“Faith” In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Part III

Posted in Biblical Studies, Philosophy with tags , on December 8, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

Here is part III of a four part series on Soren Kierkegaard’s understanding of “faith”.

 

There once was two small boys. The boys were at the age where they were allowed to go and play in the fields surrounding their houses all alone, although not old enough to understand entirely what responsibility such freedom required. One day the two boys were sent outside to play, and being friends they sought each other out in order to enjoy each others company and play together. Not long after they found themselves some distance from their houses in a part of the field neither had ever been before. Seeking to wade in a small river they discovered they both became horribly caught in quick sand. Their cries soon reached the attention of one of the boy’s mother. She came running to the side of the river and standing on the bank took in the scene. Calling out to her child and his friend she told them sternly not to struggle against the quick sand, but rather to stand still and not fight it. Of course adults know that this will considerably slow down the sinking process, but the small children knew nothing of the sort. Now each boy reacted considerably different. The child whose mother stood on the bank of the river stopped as soon as he heard his mother and stood still. However the other child, who did not know who this woman was, ignored her and continued to struggle with all his might. He even began to cry to his comrade not to listen but to continue to struggle. The very concept of giving up resistance and holding still was so contrary to his instincts that the only explanation he could imagine for his friend’s actions was that his friend had simply gone mad. But what had really happened? His friend had displayed faith. To the child standing by, ignorant of who this woman was, his friend’s faith undoubtedly seemed like an irrational leap into the absurd. And perhaps if his friend was rescued and the boy never learned the identity of the woman he might live on and become convinced that an irrational leap of faith saved his friend’s life. But the one boy’s faith could not be anything farther from some unintelligible act. Simply and only because the boy knew the woman. It was his mother, she wished him no harm. He had spent years in her care. She had time and time again proved herself worthy of his trust. So his faith was not irrational or absurd, even though neither child understood. Rather his faith was an action and a belief based on trusting of good authority, and in this particular event, there was nothing more rational or reasonable that he could have done.

Granted there are obvious differences in my analogy and the actual Abraham story. It is crafted as such to prompt one to think about the nature of faith. Although faith does not at times seem reasonable, it might be. Notice I am not saying that faith is simply trust. Faith is a belief, and action, based on a reasonable authority. Reasonable authority will not mean the same thing to everyone, what seems trustworthy to one will not seem trustworthy to another. But nonetheless so long as faith is based on this reasonability, true dialogue is possible. The “knight of faith”, to borrow Johannes’ words, need no longer be unintelligible. Not only this, but those who express faith are no long free to have faith in anything they’d like. Now they must at the very least offer a defense for how the authority they are acting upon is trustworthy. My definition of faith has now been articulated and a defense of why the reader ought to accept it has been provided. It now arises to compare this definition to Johannes’ and highlight crucial differences. This entire conversation takes place against the backdrop of Scripture because after all that is where one finds the story of Abraham. What this means though is that whatever definition  of faith either myself or Johannes arrives at, our definition must hold consistent with the story of Abraham as well as the larger narrative of Scripture. Both Johannes and myself subject ourselves to this standard when we take up the task of interpreting the story of Abraham, the father of faith. My attention shall turn to Scripture after I have highlighted important differences between Johannes’ definition of faith and my own.

At this point in the paper, the differences should actually be quite clear. For Johannes, faith is performing an unintelligible action for the sake of G-d. It cannot be understood or justified to anyone else because it places the individual above the universal which is the ethical. My own definition of faith states that faith is an action performed on the basis of trustworthy authorities. Although it may at times be unintelligible to spectators it need not always be so. Because faith is at its core based on a reasonable trust, it could be explained and if not explained at least defended as reasonable and explainable. Now let us turn to Scripture and see why I believe my definition better fits the biblical narrative than Johannes’ definition.

“Faith” In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Part II

Posted in Biblical Studies, Philosophy with tags , on December 6, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

This is Part II of my paper on “Faith” in Kierkegaard, which is probably best to read after you have at least glanced over Part I.

