Question regarding Calvinistic view of limited atonement

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, Feb 8, 2012.

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  1. JonC

    JonC
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    I need to know if I understand the Calvinistic view of limited atonement (its definition) correctly.
    I have read an explanation by John Owen that if Christ died to atone for all of the sins of all men, then all would be saved. If it was atonement for some of the sins of all men, then none would be saved. Therefore Christ died for all of the sins for some men (the elect). Robert Lightner (The Death Christ Died) brings up a good point regarding effectual atonement. If Christ’s death atoned for all of the sins of some men (the elect alone), then faith is not relevant or needed because the elect are saved by the atoning work of Christ – they are saved because their sins were atoned for, not because of faith – or, for that matter, the resurrection of Christ. I’ve read Calvin, where he indicates that Christ atoned for the death of every individual to include the unregenerate, but that His purpose in dying was specifically to save the elect (Commentary on 1 John). But this does not seem to sum up the position.
    I understand that the Calvinistic position objects to potential atonement, but agrees in the atonement as sufficient for all – choosing instead to believe that Christ’s death was for the specific sins of specific sinners (the elect) and it is actual for these people rather than potential for all people. (‘Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect’). I suppose this is why many falsely claim that supporters of universal atonement claim that this results in universal salvation – there is a difference in the definition or understanding of atonement itself, not its actual effect. The difference then, seems to be in the definition of atonement and the order in which each aspect of salvation occurs (election then atonement – limited atonement; atonement then election – universal atonement).
    So, for me, it boils down to this:
    If I view atonement as redemption accomplished, then it is limited in scope only to the elect. If, however, I view atonement as the nature of the work of Christ on the cross (apart from the resurrection, and as an act in time which precedes faith), then it seems it would have to be in relation to sin and God (or God and man) rather than being applied to individual men (and thus universal in scope).
    My question is, if Christ’s death atoned for the sins of the elect in an applied manner, then why the Resurrection? Why even suppose a requirement of belief on the part of the elect – they’re saved regardless because their sins are atoned for? If God holds the unregenerate guilty because of evidences of Himself revealed to all, why would he hold the non-elect guilty for rejecting Christ (John 3) if the atonement is entirely foreign to them?
    OR, am I looking at atonement as too limited? Does Calvinism consider the work on the cross to include all that is implied in salvation? Am I erroneously separating atonement and redemption?
     
  2. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    John c
    One of the best books ever written on this is John Murrays ....Redemption ,Accomplished and Applied....

    Hugh Martin on the atonement....

    AW Pink...the atonement...

    The answer to your good questions would be found in studying the work of our great High Priest {eternal intercession}...and the fact that Jesus is the SURETY...for the elect.

    The surety guarentees the terms of the covenant come to pass on behalf of those he is surety for:thumbs::thumbs: he ever liveth to make intercession FOR THEM.....who is the "THEM?

     
  3. Amy.G

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    Icon, would you do me a favor and also list the book and chapter of your verses? :)
     
  4. Skandelon

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    JonC,

    You need also to be aware that there are also different ways that Calvinists handle this issue.

    Some argue that Christ died ONLY for the elect in that he paid just so much for so many. For these, to suggest that Christ's blood paid for the sins of the world suggests that his blood would be split or wasted on those who are not saved, thus they insist that his blood ONLY provided what was necessary for the elect alone...as if divine justice was only satisfied for those select few.

    In other words, the rescue raft God used to take to the lost island was only big enough to carry a preselect number of people off the island, as opposed to the idea that God took a raft big enough for everyone to the island even though not everyone chose to get on.

    Other Calvinists (C. Hodge; Shedd, Dabney, AA Hodge, and Calvin himself) taught that Christ's atonement, though only intended to save the elect, was sufficient to appease the wrath of God for every man thus providing the grounds by which to make appeal to all man (i.e. The raft is big enough for everyone), thus no one perishes for lack of atonement, but only a lack of faith. For these Calvinists, the limiting, in other words, is not in the atonement but in the unconditional election and application of irresistible grace.
     
