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.]

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 at 12:17 pm 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


Do you have an article which sumarizes Owen’s argument? Perhaps from Owen himself?

Do you have a sumary by a modern proponent?

May 6th, 2010 at 9:03 am

The best text Ive seen which both analyzes and refutes Owen’s assumptions and conclusions is this work:

Chambers, N.A. “A Critical Examination of John Owen’s Argument for Limited Atonement in the Death of Death of Christ.” Th.M. thesis, Reformed Theological Seminary, 1998.

You can buy a pdf copy of this from http://www.tren.com. The cost of the pdf is minimal. If you get stuck let me know.

I posted a brief outline here of the problem here: Owen’s Trilemma and Ursinus: a case study in comparison,

and here: Owen’s Trilemma and Ursinus: a case study in comparison (part 2)

Thanks for stopping by,

May 6th, 2010 at 9:26 am

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