When Johannes undertakes this question of faith, he acknowledges that often philosophy has despised faith and considered it something lesser, particularly in light of the Hegelian notion of Reason. He hints at this as he begins to unpack what he considers faith,

“Faith in such a case keeps fairly ordinary company, it belongs with feeling, mood, idiosyncrasy, hysteria and the rest. So far philosophy is right to say one should not stop at that. But there is nothing to warrant philosophy’s speaking in this manner. Prior to faith there is a movement of infinity, and only then enters faith, unexpectedly, on the strength of the absurd. This I am very well able to understand, without claiming thereby to have faith… Faith’s paradox is his, that the single individual is higher than the universal, that the single individual determines his relation to the universal through his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute through his relation to the universal.”

Now focusing on this particular, and at least to me most confusing line, “Faith’s paradox is this, that the single individual is higher than the universal.” What does Johannes mean? He picks up this topic again soon after,

“Thus when we see someone do something that doesn’t conform with the universal, we say, ‘He can hardly be doing that for the sake of G-d,’ meaning by this that he did it for his own sake. The paradox of faith has lost its intermediate term, i.e. the universal. On the one hand it contains the expression of extreme egoism (doing this dreadful deed for his own sake) and on the other the expression of the most absolute devotion (doing it for G-d’s sake). Faith itself cannot be mediated into the universal, for in that case it would be cancelled. Faith is this paradox, and the single individual is quite unable to make himself intelligible to anyone.”

It begins to be made clear what Johannes takes to be faith. For Johannes, faith is that which can only confront individuals and never the universal. Specifically that faith is what makes the individual unable to be understood by anyone else. It is the individual’s duty to the Absolute. Or as Johannes puts it above, doing it for G-d’s sake. Johannes seems convinced that faith cannot be understood by anyone other than the one acting on faith in this particular instance. So if faith for Johannes can be understood as an unintelligible leap, positing the individual higher than the universal, acting upon the strength of the absurd for G-d’s sake, than how does this interpretation fit into the Abraham and Isaac story?

Now knowing his definition of faith, it begins to become clear how Johannes’ draws from and relates this definition to the story of Abraham and Isaac. In short Abraham has a duty to the Absolute, a duty to G-d. This duty contradicts the ethical which is the universal and consequently renders Abraham unintelligible to any who inspect his actions. Abraham knows only his duty to the Absolute and choose to leap into the absurd for G-d’s sake alone. This is precisely why Abraham’s act of sacrificing Isaac is so difficult to understand and interpret. Because faith renders the individual, in this case Abraham, unintelligible! Johannes feels it is useless to speculate on how to rationally explain what Abraham did because what he did is not part of the universal. It cannot be understood by any, not even those who feel they are in a similar situation. Any attempt using reason to explain Abraham’s actions would be futile and would indeed be misunderstanding faith so far as Johannes is concerned.

Johannes’ definition of faith and his interpretation of the Abraham and Isaac story are both well articulated and satisfactory. His position is very understandable and obviously holds great appeal to many people. The question now becomes, whether or not this is a responsible definition of faith, and whether or not this is a biblical definition of faith. These questions are more closely related than one might think. As I mentioned at the beginning of this paper, although I respect and whole heartedly understand what would lead Johannes to this kind of definition of faith and interpretation of the Abraham story, I must disagree with what he has arrived at. Namely for the reasons stated earlier, that this promotes an intellectually irresponsible notion of faith. I will now attempt to provide a different definition of faith and defend why is it more sufficient than Johannes’ definition.

Let me begin by clearly stating what I am arguing. This being that faith must be grounded  in some amount of reasonability. To more clearly define what I mean by reasonability let me say that reasonability is the witness or experience of those we have found to be trustworthy authorities. To make this even more clear, I will be arguing that Abraham does not act irrationally , or in a way that cannot be explained universally, by obeying G-d and going to sacrifice Isaac but that he was acting on the witness of a trustworthy authority. My definition of faith therefore is a belief that is based on trusting good authority. Now why should the reader accept this definition of faith? Firstly because it is grounded in a sufficient amount of reasonability. Although it most likely was not Johannes’ intention, the definition of faith he has given us is one that leaves reason quite out of the picture. The danger here is that some might be tempted to turn to faith as a kind of epistemic thing, claiming that they have faith in a certain being’s existence and they need not explain themselves to anyone. Or that a particular action of their’s need not be explainable or rational to anyone else. Faith must necessarily be reasonable and explainable to at least some small degree. Consider the following analogy which is not perfectly applicable to the Abraham and Isaac story but will help further explain my definition of faith and set up its application to the Abraham story.

