Friday, October 29, 2010

This Week in Calvinism - October 29, 2010

  • Calvinists don't believe people can lose their salvation. If some walk away from the faith, that is proof they were never Christians in the first place (1 John2:19). Victor Reppert thinks the same principle can apply to atheism. He says that those who become Christians "were never REAL atheists in the first place." Of course, he's under the mistaken impression that there is such a thing as an atheist. An atheist is nothing more than a person who represses the truth to assuage his own guilt.

  • Andrew Logue defends the doctrine of limited atonement.

  • Jon Cardwell has nothing but nice things to say about William Birch. And I can't argue. He's one of my favorite Arminians, too.

  • And speaking of Jon Cardwell, you have until October 31 to download your free preview of Against Calvinism.

  • To whom does the the term "whole world" in 1 John 2:2 refer?

  • Tim Challies reviews Letters to a Young Calvinist.

  • Richard Mouw on gargoyles and Halloween.


Victor Reppert said...

Oh no. I was facetiously pointing out that there were atheists who subscribe to the "once an atheist, always an atheist" claim. What is more, I indicated that a Calvinist must surely believe that some people go from intellectually assenting to Christianity to ceasing to do so. Whatever the Fifth Point means, it cannot possibly mean that.

Rev. said...

"An atheist is nothing more than a person who represses the truth to assuage his own guilt." That's a money quote. : )

Unknown said...

Caholic Teaching and Limited Atonement

I don't think there's any point getting into another Limited vs Unlimited Atonement debate, so I'll just say quickly what Scripture and Tradition have to say on the matter:


St. John says: "he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

The issue here is the use of the 2 phrase "not for ours only" and "sins of the whole world".

This is diametrically opposed to the doctrine of limited atonement.

It reminds me of the doctrine of sola fide where Calvinists interpret "not by faith alone" as "by faith alone", and "wills that all men be saved" as "doesn't will that all men be saved".

(Kind of like the Catholic case: "A bishop should be the husband of one wife" interpretted "A bishop shouldn't be the husband of one wife" - but we don't believe in sola scriptura so we at least have a reason)


In any case, I think the whole thing is just another great example of the failure of the Reformation doctrine of the Perspicuity of Scripture.

As Calvinists and Arminians prove by their continued existence, Scripture does need an interpreter, Moses' seat must be replaced with the chair of St. Peter.

The Patristic evidence is also in complete opposition to the doctrine, as the classic formulation was that Christ died for those whose nature he assumed, meaning all of humanity.

"Christ Jesus our Lord, as no man who is or has been or ever will be whose nature will not have been assumed in Him, so there is, has been, or will be no man, for whom He has not suffered-although not all will be saved by the mystery of His passion.

But because all are not redeemed by the mystery of His passion, He does not regard the greatness and the fullness of the price, but He regards the part of the unfaithful ones and those not believing in faith those things which He has worked the rough love (Galatians 5:6), because the drink of human safety, which has been prepared by our infirmity and by divine strength, has indeed in itself that it may be beneficial to all; but if it is not drunk, it does not heal."
- Council of Quiercy 853 CE

Tortoise said...

Catholics and some Protestants & “Bible only” Christians believe in the universal or unlimited atonement of Christ, i.e. that He died on the cross for all men, the Elect (those predestined to heaven) and the Reprobate (those predestined to hell).

The scriptural support that Christ died on the cross for everyone is overwhelming, among which:

And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

And they sang a new song, saying: ”Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, (Revelation 5:9)

Other verses like John 4:42 refers Christ as the Saviour of the world; 1 Timothy 4:10 calls God as the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe; Hebrews 2:9 says that Christ tasted death for every one and 1 John 2:2 states that Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: ‘So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.’

He affirms that he came ‘to give his life as a ransom for many’; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.

The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: ‘There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 605)

Lee Shelton said...

You quoted Revelation 5:9, which says that Christ's blood did indeed "ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." There's the definition of "whole world": all kinds of people from all nations.

I think it's appropriate to say that Christ's atonement was sufficient for all, but efficient only for some, since not all people are saved. It was sufficient in that Christ would not have had to endure further punishment in order to redeem more people. However, the atonement doesn't apply to all people in the same way.

Unknown said...

Dear Lee,

Protestant churches cannot teach that they are the 'One True Church' which Jesus Christ founded because none of them can trace their origin back 2000 years to Jesus Christ when He founded His Church in Matthew 16:18.

If all Protestantism was united in the Holy Spirit, then how can you explain that Calvinists believe Baptism is a Sacrament, but Baptists do not?

How do you explain that Lutherans say that Mary is the Mother of GOD, but Evangelicals say she is not?

How do you explain that Episcopalians believe man has free will, yet Presbyterians deny it? You can go on and on through all 38,000 non-Catholic Christian sects and see differences of opinion.

If all Christian Churches taught the same thing then there would be only one Church, as there was for the first 1500 years of Christianity.

The Catholic Church Stands Alone!

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