Questions on the Atonement

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Danny

Puritan Board Freshman
I am newly Reformed, and in the process of studying out the atonement I came across what Mark Driscoll calls Unlimited Limited Atonement. Essentially what he says is that on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and then as his possession he applied his forgiveness to the elect and his wrath to the non-elect (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe p. 267 ). I don't agree with this, and it seems to be very surface level. Could you tell me what y'all think of this? Any other famous Calvinistic types who espouse this? While we're at it, can you recommend any good overview books on the atonement? (I tend to be moving away from the Driscoll types to historic authors with more depth)
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I am newly Reformed, and in the process of studying out the atonement I came across what Mark Driscoll calls Unlimited Limited Atonement. Essentially what he says is that on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and then as his possession he applied his forgiveness to the elect and his wrath to the non-elect (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe p. 267 ). I don't agree with this, and it seems to be very surface level. Could you tell me what y'all think of this? Any other famous Calvinistic types who espouse this? While we're at it, can you recommend any good overview books on the atonement? (I tend to be moving away from the Driscoll types to historic authors with more depth)

Yup, Amyraldism. It was accepted by the Baptists via Andrew Fuller and you can see many Baptists today call themselves Calvinists but are really Fullerites.
 

Danny

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks guys. I was wondering while I read it, "For what purpose would Christ have to purchase the non-elect? Surely he doesn't have to purchase them in order to rightly condemn them."
Also, can either of you recommend any books to help ground me in the doctrine of the atonement?
 
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JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Try "The Satisfaction of Christ" by A.W. Pink or "Christ Crucified" by Stephen Charnock. I believe both works are free online.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
From my understanding, Driscoll argues that there is a sense in which Christ's death benefits the world, in terms of what Christianity has done to impact society at large (however, I haven't studied his view in-depth). I'd be willing to accept that line of reasoning. We should understand him fully before labelling him as Amyrauldian. I think the Reformed person can say that there is a SENSE in which the atonement benefits all. At the very least, Christ purchased a free offer of the gospel to all. We must never, ever allow limited atonement to stifle the universal preaching of the gospel - which it often does, to our shame.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I tend to be moving away from the Driscoll types to historic authors with more depth

Keep moving that way.

As for good books, read Owen's, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, or at least Packer's introduction to that book (easily found online).
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I recommend John Murray's classic, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied. Here's the description from WTS Bookstore:

The atonement lies at tht every center of the Christian faith. The free and sovereign love of God is the source of the accomplishment of redemption, as the Bible's most familiar text (John 3:16) makes clear.

For thoughtful Christians since the time of the Apostle Paul, this text has started, not ended, the discussion of redemption. Yet few recent interpreters have explored in-depth ther biblical passages dealing with the atonement as penetratingly or precisely as John Murray, who, until his death in 1975, was regarded by many as the foremost conservative theologian in the English-speaking world.

In this enduring study of the atonement, Murray systematically explains the two sides of redemption: its accomplishment by Christ and its application to the life of the redeemed. In part I Murray considers the necessity, nature, perfection, and extent of the atonement. In Part II Murray offers careful expositions of the scriptural teaching about calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, union with Christ, and glorification.
 

Frosty

Puritan Board Sophomore
As for good books, read Owen's, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, or at least Packer's introduction to that book (easily found online).

Ditto. The introduction in and of itself excellent stuff.
 

Danny

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for all the suggestions! I have already started The Satisfaction of Christ.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I am newly Reformed, and in the process of studying out the atonement I came across what Mark Driscoll calls Unlimited Limited Atonement. Essentially what he says is that on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and then as his possession he applied his forgiveness to the elect and his wrath to the non-elect (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe p. 267 ). I don't agree with this, and it seems to be very surface level. Could you tell me what y'all think of this? Any other famous Calvinistic types who espouse this? While we're at it, can you recommend any good overview books on the atonement? (I tend to be moving away from the Driscoll types to historic authors with more depth)

Yup, Amyraldism. It was accepted by the Baptists via Andrew Fuller and you can see many Baptists today call themselves Calvinists but are really Fullerites.

Can you prove that Andrew Fuller taught this? I don't recall encountering this in Fuller and I greatly admire him.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
At the very least, Christ purchased a free offer of the gospel to all.

