Best Defense of UNlimited Atonement

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

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  1. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    Your comments are unfortunate and I am bemused as to what you think merits them but I can assure that any limitation on my part is not so much down to lack of acquaintance but rather lack of intellect!

    Anyway, I think we must be talking at cross-purposes because I can see nothing in this quotation that comes anywhere near rendering the quotation I supplied earlier 'null and void'. In any event, what you seem to miss is that even if Dabney had held to the most strict particularist view it does not diminish the force of his argument against those who think that the 'double-jeopardy argument carries any weight.

    Your reference to piecemeal quoting would seem to indicate that you are reading something into what I have written that goes beyond what I intended. My reason for posting Dabney was nothing more than to show that the double-payment argument is not robust enough to defend a strict limited atonement view irrespective of whatever position one takes on the matter. (And I would further argue that one should not need to use such logical arguments anyway but rather should be able to rely upon scripture alone).

  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If Dabney held that atonement exists in each and every case where a person believes,, then there is no SUSPENSION of the atonement in his thought, because there is no atonement where there is no faith. It is here that he has correctly followed the voluntarist tradition of reformed theology.

    His other statement as quoted by you was written with a view to guarding Calvinism against unwarranted assertions which give ground to Socinian ideas. Numerous Calvinists turned to necessitarianism in order to make this defence, and found some necessity in the nature of God itself, thereby making God bound to some inextricable law of His nature. Only on this supposition could one conceive of an atonement existing in and of itself apart from the eternal counsel of God. This idea is properly rebutted under the voluntarist scheme, which finds the necessity of the atonement in the will of God. As Dabney himself goes on to allow for this voluntarist view in some measure, he therein defeats his own necessitarianism and properly speaks of limited atonement in terms of the eternal purpose of God, not as some inextricable law of justice which was necessarily satisfied by Christ.
  3. Mayflower

    Mayflower Puritan Board Junior

    Check this out :

    Particular Redemption, The New Perspective, and More with John Piper (and Bruce Ware!) Discussion concerning limited atonement versus unlimited atonement

    By: Dr. John Piper | 3/1/2007
    John Piper offers his thoughts (limited atonement)on the New Perspective and other prominent topics today. He also briefly interacts with Bruce Ware (holds to unlimited atonement) on the extent of the atonement.
  4. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, thankyou for making a little clearer what you are thinking at least. But to be honest it just looks to me like you are trying to find ways to avoid the force of what Dabney says. You also continue to make unwarranted leaps of logic. in my opinion it seems to me that it is you who needs to become more familiar with what Dabney says as a whole - but I fear your views are so entrenched that you filter everything he says through your own grid to somehow square it with your 'system'. Sorry if that's blunt but I can't think of any other explanation for, frankly, what looks like a smokescreen generated to try undermine Dabney's statement that "satisfaction is suspended upon belief".

    Let's look at some more Dabney to demonstrate how your argument fails, first here's a fuller version of the original quote I provided:
    This was provided in order to show that the 'double payment' argument used by some is not convincing.

    Firstly, it is clear that this was not "written with a view to guarding Calvinism against unwarranted assertions which give ground to Socinian ideas" as you suggest. Rather, it was clearly written to prove "the general correctness of this theory of the extent of the Atonement" (i.e. vicarious penal satisfaction). The reference to Socinianism is merely one of two objections he raises to the double payment argument previously advanced in this thread.

    Secondly, note that Dabney is speaking here about satisfaction, NOT atonement. You seem to have missed how Dabney differentiates between satisfaction/expiation and atonement/reconcilliation. Does he not say in the very quote you provided that people "continually mix two ideas when they say atonement"!

    Furthermore it is you who quotes 'piecemeal' for, after the quote you provided, Dabney goes on to say:
    Now note carefully how he repeats and expands this argument in his Lectures:
    Notice how he defines satisfaction and equates it with expiation which he clearly says is NOT LIMITED. Since he further says that the limitation, as regarding this satisfaction, is in the decree "and no where else" this also clearly contradicts your earlier claim that Dabney did not hold to an "objective provision" for the reprobate.

