Friday, December 14, 2007

Open Question to Seth on the Atonement Debate

After reflecting on our debate, it has occurred to me that perhaps our original resolution(s) was(were) not very well defined:

You posted this statement of the resolution:

*** QUOTE ***

Resolved: Christ's sacrifice has saved or will save each person upon whose behalf it was offered.

I will be denying that [assertion] and affirming that Christ died universally for the whole world, especially the elect.

*** END OF QUOTE ***

(source)

In the debate, I tried to ask you whether you were intending to take the position that Christ died with the intent that the benefits of his death would be applied to the reprobate.

Specifically I asked:

Did Christ die intending to save the reprobate?

You gave the following answer:

Christ died to pay for the sins of the world with the intention to save the elect. God's salvific will is purposed for only the elect, but his desire is for all to come to salvation. This is the famous "two-wills of God" theory, which I hold to. So this is where the multiple intentions comes in the discussion. Christ died for the whole of mankind, but his special love for the elect was the "joy set before him" and that is why he "endured the cross."

Try as I might, I cannot be sure whether that is supposed to be an affirmative or negative answer to the question.

If you are simply saying that Christ's death was of sufficient value to save the reprobate, we have no debate.
If you are simply saying that Christ's death would save the reprobate, if the reprobate man turned in faith to Christ, we have no debate.

I asked you follow-up questions in the comments section of your post, but I don't see any response, so I'm left wondering whether your intended disagreement with my position is anything more than a semantic disagreement.

After all, some of the folks on your side have suggested that they are merely holding to the teachings of Hodge and Shedd.

Yet Shedd clearly taught limited redemption (while semantically differentiating that from "unlimited" [that is to say, unlimited in intrinsic value] atonement):


(Dogmatic Theology, p. 471)

So the question remains for you, what is it that you believe Christ intended on the cross as far as the salvation of the reprobate go? Was Christ offering his infinitely valuable sacrifice with the intent to save others than those whom he actually will save?

If you do not believe that Christ intended on the cross to save the reprobate, I'm not sure how you can reasonably say that you disagree with my assertion: "Christ's sacrifice has saved or will save each person upon whose behalf it was offered." - at least, as far as I intended it.

And if you are only disagreeing with it in a sense in which I did not intend it, perhaps we ought to call off the debate, as fundamentally (though not semantically) in agreement with each other.

-Turretinfan

16 comments:

Seth McBee said...

TF:
I will try this again, either I wasn't clear (which is very possible) or you missed something. But, for the sake of our friendship and brotherhood, I will explain and you let me know if it is clear...fair?

1. I believe that Jesus Christ died for the whole world of unbelieving humanity. I believe he paid the ransom, wiped away their sin.

2. Jesus Christ only intended (purposed is my word of choice) the salvation of the elect, this is the efficacy of the payment. Really found in application

3.By Jesus' death, he then offers this death to all men. He desires the salvation of all men, even seeks their salvation through the call of the Gospel, that is, that Christ died for all and by that death it is the means for all to be saved.

So, in the end. God's secret will, will save everyone of the elect, because it (Christ's death) is for them that it is purposed.

But, in God's revealed will, Jesus died for all and paid the payment and the desire and offer is to all.

Seth McBee said...

By the way...where did you ever ask the question:

Do you take the position that Christ with the intent that the benefits of his death would be applied to the reprobate?

Turretinfan said...

Dear Seth,

As to your second comment, I see that there was a typo in my original post, which I've corrected. Perhaps it is more clear now.

In event by asking specifically

Did Christ die intending to save the reprobate?

I tried to ask you

whether you were intending to take the position that Christ died with the intent that the benefits of his death would be applied to the reprobate.

... I don't mean to suggest that I asked the latter question in so many words, but only that I was trying to ask that question with the question I did ask.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

As to the first question, the most important point seems to be one on which we agree, namely that Christ intended his death to have a saving effect only on the elect.

But, if that is the case, I think you have conceded my resolution: "Christ's sacrifice has saved or will save each person upon whose behalf it was offered."

In other words, redemption is limited and particular, as Shedd holds.

The issue of whether Christ "desires" the salvation of the reprobate is another issue - an important one - but not the central one. It seems you admit that Christ did not die intending to save them by his death.

We both agree that Christ's death was sufficient for all, and efficient only for the elect.

