John Piper on Limited Atonement

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Sonoftheday, Dec 13, 2007.

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  1. Barnpreacher

    Barnpreacher Puritan Board Junior

    Right. I was actually at that conference, but it's been a few years ago and I can't remember all he said. In my experience of studying Piper I just don't believe he fits the definition of an Amyraldian. I know he is certainly not headed on a slippery slope towards Arminianism. Granted, he alone would confess if not for the grace of God that could happen tomorrow. But it's that grace of our Lord Jesus whereupon he stands from day to day.

    Piper does teach a "two will" doctrine when it comes to verses like II Peter 3:9, I Timothy 2:4, and Ezekiel 18:23. That's why I wanted to read Rev. Winzer's exegesis on II Peter 3:9, so I could compare it to Piper's. Piper seems to be following in the footsteps of Edwards in this teaching. That doesn't make it right, but you can decide.

    Are There Two Wills in God? :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

    I wouldn't mind a discussion on this aspect of Piper's teaching ensuing, but it should probably be split off into a new thread.
  2. shackleton

    shackleton Puritan Board Junior

  3. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    I forgot to say, "If he is teaching this......" he is on a slippery slope. For a Calminian is one step away... I still do not know if we can all agree on what an Amyralidinian is. I proposed some bullets, We have A A Hodge... What can we decide on? DOes anyone have Amyrauld, or Cameron in their own words?
  4. Sonoftheday

    Sonoftheday Puritan Board Sophomore

    When I started this thread I said I would summarize his teaching, since so many have said this is not what he teaches yesterday I listened to it again.

    This is a quote from
    At 27 Mins into it.
    This is not a slip of the tongue or isolated statement, the second half of this message deals with the arminian understanding of the seemingly "universal" text he restates that the arminian understanding is not in contradiction to his understanding of LA, but he believes it does more.
  5. Barnpreacher

    Barnpreacher Puritan Board Junior

    So what? Do we know who the elect are? No. So, when I preach, I preach THE Gospel of Jesus Christ that will save any and all for whom Christ died. I don't pretend to know who that is in my congregation, neither does Piper.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  6. k.seymore

    k.seymore Puritan Board Freshman

    Maybe I'm missing something, but even after reading through this entire thread, I still don't see why anyone would have a problem with what he says in your quote above. I've heard it said many times that TULIP is a summary of Dort, and what Piper says above sounds like what the Synod of Dort says. And Charles Hodge says, etc.. I know that other reformed people take different views and understandings of limited atonement than Dort, but it seems that what Piper says in that quote is classic TULIP (that is, if TULIP really is a summary of Dort). I didn't see anyone interact with the quotes in my previous post which point out what Dort and 2 Hodges said:
  7. Sonoftheday

    Sonoftheday Puritan Board Sophomore

    I never said I had a problem with it either, Im too ignorant of the subject to have a problem, I just pointed out that Piper taught in this message that the atonement made salvation Potential for all, but only effective for the Elect. People were saying that he does not teach that so I pointed out a quote where he does.
  8. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

  9. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Does Amyraldianism teach that Christ died for all men in the same sense, but Piper teaches that Christ did not die for all men in the same sense?
  10. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Why? Malista can be translated either way. It is the immediate context that should determine how we translate malista. It's actually very difficult to determine which way to go.
  11. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    The second sentence is not necessarily the same as the first. To say that God is the only saviour, is different from saying his the saviour of all men.
  12. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Brother Marty: I have been waiting for you to pipe in. You do have a sympathetic nerve towards amyrauldism. Can you give us a definition for it? What is agonizing for me at times, is when I hear one speak as what everyone thinks amyrauldism is, I call them on it, I am told that is not amyrauldism. Can you understand the frustration this presents? I am going to just start calling it unbiblical. As I look back at my dialogue with you and "tim" here, and others on this subject, I have realized that calling it Amyrauldism actually gives it some credence. As if anything that is unbiblical deserves a label. Amyrauldism is very easy to define. Anyone who proposes a universal "anything" in the death of Christ is unbiblical. Call it hypothetical universalism. 4 point calvie, calminian, sufficient for all efficient for the elect, 2 willed schizophrenic God theory, if one puts a universal decree of salvation in Christ prior to election, offer of salvation conditioned on faith, playing sophist games and saying Christ is dead for you instead of died for you..etc etc etc.. or any other "flavor is unbiblical.

