Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Problem with Universal Redemption

After a conversation at work, I decided to write this post. A coworker of mine asked me about limited atonement today at work (seeing he works with a bunch of seminary students who discuss theology at work). Upon further discussion I realized his problem was election not limited atonement. But his question was, "Can't the atonement be like a blanket atonement for everyone who believes?" That is the question I will deal with.

Did Jesus die for every single individual, yet only those who trust in him actually be saved? I answer no.

1. This would mean double punishment for those who do not trust in Christ. If Jesus atoned for the sins of every individual then they sould go to heaven, necessitating universalism. If universalism is not accepted, then Jesus is paying for unbelievers sins on the cross, and unbelievers are paying for their own sins in hell. This is a double punishment for sin and is illogical.

2. This makes the atonement theoretical and not actual. This view means Jesus is just making salvation possible and not actually saving anybody. In this view, salvation depends not on the cross, but ultimately on the believers choice.

3. This would provide a weak trinity. If God wills that everyone be saved, and Jesus dieds for everyone, and the Holy Spirit is drawing everyone to Christ, yet not all are coming, then the will of man is stronger than the power of God. Man's will is stronger than the will of God.

The truth is, God has had a plan before the foundation of the world. God has chosen to enter into a covenant relationship with a people and Jesus is the means by which those people enter into that covenant relationship. Jesus Christ died for those whom God has set his love upon, whom God foreknew. The Holy Spirit is drawing those whom God has chosen and for whom Christ died. Jesus actually saves. OUr salvation rests upon Christ, and not upon us. May we never boast that our salvation was the result of our own will, but upon the efficacious work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

34 comments:

Mike Y said...

Good post Joshua. Universal atonement frustrates the gospel and is not a gospel to believe in.

All it does is make Christ's death one in vain, because eventually, it's all up to man to redeem himself.

jazzycat said...

Well said. We are not asked to disregard our reason and logic when we study Scripture.

kangeroodort said...

Hey guys,

I would like to clarify why I believe the Arminian view of universal redemption is tenable and does not lead to the objections mentioned in your post.

The Arminian concept of universal atonement is "provisional". Calvinists tend to get rather agitated at such a qualifier, but the atonement must be provisional in Calvinism as well.

Contrary to what Calvinists sometimes imply, no one was saved at the cross. If the Calvinists wants to say that the elect were truly saved at the cross, then they have always been justified and were never under God's wrath, which is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

Calvinists tend to believe that one is not truly saved until they are irresistibly regenerated. If that is the case, then the atonement is provisional until that time. If the atonement is provisional in any sense, then the door is wide open for the Arminian concept of an objective provisional atonement, and the Calvinist cannot rightly argue against the Arminian view of atonement along those lines.

No Arminian believes that the sinner who rejects Christ will suffer double jeopardy. This is ,again, due to the provisional nature of the atonement.

Arminians believe that one will only benefit from the atonement through union with Jesus Christ. We come to share in His death and resurrection through union with Him. We also come to share in His life [regeneration] through union with Him. No one can access the benefits of the atonement outside of union with Christ:

"God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement [propitiation], through faith in his blood.
Rom. 3:25

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. Rom. 5:1

These passages teach that the benefits of the atonement are accessed through faith. Only those who come to be in union with Christ through faith will benefit from His atonement. Until we come to be in union with Him we are still condemned. [Rom. 8:1; 5:8, 10] Therefore, the Christ rejecter does not suffer for sins which were atoned for since the atonement is provisional in Christ and only those who come to be in union with Christ receive atonement.

This understanding of the atonement renders moot another favorite Calvinist argument; that if belief is a sin, and the atonement was made for all, then the results would be universalism since unbelievers would be atoned for at the cross as well as believers, etc., etc.

This argument would cause problems for Calvinism as well if the atonement were understood as non-provisional as explained above. If the sins of the elect were atoned for unconditionally at the cross, then the unbelief of the elect would also have been atoned for, making faith a useless exercise since the elect would have never been under God's wrath as unbelievers prior to conversion. This is plainly unbiblical.

If the atonement is provisional as Arminians understand it, then the sin of unbelief is atoned for provisionally. So when a sinner puts faith in Christ, his prior unbelief is atoned for along with the rest of his or her sins.

Calvinists would do well to drop these arguments against Arminianism seeing as how their own system falls to the same objections, unless the atonement is understood in a provisional/conditional sense.

Reconciliation is found in Christ Jesus. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. It remains for us, however, to put faith in His blood and fullfill the divine command, "be ye reconciled".

Paul beatifully presents the provisional nature of the atonement in the following passage:

"...we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men [provisional], and especially of those who believe [conditioanl application]." 1 Tim 4:10

gordan said...

KD,

Your first point sets your whole argument astray from the get-go. Calvinistic atonement is not provisional; and, no, this doesn't lead the view of eternal justification.

The justification of the elect is certain from all eternity, but is not actually applied in time and history until Christ's atonement is applied to the elect individual by faith. Prior to that moment, he is not justified.

But that is a very different thing than is implied by the use of the word "provisional" which carries the strong connotation of "maybe, maybe not." This is not the case at all in Calvinism, and so right there your argument seems to lose a great deal of force.

