Early Church Fathers

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Scott Shahan, Mar 15, 2007.

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  1. Scott Shahan

    Scott Shahan Puritan Board Sophomore

    Did the early Church fathers teach Limited Atonement? Or did limited atonement arise from Calvin. I am trying to find out if Church history has always taught limited atonement. A friend of mine thinks that I am teaching false doctrine by accepting limited atonement as being true. He thinks that I am teaching antichrist views. Why did Wesely reject limited atonement so violently? I am talking to people that hate and I mean hate the idea or teaching of limited atonement. They say that I need to repent :spitlol:
    How can I find out what Augustine taught on limited atonement, can you guys direct me to some good reasources? These people I have been talking to don't want to talk to me anymore.

  2. Scott Shahan

    Scott Shahan Puritan Board Sophomore

    It seems to me that when it comes to someones "unbelief" that is totally man's fault that he does not believe. How is man suppose to believe when he can't make himself believe? To say that the unbeliever goes to hell because of his unbelief is true but doesn't he go to hell because God didn't grant him the "gift" of believing? I am talking to him and he is commenting to me. The argument that I was using was John Owens argument from "the death of Christ" concerning "unbelief".

    I would like to talk about universal atonement for a minute. The question that arises is the term "unbelief". Is unbelief a sin? I think that we would both say "yes" it is sin.


    That being so then it is apparent that Christ did not die for the "sins" of all people.


    If the sin of "unbelief" can send someone to hell then Christ didn't die for that sin.

    COMMENT: THIS IS NOT A THEOLOGICALLY TRUE STATEMENT. Just because someone doesn't receive the forgiveness offered to him does not mean it was not fully purchased and offered. An example. I go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread. I have paid for it, the whole loaf. I go out into the street and see a beggar, a homeless man. I go over to him and drop the loaf of bread to him. The beggar doesn't believe that the loaf is for him and lets it lie on the ground. The loaf is still there, it was still for him, but it is not received for the beggar's benefit.

    Question: Why must the sin of "unbelief" hinder people more than their other sins for which He died for? Why this one sin prevents people from partaking in the fuirt of His death?

    COMMENT: Because faith is the organ that receives the benefit of Christ's atonement, the forgiveness of sins. Unbelief rejects the offer of forgiveness. It calls God a liar. It hinders people the most because it is the worst of sins (breaking the First Commandment). It prevents people because by its nature unbelief is void of all faith, which is the only way which one apprehends the fruits of Christ's death.

    If Jesus died for all the sins of all "men", unbelief included, then all are saved, which the Bible denies.

    COMMENT: No, not all will be saved, but all sin has been paid for. The difference is in the reception of the blessing, or the promise. Again you are putting logic above Scripture. Scripture affirms both 1. All sins have been paid for (of all people) AND 2. Some will still go to hell because of unbelief

    If Jesus died for all the sins of all men, unbelief excluded, then He did not die for all the sins of anybody and all must be condemned.

    COMMENT: This is again a satanic use of reason and logic. The Word does not teach what you are saying. God's foolishness is greater than any of your wisdom...

    There is no other position, Christ died for His elect.

    COMMENT: There is the Scriptural position that God so loved the world (*all of it) that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall be saved. Or that verse 1 Tim 2:4 God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.[1]

    Or you could go with... 1 John 2:2...

    And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

    John 1:29.. the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the WORLD

    2 Cor 5:14-15, 19 ( DIED FOR ALL)

    Col 1:20 (ALL THINGS)

    Gal 4:5 (to redeem THEM THAT WERE UNDER THE LAW) are there people that are not under the law???

    Heb 2:9 (FOR EVERY MAN)

    1 Tim 2:6 (RANSOM FOR ALL)

    Rom 8:32 (FOR US ALL)


    But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction[2]

    Yes I think it is apparent that Luther did speak and write about "double predestination" and the reason why he did is because the scripture teaches it. Luther was no systematic theologican.

