited or special destination of this great remedial provision for human guilt. The atonement, they may urge, was intended to secure the salvation, not of all the members of the human family, but exclusively of those to whom it was God s purpose savingly to apply it by the grace of His Holy Spirit. Accordingly, it furnishes, we may be told, no proof of the fatherhood of God in relation to all mankind. It shows Him to be the Father of those who are eventually saved, but of none besides them.Now it must be owned that the purposes of God, in their bearing on the atonement, as on every other subject with reference to which they may be brought into discussion, involve mysteries which are too deep for the intellect of man to fathom. But, happily, it is not necessary to enter into these mysteries in meeting the objection with which we are now called to deal. For however limited or definite may be our views of the destination of the atonement in the secret purposes of Him who orders all things after the counsel of His will, there are certain broad and patent facts respecting it, which, not the less on that account, we find ourselves obliged to believe, and in virtue of which we cannot otherwise regard it than as gloriously illustrative of the general paternity of God.

For example, we believe in its full perfection and sufficiency as an adequate propitiation for the sins of the whole world, insomuch that no other or greater atonement would have been necessary to secure the salvation of every member of our fallen race. We believe also in the unlimited freeness and universality of the offers in which it is held out to our acceptance, insomuch that there is nothing to prevent any or every sinner from seeking an interest in the blessings it has secured; or rather there is nothing to excuse any or every sinner for declining, when thus solicited, to take advantage of the offered mercy. And farther, we believe that in addressing to us these unlimited calls, the God of all grace is sincerely seeking our compliance with them, and that, in terms of His own solemn declarations, “He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live,” [Ezek. 33:11]–“He will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,” [1 Tim.2:4] and “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9].

Thomas Crawford, The Fatherhood of God, (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1868), 135-136.

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6 comments so far


Again, a superb quote.


December 1st, 2007 at 4:52 am

G’day Lito,

Its good but I would have liked to have seen more from Crawford. There is a section where he simply equates Owen’s view of sufficiency with Hodge’s. What is good is that he, like C Hodge, has no need to mutate kosmos there, but can affirm the sufficiency of the expiation for all sins.


December 1st, 2007 at 8:08 am

Dave mate,

I really hope more will get to see the work you do here. Many evangelicals/charismatics are rightly seeing a disconnect in their tradition ( I know I did) and are picking up Reformation materials but due to again the pragmatism of our age, they wind up getting popularized treatments and so wind up more disconnected than before.


December 2nd, 2007 at 8:15 am

G’day Lito,

Thanks. I agree. What this research has shown me is that there is a whole swag of diverse ideas and “systems” out there that we have not tapped into.

I think what happened, especially since the 1960s (that is for our modern context I mean), with the revival of ‘calvinist’ inquiry there has been this great assumption that calvinist soteriology has been uniform and monolithic. With this assumption, anyone who seemed to express ideas outside the orthodox monolith was branded as unorthodox, deviant etc. We have seen this with the treatment of Amyraut by scholars like Nicole (especially Nicole because of his academic specialty on Amyraut).

This tendency to uniformity has been a constant trait in Protestant Scholastic orthodoxy post-1640s in some areas like Scotland, less so in, much less so, in England int he latter 17thC. But we seem to have inherited that Scottish legalistic bent to uniformity of ideas. Whats interesting is that this slavish desire for theological uniformity expresses itself in language games. Its all about semantic and jargon precision, over and against the historical truth. We have loaded up the language games such that we hear a phrase just not quite turned right, we see red flags and whip out our confessions to “guard” the truth.

What our community is doing now is reviving Owen or Turretin, or whoever our man is, and making our man the standard ultimate expression of biblical orthodoxy. We then measure others by the semantic and theological expressions of “our man” and by that, either embrace or exclude.

Anyway, my point is, there was such a rich complex and diverse tradition in early Reformation theology, from the 15thC through to the 17thC such that there is almost something for everyone. If you are into high predestinarian schemas then Zanchi may be your favourite. If you are into pastorally driven theology that emphasizes the revealed will, then someone like Bullinger would be appealing. There are subtle shades and combinations, such as Melancthon or Musculus. Calvin was a great exegete. Luther was fantastic at displaying his humanity (something which puritan piety is tries to sublimate and bury). I am not just talking about personalities but subtle (and not so subtle) and profound shifts and variances in theological and exegetical nuances.

The problem is, the present trends are that diversity is to be avoided. Right now, in the Reformed community, our vision of what is and is not “acceptable” is very very narrow. I would like to see the Reformed community grow up and mature, getting passed a lot of its childishness.

I don’t know the right word of phrase here, but the only way we are going to beat the militaristic language games is to demonstrate the diversity of Reformed “language” and the theological systems behind the various expressions. This means seeing early Reformation thought as more substantially as unity in diversity: including Luther, including Cranmer, including Calvin, etc. And seeing them as men trying to set out a new synthesis in the changed theological world they had placed themselves in. And for our part, even though some of these men may have considered their own particular synthesis as absolute, we are not bound to come to the same conclusion. Rather, we really are free to be eclectic in all this, and so create a new synthesis, possible by extracting the best aspects of the best men of the past. But all the while, really and truly allowing the man down to the street, whether he be Lutheran or Anglican to be who he is without judgment from me.

Anyway, thats my soapbox and part of why I and others are interested in this huge project.

Take care,

December 2nd, 2007 at 10:37 am

From my experience, the Continental Reformed are much closer to us Lutherans than the Atlantic ones; I mean the European Reformed vs the English speaking ones.

However, (and we can differ on our opinion here but) what mitigates against the balanced view you presented by the ones you quote here is the decreetal manner of speaking found in the Calvinists confessions. In other words the way the confessions have been conjured fights against these quotes from these great men found here.


December 3rd, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Hey Lito,

Yes thats truly for the Confessions produced in the Protestant Scholastic era. For the ones written in the 16thC, there is a difference. The Second Helvetic for example. The Heidelberg, though written later, at the beginning of the Protestant Scholastic tradition, reflected the older theological traditions of Melancthon (Ursinus had studied under Melancthon) and others.

Supralapsarianism was the first cause of the bad turn, and then the whole lapsarian enterprise dug the pit, and then Protestant Scholasticism fell into it. :-) Of course, other factors bear on their fall, of course.


December 3rd, 2007 at 11:52 pm

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