Am I not understanding you correctly, or what?

kangeroodort said...

The justification of the elect is certain from all eternity, but is not actually applied in time and history until Christ's atonement is applied to the elect individual by faith. Prior to that moment, he is not justified.

I'm sorry Gordan but if the atonement is not applied immediately, then it is a provision until such time as it is applied. Calvinism certainly does hold to a provisional atonement.

But that is a very different thing than is implied by the use of the word "provisional" which carries the strong connotation of "maybe, maybe not." This is not the case at all in Calvinism, and so right there your argument seems to lose a great deal of force.

You are right that there is a difference in certainty of application, but this does not change the fact that the atonement is provisional in both schemes.

In Calvinism the atonement is provisional and unconditionally applied to the elect when they are irresistibly regenerated in time. In Arminianism the atonement is provisional and is conditionally applied when the sinner meets the condition of faith. The difference is not provision, but application.

The "maybe, maybe not" is what bothers Calvinists then isn't it? That brings us back to whether salvation is conditional or unconditional. For me the atonement is more of a "certainly [for believers], certainly not [for unbelievers]." This does not mean that a real provision was not made for all unbelievers, though most refuse that provision.

None of this changes the fact that if the atonement is provisional [in any sense], then most of the Calvinist objections to universal atonement fall to the ground.

Rhett said...

For me, the atonement is more of a "certainly [for the elect], certainly not [for the non-elect]." ;)

I wouldn't make provisions for 100,000+ people at my next family BBQ if I infallably foreknew only 60 people would show up and consume only certain amount of chicken...

While I do believe the atonement was fully sufficient for every human being, I think we must admit that by virtue of God's foreknowledge and eternality, He already knew exactly for whom Christ's blood would atone (before He ever created the Universe), and in His mind, there was nothing "provisional" about it...

When Christ was nailed to the tree, the Father knew exactly who would be saved in the end. I don't think there's any way around this.

I now look back at my pre-Calvinist years and see that I didn't really believe that God was omniscient or omnipotent. You might as well say that I was an Open Theist (unknowingly).

Within my old framework, I could easily posit a God who makes a provisional atonement for every human because He wouldn't really know who will take part in it anyway (just like when I throw a BBQ).

If our God is omniscient, God's intent and design for the Cross was not some sort of hypothetical universalism for He would have already known, infallably, that the Cross would not accomplish those ends.

This not a slam toward Ben, but I really think some synergists don't think about the implications of God's eternality and omniscience within their theological framework.

just my $0.02.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Contrary to what Calvinists sometimes imply, no one was saved at the cross.

Actually, two people were saved at the cross...but I won't argue semantics here..It is true that you and I were not saved at the cross...But at the cross Jesus purchased and guaranteed our salvation.

The whole provisional idea is not a very good one...Jesus sort of provides salvation for everyone at the cross, and then waits and sees what happens...The problem is he knows what he going to happen.

If God knows before the foundation of the world who would be saved, why would he provisonally make atonement for people he knew never would be atoned for anyway? It doesn't make sinc at all...Open Theist realize this, but heretically deny God's Omniscience. Provisional Atonement really is absurd.

kangeroodort said...

Rhett and Josh,

You both bring up some good points, but you seem to have misunderstood me. Allow me to clarify and address your concerns.

The issue for me is not so much what God foreknew would happen. I believe in infallible and exhaustive foreknowledge unlike Open Theists. I also know the difference between how a Calvinist understands foreknowledge and how a Classical Arminian understands foreknowledge; so right from the start we are not quite talking about the same thing. But you are trying to demonstrate that my reasoning is incoherant within my own belief system, so I will speak from the understanding of Arminian foreknowlege.

Rhett put it like this:

I wouldn't make provisions for 100,000+ people at my next family BBQ if I infallably foreknew only 60 people would show up and consume only certain amount of chicken...

While I do believe the atonement was fully sufficient for every human being, I think we must admit that by virtue of God's foreknowledge and eternality, He already knew exactly for whom Christ's blood would atone (before He ever created the Universe), and in His mind, there was nothing "provisional" about it...

I understand the philosophical objection here, but I believe [as I know you also believe] that we need to look to Scripture to understand the mind of God [what He would do, wouldn't do, did do, didn't do, etc.].

I see problems with this understanding based on the parable of the banquet found in Matt. 22 and Luke 14.

In both of these accounts, it seems that the feast was prepared for those who would refuse the invitation [specifically the Jews]. The invitation went out to them, and the invitation was genuine. They refused the invitation and angered the king [not specified as a king in the Luke account]. Now if the feast was not intended or prepared for these Jews, then why was the king angry with them when they would not come? In your understanding, He never intended them to come and made no provisions for them. Look at Matt. 22:4. After the initial invitation was refused, the king sent His servants a second time saying,

"Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet."

Those invited refuse again and mistreated the servants. The king is enraged. He then says,

"The wedding banquet is ready, those I invited did not deserve to come."

Notice the reason why the guests were refused was not because the dinner was not provided for them, but because they refused the invitation, and thereby proved unworthy to attend.

If the banquet had not been provided for them, then the king had no right to be angry with them for not attending, after all, according to Calvinism, the king never intended for them to attend, and was therefore being dishonest when he told the guests that the dinner had been prepared for them.

