Best Defense of UNlimited Atonement

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Theoretical, Jan 23, 2007.

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  1. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    I'm interested for a friend who's going to be studying issues of the atonement what books or resources provide the strongest argument in favor of unlimited or general atonement. He already has Death of Death by Owen, which (correct me if I'm wrong), is pretty much considered THE end all, be all discussion of the Calvinist view of Limited Atonement. What, in some sense, would be its equivalent from the Arminian and/or Amyraldian side (I know the latter's not quite U, but as an alternate)?

    This person in question is a monergistic Lutheran.
  2. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

  3. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

  4. ajrock2000

    ajrock2000 Puritan Board Freshman

    Has anyone here read this book? I'm interested to see what it has to say.
  5. VaughanRSmith

    VaughanRSmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I came into this thread hoping to hear it. :lol:
  6. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    :lol: Sorry, I'm afraid I'm unable to do that - for that kind of defense, I've heard Dave Hunt's a pretty good choice.
  7. elnwood

    elnwood Puritan Board Junior

    There aren't very published treatises for the Amyraldian view, and I haven't seen even an attempt at a definitive work on it, despite the fact that "four point Calvinism" is a widely held view, particularly among Baptists and dispensationalists (although this is not universally the case -- Amyraut himself was neither). There are a number of Systematic Theologies that will hold to a "four-point" view, so probably consulting a number of those would be useful.

    I haven't read a number of these, so I could be mistaken of their views, but I would check Charles Ryrie's Basic Theology, Millard Erickson's Systematic Theology, Chafer's Systematic Theology, etc. for short treatises.
  8. JoshCasey

    JoshCasey Puritan Board Freshman

    Uh, there are good arguments for unlimited atonement? That's news to me!
  9. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

  10. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    Well, Josh, I wasn't expecting to find a genuienly great argument for U, or at least none that match up with 'Death of Death', but surely there had to be something...
  11. JoshCasey

    JoshCasey Puritan Board Freshman

    :D Yeah, I know, Scott, I was just giving you a hard time. (I admit I was rather surprised when I saw the title of this thread). Hm, the only half-decent work I have ever heard of was The Other side of Calvinism by Lawrence Vance. -- have fun with the comments! :D:D
  12. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    How about "God loves everyone!" ?
  13. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    Calvin wrote "He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him." Rom. 5:18
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2007
  14. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    "I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them? and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins?"

    ----John Calvin
  15. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    So Calvin was inconsistent? :rant:

  16. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    Perhaps he was. After all, the Arminians and Dordt didn't emerge until after his death. The only categories the Church was working within were Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, or Augustinianism. The tricky subtleties of Arminianism had not yet emerged in any more than a nascent form. Controversy definitely does refine doctrinal understanding, and it is undeniable that we have a more precise and clarified theology, especially confessional, avaiable to us in our times than during the Reformation. Now that doesn't mean that all or most of us use these blessings and developments, but that is our fault as members of the Modern Church.

    I would just say that even if Calvin was inconsistent or slightly off on his theology regarding the atonement, it would be out of a lack of theological development in this one area that wasn't more precisely down by the Canons of Dordt.
  17. terry72

    terry72 Puritan Board Freshman

    In the first quote Calvin is clearly speaking of parallel between Christ and Adam. Christ came as one of the son's of Adam taking the same nature which is common to all men, so in this sense he suffered for the sins of the whole world, i.e. the whole whole human race being under the judgment of sin by the offense Adam.

    In the second quote Calvin is speaking to context of the communion table, of those to whom the benefit as been applied by being brought in to union with Christ, so that the reality that is symbolized in the elements takes on a specific/special relevance to them, for Christ is offered for them specifically in the sense that their sin has been taken away by virtue of their being in Christ. The wicked by definition have no participation in this sacrament.

  18. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    I agree...oh wait, I wrote that.

  19. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Those who argue in favor of an unlimited atonement think that 1 John 2:2 teaches that Jesus died for everyone.

    Millard Erickson in his, Christian Theology, says "The underlying issue here is the question of the efficacy of the atonement. Those who hold to limited atonement assume that if Christ died for someone, that person will actually be saved. By extension they reason that if Christ in fact died for all persons, all would come to salvation; hence the concept of universal atonement is viewed as leading to the universal-salvation trap. The basic assumption here, however, ignores the fact that our inheriting eternal life involves two separate factors: objective factor (Christ's provision of salvation) and a subjective factor (our acceptance of that salvation)."

    I will respond to the above quote. First of all, Erickson's view leads to the conclusion that our faith is what makes Christ's atonement efficacious. If our faith makes Christ's atonement efficacious, then our faith is a work that adds to the merit of Christ. Second, our faith does not determine whether God's justice is satisfied or whether the debt of sin is paid for. Suppose there is judge and he is willing to accept an innocent person to die in the place of a criminal on death row. If the innocent person actually died in the place of that criminal and the demands of the law were completely satisfied, then the criminal would go free. The criminal cannot say, "I don't accept what that innocent person did for me." The criminal does not determine whether or not justice has been satisfied.

