Quotes From Calvinist Theologians Proving Arian/Nestorianism

By: Nick I would hope that anyone reading the title of this post would consider the suggested question nothing short of blasphemy. For those who don't know, there are Christians who do give an affirmative answer to this question. While you might be thinking this is some fringe group, you will probably be shocked to find the groups who affirm this are Protestants of the Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) traditions. The following quotes are from well respected Protestant teachers, going all the way back to Luther Himself: -------------------------- We should remember that Christ's suffering in His human nature, as He hung on the cross those six hours, was not primarily physical, but mental and spiritual. When He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," He was literally suffering the pangs of hell. For that is essentially what hell is, separation from God, separation from everything that is good and desirable. Such suffering is beyond our comprehension. But since He suffered as a divine-human person, His suffering was a just equivalent for all that His people would have suffered in an eternity in hell. (Boettner, Loraine. "The Reformed Faith." Chapter 3.)

To [Jesus] was imputed the guilt of their sins, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on their behalf. And the very essence of that punishment was the outpouring of God’s wrath against sinners. In some mysterious way during those awful hours on the cross, the Father poured out the full measure of His wrath against sin, and the recipient of that wrath was God’s own beloved Son.
In this lies the true meaning of the cross.
(MacArthur, John. “The Murder of Jesus.” Page 219.)
Christ died in our place and in our stead – and He received the very same outpouring of divine wrath in all its fury that we deserved for our sin. It was a punishment so severe that a mortal could spend all eternity in the torments of hell, and still he would not have begun to exhaust the divine wrath that was heaped on Christ at the cross.
This was the true measure of Christ’s sufferings on the cross. The physical pains of crucifixion – dreadful as they were – were nothing compared to the wrath of the Father against Him. The anticipation of this was what had caused Him to sweat blood in the garden. This is why He looked ahead to the cross with such horror. We cannot begin to fathom all that was involved in paying the price of our sin. It’s sufficient to understand that all our worst fears about the horrors of hell – and more – were realized by Him as He received the due penalty of others’ wrongdoing.
And in that awful, sacred hour, it was as if the Father abandoned Him. Though there was surely no interruption in the Father’s love for Him as a Son, God nonetheless turned away from Him and forsook Him as our substitute.
( Ibid., Page 220-221)

Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God’s anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. … … Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price—that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man. (Calvin, John. “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Book 3:Chapter 16.

The penalty of the divine law is said to be eternal death. Therefore if Christ suffered the penalty of the law He must have suffered death eternal; or, as others say, He must have endured the same kind of sufferings as those who are cast off from God and die eternally are called upon to suffer. (Hodge, Charles. “Systematic Theology.” Vol. 2, Part 3, Ch 6, Sec 3)

Luther: ‘Christ himself suffered the dread and horror of a distressed conscience that tasted eternal wrath;’ ‘it was not a game, or a joke, or play-acting when he said, “Thou hast forsaken me”; for then he felt himself really forsaken in all things even as a sinner is forsaken” (Werke, 5. 602, 605) (Packer, J.I. “The Logic of Penal Substitution.” footnote 44)

So then, gaze at the heavenly picture of Christ, who descended into hell for your sake and was forsaken by God as one eternally damned when he spoke the words on the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!” – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In that picture your hell is defeated and your uncertain election is made sure. (Luther, Martin. “Treatise on Preparing to Die.”)

The physical pain of the crucifixion and the [psychological] pain of taking on himself the absolute evil of our sins were aggravated by the fact that Jesus faced this pain alone. … Yet more difficult than these three previous aspects of Jesus’ pain was the pain of bearing the wrath of God upon himself. As Jesus bore the guilt of our sins alone, God the Father, the mighty Creator, the Lord of the universe, poured out on Jesus the fury of his wrath: Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin that God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the world.(Grudem, Wayne. “Bible Doctrine.” Page 253-254)

“What prevents us from seeing God is our heart. Our impurity. But Jesus had no impurity. And Thomas said He was pure in heart. So obviously He had some, some experience of the beauty of the Father. Until that moment that my sin was placed upon Him. And the one who was pure was pure no more. And God cursed Him. It was if there was a cry from Heaven – excuse my language but I can be no more accurate than to say – it was as if Jesus heard the words ‘God damn you’, because that’s what it meant to be cursed, to be damned, to be under the anathema of the Father. As I said I don’t understand that, but I know that it’s true.” (R.C. Sproul. Together for the Gospel. April 17, 2008. Louisville, KY. Session V – The Curse Motif of the Atonement. Minute 55:01)