The issue, then, is not foreknowledge, but the genuineness of the offer and the integrity of the one making the offer.

The Arminian understanding of foreknowledge is that God knows as certain all future events without necessarily causing those events. This does not mean that those events foreknown by God become artificial or meaningless because God knows them. They are still very real, and God's interactions with us are still very real and completely genuine.

The king made the dinner even for those who [since the king represents God] He had always known would reject it. God is just, however, and because He is just He cannot condemn men for refusing something that was never provided for them.

John 3:16-18, 36 make it clear that unbelievers are rejected and condemned because of their unbelief. I think we would agree that saving faith is a trusting in the work of Christ on the cross in our behalf. Our faith is "faith in His blood" [Rom. 3:25].

Here is where the difficulty resides in a limited view of atonement. The Calvinist must explain why the unbeliever is condemned for His unbelief when there was no blood shed on His behalf in which that person could have put his or her faith. If the gospel call is a genuine offer [as many Calvinists affirm] then there must be a real provision.

Calvinism has men being condemned for not believing something that they had no business believing in the first place [saying that they are condemned for their sins as well as for their "unbelief" does not help the situation].

I know we could argue about whether the atonement is being discussed in Matt. 22 and Luke 14, but I cannot conceive of anyone having genuine access to the feast if not for the atonement. Nor do I see how the feast could have even been provided without the atonement in view.

It would seem that the barbecue analogy cannot be sustained when we consider these passages of Scripture.

In my first post I cited 1 Tim. 4:10 as text positing a provisional atonement [provisional for the "world" and effectual for "believers"]. How would you interpret that passage?

Thanks for the kind interaction.

God Bless,
Ben

Deviant Monk said...

Joshua

1. This would mean double punishment for those who do not trust in Christ. If Jesus atoned for the sins of every individual then they sould go to heaven, necessitating universalism. If universalism is not accepted, then Jesus is paying for unbelievers sins on the cross, and unbelievers are paying for their own sins in hell. This is a double punishment for sin and is illogical.

If you are going to embrace the punitive aspect of punishment, the scriptures would seem to disagree with you, since they seem to mention, in several places, about God punishing double for sins. (See Jeremiah 16:18, for instance.)

Atonement isn't simply a forensic act that sates the wrath of a dishonored and angry God. The problem of sin is an ontological shift that separates humanity from union with God.

Christ's atonement was about taking upon himself the sin of the world, and by becoming subject to death, breaking the power of sin and death, thus allowing for ontological union to again be possible.

By taking on the nature of that which is created, Christ didn't simply die for certain individuals, but for all of that which is created. Thus, all that is created will share in redemption. The resurrection of the body proves this, since God will not let that which God created to ultimately fall into non-being.

Although all have be redeemed, not all are related to God in the same way. Union with God is a choice. (the Eden myth demonstrates this) Thus, the atonement can very well be universal (as it must by virtue of God's assumption of the created nature) without falling into universalism.

This makes the atonement theoretical and not actual. This view means Jesus is just making salvation possible and not actually saving anybody. In this view, salvation depends not on the cross, but ultimately on the believers choice.

This line of argument unwittingly assumes no ontological differentiation between God and the created order, for it places God's mode and use of power on the same level as that which is created.

Christ's death on the cross is related to creation in two ontologically distinct ways by virtue of the hypostatic union of natures. Thus, on one level the atonement functions in the realm of the infinite and transcendent, and another of the finite and immanent.

Humanity cannot attain union with God by itself by virtue of being created and completely dependent upon God for existence. The impetus for salvation was God's choice and God's love. Thus, to choose to receive or reject salvation cannot alter the fact that it finds its source and completion in God, and is dependent wholly upon God.

This would provide a weak trinity. If God wills that everyone be saved, and Jesus dieds for everyone, and the Holy Spirit is drawing everyone to Christ, yet not all are coming, then the will of man is stronger than the power of God. Man's will is stronger than the will of God.

Since God is self-existent and in need of nothing, and due to God's nature not being able to be affected by that which is created, the efficacy of salvation is completely irrelevant to God's power. To suggest that salvation could be said to be weak even if it had no phenomenological efficacy is to actually question the self-sufficiency of God.

Rhett said...

Ben,

Comparing the atonement to a BBQ wasn't the best idea on my part, but you seem to have understood my point about foreknowledge.

I don't doubt there's genuine offer being made, and again, I believe that Christ's atonement is sufficient to save all men.

Regardless, both of us still end up with God making an offer of salvation to people whom He knows will never recieve it.

Moreover, there's untold millions that have died -before and after the Cross- which have never heard about this genuine offer.

As for 1 Tim 4:10, we must admit that it cannot mean that He's the saviour of "all men", in the sense of everlasting salvation, because we know that not all men will be saved from Hell in the end. Maybe it's a reference to some temporal benefits or something?

Btw, I thought the feast parable had something to do with Israel's rejection of Christ and the gospel being proclaimed to the gentiles, but even that parable he ends by saying "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt 22:14).

RK

kangeroodort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kangeroodort said...

Rhett,

Thanks for your response.

Regardless, both of us still end up with God making an offer of salvation to people whom He knows will never recieve it.

