Imputation Of Sins to Christ First, Which is Denied by Andrew Fuller

Romans 3:25–”Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith…”

Andrew Fuller (Reply to Philanthropos, Complete Works,II, p499) comments: “There would be no propriety in saying of Christ that He is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, because He was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in Him. The text does not express what Christ WAS as laying down His life , but what He IS in consequence of it.”

Though Andrew Fuller affirmed a particular atonement in a certain sense– in that the atonement will procure faith for only the elect–he is not willing to say that Christ was only the propitiation for the elect alone. Instead of telling the plain truth, that Christ either already died for a sinner or already did not, Andrew Fuller wanted to say that Christ died for all sinners in some sense.

And this universal sense advocated by Andrew Fuller has to do with propitiation. He denies that Christ in the past propitiated the Tri-une God for the sins of any specific person. Rather, Andrew Fuller teaches that Christ died to make an offer of propitiation to every sinner.

According to Andrew Fuller, this is the nature and design and intent of what Christ did, that there could be propitiation now if the Holy Spirit were to cause a sinner to accept the offer of propitiation and thus join themselves to Christ through faith .

Fuller asserted an universal conditional sufficiency in Christ’s death for all sinners. It is a sneaky and subtle doctrine, but Andrew Fuller was a sneaky and subtle man, much like John Wesley, using words like “imputation” in ways meant to confuse those who had a different meaning for the words.

What does Andrew Fuller accomplish by shifting from what Christ DID back then over there to who Christ Is and what He can do here and now if the Spirit helps a sinner to take up the offer?

Andrew Fuller changes the meaning of the propitiatory death of Christ. With the Arminians, he makes the propitiation to be dependent on the sinner having faith. The sneaky part is that, with the Calvinists, Andrew Fuller also makes the having faith part be dependent on what God (now?) procures by means of Christ’s death.

With the Socinians, Andrew Fuller ends up putting the emphasis on grace as opposed to justice. God is sovereign now to procure faith for sinners with Christ’s death. The idea that God has already been justly propitiated for a sinner (or not) is no longer in the picture.

Andrew Fuller is opposing the gospel of God being justified in justifying the ungodly. He is opposing justice in the name of grace.

Two comments. First, even though Fullerites want to say that the only way to be consistent in teaching a definite propitiation (what Christ WAS as laying down his life) is to teach an eternal justification, where the elect only subjectively find out that they were always justified, I do not (and Abraham Booth did not) teach that any unbeliever is justified.

All the justified elect are people who believe the gospel. Belief in the gospel is an immediate consequence (not a condition) of Christ’s death being imputed to an elect sinner. “Through faith” in Romans 3:25 does not mean “conditioned on faith”. Faith for the elect is what justice demands AFTER righteousness is imputed to them. I do not say it “their right” but it is Christ’s right because of what Christ WAS AND DID.

So I can and do say to any unbeliever, unless you believe the gospel, you are not yet justified. But I also say to those unbelievers: your believing is not something you can or will do unless Christ died for you, and you will never know if Christ did until you believe the gospel.

Second comment. Look again at what Andrew Fuller is saying with his sophistry about what Christ is as opposed to what Christ was. Fuller is teaching that God is governmentally sovereign and therefore God can do whatever God wants to do now with what Christ did then.

If so, why did Christ die? To make it possible? So that propitiation “might” happen? To ask such questions leads to another question. If God is so sovereignly superior to justice in His government, why did Christ need to die at all?

If the meaning was only to be assigned later, is that meaning a matter of justice or only arbitrary?

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9 Comments on “Imputation Of Sins to Christ First, Which is Denied by Andrew Fuller”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Read J. P. Boyce in his excellent Abstract of Systematic Theology calls Fuller’s ‘Universalism’.Because Fuller sees the atonement as a symbol indicating sufficiency for all, he presents salvation as being there as a free-for-all. The purpose of the gospel and the evidence of nature is merely to prepare the above-mentioned feast. The food on the table is more than sufficient for those who have the appetite (will) to enjoy it. Fuller,in his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptance, believes that man is naturally capable of keeping the Law and that the Gospel is merely a kind of law to be obeyed. He therefore teaches that though Christ died symbolically for everybody’s sin, it is efficacious where man’s agency is involved in following law which points to Christ. In this way, Fuller dodges the issue of whether Christ actually died for His elect only or for all sinners.