“Hell is all about echoing faintly the glory of Calvary. That’s the meaning of hell in this room right now. To help you feel in some emotional measure the magnificence of what Christ did for you when he bore not only your eternal suffering, but millions of people’s eternal suffering when His Father put our curse on Him. What a Saviour is echoed in the flames of hell. So that’s what I mean when I say hell is an echo of the glory of God, and an echo of the Savior’s sufferings, and therefore an echo of the infinite love of God for our souls.” (John Piper. Resolved Conference 2008. Session 8 – The Echo and Insufficiency of Hell. Min 40:00)

“This moment in Mark chapter 15 [i.e. “My God, my God”], it is this moment, it is what takes place in this moment that delivers us from hell. This agony, this scream, is what delivers all those who turn from their sin and trust in the Savior from hell. On the cross, Jesus experienced hell for us. He experienced hell for us, bearing God’s wrath and eternal punishment. And because He did, Heaven awaits all those who turn from their sin and trust in Him. He screamed the ‘scream of the damned’ [i.e., “forsaken me”] for us. Listen, this scream should be our scream. … This scream should be my eternal scream. He takes upon Himself my sin, the wrath I deserved for and against my sin, He screams the ‘scream of the damned’ for me.” (C.J. Mahaney. Resolved Conference 2008. Session 11 – The Cry From the Cross. Min 46:35)

“There are four ways that you can measure the love of God in Christ heard in the ‘scream of the damned’ … and all four of them are infinite, and they all point to the infinite value of the ‘scream of the damned’. Now it’s bigger than this, and the quote you just heard from ‘Spectacular Sins’ is my effort to get at it. Hell exists, sin exists, Heaven exists, cross exists, everything exists to magnify the worth of the ‘scream of the damned‘. Everything. That’s the point of the universe.” (John Piper. Resolved Conference 2008. Session 12 – The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and New Earth. Min 00:15)

The quotes are very clear, these famous Protestant pastors and theologians believe Jesus received the punishments which the sinner deserved, including both physical death and hellfire. They teach God the Father poured out His wrath on His Son Jesus, which means Jesus underwent the equivalent of hell and was effectively damned as a sinner is damned.

Why would someone affirm such a blasphemous teaching? What most don’t know is that Jesus getting damned in our place is the heart of Sola Fide. That’s right, the doctrine of justification by faith alone requires this. Sola Fide teaches that by faith the sinner receives the righteousness of Christ, while acknowledging Christ received the punishment the sinner deserved. This teaching of Jesus getting damned in place of the sinner is popularly termed “Penal Substitution.” If this doctrine is false, then Sola Fide collapses. Martin Luther realized this, and all other Protestant theologians since then recognized this as well.

The root of the problem is the starting assumption that Sola Fide is true, because once that is assumed, whatever doctrines are necessary to hold up Sola Fide will have to be affirmed in turn. If this means the Father damned His Beloved Son, then (as we have unfortunately seen) there will be people who have little trouble believing this.

While we could spend time refuting this abomination from Scripture, our Christian consciences should be a sufficient guide in telling us something this outrageous and blasphemous cannot be true.

4 Comments on Quotes From Calvinist Theologians Proving Arian/Nestorianism

  1. Very handy, thanks. It’s incredible that people don’t seem to notice any of this. Well, actually, it isn’t. Anyone who has seen most Protestant approaches to the early Fathers has every reason to shake his head in pity.

  2. I agree and thanks for these quotes. Relevant question: how do we answer “what did Christ’s death do?” from a non-Protestant perspective? Just trying to sort these things out.