That is quite true, but if God's offer is truly genuine and if He is a God of integrity, then there must be a real provision available even for those who will reject the message; and if God is just, then there must be a real possibility for all to receive the salvation God offers.

Moreover, there's untold millions that have died -before and after the Cross- which have never heard about this genuine offer.

That may be true, but God holds us accountable for how we respond to the degree of revelation we receive. I think the Bible holds out hope for those who may have never heard the gospel, but that is a large and somewhat unrelated topic. Personally, I think the main reason that so many have not heard the gospel is not due to an eternal decree or any limit to the atonement, but because believers have largely failed to obey the great commission.

As for 1 Tim 4:10, we must admit that it cannot mean that He's the saviour of "all men", in the sense of everlasting salvation, because we know that not all men will be saved from Hell in the end. Maybe it's a reference to some temporal benefits or something?

It seems that you are really grasping for straws here. You are right that "Savior of all men" cannot be unconditional else all would be saved. That is why I understand "Savior of all men" to be provisional with the condition for attaining that provision immediately following, "and especially of those who believe".

I would be interested to hear how God is a "temporal" Savior to the reprobate.

Btw, I thought the feast parable had something to do with Israel's rejection of Christ and the gospel being proclaimed to the gentiles,

You are right that the beginning of the parable has reference to the Jews' rejection. I mentioned that in my first response to you and Josh. The point was, however, that God had made a true provision which was rejected. I also mentioned that the atonement must be in view to some extant [if not primarily].

Look at this related passage:

“For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests. Then it will come about on the day of the Lord’s sacrifice that I will punish the princes, the kings sons and all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.” Zeph. 1:7, 8 [see also Rev. 19:7-9, c/w John 6:48-58]

While the parable begins with a meal prepared and the invitation going out to the Jews, the invitation is then extended to anyone who will accept. The provision was also for the Gentiles upon the Jews rejection [c/w Rom. 10:19-21; 11:11-32]

Look at how the Lord spoke to the Jews who rejected God's invitation:

"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 8:11-12, NASB).

"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:28-29, NASB).

The "sons of the kingdom" are the Jews for whom the feast was prepared, who rejected the invitation. They will watch the Gentiles come to God's feast while they will be cast out for their rejection.

...but even that parable he ends by saying "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt 22:14).

It is true that many are called and few are chosen, but it does not follow that those who were not chosen were unable to heed the call; nor does it follow that there was no provision made for them. The parable suggests just the opposite.

God's provision is made for all, the call goes out to all, and those who heed the call on God's terms are the "chosen" who alone will enjoy the Lord's feast.

We can argue about the details, but the main point is that the feast was genuinely prepared even for those who would reject it and never partake of it.

Once we understand the atonement as being provisional in nature, then those favorite Calvinists arguments become invalid. We are also rescued from the tortured Calvinist exegesis of the passages which plainly speak of Christ's atonement being made for "all men", "the world", etc.

Rhett said...

Ben,

"I would be interested to hear how God is a "temporal" Savior to the reprobate"

God shows mercy to the reprobate every second he spares them from an eternity in the Lake of Fire. As long as God withholds His righteous justice from them, and because of many other undeserved blessings they recieve, God can indeed be considered their "saviour" as well.

John Gill puts it like this:

"'Who is the saviour of all men'; in a providential way, giving them being and breath, upholding them in their beings, preserving their lives, and indulging them with the blessings and mercies of life; for that he is the Saviour of all men, with a spiritual and everlasting salvation, is not true in fact."


Even if there is some aspect of hypothetical provision in the atonement, it doesn't do people a bit of good -touching redemption- unless they repent and believe the Gospel.

Ultimately, we still end up with the atonement not actually redeeming everyone no matter how we interpret the "all men" and "the world".

Had God REALLY wanted "all men" saved, "all men" would be saved. He's God, He could have worked it out.


As on many other things, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree on this matter too.

I have determined that the Potter has the right to do whatever He wants to do with the clay...

Take care,

RK

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

That may be true, but God holds us accountable for how we respond to the degree of revelation we receive. I think the Bible holds out hope for those who may have never heard the gospel, but that is a large and somewhat unrelated topic.

If this is true....then preaching the gospel and evangelism actually sends people to hell...For if they are unaware of their sin, and they can go to heaven simply by not hearing the gospel, then we are not doing much good preaching the gospel.

That is why I understand "Savior of all men" to be provisional with the condition for attaining that provision immediately following, "and especially of those who believe".

Perhaps a lexical study of the word "all" might help us here.

That is quite true, but if God's offer is truly genuine and if He is a God of integrity, then there must be a real provision available even for those who will reject the message.

There is a real provision for people God knows will never be atoned for? Are you kidding me...this is so foolish. God is really providing salvation for people who he knows never will be saved? Just listen to that...its so foolish. That's like offering a 14 layer chocolate cake to someone you know hates or is allergic to chocolate...it is a mockery...Its actually kind of evil to do something like that. But, I don't expect you to see how foolish this really seems.

kangeroodort said...

Rhett,

God shows mercy to the reprobate every second he spares them from an eternity in the Lake of Fire. As long as God withholds His righteous justice from them, and because of many other undeserved blessings they recieve, God can indeed be considered their "saviour" as well.

