The Truth Shall Set You Free

Monday, July 24, 2006

Limited Atonement -- Continuation of Extreme Calvinism Articles

I quote the Moderate Calvinist position regarding Limited Atonement from Dr. Geisler's book Chosen But Free for the reader's review:

Limited atonement is also affirmed by moderate Calvinists in the sense that it is limited in its application. That is, although redemption was purchased for all and is available to all, nonetheless, it will only be applied to those whom God chose from all eternity – the elect.

Please find a very good exchange on this topic between Dr. Davy and Dawn. I've taken the liberty of bumping this thread to the main post position.


Dr. Davy said: “Limited atonement is a difficult issue. Let's say Christ died for all people (as Jn 1:29 and 3:16 seem to say). How then can God send some of those people to Hell, for whom Christ died? Was Christ's atonement insufficient? Saying that Christ died for the elect only solves that conundrum. The Arminian says that Christ's atonement was sufficient for all, but only effective for those who receive it by faith. I'm not sure if that is an adequate qualification. For one thing, either it was totally sufficient or it was not--to say that something was sufficient but not effective sounds like quibbling over words to me.”

Dawn's response: I don’t think limited atonement is a difficult issue at all. The only reason any of this appears to be difficult is because Calvinists of the extreme or hyper persuasion have totally and completely complicated the simplicity of the gospel and the perspicuity of scripture. They’ve done this by redefining biblical terms, creating false analogies, creating false doctrines, using fallacious arguments, taking scripture out of context, twisting scripture, ignoring tons of scripture and maligning God’s very character.

You said, “Let's say Christ died for all people (as Jn 1:29 and 3:16 seem to say). How then can God send some of those people to Hell, for whom Christ died? Was Christ's atonement insufficient? Saying that Christ died for the elect only solves that conundrum.”

It is very clear that Christ died for all people, but that’s not the whole of the gospel. There was a caveat attached to Jesus’ death. The caveat being that one must actually believe the gospel. And I’m not talking Easy Believism here. As Eye has pointed out numerous times, the word believe is an action word that means to faith/commit. One must not only believe Jesus is Lord, but one must put their trust and faith in the Lord and commit their lives to His service. When we believe on the Lord in those terms then Jesus’ death on the cross is effective. It WAS, IS and ALWAYS WILL BE sufficient whether we believe or not.

How can God send some people to Hell? Easy (though it grieves Him tremendously while at the same time it is His JUSTICE), because the Bible states that one must believe on the Lord Jesus to be saved. Was Christ’s atonement insufficient? NO WAY! The question is irrelevant because the argument that His dying for ALL dictates that ALL must be saved is a logical fallacy. Saying that Christ died for the elect ONLY is simply wrong because Calvinists have CREATED the so-called “conundrum.” Sorry, Dr. Davy, but there was never a conundrum. NEVER.


Dr. Davy said: “The Arminian says that Christ's atonement was sufficient for all, but only effective for those who receive it by faith. I'm not sure if that is an adequate qualification. For one thing, either it was totally sufficient or it was not--to say that something was sufficient but not effective sounds like quibbling over words to me.”

Eye's interjection -- Words do mean something so quibbling over them is relevant to understanding the thought. Please note how Dawn has taken the clear definitions of sufficient and effective for us to compare and understand their meanings.

Dawn's response: The fact that Christ’s atonement was/is sufficient for all while not effective for all is in no way an inadequate qualification, rather it is the ONLY true and correct qualification as taught by the word of God. When we know and understand the whole of the gospel we understand the differences between sufficiency and efficacy, not to mention the actual definition of the words are DIFFERENT.

sufficient adj. 1. adequate for the purpose; enough. 2. Logic. (of a condition) such that its existence leads to the occurrence of a given event or the existence of a given thing. Compare NECESSARY (def. 4c). 3. Archaic. competent. sufficiently, adv.

effective adj. 1. adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result: effective teaching methods. 2. in operation or in force; functioning; operative: The law becomes effective at midnight. 3. producinga deep or vivid impression; striking: an effective photograph. 4. prepared and available for service, esp. military service. -n. 5. a member of the armed forces fit for duty or active service. effectively, adv. effectiveness, effectivity, n. - Syn. EFFECTIVE, EFFECTUAL, EFFICACIOUS, EFFICIENT refer to that which produces or is able to produce an effect. EFFECTIVE is applied to something that produces a desired or expected effect, often a lasting one: an effective speech. EFFECTUAL usu. refers to something that produces a decisive outcome or result: an effectual settlement. EFFICACIOUS refers to something capableof achieving a certain end or purpose: an efficacious remedy. EFFICIENT, usu. used of a person, implies skillful accomplishment of a purpose with littlewaste of effort: an efficient manager.