    Suppose a proponent of the unlimited atonement were to say the following:

    "Christ's atonement alone completely satisfied God's justice. Christ's atonement alone completely paid for the debt of sin for everyone, but some people will go to hell."

    The logical conclusion of such statements would be that the debt of sin is paid for twice.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  20. beej6

    beej6 Puritan Board Sophomore

    This may be out of my league, but...

    The atonement must be limited, in either scope (Reformed) or power (Arminian), unless you are a true universalist (that is, everyone is saved).
  21. panicbird

    panicbird Puritan Board Freshman

    While I have not read it, Robert Picirilli's Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism is supposed to be the defense of Arminius' views, which I assume would include a discussion of the atonement.

    You are right. Here are the options:
    1. Christ died for all of the sins of all the people (universalism)
    2. Christ died for all of the sins of some of the people (limited atonment, definite redemption)
    3. Christ died for some of the sins of all of the people (unlimited atonement)

    While I suppose that a fourth option could be added (Christ died for some of the sins of some of the people), I do not know of any who have actually held that view.

    Only one of them can be true. I prefer (both biblically and experientially) to have a Savior who actually saves, not one who merely makes me savable.
  22. puritan lad

    puritan lad Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm afraid not. There is a good reason why you won't find any John Owen books in Family Christian Bookstores. They hope that, if they ignore it, it will go away :)

    There may be some who make decent arguments (or as good as possible considering that they are defending a falsehood), but Owen's book is in a class by itself.
  23. Mayflower

    Mayflower Puritan Board Junior

    I read that John Davenant (1576-1641) also denyed limited atonement, and was hold like John Goodwin the Amyraldian view.
  24. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    If you want to go neo-orthodox, you can look at Karl Barth's book "The Epistle To The Romans". He pretty much beats up on the liberals in this work but also explains how universal salvation works existentially.
  25. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    Which version of 'unlimited atonement'? Typical Arminian or one or more of the various 'dualistic' views such as was expressed by Shedd when he said:

    Can't help with the former but can help to a certain extent with the latter.

    Grace and peace,
  26. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto: :lol:
  27. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    Your conclusion does not follow from your premise.

    Your analogy proves nothing because it is not a faithful representation of scripture. Analogies can be helpful but they are also dangerous because they are not scripture and what we can so easily do is see enough similarities between our analogy and scripture to consider it valid and useful without noticing that there are other aspects to the analogy that do not fit the sciptural data or that it doesn't go far enough. So, for example, when the jailor in Acts 16 said "what must I do to be saved?" I can, with at least equal force, argue that we can liken Paul's response to the jailor to the Judge in your analogy saying to the criminal that they can go free provided that they accept what has been done on their behalf.

    And where does scripture say that can't happen??? You seem to place great store on the use of logic but what use is logic if you can't find support in scripture? Here is what Dabney had to say about this:
    Grace and peace,
  28. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Dabney: "The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over, first in his Savior, and then in Him."

    I agree to a certain extent, but then I have to question the use of the phrase "suspended on His (sic) belief." Dabney was necessitarian whereas earlier reformed theologians were voluntaristic. Here Dabney seems to refute his own necessitarianism. He is allowing for the fact that substitution is an act of free grace alone. Hence there is no substitution apart from election. The same election purposes to give faith to make the substitution effective. Ergo, it is not that satisfaction is "suspended on the man's belief," but that there is no satisfaction where there is no belief.
  29. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    This whole trilemma is founded upon an extra-biblical assumption: that Christ died for sins in a piecemeal way in which they can be reckoned up like this.

    Grace and peace,
  30. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior


    Redemption Redeemed: A Puritan Defense of Unlimited Atonement, John Goodwin, edited by John D. Wagner (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 237 pages.
    Like Arminius himself, Goodwin was raised a Calvinist. While preparing lectures to refute Arminianism, he ultimately adopted Arminian theology while remaining a Puritan. Wesley published an exposition of Romans 9 by John Goodwin in a 1780 issue of the Arminian Magazine. Wesley's abridgement of Goodwin's Treatise on Justification also appears in volume ten of the Jackson edition of Wesley's Works. This is an edited and abridged version of a classic which was first published in 1651. Reference was made to this work in the McGonigle review. The bulk of this work is dedicated to defending the position that Christ died for all mankind and refuting the Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement. The book sells for $22 and may be ordered through any Internet book distributor. ISBN 1-57910-591-2



    Originally Posted by VirginiaHuguenot [​IMG]
    Perhaps...John Goodwin's [ame=""]Redemption Redeemed[/ame].

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