LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Monday, June 23, 2008

Looking At Limited Atonement

I swiped this from pastor Reid Ferguson's "Confession of an ex-"Highper" Calvinist", found here...http://responsivereiding.wordpress.com/confession-of-an-ex-highper-calvinist/

Here is the summary, "at the heart of this discussion from my point of view is the need to more carefully recognize the very important difference between Atonement and Redemption, and not to use them as indiscriminately interchangeable. Redemption is the effect of the Atonement applied. Atonement is the more general term and Redemption the more particular one. Only the elect are redeemed, but all have been atoned for. For myself, this very necessary nuance prevents us from losing the large-heartedness of God in the glorious work of Christ at Calvary to be preached (in Calvin’s words) “indiscriminately to all” (Comm. on Gen. 19:12), and thus “The blame lies solely with ourselves, if we do not become partakers of this salvation; for he calls all men to himself, without a single exception, and gives Christ to all, that we may be illuminated by him.” (Comm. on Isa. 42:6) while safeguarding the doctrine of unconditional election.

Perhaps the tension I argue for can be found in its best expressed form in 1 Tim. 4:10 “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” The Savior of all people (all men – KJV) but ESPECIALLY, in particular, of those who believe.

This is my own position, and Shedd has expressed better than I can for sure. I leave it up to you to decide where that leaves us.

I hope I have neither made a mountain out of a molehill, muddied the waters, nor brought any undue stress upon you all. But I am constrained to go where the Scriptures lead.

I have waited long, studied hard, and prayed without ceasing over this, and trust this is useful to you.

I have changed significantly in my understanding of the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. Yes, it is still well within the pale of orthodox, Reformation thought, but it is not the way I came in, as Pastor of this Church. Sooner or later I knew I was going to bump into it when I preached. Obviously, when that happens it is going to raise questions. So I want to get everything out on the table for us to think, pray, study and talk through. What I have come to believe the Bible teaches on this subject, is different than many here, and I do not wish to bring either confusion or division. It is not a new view, and has long been an accepted view within Calvinistic & Reformed circles historically – but not the circles we’ve run in.

For additional Reformed men who at least wrestled with some universal effects of the atonement see: Berkoff, R. B. Kuiper (For Whom Did Christ Die?), Andrew Fuller, Thomas Boston, B.B. Warfield & Charles Hodge. All conceded at least some universal effects and to varying degrees came close to what I have cited above in Shedd. Though I believe Shedd the most complete of the group.

See also Phil Johnson’s excellent article on this topic at: http://ondoctrine.com/2joh0001.htm

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25 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

"Only the elect are redeemed, but all have been atoned for."

Looks like universal atonement dressed up in particular redemptive language to me.

June 23, 2008 5:25 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

If you've read the whole paper you'll find it hard to so easily dismiss his thinking.

June 24, 2008 6:40 AM

 
Blogger donsands said...

I know Christ died for Abraham, His friend. He died for Peter, Andrew, John, and the other Apostles, whom He called His friends.
Yet, did Jesus died for Judas, the traitor, and devil?

I truly believe that God could have saved all people if He purposed to do so, but He purposed to have mercy on whom He purposed, and He hardens whom He wills.

1 Tim 4:10 does create a problem. Christ died for everyone, but not everyone.
A paradox.

June 24, 2008 7:56 AM

 
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

The Bible refutes a Limited Atonement.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," (Isaiah 53:6)

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," (1 Jn. 2:2)

June 24, 2008 10:02 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"Only the elect are redeemed, but all have been atoned for."

So the "limiting" is in election, not the atonement. I see his point.

June 24, 2008 11:22 AM

 
Blogger donsands said...

Limited atonement is quite biblical.

""He shall see the suffering of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. ... and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:11-12

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
And I give unto them eternal life; ...and I lay down My life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd.
...But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep". John 10:27-28;15-16;26

"And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He Shall save His people from their sins." Matt. 1:21

RC Sproul doesn't like limited atonement as a doctrine, but says particular, and definite atonement.

I don't know why God saved this sheep, but He did. He left the 99 and went out and found a lost sheep, and carried it back to His fold.
He did it. He died for His sheep, and He was the slain Lamb of God for the propitiation of His beloved children, who were once children of wrath.
Jesus purposed to do His Father's will, and die for those the Father had, and has, given Him. John 17:2

June 24, 2008 2:56 PM

 
OpenID arminianperspectives said...

