Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Limited Atonement - Response to OneTrueChurch

In the following video, I respond to a video from “OneTrueChurch” on the topic of Calvinism and Limited Atonement (link). OneTrueChurch calls (in the title of his video) Calvinism a “Heresy” although he does not explain why he thinks that, and picks on Limited Atonement as key to the whole issue of Calvinism (much to the chagrin of my Amyraldian listeners and readers, no doubt).

Jerome (347-420) on Matthew 20:28: He does not say that he gave his life for all, but for many, that is, for all those who would believe.

Hilary of Arles (401-449) commenting on 1 John 2:2: When John says that Christ died for the sins of the “whole world,” what he means is that he died for the whole church.

Augustine (354-430): Hence things that are lawful are not all good, but everything unlawful is not good. Just as everyone redeemed by Christ's blood is a human being, but human beings are not all redeemed by Christ's blood, so too everything that is unlawful is not good, but things that are not good are not all unlawful. As we learn from the testimony of the apostle, there are some things that are lawful but are not good.

Chrysostom (349-407) on Hebrews 9:28. “So Christ was once offered.”: By whom offered? evidently by Himself. Here he says that He is not Priest only, but Victim also, and what is sacrificed. On this account are [the words] “was offered.” “Was once offered” (he says) “to bear the sins of many.” Why “of many,” and not “of all”? Because not all believed, For He died indeed for all, that is His part: for that death was a counterbalance against the destruction of all men. But He did not bear the sins of all men, because they were not willing.

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Hebrews 9:27-28: As it is appointed for each human being to die once, and the one who accepts death’s decree no longer sins but awaits the examination of what was done in life, so Christ the Lord, after being offered once for us and taking up our sins, will come to us again, with sin no longer in force, that is, with sin no longer occupying a place as far as human beings are concerned. He said himself, remember, when he still had a mortal body, “He committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth.” It should be noted, of course, that he bore the sins of many, not of all: not all came to faith, so he removed the sins of the believers only.

Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:1: The Lord intercedes for us not by words but by his dying compassion, because he took upon himself the sins which he was unwilling to condemn his elect for.

Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:2: In his humanity Christ pleads for our sins before the Father, but in his divinity he has propitiated them for us with the Father. Furthermore, he has not done this only for those who were alive at the time of his death, but also for the whole church which is scattered over the full compass of the world, and it will be valid for everyone, from the very first among the elect until the last one who will be born at the end of time. This verse is therefore a rebuke to the Donatists, who thought that the true church was to be found only in Africa. The Lord pleads for the sins of the whole world, because the church which he has bought with his blood exists in every corner of the globe.

After dealing with the patristic evidence, I dealt with a logical critique of some of the objections to limited atonement. One of the objections is that Limited Atonement means that there is no chance for some people to be saved. I noted, however, that if we believe that God knows the future, he already knows who will be saved and who won’t be saved. Even if this is just simple prediction (it is not, of course, but even if it were) then it would be the case that it would be an infallible prediction. There is no chance that if God has foreseen you will be saved that something else will happen and likewise if God has foreseen that you will be lost.

Likewise, if God is said to “want to save everyone” then the question is, why doesn’t he? Cannot God save whom he wants to save by his grace?

We noticed that the only way out of these logical critiques is to blaspheme either the omniscience of God (by suggesting that God doesn’t know the future) or the omnipotence of God (by suggesting that God cannot get what he wants).

We concluded, therefore, that not only is the Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement an historical doctrine of Christianity and the Biblical truth, it is an inescapable matter of logic reasoning from the nature of God himself.


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