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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Should Christians Keep The Sabbath? - A Refutation of Seventh Day Adventism and the Hebrew Roots Movement

YOUTUBE VIDEO: Seventh Day Adventism Theology Debunked

This video in book form HERE.
This film is a detailed study of the bible about the concept of the Sabbath.
As the Sabbath cannot be full understood without a good understanding of the scriptures this film is also a study on the different covenants in the Bible, such as the Abrahamic and the Mosaic. This is a study for every Christian, not just people concerned about the Sabbath, as it is the story of the Gospel. I hope it will help you understand the plan of God more and praise Him for His goodness to us. made by:

Friday, August 29, 2014


There is a movement gaining ground today that goes against the very principles of the Protestant reformation. That movement is the ecumenical movement, spearheaded by the Roman Catholic Church. The word "Ecumenism" comes from the Greek (oikoumene) which means "the whole inhabited world", and was historically used with specific reference to the Roman Empire. And it is the Roman PAPAL Empire that is leading the way with ecumenism today.

"Pope prays for the 'one human family' desired by Christ ... Marking the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Jan. 16th 2011, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the "migration experience" of the Church and hoped for a future where all people consider themselves part of "one human family". (Catholic News Agency, January 16th 2011)

"Pope Francis urged members of all religions and those belonging to no church to unite to defend justice, peace and the environment ... Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, met leaders of non-Catholic Christian religions such as Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists, and others including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus." (Vatican City, March 20th 2013)

Do you see what Satan is trying to do through the Roman Catholic Church and this interfaith movement? Since when did Christ Jesus "desire" the whole world to unite, no matter what they believed? God clearly told His people to "come out from among them and be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17). God also confirmed that "two people CANNOT walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3). And yet the Pope and the leaders of this ecumenical movement are uniting the people of the world, no matter what faith or beliefs they have. This is the "wine" of the whore of Babylon.

The two visible "councils" that are involved in pushing the inter-faith, ecnumenical movement are the "World Council of Churches" and the "National Council of Churches". Together with the Roman Catholic Church, these church councils are bringing more and more denominations on board with this movement.

The Divine purpose of the Protestant reformation was to bring "reform" to the erroneous doctrines of the Papal Church. But because the Roman Catholic Church has become so established and proud, her leaders will never admit being in error when it comes to doctrine. Those who separated from her during the reformation were regarded as "trouble makers" and "heretics" and they were persecuted for not uniting with Rome under her "authority". This same spirit lives on today.

"Come out of her My People" (Rev. 18)

God is calling His people out of the Roman Catholic Church and out of this ecumenical movement. In Revelation 17 it says that Babylon the Great has "daughters". And those daughters are the Protestant churches that were "born" from the Roman Catholic Church during the reformation. And Revelation 17 says that those daughters are "harlots". Which means they profess to be God's people, but they are playing the whore and have turned away from God and His true Word.

Do you know what happened back in the time of Christ Jesus before He was crucified? Do you realise that there were different "denominations", in other words, different "groups" of Jews? Do you know what happened before Jesus was crucified? They CAME TOGETHER. They had their own "ecumenical" movement in order to kill Jesus. And who did they use to kill Jesus? They used the GOVERNMENT. And the same will happen in this world soon. Once God's people have been called out of Babylon (Rev. 18), the people of these fallen churches and faiths will unite and call for the government to do away with God's true followers. Those who "keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus." (Rev. 14:12).

The Protestant reformation was used by God to bring people to His Word, so that they could know the truth. But today, those very churches are turning away from the truth of God's Word and are uniting again with Rome and heading down the road to apostasy. Now to many sincere Christians, this unity between faiths and denominations may seem a valid and right thing. But they do not see the end result. They do not see that they will end up rejecting the TRUTH OF GOD's WORD in favor of worldly unity. They do not see that they will end up giving their allegiance to the beast of Revelation and end up taking the mark of the beast. This is a serious matter. We must stand for the truth no matter what.

Please heed God's call. He is not calling you to join with Babylon. He is calling you OUT!

"Cursed be that love and unity for whose sake the Word of God must be put to stake!" (Martin Luther)

"Unity must be according to God's Holy Word, or else it were better war than peace. We ought never to regard unity so much that we forsake God's Word for her sake." (Hugh Latimer)

Extracted from, Ecumenism Today - The Ecumenical Movement - PLS CLICK HERE to read the whole article.

The Ecumenical Farce Exposed!

To beatify a man who also condemned the idea that non-Roman-Catholics should be free to practise their religion, and who rejected any notion of papal reconciliation with ''progress, liberalism and modern society'', has once again exposed the unmistakable face behind the Vatican masquerade. 
Professor Arthur Noble

O that the free would stamp the impious name
Of Pope into the dust! Or write it there,
So that this blot upon the page of fame
Were as a serpent's path, which the light air
Erases, and the flat sands close behind! 
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

The great English statesman W.E. Gladstone (1809-1898), who was four times British Prime Minister in the 19th century, once issued a solemn warning about the Church of Rome which the blind and brainless dupes travelling on the ecumenical bandwagon have still not understood: "Rome," said Gladstone, "has refurbished, and paraded anew, every rusty tool that she was fondly thought to have disused."

The beatification of the anti-Semite Pope Pius IX is one such example of the changelessness of the old hag who masquerades behind the external show of modernism. The controversy over Pius IX follows the uproar over the beatification of his namesake, Pius XII, the notorious "Hitler's Pope", and has provoked worldwide fury.

The pontificate of Pius IX (1846-78) was the longest in history and included the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the First Vatican Council's (1869-1870) doctrine of papal infallibility. The Irish Sunday Observer (September 3, 2000) summed up his essence well in the headline "A Pope who kidnaps children and calls Jews dogs is no Saint".

The reference was to the fact that in 1849 Pius IX, by his real name Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, sanctioned the kidnapping and forced baptism of a six-year-old Jewish boy who was taken from his parents in 1858 – an act reminiscent of the 1993 actions of the Vatican-inspired UNADFI in France, which organised a conspiracy to destroy the non-ecumenical Protestant Christian Churches in that country, labelling them 'sects' as an excuse to kidnap the children of their members. Rome's Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff told the Italian Repubblica newspaper: "Kidnapping a child, bringing him to a convent, making him a priest, taking him away from his parents – this is stuff right out of the penal code."

Pius IX also became notorious for introducing race laws which have been described by Jewish historians as the forerunners of those of Hitler and Mussolini; they forced Jews back into the old ghettos where they had been confined for hundreds of years, banned them from public hospitals, and excluded them from attending secondary schools. Many European heads of state protested the 1858 kidnapping, and as a result Pius blamed Rome's Jews for what he claimed was a widespread Protestant conspiracy to defeat the papacy, and levied medieval restrictions on the community.

Jewish assessments of the racist Pius IX have also been confirmed by many non-Jewish historians, including Professor Owen Chadwick, a leading English church scholar who says that the record of Pius IX "verges on the criminal". The fascist-style actions of the self-professing 'Vicar of Christ on Earth' provoked an international outcry at the time. Predictably, however, the Vatican was adamant that the ceremony should proceed and thus demonstrated its unchanging principle that imaginary self-imputed 'infallibility' extends to the justification of blatant racism and shameless criminality.

Significantly, ultimate responsibility for the beatification of this racist thug reverts to the present Pope John Paul II himself, who in the early 1940's was employed as a salesman by the I.G. Farben Chemical Company in Poland. This company sold cyanide, Zyklon B and malathion – three gases which were used by the Nazis to exterminate millions of Jews and other groups. [See Milton William Cooper: Secret Societies. The New World Order. Part 3.]

The Late Bishop Tony Palmer, before he died from a motorcycle accident with Pope Francis I

Having ostensibly made reconciliation with the Jews a hallmark of his own pontificate, Pope John Paul II has revealed the true face behind the mask of the Roman Church's so-called ecumenism: with the arrogant and unchanging stubbornness of his anti-Semitic predecessor, he has ignored an international campaign to reverse the beatification decision and embellished the crimes of Pius IX as "heroic values". To beatify a man who also condemned the idea that non-Roman-Catholics should be free to practise their religion, and who rejected any notion of papal reconciliation with ''progress, liberalism and modern society'', has once again exposed the unmistakable face behind the Vatican masquerade.


Thursday, August 28, 2014


Many people are deceived and being deceived and lured into a Christless religion by many false Church Leaders, Priests, Pastors, Elders, ETC. People are taught that they should JOIN AND BECOME A MEMBER OF THEIR RELIGION to be SAVED and that their Religion is the true CHURCH whereby you must join to be come righteous and holy... Is this really what the BIBLE is teaching?....
Well, In my country who is a country of many tongues and beliefs and religion... a country named after a Spanish and Portugese King who is called by many as champion of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. For centuries their minds had been conditioned and their hearts had been taught that it is through RELIGION that MAN CAN BE SAVED and NOT THROUGH CHRIST ALONE. A CULTURE KNOWN AS FILIPINO CULTURE... known all over the world as corrupt yet religious. 


Specifically how Jesus hates religion.
The video—which in a few days has gone from hundreds of views to thousands to millions—shows Jefferson Bethke, who lives in the Seattle area, delivering a well-crafted, sharply produced, spoken word poem. The point, according to Bethke, is “to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion.” In the past few days I’ve seen this video pop up all over Facebook. I’ve had people from my church say they like it. Some has asked me what I think. Others have told me there’s something off about the poem, but they can’t quite articulate what it is. I’ll try to explain what that is in a moment. But first watch the video for yourself.