Mark,

Don't let these guys discourage you. Unlimited atonement is painfully obvious in Scripture and particular statements do not rule out universal ones.

Rather, the particular should be understood in light of the universal and the universal cannot be restricted by the particular. Just as Paul said that Christ died for him (in particular), it does not mean that Christ died only for Paul. That is absurd.

You are heading in the right direction and I admire you for taking a stand on what you believe the Bible teaches.

God Bless,
Ben

June 24, 2008 3:56 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

We know that God through election and foreknowledge knows who are his sheep and he certainly made a point of only praying for his sheep. Why would he atone for sinners he didn’t pray for and he knew would reject his free gift of eternal life?

Jesus died for the ‘many’ in Mt. 20:28 shown above. This either refers to believers only or everyone that has ever lived. Since the passage speaks of his death providing a ransom (redemption) for the many, this passage teaches universalism if the ‘many’ includes everyone that has ever lived. Therefore, since Scripture clearly does not teach universalism, this passage teaches that the atonement of Jesus was for believers only. I agree the atonement is for everyone that have and will place their faith in him.

June 24, 2008 4:34 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark said, If you've read the whole paper you'll find it hard to so easily dismiss his thinking.

The only thing I find difficult about dismissing this fellow's thinking is having to explain what it is that is makes it so easy to dismiss in the first place.

Noah's ark pictures the atonement. God did not tell Noah to build an ark big enough to hold the entire human race. Nor did God instruct every Patriarch on earth to build their own ark. Why not? If it was God's intention to make provision for the whole human race, why did God not make that provision. Answer: It was not God's will to preserve the whole human race, and God did not send the "ark" to the whole human race, but only to Noah and his family.

Objection: God knew that only Noah (and his family) was (were) going to be righteous, and that is why God only told Noah to build an ark, or that is why God told Noah to build it only so big...

Refuted: Where did Noah's righteousness come from - himself or God? If from himself, then why send a Redeemer since Noah proved that men can be righteous apart from God. If Noah's righteousness came from God, then God didn't save Noah because he was righteous - but rather Noah was righteous because God was saving Noah.

Either way we can't escape the question: why didn't God tell everyone to build and ark, and why didn't God send animals to everyone's ark, or alternately, why didn't God tell Noah to build the ark big enough for every living human being? Surely God, "who was not willing that any of them should perish" would have wanted to make provision for them by telling Noah to build the ark big enough to house all of mankind "just in case".

We don't argue like that because even the shadow of the atonement (the ark) makes it clear and obvious that God wasn't trying to save everyone - he MADE THE OFFER TO EVERYONE, and demonstrated His genuine love for the antediluvian host by allowing rain and sunshine to continue to nurture their crops, by having Noah preach righteousness - but these, although partakers of God's love, were not given place in the ark simply because God loved them - no more than Judas Iscariot will find a place in heaven simply because Christ loved him...

It isn't a question (for me at least) of whether or not this fellow makes a good case for his argument, since in order to make his argument he has to do injury to the very concept of the atonement itself - changing it from the reconciling of God to man and into that the reconciling of man to God. Diminishing (redefining) the atonement so that no it means that God has taken away every obstacle that stood between man and his attempt to get to God, so that all men can, by their free will, come to God through this provision. etc. etc.

I don't really have the time to give this article the attention it deserves, but when I was confused about the atonement (as the author (imo) demonstrates himself to be), I too found myself trying to marry together the "all inclusive" verses with the "elect and chosen" verses at the expense of (ie. by re-imagining) the atonement.

Yet when I began to comprehend the nature of the atonement I found that its truth was by no means served through my re-imagining and bending of its scope.

Ask any Rabbi if on the day of atonement God was atoning for the Gentiles, or go one better, read the law and see for whom the atonement was made, and ask yourself if this re-imaged atonement casts a fitting shadow across the OT day of atonement...

June 24, 2008 6:24 PM

 
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Mark,

My tuppence worth:

I am happy enough with the thought that Christ's death has secured many blessings, given in love and mercy, for the whole world i.e. all men without exception, elect and non elect alike. However when it comes to making atonement for sin, it is a case that He either made full and actual atonement or He didn't - If He did, then all those whom atonement was made have no guilt to worry about.

