Monday, July 30, 2007

Even Arminians Believe in Limited Atonement

The Arminian, in an effort to present God as the epitome of what they see as fairness, tries to make the case that Christ died for everyone's sins. After all, 1 John 2:2 says that he died for "the sins of the whole world," and Hebrews 2:9 tells us that he tasted death "for everyone." Of course, the Arminian interpretation of such passages is at odds with the rest of scripture.

When it comes to limited (or particular or definite) atonement, God's word is quite clear on the subject. In Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 we read that Christ gave his life as a "ransom for many." In John 10:11-15 Jesus talks about laying down his life "for the sheep." Contrast that with Matthew 25:32-33, where we see the shepherd separating "the sheep from the goats."

There are many other references to limited atonement. In John 6:39 Jesus says it is the Father's will that he "should lose nothing of all that he has given me." The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25 that "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Paul reminds believers in Colossians 3:5–6 that the wrath of God is coming as judgment for the specific sins of individuals, sins like "sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Obviously, the sins of these people were not covered by cross.) John 11:52 says that the Messiah's death was not for Israel alone, "but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." In 1 Timothy 4:10 Paul says that Christ is "the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

A clear reading of scripture proves that Christ's atonement is limited to the elect. Even 1 John 2:2, the Arminian "proof-text" for indefinite atonement, demonstrates this basic truth. The entire verse reads as follows: "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." Note the key word "propitiation." In its theological context this term means the satisfaction of God's demands. God demands perfection, and sinful man can never hope to live up to that standard. Sin must be punished, which is why man is born under condemnation. Christ's perfect life and substitutionary sacrifice on the cross, however, satisfied God's demand for justice. In short, he paid the price for our sin, giving us eternal life.

But wait... If Christ died for every individual as the Arminian would argue, then why do people end up in hell? If the price of everyone's sin has been paid in full, then why does God feel the need to punish that sin again?

In essence, for one to insist that Christ died for the sins of all people, and yet believe that people still go to hell as punishment for those sins, is to say that God is unjust. And we all know that God is nothing if not just. So, if we follow Arminian theology to its logical conclusion, we end up with universalism: all go to heaven because Christ died for all.

But even the most devout Arminian would deny universalism. No true Christian believes that everyone goes to heaven. The only way around this is to admit that there are certain sins for which Christ did not die -- namely, the sin of rejecting Christ as Savior and Lord. The Arminian, then, is left with a stark realization: if that one sin was not paid for on the cross, then Christ's atonement cannot be considered limitless.

This has to be disconcerting because it leads these enlightened Arminians to an even more harrowing realization: they're one step closer to embracing Calvinism!

Friday, July 27, 2007

This Week in Calvinism - July 27, 2007

  • David Heddle reminds us that "worrying if one is chosen" ain't just a Calvinist "problem." It's just as bad or worse for Arminians. Better to stop worrying and enjoy your salvation.

  • Dr. Nelson Price has a problem with "covert Calvinists" who are sneaking into church leadership positions by not being open and honest about what they believe. One of the telltale signs that a church has suffered such subversiveness: "Many no longer conclude worship with an invitation or promote soul winning." *Gasp!* I'm sure Charles Finney is rolling over in his grave.

  • Andrew, over at Strange Baptist Fire, responds to Dr. Price's charges (Part 1 - Part 2).

  • How do you maintain a fair and balanced approach to the Calvinism-Arminianism debate? Why, interpret Calvinist doctrine from an Arminian perspective, of course. And remember: God chose you because you first chose him.

  • James M. Hamilton Jr. reviews the book A Piety above the Common Standard: Jesse Mercer and Evangelistic Calvinism, by Anthony L. Chute.

  • If God has the time and power to save all people, and if he is absolutely good, is he not obligated to do just that? So begins this discussion at

  • Seth McBee, blogging at Contend Earnestly, is hosting an e-mail debate on Calvinism. You can read Part 1 here.

  • John Hendryx discusses a few of the doctrinal errors that can arise when we fail to see Jesus Christ as the interpretive key to scripture. (I would add dispensationalism to his list.)

  • John Shore, writing for, thinks he has solved once and for all the age-old debate of free will vs. predestination: "When we're outside of God's grace -- when we've chosen to be Fallen Independent Types -- we have free will, because we've then placed ourselves outside of God's purview. But when we're with God -- when we've surrendered ourselves to the reality of God's presence within us -- then we don't have free will, because then our will is subsumed by the larger will of God." Sounds like someone needs to read Luther's The Bondage of the Will.

  • Even some non-Calvinists realize that faith is not a choice.
  • Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

    This amazing 48-minute video gives us a glimpse at just how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we are (Psalm 139:14):
    And to think that some people still insist that this kind of genius reflects not the glory of an infinite and all-powerful Creator, but merely the result of a random evolutionary process. As David wrote, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1).

