We have noted before the surprising fact that R L Dabney seems to have been some sort of hypothetical universalist, and so this section of his treatment of the Westminster Confession and the nature and extent of the Atonement is quite interesting:
Again, the Confession assets with most positive precision the penal substitution of Christ, the imputation of our guilt to him, his punitive sufferings and sacrifice therefore, and the imputation of this satisfaction to all believers for their justification. It holds fast to the truth of particular redemption. Yet it carefully avoids implying any limitation upon the infinite value and merit of Christ’s sacrifice. It carefully avoids confusing the two concepts of legal satisfaction for guilt with the consequent at-one-ment, or reconciliation, of the believing sinner. And it gives no countenance to the quid-pro-quo theory of expiation, which affects, with a mischievous over-refinement, to affix a commercial ratio between the sins of the elect and the one indivisible and infinite merit of the divine sacrifice.
~ The Westminster Confession and Creeds (Presbyterian Heritage Publications, 1983) p 13
I’m not sure that Dabney’s reading of the Confession is the most natural one, and it is certainly not the reading of the majority of the later Presbyterian tradition, yet it is a reading which Dr. Richard Muller supports.
Steven Wedgeworth is the pastor of Christ Church in Lakeland, Florida. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Trust. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), Steven lives in Lakeland, FL with his wife, son, daughter, and two terriers.
The Calvinist International is a forum for research, resourcement, and renewal of Christian wisdom.