What are temproal mercies to one who will suffer an eternity in hell? As Jesus said, it would be better for them to have never been born. He also said, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"

Am I being kind to a fish by giving him the the worm on my hook? Don't you think the "mercies" of this temporal life will only multiply the suffering of the reprobate in hell? The rich man was desperate for a touch of water on his tongue. Remembering the relief water gave from heat in his life on earth only intensified his sufferings. Please Rhett, this has got to be one of the most ridiculous arguments Calvinism has come up with. Jesus is in no way a "Savior" to the reprobate if Calvinism be true.

Even if there is some aspect of hypothetical provision in the atonement, it doesn't do people a bit of good -touching redemption- unless they repent and believe the Gospel.

I agree, except for the "hypothetical" part. The fact remains that a real provision preserves the genuineness of the offer as well as God's integrity in making the offer. It also makes sense of the fact that God condemns the unbeliever for their unbelief, as I said before. The main issue is that Scripture teaches it as the passages I mentioned indicate.

Ultimately, we still end up with the atonement not actually redeeming everyone no matter how we interpret the "all men" and "the world".

I agree, but that is besides the point.

Had God REALLY wanted "all men" saved, "all men" would be saved. He's God, He could have worked it out.

That would only be true if God wanted all men to be saved "unconditionally" which Scripture denies.

As on many other things, I reckon we'll just have to agree to disagree on this matter too.

Fair enough. I appreciate the time you spent trying to set me straight.

I have determined that the Potter has the right to do whatever He wants to do with the clay...

Unless, of course, the Potter wanted to endow his "pots" with libertarian free will, a genuine opportuniy to be saved, and make that salvation conditional. That is one "right" the Potter is apparently forbidden to have.

Later Bro.,
Ben

kangeroodort said...

If this is true....then preaching the gospel and evangelism actually sends people to hell...For if they are unaware of their sin, and they can go to heaven simply by not hearing the gospel, then we are not doing much good preaching the gospel.

Absolutely not. All I said was that the gospel holds out hope for those who never hear. I did not say that it held out the same hope, and I certainly did not say that it holds out greater hope, as your comments seem to imply.

Perhaps a lexical study of the word "all" might help us here.

Perhaps you are suggesting that "all" does not mean "all" in 1 Tim. 4:10? Perhaps it means "all of the elect"? If that were the case then the passage would be reduced to meaningless tautology:

"...who is the Savior of all [elect] men, and especially of beleievers [the elect]."

There is a real provision for people God knows will never be atoned for?

Yes. I already explained this. I understand you have an emotional objection here, but there is nothing philosophically invalid about that. How do you feel about God condemning unbelievers for not believing in something that was never provided for them or intended for them? Why don't you have an emotional reaction to that?

That's like offering a 14 layer chocolate cake to someone you know hates or is allergic to chocolate...it is a mockery...Its actually kind of evil to do something like that.

Sounds like a perfect description of the command to preach the gospel to all creation when God has made it [according to Calvinism] impossible for most of creation to respond. Now, that is mockery! More like offering cake to a cripple if he will just walk over and take it. I agree that such a thing would be evil, and Calvinism teaches exactly that. However, if the provision was real, and God enabled the sinner to respond [or the cripple to walk], then it is not mockery when the sinner rejects [or the cripple stays in his chair], and his condemnation is justly deserved.

But, I don't expect you to see how foolish this really seems.

Lucky for me.

Thanks for the chat,
Ben

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

I see your objections, and certainly they are warranted. I actually thought about this earlier last night. Let me ask a question?

Do you think that a man on a deserted island who never hears the gospel will go to heaven?

Secondly, no I do not think that all means all of the elect, and if there is any calvinist who would interpret that in that manner, he himself is foolish and not being true to the text. No, I just know that the Greek word there is pas, and pas means all types of men, not every individual person. So, Jesus is the Savior of all men, not just one type of men, the Jews. He is the Savior of gentiles as well. When God told Abraham, I will make you a father of many nations, this is in view. The covenant with Abraham includes the salvation of all men...but all (pas) meaning types of men.

Perhaps offering the gospel to the non-elect is also as you say, but God has commanded us to do it? Why? Well, because he has not given us calvinists a list of all the elect. Because of that, God has commanded us to preach to everyone. OUr offer of the gospel is genuine, but perhaps God has different purposes of the gospel..Perhaps the gospel is intended to bring condemnation to some while eternal life to others...Just a thought.

kangeroodort said...

Do you think that a man on a deserted island who never hears the gospel will go to heaven?

Probably not, but I will leave that up to God.

No, I just know that the Greek word there is pas, and pas means all types of men, not every individual person.

"Pas" can be understood in that way, but in this text it simply has reference to "all" men. "Pas" in 1 Tim. 4:10 is plural masculine followed by a plural noun. Vine's says of "pas":

"In the plural with a noun [as in the passage in question] it means "all".

OUr offer of the gospel is genuine, but perhaps God has different purposes of the gospel..Perhaps the gospel is intended to bring condemnation to some while eternal life to others...Just a thought.

Perhaps. And Perhaps the offer is genuine and the provision is real...Just a thought.