I'm afraid Lou's response falls a bit short here. I find that those who hold to an unlimited atonement quote these texts with "all" and "world" in them as if "all" and "world" mean "all without exception" and "all without dinstinction." A few minutes spent with a concordance wil lshort otherwise.

I have asked theese two questions before: Does the soul in hell keep sinning? If so, did Christ make atonement for those eternally ongoing sins?

Regards,

June 25, 2008 3:40 AM

 
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Oops,

Second paragraph should read:

I'm afraid Lou's response falls a bit short here. I find that those who hold to an unlimited atonement quote these texts with "all" and "world" in them as if "all" and "world" means "all without exception" and could never mean" all without distinction." A few minutes spent with a concordance will show otherwise.

June 25, 2008 3:41 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

A great discussion here. Thanks for your thoughts, gentlemen.

I'm going to be gone most of today. First to take my dog for a biopsy. Cancer? Please pray.

Then I must take my son to his job, then go to work myself.

Mark

June 25, 2008 6:37 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,
Your consideration of the definition of atonement is very similar to the way I handle propitiation in 1 John 2:2. There you can't conclude that the whole world has been propitiated without injuring the very definition of propitiation. Good thoughts.

June 26, 2008 7:45 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Ben,
A brief history:

The church I was saved in held to the Assemblies of God doctrinal distinctives - one could lose their salvation, iow, Arminian through and through.

It was while attending that church that I began to wrestle with the claims of Calvinism. When I went to the pastor of that church to tell him I was wrestling with the claims of Calvinism he recommended I read Robert Shank's "Life In The Son". This I did. (Shank's concluding that a 'whole lotta twisten' and turnin' done here' on the Calvinist take on John 15 sticks out in my mind, here some 30 years later). I rejected Shank's, and that pastor's belief that one can lose their salvation.

Over the years I attended many more nonCalvinistic churches. During all this time my budding Calvinism grew and grew.

In short, I can assure you that, though this paper here gave me pause, yet I will never again be found amongst the Arminians. Their take on Romans 8:29 and all of Romans 9 demands that a whole lot of 'twistin' and turnin' be done here'.

June 26, 2008 8:01 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, I think that atonement and propitiation are both inseparable, even indivisible facets the very same thing, that is, you cannot have atonement without propitiation, nor propitiation without atonement.

We cannot redefine atonement so that it means a possibility of propitiation - I think, as novel an idea as that is, and as useful as such a notion is for underscoring Arminian theology, it is nevertheless still a gross mishandling and bending of the meaning - all for the purpose of easing the tension in those verses that speak of the all inclusiveness of the offer.

June 26, 2008 12:30 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"We cannot redefine atonement so that it means a possibility of propitiation - I think, as novel an idea as that is, and as useful as such a notion is for underscoring Arminian theology, it is nevertheless still a gross mishandling and bending of the meaning"

Do FGer's say that Christ propitiated all sin, and so, the only sin that truly sends a person to condemnation and hell, is unbelief?
I know Tony Evans teaches this. All your sins were paid for by Christ, in order to explain atonement/propitiation.

June 26, 2008 1:59 PM

 
Blogger Looker4522 said...

Where in the New Testament are we specifically educated regarding the "Atonement"?

Am I correct in my thinking that atonement is strictly an Old Testament word?

June 28, 2008 11:21 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Looker,

If one, after having read a translation, and is still confused about where to find a specific NT teaching on the atonement, then I suppose the best place to start would be to examine what words are used to describe the atonement in the Septuagint (Greek) OT, and see where and how these words are used (if they are indeed used) by the writers of the NT.

The various Hebrew words that are translated into English as the word "atonement" - simply refer to the process by which man is reconciled to God. The idea here is to define what must be done in order to "satisfy" God's wrath against a sinner.

Thus, anywhere in the NT where we speak of how man is reconciled to God, we are speaking of how man is "atoned" - and frankly the teaching is pretty much what the NT is all about, which makes it rather difficult to say, look here, or look there, rather it is best (IMO) to simply say, understand what atonement is, and you will see that this is what the NT is all about.

If you're looking for quick proof-text solutions, you will find that such solutions will not long satisfy you, for someone else will come along with other prooftexts that seem to make your own look wrong. Better therefore, to simply read the bible, and believe what it says about how a man is made right with God.