Likewise, we both agree that Christ's death was only ever intended to be efficient for the elect.

So, it seems to me that we don't need to continue this particular debate, because you seem to concede what - to me - are the most important points.

-Turretinfan

Seth McBee said...

I think we would disagree still.

I believe that Jesus died for all men, reprobate and elect. He paid the price for both, wiped away the wrath of God. Application is different. We would both agree that the application or imputation of the blood of Chris is only for the elect. That is not the debate.

The debate was that Christ's death was for all and offered to all.

We seem to be talking passed each other a little bit here. Offered and applied are two separate terms.

If you look at the resolved on your part and my part they speak what the debate hinges on...and we both still don't see eye to eye on this.

Resolved: Christ's sacrifice has saved or will save each person upon whose behalf it was offered.(Turretinfan)

I will be denying that [assertion] and affirming that Christ died universally for the whole world, especially the elect (Seth)

natamllc said...

This is an interesting development on this thread.

Where does this go, here or over at Contend?

Seth:"I believe that Jesus died for all men, reprobate and elect. He paid the price for both, wiped away the wrath of God."

Michael: ok, prove it with Scripture then.

Thanks
michael

Magnus said...

I have a hard time seeing what Seth is denying in TF’s assertion? It seems that Seth would have to say that no Christ’s sacrifice has not saved or will not save each person upon whose behalf it was offered. Would Seth than be saying that some people will not be saved for whom Christ’s sacrifice was offered?

Turretinfan said...

Seth: "I believe that Jesus died for all men, reprobate and elect. He paid the price for both, wiped away the wrath of God."
I answer: He paid a price sufficient for both, no doubt. But you admit that he did not intend by the payment of the price to save the reprobate.

So, it would seem to be inconsistent to say that God's wrath was actually removed with respect to the reprobate, since they will still suffer the wrath of God.

Seth: "Application is different."
I answer: Application of the benefits of the death is different from the act of dying, of course. We agree on that.

Seth: "We would both agree that the application or imputation of the blood of Chris is only for the elect. That is not the debate."
I answer: Agreed.

Seth: "The debate was that Christ's death was for all and offered to all."
I answer: Since I would agree that it is conditionally offered to all, and I don't think you would say that it is unconditionally offered to all, I think we agree on that part of the matter.
The condition of the offer is summarized by faith in Christ. He is only offered to all on that condition.
The remaining question would be what you mean by "for all." If you mean "sufficient for all" we agree again. If you mean "effective for all" then you would seem to contradict yourself.

Seth: "We seem to be talking passed each other a little bit here."
I answer: Definitely!

Seth: "Offered and applied are two separate terms."
I answer: They are two different terms, though they may not fully be separable. That's a relatively minor point.

Seth: "If you look at the resolved on your part and my part they speak what the debate hinges on...and we both still don't see eye to eye on this."
I answer: See above, though - I'm not sure you can really deny my resolution consistent with your position without taking the resolution differently than I intended it.

Christ offered himself to God. That act is different than the reason for the act. But as far as saving people goes, we agree that the purpose was to save the elect, not the reprobate.

Now, you might want to assert that Christ's sacrifice was for other purposes in addition to saving people. I guess I'd want to know what you meant by that.

-Turretinfan

Seth McBee said...

I don't want to play "hop scotch" on the blogs...so if you have questions that you need me to answer, please ask over on my post on this subject at Contend Earnestly

Turretinfan said...

Seth,

I have asked questions there, and haven't received answers there.

That's why this post was necessary.

-Turretinfan

Seth McBee said...

You received answers by way of Q & A from Turretinfan...you might not like them, or maybe they weren't clear, but that wasn't brought up.

I ask you to be clear when you are not, and it seems that you decide to come to your own blog when I am not clear...I guess I just don't understand.

If I am not clear...simply ask, I won't get bent out of shape.

Turretinfan said...

I see that David has posted some comments on the discussion above.