I agree that the gospel is a savor of death for those who are perishing, but that is only because they reject God's provision. They are condemned by their rejection because the offer of salvation is real and they are truly capable of believing.

Again, how can God condemn the reprobate for rejecting something that was neither provided nor intended for him? Rejection of the gospel can only compound the guilt of the sinner if he is truly rejecting something. If Calvinism is true, then the reprobate is not rejecting anything because there was never anything available for him to reject.

I don't see how your suggestion helps your position any. If anything, it seems to further support mine.

God Bless,
Ben

Rhett said...

Ben,

"What are temporal mercies to one who will suffer an eternity in hell?"

More than they ever deserved...

"Please Rhett, this has got to be one of the most ridiculous arguments Calvinism has come up with. Jesus is in no way a "Savior" to the reprobate if Calvinism be true."

No more ridiculous than saying Jesus is the savior of "all men" when, in the final analysis, He was never going to save "all men" --by either your theological scheme or ours...


But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Rom 9:20-24)

Let God be God.

kangeroodort said...

Rhett,

No more ridiculous than saying Jesus is the savior of "all men" when, in the final analysis, He was never going to save "all men" --by either your theological scheme or ours...

Well, we will have to disagree there. I have repeatedly defined "Savior of all men" as provisional and conditional. In other words, God genuinely provided atonement [and salvation] for all men, while applying that atonement [and salvation] only to those who come to be in union with Christ through faith. I have not claimed this arbitrarily, but relied on the testimony of Scripture, which you have largely ignored or dismissed. Sorry if that seems ridiculous to you.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Rom 9:20-24)

The typical last gasp of a Calvinist who cannot defend his position. Must it always come to this? Did you bother to read Rom. 9:30-33 where Paul concludes the discourse you quoted? How about chapters 10 and 11 where Paul continues and clarifies his argument? How about Rom. 11:12-32? How do you harmonize these passages with Rom. 9:20-24 if Paul is describing individual and unconditional election/reprobation? I would suggest letting the inspired author explain himself rather than cutting him off where it seems to suit your theology and ignoring the rest.

Let Paul explain Paul, not John Calvin.

kangeroodort said...

BTW Rhett,

I know you are passionate about what you believe and are trying to defend your position. That is all that I am doing. I hope that you will not take any of this personally. I respect you guys, and you have treated me with respect as well, which I very much appreciate. I consider you all brothers in the same Lord, though we understand Him differently. I do like a good discussion though, and will not back down easily.

Later,
Ben

Rhett said...

Ben,

"The typical last gasp of a Calvinist who cannot defend his position."

I've never had any delusions of being "the great Reformed Apologist" anyway... I apologize for not being a more worthy adversary.

kangeroodort said...

Rhett,

For the record...I think you are pretty smart for a dumb guy :)

Rhett said...

"For the record...I think you are pretty smart for a dumb guy :)"

LOL!

I really appreciate that. I needed a good laugh. :D

-RK

Martin said...

Just in case KD is still subscribed to receive comments: noting your use of the word "calvinist" - please don't take what these guys say as representative of all of Calvinism. Calvinism is much broader than most modern 'calvinists' would have you believe. In fact Calvin himself, along with nearly all the other early reformers did not teach limited atonement. There is a clear, undeniable historical strand of Calvinism, from the early reformers, through the representatives at the Synod of Dort and the Westminster Conference (such as Davenant and Calamny) and on through some great names since including Chalmers, Doddridge, J C Ryle, etc who believe that Christ's death and resurrection is unlimited being a provision for all but that only the elect will be brought infallibly to faith. As WGT Shedd said: "Atonement is unlimited, and redemption is limited". Sadly this is less well known amongst modern Calvinists but a few of us are striving to set the record straight. Before any Calvinist here tries to deny what I've said - especially the bit about Calvin since that would hurt to have to admit that ones beliefs are not in line with Calvin and that they have been deceived - you first need to reckon with this extract of Calvin's teaching on the matter here: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=230 and that of other Reformers here: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=214

You will find the famous single statement in Calvin that some claim shows he teaches limited atonement (Cunningham) comprehensively dealt with hear http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=215 and the fallacious logic of double-jeopardy dealt with under several posts here: http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2008/03/subject-index.html

Please take time to earnestly consider these matters in humble dependence on the Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Martin

Gordan Runyan said...

A heavily foot-noted, scholarly summary of the long-standing debate that Martin is referring to is found here:

http://www.apuritansmind.com/Arminianism/NicoleRogerCalvinsLimitedAtonement.htm

Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

(sorry I removed this post as I wanted to make the links proper hyperlinks but it seems that it won't let me put "A href" tags in comments)

