John Davenant’s Hypothetical Universalis
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Recently there has been a revival of interest in the views held by Reformed theologians within the parameters of confessional orthodoxy. For example, the doctrine known as ‘hypothetical universalism’–the idea that although Christ died in some sense for every person, his death was intended to
bring about the salvation only for those who were predestined for salvation. Michael Lynch focuses on the hypothetical universalism of the English theologian and bishop John Davenant (1572-1641), arguing that it has consistently been misinterpreted and misrepresented as a via media between Arminian
and Reformed theology.
A close examination of Davenent’s De Morte Christi, is the central core of the study. Lynch offers a detailed exposition of Davenant’s doctrine of universal redemption in dialogue with his understanding of closely related doctrines such as God’s will, predestination, providence, and covenant
theology. He defends the thesis that Davenant’s version of hypothetical universalism represents a significant strand of the Augustinian tradition, including the early modern Reformed tradition. The book examines the patristic and medieval periods as they provided the background for the Lutheran,
Remonstrant, and Reformed reactions to the so-called Lombardian formula (‘Christ died sufficiently for all, effectually for the elect’). It traces how Davenant and his fellow British delegates at the Synod of Dordt shaped the Canons of Dordt in such a way as to allow for their English hypothetical