Youtube Vid: Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus 

Before I say anything else, let me say Jefferson Bethke seems like a sincere young man who wants people to know God’s scandalous grace. I’m sure he’s telling the truth when he says on his Facebook page: “I love Jesus, I’m addicted to grace, and I’m just a messed up dude trying to make Him famous.” If I met him face to face, I bet I’d like Jefferson and his honesty and passion. I bet I’d be encouraged by his story and his desire to free people from the snares of self-help, self-righteous religion.
And yet (you knew it was coming), amidst a lot of true things in this poem there is a lot that is unhelpful and misleading.
This video is the sort of thing that many younger Christians love. It sounds good, looks good, and feels good. But is it true? That’s the question we must always ask. And to answer that question, I want to go through this poem slowly, verse by verse. Not because I think this is the worst thing ever. It’s certainly not. Nor because I think this video will launch a worldwide revolution. I want to spend some time on this because Bethke perfectly captures the mood, and in my mind the confusion, of a lot of earnest, young Christians.
Verse 1
What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion
What if I told you voting republican really wasn’t his mission
What if I told you republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian
And just because you call some people blind
Doesn’t automatically give you vision
Okay, so the line about Republicans is a cheap shot (if you vote GOP) or a prophetic stance (if you like Jim Wallis). While it’s true that “republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian” and in some parts of the country that may be a word churchgoers need to hear, I doubt that putting right-wingers in their place is the most pressing issue in Seattle.
More important is Bethke’s opening line: “Jesus came to abolish religion.” That’s the whole point of the poem. The argument—and most poems are arguing for something—rests on the sharp distinction between religion on one side and Jesus on the other. Whether this argument is fair depends on your definition of religion. Bethke sees religion as a man made attempt to earn God’s favor. Religion equals self-righteousness, moral preening, and hypocrisy. Religion is all law and no gospel. If that’s religion, then Jesus is certainly against it.
But that’s not what religion is. We can say that’s what is has become for some people or what weunderstand it to be. But words still matter and we shouldn’t just define them however we want. “Jesus hates religion” communicates something that “Jesus hates self-righteousness” doesn’t. To say that Jesus hates pride and hypocrisy is old news. To say he hates religion—now, that has a kick to it. People hear “religion” and think of rules, rituals, dogma, pastors, priests, institutions. People love Oprah and the Shack and “spiritual, not religious” bumper stickers because the mood of our country is one that wants God without the strictures that come with traditional Christianity. We love the Jesus that hates religion.
The only problem is, he didn’t. Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He founded the church (Matt. 16:18). He established church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28). He told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-188:24). If religion is characterized by doctrine, commands, rituals, and structure, then Jesus is not your go-to guy for hating religion. This was the central point behind the book Ted Kluck and I wrote a few years ago.
The word “religion” occurs five times in English Standard Version of the Bible. It is, by itself, an entirely neutral word. Religion can refer to Judaism (Acts 26:5) or the Jewish-Christian faith (Acts 25:19). Religion can be bad when it is self-made (Col. 2:23) or fails to tame the tongue (James 1:26). But religion can also be good when it cares for widows and orphans and practices moral purity (James 1:27). Unless we define the word to suit our purposes, there is simply no biblical grounds for saying Jesus hated religion. What might be gained by using such language will, without a careful explanation and caveats, be outweighed by what is lost when we give the impression that religion is the alloy that corrupts a relationship with Jesus.
Verse 2
I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars
Why does it build huge churches, but fails to feed the poor
Tells single moms God doesn’t love them if they’ve ever had a divorce
But in the old testament God actually calls religious people whores
These claims say very little because they try to say too much. Have there been religious wars in the last two thousand years? Yes. Have there also been wars over money, land, ego, women, slavery, democracy, freedom, communism, fascism, Nazism, terrorism and just about everything else you can imagine? Yes. Furthermore, if you want to blame conflict on religion, you can’t neatly excise Jesus from the equation. You may not like the Crusades, but many of the Crusaders thought they were sincerely fighting for Jesus by trying take back the Holy Land from the Muslims.
More to the point, Christians need to stop perpetuating the myth that we’ve basically been huge failures in the world. That may win us an audience with non-Christians, but it’s not true. We are sinners like everyone else, so our record is mixed. We’ve been stupid and selfish over the years. But we’ve also been the salt of the earth. The evangelical awakening in England in the eighteenth century is widely credited for preventing the sort of bloodbath that swept over France in the “enlightened” French Revolution. Christians (and conservatives in general) give more to charitable causes than their secular counterparts. Christians run countless shelters, pregnancy centers, rescue missions, and food pantries. Christians operate orphanages, staff clinics, dig wells, raise crops, teach children, and fight AIDS around the globe. While we can always do more and may be blind to the needs around us at times, there is no group of people on the planet that do more for the poor than Christians. If you know of a church with a dozen escalators and no money and no heart for the hurting, then blast that church. But we have to stop the self-flagellation and the slander that says Christians do nothing for the poor.
As for divorce, it is often (but not always) wrong. Even when it is wrong, there is forgiveness when people repent. Shame on any church that doesn’t think or demonstrate that there is room at the cross for unwed or divorced moms.
And about the harsh language in the Old Testament—it cuts both ways. All people in the Old Testament, and in the entire ancient near east for that matter, were religious people. Some of them were fakes and hypocrites and whores. Some were idolaters and adulterers. Some performed their rituals and went on to ignore the weightier matters of the law. And some of the religious people were God’s remnant, God’s holy people, and God’s friends. In both Testaments, God has no problem rebuking religious people and no problem loving them either.
Verse 3
Religion might preach grace, but another thing they practice
Tend to ridicule God’s people, they did it to John The Baptist
They can’t fix their problems, and so they just mask it
Not realizing religions like spraying perfume on a casket
See the problem with religion, is it never gets to the core
It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores
Like lets dress up the outside make look nice and neat
But it’s funny that’s what they use to do to mummies
While the corpse rots underneath
I’ve already said that I don’t think “religion” is the right term for what Bethke is talking about. But he has done a great job here of describing false religion. Jesus blasted the Pharisees for being “whitewashed tombs,” for looking beautiful on the outside and full of dead people’s bones on the inside, for appearing righteous but being full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matt. 23:27-28). It is possible for churches and churchgoers to have the reputation for being alive, but actually be dead (Rev. 3:1). Some churches claim to love grace, but all they give you is legalism. Bethke is hitting on a real problem.
Verse 4
Now I ain’t judgin, I’m just saying quit putting on a fake look
Cause there’s a problem
If people only know you’re a Christian by your Facebook
I mean in every other aspect of life, you know that logic’s unworthy
It’s like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey
You see this was me too, but no one seemed to be on to me
Acting like a church kid, while addicted to pornography
See on Sunday I’d go to church, but Saturday getting faded
Acting if I was simply created just to have sex and get wasted
See I spent my whole life building this facade of neatness
But now that I know Jesus, I boast in my weakness
I wish Bethke, and critics like him, would admit that they are “judgin.” He is evaluating Christianity. He is criticizing church as he sees it. The whole poem is a harsh judgment on religious people. Granted, judging is not the same as judgmentalism. After all, I’m judging this poem. So I don’t think what Bethke is doing is wrong. I just wish he wouldn’t try to claim the moral high ground.
Other than that, this is another good verse. Bethke tells his own story to prove that we can be real good at fooling everyone, including ourselves. We need to realize that there are plenty of people in many of our churches who seem to have it all together but don’t. They are kidding themselves and we should not encourage such self-deception.
Verse 5
Because if grace is water, then the church should be an ocean
It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken
Which means I don’t have to hide my failure, I don’t have to hide my sin
Because it doesn’t depend on me it depends on him
See because when I was God’s enemy and certainly not a fan
He looked down and said I want, that, man
Which is why Jesus hated religion, and for it he called them fools
Don’t you see so much better than just following some rules
Now let me clarify, I love the church, I love the Bible, and yes I believe in sin
But if Jesus came to your church would they actually let him in
See remember he was called a glutton, and a drunkard by religious men
But the Son of God never supports self righteousness not now, not then
There is much that is good and a few things that are confused in this verse. The church should be an ocean of grace. We don’t have to hide our sins before God. It doesn’t depend on us. We should love the church and the Bible and believe that sin exists. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus never supported self-righteousness. All of that is wonderfully and powerfully true.
But let me raise a few other points.
One, we have to remember that the purpose of a hospital is to help sick people get better. I’m sure Bethke would agree with that. But there is no indication in this poem that the grace that forgives is also the grace that transforms. Following Jesus is more than keeping rules, but it’s not less. In one sense, loving Jesus is also all about keeping rules (John 14:152123-24). I’m not sure how the Jesus of John 14 fits in the world of Bethke’s poem.
Two, there is no inherent dignity in being broken. Jesus likes the honesty that acknowledges sin, hates it and turns away, but he does not love authenticity for its own sake. We have to be more careful with our language. When Paul boasted of his weakness, he was boasting of his suffering, his lack of impressiveness, and the trials he endured (1 Cor. 2:32 Cor. 11:3012:9). He never boasted of his temptations or his sins—past or present. That’s not what he meant by weakness. Being broken is not the point, except to be forgiven and changed.
Three, as I’ve mentioned before, the religious leaders hated Jesus, first and foremost because they thought he was a blasphemer who dared to make himself equal with God (Matt. 26:57-68;Mark 14:53-65Luke 22:66-71; and less clearly in John 18:19-24). It’s true that many of the religious elite found Jesus too free with his meals and his associations. They called him a “glutton and drunkard” (Luke 7:34), though he wasn’t either. But they also said John the Baptist “has a demon” (Luke 7:33). They were just as opposed to John’s asceticism as they were upset with Jesus’ liberty. More than hating grace, the Jewish leaders hated the truth about Christ and found ways to reject God’s messengers.
Verse 6
Now back to the point, one thing is vital to mention
How Jesus and religion are on opposite spectrums
See one’s the work of God, but one’s a man made invention
See one is the cure, but the other’s the infection
See because religion says do, Jesus says done
Religion says slave, Jesus says son
Religion puts you in bondage, while Jesus sets you free
Religion makes you blind, but Jesus makes you see
And that’s why religion and Jesus are two different clans
I won’t repeat my initial comments about religion and Jesus and whether they are really “on opposite spectrums.” I don’t think they are. That point notwithstanding, Bethke speaks the truth in this section. The differences between slavery and sonship, bondage and freedom, blindness and sight are all biblical themes.
I think the line about “religion says do, Jesus says done” can be misleading. Too many people hear that as “relationship not rules” when we’ve already seen that Jesus wants us to do everything he has commanded (Matt. 28:20). But if “do” means “do this to earn my favor” then the contrast is very appropriate.
Verse 7
Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God searching for man
Which is why salvation is freely mine, and forgiveness is my own
Not based on my merits but Jesus’s obedience alone
Because he took the crown of thorns, and the blood dripped down his face
He took what we all deserved, I guess that’s why you call it grace
And while being murdered he yelled
“Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
Because when he was dangling on that cross, he was thinking of you
And he absorbed all of your sin, and buried it in the tomb
Which is why I’m kneeling at the cross, saying come on there’s room
So for religion, no I hate it, in fact I literally resent it
Because when Jesus said it is finished, I believe he meant it
There is a lot to like with this final section. Great affirmation of Jesus active obedience. Great focus on the cross. Great invitation for sinners to come to Christ. I think Bethke understands justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. I would have liked to have heard something about the wrath of God being poured out on the cross as opposed to simply “absorb[ing] all of your sin.” But given Bethke’s previous video criticizing Love Wins, it’s best to give him the benefit of the doubt. Similarly, I’m not sure it’s best to so emphasize that Jesus was thinking of us on the cross. The “joy set before” him in Hebrews 12:2 was the joy of being seated at God’s right hand, not the joy of being with us as Bethke advocates in another video. But these are smaller points that do not negate the strong message of grace and forgiveness.
I know I’ve typed a bunch of words about a You Tube video that no one may be talking about in a month. But, as I said at the beginning, there is so much helpful in this poem mixed with so much unhelpful—and all of it so common—that I felt it worth the effort to examine the theology in detail.
The strengths in this poem are the strengths I see in many young Christians—a passionate faith, a focus on Jesus, a love for grace, and a hatred for anything phony or self-righteous. The weaknesses here can be the weaknesses of my generation (and younger)—not enough talk of repentance and sanctification, a tendency to underestimate the importance of obedience in the Christian life, a one-dimensional view of grace, little awareness that our heavenly Father might ever discipline his children or be grieved by their continued transgression, and a penchant for sloganeering instead of careful nuance.
I know the internet is a big place, but a lot of people are connected to a lot of other people. So who knows, maybe Jefferson Bethke will read this blog. If you do, brother, I want you to know I love what you love in this poem. I watched you give your testimony and give thanks to God for his work in your life. I love the humble desire to be honest about your failings and point people to Christ. I love that you love the church and the Bible. I love that you want people to really get the gospel. You have important things to say and millions of people are listening. So make sure as a teacher you are extra careful and precise (James 3:1). If you haven’t received formal theological training, I encourage you to do so. Your ministry will be made stronger and richer and longer lasting. I encourage you to speak from the Bible before you speak from your own experience. I encourage you to love what Jesus loves without tearing down what he also loves and people are apt to misunderstand. I encourage you to dig deep into the whole counsel of God.
Thanks for reminding us about Jesus. But try to be more careful when talking about religion. After all, there is one religion whose aim is to worship, serve, know, proclaim, believe, obey, and organize around this Jesus. And without all those verbs, there’s not much Jesus left. ( SOURCE: )
The pope of Rome is Antichrist 
(Daniel 7:7-27,2Thessalonians 2:1-12,2Peter 2:1-22,1John 2:18-25, Revelation 13:1-9) and Rome 'Mystery Babylon the Great the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth' (Revelation 17:1-18).I urge every true Christian to come out of her.(Revelation 18:1-8) KJV Bible

