Dr. Allen responds to commentors

August 5, 2013

by David L. Allen
Dean, School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

I appreciate all those who commented on my 3-part post — titled “On the Insufficiency of the Notion of Sufficiency Among Some Calvinists” —  both with respect to content and, for the most part, with respect to tone as well. My intention here is to respond only to the salient questions or disagreements voiced in the comments. I will follow this with a brief conclusion.

(Read Parts ONETWO, and  THREE.)

Rhutchin made multiple comments on all three posts from the high-Calvinist perspective. While I appreciate Rhutchin’s interaction, I believe he has committed a number of errors in his assessment. These become apparent in his first comment on Part 1.

First, he refers to “the Calvinist position” with respect to the extent of the atonement. Actually there are multiple positions on the extent of the atonement in Reformed history, such as limited atonement, Amyraldianism, the broader positions of hypothetical universalism, as well as the unlimited atonement/limited redemption distinction as found in many 19th century American Presbyterians. This is a major point as it illustrates the fact that so many who are adamant about limited atonement operate as if there is no other position now or in the past within the orbit of Reformed Orthodoxy.

Rhutchin’s second error is that of conflating the intent of the atonement with its extent. Notice his use of the word “intent.”

The third error is a logical mistake. Rhutchin stated: “As none but the elect . . . the atonement of Christ was intended to save the elect only and thereby is limited.” Three propositions are asserted here. The first and second proposition accurately reflects Reformed theology. The third proposition is problematic: “ . . . and thereby is limited.” It does not logically follow that if God “intends” only to save the elect, he did not provide an atonement for the non-elect. There may have been multiple intentions in the atonement as many Calvinists have argued since the beginning of Reformed theology.

Rhutchin’s fourth error is a methodological/logical mistake in assuming the Reformed understanding of unconditional election to be accurate, thus begging the question. But assuming for the sake of argument that it is accurate, there is no logical necessity that states that unconditional election necessitates that Christ did not die for the sins of the non-elect. All unconditional election does is necessitate an atonement provided for the elect.

I believe Rhutchin continues this error in his second comment when confusing “intent” with “extent,” assuming that the two must be coextensive. The conclusions drawn among total depravity, unconditional election, and the extent of the atonement in this and other comments are simply non-sequiturs.

In Part 2, Rhutchin attempts to suggest that bringing up the Lombardian Formula “goes off on a tangent that accomplishes nothing.” As I have shown, it is the revision of the Lombardian formula by later high-Calvinists that creates the historically inaccurate picture that many Calvinists hold today with respect to the question of the sufficiency of the atonement. Thus, the necessity of revisiting the Lombardian formula. Additionally, I am merely mentioning the same issue that many Calvinists past and present have with respect to the Lombardian formula and their disagreement with John Owen on limited atonement.

Apparently, Rhutchin assumes the validity of Owen’s commercialistic view of the atonement and employs Owen’s double payment argument against a universal satisfaction for sins. The problems with Owen’s commercial view of the atonement and the fallacies of the double payment argument have been addressed in numerous places, including my chapter on the extent of the atonement in Whosoever Will. I regret that in this limited format I could not tease out the discussion of Owen further as Rhutchin would have liked. For now, to stay with his metaphor, I will have to remain the theological Grinch who left no presents under the tree.

Next, Rhutchin appeals to the doctrine of election from Romans 9. Many capable exegetes reject the notion of personal salvific election in Romans 9. It is not at all clear from Romans 9 and its broader context of Romans 9-11 that salvific election is in view. But again, let’s grant the point for the sake of discussion. Even here, Romans 9 does not necessitate a limited atonement.

Rhutchin opines that total depravity entails total inability. I have argued elsewhere that it does not. Total depravity does indeed entail God’s grace reaching out to the unsaved before it is possible one can be regenerated. No one comes to the Father of his own initiative apart from God’s drawing him. This is not in question. But again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that total depravity entails total inability. How does that establish limited atonement? It does not. Remember, all moderate Calvinists believe in total inability, but they also believe in unlimited atonement with respect to its extent.

Also in Part 2, and in a related vein, I appreciate Mary S (13:20) commenting on the subject. Mary S suggested that my assumption that total depravity does not entail total inability is unacceptable. She states on the basis of John 6:44; 65, that Jesus himself taught total inability. This personal interpretation of these two verses is in fact an assumption and represents our disagreement on whether John 6:44; 65 teaches the notion of total inability. One can reasonably conclude total inability as a possible interpretation here, but one cannot reasonably conclude that another interpretation that does not entail total inability is not possible. This is not simply a matter of whether one chooses to believe Jesus or Allen. We believe Jesus. We just interpret the passages differently.

Likewise in Part 2, I appreciate Dr. James Willingham’s interaction and question. His attempt to connect limited atonement with the restricted mission of Jesus a la Matthew 15:21-28, the account of Naaman the Syrian, and Jonah and the Ninevites amounts to special pleading. I cannot see any connection to the issue of the extent of the atonement. I’m not sure how eschatology plays into the equation either. Dr. Willingham is correct that Owen’s work is considered to be the best defense of limited atonement by many Calvinists, but he seems unaware of the many critiques of that work by Calvinists themselves, beginning with Richard Baxter, who rejected Owen’s understanding of limited atonement. Finally, Dr. Willingham references both Andrew Fuller and Jonathan Edwards, not to mention William Carey and Luther Rice, but fails to note that Fuller came to reject limited atonement and thus revised that section of his Gospel Worthy when the 2nd edition was published in 1801, and Edwards himself affirmed unlimited atonement as can be demonstrated from his own writings. From what Carey wrote, it sounds very much like he did not affirm limited atonement and the same goes for Luther Rice. The fact that men like Fuller and Edwards taught a limited intent to save only the elect does not contradict their view that God equally intended to provide an unlimited atonement for sin with respect to extent. Finally, the modern missions movement was spawned by Calvinists like Fuller and Carey, but Dr. Willingham fails to indicate that these men were not like the TULIP proponents of today with respect to limited atonement.

In another comment Dr. Willingham states that “many” does not mean “all without exception” in Mark 10:45. Actually, Calvin very clearly says it does. Note carefully his comments on the “many” in this text as well as in Romans 5:15 and Isaiah 53 (both his commentary and sermons). Calvin says with respect to “many,” “Paul is not talking of a part of mankind, but the whole human race.”

Shane Dodson also weighed in on Part 2, urging me to repent of my position and my “distortion” of the Gospel. Shane appears to have missed my point that it is the atonement of Christ which is the ground for the gospel and its preaching. It is not unbelief in the atonement but a failure to believe the gospel on the part of those who hear the gospel; a gospel which itself is good news because Christ has paid the price for sins, all sins, on the cross. Actually, might one not suggest it is limited atonement which is a distortion of the Gospel?

CONCLUSION:
To all who read and/or commented on the three posts, thank you. In conclusion, I mention two things briefly. First, the dialogue at the end of the comment thread in Part 1 between James Willingham and David Ponter is quite instructive. Both men are Calvinists who differ over the question of the extent of the atonement. This exchange illustrates how easy it is to read one’s own theology and presuppositions into the text of Scripture.

Second, I must admit my surprise that not one commenter who disagrees with my point addressed the specific issue I raised. I have observed this evasion consistently in comments by those who disagree with my posts at SBCToday. High-Calvinists rarely engage the substance of my posts but often pursue non-germane tangents. Lay aside for the moment all the debatable issues surrounding the other points of Calvinism. My question remains, “What is the high-Calvinist response to the question of the atonement’s sufficiency from the platform of limited atonement?”

(Ed’s. note: Dr. Allen’s statement in the paragraph immediately above: “High-Calvinists rarely engage the substance of my posts but often pursue non-germane tangents” harks to a comment by former Calvinist, and author, Pastor Ronnie Rogers, who read all three of Dr. Allen’s posts and noted: “…[T]his kind of obfuscatory rhetoric on the part of some Calvinist continues the unhelpful beclouding of what Calvinism actually believes, which is a massive barrier to having meaningful discussions about the merits, or lack thereof, of Calvinism.”

While the editor has his opinion of why some “rarely engage the substance” of Dr. Allen’s posts, “but often pursue non-germane tangents,” the editor asks two questions:

1. How will we have a discussion on these matters (per T5) if such behaviors continue?

2. “What is the high-Calvinist response to the question of the atonement’s sufficiency from the platform of limited atonement?”

 

 

 

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Jonathan Carter

What gracious and courteous responses Dr. Allen. I enjoyed reading all three articles and have also enjoyed reading your responses. I believe you are spot on when you said “High-Calvinists rarely engage the substance…” I know that you stated this in context of your own posts but I believe it to be true with many Calvinists I have tried to dialogue with–they just want to keep from the exegetical truths of the scriptures. Great post Dr. Allen and thanks for your stance!

dr. james willingham

Dear Dr. Allen: You have done an excellent job in representing your cause and in criticizing the efforts many have made to answer it. What the biblical text teaches is not easily discernible, as one Puritan (whose name my memory has lost) said, “the problem with the Bible is its perspicuity.” It is like looking into the clearest water. One can seen the bottom, so to speak, but discerning the depth is no easy matter. As to John Calvin’s comment on the “many,’ it is basically meaningless to me. The word is rather clear, many does not mean everyone without exception. However, the many might well constitute more saved people than are lost. After all the number of the redeemed in Heaven cannot be numbered (Rev.7:9) (how vast Heaven must be), while Hell is but a lake of fire. There is the likelihood of a 1000 generations of converts implied in I Chron.16:15, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. As to Andrew Fuller’s adoption of unlimited atonement, there is a letter in one of the volumes of his works, written so I understand, near the end of his life, in which he pointed out that he was still a five point Calvinist. I have only read a reference to that letter. I have not had ready access to his works, being unable to afford them or to travel to a library where they are on the shelf. In any case, my idea for a thousand generations of converts and a multitude of planets comes from Owen’s work on the Atonement and Fuller’s Gospel Worthy. The satisfaction of the claims of Divine Justice, being at the base of the Atonement/Redemption work, it is surely an abysmal misrepresentation of our Lord’s work to say as one Bible Baptist from Springfield stated many years ago that there are multitudes in Hell that the precious blood of Jesus could not save. Our Lord’s use of a limited purpose to the woman of Canaan and to His own fellow citizens hardly seems to be special pleading. After all, even Dr. Patterson has conceded that the doctrine of election serves the purpose of producing humility in the believer. Cf. his article and my comment on it under Patterson’s Points, etc. And then there is the inability issue, clearly stated by our Lord in John 6:44,65. While there are other verses that hold man responsible just as our society holds drunks that drive responsible even though they are not able to drive safely, yet the reality is plainly that of inability and all of the teachings of the New Testament agree to that end. A slave is not able to free himself or herself unless the owner permits it. The blind cannot see, try no matter how hard he might try. He requires a miracle. The paralyzed or lame cannot walk without a miracle. Neither can a dead person rise up from spiritual death without a miracle like unto that which raised Lazarus from the death physically. Jesus knocked at my heart’s door as it says in Rev.3:20, and then He opened it like the Bible says in Acts 16:14.

Our approach to the Bible is clearly a part of our problem, namely, we suffer from the paralysis of analysis, from the present day scientific method and its flaws. The question is what does one do, when both the hypothesis and the null hypothesis are true? The complementarians have taken various verses and made a situation without checks and balances, whereas the Bible is always presenting truth of practices, for example, with checks and balances. I.e., Abraham was told by God to do what Sarah said with reference to Hagar, demonstrating rather plainly, that there was a check and balance involved in complementarianism in that day. If I seem far afield in my discussion, it is in order to bring out the reality that we need a more intellectual and synthetical approach to Scripture. Citing the woman of Canaan and the situation in Nazareth is not special pleading: It is a part and parcel of an intellectual and synthetical approach to Scripture worked out across 55 years of biblical studies in the theology which the Bible presents.

Ben Simpson

Dr Allen,

It seems to me that when a Particular Atonementarian (PA) uses the phrase “sufficient for all” concerning the sacrifice of Jesus, he is answering the faulty charge that there was something intrinsic about the sacrifice of Jesus itself that bars it from paying for the sins of every person who’ll ever live, such as the amount of blood. The faulty charge may be likened to a man who intended to paint his whole house but ran out of paint in the middle. He needs another bucket of paint to finish the job. When the same kind of thinking is applied to the sacrifice of Jesus, it is a faulty charge. So, when a PA uses the language of “sufficient for all”, he is declaring that there was nothing intrinsic about the sacrifice of Jesus that limits it. It was enough to have covered every person. The sacrifice is sufficient for all, meaning that there is no need for another sacrifice.

