You will often hear Calvinists argue that Scripture demands either a) universal redemption, or b) particular redemption. I think this frustrates most evangelical Arminians, because they are not arguing that everyone will be saved. They agree that only some will be saved, but do not agree that only some can be saved. In essense, their contention is that everyone could in theory be saved, although not all will be. In other words, Christ's death on the cross made it possible for all men to be saved. The more you consider this, the more you realize that the Calvinist and the Arminian do not have the same definition of 'atonement.' Calvinists believe that Christ died as a substitute for particular individuals whom God had chosen from eternity and sent His Son to save. In His death, Christ paid the price for their sins. The title of John Murray's book -- Redemption Accomplished and Applied -- gives you a good idea of the simple, Trinitarian view of the atonement in Reformed theology: the Father plans, the Son accomplishes, the Spirit applies. Arminians, I think, would agree that Christ paid the price for someone's sins at the cross. Something about the atonement was finished at Calvary. The question is, what? This is where John Owen's famous argument comes into play. If Christ paid the price for all the sins of all men, then how can God punish any man? If Christ paid the price for some of the sins of all men, then how can God pardon any man? Owen concludes that Christ must have paid the price for all of the sins of some men. In speaking with Arminians about the atonement, I have heard a number of suggestions about how the atonement might work. Perhaps Christ made a 'downpayment' of some sort at Calvary, and then He pays the balance when man believes. Perhaps Christ has 'made the deposit,' but it's up to man to transfer the funds. Or perhaps, as has been suggested recently on this forum, Christ paid the price for all the sins of all men, but they still have to believe in order to be saved (a suggestion Owen anticipated: Either unbelief is a sin or it is not. If it is, then why did Christ not atone for it; if it is not, then why is a man condemned for it?) Now, circling back to my starting point, the reason Calvinists suggest that only universalism and particularism will fit the Scriptural evidence (or rather, the universalist language; clearly, universalism fails when tested against the full counsel of Scripture) is that the universal language used in Scripture seems so definite. To give just one example, Paul refers to Christ as the Savior of the world. The Calvinist has no problem with this; after all, Warfield wrote a book about it! In the elect, Christ saves the world in the same way that God saved the world in the remnant of Noah's family. This answers the universal language and has the benefit of drawing on a prior precedent in redemptive history. The universalist, too, has no problem with this title. He believes Christ is literally the Savior of every man, woman and child. But the Arminian, as we said, believes that all men can be saved but not all men will be. He cannot affirm that Christ is the Savior of the world in the Calvinist sense or the Universalist sense. Instead, he is can only say that Christ is potentially the Savior of the world, or that, in theory, He could be. By limiting the atonement's saving effect to a particular people, the Calvinist also confesses a definite atonement. To him, it seems that the Arminian achieves a wider scope for the atonement only by weakening the atonement itself -- i.e., it is spread farther, but also thinner. As a result of all this, the Calvinist thinks a believer can ask himself the question, "Did Jesus die to save me in particular?" and answer, "Yes." I'm sure most Arminians would answer the question the same way, but what they are teaching is that Jesus died to save them in general. In other words, He died for all men in general and no man in particular. There was a time when I thought that pointing this out would lead even the bitterest opponent of Calvinism to introspection, but I've actually been told by an exasperated Arminian: "Of course He didn't die for you specifically!" The implication was that only an arrogant elitist would think so! So I guess this is a very long introduction to ask two very simple questions of our Arminian brothers and sisters: 1. Do you believe Jesus died to save you specifically? If you do, explain how Christ could die to save all men specifically and fail. 2. Do you believe Jesus actually paid the price for your sins at Calvary? If so, do you believe Christ has paid for the sins of men who will ultimately be condemned to Hell anyway? Mark PS -- I apologize for the length of this post and thank you for having taken the effort to read it through!