Dabney and a lesson in logic by David Ponter
A few years ago I was reading Dabney and I came across this amazing comment:
==In proof of the general correctness of this theory of the extent of the Atonement, we should attach but partial force to some of the arguments advanced by Symington and others, or even by Turrettin--e. g., That Christ says, He died "for His sheep," for "His Church," for "His friends," is not of itself conclusive. The proof of a proposition does not disprove its converse. All the force which we could properly attach to this class of passages is the probability arising from the frequent and emphatic repetition of this affirmative statement as to a definite object. Dabney Lectures, p521.==
Now, here what he is telling us that one cannot infer a universal negative from a bare positive. A statement that Christ died for someone cannot by used to prove a negative inference that Christ only died for that someone. To infer a universal negation from a simple or bare positive is always everywhere irrational. :-) Its never right. And so Dabney notes all these statements can do is sustain emphasis, not negation and exclusivity.
For example, if Paul were to say, as he does, that Christ died for him, no sane person would conclude that he meant to imply that Christ died only for him.
What are the implications here? Big. How many arguments for limited imputation/expiation are actually based on a faulty negative inference fallacy? Bunches. :-)
Anyway, I thought that might interest anyone who wants to think about this.
David W. Ponter
This is exactly the logic the Arminians use when confronted with the passages that Dabney mentions. I have encountered this on many occasions when speaking with Arminians. This is just pure Arminianism: Christ said that He died for His sheep/His church. Christ did not say that He did not die for those who are not His sheep/His church. Thus, when Christ said that He died for His sheep/His church, He was not saying that He died exclusively for His sheep/His church. This is so easy to refute. All one has to do is ask this: WHY did Christ say that He died for His sheep/His church if He did not mean that He died exclusively for His sheep/His church? What kind of sense would it make to say that He died for particular people if He also died for everyone without exception? What point would that make? No point at all. In John 6:11, Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd! The Good Shepherd lays down His life on behalf of the sheep." He said in verse 15, "Even as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep." In that very same chapter, He said to certain Jews, "But you do not believe for you are not of My sheep, as I said to you." According to the logic of the Arminians and Dabney (who was basically an Arminian), these certain Jews could reason thusly: "Well, even though Jesus said that He lays down His life for the sheep and He said that we are not of His sheep, this doesn't mean that He didn't lay down His life for us, since He didn't say that He doesn't lay down His life for those who are not His sheep." How nonsensical is that?! If this blasphemous reasoning were true, then when Jesus said that He laid down His life for the sheep, it meant ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Let me give an example: Suppose I say, "I have spiritual fellowship with my brothers in Christ." Does this imply at all that I also have spiritual fellowship with those who are not my brothers in Christ? Of course not. I don't need to make an extra statement in order to make it exclusive. It is exclusive by the very nature of the statement. In fact, what sense would it make for me to make that statement if I had spiritual fellowship with those who are not my brothers in Christ? What would be the point of my statement? It would mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Another example: Suppose I say, "I have six children." Does this imply at all that I also have another child or other children? Of course not. In fact, If I say, "I have six children" when I really have eight children, I would be lying when I said, "I have six children." I don't need to make an extra statement in order to make it exclusive. I don't need to say, "I have six children, I have no more and no less than six children." The very nature of the statement excludes any other interpretation. In fact, what sense would it make for me to make that statement if I had more than six children. What would be the point of my statement? It would mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The Arminians and the Genuine Historical Calvinists (who were basically Arminians as well) try to do all they can to justify their universal atonement position, including making these ridiculous, illogical, laughable -- and damnable -- interpretations. May their logic go to hell where it belongs.
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter
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