It's wrong of David to suggest that Shedd did not essentially adopt Owen's view on the atonement. For, indeed, as David surely knows, Shedd quotes from Owen's "Universal Redemption" as providing an illustration of the "old and well-established" distinction between the "sufficiency" of the atonement and its "extent" in the sense of "intent." (Dogmatic Theology, p. 468)
In the processing of quoting Owen with approval, Shedd states:

"He adds that "the expression, 'to die for any person,' holds out the intention of our Saviour in the laying down of the price, to be their redeemer."
(Dogmatic Theology, p. 469)

Furthermore, Shedd lists out the benefits that inure to the reprobate at pp. 486-487, by copying Turretin (the real one), which (of course) does not include the benefits of reconciliation to God, redemption from the curse of the law, remittance of the guilt of sin, or any of the like.

Now, David is accurate in his selective quotation.

For example, Shedd did write: "an atonement, either personal or vicarious, when made, naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims." The problem, of course, is that David seems (without warrant) to assume that Shedd means that the atonement does this, without regard to the application of the atonement.

It's a bit like saying a branding iron leaves a permanent mark. It's a true statement, but it is important only when we come to the application of the branding iron to the cow's hide.

What David seems to being doing (and Seth following) is attempting to posit a quasi-application of the atonement separate from redemption. As an idea, though, such a concept is incoherent, because atonement is either applied to cancel legal claims, or it is not.

If it is so-applied, then the question is only a matter of time, as the person purchasing such cancellation has the legal right to insist that the cancellation be applied to the desired recipients.

Until it is applied to the desired recipients, their debt is not clear, and the law still has claims against them.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Seth,

You're mistaken.

See here.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

David has responded by asserting that I'm taking out straw men.

Fine, if David is willing to admit that Shedd adopted Owen's and Turretin's position on the atonement, then the debate as to what Shedd meant is over - for I've taken the Turretin/Owen position on the atonement.

David says: "And remember I have never said that Shedd unequivocally agrees with me. But you did."
I answer: And I've documented it. See above.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

David,

The portions you quoted are explained by Shedd's comment, at p. 441:

"Christ, conceivably, might have died precisely as he did, and his death have been just as valuable for expiatory purposes as it is, but if his death had not been followed with the work of the Holy Ghost and the act of faith on the part of individual men, he would have died in vain."

Likewise, it is explained by Shedd's comment on p. 431 that:

"The atoning Mediator can demand upon principles of strict justice, the release from penalty of any sinful man in respect to whom he makes the demand."

The first of these two quotations provides evidence that Shedd understood expiation to be incidental to the purpose of Christ's death (since it would be "in vain" but for the work of the Spirit), and the second of these two quotations provides evidence that Shedd understood the expiation to be directed to the relationship between the offeror (Jesus Christ) and the offeree (the god-head), such that Jesus Christ has been given the right to apply the purchased liberty (sufficient for all) to the release of whatever captives he desires.

This further demonstrated by the internal evidence in your first quotation: "Consequently, what the atonement has effected objectively in reference to the attribute of divine justice, is not effected subjectively in the conscience of the individual."

Likewise, it is demonstrated by Shedd's comment on the following page (after making a comparison between personal and vicarious atonement), that "When a person trusts in this infinite atonement, and it is imputed to him by God, it then becomes his atonement for judicial purposes as really as if he had made it himself, and then it naturally and necessarily cancels his personal guilt, and he has the testimony that it does in his peace of conscience."

Similarly, Shedd is making the same point when he states: "The claims of law and justice for the sins of the whole world were satisfied by the "offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10); but the sins of every individual man were not forgiven and "blotted out" by this transaction."

Satisfaction relates to sufficiency - blotting out and forgiveness relate to efficacy.

Sufficient to all, efficient to the elect.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Likewise, David's arguments are thoroughly trashed by Shedd.

Shedd makes clear that pages 378-463 are about the nature and value of the atonement, when he says, at the top of page 464:

"Having considered the nature and value of Christ's atonement, we are prepared to consider its extent." (emphasis in original)

Provided with that additional context, we can see that when Shedd says: "Christ’s death as related to the claims of the law upon all mankind, cancels those claims wholly," (at page 437) he is not speaking as to the extent (as though the atonement extended to every man) but as to the nature (legal claim cancellation) and value (infinite).

Thus, by the time Shedd explains at page 470 that "Atonement is unlimited, and redemption is limited," we understand that Shedd means that the atonement (the sacrifice itself) is of infinite intrinsic value, but that the redemption (the purposed application of that atonement) is of particular, limited extent - that particular, limited extent being set by election.