    Andrew Fuller–who uses or doesn’t use the death of Christ does not change the nature

    as in, who eats or doesn’t eat the banana does not change the nature of the banana

    I agree, at least when it comes to Andrew Fuller’s false view of the nature of the death of Christ

    since in Andrew Fuller’s view the death is not a judicial payment for the specific sins of specific beneficiaries

    Fuller’s idea that the beneficiaries will be “named later”, according to God’s intent on what to do with Christ’s death

    shows that Andrew Fuller denies the nature of Christ’s death as a propitiation

    we are not the imputers, we don’t “use” the death of Christ

  3. markmcculley Says:

    from Nettles’ refutation of Andrew Fuller and “sufficient for all”.
    Error one: it’s tantamount to identifying the doctrine of effectual calling with atonement. What one really means by definite atonement is that the difference is not in the atonement but in the Spirit’s work of calling.

    “A second error is subtle in nature and involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as passive obedience–and though the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the sufficiency of the death of Christ arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s passive obedience to what he actively accomplished by his infinite divine nature.”

  4. markmcculley Says:

    first thing they want you to agree to is that it’s not the gospel ware—-a first-order discussion of a second-order doctrine. The contributors to this volume agree that the question of the extent of the atonement falls short of being placed in the top tier of doctrines central and non-negotiable to the Christian faith, yet they also rightly see the importance of this doctrine for faith and practice. Hence, the discussion here is spirited yet charitable, firm yet gracious
    Happily the dire predictions of what lies at the bottom of the slippery slopes situated on either side of this debate are rarely realized
    The debate on the extent of the atonement of Jesus Christ has long been expressed as a debate between correspondence (exegesis) and coherence (theology). On the one hand, many texts suggest a general atonement, announcing, apparently, that Christ has borne in common the sins of the whole human population (Isa 53:6; John 1:29; 3:16; 12:32; 2 Cor 5:14–15, 19; 1 Tim 2:4–6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Heb 2:9; 10:29; 2 Pet 2:1; 3:9; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; etc.). Too often those who hold to particular redemption dismiss such texts or respond with exegesis that smacks of special pleading.4 On the other hand, those promoting universal theories of atonement sometimes dismiss the theological tensions that their positions raise: the nature of substitution, the problem of double jeopardy, and the specter of universalism. All too often justification for this dismissal comes in the form of the trump card of biblical correspondence: the Bible says Christ died for all people, so whether or not this makes sense, it must be true—absolutely clear statements are not threatened by the theologian’s inability to coherently harmonize them with the systematic whole. Rather, such theological antinomies stand as monuments to the mysterious character of the Creator, whose thoughts and ways far exceed those of his creatures. This does not mean that those adhering to a definite atonement have no supporting texts or that those adhering to a general atonement have no theological concerns.
    • On the particularist pole we could have added at least two views: (1) the so-called “commercial view,” a minority variation of particularism that denies the atonement’s infinite value and excludes common grace from the atonement,9 and (2) the “eternal application” model that sees the accomplishment and application of atonement as simultaneous—either in eternity past or on the cross.10
    9 Thomas J. Nettles argues for this less common particularist understanding (though without using the commercial label) over and against Andrew Fuller’s more widely held historical expression of particularism (By His Grace and for His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life, rev. and exp. 20th anniversary ed. [Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2006], 335–59). 10 Once a rare view even among hyper-Calvinists (see, e.g., John Brine, A Defence of the Doctrine of Eternal Justification from Some Exceptions Made to It by Mr. Bragge, and Others [London: A. Ward and H. Whitridge, 1732]), this view has few if any modern proponents
    mark— i am in on #1, but not #2, but most people assume 2 if you have 1
    at least four distinct views associated with a general atonement position: (1) that Christ’s death secures the expiation of all sins and with it prevenient grace so that all may either accept or reject that expiation;11 (2) that Christ’s death simply provides for the expiation of all sins except unbelief, which is a separate category;12 (3) that Christ’s death merely satisfies God’s wrath without properly substituting for each sinner;13 and (4) that Christ’s death expiates for all, universalism