There is one point which must be maintained, and that is the efficacious application of all that Christ has purchased. The fact is, all have not heard the gospel. Obviously some fault might be placed at the feet of an ineffective church. Part of the problem may be a lack of providential opportunity. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that all do not hear the gospel. If the free offer of the gospel were purchased for all, it would be an inefficacious benefit; God's word must then return to Him void; and the believer's assurance in God performing all that He has promised would be diminished. These reasons suffice to deny the idea that Christ has purchased the free offer of the gospel to all, especially when there is (1) no biblical support for it, and (2) it runs contrary to the biblical scheme. In the biblical scheme, the benefit purchased is salvation, and it is this salvation which is offered in the gospel -- not to each and every man unconditionally, but to "whosoever believeth upon Him." It is a conditional offer; and an absolute inference ought not to be drawn from a conditional premise.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
From my understanding, Driscoll argues that there is a sense in which Christ's death benefits the world, in terms of what Christianity has done to impact society at large (however, I haven't studied his view in-depth). I'd be willing to accept that line of reasoning. We should understand him fully before labelling him as Amyrauldian. I think the Reformed person can say that there is a SENSE in which the atonement benefits all. At the very least, Christ purchased a free offer of the gospel to all. We must never, ever allow limited atonement to stifle the universal preaching of the gospel - which it often does, to our shame.


It is enough to believe that Christ has died for SOME from every tongue, tribe and nations. It gives confidence of success in the work since this was His purpose and His purposes never fail.

His Sheep WILL hear His voice and come to Him.

Limited atonement doesn't stifle preaching because we have no idea who the Sheep are.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
If the free offer of the gospel were purchased for all, it would be an inefficacious benefit; God's word must then return to Him void; and the believer's assurance in God performing all that He has promised would be diminished.
I think the word "purchase" is misleading, however it doesn't follow that a rejected offer, or an offer that doesn't reach all, means God's word is made void. Whatever it was that has happened on the cross is such that all are invited to participate in it -- that's the point. The atonement is limited in extent and efficacy, but not limited in its offer. This is where many Calvinists have erred - confusing the offer with the thing promised in the offer.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This is where many Calvinists have erred - confusing the offer with the thing promised in the offer.

I've never heard of an offer being something meaningful in and of itself apart from the thing being offered. Have you? "Christ freely offered in the gospel" means something. An offer offered in the gospel means nothing. A person is immediately led to ask, What is being offered?

Again, the offer is not made to all without condition. It is made to whomsoever will believe in Him. It is a falsehood to present God as absolutely offering what He clearly sets forth under specific conditions.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Dear Ryft,

Your post has been accidentally deleted. I apologise for the mistake. Please feel free to post again.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Again, the offer is not made to all without condition. It is made to whomsoever will believe in Him. It is a falsehood to present God as absolutely offering what He clearly sets forth under specific conditions.
I'm no Amyrauldian, so rest assured we don't disagree on the fundamentals, just the semantics. God certainly does not provide salvation to everyone without condition. This is not Amyrauldianism, it is universalism. But, we should note that embedded within the "whomsoever" is a general call to all to repent and believe that they might be saved. "Whomsoever" is open ended, not closed, and so "opportunity" (in a very qualified sense) is given to all in the gospel. Anyone and everyone who abides by the condition may come. I think this is part of what is "good" in the good news.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm no Amyrauldian, so rest assured we don't disagree on the fundamentals, just the semantics. God certainly does not provide salvation to everyone without condition. This is not Amyrauldianism, it is universalism. But, we should note that embedded within the "whomsoever" is a general call to all to repent and believe that they might be saved. "Whomsoever" is open ended, not closed, and so "opportunity" (in a very qualified sense) is given to all in the gospel. Anyone and everyone who abides by the condition may come. I think this is part of what is "good" in the good news.

Yes; very well stated. That is the good news in a truly universal way. All to whom the gospel comes are genuinely called to embrace Christ in faith and repentance with the promise of eternal salvation and life in Him. Promise and condition are bound together and held in balance.
 

Ryft

Puritan Board Freshman
Dear Ryft,

Your post has been accidentally deleted. I apologise for the mistake. Please feel free to post again.

Huh. That is weird. Thank goodness EditPad remembered what I had written, because I sure don't.

~ * ~​

Essentially what [Driscoll] says is that on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and then as his possession he applied his forgiveness to the elect and his wrath to the non-elect.

