Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Limited or Universal Atonement by Dr. David L. Allen; part 2

Part 2 of 2

The key theological argument used to support limited atonement is the Double Payment argument, which says justice does not allow the same sin to be punished twice. This argument faces several problems:

* it is not found in Scripture
* it confuses a commercial debt and penal satisfaction for sin
* the elect are still under the wrath of God until they believe (Eph 2:3)
* it negates the principle of grace in the application of the atonement (nobody is owed the application).

Though Christ died sufficiently for the sins of all people, the promise of salvation is clearly conditional in the New Testament -- one must repent and believe in order to receive salvation. The limitation was not in the provision of Christ's death, but in the application. A man cannot be punished for rejecting what was never for him in the first place!


One argument for limited atonement goes like this: Christ died "for His sheep," for "His Church," and for "His friends." These are limited categories of people, thus, this is proof of limited atonement.

Not so fast!

Statements such as these do not prove limited atonement, because to argue such invokes the negative inference fallacy: the proof of a proposition does not disprove its converse.

One cannot infer a negative (Christ did NOT die for group A) from a bare positive statement (Christ did die for group B), any more than one can infer that Christ only died for Paul because Gal 2:20 says that Christ died for Paul.

Consequently, the fact that many verses speak of Christ dying for his "sheep," his "church," or "his friends" does not prove that he did not die for others not subsumed in these categories. There is no statement in Scripture that says Jesus died ONLY for the sins of elect. There are numerous statements that say Christ died for "all," the "world," or for "everyone," as in Hebrews 2:9.


Acts 3:26 states: "To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." Peter is telling his unbelieving audience that God sent Jesus to bless each and every one of them and to turn every one of them from their iniquities. This is equivalent to Peter saying: Christ died for you.

How could Jesus save every one of them (which is what blessing and turning away from iniquity involves) if he did not actually die for the sins of all of them? Certainly "each one" of the Jews Peter addressed must have included some who were non-elect! The free and well-meant offer of the gospel for all people necessarily presupposes that Christ died for the sins of all people.

Limited atonement truncates this good news of the gospel by sawing off the arms of the cross too close to the stake. At this strategic time of focus on a Great Commission Resurgence, should the Southern Baptist Convention move toward "five-point" Calvinism, such a move would be away from and not toward the gospel.

-Part 2 of 2, by Dr. David L. Allen, dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's school of theology; Fort Worth, TX;
-from Baptist Press (BP); (originally posted at BP, 10-1-2010)

Note: David Allen is author of the New American Commentary on Hebrews published by Broadman & Holman. Get his book and Hebrews by R. L. Sumner ($19.95 postpaid, 546 pages and filled with illustrations; Biblical Evangelism, 5717 Pine Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606-8947). They make a great combination and will give you preaching material for the foreseeable future. Remember, get your sermon from one source - that’s plagiarism. Get your sermon from two sources - that’s research!

David Allen is also contributor to Whosoever Will by Allen & Lemke, B&H, an outstanding, bestselling book on Baptists and Calvinism. 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 17, AD 2010.

Related Articles:
Limited or Universal Atonement by Dr. David L. Allen; part 1 of 2
Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died For All
Saved By The Sinner's Prayer
The Roman Road of Salvation 

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?