The limitation is found in the intent of application. For the PA, the Father didn’t intend for the blood of Jesus to cover every person. He intended it to cover only His elect. It’s like the man who bought enough paint to paint his entire house but only intended to paint half of the house and then did so. So, the limitation is found in the purpose of the painter, not in the paint itself. It’s the same thing with God. The limitation is not found in the sacrifice itself, but in the purpose of God.

You seem to be mixing up sufficiency and intention. You claimed in your first post, “What strict Calvinists are actually saying is that the atonement would or could be sufficient for all ‘had God intended it to be sufficient for them.'” I would say that that’s inaccurate. Sufficiency has nothing to do with intention in the case of the atonement, but you conflate the two. The sacrifice of Jesus was “adequate; enough; as much as needed; equal to what is needed or required; fully capable; ample; plenty; suitable; abundant; made or suited to the purpose of.” However, God intended to apply the atonement to the elect only. So, what PAs are saying is that the atonement is sufficient for all but God intended to apply it only to His elect.

Basically, you are making the false supposition that sufficiency equals intention. In doing so, you making the affirming the consequent fallacy. Your faulty logic goes like this:

1) If a doctrine of atonement is to be considered sufficient, then it must teach that God intended to atone for every single person.
2) PAs don’t believe that the atonement was intended to atone for every single person.
Therefore:
3) The PA doctrine of atonement cannot be considered sufficient.

    Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

    Ben,

    I am not Dr. Allen and do not intend answer for him he certainly has proven he is able to carry his own bucket of water. As I was reading your response I had to stop and think through your illustration. (I know all illustrations break down if pushed to their natural limits) As I looked at your illustration of a man painting his barn and your analysis of the atonement I could not help but think two things. First, I do not know of anyone who would say that Jesus’ death on the cross was insufficient for the sins of the world. Most PA that I have spoken with have always stated that His death was certainly sufficient to pay for the sins of the world but the intention was to pay only for the elect. Dr. Allen pointed out others that would say differently such as the old school Princeton Theologians. Second, to state the PA position like the painting of the barn and relating it to the intent, as you do, seems to be something of a misstatement concerning the power in the blood of Jesus. It is like saying that the blood of Jesus is so abundant that if God needed more blood he would re-bleed Jesus. One drop of the blood of Jesus has the power to save the entire human race. Third, is the intent of the Father. This is the place that we non-Calvinists (sic) have the biggest problem with Calvinists. Are you seriously telling me that you, as a Calvinist (PA), believe you know the intent of the Father? You do know that if that is your position that the death of Jesus was intended to cover only the sins of the elect then you have some serious problems with 2 Peter 3:9. According to that verse it is not the Father’s intention that any should perish.

      Mary S.

      It seems that non-Calvinists never cease to misinterpret 2 Peter 3:9. In that text, the Apostle Peter is writing to the church, about the church. It is as simple as that. Context is king, and it seems that almost all non-Calvinists have not sufficiently taken the context into consideration when interpreting this particular verse.

        dr. james willingham

        Dear Mary: I think you are right. The Traditionalists over look the text with reference to its statement that He is longsuffering to usward, that is, toward us, not willing that any of us should perish, the people whom Peter said were the “elect according to foreknowledge,” the same term which is translated “foreordained” in I Pet.1:20.

          Mary S.

          Amen. That is what Peter taught in in 2 Peter 3:9.

        Donald

        Mary,
        The idea that 2 Peter 3:9 means exactly what it sounds like is not an understanding limited to those outside the Calvinist closet. Consider, as one example, Dr. Schreiner (Professor of New Testament @ Southern). In his commentary on 2 Peter he says “…restricting “anyone” to church members is not the most satisfying solution…we should understand 2 Peter 3:9 in the same way as Ezek 18:32. It refers to God’s desire that everyone without exception be saved”

    Ben Simpson

    Tim,

    Thanks for the response. First, I didn’t say that anybody says Jesus’ death on the cross was insufficient for the sins of the world. I basically said that PAs get accused of believing that and in response to that say that Jesus’ death is sufficient for all. You misunderstood me here.

    Second, you said, “One drop of the blood of Jesus has the power to save the entire human race.” I agree with that completely. I’m not sure what I wrote that made you think I disagreed.

    Third, you said, “Are you seriously telling me that you, as a Calvinist (PA), believe you know the intent of the Father?” Don’t you believe you know the intent of the Father concerning the atonement? You seem to posit that you do. Can’t I do the same? Sure I can.

    As for 2 Peter 3:9, it certainly helps us understand God’s will of disposition, which describes God’s attitude and defines what is pleasing to Him. Other passages–1 Timothy 2:3-4, Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 33:11, and Luke 13:34–help us see this as well. These texts are not part of God’s revealed will because they are not commandments. Also, these texts are not part of God’s secret will because everything in God’s secret will comes to pass. If this was part of God’s secret will or decreed will, hell will be empty because every person will have been saved. However, we fully believe that hell will not be empty. Therefore, these texts point to God’s will of disposition. It pleases God to see people saved.

    Although it would please God that every person in history be saved, there is something way more important to God. For our more Arminian brothers, this thing that is way more important to God is upholding man’s libertarian free will. For our more Calvinistic brothers, this thing that is way more important to God is magnifying His grace toward His elect.

    Therefore, while many will face God’s wrath, God is not gleeful in a vindictive sense toward those who receive His judgment. God is pleased when we find our pleasure in obedience. He is sorely displeased when we are disobedient. We see a commonality in child-rearing. We will to not spank our children, but we do it because of greater purposes. Nevertheless, we’re not happy in doing it. In fact, we’ve been known to say, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” and mean it. In a similar vein, God doesn’t will to send people to hell, yet He grievingly does it for His greater purposes.

      Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

      Ben,
      Your analogy of a Father disciplining his children. However, your principle is far off the Biblical model. Hebrews clearly tells us that God will not discipline those who are not his children. Thus, for God to sentence one to eternal torment for His Glory is likened to the mean old neighbor that shoots the child next door because he was yelling in the back yard and would not stop when the old man told him too. God only disciplines HIS children. Unless you believe that everyone God created are His children. Is this another thing about Calvinism that we are missing–all humans are children of God?

      Ben Simpson

      Tim,

      You are correct that we as humans are not all God’s children, but we are definitely all His creatures. Therefore, He doesn’t delight in punishing His wicked creatures. My illustration still stands. I never claimed that every person is a child of God, and neither was that the point of my illustration. I’m not sure that you are really reading my comments thoroughly because you keep ascribing to me things I never said.

        Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

        Ben,

        I am not saying that you are saying those things, I am saying that is what your illustrations relate. They are flawed in that way. I am reading what you are saying and I am merely pointing out what your illustrations relate. Your illustration does not stand. You said; “God is pleased when we find our pleasure in obedience. He is sorely displeased when we are disobedient. We see a commonality in child-rearing.” I think I did an excellent job in reading thoroughly what you have written. According to what your writing tells us God pours out his wrath on those who are disobedient. The Bible teaches that the disobedient are not children of God. Thus, God does not discipline the children of disobedience. He only disciplines his one children. You said we see the “commonality” of God’s wrath on the disobedient in “child-rearing”.

        God’s wrath is reserved for those that freely reject His free offer of Grace. Yes, it does satisfy His wrath to deal harshly with sin. That is the reason Jesus was the “propitiation”, not the expiation mind you, for my sins, and not for mine alone but for the “sins of the world”. Jesus’ death was for the whole human race not just intended for it but was sacrificially given for all to be saved. When he cried “?????” He completed all that was needed for the salvation of the “whole human race”. Thus, the Gospel is not the good news of helping people, it is not the good news of a preacher waxing eloquently, it is the good news that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

      Robert

      Ben also presented a false dilemma often sprung on unsuspecting non-Calvinists:

      “Although it would please God that every person in history be saved, there is something way more important to God. For our more Arminian brothers, this thing that is way more important to God is upholding man’s libertarian free will. For our more Calvinistic brothers, this thing that is way more important to God is magnifying His grace toward His elect.”

      Where do we have privy to God’s mind where we are told that God has this conflict of values going on????

      Or where are we told that God is forced to decide what is more important: libertarian free will or His own glory?

      There is an unstated assumption driving all of this reasoning. The assumption is that salvation unilaterally involves God forcing people to be saved against their wills (i.e. that God if He so desired could force people to become believers even against their will). So the reasoning goes, if God truly desired to save everyone he could simply force everybody to believe. There is a major problem with this assumption however. If non-Calvinists are correct, that God set up a plan of salvation in which people become believers only by ****freely choosing to trust*** in the Lord (justification through faith alone, not by being baptized as children, being part of the Catholic church, doing certain works to merit salvation, etc. etc. etc.). Then if God himself set it up that way, then that is the way it is and the way it is going to be. If that is true, then God will not force everyone to become a believer by sheer force alone as that would CONTRADICT HIS OWN PLAN OF SALVATION. I do not grant the false assumption that God could save everyone by simply forcing everyone to believe. That goes against his own plan of salvation and He won’t do it.

      And it is not a lack of power, but that he ****does not contradict Himself ,does not contradict His own purposes (i.e. scripture says He does not deny himself).

      If someone asks me: why doesn’t God start creating people with two brains, or four arms or eight legs? I answer that was not his original design. In the original design we have one brain, two arms and two legs.

      And what if someone tries to argue that are “you claiming that God is not powerful enough to create people with two brains or eight legs”?

      My answer is that it is not a question of **** power**** but of ****design**** or purpose.

      God does not contradict his own design plans. If God designed us with free will and the Bible clearly presents this, then God is not going to come up with some purpose that contradicts his own purpose. And God is not going to force everyone to believe because that contradicts his design plan for human nature and His plan of salvation (that people would freely choose to trust Him alone for salvation).

      Robert

David L. Allen

Ben, thank you for your comment and for your willingness to address the issue at hand. I apology to you and other readers that my comment here is rather lengthy.

First, I know of no one who makes the charge that the blood of Christ was intrinsically insufficient to pay for the sins of every person.

Second, you are correct that a PA who uses the language “sufficient for all” declares there was nothing intrinsic . . . that limits it. It was enough to have covered every person.” But what does this mean for the non-elect? Nothing! Why? Because no atonement exists for their sins.

Third, you state: “The limitation is found in the intent of application.” The limitation is found in both the intent and the application in Reformed Orthodoxy, which is what I presume you mean by your statement. You next state “the Father didn’t intend for the blood of Jesus to cover every person. He intended it to cover only His elect.” But there is a subtle shift or change of terms here from your previous statement to this statement. You are now assuming the point you are trying to prove. Scripture seems to say the blood of Christ did “cover” or atone for the sins of every person. That is the question of extent. But Reformed Orthodoxy teaches that the limitation as to who actually will be saved has to do with the question of intent. You are conflating the two, i.e., treating them as coextensive.

Fourth, your analogy of the man who bought enough paint to paint his entire house but only intended to paint half the house does not speak to the point at issue. How can the atonement be sufficient for the non-elect in any way other than intrinsically as I have pointed out in my 3-part post? You have not contradicted my point but proved it.

Fifth, you and I are in agreement that the limitation is not found in the sacrifice itself intrinsically, but we differ over its extrinsic sufficiency, suitability, applicability. That is what matters for the non-elect. It is not extrinsically sufficient, suitable, or applicable for the non-elect because it does not exist for the non-elect.

Sixth, you state that I conflate sufficiency and intentionality. Not at all. The two are related but distinct. You also state that “Sufficiency has nothing to do with intention in the case of the atonement.” It certainly does if God’s intention was to provide a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world and then apply the benefits of that sacrifice only to the elect. That is precisely what Scripture teaches in my opinion, and what all moderate Calvinists affirm. You fail to distinguish between the notions of intrinsic and extrinsic sufficiency, the very point which moderate Calvinists at least from the time of Davenant forward have been making.

Seventh, you state that my assumption that sufficiency equals intention commits the affirming the consequent fallacy. But I don’t assume that sufficiency equals intention. Your syllogism of my logic is incorrect. Here is my logic:

1. The satisfaction (atonement) of Christ is only applicable (extrinsically sufficient) to those sins it was made for.

2. The satisfaction of Christ was not made for the sins of the non-elect (the PA claim).

3. Therefore, the satisfaction of Christ is not applicable (extrinsically sufficient) for the sins of the non-elect.

In my view, a necessary precondition for extrinsic sufficiency is universal satisfaction. This satisfaction for sins is only applicable (extrinsically sufficient) to those sins it “covered.” The satisfaction does not cover the sins of the non-elect in your view. Therefore, the satisfaction is not extrinsically sufficient (applicable) for the sins of the non-elect. This is what drives the subtle shift into notions of intrinsic sufficiency and hypothetical applicability by all high-Calvinists. What high-Calvinists are saying is had God ordained a state of affairs other than the one he did ordain, then the atonement would have been extrinsically sufficient for the sins of the non-elect as well.