Christ’s atonement was sufficient to save the entire world. His atonement is only effective when one applies the correct principles to that atonement (i.e., believe (believe/faith/commit) on the Lord Jesus Christ).

Dr. Davy said: “For another thing, it can be made to look like faith is a work, and it is necessary for man to do the work of faith in order to complete Christ's work of atonement. Once again, it implies that Christ's atonement was not totally sufficient for salvation.”

Dawn's response: Sorry, DD, but only a hyper/extreme Calvinist would ever see faith as a work. The Bible explicitly states that faith is NOT a work. (Romans 3:27) So WHY would ANYONE EVER see it as a work? The ONLY way they would ever see it that way is if they were TAUGHT to see it that way. FAITH IS NOT A WORK and can NEVER be seen as a WORK. Saying that one can exercise their GOD-GIVEN FAITH is in no way an implication of insufficiency of Christ’s atonement. It’s just NOT. God is the only one who can save, but He requires some participation from man, and that participation of faith is NOT a work. That IS what the Bible teaches. Man’s participation in no way takes any sovereignty away from God. Man can’t save Himself, but He must obey the word of God by placing his faith IN God. God then quickens our spirits to life and we are new creatures IN HIM. It is ALL the work of God.

Eye's finale -- thanks to Dr. Davy and Dawn for their good exchange on this topic. To sum up I would like to quote from Dr. Geisler's book Chosen But Free, p. 76:

Extreme Calvinists argue that limited atonement is supported by the fact that the objects of Christ's death are always believers, not unbelievers. They further contend that if Christ paid the price for the salvation of all unbelievers, then all would be saved. In other words, they argue that rejection of limited atonement leads to universalism (the belief that everyone will be saved), which of course is contrary to Scripture.

And on page 88 of Chosen But Free we read:

The stark truth of the matter is that the God of extreme Calvinism is not all-loving. Limited atonement necessarily means God has limited His love to only some.

Remember John 3:16...

In Him,

Eye

20 Comments:

  • Eye, I'm honored that you have promoted Dr. Davy's and my exchange to the main post position. I hope that others will take the time to state their opinions as well.

    John 3:16 was the perfect finale.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 25, 2006 1:10 PM  

  • Dawn,

    It is my distinct pleasure! I must thank you for you have written what I percieve to be a concise and 'rightly divided' response to those who clearly believe that Jesus died for the 'elect' only. Your response clearly balances the Scriptures that reflect God's love for all which is not 'limited' in any sense of the meaning.

    All still means all...

    World still means world...

    May God continue to richly bless you and your family.

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 25, 2006 1:23 PM  

  • Dawn,

    I enjoy this kind of discussion! We are attempting to look at Scripture and draw accurate conclusions from it.

    You said: I don’t think limited atonement is a difficult issue at all. The only reason any of this appears to be difficult is because Calvinists of the extreme or hyper persuasion have totally and completely complicated the simplicity of the gospel and the perspicuity of scripture. They’ve done this by redefining biblical terms, creating false analogies, creating false doctrines, using fallacious arguments, taking scripture out of context, twisting scripture, ignoring tons of scripture and maligning God’s very character.

    This surprises me. It is usually hyper-Calvinists who get all polemical. Are you saying that all Calvinists are stupid because they cannot understand what is clear in the Bible? Are you saying that all Calvinists are evil and their motivation is to mislead seekers and Christians? Be careful about ad hominem arguments; let's stick with specifics on how they "take scripture out of context, twist scripture, and ignore tons of scripture."

    If this issue were simple, there would not have been intelligent, sincere Christians arguing both sides of the issue for the last 350 years.

    George Whitefield, a Calvinist, and Charles Wesley, an Arminian, carried on a heated public debate for years. When Whitefield died, someone asked John Wesley if he thought that he would see Whitefield in Heaven. Wesley said, "probably not, for George would be so close to the Throne of God that I would be prevented from seeing him!" I think we need to show the same kind of respect for each other.