    Here's another interesting one from Dabney:
    We can see Dabney's all-encompassing view of Christ's satisfaction in other writings of his:
    It is clear then, to the 'candid mind', to use Dabney's telling phrase, that in the original quote I provided, in saying that "Christ's satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent" which, if true, would, as C. Hodge says, "ipso facto liberate", Dabney argues for an unlimited satisfaction made for every man which is suspended upon the condition of belief. This satisfaction for all enables the "Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit." When the Father 'sees fit' being determined by decree not as a necessary consequence of the expiation alone. For Dabney, redemption, or we might say, the 'application' of that satisfaction, is what he calls 'atonement', i.e. reconcilliation. So we see that, in the way that Dabney defined 'atonement', whilst, in one sense I suppose you could say that "there is no suspension in the 'atonement' " since we see that he defines 'atonement' as occurring only at the point of belief, yet, nevetheless, we also see that this 'atonement' is "grounded on that sacrifice made by Christ" and is only made effectual "when the sinner believes" such that it is very clearly conditioned on belief.

    The satisfaction is unlimited and made for every man. The 'atonement' (reconcilliation) is limited by decree. For Dabney this view upholds particular redemption by not only fitting the scriptures that speak of limitation in God's intent but also those that speak to a universal provision without having to recourse to dubious logic which, sadly, so many modern-day Calvinists seem to want to do.

    Grace and peace to all and Soli Deo Gloria!
  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Matthew is fairly candid about Dabney. He identifies him as "necessitarian" instead of "voluntarist". But he points out that according to his reading, by allowing for the voluntarist view Dabney undercuts his stated position. Can't a guy disagree with Dabney? Because basically that's what Matthew is doing. He seems throughly straightforward about it too. He thinks Dabney was wrong to assert a "suspension". He certainy isn't trying to force Dabney to read differently. He thinks Dabney was being inconsistent.

    Obviously, you think Dabney was being consistent, as you interpret him. But you certainly aren't interpreting Matthew with much charity. It's not too much of a stretch to figure Rev. Winzer in the top 5 "well-read" posters on this board.
  6. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    I have already dealt with Dabney.

    When we consider that Howe said, for example:
    It is at least questionable to say that Howe did not hold to an 'objective provision'.

  7. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, if he were being that candid, surely it would have been easier simply to say that he disagrees with Dabney.

    Of course he is free to disagree with Dabney - but not to try to make Dabney say something he does not. And, frankly, your assertion that he does not do this flies in the face of the obvious but let him speak for himself I am sure he is able.

    Notice here how Dabney is arguing for unity with the Methodists (who obviously hold to a form of universal atonement) agreeing that Christ suffered for the "whole world". Clearly he couldn't have meant this as code for the elect. I'd say its very clear that Dabney consistently argued for unlimited satisfaction/expiation and limited atonement/reconcilliation. So, to argue that his voluntarism negates his statement that 'satisfaction is suspended on belief' fails because Matthew's argument is built upon a faulty assumption that Dabney shares his view that the extent of the expiation is co-extensive with that of the actual reconcilliation and that the expiation necessarily 'purchases' faith. Witness Matthew's original assertion with my Dabney-derived comments interspersed:

    "He is allowing for the fact that substitution is an act of free grace alone."
    Me: True.

    "Hence there is no substitution apart from election."
    Me: True, yet only in the sense that if there had been no election there would be no substitution and clearly, as we have seen from Dabney, NOT that the satisfaction is only for the elect.