  3. Chris Curry // January 3, 2015 at 7:15 am // Reply

    People who hold to the imputation theory of redemption should take a few minutes to reflect prayerfully on the implications of the “doctrine” that God the Father damns Christ.
    The following Argument for Prayerful Reflection and Study will provide the imputation theorist — or anyone interested in the topic of the Redemption — an opportunity to see some of the undesirable implications inevitably entailed in the imputation theory. Hopefully and prayerfully, all who reflect on and study this issue will see why orthodox Christians consider the imputation theory to involve the heresies of Nestorianism and Arianism. They will also see why the imputation theory also involves a logical absurdity. Accordingly, they will see why no rational, consistent orthodox Christian can embrace the imputation theory.
    (It should be noted at the outset that the terminology utilized in the following argument comes from the distinct “Proto” Scholastic Ontology adhered to, at least implicitly, by the Church Fathers and the Fathers of the Early Councils. This Ontology provided the Fathers a way of thinking about the Triune God, Christ, the Mystical Union and Communion of His Mystical Body, and Christ’s Sacrifice. Imputation theorists are not trained in this form of Ontology and they do not understand it. It is not part of their Patrimony. It is not taught in their seminaries by professors who really understand it. Accordingly, the imputation theorists often use terms (that are derived from this Ontology) which they don’t really understand and thus they drive themselves and their followers into a deeper theological and philosophical confusion — terms such as first and second agency, first and second act, the person-nature distinction, “human action,” first and second causality, the five types of secondary causality: efficient, instrumental, formal, final, material causality, the three types of first causality, form and matter, which give rise to notions like essence, nature, substance, subsistence, hypostasis, accidents, etc., etc. Often the orthodox Christian finds it annoying to discuss the redemption with imputation theorist because the imputation theorist is using orthodox terminology in a non-orthodox way. Note that the “Proto” Scholastic Ontology [including its terminology] is a part of the Catholic/Orthodox Patrimony. The Council Fathers at Chalcedon, and Second and Third Constantinople knew this Ontology and thought in terms of it. Unfortunately, this Ontology is definitively not “at home” in the minds and denominations of the imputation theorists. In order to be of help, we will try to be as clear as possible in the following Logical Argument for Prayerful Reflection and Study.)
    The Logical Argument for Prayerful Reflection and Study can be stated as follows.

