Did Calvin hold to Limited Atonement?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Dachaser, Sep 13, 2019.

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  1. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Sometimes it seems that he was holding to more of the unlimited viewpoint.
  2. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    The term "limited atonement" is not even found in our confessions. Our confessions generally speak in terms of Christ's satisfaction. The term works nicely as a mnemonic device (TULIP) but doesn't capture the complexity and diversity among the Reformed.

    Calvin himself doesn't spend a huge amount of time giving us a cut-and-dry answer to the question, but it seems that he employed the "sufficient for all, efficient or the elect alone" formula. He affirms this in his commenary on 1 John 2:2, though he didn't apply the doctrine to the verse itself. He also assumes it quite strongly in Institutes 3.24.17.

    In a nutshell, those who employ the sufficient/efficient formula can say that in a sense Christ died for all in terms of the sufficiency of His satisfaction and in a sense only for the elect in terms of the efficacy of the same.
  3. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Junior

    Brother, if you are going to start a thread that suggests a theologian swayed between unlimited and limited atonement, please provide sources, preferably primary but secondary would suffice. I know there has been a lot of ink spilled on this topic, but sources foster fruitful discussions. If you can't, I will be happy to provide some later. In the meantime, these should give you a starting place:


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  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

  5. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Unpopular opinion: Modern conceptions of the historic Reformed understanding of the atonement are much too simplistic.

    I suspect that the influence of John Murray and Banner of Truth has led many to believe that the only acceptable Reformed opinions are the well-meant offer on the one hand, and Strict Particularism on the other. I find this situation somewhat incongruous because the well-meant offer fits better with Hypothetical Universalism and Strict Particularism would seem to logically demand that you reject the well-meant offer. (William Twisse, however, may have held to HU while denying the WMO, but I need to read more of him on the former subject. I cannot say that I am looking forward to it as Twisse was an odd fish ... as you can see from some of my recent threads. :lol:) Thus, many of us do not know what to do when we come across things in the Reformed scholastics that neither sits well with the well-meant offer nor with Strict Particularism.

    Historically speaking, the Reformed confessions seem to have accommodated a variety of viewpoints. For this reason, I applaud the work of groups like the Davenant Institute, even if their views do not always represent my personal opinions (which are Strict Particularism and a rejection of the WMO), for causing us to think in a more sophisticated manner about such questions.
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