During the Reformation this is what most Preachers taught regarding Antichrist
1522 Martin Luther,1536 Jean Calvin,1543 Phillip Melanchthon,1545 Andreas Osiander,1554 Nicolaus von Amsdorf,1558 Johann Funck,1560 Virgil Solis,1570 Georg Nigrinus,1572 David Chytraeus,1530 Johann Oecolampadius,1557 Heinrich Bullinger,1550 William Tyndale,1545 George Joye,1554 Nicholas Ridley,1553 Hugh Latimer,1582 Thomas Cranmer,1550 John Bale,1562 John Jewel,1587 John Foxe,1547 John Knox,1593 John Napier,1614 Thomas Brightman,1618 David Pareus :
-Antichrist,Man of Sin - Pope of Rome
-Book of Revelation Chapter 17 Harlot,Babylon - Roman Catholic Church
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Little Horn -- Papacy

After the Reformation this is what most Preachers taught regarding Antichrist
1798 Richard Valpy,1798 Joseph Galloway,1798 Edward King,1797 David Simpson,1796 Christian Thube,1795 George Bell,1794 Joseph Priestly,1793 James Bicheno,1768 Johann Ph. Petri,1764 John Wesley,1758 John Gill,1754 Thomas Newton,1745 John Willison,1740 Johann Al. Bengel,1735 Thomas Pyle,1729 Th. Crinsox de Bionens,1727 Sir Isaac Newton,1720 Charles Daubux,1712 Heinrich Horch,1706 William Whiston,1703 Daniel Whitby,1701 Robert Fleming, Jr.,1701 Johannes Cocceius,1700 William Lowth
-Antichrist,Man of Sin - Pope of Rome
-Book of Revelation Chapter 17 Harlot,Babylon - Roman Catholic Church
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Little Horn - Papacy
-Book of Revelation Chapter 13 Beast from the sea - Rome,Empire

Before the Reformation, this is what most Preachers taught regarding Antichrist
c. 1310 Dante Alighieri,c. 1331 Michael of Cesena,c. 1350 Francesco Petrarch,
c. 1367 John Milicz,c. 1379 John Wycliffe,c. 1390 John Purvey,c. 1412 John Huss,
c. 1497 Girolamo Savonarola
Book of Revelation 17 Harlot - Roman Church
Antichrist - Pope of Rome
Man of Sin , Abomination of Desolation -- Papacy

After the Reformation,this is what most Preachers taught regarding Antichrist
1689 Drue Cressener,1687 Pierre Jurieu,1685 Jacques Philippot,1684 Thomas Beverley,1681 Johann Alsted,1670 William Sherwin,1664 Henry More,1655 John Tillinghast,1654 Thomas Goodwin,1643 Johannes Gerhard,1631 Joseph Mede,1618 Daniel Cramer,1618 Matthias Hoe,1612 Andreas Helwig,1603 George Downame,1600 James I of England
-Antichrist,Man of Sin - Pope of Rome
-Book of Revelation Chapter 17 Harlot,Babylon - Roman Catholic Church
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Little Horn - Papacy
-Book of Revelation Chapter 13 Beast from the sea -- Rome

Biblical Expositors of the Post-Reformation Era-America:
1639 John Cotton,1644 Roger Williams,1644 Ephraim Huit,1646 Thomas Parker,1653 John Davenport,1658 Edward Holyoke,1669 Increase Mather,1698 Nicholas Noyes,1702 Cotton Mather,1724 William Burnet,1739 Jonathan Edwards,1757? Ezekiel Cheever,1757 Aaron Burr, Sr.,1767 Isaac Backus,1774 Samuel Langdon,1788 Benjamin Gale,1793 Samuel Hopkins,1794 Samuel Osgood,1794 William Linn
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Little Horn - Papacy
-Book of Revelation Chapter 13 Beast from the sea - Rome
-Antichrist,Man of Sin - Pope of Rome

Biblical Expositors of the Early Medieval Period
d. 430 Augustine of Hippo,6th century Andreas of Caesarea,d.735 Bede,12th century Waldensians,d.1105 Rashi,d.1164 Abraham ibn Ezra,c. 1178 Petrus Comestor
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Four Beasts - 1Babylon,2Persia,3Greece,4Rome
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Little Horn -- Antichrist