    COMMENT: Luther talked about it because it is the natural, logical way to take Scripture beyond what it says. That is why he mentions it, He foresaw the bastardization of Scripture that Calvin performed, subverting it to his own sinful reasoning and logic, and making it a tool of his master Satan. Luther was not a systematic theologian, but possibly the best exegete that God has ever given to the Church. This focus allowed him to submit to what Scripture taught, because he understood Scripture so well. He was not dogmatic in his interpretation like the mighty "Systematicians" with all of their logical categories and reasoning. Luther was many things, and one could say that some of his writings are systematic works, although he was much too busy leading the reformation, preaching many times a week, providing pastoral care to hundreds, teaching every day, hosting debates and disputations, raising a family, writing countless volumes and books, and trying to fight for the truth of the Gospel which men like Calvin just took and threw away.

    This is what he last said,


    It does no good to discuss such matters with someone that openly contradicts the teachings of Scripture, and willingly submits to the errors and antichrist teachings of false teachers. Repent.
  3. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    The Early Church Fathers were inconsistent in their affirmations of particular redemption. You may want to check out the citations in The Works of John Owen (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust), Vol. 10, pp. 422-424. I’m not convinced that all these whom Owen cites were indeed affirming definite atonement, as such, but his list is worth observing. Here are some quotes I’ve compiled in my studies...

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): Although Christ suffered for all, yet He suffered for us particularly, because He suffered for the Church. Saint Ambrose of Milan, Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, trans. Theodosia Tomkinson (Etna: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1998), Book VI, §25, p. 201.
    Latin Text: Et si Christus pro omnibus passus est, pro nobis tamen specialiter passus est; quia pro Ecclesia passus est. Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, 6.25, PL 15:1675.

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): Great, therefore, is the mystery of Christ, before which even angels stood amazed and bewildered. For this cause, then, it is thy duty to worship Him, and, being a servant, thou oughtest not to detract from thy Lord. Ignorance thou mayest not plead, for to this end He came down, that thou mayest believe; if thou believest not, He has not come down for thee, has not suffered for thee. “If I had not come,” saith the Scripture, “and spoken with them, they would have no sin: but now have they no excuse for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also.” Who, then, hates Christ, if not he who speaks to His dishonor? — for as it is love’s part to render, so it is hate’s to withdraw honor. He who hates, calls in question; he who loves, pays reverence. NPNF2: Vol.: Volume X, Of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chapter 2, §27.

    Ambrosiaster: The people of God hath its own fulness. In the elect and foreknown, distinguished from the generality of all, there is accounted a certain special universality; so that the whole world seems to be delivered from the whole world, and all men to be taken out of all men. See Works of John Owen, Vol. 10, p. 423.
    Latin text: Habet ergo populus Dei plenitudinem suam, et quamvis magna pars hominum, salvantis gratiam aut repellat aut negligat, in electis tamen et praescitis, atque ab omnium generalitate discretis, specialis quaedam censetur universitas, ut de toto mundo totus mundus liberatus, et de omnibus hominibus omnes homines videantur assumpti: De Vocatione Gentium, Liber Primus, Caput III, PL 17:1084.

    Jerome (347-420) on Matthew 20:28: He does not say that he gave his life for all, but for many, that is, for all those who would believe. See Turretin, Vol. 2, p. 462.
    Latin text: Non dixit animam suam redemptionem dare pro omnibus, sed pro multis, id est, pro his qui credere voluerint. Commentariorum in Evangelium Matthaei, Liber Tertius, PL 26:144-145.

    Hilary of Arles (c. 401-449) commenting on 1 John 2:2: When John says that Christ died for the sins of the “whole world,” what he means is that he died for the whole church. Introductory Commentary on 1 John. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 177.
    Latin text: et non pro nostris tantum. set etiam pro totius mundi peccatis; Aecclesiam mundi nomine appellat. Expositio In Epistolas Catholiicas, Incipit Epistola Sancti Iohannis Apostoli, Cap. II, v. 2, PL Supp. 3:118.