    "The same election purposes to give faith to make the substitution effective."
    Me: Again true, and, further, as Dabney says: "the limitation is in the decree ... and nowhere else"

    "Ergo, it is not that satisfaction is "suspended on the man's belief," but that there is no satisfaction where there is no belief."
    Me: And so we see that the 'ergo' is in fact a 'no go' since we have seen that Dabney holds to an unlimited satisfaction, ergo there is satisfaction where there is no belief. It couldn't be any clearer. In fact, as I have maintained all along, the logic just doesn't work in any event. For anyone who is able to set aside dearly held beliefs for a moment and consider the logic more objectively on its own can see that the conclusion does not automatically follow from the premise without making some unstated (and unsubstantiated) assumptions - assumptions which we have seen Dabney implictly deny.

  8. Skeuos Eleos

    Skeuos Eleos Puritan Board Freshman

    Well an argumentum ad populum proves nothing. In fact, all the more important to have the 'checks and balances'. What strikes me as odd is that you were so quick and keen to defend him, especially when you haven't really interacted with my arguments. I think that demonstrates the need for such caution.

  9. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Clearly Dabney's distinctions are misunderstood if he can be made to say what he so vehemently denies. If Dabney explains the "process" of the atonement, one is not at liberty to make his statements apply to the "product." It is as clear as day that there is a time separation between Christ's offering Himself and man believing in Christ. This is all Dabney alludes to when he speaks of "suspension." In the final product, there is no suspension, because the efficacy of what Christ has done is wholly dependent upon the eternal counsel of God, which knows no intervals of time. Dabney comes to this point. He shouldn't be stopped on the way to making this point and made to stand to account before he has reached his conclusion.

    As for the quotation from Systematic Theology to the effect that "Christ made expiation for every man," one is obliged to observe the context. He is interacting with the usual Calvinistic manner of explaining the "universalistic" texts. He is not siding with Arminians. He merely states what the text "seems" to be saying. He does not tell us what he thinks the text "is" saying. As he explains himself he makes it clear that he is sensitive to the historical process whereby the secret counsel of God is manifested. At most it is safe to say that Dabney taught that Christ died for every man upon condition that he believe. Which, as Dabney himself tells us, is not atonement.

    On the very next page Dabney provides a classic reformed definition of the object of faith: "What then is the objective proposition, on which every sinner is commanded tob elieve? It is not, that 'Christ designed His death expressly for me.' But it is, 'whosoever believeth shall be saved.' This warrant is both general and specific enough to authorize any man to venture on Christ. The very act of venturing on Him brings that soul within the whosoever." This is the classic reformed way of stating the warrant to believe. It is not founded in some universal atonement for all, but in the conditional offer of the gospel for all.

    Systematic and contextual reading yields the meaning of the author.
  10. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Now poor Howe is going to suffer from the same deconstruction as Dabney. What is worse, we are going to be subjected to the fallacy of deriving principia from phenomena. But once the principia is understood the phenomena is easily reconciled. Howe states, "to redeem and save such as thou" because the gospel offers Christ generally to sinners as sinners, but conditionally, because without faith the sinner is condemned already. I wish people would read works from cover to cover. The men wrote them that way.
  11. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    No, he is quoting the Methodists to show that the general consent of the various branches of the church hold to "penal substitution." He expressly says so. He is not saying that these branches agree on the extent of the atonement. That flies in the face of obvious fact.
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Something sounded odd about the above connection. Where's the appeal in what I said to someone's or something's popularity?

    From Wikipedia:
    "Well-read," in the context of my commentary, offered in the context of your commentary on Matthew's scholarship
    doesn't refer to Rev. Winzer's "popularity" on this board, but to my view that given the breadth of his familiarity with the writings of historic Presbyterianism, amply demonstrated (whatever you may think of his conclusions!) over the body of his contributions here (and off site), I put him in the category with Dr. McMahon, Dr. R. Scott Clark, Rev. David T. King, and maybe a couple others. I think the accusation (as I bolded it above) is patently absurd.

    (not that it's important, but I am noplace--probably not even the top 50)
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