Limited Atonement

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Reformed Thomist, Oct 20, 2009.

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  1. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Okay, so I am a bit confused now. This view makes sense, but is it confessional (perhaps it's in the 1689 LBC)? While I very well may be misunderstanding your stance (as it was so recently explained to me), this seems to conflict with Paul's citation from Dordt above:
    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.​

    According to you, Bob, I believe you are arguing that Christ's sacrifice did not have infinite merit, but was meted out specifically so that it covered each sin of the elect, and no more. The arguments you presented look solid. Why, then, does there seem to be historical disagreement with this view? How might those at Dordt have responded?

    (This question is open to anyone.)
  2. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    Dort probably could have worded it more exact. That said, the intrinsic value of Christs death is infinite. He would not have had to hang on the cross any longer or perform anything else to atone for the whole world.
  3. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    It seems that such an opinion as this is hasty and superficial. It glosses over the meted out punishments due unto every one chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. What the precise magnitude of the wrath due unto the cumulative sins of that company is something that the mind of man cannot fathom. But God has calculated it and He placed it on His Son.

    Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    But the intrinsic value of Christ's death is not fully indexed to the finite number of the elect, nor merely the cummulative total of the "bounded" infinitude of all the elect's eternal punishment.

    It is also indexed to the value of the Sacrifice, which is worth intrinsically MORE than the entire "use" of it.
  5. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate


    5 But He was wounded for OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, He was bruised for OUR INIQUITIES; The chastisement for OUR PEACE was upon Him, And by His stripes WE ARE HEALED. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of US ALL. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; FOR THE TRANSGRESSIONS OF MY PEOPLE He was stricken.

    Who are the US and the WE in this substitution?

    The US and the WE are the MY PEOPLE of verse eight.

    Note that by His stripes it is not the hypothetical or potential WE CAN BE HEALED, OR MIGHT BE HEALED, but we are told that by His stripes WE ARE HEALED!

    I have no doubt that the “sufficient for all” formula was constructed with a desire to exalt Christ and glory in the salvation that He accomplished. This is understandable. Our Lord is worthy of the highest praise, glory and honor and we delight in giving that to Him.

    However if in that worthy pursuit we unwittingly detract from some vital element of His vicarious sufferings for His people we have undercut the very thing we set out to do.

    When Cunningham says “the value or worth of His sacrifice of Himself depends upon, and is measured by, the dignity of His person, and is therefore infinite” he is simply mistaken. He asserts what he has not proved.

    We do well to remember that the infinite worthiness of Christ the suffering Servant of Jehovah is not in question. He could have had the sins of innumerable worlds of people laid upon Him and would have been entirely able to bear those too. But the fact remains that the Father of our Lord and Savior chose to lay on Him the particular sins of a particular people. This is what He bore. This provides the parameters for speaking about the sufficiency of that awesome work done on Calvary.
  6. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Bob, what is important in the confessional formula is, as Rev. Buchanan stated very well above, that Christ's death was of infinite worth so that it could be efficient for the elect and none other. I could bring $2,000,000 to my friend to buy a candy bar: now, the value of that $2,000,000 is only accepted for the Snickers if my friend will accept; but the amount is such that it is certainly meet payment for a fun-size chocolate. Likewise, Christ brings forth an infinite payment, such that it is meet for the Father to accept it for the payment of the sins of the elect. His death "could have" purchased more, *had that been the covenant* between the Father and Son, without adding any more "punishment" to Christ.

    [If someone else has previously used a "candy bar for lots of money" metaphor, I apologize for not citing you. I can't figure out whether I've heard that from another's mouth or from my own...]
  7. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Paul, You are still arguing from the wealth/ability of the Purchaser. I humbly suggest that you are still missing the Specifics of the Work assigned, accepted, and accomplished. Suppose that at age 12 Christ made a wooden table. Would that table be able to hold all the books of the world just because it was Christ who made it?
  8. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    I point you again to Dort, as above: Christ's sacrifice (the one which he actually offered) is of "infinite value and worth, more than sufficient...." Christ's hypothetical table would not be an infinite table. It's just a table.
  9. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    First off it is not hasty nor is is just an opinion. I do not make comments on such a grand subject as the atonement flippantly nor deserving of such a response as what you just gave. Do not be so fast to rush to judgment without giving me the benefit of the doubt since we do not know each other.