    (1) Christ is God the Son. (That is, the Person of God the Son is the one and only Person of Christ. This all should agree on.)
    (2) God the Father wrathfully damns Christ (according to the “imputation” theory).
    The “imputation” theory claims that God the Father makes Christ into a virtually sinful Person — or at least an actually guilty Person, as if Christ were the worst possible sinful Person — by means of forensic imputation, according to which Christ actually possesses all the sins (and guilt) of the world in Himself in such a way that the Father would be warranted in taking out all of His hateful anger on Christ and, thereby, damn Him to hell — thus cutting Christ off from Christ’s own Godhood. In order for Christ to be truly “personally” responsible for the sins of the world, His Personhood (i.e., Godhood) would have to be involved in taking on the sin and the guilt — otherwise there would be no “personal” responsibility involved. But “personal” responsibility is required by the “imputation” theory, because without “personal” responsibility the theory would be left with some sort of a vague “impersonal” abstract responsibility, a notion which would be sufficient to render the whole “imputation” theory irremediably vague — and this would constitute a conceptual refutation of the “imputation” theory.
    (3) Therefore, God the Father necessarily damns God the Son, who is the sole Person of Christ. This means that God the Son is sent to hell, since Christ’s human nature cannot possibly “go” anywhere without His Divine Personhood (unless one holds to a form of Nestorianism, see point (6) below).
    (4) Now for Christ to be wrathfully damned in hell by the Father one of two things would have to be the case: (a) Christ’s Divine Person is definitively damned in hell, separated from God, or (b) Christ’s human nature only is in hell, somehow separated from his Divine Personhood.
    (5) Thus, on the one hand, according to option (4)(a) above, the “imputation” theory would irremediably (a) divide the Holy Trinity and, thereby, (b) divide the single Divine Nature, since this option has God the Father blessed in Heaven and God the Son damned in hell. On this scenario, the very Divine Nature would be torn asunder. Hence, God would be divided from God. The Trinity and the Unity would be no more. This theory would take Nietzsche literally, i.e., ontologically, when Nietzsche declares that “God is dead.” No longer would it be a mere cultural commentary, but it would be an absurd ontological fact.
    SUB-ARGUMENT (A). (i) Hell entails the second death, which, in turn, entails separation from God.
    (ii) Thus, God the Son would have to be separated from Himself by being in hell.
    (iii) Hence, God the Son would be in hell and simultaneously He would not be in hell, since all who are in hell are separated from Him, i.e., God.
    (iv) But this is a flat-out self-contradiction, thus it is absurd.
    (v) Therefore, the basis of the imputation theory is absurd, rendering the whole imputation theory absurd. So, insofar as the imputation theory in any way implies this scenario the theory is absurd.
    (vi) Thus option (4)(a) of the imputation theory has been successfully refuted. Now we can move on to option (4)(b).
    (6) On the other hand, the imputation theory may claim, according to (4)(b) above, that only the human nature of Christ has been wrathfully damned in hell.
    SUBARGUMENT (B). (i) Theory (4)(b) entails the proposition that in order for Christ’s human nature to reap the wrath of God in hell, there must be full efficient causal agency in the human actions of Christ’s human nature, such that he could be fully functional, responsive and active in hell.
    (ii) But Christ’s human nature, in and of itself, has no Aseity or First Efficient Causal Power or Agency. Christ’s human nature derives it’s entire existence and power to operate from His sole Person-hood, i.e., God the Son. The human nature of Christ is an instrumental cause of God the Son, the First Efficient Cause. That is, Christ’s human nature (in and of itself) cannot possibly have any ontological autonomy (in the order of existence, powers, or operation) apart from God. The Hypostatic Union puts the human nature of Christ into a dependent, subordinate instrumental role of the Person of God the Son.
    (See the Third Council of Constantinople which explicitly decrees, in its refutation and condemnation of Monothelitism, that the human nature and will of Christ are subordinate and instrumental to the Person of God the Son. After all, Pope Agatho and the Council Fathers were trained in “Proto” Scholastic philosophy and they knew that a human nature cannot act on its own efficient causal power apart from the efficient agency of personhood. It is the person who acts. Human actions are always the actions of a person. As a side note, one of the Decrees of the Council declares explicitly that “Peter has spoken through Agatho” — just as the Fathers of Chalcedon declare, “Peter has spoken through Leo.” This just illustrates that dogmatic Imputation theorists never take the Church Councils in their full context — e.g., their underlying ontology and ecclesiology.)
    (iii) To insist that Christ’s human nature could operate its powers, including its will, apart from the Efficient Agency of the Divine Person is a form of Extreme Nestorianism. It also shows a dismal failure to understand the decrees, and the philosophy behind the decrees, of the Councils of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Second and Third Constantinople.)
    (iv) So, for orthodox Christianity (in contradistinction to the imputation theory), the human nature of Christ cannot exist or be receptive or active anywhere including, for the sake of argument, in hell — apart from God the Son, who is the sole Personal Agent and Owner of these aspects of His human nature.
    (v) Thus, Christ’s human nature cannot go to hell apart from God the Son.
    (vi) But imputation theorists might argue that Christ’s human nature did go hell and it had full efficient causal agency sufficient, in and of itself, to be responsive and active in hell totally apart from, and stripped of, its own Divine Person.
    (vii) The above notion logically entails two heresies.
    First, given that all human action comes from the agency of human personhood, it follows with necessity that the claim that there was full efficient causal agency in Christ’s human nature autonomously from — apart from — His Divine Personhood ontologically entails the proposition that Christ’s human nature has its own unique, individuated, and and distinct human personhood apart from His Divine Personhood. Hence, on this thesis, there would be actually, or at minimum, virtually, two persons in Christ. This is clearly Nestorianism.
    Second, given that Christ is intrinsically, inherently Divine, as the God-man (not just man), the claim that Christ’s human nature could have full agency in hell autonomous from — apart from — Divine Personhood, would logically entail the claim that Christ is not Divine — or at minimum that his human nature is NOT in hypostatic union with God — in particular with God the Son. This is clearly Arianism.
    (viii) Therefore, which ever version of the imputation theory is used, the theory entails heresies, and is therefore anti-Christian.
    (7) Therefore, whether the imputation theory is interpreted according to version (4)(a) or version (4)(b), the theory has been clearly shown to be logically absurd, heretical, and, because of this, blasphemous.
    (8) Final Conclusion. Therefore, the imputation theory is anti-Christian. Thus, it cannot be held to consistently by orthodox Christians. Thus, it should not be held to by any orthodox Christian.

    The orthodox view sees Christ’s willful Love-Based Sacrifice as an infinitely valuable sin-offering or propitiation (as the Lamb of God) which efficaciously accomplished what it was designed to accomplish. Namely, Christ’s Loving Propitiatory Sacrifice to the Father totally satisfied whatever justice-based demands the Father may have had. Being totally Satisfied, the Father did “need” to take out any wrathful damnation on anyone — especially His Dearly Beloved Christ. The Satisfied Father was “free” to Love Christ and sinners without “needing” to show any hatred, wrath or damnation to Christ at any point. Instead, the Father eternally and totally Loved His Christ before, during and after the Loving Sacrifice of Christ, His Son. The Loving Sacrifice of Christ met with Love and Satisfaction from the Father — not hatred, wrath, or damnation. In Christ’s Loving Sacrifice, it is truly the case that “Love meets with Love.” Thus, the imputation theory which demands that the Father wrathfully damn Christ to hell — in any version the imputation theorist wants — is logically absurd, heretical and blasphemous — as the argument above proves definitively and for all time.

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