Moise Amyraut 1596-1664: Predestination and the Atonement Debate -- By: Stephen R. Lewis

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 01:3 (Winter 1995)
Article: Moise Amyraut 1596-1664: Predestination and the Atonement Debate
Author: Stephen R. Lewis

Moise Amyraut 1596-1664:
Predestination and the Atonement Debate

Stephen R. Lewis, Ph.D.*

Chafer Theological Seminary

[*Editor's note: Dr. Stephen Lewis received a B.Th. from Multnomah School of the Bible, a Th.M. in Historical Theology from Dallas Theology Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of North Texas. He is professor of Church History and the History of Doctrine at Chafer Theological Seminary. Steve also pastors Christian Heritage Church in Palm Desert, California.]


Are there four points, or five points to Calvinism? This question has plagued many down through the centuries as it relates to the theology developed by John Calvin. Many claim that what Calvin taught was confirmed at the Council of Dort in 1618–19. This council met in response to the Remonstrant’s1 five points drawn up in 1610. The results of the Council of Dort defined Calvinism by the acronym of T.U.L.I.P. (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints). The area which draws the most attention is the question concerning the extent of the atonement.2

After Calvin’s death his followers believed they represented the true teachings of Calvin with regards to the extent of the atonement. Moise Amyraut (1596–1664), one such theologian, taught an unlimited atonement (that Christ did not die for the elect in Christ only). However, the question of whether Amyraut, in his teaching of the universal design of the atonement, preserved or altered Calvin’s doctrine is complicated by the fact that there seems to be little agreement as to whether Calvin himself held such a position.3 It does appear that a slight change is detectable on this issue from Calvin to the doctrine proclaimed by the Synod of Dort and defended by other orthodox theologians.4

Background and Setting
for the Atonement Debate

Moise Amyraut was born of a Protestant family in September, 1596, at Bourgueil, France and in 1615–16 he studied law at the University of Poitiers (France). In 1618 he enrolled at Saumur (France) and there studied theology (having been influenced by the reading of Calvin’s Institutes) under John Cameron (the distinguished Scottish theologian [1579-1625]).

An important year for Amyraut was 1631 when he fled to England to teach at Oxford University. On July 28 of that same year, he and Louis Cappel submitted their resignation as part-time professors; instead of accepting ...

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