Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who is that on the Atonement? With Some Answers to Universalist Objections

(Note the term "Universalist" in the title is being used to refer to those who think died for all men universally, [like the way that B.B. Warfield uses the term] not those who believe that all men will be saved.)

Today, in fact only a few minutes ago, I found this interesting discussion, from which - for the moment - I've excerpted only the name:

When [this man] was charged with teaching, Christ has died for all men and for every individual, he responded, "This assertion was never made by me either in public or private except when it was accompanied by such an explanation as the controversies which are excited on this subject have rendered necessary. "For the phrase here used possesses much ambiguity: Thus it may mean either that 'the price of the death of Christ was given for all and for every one,' or that 'the redemption, which was obtained by means of that price, is applied and communicated to all men and to every one' . . . Of this latter sentiment I entirely disapprove, because God has by a peremptory decree resolved that believers alone should be made partakers of this redemption . . ."

Who is the person speaking this?

Frankly, I don't think this view is far from the quasi-Amyraldian "unlimited/limited" view that is has been espoused by various folks. What is interesting, though, is that the source of this interesting position is not a quasi-Amyraldian, an Amyraldian, or even a so-called "moderate Calvinist." The person speaking this in outright Arminian. In fact, it's Arminius himself.

I would sincerely ask folks who call themselves "moderate Calvinists," to consider whether
they really think that the synod of Dordt agreed with the Remonstrants on this point.

Likewise, I would ask Arminians to consider whether their own position here is tenable.

After all, how is purchasing a redemption for both believers and non-believers consistent with decreeing to save only believers?

This post (link) was provided by Billy Birch, whose posts I've been enjoy much lately, although I frequently disagree with them.

BB raises a few questions, that I think it would be worthwhile answering:

"But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone" (Heb. 2.9). Is "everyone" only the elect?

In general, no but in context, yes.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5.6). Are only the elect ungodly?

In general, no but in context, yes.

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2Cor. 5.14-15). Have not "all" spiritually died? Or have only the "elect" died spiritually? If "all" people everywhere are spiritually dead, then Christ Jesus died for them all.
In general, no but in context, yes.

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1John 2.2). And not only for ours (believers) but also for the "whole" world. Notice that John was not inspired to merely write, "for the world," but instead, "for the whole world." Bend over backwards, if you must, to make this only for the "elect," but do so to your own harm.
The explanation is simple - not just for John and his immediate audience.

What did John the baptizer confess about Jesus? "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" (John 1.29) The sin of the "elect"? or the sin of the "world"? Which was he inspired to proclaim? If the Spirit of God had meant the "elect," He would have inspired him to say so.
The world is an expansive, not extensive, term as used by John the Baptist.

Jesus himself admitted, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6.51). Is "the world" suppose to mean the "elect"? No. One has to accept the presupposition of Limited Atonement in order to believe it.
And same goes for Jesus as for John the Baptist.

Peter wrote, "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves" (2Pet. 2.1). Are false teachers and false prophets among God's chosen? Will false prophets be saved? No. Yet Peter spoke of them as people whom the Lord had purchased. How can this be? It cannot be, in a Calvinistic framework.
Must the buying here be referential to salvation from sins? But even if it must, was Jesus their Lord? If you will grant that he was not, then to insist that the "bought them" must be taken at face value is inconsistent.

There's certainly more that could be said in response to each of those points, more that has already been said, and more points from the original article that could be addressed. The fundamental interpretive error both for BB and the quasi-Amyraldians appears to be a failure to recognize the semantics of "all" and "world" in Scripture, as often expressing an expansive (people from all over the globe) rather than extensive (each and every last person on the face of the earth) connotation.



Anonymous said...

If Jesus did not die for all men,
(1) The non-elect cannot be considered guilty of the Lord's death in any way.
(2) The resurrection of the flesh is only established for the elect.

Turretinfan said...

As to (1), the non-elect (and elect) people who killed Christ are guilty of his death (and arguably their descendents under a federal headship principle). The elect people's guilt (both as to participation in his murder, if applicable, and as to all other sins), however, is atoned for by Christ's death.

As to (2), the resurrection of the body unto life is only established for the life. The non-elect will be raised unto the second death.


GeneMBridges said...

If Jesus did not die for all men,
(1) The non-elect cannot be considered guilty of the Lord's death in any way.
(2) The resurrection of the flesh is only established for the elect.

Passages that allegedly establish universal atonement, do not distinguish between universal atonement and universal salvation. Two classic texts would be from Romans and 1 Corinthians, Christ dying for all and all being justified are linked. It won't do to say "they must believe." Nobody disputes that. The issue is simply this: Why do they believe? Answer: They believe because Christ purchased their justification.

(1) The non-elect cannot be considered guilty of the Lord's death in any way.

a. Federal headship as TF replied is one answer.

b. Another is that Christ would not have to die if it wasn't for sin- to which the reprobate agree, namely His murder. Every sin they commit is an agreement with the motive to murder Christ. Just as none of us would have done any differently than Adam, none of us would have done any differently in Jerusalem that day. All that's really required for shared guilt is agreement with the murderers. Every sin we commit agrees with Adam. Every sin we commit agrees with the Jews and Romans.

(2) The resurrection of the flesh is only established for the elect.

The Resurrection validates the Lord's Kingship, for the Father, via the Resurrection gives the Son His kingdom as a reward for accomplishing His work. Consequently, He does not have to resurrect "for" the reprobate. Rather, He needs only establish His rulership over them through His resurrection, giving Him the right and power to resurrect them unto judgment.

Rev. said...

1) Why not? Though they certainly are guilty for their sin, despite Christ's sacrifice. As the Synod of Dort declared (II., Art.6) -
"...whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves."

2) And you base this statement upon? We affirm the resurrection of the just and the unjust.