Thursday, July 02, 2009

Atonement Category Error

I am sure he means well, but Panta Dokimazete gives a less than ideal title to this post (link). The less than ideal title is "Unlimited/Limited Atonement." The post correctly states the death of Christ has a general benefit for all mankind, in that it incidentally prevents their immediate destruction. However, the term "Unlimited/Limited Atonement" is less than ideal to describe this concept for two reasons:

1) Potential Confusion

The neo-Amyraldians have been using this term to describe their position, which is not simply that there incidental benefits (such as delayed judgment) to the non-elect. I realize that we do not have to cede things to groups that err, but perhaps it would be better to give them this term so that they may distinguish themselves from Calvinists.

2) Technical Accuracy - Both "Unlimited" and "Atonement" are Being Used Imprecisely

Technically, the atonement is the reconciliation - the rendering of God as propitious (favorable) toward the beneficiary. God is not rendered propitious toward the reprobate by Christ's sacrifice. Indeed, the temporal benefits that they enjoy incidental to the salvation of the elect are only temporal benefits. Moreover, these temporal benefits - because they do not lead to repentance - actually increase the heinousness of the sin of the unbelievers, making them even more culpable (blameworthy).

Furthermore, "universal" and "unlimited" are not identical terms. The merit of Christ's death is unlimited (though it is only impetrated for the elect - see this previous post). The incidental effects of Christ's death, on the other hand, are merely universal.

Conclusion

Yes, I realize that this sounds like my nitpicking an otherwise good post (although, as I plan to mention in another post - I think Chrysostom is referring to the unlimited sufficiency of Christ's death, not to the incidental benefits of that death). I don't mean to detract from Panta Dokimazete's work, and - in fact - I hope this encourages him to continue. Along the way, I'd like to help him develop the categories more clearly so as not to fall prey to the "unlimited/limited atonement" error promoted by the neo-Amyraldians out there who may seize upon the verbal match to suggest unity of position.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: J.D. Longmire has what appears to be an identical post (link). Same comment on that one. I'm not sure who originally wrote this post, but I read PD's before I read JDL's.

2 comments:

natamllc said...

I don't understand it myself, in light of one of many verses to choose from, like this verse to be cited below these remarks, that the word "unlimited" could every be used in context with the Salvation of the Elect by the atoning sacrifice made once for "all", all God's predestined, foreordained, called Elect, that is? As has been debated already, all doesn't not imply all in it's context and use and intent. Equally, unlimited doesn't not mean unlimited except in a sphere of influences. It cannot mean the influence of "all" creatures. God's very essence will not allow it logically or rationally.

Granted, in a limited sense, the influence of the sacrifice reaches "all", but to varied intent and degree.

Granted, there is a "created" present heavens and earth, the world and all things in it and the sacrifice reaches all in this context.

Granted that some of "all" things in it are of a prior composition, as Bro. Francis developed in his Institutes making a distinction between God's eternal essence with God's creations, His compositions. I am sure Bro. Francis Turrentin was influenced by the writings of Paul when composing his Institutes and particularly 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul defines "all" earthly bodies and "all" heavenly bodies.

Granted this argument is not going anywhere.

I simply final it incredulous that a mind is so blind as to ever us that word, unlimited, in the affairs of the salvation of all? Salvation is not for "all" creatures, however "all" creatures are influenced by His sacrifice.

Here is the verse, one of many that makes the distinction plain, in my opinion:::>

Joh 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

natamllc said...

In hind sight, I now find myself incredulous that I missed this?

I wrote: "....I simply final it incredulous that a mind is so blind as to ever us that word, unlimited, in the affairs of the salvation of all? Salvation is not for "all" creatures, however "all" creatures are influenced by His sacrifice...."

Pardon me!

Here's an edited addition:


I simply "find" it incredulous that a mind is so blind as to ever "use" that word, [unlimited], in the affairs of the salvation of all? Salvation is not for "all" creatures, however "all" creatures are influenced by His sacrifice.

:)