All you are left with is an appeal to an intrinsic sufficiency, which moderate Calvinists and non-Calvinists like me argue is problematic. The issue is not the value of Christ’s death. We all agree it is sufficient in that sense. The issue is the applicability of Christ’s death. Thus, Charles Hodge says in his Systematic Theology that, “it has in all ages been customary with Augustinians to say that Christ died ‘sufficienter pro omnibus, efficaciter tantum pro electis;’ sufficiently for all, efficaciously only for the elect. There is a sense, therefore, in which He died for all, and there is a sense in which He died for the elect alone.” As I have noted in my chapter in Whosoever Will and elsewhere, Charles Hodge clearly affirmed Christ’s death was sufficient for all in that it actually paid the legal debt for the sins of all. Richard Baxter was getting at the same point when he said in his Universal Redemption:

“When God saith so expressly that Christ died for all [2 Cor. 5: 14-15], and tasted death for every man [Heb. 2: 9], and is the ransom for all [1 Tim. 2: 6], and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world [1 Jn. 2: 2], it beseems every Christian rather to explain in what sense Christ died for all, than flatly to deny it.”

Of course the death of Jesus is intrinsically sufficient in value to atone for the sins of a thousand worlds, but the fact is it did not atone for the sins of the non-elect in the high-Calvinist scheme; hence his death is not sufficient for them not because it was not intended to be applied to them, but because it in fact does not exist. This was the point of my 3-part post.

The problem of the genuine offer of the Gospel by preachers, and more importantly, by God himself (2 Cor. 5:19-20) remains unanswered by the platform of limited atonement and its notion of sufficiency.

rhutchin

I appreciate Dr. Allen’s response as I had not anticipated one.

I think there is an elephant in the room in any dialog about Calvinism. The Calvinist always begins his line of thought with the contemplation of God and God’s attributes. One key attribute is omniscience. When God created the world at Genesis 1, He knew the identities of the elect and the non-elect and every moment in each of their lives. God, in wisdom, creates the world knowing all things that were to come about. It is from that perspective that TULIP arises. The Calvinist will then claim: Total Depravity = Total Inability. The remaining points logically follow. This is John Owen’s perspective. Consequently, he asks the question, What purpose could God have had in providing an atonement for the non-elect when He knew that they were not to be saved and it could not be His intent to save them. The issue of God’s omniscience is not addressed in books carrying a title akin to, “Why I am not a Calvinist.” Olsen, in his book, “Arminian Theology,” says that the Arminians have no answer to this. I have yet to see it addressed (but I tend only to read books written for a general audience and not scholarly efforts – I do not see scholarly efforts footnoted in the books I read not necessarily because they do not exist, but because the non-Calvinist authors do not address the elephant providing them no room for such footnotes).

Dr. Allen is correct when he says, “All unconditional election does is necessitate an atonement provided for the elect.” What then necessitates an atonement for the non-elect given that they are not to be saved (else God’s omniscience is deficient)? That is the issue that Owen keeps pounding in “Death of Death.”

    Norm Miller

    Hutch: You make a false assumption common among your ilk, and that is that all who are not Calvinists are Arminians. Further, Dr. Allen has shown numerous verses (in a previous post) that show the actual response of fallen people to God, and the ability of fallen people to respond to God.

    Here is what Dr. Allen posits:
    (Dr. David L. Allen, 2013 John 3:16 Presentation, Part 2/3. Published on SBCToday, Thursday, 16 May 2013)

    “According to the Bible, the unsaved who are spiritually dead have the ability to:
    Act in accordance with conscience (Gen. 3:7)
    Hear God (Gen. 3:10-13)
    Respond to God (Gen. 3:10-13)[10]
    Repent of sins (Luke 15:18-19)[11]
    Seek God (John 3)
    Fear God (Acts 10:2)
    Pray to God (Acts 10:2)[12]
    Had prayers and alms recognized by God (Acts 10:4, 31)
    Know the truth about God (Rom. 1:18-20)
    Perceive God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:18-20)

    [10]Adam and Eve died spiritually when they ate the fruit but they were still capable of hearing from God and responding to God.
    [11]The prodigal son, in a state of deadness (Luke 15:32) still recognized his sin and returned to the father.
    [12]Both Nicodemus and Cornelius were “seeking” God before their regeneration. But if they are dead in their sins, how can this be?”

    In light of those verses, the only total inability remaining per this line of thought is the use of the Bible to defend Calvinists’ “total inability” foundation — which, by your own words, is the notion from which the rest of the 4 points logically follow. (I’ve often opined that Calvinism is indeed logical, but I do not defend it as being entirely THEOlogical.)

    Whereas “all” Cals may begin thinking of God in his attributes, and particularly, omniscience (which apparently leads to determinism), I believe that the overwhelming majority of believers, if asked, would cite LOVE as the defining characteristic/trait/attribute of God. No surprise, there. “God IS love.”

    Is it really OMNISCIENCE behind John 3.16? Nay, or it would read, “For God so knew before the foundation of the world who would be saved that he gave his only begotten Son solely for the elect….”

    Additionally, note that the next verse (17) speaks to God’s intent, the atonement’s extent and man’s ability.
    “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

      rhutchin

      Adam and Eve responded to God even as Saul of Tarsus responded to God. When God calls a person to account, what do we expect?

      Who says that it was in a state of deadness to sin that Nicodemus and Cornelius were seeking God? Not the Bible.

      Of the prodigal son it says, “when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” So, we have the reasoning of a selfish man. So, why is it that all people do not “come to themselves” and reason that, for selfishness only, they should seek God? There is more in play here than you have exposed.

      Even John 3:16 does not deny God’s omniscience. As Jerry Vines points out in “Whosoever Will…” it was a world of sinners that God so loved. Even while we were sinners God loved us, Paul says to believers. So, how does one go from sinner to “whosoever believeth.” Calvinists say, only by grace. Do people really just “come to themselves” all by themselves?

      All the citations you noted represent unique situations and none deny God’s omniscience and none suggest the absence of grace.

      It is still true that the non-Calvinists have not resolved the issue of God’s omniscience within their theologies – their theologies run counter to the logical constraints imposed by omniscience.

        Bob Hadley

        rhutchin,

        It is still true that the non-Calvinists have not resolved the issue of God’s omniscience within their theologies – their theologies run counter to the logical constraints imposed by omniscience.

        Here is the real problem I have with your position; you suppose you know and fully understand the one thing we cannot understand and that is God’s omniscience. If you ask a 3 year old a complex question, he will no doubt give you a serious answer; mine and your understanding of God’s omniscience of all things had better not be constrained by our logical abilities.

          rhutchin

          Omniscience is not complex. When God created the world, He knew every moment of each of our lives and He knew whether we were elect or non-elect. From that point, the number and identities of the elect was not going to be increased and the number and identities the non-elect was not going to decrease. Everything that happens after God creates the universe reflects God’s plan – thus His will. Do you and really understand this differently?

            Norm Miller

            “Omniscience is not complex?”
            What???
            Allow me to cite this again:
            “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Rom. 11.33.

            rhutchin

            Norm,

            Read what I wrote (after, Omniscience is not complex.) and tell me that you disagree. Certainly we agree on the implications of God’s omniscience even if we don’t understand how God could be omniscient.

              Norm Miller

              Already I have stated that I am not a determinist. Read Robert’s comment about how determinism makes God the author of evil. Also read a post by Piper where he states that God designed the crash of the USAir jet into the Hudson. I have a hard time not applying such logic to 9-11, too.

            Bob Hadley

            rhutchin,

            You said, “It is still true that the non-Calvinists have not resolved the issue of God’s omniscience within their theologies – their theologies run counter to the logical constraints imposed by omniscience.”

            My point was simple. You and I do not have any logical constraints where God’s omniscience is concerned. Calvinism is based largely on the concept of God’s omniscience where the elect are concerned. The conclusions calvinism draws from an omniscience position are just that; philosophical conclusions based on a common understanding of omniscience. Look at your own argument… you list, one, two, three and then argue four must be true.

            Even if one allows your statements, that does not mean the conclusion you draw is equally true. I have no problem with God knowing WHAT I will do; I do not believe His knowing what I will do has anything to do with me doing it. God does not cause me to act as I do nor make the decisions I do. Most calvinists I read do not believe that either with the exception of one decision that the elect make and NO decisions the non-elect make. Personally I find that as being boarder-line ridiculous.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Bob: How are you doing these days? Fine I pray. Wish to differ with you on God’s Omniscience. Take the worst of all evils, the crucifixion of our Lord. In Acts4;27, 28 we are told that Herod, Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together, “For to do whatsoever thy hand and counsel determined before to be done.” Shore seems like the Lord appointed, decreed, certainly, “determined before to be done,” what happened to the Lord, when He was crucified. I cited this verse and Gen.50;20 AT THE FUNERAL OF MY MOTHER, TWO HALF SISTERS, AND STEP-FATHER on Nov. 3,1972 (the latter had murdered my mother and half-sisters, then set the house afire and murdered himself), while I did not blame God for the evil as He tempts no man, yet He decreed Joseph’s brothers to do what they did and to send him before them to save much people alive and what the people did to our Lord in order for our Lord to save souls by His death. I am also affirming that God is in control of evil in order to make it turn out for good as He did in the case of my being deprived of both parents from the age 3 until I was 14. I have found it a great comfort to consider that what Joseph said and what is said in Acts 4;27,28 AS INDICATIVE OF GOD’S GOOD END IN ALLOWING SUCH EVILS IN MY LIFE. I do not blame Him for them, but I do praise Him for the purpose He had in allowing them. It is not my lot to judge God, but it is mine to be ruled over and judged by Him. His choice and decrees are meant to humble a proud, vain thing as I am and have been. I trust that I have enough sense due to such consideration now, that I do not think more highly of myself than I ought. In fact, I am an egalitarian, when it comes to Christians and their relations to one another, being brothers and sisters.

            rhutchin

            Pastor Hadley writes, “Even if one allows your statements, that does not mean the conclusion you draw is equally true.”

            The conclusion is that God knows the elect and the non-elect at the time He created the universe and the number of the elect will not be increased nor the number of the non-elect decreased. Do you mean to argue against that conclusion?

            There is, then, the issue of God’s involvement in bringing the elect to salvation. Here Calvinists say that it has everything to do with God, as none of the elect would be saved without God’s grace to quicken them, to draw them to Christ, to remove the blindness of 2 Cor 4, to give them the faith that allows them to yield to Christ. The non-elect are passed over for there is no intent by God to save them (else His omniscience is deficient).

            If you think that God treats the non-elect as He does the elect, then the question posed by John Owen is, Toward what purpose?

        Norm Miller

        Opinions are like belly-buttons, Hutch. We all got ’em.

          Mary S.

          …everyone has belly buttons, except Adam & Eve.

        Norm Miller

        When God calls a person to account, what do we expect?
        A response, of course. But Cals say the response MUST be a yes since grace is (per Calvin) irresistible.
        God’s call presupposes a response, does it not? It does not, however, presuppose a response in the positive to the offer of the gospel. Some of their own volition will reject it. They even reject the witness of natural revelation — thus indicating some ability.

        Who says that it was in a state of deadness to sin that Nicodemus and Cornelius were seeking God?
        Neither does the Bible say these two were first regenerated (per Calvin) before their seeking.

        Per the Prodigal: There is more in play here than you have exposed.
        How do you know that? (Arguments from silence not allowed.)

        So, how does one go from sinner to “whosoever believeth.” Calvinists say, only by grace.
        I know of no one who would deny this statement. It is the grace of God that nudges us on our spiritual shoulders. But, per Calvin, that grace is irresistible. I disagree, as do thousands of other biblical, traditional Southern Baptists.

        All the citations you noted represent unique situations and none deny God’s omniscience and none suggest the absence of grace.
        I am not a determinist. And, why do you think God put these “unique situations” in the Bible, anyway? Shall they not enter into our soteriology simply b/c they are “unique”?

        It is still true that the non-Calvinists have not resolved the issue of God’s omniscience within their theologies – their theologies run counter to the logical constraints imposed by omniscience.

