Amyraldism

The doctrine that God wills all men to be saved, on condition that they believe. Expressed by Moses Amyrald (1596-1664), a French Protestant pastor, the doctrine was designed to be Calvinistic rather than Arminian and to provide the basis for conciliation between Reformed and Lutheran theology. Agreeing with Calvin on the absolute sovereignty of God, expressed in history through the realization of God's sovereign purpose, Amyrald affirmed that individual redemption and the establishment of the kingdom of God were wholly divine prerogatives and could in no case be either accidental or contingent. Nevertheless, he found scriptural warrant for a universalism in the divine decree to salvation, averring that God wills all men to be saved.

But this universalism in the system of Amyrald does not issue in the actual salvation of all men-by virtue of the corresponding universalism of man's sinfulness. The commonness of man's sin has destroyed the true purpose and end of life provided by God through His providence, in accordance with His love. Hence the universalism is seen to be purely ideal or hypothetical. Yet, though man's sin is universally corruptive, God's goodness remains infinite, expressing itself to all persons and throughout all history, since His desire to save remains forever unabated. This means that the salvation of individual persons is quite unaffected by the ideal universalism explicit in the system. The result is a combination of ideal universalism and of actual particularism.

Though it had a wide following during the latter half of the seventeenth century, Amyraldism was much opposed, especially by French and Swiss scholars. The opponents of the scholastic Calvinists were in no way satisfied by the Amyrald interpretation, arguing that the universalism, being only hypothetical, to no degree mitigated the absolute predestinarianism of Calvinism. The purer Calvinists tended to look upon Amyraldism as an inconsequential, even misleading, addendum to the Institutes, creating, rather than resolving, problems relating to the basis of salvation: God wills all to be saved, but man's sin prevents any from being saved. The view, however, may be more in keeping with Calvin's own theology than with that of his scholastic interpreters.