    11 This view is common among professing Arminians who reject the governmental view of atonement. Grant Osborne ably defends this view in this book. 12 Robert P. Lightner, The Death Christ Died: A Biblical Case for Unlimited Atonement (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998), 101; David L. Allen, “The Atonement: Limited or Universal,” in Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism, ed. David L. Allen and Steve W. Lemke (Nashville: B&H, 2010), 88. 13 Anselm’s satisfaction view, which still dominates in Roman Catholic circles, arguably fits this description.
    g., P. L. Rouwendal, “Calvin’s Forgotten Classical Position on the Extent of the Atonement: About Sufficiency, Efficiency, and Anachronism,” WTJ 70, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 317–35. 17 E.g., Bruce A. Ware, “The Extent of the Atonement: Select Support for and Benefits of a ‘Multiple Intentions’ Understanding,” outline presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (November 18, 2010). See also a thesis prepared by Gary Shultz under Ware’s tutelage: “A Biblical and Theological Defense of a Multi-Intentioned View of the Atonement” (PhD diss., Southern Baptist Theological
    For these a definite atonement is no less essential a piece of the Reformed system than, say, justification by faith or any of the other four “points” of Calvinism
    Brian Armstrong’s dissertation, “The Calvinism of Moïse Amyraut: The Warfare of Protestant Scholasticism and French Humanism” (ThD diss., Princeton University, 1967), available in a more popular format as Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy: Protestant Scholasticism and Humanism in Seventeenth-Century France (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969). This view gained considerable popularity in 1979 with the publication of R. T. Kendall’s dissertation, Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). Among other works sympathetic to this thesis, two stand out as key sequels to these earlier treatments: Alan C. Clifford, Atonement and Justification: English Evangelical Theology 1640–1790—An Evaluation (London: Oxford University Press, 1990); and G. Michael Thomas’s The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus (Carlisle, England: Paternoster, 2002). Most recently, Kevin D. Kennedy has furthered this theory by condensing salient portions of an earlier Peter Lang publication as “Was Calvin a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Extent of the Atonement,” in Allen and Lemke, Whosoever Will, 191–212
    Many today who hold to a general atonement also teach a substitutionary view of atonement (a marked advance on the governmental and moral influence views that were formerly more common in Arminian circles). Particularists, however, see this claim as inconsistent: while advocates of general atonement may hold to an atonement that involves penal satisfaction, it is not accurate to call this a penal substitution, except in some potential sense.
    Nowhere does Scripture say Christ merely made provision to expiate sin, propitiate wrath, or reconcile people to God. Rather, he actually took away sins (John 1:29), bore God’s wrath (1 John 2:2; 4:10), redeemed us (Gal 3:13–14), and reconciled us to God (Rom 5:10– 11; 2 Cor 5:18–19). For this reason, then, the title of Murray’s little book is not Redemption: Provided and Applied, but Redemption: Accomplished and Applied
    For advocates of universal atonement, God did accomplish all that he intended. But God did not intend to effectually redeem anyone; he simply intended to provide redemption for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful. 3 The precise relationship of faith to atonement is a matter of debate among advocates of universal atonement. All agree, however, that faith delimits the application of the universal atonement.
    Details about the source of this faith vary between advocates of general atonement. Some suggest that all people possess the native capacity to believe (Pelagianism), others that faith is made available as a manifestation of prevenient grace (Picirilli and most Arminians), and still others see faith as connected with an efficacious call (Lightner and many “four-point” Calvinists). In any case it is the sinner’s failure to believe that limits the application of atonement.
    Christ died to make simultaneously both a “universal atonement” and a “limited redemption.”44 Historically, this centrist view finds its greatest early Protestant endorsement in the school of Saumur and its greatest early champions in John Cameron and especially Moïses Amyraut.45 Amyraldism, which is properly a minority variation of Calvinism, early on adopted Peter Lombard’s understanding that Christ’s death was “offered . . . for all with regard to the sufficiency of the price, but only for the elect with regard to its efficacy, because he brought about salvation only for the predestined.”46 The connotative elasticity of the phrase “sufficient for all but efficient for the elect” proved useful as a vehicle of mediation at Dordt, where in 1618–19 a mixed body of both “high” Calvinists and Amyraldians crafted a united response to the threat of the Arminian Remonstrance—the famed Canons of Dordt, from which the wellknown “five points” derive.…/9781433669712_sampCh.pdf