        Brother Hadley answered this one well. No offense, Bob, but God, as his Spirit “carried along” the Apostle Paul, answered this one definitively.

        “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Rom. 11.33.

        Shall anyone resolve to know the unknowable? God’s testimony is that some of his ways are not knowable by mere mortals. that means IMPOSSIBLE.
        I opine that the virtual entirety of the Cal/Non-Cal “tit-for-tat” would go away if both sides equally embraced this verse.

          rhutchin

          So, how does one go from sinner to “whosoever believeth.” Calvinists say, only by grace.
          I know of no one who would deny this statement. It is the grace of God that nudges us on our spiritual shoulders. But, per Calvin, that grace is irresistible. I disagree, as do thousands of other biblical, traditional Southern Baptists.

          Given that we agree that God is omniscient, we agree that grace that such grace would be irresistible to the elect and resisted by the non-elect. We agree on the outcome and disagree on how that outcome is brought about.

            Norm

            We do not agree that grace is irresistable. Please allow me to speak for myself.

      Bob Hadley

      Quote of the day: Calvinism is indeed logical, but I do not defend it as being entirely THEOlogical.

      Very good.

        Max

        Bob – That quote could be tested against most theological systems! Jesus warned us not to forsake the commandments of God for the teachings and traditions of men. Theological systems based largely on human teaching and tradition tend to separate the body of Christ. Truth both unites and divides, but divides along the correct boundary of Truth. While Scripture exhorts us to “reason” together, we can’t approach that challenge without the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) leading us into Truth. In our study of Scripture, the Word of Truth and the Spirit of Truth must be connected or systems based on human reason and logic will fail. There is much in Scripture about the sovereignty of God. There is much in Scripture about human responsibility. It’s been often said that “Scripture does not contradict itself” … it’s man’s interpretation which introduces contradiction. To put the mind of God into a neat theological box is to stand in arrogance before our Creator. Thus, I’ve learned to approach Bible study in a simple way: I ask the Holy Spirit to lead me to Truth. In doing so, I’ve left behind a lot of human reason and logic in my 50+ year Christian journey. What I’ve learned is in my knower – I can’t un-know it … what I see, I can’t un-see. But I can’t convince anyone of anything unless they know and see it, too. It’s sad to see this battle of logic #1 vs. logic #2 in SBC ranks. The enemy of the Cross loves to see us in a word war – it distracts us from evangelism and mission. I was young and now am old. I long for the day when we avoid reducing the Bible to the level of mere ammunition for “logical” argumentation and debate … but doubt that l will see the dawning of that morning this side of heaven.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    rhutchin writes: What then necessitates an atonement for the non-elect given that they are not to be saved (else God’s omniscience is deficient)? That is the issue that Owen keeps pounding in “Death of Death.”

    Owen was beating irrelevant horses here. The conceptual framework and categories he operated with are foreign to the Biblical context and understanding of atonement. I don’t wish to add, for lack of need, to anything Dr. Allen has already written above or below in the comments, but the point is that your question above is not a relevant question since it fails to comprehend what Biblical atonement is and how it functions in intent. In other words, it is a meaningless question, since atonement stands primarily in relation to sin(s), being in the sense of an extrinsically sufficient provision, and not primarily in relation to persons (elect or otherwise), but only secondarily, since persons stand in relation to the provisional aspect via means of appropriation or not.

    God condemned sin in the flesh, not sinners. Jesus atoned for sin(s) on behalf of sinners, not atoned for (some) sinners on behalf of their sins only. That gets the priority of atonement qua atonement backwards.

    James White likes to ask if the atonement (or, in some cases, the OT typology of it) comprehends the Amorite High Priests. The Biblical answer is, of course, yes, in terms of it being a sufficient provision, and no, in the sense that, unlike many proselytes/converts, those priests did not, for whatever reason, avail themselves of it through proper means of appropriation. His question, or rather, his complaint in the form of a question, is, like many questions asked by Limited Atonement advocates, simply an irrelevant one.

    As Dr. Allen points out below, atonement qua atonement doesn’t “save”, the Triune God does. To say “the atonement saves” is too reductionist, and conflates and collapses too many things, and more to the point, puts the emphasis on an action rather than the person (Jesus) performing the action. Romans 5:18 (and elsewhere in the passage) is a good verse that makes the point that it is “through” the one righteous act of Jesus. To say it IS the righteous act (atonement) itself that “saves” is to make a simple categorical mistake, as MacArthur does in his rhetoric, and as Ben does below. Atonement deals with primarily with sin(s), and does so on behalf of sinners secondarily. Romans 3:25 makes it quite clear that the effecting of propitiation stands in relation to faith in His blood (“God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood”).

    I’ll never understand the complaint against the statement that the atonement “makes men savable”. John MacArthur harps on that a lot, as does Ben in his comments below. The problem with this kind of harping on that sort of statement is that Christ’s atonement does, in fact, make men savable. This is because men are not savable unless God Himself bears the burden of the offense(s) itself on behalf of the offending parties. Without Christ’s atonement for sin on behalf of sinners, men are not, in fact, savable. The author of Hebrews…or, in a nod to Dr. Allen, Luke…makes this quite clear in Hebrews 10.

    All of these types of irrelevant questions are related to the issues that Dr. Allen has been addressing in all those posts about “On the Insufficiency of the Notion of Sufficiency Among Some Calvinists” in the first place.

Ron F. Hale

Praise the Lord that …”This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB).
Thanks Dr. Allen for your diligent work on this doctrine! <

JimP

“God is Love.” As Mr. Miller introduced. This is instructive. No other passage so connects God intrinsically and practically (John 3:16) with this attribute. And whatever the discussion this point can’t be ignored.

Wanting to add to this discussion it needs to be admitted by all sides that whatever the system is being argued, whether pro or con, Calvinism or not, every system is ARTIFICIAL. When this is not acknowledge it borderlines Idolatry and distorts the Living God and His Work. And this is not an easy admission. Why? Because there is a deep need to have answers. Even though Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, Did not know the day or hour of His return. His great concern was not Omniscience.

    Norm Miller

    JimP: A Calvinist professor of mine once stated he thought it nigh unto blasphemy even to attempt to paint a picture of Jesus Christ. While I don’t really agree with that, I understand the sentiment — and do find myself leaning toward that sentiment. Someone on this blog — I think Ronnie Rogers — opined that theology is MAN’s study of God. As such, it is flawed –terribly; but, of course, some more terribly than others. ;^>

Robert

Rhutchin REPEATEDLY keeps claiming that non-Calvinists do not believe that God is OMNISCIENT or claiming that we cannot handle the reality of God being omniscient.

He has said this OVER AND OVER and been CORRECTED over and over.

And yet he just keeps repeating his claim.

In this post I merely want to make this absolutely clear that this is AGAIN what he is claiming.

Here it is again:

“It is still true that the non-Calvinists have not resolved the issue of God’s omniscience within their theologies – their theologies run counter to the logical constraints imposed by omniscience.”

In his previous post rhutchin spoke of it as the “elephant in the room”:

“I think there is an elephant in the room in any dialog about Calvinism. The Calvinist always begins his line of thought with the contemplation of God and God’s attributes. One key attribute is omniscience. When God created the world at Genesis 1, He knew the identities of the elect and the non-elect and every moment in each of their lives. God, in wisdom, creates the world knowing all things that were to come about. . . .The issue of God’s omniscience is not addressed in books carrying a title akin to, “Why I am not a Calvinist.” Olsen, in his book, “Arminian Theology,” says that the Arminians have no answer to this. I have yet to see it addressed (but I tend only to read books written for a general audience and not scholarly efforts – I do not see scholarly efforts footnoted in the books I read not necessarily because they do not exist, but because the non-Calvinist authors do not address the elephant providing them no room for such footnotes).”

So according to rhutchin the supposed elephant in the room for the non-Calvinist is God being omniscient. Rhutchin even makes the false claim that Olsen in his book “says that the Arminians have no answer to this.”

Robert

    rhutchin

    Robert says, “Rhutchin even makes the false claim that Olsen in his book “says that the Arminians have no answer to this.”

    Olsen says, ““The upshot is that classical Arminianism may involve a paradox: God’s exhausted and infallible foreknowledge (simple foreknowledge) together with libertarian free will.” (p199) He then defines the issue but does not attempt a resolution. Why? He can’t.

    Guys, if you non-Calvinists have figured out how to deal with God’s omniscience, and sync it with your theology (whatever that theology may be)point me to the book that sorts it all out so I can buy it and learn something knew.

      Robert

      Rhutchin cites Roger Olson as supposedly saying that Arminians have no answer for reconciling God’s foreknowledge and free will.

      Rhutchin quotes Olson:

      “Olsen says, ““The upshot is that classical Arminianism may involve a paradox: God’s exhausted and infallible foreknowledge (simple foreknowledge) together with libertarian free will.” (p199)”

      And then rhutchin adds his commentary:

      “He then defines the issue but does not attempt a resolution. Why? He can’t.”

      Rhutchin says that since Olson makes reference to the issue but does not give a resolution that IT MUST THEN FOLLOW that he does not do so because “He can’t.”

      But does it follow that just because someone does not discuss something at a particular point, that they have no answer or are not aware of any other answers to a particular issue?

      No it does not.

      In fact Olson is quite familiar with the fact that Arminians have various answers to this issue (Olson has stated this in his writings and on his blog). One answer for Arminians is Molinism, something Jacob Arminius himself appears to have held to. Another answer is Ockham’s solution, discussed by Alvin Plantinga. Another answer is the “simple foreknowledge view” of scholars such as Dave Hunt. Olson is aware of all of this (he takes the simple foreknowledge view himself), just because he did not give a full explanation at the point where rhutchin quotes him does not mean he is unaware of these differing approaches.

      Rhutchin also wrote:

      “Guys, if you non-Calvinists have figured out how to deal with God’s omniscience, and sync it with your theology (whatever that theology may be) point me to the book that sorts it all out so I can buy it and learn something knew.”

      Even though I don’t really believe that rhutchin would actually consider even investigating this further. I will recommend that if he really wants to see how some non-Calvinists have dealt with this issue that he investigate for himself: (1) Jacob Arminius on this issue; (2) Alvin Plantinga’s famous essay “On Ockham’s way out” (3) William Lane Craig and his various writings on Molinism (including his web site, particularly his book THE ONLY WISE GOD; (4) Thomas Flint’s book on Molinism DIVINE PROVIDENCE: THE MOLINIST ACCOUNT, and (5) the four views book on foreknowledge edited by James Beilby titled DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE: FOUR VIEWS (where various people present their views on this topic). Read those things and that will get him started. And then in addition there are numerous other articles and books on this topic.

      I mean it is not like this is a new topic in church history. :-)

      As if rhutchin is the first to stumble upon this issue. It has in fact been discussed for hundreds of years. Oh, and let’s not forget Catholic and Eastern Orthodox discussions of the issue as well.

      Robert

        rhutchin

        **Rhutchin also wrote:

        “Guys, if you non-Calvinists have figured out how to deal with God’s omniscience, and sync it with your theology (whatever that theology may be) point me to the book that sorts it all out so I can buy it and learn something knew.”

        Even though I don’t really believe that rhutchin would actually consider even investigating this further. I will recommend that if he really wants to see how some non-Calvinists have dealt with this issue that he investigate for himself: (1) Jacob Arminius on this issue; (2) Alvin Plantinga’s famous essay “On Ockham’s way out” (3) William Lane Craig and his various writings on Molinism (including his web site, particularly his book THE ONLY WISE GOD; (4) Thomas Flint’s book on Molinism DIVINE PROVIDENCE: THE MOLINIST ACCOUNT, and (5) the four views book on foreknowledge edited by James Beilby titled DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE: FOUR VIEWS (where various people present their views on this topic). Read those things and that will get him started. And then in addition there are numerous other articles and books on this topic.**

        Robert does not understand the issue here. It is the incorporation of omniscience into one’s theology that is the issue. None of the above sources argue that God is not omniscient and that God does not know the elect and the non-elect when He creates the universe. Consequently, that part of a theology that deals with salvation can only address the manner in which God brings the elect to salvation. There is no basis for dwelling on the salvation of the non-elect since God knows that they will not be saved and God has no intent to save them.

        So, when Dr. Allen says things like, “It does not logically follow that if God “intends” only to save the elect, he did not provide an atonement for the non-elect,” we ask the question that John Owen did – What purpose is served in providing atonement for the non-elect? Did Christ die for the non-elect? If you think, Yes, then tell us what purpose was served for Christ to die for the non-elect?