“Faith” In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Part I

Posted in Biblical Studies, Philosophy with tags , on December 5, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

This is the first of a short series of posts regarding Soren Kierkegaard’s well known work titled, “Fear and Trembling.” All together, these posts will form a critique of Kierkegaard’s concept and understanding of faith. The goal is to prompt reflection on the nature of faith and what it means to have faith “in” something. Of course, it will be laden with some of my own opinion. Enjoy!

 

Although Soren Kierkegaard would probably be considered both a philosopher and a theologian, when he speaks directly to biblical interpretation as he does in Fear and Trembling, he sets aside the role of philosopher and enters the arena of biblical hermeneutics. Some might be tempted to point out that Kierkegaard writes under the pseudonym Johannes, and Fear and Trembling cannot even be taken as Kierkegaard’s views but only Johannes‘ views. This is very true. So perhaps it is not Kierkegaard that sets aside his philosophy and takes up the role of Biblical exegete, but rather Johannes who is admittedly neither philosopher or exegete that takes up the task of biblical interpretation. In this paper Johannes’ definition and understanding of faith will be examined and critiqued. It is the position of this paper that although Johannes argues he is not a biblical exegete, he practices methods of biblical interpretation and therefore must be held to some standard as a Biblical exegete. Along with that and more importantly, it is the thesis of this paper is that Johannes’ definition of faith promotes an intellectually irresponsible notion of faith. By intellectually irresponsible I mean that this text presents faith as if it does not need to be grounded in any amount of reasonability, and by reasonability I mean, the witness or experience of those we have found to be trustworthy authorities. I will begin by addressing Johannes’ belief that he is not a Biblical exegete which can be found in the very beginning of the chapter titled “Attunement”.

It is true that Johannes from the very onset of his work proclaims himself no philosopher or exegete and in doing so tries to free himself from the constraints that are sometimes placed on such kinds of thinkers. “This man was no learned exegete, he knew no Hebrew; had he known Hebrew then perhaps it might have been easy for him to understand the story of Abraham.”

Earlier in his Preface, Johannes remarks that neither is he a philosopher, “The present author is no philosopher, he has not understood the System, nor does he know if there really is one, or if it has been completed.”

What Johannes wishes to do here is free himself from being held accountable as an exegete. This is all well and good except for that Johannes is insistent on playing the part of an exegete while claiming not to be one. Johannes remarks similarly that he does not feel the need to go beyond faith, as if this is what exegetes and philosophers often do. Despite Johannes’ statements it is necessary to consider what Kierkegaard does through Johannes as biblical exegesis. This is necessary only insofar as biblical exegesis is attempting to read a biblical passage and through understanding that passage gain insight into the text and the Christian life. This is clearly what Johannes is doing. By turning to the story of Abraham and Isaac when contemplating true faith, Johannes is doing at best exegesis and at worst isogesis. So as I proceed with my critique of Johannes’ definition of faith, I intend to treat Johannes as performing exegesis. I do not intend to do this harshly, but rather to acknowledge that so long as one in interpreting Scripture they are at least playing the part of an exegete and may be critiqued to see if their exegesis is accurate by the text they are exegeting.

Faith, and how to understand it is central to Kierkegaard’s work Fear and Trembling. In his work Johannes’ definition of faith is largely, if not entirely, built upon the story of Abraham and Isaac. Most Christians are familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac. The problem arises when Abraham obeys G-d and goes up to the place designated specifically to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, as G-d has commanded. In at least preliminary work on this passage, Johannes’ exegesis is perfectly accurate. He begins by trying to shake off the ease and comfort we have come to discuss this passage. “One speaks of Abraham’s honor, but how? By making it common place: ‘his greatness was that he loved G-d so much that he was willing to offer him the best he had.’ That is very true but ‘best’ is a very vague expression.”

Johannes points out very well that far too often this story is simply hurried over and explained away in a manner that saves one from having to actually encounter the text. So admirably determined not to fall into this trap Johannes sets out to explain the kind of faith that would compel Abraham to attempt the murder of his own son. In this manner the question “What is faith?” shall dominate the remainder of this paper. I will begin by examining the definition of faith that Johannes arrives at after his exegesis of  the Abraham and Isaac story.