    The definition of sufficient is thus: sufficient adj. 1. adequate for the purpose; enough. 2. Logic. (of a condition) such that its existence leads to the occurrence of a given event or the existence of a given thing.

    Was the death of Christ adequate to atone for all the sins of the world? Did the existence of the death of Christ lead to the occurrence of the salvation of the whole world? If so, the death of Christ was sufficient for the whole world. If not, it was sufficient only for those who are saved, only for the Church, only for the "sheep" - In Jn 10:15 Jesus said, "I lay down my life for the sheep."

    You said, "Was Christ’s atonement insufficient? NO WAY! The question is irrelevant because the argument that His dying for ALL dictates that ALL must be saved is a logical fallacy. Saying that Christ died for the elect ONLY is simply wrong because Calvinists have CREATED the so-called “conundrum.” Sorry, Dr. Davy, but there was never a conundrum. NEVER."

    The question is not irelevant, and saying it is doesn't make it so. In what way is the following syllogism a logical fallacy?

    Christ died for all men.
    Those for whom Christ died are saved.
    All men are saved.

    I admit that it does not agree with Scripture, but it is logical. If the logic is correct but the conclusion is wrong, there must be something wrong with the premises. The Calvinist would say,

    Christ died for some men.
    Those for whom Christ died are saved.
    Some men are saved.

    This conclusion is correct. The Calvinist is now challenged to show that his premises are biblical. The Arminian would say,

    Christ died for all men.
    Some men trust Christ.
    Some men are saved.

    But that doesn't deal with the first premise. It, in fact, substitutes a different premise. You said, "Christ’s atonement was sufficient to save the entire world. His atonement is only effective when one applies the correct principles to that atonement [i.e., faith]."

    It is necessary to trust Christ to be saved.
    Some men trust Christ.
    Some men are saved.

    This is all biblically true and logically correct, but you haven't answered the problem, you've changed the problem. You have answered the question, "How do we arrive at the correct conclusion that some men are saved?" But the question remains, how do you deal with the original syllogism? The Arminian affirms that Christ died for all men (and that His death was sufficient), and the Bible says that all men for whom Christ died are saved, so how can Arminians not arrive at Universalism? It is in fact a conundrum! The Arminian says, somehow,

    Christ died for all men.
    Those for whom Christ died are saved.
    Some men are saved.

    The conclusion is correct, but the argument is fallacious. Here is how the Arminian position has been stated historically.

    The death of Christ is sufficient to save all men.
    It is effective for those who believe.
    Those who believe will be saved.

    That doesn't satisfy me, but it does satisfy many people.

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 26, 2006 9:04 AM  

  • Eye,

    You quoted Chosen But Free: "The stark truth of the matter is that the God of extreme Calvinism is not all-loving. Limited atonement necessarily means God has limited His love to only some."

    That's what the Bible says in Rom 9:13 - "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." How are we going to fit that into our theology? A biblically based systematic theology is one which takes every verse into account, even the difficult ones.

    A student asked his Old Testament professor if he was a Calvinist or an Arminian. He responded that he was neither: he was a biblicist. It's good to believe the Bible, whatever it says, but if you believe that Scripture never contradicts itself, and if you believe that God gave us curious minds to figure things out (and if you're reading this website, you probably believe this), then you must believe that it is possible to figure out a comprehensive philosophy that includes all of what Scripture teaches.

    So we need a theology that includes Rom 9:13 and John 3:16. That's the kind of issues that Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther and John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius wrestled with. They came up with different answers.

    But certain things they all agreed on: Christ died for our sins. It is necessary to believe to be saved. God is sovereign. Christ will return.

    Let's remember that we are Christians searching for truth. We are not enemies trying to destroy each other. We are brothers and sisters, with one Father, and a common enemy.

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 26, 2006 9:22 AM  

  • Dr. Davy,

    Thanks for coming by and posting! You sum up it up well when you say:

    "Let's remember that we are Christians searching for truth. We are not enemies trying to destroy each other. We are brothers and sisters, with one Father, and a common enemy."

    To this Eye says, Amen and Amen!

    Dr. Davy wrote: Here is how the Arminian position has been stated historically.

    The death of Christ is sufficient to save all men.
    It is effective for those who believe.
    Those who believe will be saved.

    That doesn't satisfy me, but it does satisfy many people.

