A Calvinist Version Of Universal Atonement

Here it looks like Sandeman is perplexed and bewildered about how a presumed Calvinist like Aspasio can walk right up to two different unbelievers (Theron & Eugenio) and tell them that Christ died for them. I suppose Sandeman thought that all Calvinists were what some call “high Calvinists” who would never preach that way:

The gospel proposes nothing to be believed by us, but what is infallibly true, whether we believe it or not . For shall our own unbelief make the faith or veracity of God of none effect? Far be it! Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one of his words shall fall to the ground. The gospel, which foretells the final perdition of so many of its hearers, so many seriously and zealously exercised about it, can never warrant us to persuade every one who hears it, to believe that Christ died for him; unless we shall say that Christ died for every individual of mankind, and consequently, that none of mankind owe their salvation wholly to his death.

Though I do not see how Aspasio’s account of faith can be maintained without saying this, yet I would be far from charging a consequence of my drawing, upon Aspasio, as his doctrine” (Robert Sandeman, Letters On Theron And Aspasio).

Oh, but it WOULD be an accurate charging as to Aspasio’s doctrine, Mr. Sandeman. You see, there’s a damnable Arminian version of universal atonement…and there’s ALSO a damnable Calvinist version of universal atonement. BOTH doctrines give the redemptive glory to the sinner rather than to Jesus Christ alone.

“Though in his beginning to persuade the young Eugenio to be a Christian, he directly affirms to him, that Christ died for him, vol. 1, <p. 237. I would rather choose to look on this as spoken by way of ingratiating address to gain the young gentleman’s favourable attention, or on account of some amiable disposition he had observed about him, than to conclude from thence that Aspasio would affirm the same thing to every individual of the human race” (Robert Sandeman, Letters On Theron And Aspasio).

Aspasio tells two consecutive unbelievers that “Christ died for you,” but that doesn’t mean he would walk up to everybody without exception and say that. Okay. Evidently it’s more plausible that Aspasio is some kind of Hyper-Calvinist who has observed the “amiable disposition” of being “sensible to sin” (or something). Sandeman had written:

“I would rather choose to look on this as spoken by way of ingratiating address to gain the young gentleman’s favourable attention […]”

In other words: Aspasio’s “ingratiating address to gain the young gentleman’s favourable attention” was “peace, peace!” when there is no peace (cf. Jeremiah 8:11).

“He affirms to Theron, while yet an unbeliever, or an opposer of the imputed righteousness, that the obedience of Christ was wrought out in his name and in his stead. … I made a shift formerly, the best way I could, to account for Aspasio’s making the like assertion to the young Eugenio; but I would not choose to account for him in that manner often” (Robert Sandeman, Letters On Theron And Aspasio).

It was quite the shift too (as witnessed above) — the “shift” of eisegeting Aspasio’s own words.

“I was, then, and still am, very loath to charge Aspasio with maintaining, that Christ died, for any but those who shall be eternally saved by him; for if he died for them who perish, then the happiness of them who are saved, must be owing to something else beside his death. And then I behooved to look on all that Aspasio has said about the necessity and excellency of the imputed righteousness, as words without meaning”(Robert Sandeman, Letters On Theron And Aspasio).

Exactly — words without meaning. It just might be that Aspasio believes that Christ died for the elect in one sense, and the non-elect in yet another sense. Makes sense, right? No. For it makes words like “propitiation,” “atonement,” & “imputed righteousness” as … words without meaning.

“Christ, speaking of himself as the good shepherd, says, John x, I lay down my life for the sheep. But to unbelievers he says, Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish. How then can Aspasio say to any not hearing Christ’s voice and following him, that they are of his sheep, for whom he laid down his life?” (Robert Sandeman, Letters On Theron And Aspasio).

I surmise that Aspasio is a type of Calvinist who does not worry himself about precision & forthrightness in his preaching (though he may in his doctrinal treatises). He is perhaps loath to get into “exactly what way” Christ died for Theron and Eugenio, whether “salvifically” or “non-salvifically.” Aspasio’s reasoning might be that if Theron or Eugenio are elect sheep, then they will believe this false gospel that Aspasio is preaching to them, and if they are “not of his sheep” then they won’t believe the false gospel that Aspasio is preaching to them. Next Page (4)

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