  5. Iconoclast

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    Hello Amy

    hebrews 7:22-28

    hebrews 10 :10-24

     
    #5 Iconoclast, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2012
  6. Amy.G

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  7. JonC

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    Skandelon,
    Thank you for your response. If I understand correctly, Calvinists such as C. Hodge, Shedd, etc. would hold that Christ died to atone for the sin of men (no qualification here) and that that atonement is applied solely to the elect.
    Also, Iconoclast, thanks for the book suggestion. I’m ordering Murrays book.
    John Calvin’s comments certainly suggest that he believed that Christ died for every human being, but that Christ’s death was also for the salvation of only the elect.
    Is the opinion that the atonement was for all of mankind, but is effective for only the elect, still considered “limited atonement” as the atonement is limited in application or is it considered “universal atonement” as the death of Christ is viewed for all of man?
     
  8. Skandelon

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    I think the problem is the differing definitions of 'atonement.' Some understand it to be satisfaction of divine justice for the breaking of his law, while others equate it with salvation.

    Some (Hodge, Shedd etc) argued that just because Christ has satisfied divine justice once and for all doesn't mean they all will be saved.

    As Shedd explained: ""It may be asked: If atonement naturally and necessarily cancels guilt, why does not the vicarious atonement of Christ save all men indiscriminately, as the Universalist contends? The substituted suffering of Christ being infinite is equal in value to the personal suffering of all mankind; why then are not all men upon the same footing and in the class of the saved, by virtue of it? The answer is, Because it is a natural impossibility. Vicarious atonement without faith in it is powerless to save. It is not the making of this atonement, but the trusting in it, that saves the sinner. 'By faith are ye saved. He that believeth shall be saved,' Ephesians 2:8; Mark 16:16. The making of this atonement merely satisfies the legal claims, and this is all that it does. If it were made, but never imputed and appropriated, it would result in no salvation. A substituted satisfaction of justice without an act of trust in it, would be useless to sinners. It is as naturally impossible that Christ's death should save from punishment one who does not confide in it, as that a loaf of bread should save from starvation a man who does not eat it."

    No one perishes for a lack of atonement, they perish because they refuse to accept the truth and so be saved, period.
     
  9. JonC

    JonC
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    Thank you for the information (I “googled” the quote to find Shedd’s book and am going to order it to read father into the subject).
    The quote you provided addresses exactly what I was questioning.
     
  10. Martin Marprelate

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    Hello JonC,
    You should note that Skandalon is strongly anti-Calvinistic and therefore seeking his views on the subject is a bit like asking the Big Bad Wolf's opinion on childcare issues.

    Steve
     
  11. kyredneck

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    LOL ! :thumbs:
     
  12. Skandelon

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    It's becoming more and more common around here for people to make undocumented or unsupported comments. If I've said something that YOU THINK misrepresents something then quote what I've said and then show where I'm in error. I do that every time I make an accusation such as this about others. If I'm so very wrong then it should be easy to disprove me. Quote me and then make an actual argument.
     
  13. kyredneck

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    So you're NOT anti-Calvinistic?

    [edit] All one needs to do to see is to begin browsing here:

    http://www.baptistboard.com/search.php?searchid=1584790

    It won't take long to come to a conclusion.
     
    #13 kyredneck, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2012
  14. Skandelon

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    Kyredneck, I'd rather think of myself as pro-truth, than anti-Calvinistic ;)

    But that was not the point with which I was taking issue. I was referring to the implication that I was misrepresenting Shedd and the other Princeton theologians. If he has a charge he should quote it and bring an actual argument rather than make unfounded and unmerited accusations.
     
  15. Skandelon

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    Dabney said, "Certainly the expiation made by Christ is so related to all, irrespective of election..." and "Christ made expiation for every man..."

    And...