When we talk about limited atonement we are talking about how many people are made right with God - all, or just some; and when we talk about limited atonement as a theological label, we are further answer the question, for whom did Jesus come to die - everyone, or just some; and on this scripture itself is not silent, for right from the first chapter (Matthew chapter one), it plainly states that He will save His people from their sin. Not that he will save the world from its sin, or that he will provide some benefit for all the world, and only his people will take advantage of it, or any such thing, but that He will succeed in completing the work given him - saving His people - those whom God gave Him to save.

It's late, and I probably didn't answer your question well enough, sorry about that - but I hope I added enough to get you started.

June 29, 2008 1:16 AM

 
Blogger Looker4522 said...

Thank you for your response Daniel. You did a fine job of answering.

I also was posting late so didn't get into much detail myself. I am not formally trained in the Bible or its languages, unless 1-semester at a Bible college in 1980 counts. I speak from a layman's perspective and hope that is OK.

I had read a book which brought up this idea. (Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism - An Inductive, Mediate Theology of Salvation by C. Gordon Olson)

Mr. Olson states that the actual word "atonement" appears nowhere in the NT except once (Rom 5:11) in the KJV. There, he says, it ought to have been translated reconciliation. (in line with your explanation below)

I have searched some other translations, though certainly not all, and have found this seems to be the case.

Thus, discussion on the extent of the "atonement" seems to be a little off-target. Of course, all might simply say, "Well we all know what we mean by "atonement" so we'll just continue to use it anyway." I don't think I'm alone in having seen multitudes say to others that they have been misunderstood, mischaracterized, working under a different definition, etc. by the "opposition" in discussions.

To avoid a fuzzy target, sticking with the actual verses and the very word(s) used appears to me to be beneficial in the discussion.

If someone can't point out verses in the NT where the word "atonement" is used, people ought to use a different word - one that is there. (perhaps reconciliation)

Those are just some thoughts I had. I really wondered whether it was true that "atonement" is truly not a NT word.

PS: Someone might ask, and how does this thinking hold up when discussing the Trinity, another world not found in the NT. I would say we don't have to defend the word "Trinity", but simply our interpretation of the specific verses we cite. The word itself is not what is important.

June 29, 2008 9:13 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Looker,

In Leviticus 16:30, we read about the day of atonement - the root word there in the Greek translation (Septuagint) of the OT is "hilaskomai" - which is a translation of the hebrew word Kiphar (literally: to cover, figuratively, to expiate or propitiate.) The Greek translation follows more closely the figurative meaning, that being to propitiate / expiate.

The same Greek root ---is--- found in the new testament however, (contrary to what this author says), we see it in say, Hebrews 2:17 where it is often translated "reconciliation" or "propitiation"; or even more abstractly such as when the tax collector prays across from the Pharisee, "Be merciful to me, the sinner" (Luke 18:13)- that is, He is actually saying, be "reconciled" to me - the language simply doesn't translate well into English, but if it did, we would translated it literally as "be propitiated/atoned to me".

We see the same word used more abstractly by Peter when he rebukes Christ in Matthew 16:22 - your translation probably reads along the lines of Peter saying, "Far be it from you Lord..." - not only because we would find it linguistically "jarring" to translate it as "propitious be it to you!" - but we don't talk like that in English - yet the root of what Peter was saying is certainly there, the idea that something is removed and done away with.

The reason the word atonement isn't found in some NT translations is not because the word isn't there, but rather because we don't speak that way in English, that is, we don't (can't) construct some English sentences in such a way that the Greek meaning can be carried over in a single word - it requires several words etc.

I think, and this is just my opinion, but I think the argument that the word "atonement" can't be found in the NT is a little naive, and somewhat weak. You said it well, the teaching of the Trinity is certainly in the NT even if the label is not. Likewise the atonement is clearly taught, even if some translations fail to use the word. It isn't the word "atonement" that matters, it is what the bible teaches that matters, and what is taught is as many as were put into the ark were saved from the flood - no more, and no less. Likewise as many as are united together in Christ on Calvary are brought through God's wrath that is/was poured out there - no more no less. Christ did not expiate the sins of those who were not there. The atonement is not to be confused with the offer of atonement - Noah offered to save everyone on the planet in his day - the offer was genuine - but only Noah's family and the animals were in the ark. Likewise we must not confuse the offer of atonement with the atonement it self.

