Spurgeon seems to indicate that debates on Limited Atonement vs Universal Atonement misses the mark (maybe I misinterpret). Agree or disagree?

Thomas_Goodwin

Puritan Board Freshman
I always feel very fidgety when theologians begin making calculations about the Lord Jesus. There used to be a very strong contention about particular redemption and general redemption, and though I confess myself to be to the very backbone a believer in Calvinistic doctrine, I never felt at home in such discussions. It is one thing to believe in the doctrines of grace, but quite another thing to accept all the encrustations which have formed upon those doctrines, and also a very different matter to agree with the spirit which is apparent in some who profess to propagate the pure truth. I can have nothing to do with calculating the value of the atonement of Christ. I see clearly the speciality of the purpose and intent of Christ in presenting his expiatory sacrifice, but I cannot see a limit to its preciousness, and I dare not enter into computations as to its value or possible efficacy. Appraisers and valuers are out of place here. Sirs, I would like to see you with your slates and pencils calculating the cubical contents of the Amazon: I would be pleased to see you sitting down and estimating the quantity of fluid in the Ganges, the Indus, and the Orinoco; but when you have done so, and summed up all the rivers of this earth, I will tell you that your task was only fit for school-boys, and that you are not at the beginning of that arithmetic which can sum up the fulness of Christ, for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. His merit, his power, his love, his grace surpass all knowledge, and consequently all estimate. Limits are not to be found, neither shore nor bottom are discoverable. Instead of coldly calculating with a view to systematize our doctrines, let us joyfully sing with the poet of the sanctuary—

“Rivers of love and mercy here
In a rich ocean join;
Salvation in abundance flows,
Like floods of milk and wine.”

All idea of stint or insufficiency is out of place in reference to the Lord Jesus. When any man enquires, “Is there enough merit in the Saviour’s death to make atonement for my sin?” The answer is, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” When any say, “Perhaps I may not taste his love and believe on his name,” the reply is, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” O, sirs, would you measure the air? Could you calculate the contents of the atmosphere which surrounds the globe? Yes, that might be done. Would you measure space? I suppose that also might be accomplished. Will you measure eternity? Will you calculate infinity? You must begin by problems like these before you can discover a bound to that abundant grace which comes to sinners through God in human flesh, who bore human sin, and gave up his life, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.


From his sermon Rivers of Water in a Dry Place
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
A number of thinkers in the 19th century realized that it can be problematic to quantify something like the atonement or the grace of God. Some crude presentations of limited atonement do that. Dabney said something like that.
 

Thomas_Goodwin

Puritan Board Freshman
A number of thinkers in the 19th century realized that it can be problematic to quantify something like the atonement or the grace of God. Some crude presentations of limited atonement do that. Dabney said something like that.
What would be an example of that brother? A crude presentation of Limited atonement
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
@Thomas_Goodwin this is why many Reformed theologians have taken issue with the terminology of "limited atonement", and why a distinction has been made between the sufficiency and the efficiency of the atonement. Unless you are a universalist, you must believe that the atonement is limited in one of those two respects. In other words, either Christ died for all and his atonement simply failed to work for some (the Arminian view) or Christ died for a specified elect and his atonement is unfailingly efficacious for those to whom it is applied (the Biblical view).

Definite or particular atonement would be better terms, but TUPIP just doesn't have the same ring. No tudip festivals for Dutch Reformed folk to attend!
 

Μαρτιν

Puritan Board Freshman
@Thomas_Goodwin this is why many Reformed theologians have taken issue with the terminology of "limited atonement", and why a distinction has been made between the sufficiency and the efficiency of the atonement. Unless you are a universalist, you must believe that the atonement is limited in one of those two respects. In other words, either Christ died for all and his atonement simply failed to work for some (the Arminian view) or Christ died for a specified elect and his atonement is unfailingly efficacious for those to whom it is applied (the Biblical view).

Definite or particular atonement would be better terms, but TUPIP just doesn't have the same ring. No tudip festivals for Dutch Reformed folk to attend!
Indeed, atonement is not limited! ("This death derives its infinite value and dignity from these considerations; because the person who submitted to it was not only really man and perfectly holy, but also the only-begotten Son of God" Cannons of Dordt chap 2 Art. IV) It is so great that it is enough to save 1000 worlds. But altrough the gospel is offerd (Can. of Dord. Chap 2. art. V and VI) to all it is only efficient for those who believe. (Chap 2. art. VII)
 
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Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I think you are misinterpreting Spurgeon. Here is one of his classic statements on Limited Atonement:

"We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, "No, certainly not." We ask them the next question—Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer "No." They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say "No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if"— and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, "No, my dear sir, it is you that do it." We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it."

