Mark Driscoll's Unlimited Limited atonement

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Robbie Schmidtberger, Nov 17, 2008.

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  1. Robbie Schmidtberger

    Robbie Schmidtberger Puritan Board Freshman

    Posted over at my blog

    Snapshot preview.
    A man who I greatly respect, Mark Driscoll, claims that Jesus Christ died for all people sufficiently, but only saved the elect. So the atonement is sufficient for all, but only effective for those God ordained to salvation. I believe this is incoherent, and wonder if Driscoll is attempting to explain common grace. (I accept Louis Berkhof's definition of common grace.) My conclusion is this. Common grace is not the atonement.

    I appreciate comments either here or on my blog. If you want to read Driscoll's own words, quoted in full, hit up my blog.
  2. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto: to Josh
  3. TheFleshProfitethNothing

    TheFleshProfitethNothing Puritan Board Freshman

    Herein is the problem...the Father Elected SOME to be in Christ, and Christ Propitiated for that is it then Christ's payment was more than Propitiation?

    Look VERY carefully at the word PROPITIATION...meditate on it...

    Also, I don't believe the Scriptural term "GRACE" is at all COMMON period...someone please show me where God's G-R-A-C-E is common to all men...and I will analyze it, and get back to you.

    I CAN'T find it, and agree with Herman Hoeksema, that Calvin (who wrote "general grace"), at least in translation...should have used some other I saw, so did he, that that term has become a "chink" in the armor of the Reformed Faith...not his words per se, but the same conclusion just the same
  4. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Driscoll is saying that the death of Christ accomplishes one thing for the elect and accomplishes something else for the non-elect. This idea is unbiblical. Christ's atonement accomplished the same thing for all of those He died for. Christ's atonement did not accomplish anything for the non-elect because He did not die for the non-elect.
  5. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    That Christ's death is sufficient payment for the whole world isn't just common Reformed speech; it's absolutely confessional:

    The fact that Christ died with the intent and purpose only of saving the elect does not mean his death is not sufficient to save any number of people. As the orthodox theologians would state, Christ need not have suffered any more or less if more or less people were to be saved in God's design.

    I believe the very useful "life boat" metaphor originated with Charles Hodge. A life boat big enough to fit everyone on the ship heads towards the wreckage with the intent of saving two hundred of the four hundred passengers. The fact that the boat is only intended for some does not mean it is incapable of saving more. The limiting factor is not the sufficiency of Christ's death; rather, the "limiting factor" it is the intention of what it is supposed to accomplish. It has no other purpose than to purchase salvation for the elect, and therein is it called a limited atonement.

    Edited to add:
    Although, reading back over the OP and Josh's first comment, Driscoll's statement does sound a little off, to say the least...
    It certainly seems to be going beyond simple sufficiency. I guess I can't make any statements about it, though, not hearing the context.
  6. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Yeah, I just realized that there was a link to that blog, and read over Driscoll's statement. Thanks. That doesn't sound too good...
  7. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    He separates Christ's death from its effect. If salvation doesn't come from Christ's death, which is his position, what does it come from? What "something extra" are the elect getting that the non-elect, who have been covered by Christ's blood, are not?

    Indeed, it is incoherent.
  8. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Driscoll is saying that the elect receive salvation from Christ's death, but the non-elect receive something else from Christ's death. What Driscoll is saying is unbiblical. Christ's death accomplished the same thing for all of those He died for.
  9. Robbie Schmidtberger

    Robbie Schmidtberger Puritan Board Freshman

    I love the doctrines of grace. I am thankful that I teach at a confessional school where I am not only free to teach them, but required to do so. It is a blessing. I think everyone here shares my frustrations and come to the same conclusions.

    God elected a portion of humanity to salvation. Jesus Christ died for the sins of that portion. For that portion God took the guilt of our sins and placed it upon Christ. Upon the satisfaction of God's wrath, Christ's righteousness was then put upon us. We see this imagery of a Great Exchange throughout the Bible. What we do not see, however, is the idea that Christ died for all people, while God the Father elected only a certain number.

    Driscoll's idea of unlimited limited atonement smacks of the idea that God, the Father and God, the Son had two different agendas. Instead we only see God, the Father electing, God, the Son accomplishing, and God, the Holy Spirit applying.
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not that familiar with Driscoll, but I recently saw a blog post somewhere where he was described as a "4.5 point" Calvinist. I think his view of the atonement may be similar to that of Southern Seminary Prof. Bruce Ware, who argues for a "multiple intentions" view of the atonement.
  11. RTaron

    RTaron The Grandpa (Affectionately Called)

    Can you please post a link to the message where Driscoll said these things?

