Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unlimited/Limited Atonement

Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears views of Unlimited/Limited Atonement and Calvinism compared with Piper's views on Limited Atonement and Calvinism.

From Mark Driscoll's sermon notes - from his sermon on Unlimited/Limited Atonement - recapitulated in Doctrine:

         Second, some Christians (e.g., Presbyterians, Reformed Baptists, some Independent Bible churches) believe that Jesus dies only for the sins of the elect. This position is commonly referred to as Calvinism, named after John Calvin, Reformed Theology, or Limited Atonement. They commonly appeal to those Scriptures which speak of Jesus dying only for some people but not all people (Matt. 1:21; 20:28; 26:28; Rom. 5:12-19), His sheep (John 10:11, 15, 26-27), His church (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25), the elect (Rom. 8:32-35), His people (Matt. 1:21), His friends (John 15:3), and all Christians (2 Cor. 5:15; Titus 2:14).

        At first glance, Unlimited and Limited Atonement are in opposition. But, that dilemma is resolved by noting two things. First, the two categories are not mutually exclusive; since Jesus died for the sins of everyone that means that He also died for the sins of the elect. Second, Jesus’ death for all people does not accomplish the same thing as His death for the elect. This point is complicated, but is in fact taught in Scripture (1 Tim. 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1).

         Simply, by dying for everyone, Jesus purchased everyone as His possession and He then applies His forgiveness to the elect by grace and applies His wrath to the non-elect. Objectively, Jesus’ death as sufficient to save anyone, and, subjectively, only efficient to save those who repent of their sin and trust in Him. This position is called Unlimited Limited Atonement or Modified Calvinism. 

From John Piper's Desiring God website - 

What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism from the section titled Limited Atonement:

On the other hand we do not limit the power and effectiveness of the atonement. We simply say that in the cross God had in view the actual redemption of his children. And we affirm that when Christ died for these, he did not just create the opportunity for them to save themselves, but really purchased for them all that was necessary to get them saved, including the grace of regeneration and the gift of faith.

We do not deny that all men are the intended beneficiaries of the cross in some sense. 1 Timothy 4:10 says that Christ is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." What we deny is that all men are intended as the beneficiaries of the death of Christ in the same way. (JD's note: this agrees with Calvin's own view, see here) All of God's mercy toward unbelievers—from the rising sun (Matthew 5:45) to the worldwide preaching of the gospel (John 3:16)—is made possible because of the cross.

This is the implication of Romans 3:25 where the cross is presented as the basis of God's righteousness in passing over sins. Every breath that an unbeliever takes is an act of God's mercy withholding judgment (Romans 2:4). Every time the gospel is preached to unbelievers it is the mercy of God that gives this opportunity for salvation.

Whence does this mercy flow to sinners? How is God just to withhold judgment from sinners who deserve to be immediately cast into hell? The answer is that Christ's death so clearly demonstrates God's just abhorrence of sin that he is free to treat the world with mercy without compromising his righteousness. In this sense Christ is the savior of all men.

But he is especially the Savior of those who believe. He did not die for all men in the same sense. The intention of the death of Christ for the children of God was that it purchase far more than the rising sun and the opportunity to be saved. The death of Christ actually saves from ALL evil those for whom Christ died "especially."

JD's take:

Is there Scriptural support for the proposition of Unlimited/Limited Atonement?

Salvific Limited Atonement for the elect:

Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, " Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and
purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation

1 Corinthians 6:20 For
you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Non-Salvific Unlimited Atonement for all mankind:

2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (JD's note: worth reading Calvin's own words on this here - as well as John Gill's words here)

1 Timothy 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (JD's note: for Calvin's own view, see here)

Christ atoned, or made a genuine and sufficient payment, as the federal head (singular representative) of all mankind, the second Adam, to effectually assume His role as the Redeemer and Judge as a part of the eternal covenant between the Godhead.

1 Corinthians 15:21-26 (New American Standard Bible)

 21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.

 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

 24then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.

 25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

 26The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

While the scope of the atonement is unlimited in the sense that ALL mankind receive the general benefit of God's common grace until the Last Judgement, the eternal benefit of the atonement, via effectual or irresistible grace, is limited to the elect.

My considered (yet certainly fallible) opinion is that the Unlimited/Limited Atonement of "Modified Calvinism" in not significantly different than "Calvinism" - mostly theological/semantic hair-splitting. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

...and yet another one...

Missing link between man and apes found

"It is thought that the new fossil to be unveiled this week will be identified as a new species that fits somewhere between Australopithicus and Homo habilis."