The Tyrannical Soul

Posted in Philosophy with tags , , on December 2, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

The tyrant is the man, or woman, I suppose whose lawless pleasure take control. When such is the case there is no matter of sin that this person will consider repulsive. They are utterly devoid of all sense of shame and reason. This person “in a word, falls short of no extreme of folly and shamelessness.” (571 D) He becomes drunken, erotic, maniacal. (573 C) After describing the tyrannical man and how such a man is raised, Plato turns his attention to the constitution of the man by drawing parallels between the tyrannical state and the tyrannical man. From his examination of the tyrannical state Plato concludes that although some small minority appears free and happy, the vast majority is oppressed and wretched. He thus infers that likewise the tyrannical man is enslaved.

Judging the tyrannical man to be like the tyrannical city, Plato says this, “that the real tyrant is really enslaved to cringings and servitudes beyond compare.” (579 E) The idea here is that although the tyrannical man appears to be indulging all his appetites hedonistically, he actually is only indulging a select group of his appetites. Namely, the lawless ones that ought to be governed with reason. Instead these lawless appetites enslave the tyrannical man and contrary to appearances, or perhaps even what the man himself believes, the majority of his soul is enslaved and oppressed. It is in this sense I think that Christians are “free to do good.” It seems to me that there are strong parallels between the tyrannical man and the “unsaved” man. Both are slaves to passions and desires that dominate them.

Laws of Nature

Posted in Philosophy with tags on November 30, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

I rarely, and I mean very rarely, write about philosophy of science. This is mostly because I am not at all qualified to talk about science. That said, this is a review of  Fred Dretske’s essay titled “Laws of Nature.” How we think about laws of nature is extremely interesting and if you find my review even mildly entertaining, I strongly suggest finding a copy of Dretske’s article. It is well worth the read.

“It is tempting to identify the laws of nature with a certain class of universal truths.”

So reads the opening sentence of Fred Dretske’s work titled “Laws of Nature.” It is in this article that he sets out to answer the question of what it means to be a law of nature. As can be inferred from the sentence above, he does not believe laws of nature form a certain class of universal truths. This short essay will examine the claim and supporting arguments Dretske offers in his article and also elaborate on the relevance of Dretske’s claim.

Dretske begins his article by asserting that laws are not “simply what universally true statements express, not even universally true statements” with unlimited scope.

He does not seem to think that this is statement is contested. He goes on to state that science seems to follow a certain formula for considering something a law of nature. According to Dreske the formula goes something like, a universal truth plus X, X being a “special function…or role that the universal truth must have.”

Dretske lists five possible “candidates” for X in his article that will not be stated here.

This formula for a law raises the question what is the distinction between and natural law and a universal truth? Dretske claims “Law like statements are singular statements of fact describing a relationship between properties and magnitudes.”

Using the example Drestke uses, the statement “All F’s are G’s” is linked such that F must be G because the properties of F generate G.

In order for this to be a natural law it must be the case that having property F necessitates that there must also be property G. “It is this which explains the power of laws to tell us what would happen if we did such-and-such and what could not happen whatever we did.”

As an argument in support of this claim, Dretske offers the following analogy. He describes how the United States’ government works with its system of checks and balances, each branch maintaining some power while being subject to the other two branches in particular and specific cases. Dretske then points out that there is nothing about the Constitution and these political laws that must necessarily be the way they are. This is to say that they could in fact be different. Rather, “the legal code lays down a set of relationships between various offices of government, and this set of relationships impose legal constraints on the individuals who occupy those offices.”

This is exactly the sense in which Dretske believes natural laws should be thought of. As governing relationships objects occasionally have with each other when they “occupy a certain office.”

Again thinking of this in the way presented in Dretske’s illustration. Namely that natural laws govern objects as a particular person must necessarily follow certain laws if that particular person is President of the United States and that such laws would not have necessarily applied if that particular person never became President. Thus, objects have properties, and there is the potentiality that these properties are connected in certain ways. When these properties connect in a way that is a physical necessity, Dretske claims such a relationship is a natural law.

So what is the significance and importance of Dretske’s claims? Dretske actually answers this directly in his article, “It is this which explains the power of laws to tell us what would happen if we did such-and-such and what could not happen whatever we did.”