    I am not one who likes to spend much time on hypothetical's regarding God's word. My point is that if, and I mean IF, the triune Godhead had so eternally determined to save every soul head for head, the exact active and passive of obedience of Christ would have not changed one iota. He would not have had to lived one extra minute or receive one more whipping.
  10. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Brother I meant no offense to you and did not at all regard your comments as being flippant. Please be assured that my criticisms of your expressed viewpoint are not indictments of your character.

    Might not our Lord's words below have some part in informing our understanding of measured punishment?

    Luke 12:47 "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

    Might we not then consider this when contemplating what by His stripes we are healed means relative to the measured punishment the Father placed on Him for us?
  11. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    One of the Best writings I have read on the subject is

    "A Defense of Particular Redemption" By William Rushton.

    Defence of Particular Redemption

    -----Added 11/17/2009 at 04:23:36 EST-----

    Can you then give me an example of what Christ would have had to endure if one more sinner was chosen to be saved? I am confused by your sentiment of the a/p obedience of Christ and how it would have differed for one more soul. How could He have merited more righteousness for one more person?

    Rob, I again do not separate the sufficiency from the design. Christ did not just die for sin, He died a vicarious death for this Sheep. Yet I am still confused on what more He could have done if one more sinner was chosen before the foundation of the world.
  12. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    We are not privy to the quantity of pain, agony, suffering and torment that God assigns to, let’s say, stealing a horse. In light of the analogy of faith we would be right to assume the measure would be increased in proportion to the light possessed by the particular sinner. “And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes”. Luke 12:47

    Neither are we privy to how much is the measure of suffering and agony of soul that our blessed Lord endured for each of His people considered either separately or collectively.

    Knowing that our God, as Judge of all the earth who always does right, measures out each penalty perfectly we should conclude that if (hypothetically) the Father had chosen one additional sinner in Christ, then the precise measure of that sinners suffering would have been felt in the holy soul of Jesus as he suffered vicariously for His people.
  13. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    It seems that the shortest way to make the point clear is to point out that it is the altar that sanctifies the gift and gives it its value as a sacrifice. Now the altar in the sacrifice of Christ was His divine nature. Is there any way for the divine nature not to be of infinite value? To say there is, seems quite absurd.
  14. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    Ruben, I continue to endeavor to keep the focus of the issue on the measure of suffering Christ endured in His substitutionary death.

    Again, His Person is not relevant to measuring the punishment. His deity did not condition the amount of suffering dished out, only His abilty to endure it.

    1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed.
  15. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Larger Catechism, answer 38, "It was requisite that the Mediator should be God, that He might ... give worth and efficacy to His sufferings, obedience, and intercession; and to satisfy God's justice, procure His favour..."
  16. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate


    Seeking to understand the intent of the LC I offer these definitions:

    worth 1. Value; that quality of a thing which renders it useful, or which will produce an equivalent good in some other thing.” Noah Webster 1828 edition

    suffice to be enough; to be enough for. New Webster’s Dictionary 1992

    sufficient enough; as much as is needed.” New Webster’s Dictionary 1992

    sufficiency, an adequate amount; the state or quality of being sufficient.” New Webster’s Dictionary 1992

    sufficiency, n. The state of being adequate to the end proposed.” Noah Webster 1828 edition

    sufficient, a. Enough; equal to the end proposed; adequate to wants.” Noah Webster 1828 edition

    efficacy the power to bring about a desired result” New Webster’s Dictionary 1992

    Christ’s deity then did give WORTH (rendering it suited to produce an equivalent good in His people) and EFFICACY (the power to bring about desired result of saving His people from their sins). But none of this warrants the conclusion that because the Person of Christ is of infinite worth requires that His obedient vicarious suffering for His people is infinite and therefore sufficient for sins not borne and sinners not represented.

    As pointed out previously, the infinity of the Substitutionary Curse-Bearer in no way qualifies or quantifies the measure of punishment which His Father laid upon Him.

  17. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Of course it does. Sin deserves death. The sin bearer died once for all. The sin bearer did not die repeatedly for each individual sinner. He did not need to. The sin bearer is God, and therefore His death is of infinite value.
  18. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    sigh ... :duh:
  19. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    You cannot draw an exact parallel of Deut 25:2, with the death of Christ. It makes it say too much. Therefore neither can Luke 12:47 be used in direct relationship with the death of Christ. This is a very rcc thought process you have here. That Christ did some sort of penance in the amount of each sin that was laid upon Him. If one more sinner was elect and to be substituted for, then He would have to say one more "Glory Be". As I mentioned earlier, according to your 'logic', then some how Christ would have had to do something more to procure more righteousness to be imputed to the sinner for Justification.
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