Biblical Expositors of the Early Church Period
c. 100 Josephus,c. 90 Yochanan ben Zakai,c. 61 Barnabas,c. 165 Justin Martyr,c. 202 Irenaeus,c. 236 Hippolytus of Rome,c. 240 Tertullian,c. 254 Origen,c.304 Victorinus of Pettau,c. 320 Lactantius,c. 339 Eusebius of Caesarea,373 Athanasius of Alexandria,c. 376 Cyril of Alexandria,c.? 407 John Chrysostom,c. 420 Jerome,449 Isidore of Pelusium,457 Theodoret of Cyrus
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Little Horn - Antichrist
-Book of Daniel Chapter 7 the Four Beasts - 1Babylon,2Persia,3Greece,4Rome



Maarten Wisse

1. Introduction

Twentieth-century interest in federal theology in general and in Cocceius’ theology in particular was primarily motivated by the intention to compensate for the post-Reformation Reformed interest in the doctrine of predestination by the notion of the covenant. The alleged role of predestination as the “Zentraldogma” gave so-called “Reformed orthodoxy” the image of a harsh, rationalist, fatalistic system.1 In this context, a strand of Reformed theology in which the loving fellowship between God and believers played a crucial role was more than welcome, fitting as it was into the typically twentieth-century interest in thinking God as love.2 Thus, twentieth-century research on Cocceius interpreted his theology as biblical rather than scholastic, historical rather than rationalist, experiential rather than abstract.3 Willem J. van Asselt is the present day expert on Cocceius.4 He always resisted the oversimplified appropriations of Cocceius’ thought, arguing that it is an anachronistic misreading of Cocceius’ work if one contrasts it too much with the mainstream Reformed scholasticism of his contemporaries.5

          Still, van Asselt shares much of the twentieth-century worries about the particularist aspects of Reformed theology. Two anecdotes may be invoked to illustrate this. Once, I heard van Asselt reinterpret the traditional Dutch Reformed opening (votum) of a Church service. He paraphrased “Who will never abandon the works of his own hands,”6 as “Who will never abandon the work he has begun in each of us.” What if his great seventeenth-century hero Johannes Cocceius had heard him, who, as we will see, argues against this “heresy” to much length in the Summa doctrinae! Also, when I was a student and expressed my worries about the consequences of predestination thought to van Asselt, he always replied with a quote from one of his teachers, the Dutch systematic theologian Arnold van Ruler: “The gospel skims across the border of universalism.”7 Although van Asselt has been eager to criticize a number of Karl Barth’s readings of the Reformed scholastics, when confronted with the riddle of predestination, he often expressed his sympathy with Barth’s universalisation of Reformed soteriology. Given the combination of van Asselt’s expertise on Cocceius on the one hand, and his appreciation for a Barthian solution to the problem of predestination on the other, it seems appropriate to me to devote my contribution to this Festschrift to the question of the relationship between predestination and covenant theology in Cocceius and Barth. On the one hand, my contribution presupposes and builds on van Asselt’s Cocceius scholarship, his translation of Cocceius’ Summa doctrinae and the two monographs. On the other hand, it poses a friendly critique of van Asselt’s sympathy with a Barthian universalisation of Reformed soteriology. Before I turn to Cocceius, I introduce the twentieth-century objections to Cocceius’ theology in a bit more detail by outlining Karl Barth’s critique of federal theology. After having introduced the reception of Cocceius in Barth, I will follow the main steps of the development of the doctrine of the covenant in Cocceius’ Summa doctrinae (SD below),8 and confront Cocceius’ view of the relation between covenant and predestination with Barth’s universalisation of election.

        To issue a warning beforehand, I do not intend to develop a full-scale theological defense of the traditional Reformed doctrine of predestination. Until recently, I myself accepted most of the common worries concerning a theology of predestination. The present essay is the result of a reassessment of these worries. These worries have not gone, but I have now got an eye for some distinctive aspects of a traditional Reformed soteriology that I had not noticed before. Thus, this contribution is intended to challenge the now commonplace Barthian view of election as obviously theologically superior to everything that the Reformed fathers had to offer.9 Instead, I aim to show that the theological presuppositions and implications of Barth’s view precluded him from taking some crucial soteriological notions properly into account in the way the Reformed fathers like Cocceius were able to do. At the same time, by way of a historical argument, my contribution confirms van Asselt’s portrait of Cocceius as an “ordinary orthodox Reformed theologian ” rather than a “precursor of the Enlightenment” or “corrector of Reformed predestinarianism,” as traditional scholarship had it. In fact, I hope to put forward some of the good reasons Cocceius thought to have to be as harsh a predestinarian thinker as his Reformed contemporaries, reasons that, to my conviction, have retained a good deal of their validity over against the allegedly superior innovations of post-Barthian twentieth-century theology.

2. Cocceius and the Barthian Tradition

        In one of the footnotes to his magnum opus, The Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius, van Asselt characterizes Barth’s occupation with Cocceius as follows:

In any case, Barth was occupied with Cocceius over the whole span of his life—Cocceius caused this twentieth-century church father many a sleepless night! Often visitors would find Barth reading Cocceius. Through his study of Cocceius the concept of the covenant became perpetually and permanently conspicuous for Barth.10

Barth had three of Cocceius’ works in his personal library.11 In addition, his attention was drawn to Cocceius through his reading of Schrenk’s book on federal theology.12 Barth’s evaluation of Cocceius’ doctrine of the abrogations depends almost entirely on Schrenk, given that he probably did not have access to Cocceius’ main work on this topic, the SD.13

In the Church Dogmatics, there is an extensive discussion of federal theology in general, and Cocceius in particular, at pages 61–70 of volume IV/1.14 In this excursus, Barth is very critical of federal theology as a whole. It will be helpful to quote Barth’s general criticism of federal theology at length, because it gives a good impression of the main issue at stake in Barth’s relationship to federal theology:

But the more embracing and central and exact this apprehension becomes in the main period of the Federal theology, the more insistently the ques-tion imposes itself from what standpoint this occurrence is really regarded and represented as such. What happens when the work, the Word of God, is first isolated and then reconnected, according to the teaching of pragmatic theology, with a whole series of events which are purposefully strung out but which belong together? Does this really correspond to the state of affairs as it is prescribed for theology in Scripture? Can we historicise the activity and revelation of God? . . . They saw excellently that the Bible tells us about an event. But they did not see that in all its forms this narrative has the character of testimony, proclamation, evangel, and that it has as its content and subject only a single event, which in every form of the attestation, although they all relate to a whole, is the single and complete decision on the part of God which as such calls for a single and complete decision on the part of man. . . . The Federal theologians did not notice that for all the exclusiveness with which they read the Scriptures, in this analysis and synthesis of the occurrence between God and man they were going beyond Scripture and missing its real content. . . . As becomes increasingly plain in the sketches of  the Federal theologians, the atonement accomplished in Jesus Christ ceases to be the history of the covenant, to which (in all the different forms of expectation and recollection) the whole Bible bears witness and in face of which theology must take up and maintain its standpoint, and it becomes a biblical history, a state in the greater context of world-history, before which, and after which, there are other similar stages.15

Most striking in this quotation is the overcritical attack on what Barth calls the “historicizing” of theology that federal theology develops. Even if Barth’s own theology is commonly presented as a Copernican revolution in thinking about the relationship between God and history, this quotation makes clear that the historicizing in Barth’s theology is of a very special kind, namely a historicizing in the sense of the identification of God with the human person Jesus Christ. If we had to believe  Barth, only a theology of the strictly Christological character that he favours can do justice to the richness and complexity of the biblical message! This is indeed the great divide between federal theology on the one hand, and Barth on the other. Barth holds that theologies must be based on and consist of only one thing: either Christ, as he claims his own theology does, or sinful human nature, as he claims all theologies accepting some form of natural theology do.16 As van Asselt has pointed out, it is one of the central tenets of federal theology to think in pairs, duplexities, as the English translator of his dissertation calls them.17
        In spite of the vigorous critique that Barth exercises in his excursus on federal theology, there is much more positive influence of Cocceius on Barth than Barth himself wants us to believe. In fact, throughout the volumes of the CD, Barth is increasingly using covenantal conceptuality to develop his theology. This starts in volume II/1, where Barth introduces the notion of the covenant (as Gemeinschaft) in his doctrine of God.18 According to Barth, God, by definition, is a God who chooses himself to be a God in relation with human beings. This notion of the covenant is then running through his doctrine of election and the divine commandments in volume II/2,19 and it plays a central role in the doctrine of creation in volume III. In volume IV, then, reconciliation takes the form of the restoration of the covenant.20
         In a way, Barth’s dogmatics can certainly be said to be a covenantal theology. It is even appropriate to speak of a radicalization of federal theology in Barth. Where Cocceius still sees the notion of the covenant between God and human beings as characteristic of God’s works, not of God’s being, at most metaphorically, this is different in Barth. Barth sees the covenant as the one single definitive act of God’s being in Jesus Christ. Exactly this is what accounts for the difference between Barth’s Christological monism—although the term is overly pejorative— and the duplex—not dualist as I hope to show—character of traditional federal thought. For Barth, God’s relationship with human beings is definitive of God’s being. In this sense, Barth holds that the covenant of God is always a two-sided covenant, as God decided to be never without a relationship to a human being—Jesus Christ. Still, Barth upholds the one-sided origin of the covenant through an emphasis on God’s free choice to be the way God is.
          Hence, the “twentieth-century church father” cannot but vigorously criticize a theology that speaks with two words rather than one. This is especially true of two duplexities that are characteristic of federal theology: first, the duplexity of the covenants of works and grace and, second, the duplexity of the pactum salutis and the foedus gratiae.
          As to the first duplexity, Barth’s conviction that God is God in Jesus Christ makes it impossible for him to account for some sort of relationship between God and human beings that is not a relationship mediated by grace in Jesus Christ. For Barth, the idea of there being such a relationship suggests that we as human beings have some sort of natural power to know God independently of God’s free decision to reveal himself to us. If such a relationship not mediated by Christ is then also the first, the original and the natural relationship between God and human beings, even more natural than that through which God decided to be the one decisive relationship with human beings, Barth can only see that as an attempt to create one’s own god out of one’s sinful mind.21 As to the second duplexity, the duplexity of the pactum salutis and the foedus gratiae, Barth’s conviction that God is by definition God in Jesus Christ makes it impossible for him to account for a level of decision in God that is different from God’s definitive decision to be God with us in Jesus Christ. For Barth, allowing for a pactum salutis will inevitably lead to a dualism in God.22

