The Delegates from Gelderland on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in Diversity at Dort


The delegates from the synod of Gelders say, ” What is here asserted (that Christ died for all, and that none but believers are actually made partakers of remission), if it is spoken of adults, we believe it with the whole heart; for the Scripture inculcates this so often, and in such express terms, that no one, unless he is manifestly impious, can deny or call it a question.” Edward D. Griffin, An Humble Attempt to Reconcile the Differences of Christians Respecting the Extent of the Atonement, (New York, Printed by Stephen Dodge, 1819), 371.


The Theses of Gelderland began with the Remonstrant statement on the Second Article.1 The delegates from Gelderland agreed with the Remonstrants that Christ died for all and that only those who believe are saved. They added, however, that Christ died for all either in the sense that he died for all kinds of men or in the sense that the intrinsic value of his death was sufficient for all men. They disagreed with the Remonstrant affirmation that Christ accomplished reconciliation for all. As proofs they offered brief citations from the Bible, quotations from St. Thomas Aquinas and Prosper. . . . W. Robert Godfrey, W.R. Tensions Within International Calvinism: The Debate on the Atonement at the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619. (Ph.D diss., Stanford University, 1974), 207-208.

[Notes: 1) The reference to adults is partly explained by Davenant:

Further, this universal grace of some kind being admitted, that which he adds, That God, thought his universal grace, by an invitation suitable and sufficient in itself, calls all men, to repentance, is refuted by the experience of time, and the contrary event of things. For if he speaks of repentance, which remission of sins and eternal life follows, that invitation or calling is not apt or sufficient in itself for such repentance, which does not send the penitent to Christ. But that which sends the penitent to the death of Christ for the expiation of the sins of men, is altogether unknown out of the Church, where the Gospel of Christ is not known. Therefore an invitation and calling apt and sufficient for saving repentance is not given to all men. Moreover, neither ought this opinion to be approved, That God by his universal grace grants to all men individually that they may be saved if they will. For first, it is foolish to assert, That infants, who are born the children of wrath, and die out of the church, can be saved if they will; since they have not the use of reason or free-will.

John Davenant, A Dissertation on the Death of Christ, as to its Extent and special Benefit,” (no place: no publisher, 1832), 567.

The point is, the phrase “Christ died for all” is applicable to adults, but not to children, for the proposition “Christ died for all, in case they do believe,” is not applicable to children. This is probably what lies behind the Gelders’ qualification. See also the Calamy-Palmer interaction in Minutes of the Westminster Assembley (Edmonton CA: Still Waters Revival Books, 1991), 152-153.

2) The reason the Gelders’ comment is posted here is for academic interest. This writer is not suggesting that in every way, the delegates from Gelders embraced every aspect of classic and moderate Calvinism, or agreed with Davenant and the Bremen delegates on every point.

3) The fact that the Gelderland delegates cite Prosper and Thomas would imply more strongly that they were affirming the classic position, rather than the revised version.]

[Credit to Marty.]


1Acta Synodi…, III,127-139.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2008 at 1:47 pm and is filed under Diversity at Dort. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment


I have changed this around a little. The Gelderland input is fascinating. Godfrey points out that these same delegates also sought to impose some restrictions regarding those to whom the gospel is offered. That aspect, however, does not detract that they were willing to affirm the classic distinctions on the sufficiency and efficiency, and affirm that in some sense, Christ died for all.


January 11th, 2008 at 7:52 am

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