The mistake that some make in all this is to conclude that the only way the gospel can be "fair" is if everyone has an equal chance of receiving it.

The reality is that no one can receive the gospel. Not even one person. We are all spiritually dead in our trespasses and sin - and there is nothing in us that wants to believe or care about the gospel. We have all turned aside from it, and there is no one, not even a single person who hasn't or won't. So in that sense it is true, we all have an equal "chance" of being saved by the gospel, we all have (equally) no chance at all, since we are all sinners, and there is -nothing- in any of us that would turn to God. If we had something in us that could turn to God, we wouldn't need Christ for that.

The bible teaches that those who do turn to Christ in faith have been granted that repentance (the ability to turn) and the faith to trust God for His promises - these come to us, not because we have earned them, or generate them by some thing that we do - but they are freely given; that is, the come to us by God's grace, and not by our works or merit. This is what the scriptures mean when they speak of being saved by grace through faith. God gives us the ability to repent and believe, these are both gifts of grace, and we who would otherwise have no interest in God, suddenly desire to be saved, and as many as God calls in this way - every single one of them comes.

So when we speak of the atonement we are talking about who is on the cross with Christ - that is, who is reconciled to God. The answer is not "everyone" - the answer is that those whom God called are there in Christ. Not because they were smarter or more righteous than everyone else - they weren't, they were sinners, but because these are the undeserving recipients of God's grace.

Thus, we don't share the gospel in order to persuade people to come to God as though they even had the ability to do so - rather we share the gospel, first because we are commanded to, second because we regard Christ as worthy to receive those for whom He died.

We have no fear of failure because it is God who gives life and not our clever presentation or argument.

We do not preach the gospel in this way: "Jesus died for you to show how much he loved you. He did this to provide a way for you to be reconciled to God. If you turn from your sins and trust Him and His promises, you will be saved" - not because you can't be saved by the gospel if it were presented that way (you certainly could be saved), but because it is theologically incorrect. Jesus didn't take everyone on the cross with Him, but only those whom God elected to give him. Thus when we preach the gospel, we preach it without offending the truth of scriptures: "Jesus died for sinners, and if you turn away from your sin and place your trust in His promise to you from your sin by placing your trust in Him to fulfill every promise - He will surely save you."

The debate about the atonement is usually an extension of the debate about "what is the gospel". Some people believe that you cannot share the gospel unless you tell a person that Jesus has already died for them, but this is theologically askew, and not particularly persuasive and argument - yet for these for whom this though was the emotional centerpiece of their own salvation experience, it is a very sacred cow, milked regularly...

I personally understand the atonement in term of who died with Christ. It is the most biblical way to think of it. If one was united with Christ in his death - he was united with Him in His resurrection - that is, if Christ atoned for a person, that person has been raised up from the dead with Christ and is presently sitting at the right hand of God (in Christ), and has passed through judgment and into life. Thus the idea of everyone being atoned for is, according to my understanding of scripture, very, very wrong. It suggests that everyone has passed through death and into life, when this is not the case.

The problem I think is that people tend to confuse the offer with the effect. If no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws them (as scripture says), then when we say "as many as come to Christ" we are really saying, "as many as God draws to Christ" - that is, as many as God grants saving faith to - these same will be atoned for, no more, and no less.

I am babbling on now, so I will leave it at that. Let me know if I have given more light to this for you or just confused it more.

Thanks.

June 30, 2008 11:51 AM

 
Blogger Looker4522 said...

Thanks for your further efforst Daniel. Realizing my own inability in Greek, I cannot answer you in detail.

Mr. Olson does go into great detail concerning the original Greek words and their meanings. He takes great effort to avoid what he calls the root fallacy. Thus, although words may have the same Greek root, they don't necessarily have the same meaning. Each and every letter added to a root may change its meaning or introduce nuances not found in the original root. Truly, sometimes this is not the case. However, the case must be argued individually and it is insufficient to simply cite the same root as proof that the words are the same. (I am NOT accusing you of this. I am merely explaining some of his thinking.)

He discusses the root you brought and variations of it in the Bible. However, just because that root is used in various places, he doesn't conclude that "atonement" is the proper term.