Shedd explicitly rejects the "doctrine of the school of Saumer" (aka Amyraldianism) at page 471.

Likewise, Shedd, at page 474, explains what he means:

"In saying that Christ's atonement is limited in its application, and that redemption is particular, not universal, it is meant that the number of persons to whom it is effectually applied is a fixed and definite number."

Furthermore, Shedd explains, at page 475:

"Although Christ's atonement, in the discussion of its value and sufficiency, can be separated from the intention to apply it, yet in the Divine mind and decree the two things are inseparable."

Shedd likewise, on the same page, explains:

"The sacrifice of Christ is offererd with the intention that it shall actually be successful in saving human souls from death."

Similarly, on the next page, Shedd explains:

"The Divine Father, in giving the Divine Son as a sacrifice for sin, simultaneously determined that this sacrifice should be appropriated through faith by a definite number of the human family, so that it might be said that Christ died for this number with the distinct intention that they should be personally saved by this death."

Furthermore, Shedd, at pages 476-478 proves "That the atonement, in the mind of God, was inseparable from his purpose to apply it to individuals ... ."

In the couse of so doing, he states:

- "the atonement of Christ ... is not intended to be applied to non-elect men though it is sufficient for them"

- "... Christ's atonement is intended for application only to believers" (as, incidentally, I already showed in this debate, with reference to John 3:16)

- "The atoning work of Christ in its intended application is no wider than his intercessory work."

- And negatively, speaking of the non-elect: "It is logical therefore to conclude that he does not discharge the particular office of priest for them."

In addressing objections to limited redemption, at pages 479-89, Shedd rejects Seth's view (and - since Seth seems to have obtained his view from David, we shall presume David's view also) that Christ is the federal head of the same group as Adam (p. 480), instead indicating that "The 'all' in Adam is a larger aggregate than the 'all' in Christ."

Likewise, at page 482, Shedd explains that "3. The atonement is sufficent in value to expiate the sin of all men indiscriminately; and thi sfact should be stated beacuse it is a fact. there are no claims of justice not yet satisfied; there is no sin of man for which an infinte atonement has not been provided. "All things are now ready." Therefore the call to "come" is universal. It is plain, [sic] that the offer of the aontement should be regulated by its intrinsic nature and sufficiency, not by the obstacles that prevent its efficacy."

This is really the final nail in the coffin for Ponter's position.

Recall that Ponter had, while admitting that Shedd considered the expiation to have an unlimited, i.e. infinite, intrinsic value, also asserted that Shedd is saying that the expiation has an unlimited extrinsic value.

That is clearly not the case. Instead, Shedd's comments regarding the claims of justice being satisfied relate to the instrinsic value of the atonement, as clarified by Shedd himself in the most recent quotation above.

But, of course, all this confusion on Ponter's part springs from two facts:

First, it is confusion to assert that the legal claims of the law are cancelled with respect to any person, while asserting that such a person is guilty.

That this is confusion can be demonstrated in this way:

1. Justice demands that only the guilty be condemned.

2. Guilt is the result of violation of the law;

3. Violation of the law is contravention of the demands of the law;

4. If the demands of the law are removed, if it is impossible that they can be contravened;

5. If the law's demands cannot be contravened, the law cannot be violated.

6. If the law cannot be violated, there can be no guilt.

7. If there is no guilt, there can be no basis for judicial punishment.

8. Yet, some on the last day will be judged, which proves:

a) That they are guilty;
b) That they have violated the law;
c) That they have contravened the demands of the law; and
d) That, as to those people, the demands of the law have not been cancelled, destroyed, or otherwise removed.

Second, it is confusion to say that the atonement is effective only for the elect, while asserting that atonement actually cancels the claims of the law for each person.

That this is the case can be seen from the fact that if the claims of the law were cancelled for a particular person, that would be an effect of the atonement for that person.

In other words, it is confusion to say that the atonement is effective to all while simultaneously clami that it is effective only to some.

It is, specifically, the confusion of equivocation.

As I originally stated, it may seem to some readers that Shedd is suggesting that the laws claims are actually (not potentially) cancelled for all of humanity, but Shedd makes it very clear that he is referring to the intrinsic value of the atonement, and not an extrinsic effect of the atonement with respect to any particular person, except those for whom it is intended, who Shedd identifies as equal to the elect.

-Turretinfan