While I am sensitive to instances of Amyraldist theology being advocated, I am not convinced that is what Driscoll was advocating (given your description). Granted I am unfamiliar with Driscoll's theology, having never read his material and only reviewing a couple of his videos, but I am nevertheless skeptical because if he did advocate Amyraldist theology then I would expect to see a flurry of blog activity about it by such leadership as John MacArthur and Phil Johnson, as they have shown themselves willing to do.

Surely it is true that on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and so much more, with the Father having crowned the Son "with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control" (Heb 2:8-9; the caveat in v. 8 is answered by 1 Cor 15:25-26; cf. Rev 1:18). This text tells us that the Son was "crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death," the Son being "for whom and by whom all things exist" (vv. 9-10; cf. Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16-17). Speaking more directly to the issue, is this not why Peter refers to him in the following way: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet 2:1; cf. Jude 1:4). He did not purchase them in the context of salvation but in the context of dominion in his fullfillment as the Last Adam; thus over all of humanity the Son has dominion, a possession from which he applies saving graces to those foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and ultimately glorified (Rom 8:29-30). "In the temptations Satan claims power over the world and offers to share it with Jesus (Matt 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). Jesus did not deny Satan's power then, but here [John 12:31] proclaims final victory over him" (A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament; cf. 1 John 3:8; Col 2:15; Heb 2:14; John 12:31; Luke 10:17-19).

Thus I am inclined to agree that "on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and then as his possession he applied his forgiveness to the elect." (As for the judgment of wrath on the non-elect, that already existed; e.g. "Whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ... Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:18, 36).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thus I am inclined to agree that "on the cross Christ purchased all of humanity, and then as his possession he applied his forgiveness to the elect." (As for the judgment of wrath on the non-elect, that already existed; e.g. "Whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ... Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:18, 36).

I think it is a mistake which will turn the biblical scheme on its head. Christ's dominion is invested in His person; it is not the reward of His work. He is the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. As such He instituted the heavenly order in the destinies of men, 1 Cor. 15. It is as the Son that He is made heir of all things, Hebrews 1:1-3, and this is what gives worth and efficacy to His work. Further, He, in His person, as the Son of the Father, is given power over all flesh that He might finish the work of Him that sent Him and give eternal life to all who are given to Him, John 17:1-5. It is a dominion to work, not a dominion which is the purchase of work.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I once visited a church where the pastor liked to phrase it, "The atonement was sufficient for all, but only efficient for some." and I never liked that phraseology, sounds like a politician talking.
 

Reformed Roman

Puritan Board Freshman
I once visited a church where the pastor liked to phrase it, "The atonement was sufficient for all, but only efficient for some." and I never liked that phraseology, sounds like a politician talking.

As politician like as it is I fully agree with it.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I simply don't see how we can claim sufficiency for something that was never intended.

The sufficiency of the Cross reaches as far as its intentions.

Saying, "HAD Christ intended for all to be saved, THEN the blood would have been enough for all" is far different than saying that Christ has already died with a firm intention to save his Elect people, and that when He died for them he died for them specifically and no more and no less, thus his blood is enough for them.

This intention was global in the sense that it will reach all kinds of people, but not all of every kind of people but only some from all peoples.

If we say that the Cross was sufficient for all who believe, well, this merely means, it is sufficient for all for whom it was intended, for all the Elect will come to belief.

Since not a drop of Christ's blood is wasted, any sufficiency of the Cross is the same as its intention, and since the intention of the Cross is never thwarted, then the sufficiency and the efficiency of the Cross must be the same.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Sufficiency here is referring to the adequate power of the blood - even one drop of it - to save the entire human race IF that were God's intention. It is also spoken of in terms of being enough to cleanse all who come to Christ for forgiveness. In other words, there is no sense in which the blood of Christ would have "run out". The language of sufficiency is probably a means of countering the charge of the atonement being "limited" in the wrong way.
 

Reformed Roman

Puritan Board Freshman
Sufficiency here is referring to the adequate power of the blood - even one drop of it - to save the entire human race IF that were God's intention. It is also spoken of in terms of being enough to cleanse all who come to Christ for forgiveness. In other words, there is no sense in which the blood of Christ would have "run out". The language of sufficiency is probably a means of countering the charge of the atonement being "limited" in the wrong way.

exactly
 
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