Friday, December 15, 2006

A book you probably won't get for Christmas (but should)

I have been asked to give a paper at the Amyraldian Association Conference in April (no, I'm not a four-pointer, but I have friends who are) on 'Thomas Chalmers, Scottish Amyraldian?' The paper, God willing, will deal with some of the more controversial elements of Chalmers' theology. The conference will, God willing, be held at Hargham Road Chapel, Attleborough, Norfolk.

One of the three main sources for my paper will be Dr. Hanna's 'Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Dr. Chalmers'. Iain Murray in his 'Scottish Christian Heritage' writes of it that "Unhappily its extent - 4 volumes published in 1850-52 - has been against its general usefulness." (P. 120)

This is probably true. Now, my copy is the cheap edition, two dumpy brown half-calf Victorian volumes adding up to about 1600 pages. Yet it is a tragedy that the book is not more widely known and read - and that, when Dust and Ashes can republish Caryl on Job, no-one I know of has republished Hanna's 'Chalmers'. This is Alexander Whyte's opinion of the book:

"But if Dr. Chalmers is no longer here to inspire us with his great eloquence, and to guide us by his noble example, we have his finely written Memoirs in our hands continually to read. A book, I will say, that must be continually read by us again and again and again through life, if we would form and would retain any right idea of the immense riches of intellectual, and philosophical, and academical, and spiritual experience and attainment that all went to the splendid equipment of the first Principal of the New College. I speak with sme warmth of feeling concerning Dr. Hanna's memoirs of Dr. Chalmers, because long ago I got great good out of that book, and I still get great good out of it as often as I open it. And I am always opening it for something."
'Former Principals of the New College, Edinburgh' (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1909) Pp. 13-14.

"And I am always opening it for something." Yes, it is one of those books!



Anonymous Darrin said...

Hey HH,

About a month ago I purchased a nice half-calf 4 vol set which is still in transit from your fair city! I must ask as I never heard it before: Was Chalmers really an Amyraldian? Or is that wishful thinking? I've read a bunch of Chalmers and would never have gotten that impression.

12:37 pm  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Well, that's the point of the paper, to ask the question!

No, I don't think he was. Certainly not a fully-fledged one. However he certainly had tendencies that way.

Amyraldianism (it is my impression from talking to an Amyraldian) is quite complicated. The central tenet of Amyraldianism is the Double Reference theory of the atonement - that Christ died in some sense for all, and in another sense for the elect (to save the elect and make the non-elect savable, though they will in fact never be saved). This seems to me excessively complicated.

HOWEVER there are other elements of the system, such as a denial of a double imputation, that can be seen in Chalmers. That's what I'm looking at in the research for the paper right now.

2:31 pm  
Anonymous Martin T said...

Hello HH,

Since I was present at last year's AA when Alan Clifford gave the name of the person who would be delivering the paper you mention, I believe I can say that we have met, albeit briefly.

If you would permit me to be a little forthright here but one might be tempted to say that someone who does not subscribe to Amyraldianism and finds it "excessively complicated" might not be best placed to assess whether someone else is in fact Amyraldian?

I do find it odd that you criticise Amyralidianism this way. I think I would have less of a problem if you said it was unscriptural (even though I would disagree!). But to say that it is excessively complicated - isn't that setting oneself up as judge over God's Word? Surely faithfulness to scripture is the only criteria to use?

I wonder whether your comment in reality belies your entrenched presuppositions? (This is not meant as an attack). For I can assure you that I, unschooled though I am (I don't even possess any 'A' levels), do not find it complicated. Rather I find it easier to understand than both Arminianism and High-Calvinism since I can take scriptures at face value. I realise that could seem a little arrogant but it is earnestly held since I was first, Arminian and second, v. High Calvinist (cosmos = elect, etc) before I became Amyraldian - due in part to the excellent A&J by Alan.

If you are up for it, I would be interested to know a little more of the substance as to why you reject it?


9:08 pm  

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