He goes into greater detail (IMO) on studies of the Greek words than any other book I have read. He discusses the eight terms translated as forms of redeemed/redemption. Being untrained in Greek, it was a little hard to follow at first, but I did find it enlightening and rereading it has helped greatly.

I cannot summarize his ideas perfectly, but he considers the "atonement" used and given in the OT to be insufficient in describing Christ's work. Also, the term just does not truly encompass everything that the modern theologically sensitive individual tends to lump under "atonement."

Thus, it is not a problem that "atonement" does not appear specifically in practically all English translations. It ought not to be there.

Of course, even Greek scholars might disagree on such things so I realize this author is not authoritative. I have no need to continue with this discussion. You have provided the 2nd opinion that I was "look"ing for. I thank you for your kind interaction.

I will bring up an idea you mentioned in another post rather than lengthing this one.

June 30, 2008 8:33 PM

 
Blogger Looker4522 said...

"Daniel: If we had something in us that could turn to God, we wouldn't need Christ for that."

This statement is of course true due to its wording.

Nevertheless, even if people did have something in them that could turn to God, that does not necessarily mean they wouldn't need Christ for any sin(s) that they had committed.

Let me digress slightly from your point to something it brought to mind for me. In my thinking, and I doubt anyone here would disagree, a single sin is all that is required for us to be spiritually dead. Thus, even if it were possible (hypothetically) for a single-sin individual to live out the rest of their natural life in absolute perfect obedience to God, they can in no way earn, work, merit, deserve, determine or help in their salvation. Christ is required.

Thus, total depravity is not necessary for ondemnation. "Unidepravity" (a term I just made up) will do quite nicely. I realize there are various opinions on the meaning of total depravity or total inability and I can tell we don't agree. I just wanted to address the area of the need for Christ as I mentioned above.

Thanks Daniel and thank you Mr. Pierson for your blog.

June 30, 2008 8:57 PM

 
OpenID arminianperspectives said...

Hey Mark,

I didn't really think you would be embracing Arminianism but that doesn't mean you can't be an inconsistent Calvinist and embrace unlimited atonement. Many Calvinists have done so because, like you, they recognize the overwhelming Biblical evidence for the doctrine and feel that should take precedence over a commitment to a philosophical or theological system.

Whenever you try to make what the Bible says more important than a certain systematic, you are "heading in the right direction" whether that leads you to Arminianism (as I believe it does) or somewhere else. That is all I meant by that.

As far as 1 John 2:2 I have no problem seeing that as propitiation. The solution is to see that propitiation as provisional. Even Calvinists have to embrace a provisional aspect to the atonement or else they will end up believing in eternal justification (which I assume you deny) and have big trouble with passages like Eph. 2:1-3.

Once we acknowledge that atonement is provisional (as Calvinists must), then there is no logical problem with the Arminian position. Also, it is significant that all spiritual blessings including election, justification, and regeneration, are found "in Christ" (Eph. 1:3, 4). Only "in Christ" does anyone benefit from the atonement (Eph. 1:7). God's wrath was satisfied "in Him" and only those who are in Him share in His death and will share in His resurrection (both now- spiritual [regeneration], and later- physical). And of course we come to be in Christ through faith (Eph. 1:13). So atonement is provisional in Christ and conditioned on faith which brings us into union with Him.

When you embrace universal provisional atonement you also avoid the absurd theological conclusion that God punishes the reprobate for rejecting an atonement that was neither provided nor intended for them.

Anyway, just some thoughts from an Arminian perspective.

BTW, why did you have such an issue with the possibility of a believer forfeiting salvation? I am currently working on a series on perseverance
which deals with the relevant passages if you care to check it out sometime.

God Bless,
Ben

July 01, 2008 2:29 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Looker, Thanks for the dialog. I think there are few enough people who could soundly articulate the full semantic range of a word like "atonement" so I don't mind anyone saying that it's use in an English NT may not be nuanced enough. I agree that there is a real danger of etymologically imposing meanings from ancestor words into words that are more cousins than proper descendants, but I think that one can exaggerate the significance of such a thing too, in order to suggest a larger separation in meaning than really is there. There isn't a whole lotta Koine Greek to compare with, so we ought to salt ourselves a bit when we see someone using an high handed - "this word only ever meant..." approach. Grammar and syntax are powerful tools for extracting precise meaning from the text, but they can also be great tools for obscuring the same.

