1) [Heppe’s summary:] 28.-But of course it still holds that not for all men did Christ secure satisfaction and merit the imparting of the H. Spirit, but only for those for whom he interceded as surety with the Father’s consent. Although Christ died sufficienter for all men, and although Christ’s obedience and suffering are so absolutely perfect that for this satisfaction the Father might have forgiven the sins of the whole human race, the merit of Christ can really hold efficaciter only for those whom the Father has given him, for whom the Father has accepted the dedication and surety of the Son, and for whom Christ in accordance with his own intention was ready to die and did die.

OLEVIAN (pp. 67-68): The sacrifice of Christ, so perfect in itself is, both by the eternal counsel of God and by the high-priestly intercession of Christ himself appointed only for those whom the Son of God has awakened to faith; sacrifice and intercession belong to each other. Hence although Christ has suffered sufficenter for all, he has done so efficaciter only for the elect. Had he also prayed for the rejected and sacrificed himself for them, they too would have had to be blessed and roused by the H. Spirit to faith (p. 69): “He offered himself for those whom he knew the Father had given him, but never by chance or accident–as some imagine that the grace of sacrifice has been scattered in the air, in order that he who would might snatch it for himself.” Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, 475-476

[And then:]

2) That the satisfaction of Christ would be sufficient to atone for sin-guilt in all men, if the Father would let it benefit them all, is generally recognized. CF., e.g., RISSEN (XII, 11): “…the satisfaction of Christ might be said to be sufficient for the sins of one and all, if so it had seemed good to God; for since it was of infinite value, it was quite sufficient for the redemption of one and all, if it had seemed good to God to extend it to the whole world. And here belongs a distinction used by the Fathers and retained by various theologians, that Christ died sufficiently for all, but effectually only for the elect; which phrase, understood of the worthiness of Christ’s death, is very true, although it is less accurate if referred to the will and counsel of Christ.1 For the Son gave himself to death, not with the purpose and intention of acting personal substitute. in the room of one and all, to give satisfaction for them and secure them salvation; but for the elect only, who were given him by the Father to be redeemed and whose head he was to be, he was wiling to give himself up.” Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, 477-478.


1That Rissen’s wording follows the wording of Turretin here almost exactly is because Rissen’s work was based heavily on Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 7th, 2008 at 9:23 am and is filed under Sufficient for All, Efficient for the Elect. 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.

9 comments so far


You may want to create a “Sufficiency/Efficiency” category now.

March 7th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Hey Tony,

I will probably just let is all slide into the one historiography category. The posts are all indexed at the meta-links page (scroll down), so these wont get lost. I have some more I want to post too, so that a reader can get a solid feel for how the Protestant Scholastics defined the sufficiency of the expiation. Hopefully they can see that how many modern Calvinists use the term is neither reflective classic Calvinism, or that Protestant Scholastic Calvinism. Nowadays, it seems to be its often thrown out there in a rather nebulous way, devoid of substantive content.

I will think about it tho. I am trying to be very economic on my categories.


March 7th, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Hey Tony,

I am sorta glad you posted this tho, because I have been thinking about this again for the last 3 days. If the expiation is not actually sufficient for all the sins and sinners of this actual world, then how does one offer it to all the sinners of this world?

I cant get past the fact that there is nothing actually profferable at this point.

March 7th, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I see that Tony has posted on the sufficiency issue too. Readers may want to scope his comments out.

March 7th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Right. Also, the limited sufficiency limits the salvability. If all are not salvable because there is no blood provision for them whereby they may be forgiven, then what is being offered to them? It can’t be forgivenness upon some condition, for that is not even naturally possible. Not only are there moral barriers in the way, but natural barriers. All things are not prepared, so how can the great King, with sincerity, send out his messengers to indiscriminately invite all to come and eat the heavenly bread in Christ’s flesh, drink of his blood?

Moreover, as Baxter says, how can they be required to be thankful for the bread of his flesh that was never offered to them? Ought they to say, “thanks for nothing”?

March 7th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

The High Calvinist/Moderate Calvinist distinction seems to present two gospels. The former’s gospel is, “Christ died for the elect” the later, “Christ died for all men.” N.T. Wright’s gospel is “Christ is King.” It is silliness to think these are all mutually exclusive – which is what most Reformed folks think. Just my opinion.


March 9th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Hey Eric,

I would be hesitant to the max to say we have more than one gospel here.

That aside, I would correct the first proposition you have there.

If the premises were:

High Calvinist: Christ died for the elect.
Moderate Calvinist: Christ died for all men

Then there is no contradiction. However, that is not what is being affirmed by the high Calvinist. Rather it is like this:

High Calvinist: Christ died ONLY for the elect.

This premise is not compatible with:

Moderate Calvinist: Christ died for all men

In the moderate schema, there is a sense where Christ died for all men in the same way: in the way of bearing the same guilt and charge against the sin which is equally due to all men.

Both high and moderate can affirm this: Christ died effectually for the elect alone.

Thanks for stopping by. I have enjoyed reading your blog since finding it.

Take care,

March 9th, 2008 at 4:50 pm

I suppose I’m importing the terms of another debate into this one. I apologize for that. My point was in regard to those who deny the “free offer” – I did not intend to equate the Moderate position with Universalism. The news that Christ’s death is not sufficient for all is most certainly not good news. This is what I meant by “different gospel.” I must admit I’m new to this debate, but I do look forward to reading through this amazing collection of sources you have here. Thank you for the time you’ve put into this.


March 9th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

Hey Eric,

Just in case, I never took your comment as implying the moderate position is equatable to Universalism.

I know what you say about the news that there is no actual sufficiency for all men. When I reread Witsius and Turretin again, I was struck again by the force of their words. They really did bite the bullet and say the death of Christ is not actually sufficient for all men. It only, “could have been made sufficient for all.” What concerns me is that many highs day verbalize the formula, but the irony is, in doing so, they neither mean it as originally intended by Lombard and others, or even as the mainstream Protestant Scholastics did. Many today want the force of the original formula, but without the underlying theology to sustain it. C Hodge brought that theology that back to the foreground, as did Shedd and Dabney. AA Hodge moved back to the theology of Turretin, but kept the phrase. I think it is probably from folk like AA Hodge (and Boston et al) that we have the phrase so used today but devoid of the proper theological basis for it.

Thanks and take care,

March 9th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

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