          Robert

          Jesus said of the inhabitants of Jerusalem that he reached out to them and desired for them to come to Him for salvation, but they chose not to. He shared the truth with the rich young ruler (the text says that Jesus loved Him): but He chose to walk away. In Jesus’ parables he is constantly inviting everyone to the marriage feast (which represents the eternal Kingdom of God): and yet many reject the offer and have excuses. In the OT God constantly and repeatedly reached out to Israel, desiring their salvation and repentance: and yet many chose to rebel and forsake God and His law. Over and over the pattern in scripture is that God loves all and reaches out to all and provides salvation to all, and yet many choose to reject the Lord. In each and every case it is never that the problem is on the Lord’s side, it is always rebellious sinners that choose to reject God.

          To deny all of this is to question his Word, and even to deny His Word. In spite of this pattern found throughout scripture and clear to anyone who is not a Calvinist, rhutchin writes:

          “There is no basis for dwelling on the salvation of the non-elect since God knows that they will not be saved and God has no intent to save them.”

          God has no intent to save them?

          Where does the Bible say THAT?

          Then rhutchin brings up John Owen. But Owen is a mere man, a man who like rhutchin, denies God’s Word. Owen did it through logical arguments he invented, in order to maintain the false Calvinistic system of theology.

          Rhutchin writes:

          “we ask the question that John Owen did – What purpose is served in providing atonement for the non-elect? Did Christ die for the non-elect? If you think, Yes, then tell us what purpose was served for Christ to die for the non-elect?”

          Say a man has a wedding celebration and invites all of his friends and acquaintances. He genuinely desires for all of those invited to come. If some do not come for various reasons, do we then conclude: what purpose was there for the man to invite people who did not end up coming? Why “waste” an invitation on them? This is what rhutchin and Owen do with those who end up as nonbelievers. They reason, since they were not going to come, then why waste an invitation on them?

          But this completely ignores and neglects the motive of the man who gave out the invitations. The man did so out of love for others and because he sincerely desired for all to attend the wedding and share in His joy. The fact that some do not come does not change the motives of the man whatsoever.

          I share this illustration because it is precisely the illustration that Jesus himself used in the parables. Everyone is invited to the Kingdom of God because the one who invites loves all. If some do not come we do not view that as wasting the invitation. Because whether they come or do not come, the motives of God, the one who invites are the same.

          Robert

            Norm

            Robert:
            So very well reasoned and stated. Thank you.

            In the discussion of the past few days, and even during the entire past year or so, Romans 1.18-22 keeps coming to mind.

            18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”

            Thinking of the current discussion and the former ones, so many topics seem to fall naturally into certain categories when considered in light of this passage.

            Particularly, what was the intent of God to reveal himself through the universal creation? Well, among the many reasons I can think of from these verses, the answer actually comes from these verses: ” … so that they are without excuse…” Why would the non-elect need an excuse in the first place? If the intent of the atonement was for only the elect, it thus seems terribly inconsistent that natural revelation is just as narrow. Rather, the creation’s instructive component, and the rejection of it both have universal application.

            Per the fallacy of “total inability,” natural revelation should be completely ineffective toward the non-elect and of no consequence whatever. But God chose to witness of himself thru the creation to thus remove any excuse the “totally spiritually dead” may have for ignoring him — yea, WILLFULLY rejecting him. But wait — if one is “totally, spiritually dead,” then how is one aware of the witness of natural revelation or ever able to choose to reject it?

            How can God the Holy Spirit, thru the pen of Paul, put so much universal weight and intent on natural revelation but then limit the atonement that eventually will rejuventate the creation itself — not to mention the souls of men who choose to accept it?

            If natural revelation is any portent of the atonement’s intent, then it is completely reasonable to conclude a universal intent/extent to the atonement. This, of course, is NOT universalism any more than natural revelation is. Just like natural revelation, many of the so-called “spiritually dead” who were able to know of God thru creation and reject God will also choose to reject the offer that the atonement brings.

            In all of this I do not see God or his word as being inconsistent. However, all we fallen, finite men are not equipped to understand God’s ways (Rom. 11.33).

            To us be the quandary. To God be the glory.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Norm: The teaching and preaching of Total Inability is not a fallacy, not since our Lord spoke the words of Jn.5:25;6:44,65.

            Mary S.

            Norm writes of “the fallacy of ‘total inability'”

            But it seems to me that every last one of you believes in inability. Not one of you denies that it takes a first work of grace in the life of a person for them to come to Christ. Not one of you suggests that a person can come to Christ without that first work of grace. So in reality EVERYONE OF YOU believes in man’s inability!

              Norm Miller

              I fear you have made an illogical jump, Mary. Indeed, it is God who makes the offer of salvation. But it is man’s choice to receive/reject it. So, in reality, non-Cals hold to God’s sovereignty — yes; but also man’s responsibility (and ability) to accept or reject God’s offer of salvation.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Mary: You are quite right. Norm is wrong in his assumption that total inability is a fallacy. Our Lord made that plain, when He used the term, can as in Jn.6:44,65, “no man can come to me,” and in Mk.10:27 where He says, “it is impossible.” The early Sandy Creek folks used the term impotent as in man is utterly impotent. That first work of grace is put in other terms by some of the Traditionalists, like nothing will happen until the Holy Spirit works. My last pastor was of that persuasion though he thought man had some power to respond.

              In the area of Southern Baptists long ago, circa 1787-1800, the Calvinists made room for the Traditionalists, who were very few in number in those days. It occurred during the union of the Separate and Regular Baptists. The former had a few Traditionalist types among them, like the agreement says, “the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man will be no bar to communion.” That began the long struggle and association that the Calvinists and Non-Calvinists or, rather, Traditionalists, have had in working together. Dr. Patterson wrote an item on election last fall on this blog, and I called attention to it in Mary with the comment about Patterson’s Points and how he put as all on the same side in that issue by calling attention to the matter that election is designed to promote and produce humility, regardless of one’s view of election. When we began, the Calvinists were dominant, due in part to the First and Second Great Awakening and the launching of the Great Century of Missions. But with the rise of the self-sufficiency, etc., things have switched to a view more centered in man than in God.

                Norm Miller

                Dr. Jim, Mary, and anyone else interested:
                For the umpteenth time, I do not reject, nor does anyone I know reject that God initiates the salvation process. I absolutely agree that no one can come unless called by God. I daresay you would attend a formal gathering without an invitation. But choosing to go to the event even if invited is your decision. To read irresistability into Jn. 6.44 is a gross exegetical error. And, unlike me, such an interp is wrong. That verse is a statement of fact with which I agree.
                I have made this distinction numerous times, and, frankly, am tired of some commentors here going back to some of the same verses and loosely interpreting them as a weapon against me for something I am not saying. So, please stop. With all due respect and some candor, either some are not reading what I have written or have read it and ignored it, or have read it and ignored it for some less-than-charitible purpose. Whatever the case, it is time to stop saying that non-Cals reject particularly Jn. 6.44.
                Also, as I have noted elsewhere in this thread more than once — Dr. Allen has noted numerous verses where supposedly spiritually dead people can and have responded to God. Some have characterized the verses as useless to make the point. But, such characterizations do not remove the truth of the verses to demonstrate what Dr. Allen says they do.
                In this vein I compared general revelation to a general atonement, and no one has yet rebutted that. I asked the question as to why it is necessary for the non-elect to be without excuse if the atonement was not for them. Romans 1.18ff clearly indicate that so called “spiritually dead” people are active in that they suppress the truth of God that is in them. That hardly sounds like the action of a spiritually dead person.
                So please, move on from the initial issue I raised above.

                  dr. james willingham

                  Dear Norm: Sorry, if I have seemed obtuse; it is a matter of preoccupation with the same difficulty you are experiencing, the feeling that my comments are not being addressed. We will both continue to encounter this problem due to the fact that we both start from different premises concerning what the word of God teaches. The only way I have found to deal with this difficult is to take a perspective from a carefully drawn intellectual analysis of the implications, even direct implications and inferences that can be taken from scriptural statements, and then applying a synthetical (that’s two sides comparatively taken together without being reconciled, so that one side or the other is dominant, except the one that is the key to the whole process). However, often the key one becomes bogged down in the small matters of the other factor. Sometimes, one must buy both sides with a tension in the mind and faith, a tension that enables one to balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic, that is, God’s best subliminal advertisement for the Gospel, a mature believer. I believe Packer’s antinomy, really is a paradox, that our Lord actually used therapeutic paradoxes in addressing individuals. In other words, He asked the impossible, and it was in the impossible that one began to find their way to the possible. But the impossible must be faced first in order for the possible to be produced. The rich young ruler did not find the possible in the impossible, but there is no denying the fact that Jesus our Lord asked the impossible as He actually says that is what it was to Peter and His other disciples. It is the same with this discussion we are having, not a time for oneupsmanship (I certainly care nothing for getting the best of the argument or putting a friend like you down. Our point, like yours, I am sure, is to get to the truth: What does the Scripture really teach on the issues being discussed. It is no easy matter for any of us to face the fact that we differ on a verse and its implications with reference to other verses. The pattern originally chosen by Southern Baptists was a more Calvinistic interpretation with allowances for one to preach that Christ tasted death for every man. Molinism and Amyraldism are explanations that have come lately to our shores; they are seen as ways to get God off the hook of being responsible for sin. However, if one goes back and reads some of the original writers on the issue of predestination, one finds that they made allowances for the issue. I have a copy of Jerome Zanchius somewhere in my collection, but I cannot readily locate in hundreds of boxes and no energy or strength to go through them in a hurry (due to my heart I have to take my time, even handling a few books at a time). Any way, I recall Zanchius, if my memory is correct, stating that God decreed for sin to occur in such a way that the matter was solely the individual’s responsibility, and that He decreed it to be so with reference to His glory. The individual gets to do what He wants to do, as Joseph’s brothers (you meant it for evil) and, in the process, they fulfilled God’s purpose (God meant it for good). The same approach applies to the crucifixion of our Lord.

                  Long ago, I realized the above approach and found it to be the one most approximating, most reflective of what the Bible actually teaches, a truth from which I drew comfort, when my mother and two half sisters were murdered by my step-father who, after setting the house afire, committed suicide, all according to what the police dept. of St. Louis said. I also found such views to be helpful, when I considered my deprivation of both parents in childhood from the age of 3 until I was 14, a grief and misery that cannot be described. In addition, being raised on a share cropper’s cotton farm, I went to work in the cotton fields at age 5 and continued until I left the farm in 1954 and Arkansas in 1955. This was full time work, sunup to sunset, for a child. Other miseries have come into my life. It is a greater comfort for me to consider that they were ordained of God and serve some useful purpose in His scheme of things than to consider them aimless, hit or miss miseries, that serve no useful purpose whatsoever. I might be wrong. God knows that I have been wrong on many things many times in my life, but I trust the Lord to bring good out of such sufferings… I understand Gen.50:20 to demonstrate and Roms.8:28 to imply.

Robert

Rhutchin falsely claims that the non-Calvinist cannot believe that God is omniscient (i.e. knows every event, including those that have already occurred/the past, those that are occurring/the present and those that have yet to occur/the future)while simultaneously holding to free will and denying Calvinism.

Does God know before he creates the world, who the saved and the unsaved will be?

Yes, he has to know this as he knows all things.

Does God’s knowledge of an event cause or bring about that event?

No.

Take sin for example, God knows every sin that we have committed, are committing and will commit, but he does not cause them to occur or bring them about. WE bring them about, we cause them to occur. If this is true (and if it were false that would mean that God himself commits our sins rather than us) then God KNOWS MANY EVENTS THAT WILL OCCUR THAT HE DOES NOT HIMSELF CAUSE OR BRING ABOUT. This also means that God’s foreknowledge does not cause events to occur. Rhutchin and many others seem to operate by the false assumption that if God knows something will occur in the future then he must also be causing it to occur. But this assumption is false and again the reality of sin illustrates this perfectly. Say that God knows that next week I will commit a specific sin, call it sin X.

Consider two possibilities.

1. Does God knowing that I will commit sin X cause or bring about sin X?
2. Or does sin X occur because I cause it, I bring it about?

Most Bible believing Christians believe that (2) is the case: whenever we sin we cause it, we bring it about, God does not do it, or cause it. If on the other hand (1) were the case then God is the cause of all sin (which makes him the author of sin, a charge that even most Calvinists try strenuously to avoid).