    Eye's response:

    I quote the Moderate Calvinist position regarding Limited Atonement from Dr. Geisler's book Chosen But Free for the reader's review:

    Limited atonement is also affirmed by moderate Calvinists in the sense that it is limited in its application. That is, although redemption was purchased for all and is available to all, nonetheless, it will only be applied to those whom God chose from all eternity – the elect.

    I really don't see the difference in what you say is the historical Arminian position and what Dr. Geisler calls moderate Calvinism.

    I find this interesting -- what are your thoughts on this?

    I will comment further on your verse selections and other good comments later -- pressed for time right now!

    PS -- Dawn and I have both been mocked, ridiculed, scorned and called all but heretics by some of our EXTREME Calvinist brethern. I can assure you that Dawn is just as interested as I am in pursuing God's Word and letting it speak for itself! My take -- no way was Dawn saying 'all Calvinists are stupid because they cannot undrstand what is clear in the Bible, nor did I understand her to imply that 'all Calvinists are evil and their motivation is to mislead seekers and Christians.' Actually after a quick review of her comments on my Blog I see none of this...

    I think we can all agree that most of Christendom is Biblically illiterate and there are zealots on both sides of any argument! ;-)

    Look forward to the dialogue...

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 26, 2006 12:39 PM  

  • Dr. Davy: “This surprises me. It is usually hyper-Calvinists who get all polemical. Are you saying that all Calvinists are stupid because they cannot understand what is clear in the Bible? Are you saying that all Calvinists are evil and their motivation is to mislead seekers and Christians? Be careful about ad hominem arguments; let's stick with specifics on how they "take scripture out of context, twist scripture, and ignore tons of scripture."

    No, if I were saying that all Calvinists are stupid, evil, have impure motivations and cannot understand what is clear in scripture I would have said it point blank. To the contrary, those who have developed, and those who promote and teach, the philosophy of Calvinism are usually highly intelligent, and I’ll leave it at that.

    Dr. Davy:Be careful about ad hominem arguments; let's stick with specifics on how they "take scripture out of context, twist scripture, and ignore tons of scripture."

    Actually, in my original document I had started giving examples, but was getting too bogged down with them. I decided not to give the examples since I mainly wanted to address the topic at hand: Limited Atonement. Those examples are still in my original. Maybe I’ll post about it on my blog in the near future, but don’t hold your breath. I never know when the mood will truly hit me and cause me to actually post about something instead of thinking about posting about something. :-/

    I apologize if I have offended you, as that was not my intention. I’m simply stating the truth. Actually, many of the Calvinists I’ve come up against usually resort to ad hominem. They just can’t seem to help themselves. They tend to see non-Calvinists as lacking in spirituality, appealing to emotion and often accuse us of not “understanding Calvinism”. I do not believe I’m guilty of ad hominem: I addressed your specific argument, did I not? :-)

    Dr. Davy:Was the death of Christ adequate to atone for all the sins of the world?

    Yes. I’ll remind you of the definition of adequate.

    adequate adj. 1. as much or as good as necessary FOR SOME REQUIREMENT OR PURPOSE; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit. 2. barely sufficient or suitable. 3. Law. reasonably sufficient for starting legal action. adequately, adv. adequateness, n.

    What was the purpose of Christ’s death? It was to save mankind from the penalty of sin.

    Dr. Davy:Did the existence of the death of Christ lead to the occurrence of the salvation of the whole world? If so, the death of Christ was sufficient for the whole world.

    In view of the KNOWLEDGE of the whole of the gospel, you’re asking the wrong question. Again, sufficiency/adequacy does not, in any way, equate to limitation. It simply means that Christ’s atonement is sufficient/adequate/able to SAVE.

    So, to answer your question. No, Christ’s death did not lead to the salvation of the whole world. Christ’s death was NEVER intended to automatically save those who did not believe. As I stated before, there was a caveat attached to Christ’s death. Mankind’s refusal to meet the requirement does not negate the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement, whatsoever. The shedding of His blood was/is sufficient to atone for the sins of the world, if the whole world chooses to believe.

    Dr. Davy: “If not, it was sufficient only for those who are saved, only for the Church, only for the "sheep" - In Jn 10:15 Jesus said, "I lay down my life for the sheep."

