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...