A major problem with rhutchin is that HE ASSUMES THAT IF GOD KNOWS SOMETHING WILL BE THE CASE THEN GOD MUST HAVE CAUSED THIS TO BE THE CASE. But as we see with the example of sin, this is not true at all. Rhutchin tries to present it as since God knows who will be saved and who will be lost before he creates the world, before anyone exists, therefore God must cause it to be true. But the Bible never says this; it presents people as going to hell not because God caused them to do so, but because they kept repeatedly rejecting God over and over for their entire lifetimes. So the cause of someone going to hell is not God but the person themselves (just as the cause of sin is not God but the person themselves). The problem/mistake that rhutchin and many other Calvinists keep perpetuating is the false assumption that just because God knows something that that must mean that he causes or brings that event about.

This assumption is false so rhutchin’s argument completely fails.

This has been pointed out over and over to rhutchin and yet rhutchin keeps presenting it over and over.

When will it ever end?????

Robert

    Norm Miller

    Robert: You have hit upon the Calvinists’ stickiest of wickets, IMHO, and that is that God is the author of evil. While some Cals want to ballyhoo the logic of Calvinism, some will deny the logical connection you have made. How can Cals say God is not the author of evil? If his foreknowledge is deterministic, then he is also the author of sin. So sad.

      Robert

      Hello Norm,

      “Robert: You have hit upon the Calvinists’ stickiest of wickets, IMHO, and that is that God is the author of evil. While some Cals want to ballyhoo the logic of Calvinism, some will deny the logical connection you have made. How can Cals say God is not the author of evil? If his foreknowledge is deterministic, then he is also the author of sin. So sad.”

      It is sad and completely unnecessary.

      Norm you are correct about by noting the logic of Calvinism leads to God being the author of sin. Any form of determinism (whether it be the usual form of Calvinism where God ordains whatsoever comes to pass/determines everything that occurs, or whether it be a form such as rhutchin’s that God’s knowledge determines that everything come to pass) leads to the ****inescapable**** conclusion that if God determines every event to occur exactly as it does, then God ****is**** the author of sin.

      Now there are some Calvinists, such as Vincent Cheung who actually do bite the bullet on this one and admit that according to their premises (i.e. that God determines everything) God **is** the author of sin, and do not have a problem with it.

      Most Calvinists however will change the subject, redefine the terms and do anything they can to avoid this inescapable conclusion of their own logic. This problem so acute within the Calvinist system that the vast majority of Christians when they get a mere whiff of this in their nostrils they become nauseous with the whole system of Calvinism. They think to themselves, if Calvinism leads to this (that God decided every sin and evil beforehand, preplanned for them all to occur and then caused them to occur exactly as planned), then I reject this whole system with no hesitation.

      The problem of evil is already a difficult issue to deal with and Calvinism just multiplies the difficulty a hundred times.

      What continues to surprise me is that most Calvinists are not as consistent as Cheung; they will not bite the bullet on this problem but will keep trying to convince the rest of us that it really is not a problem for their theology.

      If I talk about a human author being the person who decides everything about their story (the characters, who is good and who is bad, the plot, every thought, action, the consequences of every person’s actions, everything about the story) nobody bats an eyelash. Everyone agrees that that author really does control and determine everything in that story.

      But then you talk to a Calvinist (who believes the same is true of God when it comes to history, that he preplanned every event, preplanned who would be good, who would be bad, every thought, action, consequence of every person’s actions, EVERYTHING about history) and yet they still want to maintain that he is not the author of sin!

      This is completely arbitrary and illogical, the author of a story is author of ***every part*** of that story, not just the parts you may like!

      Robert

      rhutchin

      Norm, The term “evil” is an adjective. It is a descriptor. That man is evil or the things he does are evil. When someone makes the claim about God being the “author of evil” they mean that God is the author of something that can be described as evil. God made Adam and Eve. Adam then goes out and steals fruit from God’s tree. That was an evil action. Was God the author of the evil action taken by Adam? Of course not. So what is there that God has authored that can be described as evil? Nothing.

      The problem here is that God allows things to happen that some want to describe as evil when God could have prevented those things. Everyone agrees that God exercises sovereign control over everything that happens including things that can be described as evil. The atheists have argued that sovereignty makes God the author of evil. Some have fallen victim to the rants and ravings of the atheists.

        Robert

        Rhutchin wrote:

        “When someone makes the claim about God being the “author of evil” they mean that God is the author of something that can be described as evil.”

        Actually we mean that if God preplans every event of history, determines them all, then he also is preplanning and determining every evil event of history as well (since evil events are a subset of the full set which is all events that make up history).

        “Was God the author of the evil action taken by Adam? Of course not.”

        “Of course not” is true only if Adam freely chose to steal the fruit.

        If Adam was determined to steal the fruit by God because God determines all events and Adam stealing the fruit is one of those events, then Yes God is the author of sin.

        “So what is there that God has authored that can be described as evil? Nothing.”

        Nothing if non-Calvinism is true: everything if Calvinism is true. That is the great divide. In non-Calvinism God foreknows all events including evil events but does not predetermine them all. In Calvinism God foreknows all events because he predetermined them all. Big difference and hence the great and uncrossable divide.

        Rhutchin adds a slam against non-Calvinists at the end up his post:

        “The atheists have argued that sovereignty makes God the author of evil. Some have fallen victim to the rants and ravings of the atheists.”

        That is not true or accurate. Their actual claim is that if God predetermines all things then God is the author of sin (i.e. if theological determinism is true then God is the author of all sin (e.g. see Antony Flew’s famous writings on this). And they are correct in this claim as non-Calvinists observe the same logical reality. So their claim is not merely that if God is sovereign then God is the author of evil (rhutchin misrepresents their claim).

        God being sovereign alone does not make God the author of sin.

        Sovereignty means that God does as He pleases in any and all situations.

        So if God is sovereign and he decided to create men and angels with the capacity to have and make their own choices (choices that are not necessitated, not determined by God). And if they then misuse their capacity when choosing. Then they, not God, are the authors of evil. Educated and informed atheists know this which is why Alvin Plantinga’s famous free will defense which makes this very point is acknowledged by atheists as having defeated the **logical** argument from evil. Atheists have since moved on to probabilistic arguments from evil against God’s existence (i.e. the amount of evil in the world is incompatible with a good God).

        And the free will defense has been used by many Christians against atheists. A Christian can (and most in fact do) believe both that God is sovereign and that we have free will and that both are simultaneously true. What most Christians reject is any sort of determinism (including calvinism).

        Robert

      Mary S.

      Norm,
      I took a course on “The Problem of Evil.” and read every solution that people have come up with to deal with it (Robert mentioned a few in a previous comment ie. solutions that Alvin Plantinga, Dave Hunt and many others have presented) . The reality is that not one of the solutions satisfies. You can make the accusation (as you have) that Calvinism leads to God being the author of evil. But the accusation comes straight back at you, like spitting in the wind. Because if you believe (as I know you do) in an all powerful and all knowing God, then you still have the same problem. Why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow so much evil in the world? The Calvinist ‘solution’ is basically that God will receive more glory as our Savior from sin, then He would have if sin had never been permitted in the first place. Any how, brother, the spit comes right back at you because you too believe in an all powerful, all knowing God who allows terrible wickedness to take place every single day. He could stop it and He doesn’t.

        Norm Miller

        Calvinists cannot have this both ways, Mary (and rhutchin).
        If God’s omniscience is the guarantor of who is elect and not elect, then it also must be the guarantor of good and evil.

          dr. james willingham

          Dear Norm: Acts 4:27-29 Makes it plain and clear, crystal clear, that what Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel did to Jesus in crucifying him, they did as the result of this statement, “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” It is also true that they did it freely, willingly, and with enmity, but at the same time that acted in accordance with what God had determined to be done. Peter, speaking along the same lines in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost, stated, Acts2;23, “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye had taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Joseph ascribed his treatment and sufferings equally to God and man, but he gave God the upper hand, the final word on the subject, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Joseph’s brothers had an evil purpose in selling him into slavery, and, at the same time, God had a good purpose to even save those sorry sinners from their own sinful stupidity. The same is affirmed by Peter and the Apostles and early saints in the verses cited previously. God claims, “yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”(Isa.46:11). Paul tells us in Ephs.1:11 that “…we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will>”

            Robert

            James wrote:

            “God’s not having control over everything that happens sounds like the open theologians and, sadly, Clark Pinnock.”

            James I don’t appreciate your comparison here at all: open theists like Pinnock deny God’s omniscience.

            Most Christians who do not believe that God directly, continuously and completely controls everything. That includes EVERYBODY THAT IS NOT CALVINIST not just open theists. (i.e. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Independents). Everybody except for the extremists that want to believe that God directly controls everyone and everything. The rest of us do not believe that God operates like a divine puppet master while everyone else is merely a puppet with no real will of their own, that only and always do what the puppet master forces them to do.

            James you must be very unfamiliar with the thinking of non-Calvinists. You asked regarding Acts 4:27-29:

            “What do you do with verses like, Acts 4:27-29, which I cited to Nomr, where it plainly says God determined before that these things be done.”

            That’s easy; we believe that God has foreknowledge of all future events that will in fact occur. So God knows what people will freely choose to do, before they do it. Factored into that knowledge is what God will and will not do in a particular situation. If God foreknows that something will happen and does not intervene to prevent it from happening: then that event will in fact take place. If that foreknown event involves people freely choosing to do certain things, then they will be held responsible for those things they freely chose to do. If they make some wrong choices they are held to blame because they also could have chosen to have done otherwise (but did not).
            Take the crucifixion of Jesus as an example. Jesus said before being crucified that he could call legions of angels to deliver him (that would have been God intervening and preventing the crucifixion from occurring) if he desired to. Instead he freely chose to allow himself to be arrested, tried, and then crucified at the hands of evil men. The evil men freely made their evil choices including Judas’ betrayal, the actions of the Jewish leadership, the actions of the Romans. All could have chosen otherwise but God knew they would not and God did not prevent it, so God foreknew precisely what would happen, and it did. So the scripture says God included the evil choices made by men in accomplishing something that God wanted to occur (so it was preplanned, foreknown and included the actions of evil men).

            This same kind of thing happens occasionally with other good examples being the case of Joseph in Genesis as well as God’s use of the Assyrians to discipline Israel. The pattern in each case is the same, God via his foreknowledge knows certain evil choices will made, allows them to occur, and uses the evil that results for a good purpose. But it does not follow that since God sometimes does this, that this is the case with every instance of evil or sin.

            Robert

            Robert

            James wrote:

            “God’s not having control over everything that happens sounds like the open theologians and, sadly, Clark Pinnock.”

            James I don’t appreciate your comparison here at all: open theists deny God’s omniscience.

            Most Christians do not believe that God directly, continuously and completely controls everything. That includes EVERYBODY THAT IS NOT CALVINIST not just open theists. (i.e. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Independents). Everybody except for extremists that want to believe that God directly controls everyone. The rest of us do not believe that God operates like a divine puppet master while everyone else is merely a puppet with no real will of their own, that only and always do what the puppet master forces them to do.

            James you must be very unfamiliar with the thinking of non-Calvinists. You asked regarding Acts 4:27-29:

            “What do you do with verses like, Acts 4:27-29, which I cited to Norm, where it plainly says God determined before that these things be done.”

            We believe that God has foreknowledge of all future events that will in fact occur. So God knows what people will freely choose to do, before they do it. Factored into that knowledge is what God will and will not do in a particular situation. If God foreknows that something will happen and does not intervene to prevent it from happening: then that event will in fact take place. If that foreknown event involves people freely choosing to do certain things, then they will be held responsible for those things they freely chose to do. If they make some wrong choices they are held to blame because they also could have chosen to have done otherwise (but did not).

            Take the crucifixion of Jesus as an example. Jesus said before being crucified that he could call legions of angels to deliver him (that would have been God intervening and preventing the crucifixion from occurring) if he desired to. Instead he freely chose to allow himself to be arrested, tried, and then crucified at the hands of evil men. The evil men freely made their evil choices including Judas’ betrayal, the actions of the Jewish leadership, the actions of the Romans. All could have chosen otherwise but God knew they would not and God did not prevent it, so God foreknew precisely what would happen, and it did. So the scripture says God included the evil choices made by men in accomplishing something that God wanted to occur (so it was preplanned, foreknown and included the actions of evil men).