There is an excellent discussion on this on the Ligionier ministries website
 

Thomas_Goodwin

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you are misinterpreting Spurgeon. Here is one of his classic statements on Limited Atonement:

"We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, "No, certainly not." We ask them the next question—Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer "No." They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say "No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if"— and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, "No, my dear sir, it is you that do it." We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it."

There is an excellent discussion on this on the Ligionier ministries website
This quote is truly great and I thank you for it. I wanted to clarify, I agre Spurgeon affirms Limited Atonement. He does so in the quote: " I see clearly the speciality of the purpose and intent of Christ in presenting his expiatory sacrifice."

Will read the ligonier though.
:cheers:
 

Thomas_Goodwin

Puritan Board Freshman
@Thomas_Goodwin this is why many Reformed theologians have taken issue with the terminology of "limited atonement", and why a distinction has been made between the sufficiency and the efficiency of the atonement. Unless you are a universalist, you must believe that the atonement is limited in one of those two respects. In other words, either Christ died for all and his atonement simply failed to work for some (the Arminian view) or Christ died for a specified elect and his atonement is unfailingly efficacious for those to whom it is applied (the Biblical view).

Definite or particular atonement would be better terms, but TUPIP just doesn't have the same ring. No tudip festivals for Dutch Reformed folk to attend!
Wouldnt in the reformed view the death of Christ be totally sufficient and efficient? In what respect is it limited in that definition. Christ death totally and completely justifies those who He died for before God (sufficiency) and all who He dies for are justified (efficiency). Maybe I dont understand the terminology,
 

Μαρτιν

Puritan Board Freshman
Wouldnt in the reformed view the death of Christ be totally sufficient and efficient? In what respect is it limited in that definition. Christ death totally and completely justifies those who He died for before God (sufficiency) and all who He dies for are justified (efficiency). Maybe I dont understand the terminology,
Michael Horton gives this definition in his systematic theology (i hope it will help make the definitions clear):
The Canons of Dort, to which we will return, locate unbelief in the total inability of sinners to effect their own liberation from the bondage of the will, and they locate faith in the unconditional election, redemption, and effectual calling of the triune God alone. God gives not only sufficient grace (that is, enough grace to enable sinners to respond positively to God if they choose to do so), but efficient grace (that is, regeneration as well as faith and repentance as gifts)

Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 562.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
It's the T.U.L.I.P. that usually gets us. It was good for the masses, but doesn't cut it in theological circles.
In their Doctrines of Grace, James Montgomery Boice & Philp Ryken have it as Radical Depravity, Unconditional Election, Particular Redemption, Efficacious Grace, & Persevering Grace.
R.C.Sproul (Chosen by God) has it; Radical Corruption, Sovereign Election, Limited Atonement, Effectual Grace, Preservation of the Saints.
Seems I recall working on some clever acronym years ago, but I'm old and have a brain-cloud. I think I prefer Total Inability, Sovereign Election, Particular Atonement, Efficacious Grace, & Preservation of the Elect.

To be honest, I find most debates miss the mark, as debating can be a flawed venue toward resolving matters. Somehow since the olden days of letters in the ages of yore, debating became much too similar to professional wrestling on steroids.

I do like the acknowledgment that God's grace is somewhat beyond human comprehension, like trying to delve the depth of an eternal fountain. And, I like the acknowledgment that both systematic theology and Reformed mysticism can be like mites crawling across a face full of pores and epidermal irregularities in their human conveyance.

But then I also am pretty sure I don't really want to see a redeemed Satan in heaven. That has to be right out.
 

Thomas_Goodwin

Puritan Board Freshman
Michael Horton gives this definition in his systematic theology (i hope it will help make the definitions clear):
The Canons of Dort, to which we will return, locate unbelief in the total inability of sinners to effect their own liberation from the bondage of the will, and they locate faith in the unconditional election, redemption, and effectual calling of the triune God alone. God gives not only sufficient grace (that is, enough grace to enable sinners to respond positively to God if they choose to do so), but efficient grace (that is, regeneration as well as faith and repentance as gifts)

Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 562.
I agree and affirm tulip totally. I guess I misunderstand how this definition applies to atonement debates or how the reformed view of the atonement is not both perfectly sufficient for the believer and perfectly efficient in only redeeming the elect.
 
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