5-Point Calvinism is Christocentric

by John Hendryx


John, Do you know of any good sites [or essays] that have good answers to specific Amyraldian [Four Point] errors? I know you are a very busy person, and I might be asking a lot, but I greatly appreciate your help if you could.


Thank you for your email regarding this important issue. It is my conviction that Christians are united with Christ by the sovereign, gracious work of God Himself and all the benefits of this salvation (as explained in the doctrines of grace) come to us only because of union with Christ.

The biggest issue I have with the Amyraldian error apart from being unbiblical is that it promotes a Christless Calvinism ... What I mean by this is that it makes the doctrines of grace into an abstraction. The only reason why we can affirm in the other doctrines of grace to begin with is because of the work of Jesus Christ. It is impossible, in other words, to believe in irresistible grace without acknowledging that all spiritual/redemptive blessings (including irresistible grace) flow from one source: Christ. For example, Amyraldianism, in order for it to be true, must reject that the particular irresistible regenerative grace granted to us in the "I" in the TULIP, comes from Christ. They reduce it rather, to a generic grace that is found somehow apart from the work of Christ. How is this? Because even irresistible grace, which Amyraldian's also embrace, is a grace purchased by Christ on the cross - a truth they must reject in order to be consistent. This is because even they will acknowledge that irresistible grace is particular to the saints. Consider the following: if Amyraldians agree that this irresistible grace is particular and also was purchased by Christ on the Cross, then they ALREADY believe in limited atonement without knowing it. In other words Amyraldians are being extremely inconsistent here. This is because irresistible grace, we all agree, is granted only to the elect in the cross of Christ and so these two aspects of redemption (irresistible grace and limited atonement) are really the same thing looked at from a different perspective.

Further, the Trinity must work in harmony in saving His people: The Father elects a particular people in Christ, the Son redeems then and the Holy Spirit regenerates and unites them to Christ. Think about this: Unconditional election is done in Christ (eph 1:3,4). Perseverance is IN CHRIST and Irresistible grace is IN CHRIST (John 6:63-65). Amyraldianism makes Calvinism into an abstraction and bifurcates the work of Christ from the grace of Christ. It is therefore no small error.

Many Amyraldian's (four-point Calvinists) tend to confuse the issue by speaking of multiple intentions for the atonement, but this is not, nor ever has been, the issue. Yes indeed there may be other benefits that all persons in the world receive from the cross, as most Calvinists will agree. But the redemptive intent of the atonement has always been what is at issue. These redemptive benefits are particular, that is, given only to the Saints. That is why we oftentimes call it "particular redemption" rather than limited atonement. Soon before His death Jesus prays a high priestly prayer for his people in John 17. Notice that in verse 9 Jesus (as high priest) prays an exclusive prayer for certain people and not others: 'I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours." Then soon after in verse 19 when speaking of the same persons the Father has given Jesus, He prays: "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth." So Jesus only sanctifies Himself for those the Father has given him, meaning these are the very ones He dies redemptively for. Jesus prays for the same persons He dies redemptively for. Only those God has elected in Christ from eternity are given the grace of regeneration that they might believe. And this regeneration is a redemptive benefit of Christ given to the elect alone - for he purchased with his blood people OUT OF every tribe, nation, tongue and people (Rev 5:9). Therefore you must challenge your four-point friends whether or not the other aspects of the doctrines of grace are benefits of the work of Christ or not.

Taking the "L" out" of the TULIP is therefore like taking Solus Christus out of the Five Solas. It is an impossible supposition because it removes all doctrines of grace from the work of Christ. A rather pernicious form of "Calvinism" therefore comes from this Amyraldian strain because again, it removes Christ from the equation and makes grace generic and abstract rather than coming only from the only fountain of grace: Christ. Consider the TULIP as a chiasm with the L at the top. Without the L, all the other benefits would not be possible. True Calvinism is Christocentric.

Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith. Here, too, is displayed a wonderful effect of faith; for by it we receive Christ such as he is given to us by the Father -- that is, as having freed us from the condemnation of eternal death, and made us heirs of eternal life, because, by the sacrifice of his death, he has atoned for our sins, that nothing may prevent God from acknowledging us as his sons. Since, therefore, faith embraces Christ, with the efficacy of his death and the fruit of his resurrection, we need not wonder if by it we obtain likewise the life of Christ. - John Calvin Commentary on John 3:16

Hope this helps


Related Reading
Essays on Definte Atonement compiled by Monergism.com
Limited Atonement by Arturo Azurdia III (MP3)