Owen ( The Death of Death in the Death of Christ ) spends a chapter rebutting the claims of Thomas More’s The Universality of God’s Free Grace . The response engages More at times, but frequently the two are simply moving past one another.

More writes, “it is certainly a truth that Jesus Christ hath given himself a ransom for all men, and hath thereby the right of lordship over them; and if any will not believe and come into this government, yet he abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself, but will one day bring them before him, and cause them to confess him Lord, to the glory of God; when they shall be denied by him, for denying him in the days of his patience.” That is, one effect of Christ’s ransom is that Jesus is installed as King and Judge. Owen doesn’t disagree, but points out that this is beside the particular point in debate, which is whether Jesus’ death was a “blood ransom” for everyone, whether He died with the intention of purchasing salvation for every last individual.

Owen also disputes More’s claim that this exaltation was “by virtue of his death and ransom given”: “we deny that it is anywhere in the Scripture once intimated that the ransom paid by Christ in his death for us was the cause of his exaltation to be Lord of all.” Rather “it was his obedience to his father in death, not his satisfaction for us, that is proposed as the antecedent of his exaltation.” But Owen has already argued, rightly, that the ransom is the result of Christ’s obedience unto death, and so his objection to More verges close to quibbling. Obedience was the way to pay the ransom; obedience was the path toward exaltation too. It’s thus not wrong to say that Christ’s obedient ransom was the cause of His exaltation.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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