    • markmcculley Says:

      Amyraut—“Sin seems to have changed not only the whole face of the universe, but even the entire design of the first creation, and if one may speak this way, seems to have induced to adopt new councels”

      and thus God becomes the God who declares not the end from the beginning but the end from the fall

      the fall is conditioned on the sinner, and the creation is either plan a or no plan at all

      did God make the world, and then decide (after man decided) what to do with the world

      why must we deny that death is God’s work also?

      why must we deny that the fall of Adam is God’s work also?

      why must we keep talking about what Adam “could have done” or “might have done”?

      was God’s plan a to be glorified in a church of human Adams who never sinned? (Ephesians 3:20)

  5. markmcculley Says:

    According to the Marrow theology, in the preaching of the gospel God in Jesus Christ is offered to all but possessed by some (those who meet the condition of faith)— “God moved with nothing but his free love to mankind lost, hath made a deed of gift and grant unto them all, that whosoever shall believe in this his Son, shall not perish, but have eternal life” .

    As confusing as the language is, specifically, the phrase, “deed of gift and grant,” it is evident that the statement intends to teach God’s would-be love to all humans who hear the preaching on the condition that they believe. Implied in this statement is the doctrine that Christ died for all humans without exception. The church must “go and tell every man, without exception, that here is good news for him! Christ is dead for him! and if he will take him, and accept of his righteousness, he shall have him”.

    The language is odd. “Christ is dead”? And Christ is dead for every human who hears the gospel? Not: “Christ died for every human.” But: “Christ dead for every human.” Contrast this confusing statement concerning the extent of the atoning death of Christ the clear language of the Canons of Dordt— For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father, etc. (Canons of Dordt, 2.8).

    If what orthodox Reformed theology regards as the external call of the gospel is, in fact, a gracious deed of gift and grant of Jesus Christ to every human who hears the gospel, Christ must have died for all mankind lost, for every human without exception.

    Christ is not dead! Christ is not dead in relation to anyone, including the elect. Christ died, in the past. But Christ is NOT dead. Christ is alive, having risen from the dead. In order to introduce into Reformed churches the doctrine of an universal atonement which is not “possessed”, the Marrow men resorted to linguistic subterfuge: “Christ is dead for you.”

    The Canons of Dordt make plain that the “offer” does not mean a gracious effort on God’s part to save all who hear, in view of a love of God for all hearers and with the desire to save them all. Head one of the Canons confesses the eternal non-election of some humans in a
    hatred of God for them. Head two confesses that Christ died for the elect alone, according to God’s lasting love for them. Heads three and four confess that the saving call of the gospel, that which has its source in God’s election, is for some hearers of the gospel, not for all without exception.

    With regard to the Marrow’s assertion that the gospel is a deed of gift and grant to all who hear, head two of the Canons teaches that Christ “purchased” for the elect, not only forgiveness and eternal life, but also faith itself (Canons 2.8).

    The non-elect unbeliever does not have a warrant to believe in Jesus Christ. He does not have the ability. But neither does he have the right. Faith in Jesus Christ is a privilege, a right earned for the elect by the death of Jesus. “Warrant” implies right. The non-elect hearer
    of the gospel has the DUTY to believe in Jesus, but he lacks both the ability and the right. This truth demolishes the theology of the Marrow.