Explaining this “power” of natural laws is the goal of all philosophical conversations about what constitutes a natural law. Whether or not Dretske is successful depends on his reader, but nonetheless this is the question he has attempted to answer. It is a relevant article because Dretske offers a he terms an “ontological ascent”, claiming that readers should cease talking about individual “objects and events” and instead talking about “quantities and qualities that these objects exemplify.”

Dretske states, “Instead of talking about green and red things, we talk about the colors green and red.”

This is clearly a very different way of thinking and talking about natural laws. As such its relevancy is based on its very new proposed answer to a very old question.

What is Justice?

Posted in Philosophy with tags , on November 29, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

What is Justice? Undoubtedly a very important question but certainly not easily answered. In Plato’s Republic Thasymachus argues that justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger. The following discussion is very surface, mainly aimed at sparking discussion and thought on the subject. There is some of my own personal thought (though somewhat undeveloped) towards the end. I may write more on this in the future.

After Thasymschus says justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger he follows it with the example that each government whether democratic, tyrannical, or aristocracy each make laws similar to their respective forms. In other words the United States’ democratic government makes democratic laws. “And they declare what they have made- what is to their own advantage- to be just for their subjects, and they punish anyone who goes against this as lawless and unjust.” (Republic I 338e) Because the concept of justice is closely tied to the concept of law, it can be assumed that Thrasymachus affirms “law” as a thing tied to the subjective nature of whichever government a person might find him or herself in. Therefore if the law is simply those in power creating laws that reflect them because of their advantage, justice is as subjective and arbitrary as law.

Thrasymachus’ theory is particularly interesting because of the ties it might have to the Christian concept of government and justice such as Paul outlines in Romans 13. For my own opinion I’d like to borrow Aristotle’s distinction between Natural and Legal Justice. If we say that Thrasymachus is speaking only about Legal Justice, than I agree with him because I believe Earthly kingdoms are concerned with the protection of what is their own and often define justice generally as what they do. But being that I am a Christian I do believe there is a second half of Justice, namely the Natural side, and Thrasymachus’ theory cannot be applied here. Natural Justice could not be as subjective as Thrasymachus makes justice out to be in my opinion.

Limited Atonement- J. Calvin (Part II)

Posted in Biblical Studies with tags , on November 26, 2012 by taylorvincentroche

Continuing on the conversation from my previous post:

John Calvin penned his book, Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536.The Synod of Dort was composed in 1619 and the Westminster Confession was completed in 1647.By beginning with The Institutes of Christian Religion, and working forward, examining in detail what each work says about the doctrine of predestination and in particular Limited Atonement, it will be possible to see exactly how the doctrine of Calvin have evolved.  Because of the controversy surrounding the doctrine of Limited Atonement, the purpose of examining these works will be to directly learn what they say about the scope of Christ’s work on the cross.  The other four points of Calvinism are less debated, and for the sake of time and space the focus of this paper is directed at Limited Atonement.  As just previously mentioned, this paper will begin with the Institutes and work forwards to the Westminster Confession.

Calvin devotes a mere four chapters to the topic of predestination in his Institutes.  It is important to understand the John Calvin never specifically addresses Limited Atonement.  So in some regard it is impossible to prove that he believed in Limited Atonement.  What can be proven is that Calvin believed in the two principles that lead directly to Limited Atonement.  This paper makes no claims that Limited Atonement was a doctrine that John Calvin taught.  However this paper does claim that Calvin’s theology is clearly described and accurately developed in Calvinism. The two points that Calvin held which lead to Limited Atonement are as follows, first Calvin clearly understands Jesus’ death to bring about actual remission of sin and actually obtain salvation.

Secondly, Calvin also believes that salvation is for the elect alone. These points will be elaborated on in detail.In book three chapter XXII, titled “This Doctrine Confirmed by Proofs from Scripture” Calvin specifically addresses the discussion on Christ’s atonement. According to Calvin, salvation is for solely the elect. Quoting directly from him,

“But it is by Isaiah he more clearly demonstrates how he destines the promises

of salvation especially to the elect (Isa 8:16); for he declares that his disciples

would consist of them only, not indiscriminately of the whole human race.”