3. Cocceius on Pactum Salutis and Foedus Gratiae

The Covenant in General

In this essay, I will assess Barth’s twentieth-century critique of the second abovementioned duplexity that is central to Cocceius’ theology, the duplexity of the pactum salutis and the foedus gratiae. We start our analysis with Cocceius’ definition of a covenant in general: 

The covenant of God with a human being is different from the covenant that human beings have among each other. A covenant between human beings, namely, is based on mutual well doing, whereas God makes a covenant based on his welldoing only. The covenant of God is nothing but the divine declaration concerning the way of receiving the love of God, and of acquiring the union and communion with him. If a human being makes use of this way, he is in a relationship of friendship with God, or put differently: God is his creator and his God in a special way.23

One should notice that this is a definition of every covenant that God has with human beings, no more, no less. As Cocceius points out, it is not a definition of any covenant we can think of, because inter-human covenants are different, as in inter-human covenants, both partners formulate conditions and promises constitutive of the covenant. In a God-human covenant, God’s declaration alone is constitutive of the nature of the covenant.
          So far, Barth and Cocceius are still on par. For Barth, it is very important to stress that God is never dependent on the existence or actions of human beings. Human beings only exist in the covenant with God by virtue of God’s initiative in creation and revelation.
         For Cocceius, this is as much the case as for Barth, although it is significant that for Cocceius, this is still only the definition of the covenant in general. That is, although both concrete covenants (of works and of grace) between God and human beings are characterized by this definition, concrete covenants have some specific features that this definition does not contain. This is already hinting at the difference with Barth. In a sense, for Barth, the general definition is a sufficient description of what God is for us in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, God offers us a way in which we can enter into a relationship of love and friendship with God. Human beings are called to respond to this offer in faith and obedience. This offering of a way in which we can enter into a relationship of love and friendship with God is constituted by God’s act of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, in which God, acknowledging that we will and cannot live in this friendship with God, responded to this call in the ultimate way, suffering for us at the cross.24 As we will see, in Cocceius, the consequences of sin make it impossible to account for the specificity of the covenant of grace in terms of a mere offer of grace to which we are called to respond.
          Cocceius needs the distinction between a covenant in general and specific covenants for two reasons: First, concerning the covenant of works, Cocceius needs a specific covenant because the promise and the conditions of the covenant of works are essential to the nature of this covenant. Second, concerning the covenant of grace—more on that below—Cocceius needs a specific covenant because the abrogation of the covenant of works is of such a radical kind that a covenant in terms of an obligation to be fulfilled on the part of human beings does not suffice. After sin, human beings lack the ability to fulfil the obligations of a covenant that asks something of them, if it not also “gives what it asks”— Augustine.

The Covenant of Grace

The first concrete form that the covenant between God and human beings takes is the covenant of works, but we skip the covenant of works and its first abrogation in the fall for the moment. We will come back to it in due course, and proceed to Cocceius’ definition of the covenant of grace:

The covenant of grace is an agreement between God and a sinful human being, in which, [first], God declares his free benevolence to give justice and an inheritance to a certain seed in the Mediator through faith, to the glory of his grace, [second], God invites through a commandment of repentence and faith—or put differently: the repentence the beginning of which is faith in the Mediator—, and through a promise, to give justice to those who believe in him, [and third] the human being joins in the agreed matters through cordial faith, resulting in peace and friendship and the right to expect the inheritance with a good conscience.25

          The most important difference between the general definition of a covenant and the specific definition of the covenant of grace is the first part of the latter—the declaration. In the first part of the definition, there is no mention of a covenant between God and human beings, but of God’s unconditional decree to save certain people through the mediatory work of Jesus Christ: “God declares his free benevolence to give justice and the inheritance of the covenant to a certain seed, to the glorification of his grace.” Thus, in the definition, the decree is combined with the invitation and the human response to the invitation, without the relationship between the decree, the invitation, and the response being clarified.26

What is the background of this? The background is the first abrogation of the covenant of works mentioned in the previous chapter of Cocceius’ Summa Doctrinae: sin. According to the Reformed tradition that Cocceius is following here, the power of sin is such that it makes a natural human response to God’s invitation to the covenant of grace impossible. If the covenant of grace is a mere proclamation of the work of Christ for all humanity, leaving it to the responsibility of human beings to accept this message in faith or not, no human being would be saved, the Reformed fathers hold. Therefore, not a mere general proclamation of a common message is needed, but also the actual liberation from the bondage of sin. This, then, is the reason why the covenant of grace as an invitation to the love of God in Jesus Christ can only take effect if it is rooted in a testament. This testament is the declaration of a pact between the divine Persons of the Trinity that guarantees the actual salvation of certain people, whether these people accept it or not.27

Returning to Barth, this view of the implications of sin means that his charge of natural theology in Reformed orthodoxy is unjustified. Given that sin makes it impossible to know God without God’s actual intervention in the life of human beings, there is no room for a human attempt to reach God through the powers of one’s own autonomous existence, as Barth fears. Hence, there are other ways to avoid the dangers of an autonomous capturing of God than Barth’s option of formulating the whole of Christian doctrine in Christological terms. It may even turn out that the traditional Reformed distinction between pre-fallen and fallen humanity provides a better way of avoiding this trap than Barth’s Christological dogmatics. This, however, depends on the specific strand in Barth’s thought that one pursues. Following one line, there is ultimately only one true ontological state of human beings, that is the state of being in relation to God through Jesus Christ. Ultimately, human beings are what they are in Jesus Christ even if they do not know or ignore it. Faith is not a change of an ontological state. It is not a becoming of a new being in Christ. It is just realizing what we have been all the time! This implies the risk of “naturalizing grace” by accepting one’s relation to God in Christ as a standing condition. It is something we can count on, whether we reckon with it or not. Of course we need the revelation of God in Christ to know in what state we are, but whatever we do in that state, the result is the same. Barth, however, following another—I would say: opposing— strand of his thought, would deny the possibility of “ontologizing” the Christological foundation of his dogmatics. Being human in and through Jesus Christ is never something one can count on, as it is always a concrete gift of grace with a strict “here and now” character. Taking our relationship with God in Christ for granted, Barth would say, is precisely the proof of sin, as it takes us away from the dependence on God’s free gift of grace.

Traditional Reformed orthodoxy accounts for the dependency on grace in a different—I would say: more consistent—way. Here the ontological state of fallen humanity is really distinct from the state before the fall, and after the gift of grace. The gift of grace must be understood as the beginning of the gradual restoration of one’s true humanity to its pre-fallen state. In the state of the fall, the original image of God is not entirely lost, but access to salvation requires a true ontological change of what it means to be a human being.

The Pactum Salutis

Ontological change, however, is a delicate issue, as it is easily associated with coercion and determinism. It was not without reasons that twentieth-century theology dropped the notion. Reformed theology developed the duplexity of a “covenant from eternity,” the pactum salutis, in order to provide the covenant of grace with a completely secure foundation on the one hand, and maintain a sufficient degree of human freedom on the other. Let us see how Cocceius develops it and how he relates it to the covenant of grace.
         The first thing significant to note about chapter V, the chapter in which Cocceius extensively discusses the pactum salutis, is the title: “A Further Explanation of the Foregoing.”28 This title is significant, as it shows that Cocceius saw the pactum salutis not so much as a covenant distinct from the covenant of grace, but rather as the eternal foundation of the covenant of grace.29
         The internal coherence of the pactum salutis and the foedus gratiae is confirmed by the opening of chapter V of the SD, which is simply the continuation of the previous line of argument:

However, in this divine testament [as discussed in the previous chapter, MW], there is a pact that makes up its firmness. This pact, namely, is not a pact with a fallen human being, but with the Mediator. This pact is the will of the Father giving his Son to be a Head and Redemptor of the  foreknown people, and it is the will of the Son, setting himself up to take care of this salvation. This will has the nature of an agreement insofar as, in this ineffable economy of salvation, the Father is considered as the one who stipulates the obedience of the Son to death, and as a reward for his obedience, promises him a kingdom and a spiritual seed, and it is an agreement insofar as the Son is considered as the one who sets himself up to do the will of God, demanding the salvation of the people that were given to him out of the world or, more clearly stated, claim his rights from the other party.30