    Augustine (354-430): 2. But alongside of this love we ought also patiently to endure the hatred of the world. For it must of necessity hate those whom it perceives recoiling from that which is loved by itself. But the Lord supplies us with special consolation from His own case, when, after saying, “These things I command you, that ye love one another,” He added, “If the world hate you, know that it hated me before [it hated] you.” Why then should the member exalt itself above the head? Thou refusest to be in the body if thou art unwilling to endure the hatred of the world along with the Head. “If ye were of the world,” He says, “the world would love its own.” He says this, of course, of the whole Church, which, by itself, He frequently also calls by the name of the world: as when it is said, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” And this also: “The Son of man came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” And John says in his epistle: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also [for those] of the whole world.” The whole world then is the Church, and yet the whole world hateth the Church. The world therefore hateth the world, the hostile that which is reconciled, the condemned that which is saved, the polluted that which is cleansed.
    3. But that world which God is in Christ reconciling unto Himself, which is saved by Christ, and has all its sins freely pardoned by Christ, has been chosen out of the world that is hostile, condemned, and defiled. For out of that mass, which has all perished in Adam, are formed the vessels of mercy, whereof that world of reconciliation is composed, that is hated by the world which belongeth to the vessels of wrath that are formed out of the same mass and fitted to destruction. Finally, after saying, “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own,” He immediately added, “But because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” And so these men were themselves also of that world, and, that they might no longer be of it, were chosen out of it, through no merit of their own, for no good works of theirs had preceded; and not by nature, which through free-will had become totally corrupted at its source: but gratuitously, that is, of actual grace. For He who chose the world out of the world, effected for Himself, instead of finding, what He should choose: for “there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace,” he adds, “then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.” NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate LXXXVII, §2-3, John 15:17-19.

    Augustine (354-430): Hence things that are lawful are not all good, but everything unlawful is not good. Just as everyone redeemed by Christ's blood is a human being, but human beings are not all redeemed by Christ's blood, so too everything that is unlawful is not good, but things that are not good are not all unlawful. As we learn from the testimony of the apostle, there are some things that are lawful but are not good. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., Works of Saint Augustine, Adulterous Marriages, Part 1, Vol. 9, trans. Ray Kearney, O.P., Book One, 15, 16 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1999), p. 153.

    Chrysostom (349-407) on Hebrews 9:28. “So Christ was once offered.”: By whom offered? evidently by Himself. Here he says that He is not Priest only, but Victim also, and what is sacrificed. On this account are [the words] “was offered.” “Was once offered” (he says) “to bear the sins of many.” Why “of many,” and not “of all”? Because not all believed, For He died indeed for all, that is His part: for that death was a counterbalance against the destruction of all men. But He did not bear the sins of all men, because they were not willing. NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Epistle to the Hebrews, Homly 17.

    Prosper of Aquitaine (d. 463): He is not crucified with Christ who is not a member of the body of Christ. When, therefore, our Saviour is said to be crucified for the redemption of the whole world, because of his true assumption of the human nature, yet may he be said to be crucified only for them unto whom his death was profitable. . . . Diverse from these is their lot who are reckoned amongst them of whom is is said, ‘the world knew him not.’
    Latin text: Non est autem crucifixus in Christo, qui non est membrum corporis Christi, nec est membrum corporis Christi, qui non per aquam et Spiritum sanctum induit Christum. Qui ideo in infirmitate nostra communionem subiit mortis, ut nos in virtute ejus haberemus consortium resurrectionis. Cum itaque rectissime dicatur Salvator pro totius mundi redemptione crucifixus, propter veram humanae naturae susceptionem, et propter communem in primo homine omnium perditionem: potest tamen dici pro his tantum crucifixus quibus mors ipsius profuit. . . . Diversa ergo ab istis sors eorum est qui inter illos censentur de quibus dicitur; Mundus eum non cognovit. Responsiones ad Capitula Gallorum, Capitulum IX, Responsio, PL 51:165.

    Prosper of Aquitaine (d. 463): Doubtless the propriety of redemption is theirs from whom the prince of this world is cast out. The death of Christ is not to be so laid out for human-kind, that they also should belong unto his redemption who were not to be regenerated.
    Latin text: Redemptionis proprietas haud dubie penes illos est, de quibus princeps mundi missus est foras, et jam non vasa diaboli, sed membra sunt Christi. Cujus mors non ita impensa est humano generi, ut ad redemptionem ejus etiam qui regenerandi non erant pertinerint. Responsiones ad Capitula Objectionum Vincentianarum, Capitulum Primum, Responsio, PL 51:178.