Gordan,

Let us be clear, this is not a summary of the debate but a summary of Nicole's own personal view on the matter. That by no means make it correct. Some of the mistakes he makes in the very article to which you have linked were exposed in the articles I had already linked to previously. Given this fact and the speed with which you responded it seems fairly obvious to me that you haven't even bothered to read the evidence let alone considered it earnestly in "humble dependence on the Lord" as I had suggested. I made that suggestion precisely because I am used to people linking to Nicole's article in an attempt to dismiss these arguments without actually engaging them somehow imagining that Nicole must be right. The fact is that an increasing number of people are beginning to see through Nicole's arguments and find them wanting. (Might I suggest you ponder why you felt the need to spring so readily to the defense of limited atonement? I confess that I would once have done so too and it was only when people challenged me to examine my motives that I became determined to consider the matter more objectively. The truth is that even great scholars make emotional investments in what they believe and therefore fail to realize that, not only can they approach a subject unaware of their unwarranted presuppositions, but they can also approach an issue with a sub-conscious desire to find affirmation for their deep-rooted beliefs and a reason to avoid the paradigm shift that the challenge would require. Where such a paradigm shift could have reputational implications the desire to avoid it can be even greater. Such is the nature of indwelling sin. As Calvin said we're like 'idol factories', at a 'functional' level we're always trying to find our sense of worth in something other than the Lord Jesus Christ.)

Coincidentally I have recently started going through Nicole’s article noting my concerns as I go. Here are my own personal observations so far (from the first three pages):

1. The comment about Calvin viewing the sufficient/efficient distinction as insufficient for a proper analysis of 1 John 2:2 is used in a very misleading way. Nicole uses it to try to back-up his supposition that the scholastic's formula was only a 'partial resolution' of the question of the extent of the atonement but surely when one considers that Calvin directly affirms the formula and, to my knowledge, makes no criticism of it elsewhere, the more natural reading is only that it is insufficient for his interpretation of 1 John 2:2 and, by direct implication, perfectly acceptable to him to use elsewhere. To extend Calvin's opinion of the unsuitableness of the formula any further than to this particular scripture therefore is surely to fly in the face of Calvin's explicit statement that he agrees with it (aside from the obvious question: would Calvin have affirmed it so readily if he thought it only a partial solution to other related scriptures?) It would seem to me that Nicole is unaware how his doctrinal position is driving his interpretation of Calvin and one is already left wondering whether this will be a consistent feature of Nicole's paper. This is a poor start and a mistake which one such as Nicole ought not to have made.
2. I find it frustrating that he lists a bunch of fellow reformers yet adduces no evidence. True its only a magazine article but what is frustrating is that this is probably the most oft-cited response to the universal expiation / dualist position. Even if Godfrey's work were to establish the case (and I haven't read it) my concern is that out of everyone who cites Nicole's article, how many actually have read Godfrey and/or the other reformers in depth and can *knowledgeably* agree with Nicole here? I suspect very, very few yet the belief that the Reformers were all as one on this prevails. This is a common argument used by limited atonement advocates which only serves to confirm them in their presuppositions. In any case, its only an argumentum ad populum. (But then I suppose we're probably all guilty of using an argumentum ad populum when it suits us and exposing it when it doesn't :~)
3. Nicole tells us that, since Daille's book is rare, he has helpfully listed the quotations which he has adduced from Calvin's works. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell us whether Daille offered any explication of those quotations. He then approvingly mentions the responses of DuMoulin, Rivet and Spanheim. It is doubtful whether these works are any less rare than that of Daille and at least, as far as I know, they are not available in English. It is therefore unfortunate and, one might wonder, somewhat one-sided, that Nicole's helpfulness does not extend to adducing any evidence from this trio. So far, for those who do not just accept that the so-called "Calvin versus the Calvinists" thesis has been defeated simply because Nicole said so, no argument with any supporting evidence has actually been advanced. I'm already starting to wonder why this is so often offered dismissively as though it is the "ultimate defeater" to classical, moderate reformed doctrines.
4. Nicole argues that most of the Calvin quotations which Daille adduces have little relevance to the precise question being considered. As if to add force to this argument, he says that this is "really amazing" but, one might ask, what of those quotations he implicitly admits do speak to the issue at hand? Well he does come to those later as we shall see but, my concern at this point is to ask: if the argument is self-evidentially not convincing, since it is not applicable to *all* quotations cited by Daille, why does this make it "really amazing"? After all, if the remaining quotes can be shown to carry the argument this claim, even if correct, would be decidedly 'unamazing'. One cannot but help wonder then: is there some emotional factor at work here clouding his judgement? I would suggest that what is actually amazing here is Nicole's apparent failure to see the relevance of some of the quotations and to even think that the few he mentions in the footnote (#8) are 'counterproductive'. Taking each in turn:
- In the first he seems to jump so quickly to the implied particularly where Calvin references those "given to Him by the Father" that he doesn't seem to stop to ponder in what sense Calvin (not Nicole) thinks Christ is the "saviour of the whole world" in the first part of the sentence. Several of the quotations David Ponter has listed (href=http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=230 ) speak to this.
- In the second he seems unaware of how he is taking a sentence where Calvin speaks of all kinds of men and is converting it to *some* of all kinds.
- In the third Nicole seems unaware of the nuances in Calvin and of how he imports his own understanding of the atonement into Calvin. Consequently he doesn't seem to realize that his claim that Daille's supposedly "counterproductive" quotes become even more so "when replaced in their original context" is actually counter-productive to his own position! In providing some additional context he omits the middle part where Calvin says "It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the world".
Others have already dealt with the issues raised better than I ever could. To see some of the reasons why I believe Nicole is unconvincing please consider the following:
http://controversialcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/06/calvin-vs-cunningham-nicole.html
http://controversialcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/07/love-of-god-for-all-men-in-calvin.html
http://controversialcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/07/calvin-extolling-universal-grace.html
http://controversialcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/11/nicole-critique-of-r-t-kendall-view-of.html
http://controversialcalvinism.blogspot.com/2007/11/nicole-critiques-kendall-view-of.html

If you remain unconvinced please deal with the arguments presented rather than just trying to dismiss my contention out-of-hand.