         Several aspects of this quotation are worth noticing. First, the issue of the strength (firmitas) of the testament. Why is the pactum salutis needed to safeguard the firmness of the testament, and more generally, of the covenant of grace? Should not God’s promise of salvation to all who believe be firm enough? As we will see in more detail below, not so for Cocceius. If the testament were only God’s promise of salvation to those who believe, there would be no guarantee that the testament would arrive at its destination at all. If the covenant were only an invitation on God’s side, the sinner’s case would be hopeless, as the sinner would be unable to fulfil the condition of access to the goods of the covenant. Therefore, the covenant of grace, if it is to be a real answer to the demand of human sinfulness, must include not only the invitation to the friendship of God, but also the fulfillment of the condition of faith. This is only possible if all conditions of the covenant of grace are met in the trinitarian God, in the trinitarian pact. Therefore, secondly, it is unavoidable that the covenant of grace as a whole, as regards its nature as a testament, remains restricted to the elect, those “given to the Son by the Father.”
         Finally, it is significant that Cocceius speaks of the “ineffable economy of grace.” The characterization of the pactum salutis as “ineffable ” qualifies all contractual speech between the divine Persons, as Cocceius explains in § 92:

Indeed, the will of the Father and the Son are the same, and not diverse, because they are one. Still, insofar as the Father is not the Son, nor the Son is the Father, this will is appropriated by each of both distinctly and according to their own mode, to the one as sending and giving, to the other as sent and given. Thus, this greatest mystery becomes known (which had to become known to confirm our faith concerning our salvation and to direct [this faith] to God), in what way we are justified and saved by God, in what way God is, who both judges and vouches for us, and is judged in that way, who absolves and intercedes, who sends and is being sent.31

        Cocceius’ insistence on the inexpressibility is significant vis-à-vis Barth’s critique of the pactum salutis as a sort of contract between two divine subjects, a view of the Trinity which is obviously incompatible with Barth’s view of the trinitarian persons as modes of being.32 While Barth refers to the Reformed tradition in support of his conception of the trinitarian persons,33 the possibility of a pact between the trinitarian persons in Cocceius makes clear how Barth’s conception differs from the tradition. Whereas Barth’s modes of being in God are three rationally conceived functions of a single subject, the traditional Reformed view still conceives of the relationship between the one being of God in three Persons as, well indeed: an ineffable relationship.34 In this ineffable relationship, indeed three more or less subject-like persons can be distinguished, who at the same time, however, form an inexpressible unity, both in themselves and in their works. 

        Obviously, Cocceius’ conviction that the covenant of grace must include a pact between the Father and the Son, has also significant ramifications for his view of the work of Christ. In § 104 the question is raised for whom Christ has become Sponsor: for the elect only. However, Cocceius is very careful with the use of predestination language. He is always keen on explaining the soteriological context in which the conclusion of limited atonement becomes unavoidable:

First of all, it is clear that, for whom he has vouched, for them he has also succeeded, he has been their merit, their sins have been put on him and they have been condemned in him, he has sacrificed himself for them and has prayed for them; in addition, it is clear that those for which he died, also died [in him]: that those are the same that have been justified and saved through him. These things, namely, are of the same effect and extent. . . . Since Scripture denies in the strongest wordings that the guarantee of Christ concerns all and each, no one excepted, and since it has thus far been a generally accepted dogma in the Church that Christ, as it has been said, did not die for all without exception according to the efficacy [of his death], it can easily and safely be concluded (although it concerns a great mystery), that Christ was no guarantee for all without exception, or for those who are not saved.35

An extensive argument follows against the Arminians and Socinians, who extended the benefit of Christ’s work to all people. What is at stake in this argument time and again, is the content of what it means to say that Christ died for someone. If, Cocceius argues, the scope of the atonement in Christ is extended to all people, the material content of what it means that Christ died for someone will change, and in Cocceius’ view, it will loose its force. Thus, in § 113:

In no way should the phrase from Scripture be weakened that Christ has died for sinners. This means much more than just that he has died to the benefit of humans, insofar as at least is not meant that benefit that there is in the attainment of salvation, but in some other benefit, such as that they are called, or that they are led to the knowledge of truth.36

 And again in § 163:

There are others who reduce the merit of Christ, such as 1. Those who state that Christ has died no more for those who are saved, as for those who perish. Although they seem to extend the merit of Christ, in fact they reduce it in such a way, that nothing remains of what he has merited. Indeed they speak of the grace that is necessary and sufficient to believe and to acquire reconciliation. But what is this [grace]? Is it the calling? Impossible, for many are not called.37

So, if we bring this back to the discussion with Barth: for Cocceius, the duplexity in the covenant of grace, that is the duplexity of the firmness of the inter-trinitarian pact on the one hand, and the dynamics of invitation and faith in time on the other, is absolutely necessary. If we, like Barth, speak of only one decision in God, we will loose one of the two elements: We will either loose the firmness, fruitfulness and effectivity of God’s work of salvation, ending up in a theology in which God is in some way dependent on human responsibility for salvation to come about (Pelagianism/Arminianism), or we loose the dynamics of God’s interaction with human beings in the preaching of the gospel, ending up in hard universalism (unconditional salvation for all, regardless what their response is).38 The problem of Barth’s position is that he refuses to choose one of the two options.

The Covenant of Grace as Communicative Act

So far, we have seen that for Cocceius, the covenant of grace needs to be grounded in the pactum salutis—among other reasons—in order to provide the covenant with the robustness required by the disastrous effects of sin. This is the first central tenet on which the Reformed soteriology is built. Reformed theology would not be characterized by duplexity, though, if there were not a second central notion constituting it. As much as Reformed theology is concerned to maintain the firmness of salvation, it is concerned to maintain the nature of salvation as a communicative act. God saves by the Word, by proclaiming salvation in Christ to human beings in the preaching of the gospel. Partaking in salvation is a matter of a human act of response to the preaching of the gospel.
          But can these two notions live together in a peaceful way? The charge of the Barthian tradition is that they cannot. In Barth’s view, the Reformed view of Christ as the mirror of election cannot be consistently thought together with a doctrine of double predestination, in which God decides on the ultimate destination of human beings in an arbitrary way. This is one of the main grounds for Barth’s reduction of the doctrine of election to a communicative act: Election is the “Sum of the gospel.”39 According to Barth, the covenant between God and human beings can only be a communicative act if there is no “secret decree” behind it. Cocceius is of the exactly opposite opinion. He believes that the communicative nature of the covenant of grace can only be truly safeguarded if it is rooted in the pactum salutis as God’s ultimate decision on the destination of human beings that remains independent of the communicative structure of the gospel. It needs to be independent of this communicative structure because its firmness requires that it remains independent of human consent.

        The key passage in which Cocceius explains the inner logic of this position is this:

This is of utmost importance to the foundation of faith and evangelical consolation. And because God approves every truth that flows from his counsel, one can rightly say that it is his will that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him, has everlasting life. Although, namely, these ALL are ONLY those given to Christ, and in God there is no universal counsel without a determination of subject, or again, a decree to bless without the explicit mentioning of a certain seed, nevertheless, through his approving will, he wants to be universally true that which follows and is implied by his special and definite counsel. . . . Through such a conditional commandment and promise, salvation is offered to all those called, i.e. it is proposed to them without any deceit; thus, it is clear that there is no reason to suggest some sort of desire or incomplete will or the like that God would be unworthy of, so that we uphold God’s integrity and sincerity.40

This passage may require some explanation. Let me start at the end. Cocceius’ emphasis on God’s integrity and sincerity can be technically phrased as his conviction that the combination of a doctrine of predestination (including limited atonement) with the free offer of Christ in the gospel to all who hear it, is entirely consistent. No compromise of the content of God’s eternal decree in the preaching of the gospel is required, nor is the offer of Christ in the gospel to all in any sense an insincere offer, a mere play to guarantee the responsibility of the nonelect. 
         Cocceius provides the solution in the above mentioned key passage: what God decides to work out from eternity is an unconditional promise, taking the form of “God will do so and so whatever happens.” At the same time, however, this decree to do so and so appears in the preaching of the gospel in a conditional manner: “All those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved.” The latter is entirely consistent with the former, as all those who believe in Jesus Christ will indeed be saved, the eternal decree providing the certainty that those who receive the regenerating grace of God, will indeed believe in Jesus Christ. Thus, the eternal decree of God in no way interferes with the free offer of Christ in the gospel, because the believer-to-be does not in any sense need access to the eternal decree in order to be allowed access to Jesus Christ offered in the gospel. The Reformed theologians remain perfectly able to quote Isa 55:1/Rev 22:17: “[W]hoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”41
        Furthermore, the act of faith in Christ is and remains the sole point of access to salvation. It is important to see that this is a crucial point of agreement between the Reformed orthodox theologians and the Arminians. Being saved is really about doing something, acting upon the gospel proclaimed. The Reformed object against the Arminians’ unclarity about the origin of the act of faith, i.e., the question whether and in what sense grace is necessary to make the act of faith possible, but they do not dispute the character of faith as an act of response to Christ offered in the gospel.42 If we put it in a popular way: What the Reformed orthodox would have against the mass meetings of Billy Graham is not the emphasis on making a decision for Christ. There is much of such emphasis on making a decision in Reformed practical literature, the Anglo-American Puritan tradition in particular. What the Reformed tradition might have against a Billy Graham meeting is the suggestion that one’s being able to make the right decision depends on oneself rather than God alone. You may choose, but in choosing, the only thing you can say is: “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
         Of course, the conditional nature of the promise of salvation to all who believe qualifies the object of the belief. What one has to believe is not so much the fact that one is saved, but that those who believe will be saved. This has important consequences for the question of assurance of faith:

Question: is everyone in common obliged to believe that Christ has died for them? Answer: This is exactly the consolation that is the fruit of justice; it pertains only to those who have a dismayed conscience, and to those souls that hunger and thirst after justice. . . . Nobody may dare to arrogate this consolation to himself who has not been converted to God by true faith of his heart, i.e. who not hungers and thirsts after justice, and [bears] fruits of that to the glory of God. Someone who has not taken refuge in Christ, to put it concisely, who did not begin to love him as the ruler of salvation.43

The position of the traditional Reformed theologians becomes all the more clear when we confront it with Barth’s view. Barth’s single decree of God to be God in Jesus Christ is motivated by his attempt to think God exclusively as God with us, as God in relation to human beings.44 In addition, the attempt to think God as God in Christ exclusively is motivated by Barth’s aim to dynamize the allegedly static understanding of God in the tradition.45 Barth’s aim is to bring history, the contingent encounter between God and human beings in the here and now, to the center of the theological discourse. Thus, for him, the doctrine of election can be nothing but a form of communication, the sum of the gospel.
         However, as there is only room for one decree in God,46 and the communicative message of the gospel cannot be the announcement of those elected from eternity, Barth is forced to accept universalism.47 Thus, the message of the gospel can be nothing but an announcement of a state of affairs, namely the state of being reconciled with God. Although in Barth, God is defined by his being God in Christ in time, the dynamics of God in time is in fact a dynamics of a single moment, namely the being of God as being God in Christ.48 The event of the preaching of the gospel and the human response to it is a mere recognition —both on the part of the preacher and on the part of the believer— of the one single act of God’s being in Christ. There is no additional soteriological level in which the restoration of the divine-human relationship between God and the believer is taken into account. Put in trinitarian terms: there is no separate level of the Spirit in the economy of salvation.49 While motivated by a concern to build the relationship between God and human beings into the very being of God, Barth ended with a static account of this relationship, a relationship in which a reciprocal action between God and the believer cannot truly be taken into account.50

1 For the view of the doctrine of predestination as a .Zentraldogma,. see Willem J. van Asselt, ed., Inleiding in de gereformeerde scholastiek (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 1998), 18.30. Willem van Asselt has been one of the key critics of this so-called .old school.-interpretation of Reformed scholasticism.

2 See Kevin J. Vanhoozer, .Introduction: The Love of God . Its Place, Meaning and Function in Systematic Theology,. in Nothing Greater, Nothing Better: Theological Essays on the Love of God, ed. idem (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 1.29.
For two full-scale works on God as love, see Vincent Brümmer, The Model of Love: A Study in Philosophical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Markus Mühling, Gott ist Liebe: Studien zum Verständnis der Liebe als Modell des trinitarischen Redens von Gott, Marburger theologische Studien 58, 2nd ed. (Marburg:Elwert, 2005).

3 Willem J. van Asselt, The Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius (1603.1669), trans. from the Dutch by R. A. Blacketer, Studies in the History of Christian Thought 100 (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 2.16.

4 Among his main works on Cocceius are a complete Dutch translation of Cocceius . Summa doctrinae: Johannes Coccejus, De Leer van het Verbond en het Testament van God, trans. from the Latin by W. J. van Asselt and H. G. Renger (Kampen: De Groot Goudriaan, 1990) and, in addition to numerous articles, two monographs: a more biographical one in Dutch (Willem J. van Asselt, Johannes Coccejus: Portret van een zeventiende-eeuws theoloog op oude en nieuwe wegen, Kerkhistorische monografieën 6 (Heerenveen: Groen, 1997)), and the thoroughly revised English translation of his dissertation: van Asselt, Federal Theology.

5 Van Asselt, Federal Theology, 94.105.

6 A traditional Dutch Reformed church service opens with the following phrase: .Our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth, who will never abandon the works of his hands,..a combination of Pss 124:8 and 138:8.

7 In Dutch: .Het evangelie scheert langs de rand van de alverzoening.. More on van Ruler in English: Allan J. Janssen, Kingdom, Office, and Church: A Study of A. A. van Ruler.s Doctrine of Ecclesiastical Office, The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).

8 The English translations of the quotations from the Summa doctrinae have been prepared in close cooperation with drs. Jan Boom, who wrote his Master.s thesis under the supervision of van Asselt on a Dutch translation of Aquinas. and Cocceius. commentary on Lamentations 1. References to de SD are by chapter and paragraph number.

9 Bruce McCormack, .Grace and Being: The Role of God.s Gracious Election in Karl Barth.s Theological Ontology,. in The Cambridge companion to Karl Barth, ed. John Webster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 97.

10 Van Asselt, Federal Theology, 9. 

11 Van Asselt, Johannes Coccejus, 107.

12 G. Schrenk, Gottesreich und Bund im älteren Protestantismus, vornehmlich bei Johannes Coccejus (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1923).

13 There is no single reference to Cocceius. own works in the excursus on federal theology. In volume II/2, where Barth appeals to Cocceius for his identification of election and the covenant (See van Asselt, Federal Theology, 199.201 and van Asselt, Johannes Coccejus, 222.225), he refers to the Summa Theologiae only: CD II/2, 85, 102, 114.5, 308; KD II/2, 91, 109, 122.3, 338.

14 CD IV/1, 54.66.

15 CD IV/1, 56.57. KD IV/1, 58.59: .Aber je umfassender, prinzipieller und genauer diese Zusammenschau [vom Alten und Neuen Testament] in der Blütezeit der Föderaltheologie wird, desto mehr drängt sich die Frage auf: von welchem Standort aus dieses Geschehen nun eigentlich in Blick genommen und als solches dargestelt
sein möchte? Was geschieht da, wo das Werk, das Wort Gottes auseinandergelegt und dann wieder pragmatisch-theologisch verknüpft wird zu einer Serie von sinnvoll aneinandergereihten und ineinander greifenden Ereignissen? Entspricht das wirklich der der Theologie in der Schrift vorgegebenen Sache? Kann man Gottes handlung und Offenbarung historisieren? . . . Daß die Bibel von einem Geschehen berichtet, das haben sie vortrefflich verstanden, nicht aber, daß dieser Bericht in allen seinen Gestalten den Charakter von Zeugnis, Verkündigung und Botschaft und zu seinem Inhalt und Gegenstand ein einziges Geschehen hat, das je in dieser und dieser Gestalt seiner Bezeugung, indem doch jede von ihnen sich auf seine Ganzheit bezieht, die eine, ganze Entscheidung Gottes ist, die als solche nach der einen ganzen Entscheidung des Menschen ruft. . . . Die Föderaltheologen haben nicht bemerkt, daß sie zuerst mit ihrer Analyse und dann mit ihrer Synthese des Geschehens zwischen Gott und Mensch bei aller Aufgeschlossenheit, in der sie die Schrift gelesen haben, an der wirklichen Schrift vorbeilasen und an ihrem Inhalt vorbeisahen. . . . Ihm wird . . . die in Jesus Christus geschehene Versöhnung aus der Bundesgeschichte . . . zu einer biblischen Geschichte, zu einer Etappe in einem größeren Zusammenhang von Geschichte, vor der und nach der es auch noch andere solche Etappen Gibt..

16 On the Christological character of dogmatics, see CD I/2, 122.3; KD I/2, 134. 5. On the refutation of the knowledge of God from nature, see CD II/1, 63.127; KD II/1, 68.141.

17 Van Asselt, Federal Theology, 303ff.

18 CD II/1, 272.296; KD II/1, 306.334

19 CD II/2, 3.33; KD II/2, 1.35.

20 CD IV/1, 1.78; KD IV/1, 1.82.21 CD IV/1, 56, 61.63; KD IV/1, 59, 64.66.

22 CD II/2, 94.116; KD II/2, 101.124.

23 SD, I, 5: .Foedus Dei cum homine aliter se habet ac hominum inter ipsos. Homines enim de mutuis beneficiis: Deus de suis foedus facit. Est enim Dei foedus nihil aliud, quam divina declaratio de ratione percipiendi amoris Dei, & unione ac
communione ipsius potiendi. Qua ratione si homo utatur, in amicitia Dei est, sive, Creator ipsius est & Deus ipsius peculiari ratione..

24 As we will see below, here is the big tension in Barth.s conception. On the one hand, God calls us to respond. Faith is  exactly this response. On the other hand, only God can respond to this call and does so in Jesus Christ, basically fulfilling the condition of the covenant for all human beings once and for all.

25 SD IV, 76: .Foedus gratiae est conventio inter Deum & hominem peccatorem, Deo declarante liberum beneplacitum suum de justitia & haereditate certo semini danda in Mediatore per fidem, ad gloriam gratiae ipsius, & per mandatum resipiscentiae
ac fidei sive resipiscentiae, cujus initium est fides in Mediatorem, ac per promissionem justitiae credentibus in illo dandae invitante, homine autem per fidem cordis astipulante contracta, ad pacem & amicitiam & jus expectandae haereditatis in bona conscientia...emphasis mine. There are a number of subtle differences between van Asselt.s translations of this definition and ours. Boom and I have read the definition as built around the three verbs .declarare,. .invitare,. and .astipulare..

