Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Calvin / Arminian Viewpoints (Part III)

Well, here we are at my 3rd discourse on this interesting, too say the least topic. As a refresher, below is what High Calvinism’s acronym “TULIP” stands for:

T……….the total depravity of Man

U……….unconditional election

L………..limited atonement

I…………irresistible grace

P………..perseverance of the saints

In this section, we’ll now take a close look at the “L & then I” in TULIP. Now for the record, thus far I have disagreed with the ‘U’ & this next point, Limited Atonement I have the hardest time with of all 5 points. So let’s define what the ‘L’ stands for in H.C. Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", the doctrine of limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus' substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. The doctrine is driven by the concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and the Calvinistic understanding of the nature of the atonement. Namely, Calvinists view the atonement as a penal substitution (that is, Jesus was punished in the place of sinners), and since, Calvinists argue, it would be unjust for God to pay the penalty for some people's sins and then still condemn them for those sins, all those whose sins were atoned for must necessarily be saved. Moreover, since in this scheme God knows precisely who the elect are and since only the elect will be saved, there is no requirement that Christ atone for sins in general, only for those of the elect. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power (in other words, God could have elected everyone and used it to atone for them all), but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all.

To go further on this matter, I’d like to quote Classic Calvinist Theologian Edwin Palmer who states the following: “The Bible teaches again & again that God does not love all people with the same love”. “The atonement of Christ is limited in it’s scope, that Christ intended to & actually did remove the guilt of the sins of a limited number of people – namely, those whom God has loved with a special love from eternity”. “Thus, the atonement of unlimited value is limited to certain people”.
- Palmer, Five Points Of Calvinism, pg. 27

Friends, if you did not find those statements, “music to your ears”, have no worry for you are far from alone! With this opportunity to contrast such a statement, I will now quote Nazarene (Arminian) Theologian Orton Wiley speaking for all Arminians he writes:

“The atonement is universal.” “This does not mean that all mankind will be unconditionally saved, but that the sacrificial offering of Christ so far satisfied the claims of the divine law as to make salvation a possibility for all”. “Redemption is therefore universal or general in the provisional sense, but special or conditional in its application to the individual”.

Orton Wiley, Christian Theology ( Kansas City, Mo. Beacon Hill, 1941)

Amen indeed! So Be it!

So the issue here is whether or not Jesus death applies for all, regardless of their standing with Christ. This passage of Scripture immediately comes to mind:

1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men-- the testimony given in its proper time”.
Friends, notice the use of the word “ALL” in this context. These 2 verses are telling us, especially v6 that Christ Jesus gave Himself at Calvary a ransom or a “payment” if you will for ALL of mankind, not a limited amount of mankind. What is does not say here is that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for “only a elect”, etc. but rather for us all.

In staying with this thought, another passage of Scripture is found in: Mark 10:45 which states: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
So notice here the word used is not all, but many. Now we have already talked about the “U” in Tulip & in doing so addressed predestination, but here we do indeed see God’s foreknowledge which is the term I like to use instead of predestination because of its inference. So in this passage here I would argue that because God knows all & is omniscient, He certainly knew that His Son, Jesus would die for all, but He also foreknew that not all would accept Him, thus this passage that tells us that although Jesus was given for us all, only “many” would accept Him! My point being that I do not believe this passage is saying Jesus death was on limited scope. To further bolster this Classic Arminian view, let’s look at a few more passages.

John 3:16, known to us believers as the “Golden Text” of the Bible.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". If Jesus death was somehow limited to certain people, we would need to remove the “whosoever” from this hollowed passage! Whosoever means just that friends, ANYONE!

Hebrews 9:14-15 “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15for this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”

In another passage we are told this: “many are called, but few are chosen”. Do you remember where I stated earlier that there are truly many areas where both viewpoints intersect? Well, we both believe that people are indeed called & that people are indeed chosen if you will, but what remains a very strong difference between these viewpoints is just exactly HOW that calling comes about & just exactly HOW people are called, but we all do certainly believe in such a calling of people, but WHO plays WHAT part is where we differ. In the discourse on "Prevenient Grace" a Classic Arminain viewpoint, you can go back & see where we differ from each other on WHO does WHAT, etc. Okay, this got a bit long so we’ll discuss the “I” in the next post.

Blessings & Stay Tuned,

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