    No, it WAS/IS sufficient for taking away sin period, but only EFFECTIVE for those who believe and are saved. Jesus did lay down his life for His sheep, but He also laid it down for the WHOLE world i.e., EVERY MAN. (see scriptures below)

    Dr. Davy:

    Christ died for all men.
    Those for whom Christ died are saved.
    All men are saved.

    I admit that it does not agree with Scripture, but it is logical. If the logic is correct but the conclusion is wrong, there must be something wrong with the premises.


    There is something wrong with the second premise. Christ died for the whole world, but not all whom He died for are saved. We see that Christ died for ALL in the scriptures listed below. Please tell us how you can say that Christ did not die for ALL men when it is there for us in black and white and as clear as day. (emphasis added to scripture)

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

    1 Timothy 2:6 "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

    Romans 5:18 "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

    John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

    1 John 2:2 "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

    Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

    Dr. Davy:The Calvinist would say,

    Christ died for some men.
    Those for whom Christ died are saved.
    Some men are saved.


    The conclusion is correct, but according to scripture the premises are incorrect.

    It is correct to say:

    Christ died for all men. (See list above)
    SOME of those for whom Christ died are saved. (Whosoever believes/Whosoever will)
    Therefore, some men are saved.

    So we see that the Calvinist’s argument is the one that is fallacious.

    Please give us the scripture to back up the Calvinist argument.

    Dr. Davy:…and the Bible says that all men for whom Christ died are saved

    Again, please give us the scripture that backs up your statement. The John 10:15 scripture does not state that all men for whom Christ died are saved. It says that He died for His sheep, but it does not say that it was only His sheep. He is merely being specific about who will be SAVED. I.e., those who believe and call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, and those who are saved are His sheep. (Romans 10:9-13; John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:13, etc.)

    Dr. Davy:The death of Christ is sufficient to save all men.
    It is effective for those who believe.
    Those who believe will be saved.

    That doesn't satisfy me, but it does satisfy many people.


    It satisfies many people because that IS the gospel.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 27, 2006 3:36 PM  

  • Eye: "All still means all...

    World still means world...
    "

    Exactly and AMEN! Well, we've got one example down i.e., Calvinists redefinig terms. :-)

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 27, 2006 3:46 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 27, 2006 3:49 PM  

  • Eye: "Dawn and I have both been mocked, ridiculed, scorned and called all but heretics by some of our EXTREME Calvinist brethern."

    Have we ever! LOL At least now I can laugh about it. Actually, we've been called heretics in a 'round about way...i.e., our beliefs are heretical. :-)

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 27, 2006 3:52 PM  

  • Dawn,

    You are correct! I'd forgotten that line -- our beliefs are heretical, but sadly they did say that...

    Oh well, that's the beauty of starting your own blog.

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 27, 2006 5:32 PM  

  • Reading through Romans again and found this scripture proving that Jesus died for ALL.

    Romans 5:15 "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many."

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 27, 2006 11:48 PM  

  • Dawn,

    That last quote uses the difficult word "many." See also Mt 20:28 - "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." You would say that in these passages "many" means "all." A Calvinist would say that in those other passages "all" means "many."

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at July 28, 2006 7:54 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 28, 2006 1:03 PM  

  • Dr. Davy, that's where context comes into play. Did Adams' death cause many to die or all? I think that form of writing is mostly trying to describe the magnitude, but it gets the point across that it means all.

    In the other cases of "all" and "world," the context and entirety of scripture define the terms.

    However, Romans 5:18 confirms that "many" means "all."

    So, do you think that Adam's sin only caused many to die?

    By Blogger Dawn, at July 28, 2006 1:15 PM  

  • Dr Davy,

    See my response to your good questions under the 'born again before faith' post since it fits that discussion.

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 28, 2006 1:34 PM  

  • Dr Davy,

    I meant to post the above comment under the stargate blog...

    In Him,

    Eye

    By Blogger Eye, at July 28, 2006 1:39 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Dawn, at August 15, 2006 2:51 PM  

  • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

    1 Timothy 2:6 "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

    Romans 5:18 "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

    John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

    1 John 2:2 "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

    Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

    Dr. Davy, would you please exegete these verses for us? Seriously. I want to know how you interpret them.

    By Blogger Dawn, at August 15, 2006 2:54 PM  

  • Dawn,

    You asked me to exegete the following verses. I'm going to answer them quickly, so I'll probably make some mistakes. Feel free to ask for clarification or to challenge me on specific points.