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - July 20, 2007

  • Bryan Lair is encouraged to see the resurgence of Reformed theology.

  • Faith by Hearing is a web site "designed to collect and categorize the ever-growing availabilty of great Reformed and conservative evangelical audio preaching & teaching that has a high view of God and Scripture." That isn't an easy task, but they're doing a great job. Here, they present the best MP3’s of first half of 2007. Enjoy!

  • James Swan gives us 10 reasons "why Dave Hunt's Berean Call should change its name to something else."

  • This high school Calvinist points out some of the errors of Greg Boyd's open theism as found in his popular book Letters From A Skeptic.

  • Daniel explains the weight of Calvinism.

  • Douglas Groothuis with some lessons we can learn from Francis Schaeffer.
  • John Piper on the Prosperity Gospel

    I think this also demonstrates the proper view of the sovereignty of God in all things. For if God is not completely sovereign, and if he must rely on our cooperation in order to accomplish his divine plan, then there is no hope for us whatsoever.

    HT: Audience One

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Bad Theology + Bad Singing = Arminian Hymn

    When you mix bad theology and bad singing, you end up with something like this:

      I Give You Freedom (The Whippoorwill Song)

      I set the boundaries of the ocean vast,
      Carved out the mountains from the distant past,
      Molded a man from the miry clay,
      Breathed in him life, but he went astray.

      I hold the waters in My mighty hand
      Spread out the heavens with a single span,
      Make all creation tremble at My voice,
      But My own sons come to Me by choice.

      I own the cattle on a thousand hills,
      I write the music for the whippoorwill,
      Control the planets with their rocks and rills,
      But give you freedom to use your own will.

      Even the oxen knows the master's stall,
      And sheep will recognize the shepherd's call
      I could demand your love - I own you twice,
      But only willing love is worth the price!

      And if you want Me to, I'll make you whole,
      I'll only do it, though, if you say so.
      I'll never force you, for I love you so,
      I give you freedom - Is it "yes" or "no"?

      HT: Pastor Gene Cook, who featured this heretical hymn on his latest show.
    What's funny is that the song, though presented as biblical truth, contradicts itself. Note verse three, which talks about the sheep hearing the shepherd's call. This is a reference to John 10:27, where Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." The sheep, and no one else, are the ones who hear and respond to the voice of the shepherd.

    But who are the sheep? Those chosen and placed in the care of the shepherd (John 10:28-29). We know this because of what Christ says in Matthew 25: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' ... Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'" (verses 31-34, 41).

    In short, those who do not follow the shepherd were never considered to be sheep in the first place and were never part of the flock. The sheep, on the other hand, recognize the shepherd's voice and respond accordingly. Unless we accept the premise that goats have the ability to choose to become sheep, we must conclude that there is more to the decision to follow Christ than mere "free will."

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - July 13, 2007

    I would apologize for not posting in a while if I were sorry, but I'm not, so I won't. My wife and I were on a road trip for the last couple of weeks that took us through eight states and two countries. Needless to say, it was a welcome break from the blogosphere.

    But I'm back now, so I guess I'll jump right into it. Here's what's happening this week in Calvinism...

  • P. Andrew Sandlin leads us "toward a Catholic Calvinism."

  • The Florida Baptist Truth Project was formed in response to the blatant Calvinist-bashing going on in the SBC. "The goal of this Project is to distribute the DVD Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism to every pastor within the Florida Baptist Convention." By the way, if you haven't seen this DVD, order it today.

  • Chad is a Calvinist, but that does not define who he is. He warns us not to let Calvinism become a distraction from the gospel and reminds us to "be wise in how we use Scripture to defend our beliefs, knowing that these truths from Scripture are never divorced from their redemptive-historical setting in which they are first given and then later developed."

  • Despite the fact that Calvinists and Arminians disagree on who has the final say in salvation (remember, Arminians believe that sinful man has the inherent ability to accept or reject God), Peter Lumpkins insists that both theological camps are pretty much equal when it comes to embracing God's Sovereignty.

  • And if I had to guess, I would say that Mr. Lumpkins probably owns this t-shirt.

  • Earl, blogging at MetaSchema, has begun what should be an interesting series of posts on the topic of limited atonement.

  • Ergun Caner is The Calvinator. His mission: stop the Westminster Assembly of Divines and put an end to Calvinism forever!

  • Hank, over at Think Wink, is answering some objections to the doctrines of grace that he has encountered over the last couple of years.

  • On this edition of the Narrow Mind, Gene Cook and his guest, Jonathan Goundry, discuss Covenant Theology and why it presents problems for theonomists and postmillennialists.
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