    I am finding myself wondering now if giving the reprobate life on earth is actually a blessing derived from the cross. If somehow letting them live without a benefit of the cross impugns God;s righteousness as "timcast" quips. Can he be right? Then thank God I am relieved from even entertaining this error once I realize there is only a self conceived "necessary consequence" in their own minds.. And brought to realize it has nothing to do with God's losing His righteousness to let them live... Becasue there is no scriptural teaching that sin is followed by immediate death, and if God does not destroy the sinner on the spot He is unrighteouss. How dare we to even question God.

    TO answer your question why, we MUST use the analogy of scripture in this case. I know you know this, so I am probably preaching to the choir. If we take the 3 "troubling verses" in all 66 books, and draw a theology out of them, we wil only end up in error.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  13. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Marty, it is the same in the end. Just as saying so and so is the King of England, yet not all recognize him as their King. So we can easily draw the same conclusion with Paul. God is the savior of all men.
  14. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    If we are going to insist upon precision in language, then your defintion of Amyrauldianism and description will not quite do. Sufficientur pro omnibus, efficaciter pro electis is not some strange invention of Arminian-infected divines. It was affirmed by many of the our most significant theologians including Calvin, Owen, and Hodge. And, as to the idea that one can hold to a literal, actual, strictly LIMITED ATONEMENT which meets the standard of Owen's famous triple choice (Christ died for ALL of the sins of SOME people) and be dismissed as "unbiblical," a purveyor of "poisoned" principles, etc. is difficult to accept. Everyone on this board may not agree with the writings of Packer, Piper, Grudem, or Carson. Some may even find them insufficiently Reformed. Many will probably consider themselves "reformeder" than Piper. But, for someone like Piper who continually defends the L in TULIP, some of the rhetoric in this thread seems excessive. If you want to take on Amyrauldians, wouldn't it make more sense to go after Amyraut, Saumer, and Davenant first?

    Among the many things separating the 4 pt Calvinist, Calminian, etc. from someone like Piper has to do with the reason for finding a universal aspect (in some sense) in the atonement. I get the impression that some are offended by the scandalous "narrowness" and specificity of the doctrine of election. Softening the edges to make the doctrine more acceptable to Arminians and secularists seems to motivate the Calminian. However, Piper boldly declares the full specificity, God-centeredness, and sovereignty in the work of redemption. He does not speak of a universal aspect out of embarrassed self-consciousness. Rather, he was trained as a biblical theologian (PhD in NT) and seeks to do justice to the full panoply of the biblical witness. Instead of trying to fit every verse into a pre-cut dogmatic wardrobe, no matter how awkwardly, he attempts to accommodate the entire corpus of verses relating to redemption and the atonement, even those that would seem to elevate universal implications and themes. This does not weaken his Calvinism, but shows that Dortian Calvinism is compatible with the whole counsel of God. Indeed, one could argue that it strengthens the case for a limited atonement.

    As an Edwardsian Calvinist with strong John Owen leanings, Piper would not be my number one example of wishy-washy compromise.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  15. BlackCalvinist

    BlackCalvinist Puritan Board Senior

    No issue there. But even with public critique, we have a responsibility to address what someone teaches truthfully or in full and not simply jump to conclusions (unwarranted ones) based off of one or two sentences. I think you make an error in your address of Piper's teachings in the quoted section below:

    No, you're reading more into it than Piper means by it. All he's saying is:

    Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death

    This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

    Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value

    This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the person who suffered it is--as was necessary to be our Savior--not only a true and perfectly holy man, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Another reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God's anger and curse, which we by our sins had fully deserved.

    Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All

    Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.


    Infinite value, more than enough to redeem the whole world if so intended, makes it indeed possible for all of the world to be saved - if God had so intended.

    You will never hear him say Christ died redemptively for the non-elect. He *will* preach to all men and tell them that today is the day of salvation and TODAY they can enter the kingdom of God if they repent and believe.... preaching the gospel indiscriminantly to the elect and non-elect.