This illustrates that Calvin understood salvation for the elect alone.  This alone does not prove that the doctrine of Limited Atonement even entered into Calvin’s head. It simply proves that Calvin believed that salvation was only attained by the elect. This is the first point of two. Earlier in his same work, Calvin affirms what has already been stated, that Jesus’ death obtains the actual remission of sin.  Quoting directly from book two chapter XVII, “Christ Rightly and Properly Said to Have Merited Grace and Salvation for Us”,

“That is Christ, by his obedience, truly purchased and merited grace for us

with the Father, is accurately inferred from several passages of Scripture. I

take it for granted, that if Christ satisfied our sins, if he paid the penalty due

by us, if he appeased G-d by his obedience; in fine, if he suffered the just for the

unjust, salvation was obtained for us by his righteousness; which is just equivalent

to meriting.”

This quote along with others that cannot be quoted verbatim illustrate the second point about Calvin’s theology. That Jesus’ death is complete, final, all that is necessary for sins, and obtains real removal of sin. For Calvin, Jesus’ death on the cross does not simply provide the possibility of remission of sins but the actual remission of sins.

This statement along with numerous other statements that can be found in John Calvin’s Institutes prove that Calvin firmly believed Jesus’ death to in no ways be in vain.  Calvin firmly held to the fact that Christ’s work on the cross was final and complete.

From these two points it shows that for Calvin, all whom Christ died for are saved.  It is reasonable then that since Calvin also affirmed that not everyone is saved, he did not believe in Universal Atonement.

Therefore it is not inaccurate or misleading for later Calvinists to affirm Limited Atonement in response to Arminian writings.  John Calvin’s theology clearly affirmed the two principles that lead directly and inescapably to the doctrine of Limited Atonement. Eighty-three years after the Institutes was completed the Synod of Dort was written in response to the Five Articles of Remonstrance.The Five Articles of Remonstrance was a work composed by Dutch theologians who were disciples of Jacobus Arminius, the founder of Arminianism.  It is generally considered that here, in 1619, those composing the Synod of Dort made Calvin’s doctrine of predestination more rigid than he had ever intended.  Because the Synod of Dort was composed in response to the doctrine found in the Five Articles of Remonstrance, it is not a complete exposition of Calvinist theology but merely disagrees with the Five Articles.  Almost every article’s function is a refutation an Arminian view of predestination and affirmation Calvinist position. This format makes it very simple to discern exactly what the composers meant.  In Section 02: “Of the Death of Christ and the Redemption of Men Thereby” under the “Rejection of Errors” heading the Synod states that the claim that Christ died for all (Universal Atonement) is “injurious to the wisdom of G-d, the merit of Christ, is contrary to Scripture.”

The Synod of Dort goes on to claim what will later become known as Limited Atonement. In regard to the other five points of Calvinism, although they were not discussed in relation to the Westminster Confession, the Synod of Dort clearly affirms Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.  The Synod of Dort seems to be much harsher in its language than the Westminster Confession. It is clearly obvious that the composers of the Synod of Dort are attempting to draw clear and distinct lines between their own beliefs and Arminian theology. Because the authors of the Synod of Dort are responding to the Five Articles of Remonstrance, they seem to be affirming what is exactly contrary to the Five Articles.

The Westminster Confession is generally regarded as the best expression of Calvinist theology during its time. Quite obviously it addresses many doctrines other than the theology in question.  However this paper will limit itself to only to those articles pertaining to predestination and particularly Limited Atonement.  Both sides of this debate agree that the Westminster Confession claims Limited Atonement.  In Chapter XIII section V the Confession agrees that Christ’s sacrifice is only for those who were given to him by the Father. Just earlier in Chapter X section I the Confession states again that the elect alone are the purpose of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. Again in the next Chapter, XI, section IV the Confession concludes that the justifying work of Christ fulfilled an eternal decree promised by G-d to those whom He had elected.

This is sufficient evidence that the Westminster Confession asserts Limited Atonement.  Using this as a reference point it is possible to track the evolution, or lack thereof, of Calvin’s doctrine backwards in time.  In regard to other points of predestination, the Westminster Confession seems to hold fairly clearly to Calvin’s theology.  It is also clear though, that the atonement found in the articles of the Confession is Limited Atonement.