            This same kind of thing happens occasionally with other good examples being the case of Joseph in Genesis as well as God’s use of the Assyrians to discipline Israel. The pattern in each case is the same, God via his foreknowledge knows certain evil choices will made, allows them to occur, and uses the evil that results for a good purpose. But it does not follow that since God sometimes does this, that this is the case with every instance of evil or sin.
            Robert

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Robert: No offense was meant by the open theists. What was intended was the place to which one is logically led in the long run. Such a thinker was Dr. Pinnock. His work on the Biblical Revelation persuaded my brother-in-law concerning the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture. I had already persuaded as to that doctrine by the reading of L. Gaussen’s Theoopneustia several years prior to the publication of Pinnock’s work. It was a great grief to behold him from afar, turn to a more Arminian mind-set and finally to the view of open theism. As to the terms used in Acts 2 and 4, in the verses referenced earlier, it seems rather evident that God has control of all events. I shall never forget how the liberal students at SEBTS jumped all over me for using such a verse as Gen.50:20, which rather plainly says, God meant for good the very action that Joseph’s brothers meant for evil. I was referring to the death of my mother, two half=sisters, and a step-father by murder and suicide. Then Dr. Ed Pruden, who had been President Truman’s pastor, spoke up and said< I don't what I would do, if I did not believe God was in control to make things turn out for good. I had a son who was a student at a college, and he lived in off-campus housing. One night the space heater leaked gas, and he died. I don't what I would do, if I did not believe in God's control to work things for good." That was precisely the point I was trying to make in what I had written, and it was what I said in the statement read at that funeral of four of my family. It is also the point of Joseph in Gen.50:20 and Luke, the writer of Acts, in Acts 2 & 4. You need to consider the possibility that your differences are not with me, but with the inspired writers, even with the one who inspired them. And that is not being hateful. It is meant to give pause for thought. I try to never indulge in bombast or derogatory statements. My aim is to get a person to think. I am sure you mean well, but I wonder about your process of thinking. After all, the verses cited from Genesis, Isaiah, and Acts are plain as could be about what God has done. It is like the issue of ability. When Jesus said, "No man can," as in Jn.6:44,65, and it is backed up by His usage of terms or images like slave of sin, child of Satan, and being dead spiritually, it is my considered conclusion that man lacks the ability to respond, totally. Totally, that is, until the Spirit works to supply the ability or to enable him to respond. That the work is irresistible can be predicated of it as being so wonderful that no one in his or her right mind would want to resist or could resist. See my other comments in my responses. God apparently causes people to approach Him as He says in Ps.65:4, referenced above, and confirmed by my Hebrew professor. The usage of the hiphil or causative verb is plain, causing suggests at the very least that the ultimate reason for the response is found in the Lord, not in man.

        Robert

        The Non-Calvinist points out that if Calvinism is true, then it makes God the author of all sin.

        Calvinists like Mary do not appear to understand the claim and try to reverse the claim and say: you have the ****same problem***!

        But this is not true at all.

        Mary claims this charge can be reversed against the non-Calvinist:

        “You can make the accusation (as you have) that Calvinism leads to God being the author of evil. But the accusation comes straight back at you, like spitting in the wind.”

        According to consistent Calvinism nothing happens unless God wants it to happen, preplanned for it to happen and then ensures that it happen. This is similar to an author of a novel and their story in which nothing happens in that story unless the author wants it to happen, preplanned for it to happen and then ensures that it happens as part of the story. Hence the analogy that like a human author who decides and preplans every detail of his/her story, likewise God decides and preplans every detail of history.

        But non-Calvinists do not believe that God wants everything to happen in history exactly as it does. The non-Calvinist does not believe that God decides and preplans every detail of history. The non-Calvinist believes that God created people and angels with free will and that at times they then choose freely to do things that God does not want to happen, does not preplan to happen.

        Imagine a stage and two plays.

        In one play, the actors only say and do what the author of the story says they are supposed to do (it is **all** according to script). So if someone does something evil in the prescripted play they are only doing what the author decided they would do. And since it is all prescripted they can never do otherwise than what the author prescripted for them to do and say.

        Imagine another play where the actors are told that some things are set (for example you are female and your name is Suzie) and some things are up to them (they are allowed to improvise as the play goes along) In the second play when Suzie chooses to do evil it was her choice, it may not be anything that the author of the play desired or planned to occur.

        Those are two very different scenarios. In one it is all prescripted, in the other it is not all prescripted, in fact some things may occur in that play that the author of the story never wanted to happen, never planned to happen, and yet due to the improvisation by the actors these things happen.

        There is a great deal of difference between a completely prescripted play and one where there is real improvisation. For Mary to say that God is the author of sin under non-Calvinism is neither accurate nor true. The author of sin charge only applies to a world where there is no real improvisation where everything is prescripted (as is true in Calvinism and is not true in non-Calvinism).

        Robert

          Robert

          Mary also attempts to change the categories, move the goal posts if you will. At first she claims that the charge of God being the author of sin is equally true for non-Calvinists. This is neither true nor accurate as my previous post demonstrated.

          She also changes the topic to the **amount of sin** in the world. And she claims this is a problem for non-Calvinists.

          “Because if you believe (as I know you do) in an all powerful and all knowing God, then you still have the same problem. Why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow so much evil in the world?”

          But that is not the SAME problem as God being the author of sin.

          Thinking about why God allows sin in the world is not the same problem as whether or not God predetermined all sin to occur exactly as it does (i.e. the charge that God is the author of sin).

          “Any how, brother, the spit comes right back at you because you too believe in an all powerful, all knowing God who allows terrible wickedness to take place every single day. He could stop it and He doesn’t.”

          I have a question for Mary based upon her words here. She says that “He could stop it and He doesn’t”.

          Mary *******assumes******** that God could stop or prevent any and all evils from occurring: Mary how do you know that is true?

          Has God said so in the Bible?

          No, in fact he says to believers that we will have tribulation in this world, we will be persecuted.

          Has God said in the Bible that he could prevent all evils in the world?

          No, there is no such statement. If God did in fact prevent all evils in the world then how could the greatest evil in history have occurred (i.e. the crucifixion of Jesus)?

          Mary may think it is obvious; thinking of course God can prevent all evils from occurring as He is God and is all powerful; he could just use his power to do so.

          A fact which Mary seems to completely neglect is that God will never use His power to contradict His own purposes or plans (i.e. the scripture says that He cannot deny Himself).

          God designed humans according to a design plan in which we have one brain, two arms, two legs and two eyes. A properly functioning human person will have all of these properties. Could God since he is all powerful start creating people with say two brains, and four arms? Mary might answer without thinking that of course he is powerful enough to do so. But it is not a question of power alone; it is a question of God not contradicting his own design plan. So we do not see God creating some people with two brains as it would contradict his own purposes for human persons.

          God also does not save people due to their works as that contradicts his design plan for salvation. Is it the case that God is not powerful enough to save some people through their works? No, because it is not a question of power alone.

          Also consider this: as God’s design plan for human persons includes free will, how does that impact the game?

          Robert

            dr. james willingham

            Dear Robert: God’s not having control over everything that happens sounds like the open theologians and, sadly, Clark Pinnock, who adopted such a view in the latter part of his life. What do you do with verses like, Acts 4:27-29, which I cited to Nomr, where it plainly says God determined before that these things be done. Now if the worst sin in the world, the crucifixion of the perfect man, Christ Jesus, and all of the details that appertain thereunto, then it follows that the lesser sins we know were also included along with the determination to punish or pardon the perpetrators thereof.

          Mary S.

          Robert: I wasn’t saying that God is the author of sin. I don’t believe that He is. I was just saying that an all knowing God knows a little child is going to be raped before it ever happens; moreover, an all powerful God could surely stop that terrible crime from ever happening. But He doesn’t. And that is the same God that Calvinists and non-Calvinists believe in.

    rhutchin

    Robert says, “A major problem with rhutchin is that HE ASSUMES THAT IF GOD KNOWS SOMETHING WILL BE THE CASE THEN GOD MUST HAVE CAUSED THIS TO BE THE CASE.”

    Guys, where do you get this stuff? Everyone agrees that God does not have to cause that which he foreknows. No need to argue strawmen unless, of course, you have no other argument..

      Robert

      Rhutchin wrote:

      “Guys, where do you get this stuff? Everyone agrees that God does not have to cause that which he foreknows. No need to argue strawmen unless, of course, you have no other argument..”

      Rhutchin you keep trotting out your[[ foreknowledge of all things = determinism of all things]] argument over and over. According to you, since God foreknows everything he must also have determined everything. When it is pointed out that this argument falls apart once we see that just because God foreknows something it does not mean he caused it, brought it about, or determined for it to occur, your argument falls apart completely.

      The key issue which you seem to ignore is not that God knows something will in fact happen, but how is that event made to occur?

      Does God cause it to occur?

      Does something else or someone else cause it to occur?

      What precisely causes an event to occur?

      The fact is God does not cause every event to occur.

      I regularly bring up sin as an example of this reality. God knows we have sinned/ are sinning/ and will sin (he has omniscience regarding our sinning). But he does not cause us to sin, bring about our sin, we do.

      Your whole theology is based upon God determining or causing everything that occurs to occur in exactly the way that it occurs. But you cannot get THAT from the fact that God has omniscience. Because God can in fact and does in fact know things that he neither causes, brings about, determines, or desires. It does not logically follow that because God knows every event that will occur (i.e. omniscience) that God determines every event that will occur (theological determinism/Calvinism). You simply cannot see this disconnect though it has been brought to your attention repeatedly. So it is not true that omniscience = determinism.

      Fact is, throughout church history the vast majority of Christians, whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant or Independent, have all affirmed omniscience while simultaneously denying determinism/Calvinism. And denying determinism does not mean that a person denies omniscience. Everyone that has been posting here affirms omniscience. None have denied it. What some have denied is theological determinism/Calvinism.

      I found it absolutely hilarious that rhutchin wrote: “Everyone agrees that God does not have to cause that which he foreknows. No need to argue strawmen unless, of course, you have no other argument..”

      That’s extremely funny because rhutchin outright admits here that God can foreknow something without causing it/or determining it to happen.

      But if God can foreknow something he does not cause, then it is also true that he can foreknow something that he did not determine, something he did not ordain, something he did not desire to happen.

      And this means that God can be omniscient without Calvinism being true!!

      Thanks for sinking your own ship rhutchin!

      Rhutchin has just hoisted himself up upon his own petard!!!

      Robert

        rhutchin

        “Rhutchin you keep trotting out your[[ foreknowledge of all things = determinism of all things]] argument over and over. According to you, since God foreknows everything he must also have determined everything. When it is pointed out that this argument falls apart once we see that just because God foreknows something it does not mean he caused it, brought it about, or determined for it to occur, your argument falls apart completely.”

        That God foreknows all things actually does mean that God has determined all things (after all, God is sovereign). This has nothing to do with the causes of those things. Again, we see an active imagination inventing strawmen.

          Robert

          Rhutchin writes:

          “That God foreknows all things actually does mean that God has determined all things (after all, God is sovereign).”

          William Lane Craig and Thomas Flint believe that “God foreknows all things”: they also deny that this “means” that “God has determined all things”.

          Alvin Plantinga and Ockham believe that “God foreknows all things”: they also deny that that this “means” that “God has determined all things”.

          Catholic scholars and philosophers believe that “God foreknows all things”: they also deny that this “means” that “God has determined all things”.

          Eastern Orthodox scholars and philosophers believe that “God foreknows all things”: they also deny that this “means” that “God has determined all things.”

          Dave Hunt and Roger Olson hold to the simple foreknowledge view and they believe that “God foreknows all things”: they also deny that this “means” that “God has determined all things”.

          This list of non-Calvinists who affirm that God has foreknowledge of all things and yet has not determined all things could just go on and on
          .
          Rhutchin then delivers the following whopper:

          “This has nothing to do with the causes of those things. Again, we see an active imagination inventing strawmen.”

          Actually whatever determines something simultaneously causes that something to occur.

          According to rhutchin God can determine all things without causing anything! Well that is news to me and seemingly everyone else thinking on this subject. Apparently rhutchin has invented his own theology/philosophy where determinism is completely separated from causation! That is quite a feat and also completely out of touch with what everyone else on this subject is thinking.

          Regarding an “active imagination” rhutchin apparently has one as he is imagining things completely contrary to what everyone else is thinking on this subject. That is pretty imaginative and totally unique; it also suggests that he is absolutely wrong on this subject as well.

          Robert

            Johnathan Pritchett

            The problem rhutchin has is his constant employment of the equivocation fallacy. We see this in his use of “determine” cognates depending on the sentence. This seems to be the crux of your responses, Robert.

            I can’t say whether he does this intentionally just for rhetorical purposes to get a fallacy past you and others, or does it by accident due to unintended mistake or ignorance.