I think the body of scripture plainly shows that the "atonement" of the OT was meant to picture the true and coming atonement. In that sense, it is quite reasonable if there are nuanced differences in meaning - since we are not talking about the blood of bulls and goats in the NT, but are talking about the Lamb of God, not the shadow, but the substance.

With regards to depravity...

I am thinking (just now) of light and dark. Things either give off light, or they don't. We can still see the things that don't give off their own light because whatever they do not absorb, they reflect. Some things, like mirrors, are very good at reflecting light, and so if you were looking at a mirror that was reflecting light, it would appear very bright, even if it (by itself) was still just a thing that didn't actually give off its own light. Other things, like coal, or some such thing - reflect very little light, and so they are (visually speaking) "darker" to look at. Both the mirror and the coal are just as inert, that is, neither is a source of light, but the mirror is a far better reflector of the light - yet both are "totally" devoid of their own light.

Total depravity is almost exactly like that. Some people brightly mirror God's morals, while others are so dark that we see very little of God reflected in them - neither the good reflector or the bad can produce their own spiritual life - that is, they are totally without light in themselves - even if one looks very bright (good, moral, upright) and the other looks very dark (a murderer, a rapist, a democrat hehehe..)

Thus total depravity only means that a person is totally without any spiritual life in them, as opposed to meaning they are as bad as they could be.

Not that we are born with eternal life, and that it is taken away when we sin "once" - but rather that we are born without eternal life - having lost that inheritance through our Father Adam - that is, Adam lost it, and is no longer able to pass it along to us, so we are born without that inheritance - without eternal life. Our sin doesn't add to that, it just demonstrates that it is true of us.

Thus original sin is the loss of our inheritance before we are born, and not the first time we sin. Sin just teaches us something - that we are condemned.

Okay, I am over simplifying it, cause I am tired, and lazy - but you know what I mean.

July 01, 2008 10:02 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"philosophical or theological system."
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Free will is an philosophical system - and unscriptural at that. To hold up that unsriptural philosophy one must do violence to Romans 9 as well as Romans 8:29.
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"Whenever you try to make what the Bible says more important than a certain systematic, you are "heading in the right direction"
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Arminianism is the wrong direction, period.
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"whether that leads you to Arminianism (as I believe it does) or somewhere else. That is all I meant by that.

As far as 1 John 2:2 I have no problem seeing that as propitiation. The solution is to see that propitiation as provisional."
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The very definition can not possibly be actual (for us) as well as possible (for the world)."
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" Even Calvinists have to embrace a provisional aspect to the atonement or else they will end up believing in eternal justification "
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Not so. EVERYBODY is born a slave to sin and child of wrath.
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"(which I assume you deny) and have big trouble with passages like Eph. 2:1-3."
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I deny it. No problem with Ephesians 2:1-3. It is one of my favorite proofs of man's total depravity.
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"Once we acknowledge that atonement is provisional (as Calvinists must),"
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As I said the very defintion of the word propitiation forbids that.
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"then there is no logical problem with the Arminian position. Also, it is significant that all spiritual blessings including election, justification, and regeneration, are found "in Christ" (Eph. 1:3, 4). Only "in Christ" does anyone benefit from the atonement (Eph. 1:7). God's wrath was satisfied "in Him" and only those who are in Him share in His death and will share in His resurrection (both now- spiritual [regeneration], and later- physical). And of course we come to be in Christ through faith (Eph. 1:13). So atonement is provisional in Christ and conditioned on faith which brings us into union with Him."
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Let's modify your statement here, "so atonement is [provivided] in Christ...
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"When you embrace universal provisional atonement you also avoid the absurd theological conclusion that God punishes the reprobate for rejecting an atonement that was neither provided nor intended for them."
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God punishes each person for their sins, as well as those whose names are not found in the Book of Life, see Revelation 20:11-15. Who is arguing from philosophy now? I don't think you understand Calvinism, Ben.
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"Anyway, just some thoughts from an Arminian perspective.

BTW, why did you have such an issue with the possibility of a believer forfeiting salvation?"
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John 6:37-40, 44. What we do is compare scripture with scripture and go on to formulate a position considering the WHOLE of the Bible all along the way.

Mark

July 02, 2008 7:15 AM

 

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