  12. natewood3

    natewood3 Puritan Board Freshman

    What I have heard (again, HEARD) is that Bruce Ware is a person who greatly influenced Driscoll, as Pilgrim pointed out. So, I would say he is saying the sort of things Dr. Ware would say. He is one of our elders, and I love him as a Christian brother, but I just think is completely wrong on this point! I understand what this view is trying to do, because they think they are explaining both the "limited" and "unlimited" passages of Scripture. They try to sound Calvinistic by saying it secured the redemption of the elect, but they also want to say Christ did die for all people. It is definitely incoherent...
  13. Robbie Schmidtberger

    Robbie Schmidtberger Puritan Board Freshman

    These words are in his book Death By Love, 2008, Crossway. In the chapter addressed to his son. Bruce Ware has an article online explaining this more in detail... if you google search Ware, unlimited limited a... it will come up.
  14. Mayflower

    Mayflower Puritan Board Junior

    Iam agree, and he also separtes Christ death from Christ being the Highpriest and Mediator of his elected alone!
  15. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Driscoll is typically sloppy in his use of the “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect” terminology. William Cunningham (1805-1861) gives insight into potential misunderstanding of the Reformed position, which serves as a call for care in using it:

    “A distinction was generally employed by the schoolmen, which has often been adverted to in this discussion, and which it may be proper to explain. They were accustomed to say, that Christ died sufficiently for all men, and efficaciously for the elect, — sufficientur pro omnibus, efficaciter pro electis. Some orthodox divines, who wrote before the extent of the atonement had been made the subject of full, formal, and elaborate discussion, and Calvin himself among the rest, — admitted the truth of this scholastic position. But after controversy had thrown its full light upon the subject, orthodox divines generally refused to adopt this mode of stating the point, because it seemed to ascribe to Christ a purpose or intention of dying in the room of all, and of benefiting all by the proper effects of His death, as an atonement or propitiation; not that they doubted or denied the intrinsic sufficiency of His death for the redemption of all men, but because the statement — whether originally so intended or not — was so expressed as to suffest the idea, that Christ, in dying, desired and intended that all men should partake in the proper and peculiar effects of the shedding of His blood.

    Calvinists do not object to say that the death of Christ — viewed objectively, apart from His purpose or design — was sufficient for all, and efficacious for the elect, because this statement in the first clause merely asserts its infinite intrinsic sufficiency, which they admit; whereas the original scholastic form of the statement, — namely, that He died sufficiently for all, — seems to indicate that, when He died, He intended that all should derive some saving and permanent benefit from His death.”

    (William Cunningham, Historical Theology, vol. 2, p. 332, added paragraph break is mine).
  16. LockTheDeadbolt

    LockTheDeadbolt Puritan Board Freshman

    Having heard Driscoll's lecture on "Unlimited Limited Atonement," (which does sound rather incoherent prima facie, doesn't it?) and read his chapter in Death By Love, I'd have to say he does a rather clumsy job of explaining it. Though I think similar (and far more thorough) constructions of the atonement can be found in WGT Shedd's Dogmatic Theology or RL Dabney's lectures in systematic theology. It's just what some folks call "low Calvinism," certainly not historically unique.
  17. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Driscoll's view is close to if not the same as the view espoused by John Davenant (1572-1641) -- it has been called the dual reference view of atonement by Scottish theologian John Kennedy of Dingwall (1819-1884). In my humble opinion, Kennedy did a good job of debunking the view in his Man’s Relations to God, (at Google Books) published 1869, pp. 100 - 116.

    Some may tend to confuse Davenant's dual reference view with Amyraldism, but it's not quite the same. In any event, as mentioned above, Driscoll's view is not unique -- it's been around in what has been termed Low Calvinism.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2008
  18. FenderPriest

    FenderPriest Puritan Board Junior

    I'm presently reading this book, and thoroughly enjoying it! I knew his position of LimUn. Atonement, and so have been interested to read his chapter here to see how he clarifies this. I should read the chapter in the next few days, and will post my thoughts here when I get the chance.

    All this said, I really really like Death By Love, and despite this area where he may be wrong, I'd still strongly recommend it. It's not only theologically helpful, but it's great material to help deepen one's understanding and appreciation of the work of Jesus Christ, and it's a great book on seeing someone pastorally apply these truths where we may normally read strict doctrinal content on them. (Also noting that he does recommend Owen's The Death of Death in the back for further reading.)
  19. LockTheDeadbolt

    LockTheDeadbolt Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe reading Death By Love has also been very valuable to me. I think it ought to be required reading for those who find themselves in impromptu counseling sessions with people from all walks of life (such as in parachurch ministries, college ministries, etc.). It is very pastoral and without much of the "irreverence" for which many have disregarded Driscoll's other books.

    With regard to the dual reference theory, the tendency seems to be for all the "high Calvinists" to consider any other perspective to be either Amyralidian, at best, or (gasp) Arminian, at worst. G. Michael Thomas' historical survey The Atonement: A Reformed Dilemma from Calvin to the Consensus shows that Owen's view has not had the monolithic status within Reformed circles which many ascribe to it. The book was certainly an eye-opening and interesting read.
  20. ReformedChapin

    ReformedChapin Puritan Board Freshman

    Excellent input everyone. When I saw his youtube vid he stated that he adhered to both positions, limited and unlimited, that didn't make sense to me since he seemed to be contradicting himself.
  21. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    Mark's a good guy but I've not liked many of his sermons. Having worked with many unregenerate people throughout my life, trying to win them to Christ caused me to too often take positions that we're "odd" or to speak without fully thinking at times. I am NOT saying Mark does this, but listening to his sermons reminded me of when I did. For whatever that's worth.
  22. Barnpreacher

    Barnpreacher Puritan Board Junior

    Interesting observation, Adam.

    Like his methods or not I think it's hard to argue that Driscoll isn't one of the most discerning young ministers preaching today. That is when it comes to application of Scriptures; not necessarily whether one should wear a South Park t-shirt when he preaches. I think he lacks discernment in areas like that.

    It was reading Death by Love that really sealed my mind on the fact that Driscoll has a lot of spiritual discernment and wisdom in pastoral counselling and application.

    All in all I have found some profit in just about every Driscoll message I have ever listened to.
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