    Same as the synod.....
  16. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear Nicholas, the difficulty lies in the word "Amyraldian", which is naturally linked to Amyraut himself. Yes, he believed in a universal aspect to the atonement, but he believed a whole host of other things as well (particular a certain ordering of the decrees). Hence, how much of this do we include in a definition of "Amyraldianism"? The order of the decrees and the universal aspect to the atonement, or just the universal aspect of the atonement?

    Perhaps it's better to dump "Amyraldianism" and speak of "hypothetical universalism". However, the problem with this designation is that HU's affirm the unconditional predestination of the elect, and the phrase doesn't do justice to this.

    Maybe we should simply speak of a "double-end atonement"? One end for the elect, and another for all.

    Yes and no. Yes, because it's likely something close to Amyraldianism that you're identifying. No, because Amyraldianism is a legitimate position in the reformed tradition. It may be out on the edge, but nonetheless it is reformed.

    The "double-enders" would claim that the Owenian position is not biblical enough in that it doesn't take into account certain tensions in Scripture.

    Both sides will throw texts back and forth at each other, but it seems to me that the real issue at stake is this:

    Owenians see the double-enders as irrational: the 2 ends appear to be incompatible.

    Double-enders see the Owenians as over-rational, not allowing for a legitimate Scriptural tension, and hence the Owenians are accused of explaining away (rather than explaining) the so-called "universal" texts.

    Perhaps this difference may reflect the sorts of personalities we have: some can't bear rational tensions, others see the former as unecessarily pedantic.

    Personally, I think we need to have the discussion, but believe both Owenians and double-enders need to join forces and fight other battles that are of greater significance for us at the moment. Our energies need to be directed not against each other, but against issues of greater weight, such as post modernism, secularism, a-doctrinalism, individualism and consumerism that all impact the modern church.

    Piper is doing wonderful things, and I don't want to put the finger at him.

    God bless you dear brother.
  17. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    When the cliche' is used ONLY to mean its INTRINSIC value. He would not have had to been beaten or bleed anymore, I agree with that. If ANYONE, including those greats you mentioned, which I dont believe they did, go beyond this strict understanding, they err. If ANY amount of thought, that connects the intrinsic value with universal benefits, it becomes unscriptural Dennis. I do not believe OWen did this, but Calvin did tread the line. I am not sure about Hodge. ANd I whole heartedly agree that the root is Cameron, Amyrault, Saumer and Davenant. I only wish the confessions spoke clear about their position.

    My only problem with this approach is at times, is people explain too much. If they would just stay narrow minded and not worry about softening their edges, all would be fine. Dort did not do this. I agree that Piper has not gone as far to compramise the atonement as others, yet their is a vein of going beyond the narrow intrinsic value into a hypothetical atonement that is not needed. Becasue there are no hypothetical's with God. Only certainties of purpose.
  18. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    I sympathize, Nicholas, with your concerns. American Christianity is littered with formerly faithful denominations, seminaries, colleges, and congregations that slid an inch at a time into error and heresy. The seminary I graduated from 30 years ago this past week has continued its seismic shift leftward even though it is headed by a self-confessing "Calvinist."

    I do think, however, that the approach by systematics folks and biblical studies folks sometimes differ for reasons of craft, not craftiness. People like Piper try mightily to do justice to all the verses, handled fairly and exegetically, and then move on to do their systematics. Sometimes systematics folks begin with their system and attempt to fit the verses into it. Can one "innocently" compromise in ways that lead future generations to make further concessions? Absolutely! ( e.g., my seminary). However, I want to be fair to both the confessions and to the phenomena of the text. In the final analysis, my conviction is that there is no conflict between the two. That is why moving to embrace the "L" in TULIP was an important part of my own pilgrimage.

    Perhaps I am being defensive. People like Packer and Piper were the instruments a sovereign God used to convince me to move off the fence and embrace 5 pt Calvinism rather than my formerly wussie 4 pt compromise. And, it is more than a little ironic that Packer and Piper keep getting critiqued for softening the L by finding universal apects to the atonement, yet it was Packer who wrote the nearly definitive summary of Calvinism as a preface to Owen's Death of Death. Did he change his view since penning the preface?
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  19. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    :handshake: I agree Brother Dennis. Very well said.