26 Van Asselt has always insisted on the differences between the decree, the pactum salutis, the testament and the covenant of grace: van Asselt, Federal Theology, 219.226, 239.247. Still, from a systematic point of view, it is important to see that
within the definition of the covenant of grace, reference is made to that which makes this covenant possible, that is the eternal decree. This is not to suggest that the covenant of grace (or parts of it) coincide with the eternal decree. Rather, I would say thatin the covenant of grace, the declaration of the eternal decree (in close relationship to the pactum salutis), takes the form of a testament.

27 Cf. van Asselt.s translation of the definition of the covenant of grace, who translates .conventio inter Deum & hominem peccatorem. as .an agreement between God and sinful humanity.: van Asselt, Federal Theology, p. 41. This is incorrect, as the rest of the definition shows. According to Cocceius, the covenant is only made between God and the believer.

28 SD V, 88: .Uberior praemissorum explicatio..

29 As such, it also appears in the STh where, contrary to the SD, the pactum salutis precedes the foedus gratiae. In the STh, the pactum salutis denotes the eternal counsel of salvation at the basis of the trinitarian work of salvation in time. The foedus gratiae then, denotes the fulfillment of God.s counsel of salvation in a pact of friendship and peace between God and the believer. STh XLI, 1.4.

30 SD V, 88: .Inest tamen in hoc Testamento divino Pactum, quo nititur ejus firmitas.Pactum scil. non cum homine lapso, sed cum Mediatore. Scilicet voluntas Patris filium dantis caput & lutrwth&j  redemptorem populi praecogniti, & voluntas Filii, sese ad hanc salutem procurandam sistentis, habet rationem conventionis, dum secundum ineffabilem illam oeconomiam negocii salutis notrae consideratur Pater stipulans obedientiam Filii usque ad mortem, & pro ea ipsi regnum & semen spirituale repromittens: filius autem se sistens, ad faciendam voluntatem Dei, & à Patre salutem populi sibi è mundo dati restipulans, sive, ut claritis loquar, altrinsecus petens.. 31 SD V, 92: .Patris quidem & Filii voluntas eadem est, non diversa, quia & unum
sunt; sed, quatenus Pater non est Filius, neque Filius Pater, eadem voluntas distincte & suo modo utrique appropriatur, scilicet alteri ut donanti & mittenti, alteri ut dato & misso. Ita mysterium illud maximum (quod fidei nostrae de salute nostra confirmandae & in Deum dirigendae causa patescere debebat) patescit, quomodo in Deo justificemus & salvemur, quomodo Deus sit & qui judicat & qui spondet, atque ita judicatur; qui absolvit & qui intercedit; qui mittit & qui mittitur..

32 CD IV/1, 64.65; KD IV/1, 68.69. See also van Asselt, Federal Theology, 233. 236. For some nuances concerning the use of the trinitarian persons as .modes of being,. see: Iain Taylor, .In Defence of Karl Barth.s Doctrine of the Trinity,. International Journal of Systematic Theology 5 (2003): 33.46.

33 See also CD I/1, 407.415; KD I/1, 374.381.

34 For a systematic account of the view of the Trinity as ineffable, drawing on Augustine.s theology, see: Maarten Wisse, ..Ego sum qui sum.: Die trinitarische Essenz Gottes nach Augustins De Trinitate,. in Entzogenheit in Gott: Beiträge zur
Rede von der Verborgenheit der Trinität, ed. M. Mühling and M. Wendte, Ars Disputandi Supplement Series 2 (Utrecht: Ars Disputandi, 2005), URL:, 63.76; idem, .De uniciteit van God en de relationaliteit van de mens: De relevantie van Augustinus voor de hedendaagse theologie,. Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 60:4 (2006): 310.328.

35 SD V, 108: .Et primo quidem illud evidens est, pro quibus spopondit, illis & impetravisse, illis meritum esse, illorum peccata in ipsum injecta suisse, & in ipso condemnata esse, pro illis se obtulisse, pro illis orasse; &, pro quibus mortuus est, illos mortuos esse: eosdemque justificari & salvari per ipsum. Haec enim paris efficaciae & ejusdem sunt latitudinis. . . . Quum igitur Scripturae apertissimis verbis negent, illam sponsionem Christi ad omnes pertinere & singulos, nullo excepto, fueritque hactenus in Ecclesia receptissimum dogma, Christum (ut loquuntur) secundum efficaciam non esse mortuum pro omnibus hominibus sine exceptione: & facile & tutum est (licet in remagni mysterii) definite, Christum non spopondisse pro omnibus sine exceptione, sive etiam pro illis, qui non salvantur..

36 SD V, 113: .Minimè enervanda est phrasis Scripturae, qua dicitur Christus pro hominibus mortuus. Plus illud significat, quam mortuus utilitate hominum, siquidem non utilitatem illam, quae est in assecutione salutis, sed utilitatem quamvis intelligas;ut est, quod vocantur, quod ad agnitionem veritatis adducuntur . . ..

37 SD V, 163: .Sunt alii, qui imminuunt, videlicet 1. Qui statuunt Christum non magis pro iis, qui salvantur, quam pro iis, qui pereunt, mortuum esse. Quanquam enim videantur extendere meritum christi, reipsa tamen id adeò imminuunt, ut omnino nihl ipsi relinquant, quod meritus sit. Dicunt quidem . . . Gratiam ad credendum & reconciliationem consequendum necessariam & sufficientem. Quid illa? An vocatio? Non potest. Plurimi enim non vocantur..

38 I distinguish between .hard. and .soft. universalism. .Hard universalism. is a view of salvation in which all will be saved, regardless of what their response is (the so-called apokatastasis pantoon). .Soft universalism. is a view in which God romises salvation to all, but makes it dependent on human decision whether it is actually realized (popularly phrased: Arminianism).

39 CD II/2, 12.34; KD II/2, 11.35.

40 SD VI, 184: .Maximique id ipsum momenti est ad fundandam fidem & consolationem Evangelicam. Et, quia Deus approbat omnem veritatem, quae ex consilio ipsus fluit, rectè dicitur voluntas ipsius esse, ut omnu, qui videt filium & credit in ipsum,
habeat vitam aeternam. quanquam enim hi O M N E S sint S O L I dati Christo, & Deus non habeat consilium universale sine determinatione subjecti, sive propositum benedicendi citra vocationem seminis; tamen Voluntate approbante hoc vult universaliter esse verum, quod ex speciali & definito ipsius consilio fluit & consequitur. . . . Per tale mandatum & promissionem conditionatam omnibus vocatis salus offertur, h. e. proponitur sine omni illusione; ut patet neque necesse est singere desiderium sive voluntatem incompletam & alia istiusmodi Deo indecora, ut tueamur ipsius integritatem & sinceritatem..

41 See the earlier argument for this point in: Maarten Wisse, ..Zij laat alles zoals het is.: De actualiteit van de scholastieke methode,. in van Asselt, ed., Inleiding, 163.173.

42 It must be said that there are some exceptions to this rule, compensating for the negative consequences the emphasis on faith as an act might have in pastoral practice. This compensation is particularly provided by the concept of faith as a habit. See Maarten Wisse, .Habitus fidei: An Essay on the History of a Concept,. Scottish Journal of Theology 56:2 (2003): 172.189.

43 SD VI, 180: .Quaeritur, An omnibus omnino imperetur credere, Christum esse pro se mortuum? Resp. Hanc ipsam esse consolationem, quae est fructus justitiae; & non pertinere nisi ad conscientias contritas & animas esurientes & sitientes justitiae. . . . Hanc consolationem nemo sibi debet arrogare, qui non vera animi fide conversus est ad Deum; h. e. qui non sitit & esurit justitiam & fructus ejus ad gloriam Dei; qui non confugit ad Christum, &, ut uno verbo dicam, qui non ipsum incepit amare, ut principem salutis,. Here, Cocceius is fully on par with Voetius: De scholastieke Voetius: Een luisteroefening aan de hand van Voetius. Disputationes Selectae, ed. W. J. van Asselt and E. Dekker (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 1995), 98.100.

44 CD IV/1, 1.22; KD IV/1, 1.22. Of course this is not to deny Barth.s emphasis on the freedom of God to be God with us.

45 CD II/1, 257.271; KD II/1, 288.305.

46 What I mean by .one. decree here is: one level of decision in God.over against the two in traditional Reformed orthodoxy. This is not to overlook Barth.s doctrine of reprobation. It is only to suggest that in Barth, the doctrine of reprobation is a
function of the doctrine of election, and thus does not introduce a distinct level of decision in God.

47 I am aware of the discussion concerning Barth.s universalism. Berkouwer.s discussion provides a good overview: G. C. Berkouwer, The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), chapter X.

48 On this point, see especially the essays on time and eternity: CD I/2, 45.121, and III/1, 42.93; KD I/2, 50.133, and III/1, 4.103.

49 In a sense, Barth.s critique of Cocceius as having no room for the Spirit in the pactum salutis is a typical case of the pot calling the cattle black! Cf. van Asselt, Federal Theology, 233.236.

50 I would like to thank, in chronological order, Prof. Dr. Christoph Schwöbel, the members of Prof. Schwöbel.s Doktorandenkolloquium at Tübingen, Dr. Bert Loonstra, Prof. Dr. Gijsbert van den Brink, Prof. Dr. Richard A. Muller, and Prof. Dr. Marcel Sarot for their comments on an earlier version of this paper. The research for this article was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Flemish Organisation for Scientific Research (FWO-V).

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