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

    This can be explained by the doctrine of multiple wills of God. It is God's decretive will that all men turn to Him, but most will refuse.

    1 Timothy 2:6 "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

    The power of the work of Christ was sufficient for as many as will come to Him. It is offered to all. We cannot say that He effectively ransomed all the sins of all people, or we would be universalists. (You should throw my own words elsewhere back at me: We can't reject a biblical fact just because it doesn't fit within our reasoning. To which I would reply, elsewhere in Scripture it is clearly taught that the work of Christ is only effective for the elect, that is, those who receive Christ.)

    Romans 5:18 "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

    Again, this could not mean that the work of Christ is effective for all men, or we would be universalists. In v. 15 the word "many" is used. V. 17 says, "they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." I wish Paul had not used "all" in v. 18, but I would argue that vv. 15 & 17 clarify what "all" means. It means the many who receive the gift from Christ.

    John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

    This can't be the same kind of effectual "drawing" of Jn 6:44, or once again we would be universalists. It must be the open invitation to all people, which many will reject. In Jn 3:14 Jesus speaks of being lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness. There He said, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." So again "all men" is qualified: it is only effective for those who believe in Him.

    1 John 2:2 "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

    Propitiation is the removal of divine wrath. We cannot conclude that Jesus effectively removed divine wrath from everyone in the whole world, else (1) we would be universalists again, or (2) God would be unjust in sending those for whom Christ died to Hell. Again, perhaps John is saying that the work of Christ is available to all.

    Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

    Again, this cannot mean that the death of Christ effectively saved every man. In v. 10 it says "sons," in v. 11 "they who are sanctified," in v. 12 "brethren" and "church," and in v. 13 "children which God hath given Me." So this is probably speaking of Christians.

    I think you are trying to make one of two points. First, you may be saying that the work of Christ was sufficient to cover the sins of all the people in the world, past, present, and future; or that the work of Christ is offered to all people. I agree. The work of Christ is sufficient in power and capacity to atone for the sins of all the people who ever lived or will live.

    Second, you may be saying that the atonement of Christ indeed paid for the sins of all people past, present, and future. But that would force one of three conclusions.

    1. You would be forced to embrace Universalism: all people are redeemed, whether they know it or not, and all will go to heaven. This is not biblical. Neither you nor I believe it. There are many verses in the Bible, including the NT, that make it clear that those who die in their sins will suffer eternal punishment (Mk 9:42-50).

    2. You would be forced to conclude that God is not just. Even though all the sin of all people has been atoned, even though God's wrath has been propitiated, God sends some to Hell. That would mean that God is calling the work of Christ insufficient, and that is not acceptable.

    3. You wold be forced to argue that Christ's atonement is sufficient for all the sins of all people except for the sin of rejecting Christ. Put that plank in your platform and stand on it, see if it supports your weight. If you want to argue that, let me give you a hint on how you might support it: maybe you could appeal to the "unforgivable sin": blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31).

    Now, you can't say that the sin of rejecting Christ itself is the problem, else we would all go to Hell, because we all began life rejecting Christ. You have to say the sin of continuing to reject Christ until the day you die is the problem. So, specifically, your doctrine would be that the work of Christ is sufficient for all sins of all people except the sin of continuing to reject Christ.

    Thus you would have to argue that the point of Mt 12:22-32 is that rejecting Christ to the end is the only unforgivable sin. But wait! V. 32 says that speaking against Christ will be forgiven but not speaking against the Spirit. Oops. It looks like appealing to the unforgivable sin is not going to work.

    In conclusion, the Calvinist position is that when Scripture says Christ died for all, it means either that Christ died for all the elect, or that the work of Christ is sufficient for all who will receive it, or it is offered to all. To take it "literally" leads to unbiblical and untenable conclusions.

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at August 16, 2006 8:19 AM  

  • Dear Eye,

    Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994) has a good section on particular redemption from a Calvinist position on pp. 594-603. He concludes the section with a helpful caution that Scripture says little or nothing directly concerning the doctrine so we are basing our positions on indirect nuances, that on a practical level there is much agreement on both sides, and that the discussion has generated more heat than light (those are my words).

    Dr Davy

    By Anonymous Dr Davy, at August 16, 2006 8:36 AM  

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