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Hebrews 9:27-28: As it is appointed for each human being to die once, and the one who accepts death’s decree no longer sins but awaits the examination of what was done in life, so Christ the Lord, after being offered once for us and taking up our sins, will come to us again, with sin no longer in force, that is, with sin no longer occupying a place as far as human beings are concerned. He said himself, remember, when he still had a mortal body, “He committed no sin, nor was guile found in his mouth.” It should be noted, of course, that he bore the sins of many, not of all: not all came to faith, so he removed the sins of the believers only. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 175.

    Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:1: The Lord intercedes for us not by words but by his dying compassion, because he took upon himself the sins which he was unwilling to condemn his elect for. On 1 John. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 177.
    Latin text: Interpellat ergo pro nobis Dominus, non voce, sed miseratione, quia quod damnare in electis noluit, suscipiendo servavit. In Primam Epistolam S. Joannis, Caput II, PL 93:89.

    Bede (672/673-735) commenting on 1 John 2:2: In his humanity Christ pleads for our sins before the Father, but in his divinity he has propitiated them for us with the Father. Furthermore, he has not done this only for those who were alive at the time of his death, but also for the whole church which is scattered over the full compass of the world, and it will be valid for everyone, from the very first among the elect until the last one who will be born at the end of time. This verse is therefore a rebuke to the Donatists, who thought that the true church was to be found only in Africa. The Lord pleads for the sins of the whole world, because the church which he has bought with his blood exists in every corner of the globe. On 1 John. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 178.
    Latin text: Qui per humanitatem interpellat pro nobis apud Patrem, idem per divinitatem propitiatur nobis cum Patre. . . . Non pro illis solum propitiatio est Dominus, quibus tunc in carne viventibus scribebat Joannes, sed etiam pro omni Ecclesia quae per totam mundi latitudinem diffusa est, primo nimirum electo usque ad ultimum qui in fine mundi nasciturus est porrecta. Quibus verbis Donatistarum schisma reprobat, qui in Africae solum finibus Ecclesiam Christi esse dicebant inclusam. Pro totius ergo mundi peccatis interpellat Dominus, quia per totum mundum est Ecclesia, quam suo sanguine comparavit. In Primam Epistolam S. Joannis, Caput II, PL 93:90.

  4. Scott Shahan

    Scott Shahan Puritan Board Sophomore


    Thanks for those quotes. I will check out Owens vol 10! Do you know if Aquinas ever wrote anything about limited atonement? Just wondering what the Catholics teach about it.

  5. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    A side question on studying the ECF's: are the studies done mainly or solely through the text contained within the 38 volumes of Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers or are there works not included in these sets?
  6. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    Look for Norman Geisler's book Chosen But Free. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe there are Numerous Church Father's Quoted there on the subject, although Geisler's Premise on Free Will and Limited Atonement is Totally demolished by James White's later book, The Potter's Freedom, Geisler's work does have some value--if not for those quotes themselves.
  7. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    Mine are neither mainly nor solely through the text contained within the 38 volumes of Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, but equally with other individual works or sets.

  8. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    I can't help you with Aquinas. Romanists affirm a universal atonement generally.

  9. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I take it that your second post in this thread was a citation of someone else's argument. If so... it is easy to say 'repent.' It is quite another to actually study the issue and come to definite conclusions regarding the truth of the matter.

    Many if not most of the texts that the gentlemen/women cites have been contested on the grounds that their various contexts and the analogy of scripture demand that another, and far more consistent, interpretation be held. Scan any popular work by a Reformed or even a 'Reformed-leaning' scholar and you will find that they deal with, at length, with these objections.

    One example: As Matt McMahon has pointed out, John Owen's work "The Death of Deaths in the Death of Christ" has never been answered.

    So to your friend, I would ask: have you read these works before you shoot off your mouth or do you just like to expose your ignorance? Usually I am more patient with detractors such as these but when he/she writes that Luther was "trying to fight for the truth of the Gospel which men like Calvin just took and threw away" they have decided the issue already in the tribunal of their mind and are probably not worth listening or talking to.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2007
  10. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    Which raises the question of Owen's work. Does anyone have the thread that discusses Owen's work in-depth? I have his book, but just looking for the Thread.

    Given that my brother came up with the topic and articles on Universal Salvation, I want to look over what was discussed concerning the subject.
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