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.]

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 at 8:34 am and is filed under Double Jeopardy/Double Payment Fallacy. 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.

2 comments so far

Dorus Rudsill

Correction- Dorus Rudisill, male

August 12th, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hey thanks for stopping by. I sincerely apologize for that. For some reason I defaulted to my mother’s name, and ran with that. I appreciate your work on this topic. This whole area has been fascinating for me. One thing Ive been working through is the concepts of distributive justice, commutative justice and public justice.

My impression is that public just came into play to explain that Christ’s suffers an equivalent satisfaction, as opposed to folk like John Owen, who said that Christ suffered the very idem and identity of the laws demands (due to elect sinners), which he nested in commutative categories. I think the later Presbyterians, like Dabney, defaulted to distributive justice, but there I become unsure how they differed from the New England idea of public justice, when the rubber hits the road. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.


August 12th, 2011 at 11:47 am

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