Unlimited Limited Atonement? | (a discussion)
A new articulation of an old idea: a Facebook exchange on the single most controversial tenet of traditional Calvinism.
This was a facebook message/discussion between a few friends and me on the topic of “Limited Atonement” (the “L” in Calvinism’s acronomical existence). I’m thinking about letting this be the first of a new type of article I’m calling “Orthodoxological”. I’m thinking about trying to write some articles on some of the deepest and seemingly arbitrary and useless doctrines of the Christian faith, and showing how they do in fact necessarily lead to a greater worship of God. Let me know what you think!
SUBJ: this is probably a poor decision
- So i was reading Death By Love today, and the chapter was on Atonement.
- Unlimited limited?
- I figure with the three of you I dont need to give a whole lot more of a spark to get conversation going…
We just talked about this last night with the gang from University of Richmond.
Atonement IS Limited. That’s not up for debate. As Peter says, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell…” (2 Peter 2:4). Some fallen beings have been permanently excluded from the class of those who have a chance to benefit from Christ’s redemptive work. Therefore, atonement IS Limited.
The only question that remains is “To what extent has God limited that atonement provided by Christ?” Is it so limited that there are some human beings who don’t even have a chance? Now, THAT we can debate.
Personally, I like Paul Burkhart’s term “particular redemption.” It more accurately reflects the fact that God has been generous with the atonement provided by Christ’s blood as opposed to the idea that he has been unnecessarily and unjustly stingy (limited…).
- hahahaha this is great! I had this mini convo in my class with my professor and he was like, “you believe jesus came and died for all right monica? … and then he thought i got all “shy” and answered for me- but i didnt get all shy, its just I had been thinking about it for a while and I forgot the term for it (limited atonement)- of which, I’ve been leaning toward.
Piper’s been the greatest help to me on this one. 2 images explain this best for me:
1. We believe in a cross that actually saves, not just makes salvation possible. so, it’s like the cross opened the door for EVERYONE but only was effectual to save SOME.
2. (this image is my favorite) drew, now that you’re married, you’re still called to love all women, but you will love YOUR BRIDE in a special, unique, sacrificial way that you will NOT love other women. just so with Christ. he loves all people enough to come to earth and provide a way for their salvation, but ultimately, he will only love his Bride in that special, unique application of the cross.
i love this stuff.
- Paul, what you are describing sounds like what Driscoll calls “Unlimited Limited” atonement – ie all are purchased by Christ, but not all will be saved. He makes a great point, one which i have not heard preached very often – that the cross does in fact benefit all people, as does Christianity.
- He also goes on to say that in this way the best life for non believers is now, and for the Christian the best is still to come.
- Also – the book is GREAT.
- ok, so then question- explain to me the difference between limited and unlimited limited atonement.
limited – the blood of the cross is only able and intended to cover the sins of the elect. it is absolutely limited in its scope, ability, breadth, and application
unlimited limited – the blood of the cross is not hindered in any way but by Sovereign decree. it is completely unlimited in its scope and ability, but limited in whom it is applied to. the atonement itself is not limited in any way, just its application.
the important distinction: limited atonement means that those not saved never had the chance to be saved, because there was no atoning work of Christ available to them. unlimited limited means that there is unlimited atoning power available to all, hanging above the heads of all people, but they freely reject this available atoning power. but, a limited, pre-ordained number of people, by the power of God’s merciful grace will drink freely from this unlimited ocean of atoning power and taste the goodness of the One for Whom their soul was made. hence my preferred term (which i got somewhere else, can’t remember where, so i guess it’s mine now): “particular redemption.”
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