    When I spoke of a 'narrowness' I did not mean to imply that one must look at the whole of the inspired writ with a grid that they force on troubling texts. That is as much a problem, if not more than compramising the truth. By narrowness, i mean one must never avoid troubling texts. But instead face them head on by using the analogy of Scripture. Wrestle with it until the Spirit gives more light and understanding. IF this cannot be done, i would rather say, and I have, "I don't know" how this reconciles, yet I pray God shows me, and if not, all the more Glory to Him for its shows my frailness and weakness compared to him. But I know the weight of scripture concludes the following... I just would not take the road of Amyrault et al and compramise. Calling 2 opposites truth. And universal aspects within the greatest event in the eternal mind of God, and the time of mankind, the Cross, is one area that must not be compramised. The Salvation of His chosen is beyond measure, the grandest truth, if one were to "rate" them, in all of the Written account of all the books.

    As for Packer, I do not know much if anything about him if he has changed or not....
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Surely all men in that context refers to all types of men, i.e. men from different races and social classes. If the text can be used to justify universal atonement, then why can it not also be used to justify universal salvation?

    Indeed, if one believes in universal atonement, one must also believe in universal salvation, as the Lord makes it clear that he died for His sheep (John 10); therefore, if He died for all men, then all men are his sheep, and so all men will be saved. Since such a theory is clearly unbiblical, then Christ must only have died for the elect, and in no sense died for the reprobate. :owen:
  21. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The word "double" means twofold. No one has suggested that he denies a definite atonement for the elect alone. That would be Arminianism. If the double reference theory denied a definite atonement for the elect I could understand why you would go to the trouble of showing that Piper doesn't deny it. But the double reference theory accepts this point, so the fact that Piper holds it is irrelevant. The "double reference" theory holds there is a second reference besides that which was made for the elect. It introduces into the atonement a universal bearing. This universal reference Piper quite clearly describes as a moral influence which justifies God in showing mercy to all men. His words are very straightforward and plain.
  22. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Of course I desire to give every sinner an opportunity of salvation: "My heart's desire for Israel," etc. But the objective of gospel preaching is one thing, and the objective of God in using gospel preaching is another thing. I am not the one who gives salvation -- God is. God has His elect people whom He is saving by means of the foolishness of preaching. It is for those elect people that Christ purchased the blessing of salvation.
  23. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Is the 'double ref theory' the same as what Marty called ;"double-end atonement"

    Can one lead me to a cliff note version of this? Is this also known as the 'Moral influence Atonement" It sounds more liek the Governmental theory hersy
  24. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The point you are missing is that the traditional reformed concept of sufficiency is entirely intrinsic. This is the value of Christ's death in and of itself, so that if God had have intended Christ's death to save all men, Christ would not have needed to have suffered anything more. Piper's idea is not that Christ's death is intrinsically sufficient, but that Christ's death actually accomplished something so far as the justice of God is concerned to make it possible for God to show mercy to all men.
  25. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    That's precisely what double-enders deny. They believe that Christ died for the elect and for all in different ways.

    Daniel, your comment is a classic manifestation of what I described in my previous post. The issue concerns methodology. Double-enders would accuse you of not letting the text speak for itself but squashing a pre-determed dogmatic conclusion into the text--i.e. being over-rationalistic.
  26. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    :think:Yes I had a Federal Visionist tell me this on my blog a while back. However, Romans 6 is clear that those who died with Christ shall live with Christ - i.e. those for whom Christ died shall have eternal life - so it is not imposing a pre-determined dogmatic conclusion on the text, but simply comparing Scripture with Scripture to properly interpret it.
  27. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Brother Marty:

    I see we have a new label here, of which I am not aware of. I'll ask again, What is a double ender? IS that liek a 'double header" in baseball?;)
  28. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Very well noted.
  29. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Thanks. :cheers:
  30. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dear Nicholas, being an Australian I know nothing about baseball ... only cricket, so please excuse my ignorance. But I'm always willing to have a double slice of vegemite on toast. :)

    What I mean by the "double-end" position is that which has a dual purpose: one for the elect, and another for all. Christ's death makes salvation actual for the elect, and possible for the non-elect. This is what most people want to call "Amyraldianism" or "hypothetical universalism", but as I explained in my penultmate post I think both designations are best left alone.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
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