    "The only New Testament sense the word atonement has is that of katallage , reconciliation. But expiation is another idea. Katallage is personal. Exhilasmos is impersonal. Katallage is multiplied, being repeated as often as a sinner comes to the expiatory blood. exhilasmos is single, unique, complete; and, in itself considered, has no more relation to one man's sins than another. As it is applied in effectual calling, it becomes personal, and receives a limitation. But in itself, limitation is irrelevant to it. Hence, when men use the word atonement, as they so often do, in the sense of expiation, the phrases, "limited atonement," "particular atonement," have no meaning. Redemption is limited, i.e., to true believers, and is particular. Expiation is not limited."
     
  16. JonC

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    Hi Steve,

    The Shedd quote that Skandelon offered shedds (sorry) some light on this aspect within Calvinism – but I do know that there are other positions regarding limited atonement.

    I do not know Skandelon, but I do know that there are many who can, and will, explore and offer truthful views on positions that they do not actually hold. In other words, I don’t care if he is “anti-Calvinistic” as long as he approaches the subject with the honesty and integrity that should be reflective of a child of God. I’m sure that’s what the Calvinists here do when presented with opposing views (this is, after all, a Christian forum).

    It seems Skandelon has accurately presented a couple of Calvinistic views of atonement (if there is error, please point it out). But only one position (the more moderate view) has answered my question regarding faith, the resurrection, and the guilt of the unbeliever (as presented in John 3). If there are other’s with views contrary to what has been presented, I’d welcome the feedback.

    If Christ’s death atoned for the sins of the elect in an applied manner, then why the resurrection? It would seem that the sins of the elect would have been effectively atoned for with Christ’s death, so is faith actually necessary?
    Why are the unregenerate guilty of rejecting Christ if the death of Christ was only for the specific sins of a specific group of people (the elect)?

    OR – am I looking at atonement as too limited (have I broken down atonement too far by not associating Christ’s work on the cross with the resurrection)?
     
  17. Skandelon

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    JonC,

    I think the questions you raise here are the very one's that Calvinistic scholars, such as Shedd and Dabney were attempting to answer. Some here haven't considered such complexities in their studies and regard any distinctions drawn by me (even if from quotes of scholars within their ranks) as being an attack or a misrepresentation of their position. They don't seem to want to look at the various nuances taken by different scholars to address such objections. A simple survey would reveal that some define atonement, expiation and redemption differently than others, which makes a huge difference when addressing these objections.

    Ironically, the Calvinists here don't even realize that I've defended their system by showing you a viable Calvinistic approach (the more moderate view) which does indeed address this particular objection. I guess this is the thanks I get. :laugh:

    Next time I'll quote something from Luke's post and tell our new comers, "See that is what all Calvinists believe!" I suppose that will be better received. ;)
     
  18. JonC

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    The only satisfactory answer that I have been able to find so far is the moderate view – and it seems that the disagreements seem mostly to reside in the definitions. (There are also differences in the logical order of election and atonement, but this also seems derived from the definitions used as well). Shedd and Calvin present very similar views – but reading more contemporary writings (Robert Peterson and John MacArthur, for example) the issue is somewhat ignored. I’m having trouble finding out how a “stricter Calvinist” (stricter than Calvin and Shedd) on this issue explains these aspects of the atonement. The one’s I’ve read end up chasing rabbits around opposing positions and then just go on to other issues.

    I’m not saying that they hold an erroneous view, and I’m not saying that they don’t. I just can’t understand the defense of limited atonement that does not hold a universal aspect, perhaps slightly beyond sufficiency – and am trying to clear up my lack of understanding.

    Thanks again for your comments. I did find it ironic that you, as the “anti-Calvinist,” are the only one thus far who has provided an answer for the limited view of atonement.
     
  19. Iconoclast

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    JonC.....for you....and any others interested in learning about the cross.
    http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.a...urrSection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=John^Murray
     
  20. preacher4truth

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    Undocumented? Unsupported?

    Please.

    There needs to be no "proof text" stemming from your objective. Taking a look at your threads shows your agenda is exactly as MM said, anti-calvinistic. He's spot on. In addition you've been shown your strawman arguments and errors a myriad of times by many on here. Why would we want to go down that same old path yet again?

    MM didn't accuse you of anything but being anti-calvinist. You want proof? lol...:laugh:
     
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