    If God in the gospel lovingly offers salvation to all humans without exception, on the ground of Christ’s death for everyone, Christ is not the whole savior. The sinner himself, by his acceptance of the offered Christ, is instrumental in his own salvation. The Arminians call this acceptance “free will.” The Marrow Calvinists call this acceptance “regeneration followed by instrumental faith”. But in both cases, Christ is not the savior because what God does to make the sinner accept Christ is the most fundamental part of salvation.

    According to Thomas Boston. the offer is God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ to all who hear the gospel, including those who never possess salvation. On this view, the gospel is not a gift to effectually save anybody, but only makes Jesus available to all those God predestined to be in the same room with gospel preaching. . Boston uses the example of the gift of money to a poor man: “Even as when one presents a piece of gold to a poor man saying, ‘Take it, it is yours’; the offer makes the piece really his in a sense nevertheless, while the poor man does not accept or receive it, it is not his in possession, nor hath he the benefit of it; but, on the contrary, must starve for it all, and that so much the more miserably, that he hath slighted the offer and refused the gift”

    Boston comments— This giving, which in light of I John 5:11 is certainly gracious on God’s part, does not, however, put anyone in possession of eternal life. It merely makes it possible for humans to take possession”of eternal life. This giving of eternal life by God in the offer is not to and for the elect, but to and for all who hear the gospel, including those who may be reprobate, and perish. The party to whom eternal life is given by the offer is not the election only, but mankind lost.” In the offer, there is a giving of Christ and salvation to many where there is no
    receiving, for a gift may be refused.”

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Berkhof (452) “It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification.
    Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”
    Jonathan Gibson, From heaven, p 358—-Election and the Atonement do not operate on separate theological tracks. What God has joined together, let no theologian separate. Affirming union with Christ by God’s election before redemption is accomplished counters any disjunction between the effect of Christ’s death and the effect of His resurrection.
    ………………………………………………………………………………….God’s election comes first before Christ’s atonement
    Atonement to satisfy justice is a result of God’s love for the elect
    God’s love for the elect is not a result of Atonement for the elect

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus’s atonement is quite sufficient to save every person ever—were every person ever to have faith. (Note my emphasise on the word “is”. Some Calvinists would say only that Jesus’s atonement would be sufficient to save very person ever, were every person ever to have faith. In other words, the scope of the atonement has to be retrofitted to the hypothetical, because in their view Jesus only died for those who will in fact be saved.)

    it’s hard to see how Arminianism changes anything here. Even if we say Roger can appropriate the atonement, if he does not do so, and God knew in advance he would not do so, then surely it was pointless for Jesus to die for him? It seems quite reasonable to say the atonement was in vain for Roger if God knew all along that Roger would never appropriate it.

    (However, in what sense can Roger appropriate the atonement if God has created a world in which he knows it is inevitable that Roger won’tappropriate it?

  8. markmcculley Says:

    When the false gospel says that Christ’s death has “sufficiency” to make an offer to every sinner, at the same time that false gospel is teaching that Christ’s death is not sufficient to cause any sinner to become justified bfore God. The false gospel denies that Christ’s death purchased regeneration or faith because the false gospel thinks that would make regeneration and faith something not grace but something God owed to Christ because of Christ having purchased regeneration and faith. Like the Socinians, the false gospel says that grace must not be bought by Christ’s death or it is no longer grace.

    And so the false gospel says–trust God, not God’s justice. Trust Christ in His present resurrection status, not Christ for what His death did by way of propitiation and purchase.

    The false gospel teaches that only Christ’s status as justified and resurrected are imputed to elect sinners.. The false gospel denies that died by objective justice for specific sins and that this death is imputed to elect sinners.

    The false gospel teaches that Christ represented every sinner. So does the false gospel teach that Christ at some point stopped representing some sinners/
    Or does the false gospel teach that Christ represented every sinner, right up until the time most of them perish?

    It’s a requirement of God’s justice that everyone for whom Christ will become justified. This is God’s debt to God. This is God’s obligation to God to be the God who is just.

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