Grace and peace,
Martin

Gordan Runyan said...

Martin,

Greetings. Since we're being "clear," let me admit that I think you've obviously come here with a pet "axe to grind." In addition, you've come with a bit of an attitude about it. Part of that attitude is your assertion that no one here is at all familiar with the topic you want to talk about.

I posted the link to Nicole's article, not in an attempt to refute you, and certainly not in an attempt to dismiss you out of hand. That's the chip on your shoulder reacting there. I simply posted it thinking that there may well be readers who are not aware that Calvinism does in fact come in a variety of flavors.

I admit that I did not go to any of the links you have posted. Frankly, if I want to know what Calvin thought, I can read Calvin, and have, and do.

My estimation of the rightness of my theology, or yours, or anyone's, isn't centered on agreement with Calvin. I know that I disagree with him at several points, so you coming on here and wanting to start a debate on who adheres most closely to Calvin, well, if that's an appellation you crave, have at it. I won't take it from you.

Post all the links you like.

When you post a Biblical or exegetical argument that explains what you mean by universal atonement combined with particular redemption, then you might picque my interest.

But take this as a brotherly warning: You are a guest in this house. You're allowed to disagree and tell us we're wrong, but start diagnosing the state of our hearts based upon how quickly we allow you to teach us, and you will be asked to leave.

Machine Gun Kelley said...

In addition to what Gordan said, I would like to also note that I'm so apathetic that I usually glaze over after a comment gets above 150 words in length...

Thanks for stopping by.

Martin said...

Ok this didn't turn out like I expected. I did not mean to judge motives or cause offence and can only sincerely apologize. I realize now that I was jumping ahead based on what I've seen elsewhere and, to a certain extent, was reacting to the use of Nicole and should have taken things more slowly. Whilst not attempting to diagnose hearts I do realise now that I had assumed I knew your motive for posting the link to Nicole and once again I am truly sorry and ask your forgiveness as a brother in Christ Jesus.

Gordan Runyan said...

Martin, no problem, apology accepted. I think you may have fallen victim to our blog theme, as others have: the fact that we're the "Reformed Mafia" causes some to assume that our trigger fingers are always itching, that we're always looking for a fight, etc.

Please feel free to continue to comment. All the links you've posted above will remain for those who are interested.

Martin said...

Gordan,
Thankyou for your gracious response and invitation. I have read and noted your code of conduct and shall strive to post in the spirit of that code in future. As I see it: I might appear at the moment like a "rival gang member" trying to "shoot the place up" when what I would hope to do is 'build the place up' so to speak. :-)

(Actually as I read the description at the top of the page I noted a certain irony since at times I feel somewhat "counter-cultural" as though I were spreading "subversive doctrines" under "prohibition". :-)

Anyway, if I might just say briefly, I do wonder if what I was trying to say got missed somewhat due to my lamentable approach (kind of like "shoot first, ask questions later" eh?) and so, I would like to try, as carefullly and briefly as I can, to set out the initial concern I was trying to get across.

My initial concern was that KD was frequently using the term 'Calvinists' when addressing the arguments put forward making it clear that he thought he was critiquing Calvinism and that your arguments were the (i.e. the only) Calvinist arguments. Hence I thought it worth setting the record straight, in part because, in my experience, the diversity of Calvinism is not so well known in some Calvinist quarters today and, since I knew that some well known Calvinist writers have exposed some of the weaknesses of the arguments being used here I imagined that that same lack existed here. Once again I am sorry that I was presuming things about your knowledge which I should not have done, but hopefully now, bearing in mind that there had been no attempt to explain that there were in fact different views on some of the matters being discussed and that some Calvinists would not disagree with him on some points, you can at least see why I did. Bear in mind also that, whilst you may be well aware of the Calvinist 'breadth' to which I refer, I was conscious that not all of your readers or commenters may be. I suppose at back of all that was a concern over building doctrines that are dependent on logical deduction rather than just the plain force of scripture. And that's probably because it is an area in which I have personally suffered since I have, in the past, believed things simply because the logic made such sense, that is, until someone pointed out the errors in the logic that I had missed!

Hope that helps.

Grace and peace,
Martin

Gordan Runyan said...

Martin, thanks for this, it explains a lot. You are starting to seem like a decent guy! :)

I would not be opposed to interacting with you about those things that you see as "the plain force of the Scriptures" on the side of Unlimited Atonement. I will admit that as I have considered the 4-point position, that missing L sure does seem to undercut all the other petals, from a logical standpoint.

If you would be interested in writing a summary of your position, say in the 300-400 or so word range, then I'd like you to email it to me, with the understanding that I may post it here at the Mafia and use it as a starting point for a discussion (a discussion to which you would of course be more than welcome.)

reformnm@yahoo.com

Yours,
Gordan