            Neither would surprise me.

            rhutchin

            Robert writes, “Actually whatever determines something simultaneously causes that something to occur.” I’ll wait to see his proof of that claim.

            I’ll appeal to the ordinary dictionary meaning of “determine” as ” to decide or settle conclusively and authoritatively.” God is sovereign and has decided and settled conclusively and authoritatively all of history. Every moment of each of our lives has been settled by God. God knows exactly and precisely every moment in our lives from the day of our birth to the day of our death. Nothing is in doubt and nothing will change. God has the authority to decide what shall be and He has exercised His authority to decide what shall be; God has determined it; His omniscience records it.

            If you want to insist that “determine” means simply “to cause” then you use it in a way foreign to the Calvinist. To argue against Calvinism using that definition is to argue a strawman.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Okay rhutchin, by that “ordinary” definition of determine, there is no conflict with Libertarianism, since that isn’t the same thing as determinism proper. Though, you are not, as you claim, always using it this way. Hence, your equivocation problems.

            Even many Libertariansists hold that God has decreed and hence, concurred with, all that does come to pass, while not determining all things that come to pass in the philosophical sense of “determine”. Calvinists maintain more than your ordinary definition of determine and use it in the philosophical sense. I.e.: God determines (philosophical sense) that rhutchin does X.

            The other view holds: God foreknew rhutchin would choose to do X, and determines (ordinary sense) that rhutchin’s choice of doing X will obtain by virtue of God’s decree that the universe is still existing while rhutchin does X. This does not mean God “determined” (philosophical sense) rhutchin do X. It only means that God “determined” (ordinary sense) that rhutchin’s choice to do X obtains.

            So, I’ll take it that you are a Molinist then. :)

            “God has determined it; His omniscience records it.”

            No sir, and this is the error of Calvinism (and most forms of “Molinism”, by the way). God’s omniscience is an attribute pertaining to His nature. It doesn’t record anything, and as an attribute, God’s omniscience must be prior to any determining action (decree) because that is an action that God did not have to take at all. Unless you believe that the universe is as necessary as God Himself is, you need to scrap this notion as being backwards. God’s attributes pertaining to His nature are in no way eternally co-dependent upon Him performing any action whatsoever.

            To say “God has determined it; His omniscience records it.” is an affront to God’s unchangeable nature, which does not hinge on God “doing” anything to be what God “IS”, which includes God is omniscient. Omniscience includes knowledge of all things that could be, will be, won’t be, could have been, etc. Period. None of which is “recorded”, all of which is simply “known” in the contents of God’s knowledge regardless of whether God determines (in either the ordinary or philosophical sense) to do anything or not. Period.

            This is why Calvinism is wrong at the base level of its philosophical premise: “God knows because He foreordains.”

            God need not DO anything to KNOW anything, since God knows everything regardless of whether He does anything because omniscience is an attribute that pertains to His unchanging nature. God can’t learn or gain knowledge, even from His own actions. When Calvinists (and many Molinists) place God’s decree logically prior to His free knowledge, this is the error that results, as is typical when trying to define “how God knows what he knows.”

            The proper way is to say it is this: God knows. God ordains.” Both of those things are true, but all knowledge of God is logically prior to God performing any action, because God’s attributes are not in any sense dependent upon God taking any action, in eternity or otherwise.

            Norm and Bob are exactly right, by the way. Trying to understand how the mechanics of omniscience works is a philosophical exercise in futility. It always falls into error. Modern philosophers and theologians are certainly no wiser of God than guys like Paul, Job, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, and they didn’t give us explanations. Rather, they gave us passages like the one from Romans 11 cited above that give us the principle that such attempts to explain God’s mind are futile and absurd. What we know is THAT “God knows everything” (1 John 3:20), and that omniscience is an attribute of God, not a learned body of knowledge gained by means of process or action. Trying to explain HOW God knows all things is a futile and irrelevant endeavor. Saying “God knows (or foreknows) because He ordains (or foreordains)” is one such futile, absurd, and irrelevant endeavor.

            In any case, everyone, from Calvinists, Molinists, Traditionalists, Arminians, to Open Theists or whoever else, affirms that God determines all things in the ordinary sense (either by decree, His actions in time to bring about an outcome, concurrence, whatever). If you are only talking about the ordinary sense, and not the philosophical sense, then you don’t have any issues with anyone here, nor are you even really much of a Calvinist for that matter. :)

            rhutchin

            Johnathan Pritchett writes, “God’s omniscience is an attribute pertaining to His nature. It doesn’t record anything, and as an attribute, God’s omniscience must be prior to any determining action (decree) because that is an action that God did not have to take at all. Unless you believe that the universe is as necessary as God Himself is, you need to scrap this notion as being backwards. God’s attributes pertaining to His nature are in no way eternally co-dependent upon Him performing any action whatsoever.

            To say “God has determined it; His omniscience records it.” is an affront to God’s unchangeable nature, which does not hinge on God “doing” anything to be what God “IS”, which includes God is omniscient. Omniscience includes knowledge of all things that could be, will be, won’t be, could have been, etc. Period. None of which is “recorded”, all of which is simply “known” in the contents of God’s knowledge regardless of whether God determines (in either the ordinary or philosophical sense) to do anything or not. Period.

            This is why Calvinism is wrong at the base level of its philosophical premise: “God knows because He foreordains.””

            I think we need to be careful not to take immutability to the extreme of not allowing God to think, to converse within Himself and to make decisions. God knows those things that He decides/decrees.

            God knows “all things that could be, will be, won’t be, could have been, etc.” Nothing comes to be except by God’s decision/determination/decree. The universe could be but only comes to be when God speaks it into existence; it does come to be by any natural cause independent of God. Satan enters the garden to tempt because God decrees that he be allowed to fulfill his desires (as we discover in Job, where Satan does nothing and cannot touch Job except as God decrees). Adam and Eve steal the fruit from God’s tree and then, in open defiance, eat that fruit, even as God watches them do so only because God had first decided not to intervene to prevent them doing so and thereby to let them do as they desired. God, as sovereign, is in full control of all that happens. Adam and Eve could not be tempted, and neither can we, except as God sovereignly decides such to happen. The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus, but He walked through them because it was not His time – God had not decreed it.

            So, it is that God knows all that happens and nothing happens except as He decrees. That which God decrees is “according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will.” Those decrees are certain and sure and are, in this way, recorded in God’s omniscience.

      Robert

      Rhutchin wrote:

      “Guys, where do you get this stuff? Everyone agrees that God does not have to cause that which he foreknows. No need to argue strawmen unless, of course, you have no other argument..”

      Rhutchin you keep trotting out your[[ foreknowledge of all things = determinism of all things]] argument over and over. According to you, since God foreknows everything he must also have determined everything. When it is pointed out that this argument falls apart once we see that just because God foreknows something it does not mean he caused it, brought it about, or determined for it to occur, your argument falls apart completely.

      The key issue which you seem to ignore is not that God knows something will in fact happen, but how is that event made to occur?

      Does God cause it to occur?

      Does something else or someone else cause it to occur?

      What precisely causes an event to occur?

      The fact is God does not cause every event to occur. Sin is an example of this reality. God knows we have sinned/ are sinning/ and will sin (he has omniscience regarding our sinning). But he does not cause us to sin, bring about our sin, we do.

      Rhutchin’s theology is based upon God determining or causing everything that occurs to occur in exactly the way that it occurs. But you cannot get THAT from the fact that God has omniscience. Because God can in fact and does in fact know things that he neither causes, brings about, determines, or desires. It does not logically follow that because God knows every event that will occur (i.e. omniscience) that God determines every event that will occur (theological determinism/Calvinism). You simply cannot see this disconnect though it has been brought to your attention repeatedly. So it is not true that omniscience = determinism. Fact is, throughout church history the vast majority of Christians, whether they be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant or Independent, have all affirmed omniscience while simultaneously denying determinism/Calvinism. And denying determinism does not mean that a person denies omniscience. Everyone that has been posting here affirms omniscience. None have denied it. What some have denied is theological determinism/Calvinism.
      I found it absolutely hilarious that rhutchin wrote: “Everyone agrees that God does not have to cause that which he foreknows. No need to argue strawmen unless, of course, you have no other argument..”

      That’s extremely funny because rhutchin outright admits here that God can foreknow something without causing it/or determining it to happen.

      But if God can foreknow something he does not cause, then it is also true that he can foreknow something that he did not determine, something he did not ordain, something he did not desire to happen.

      And this means that God can be omniscient without Calvinism being true!!

      Thanks for sinking your own ship rhutchin!

      Rhutchin has just hoisted himself up upon his own petard!!!

      Robert

      Norm Miller

      rhutchin states: “Everyone agrees that God does not have to cause that which he foreknows.”

      First off, upon what does “everyone” agree? Ever been to a Baptist business meeting?

      Second: If rhutchin believes his above statement is true, then he necessarily must believe that grace is resistible.

JimP

In the book to the Galatians, the apostle Paul raised an issue of the Judiazers that I believe is often overlooked. What is usually the focus is the error they were teaching while all the while their motive is ignored which is clearly described, Gal. 6:13. These false teachers want to ‘boast’ in the following they’ve won. But who would not want to win followers, whether, Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics, or Baptists, some of whose teaching are so dog-gone sophisticated and appealing? But if as believers, we are not winning people to be followers of Christ, whether Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics or Baptists as Christians we’ve failed.

In this business of theology our motives are under God’s scrutiny. So BEWARE.

Ben Simpson

Dr Allen,

Thanks for your response. It’s always good to have a conversation with you, even if it’s through the poor medium of a blog.

You said in your response to me, “a necessary precondition for extrinsic sufficiency is universal satisfaction.” That very word, satisfaction, is problematic with your doctrine of atonement if satisfaction means what we normally mean. Satisfaction in the realm of our relationship with God is reparation for sin that meets the demands of divine justice. (By the way, every definition I look at surrounding satisfaction—such as satisfy, reparation, indemnify, restitution, etc.—has a pecuniary element to it.)

In your doctrine of atonement, nothing is actually repaired. It’s only potentially repaired. Your doctrine of atonement buys nobody actually from slavery. It only potentially buys everybody from slavery. Your doctrine of atonement actually quenches God’s wrath toward nobody. It only potentially quenches God’s wrath toward everybody. Your doctrine of atonement actually saves nobody. It only potentially saves everybody. In your doctrine of atonement, “all living people are in a saveable state because there is blood sufficiently shed for them,” (David Allen in Whosoever Will around page 64, I think). Your atonement only makes men saveable, but actually saves nobody.

So, I suppose that if you want to hold that Particular Atonementarians have an insufficient sufficiency because their doctrine of atonement is only intrinsically sufficient and not extrinsically sufficient, you can claim that all day long. However, I think it should pointed out that Universal Atonementarians have only intrinsic satisfaction and efficacy (eg., the abstract ability to save every person that Jesus died for) but not extrinsic satisfaction and efficacy (eg., the actual ability to save every person that Jesus died for). That would mean that Universal Atonementarians have an unsatisfactory satisfaction and an ineffective efficacy.

For scriptural, theological, and rational reasons, I’ll take an intrinsic sufficiency and extrinsic satisfaction and efficacy over the opposite.

dr. james willingham

Did I miss something or violate some rule? I thought I had other comments on this blog, but they are not here tonight.

David L. Allen

Ben,

We agree about conversation over a blog, but that is certainly better than no conversation at all. I am grateful for your interaction. Again I must beg your indulgence with a lengthy response.

The term “satisfaction” for sin in reference to Christ’s oblation on the cross has a time-honored history in theology, including Reformed theology. I am using the term “satisfaction” to speak of what Christ accomplished on the cross with respect to sin and its debt. This is the way many Reformed theologians have and do use the term. Many terms are often used with little or no qualification, like “atonement” and “redemption,” to speak of what Christ accomplished on the cross. This does sometimes cause confusion. I agree with you that the term “satisfaction” speaks to divine justice.

You state that in my view of the atonement “nothing is actually repaired. It’s only potentially repaired. . .;” that “my doctrine of atonement actually saves nobody. It only potentially saves everybody;” and that “Your atonement only makes men saveable, but actually saves nobody.” Let me ask you when the actual “repairing” takes place? At the cross? In eternity? Both of those views would land you squarely in the camp of hyper-Calvinism (I know you are not a hyper-Calvinist). Regardless of our view of election, all of us have to affirm the point that the cross, in and of itself, actually saves no one. That’s precisely what Charles Hodge, John Murray, and a host of Calvinists themselves have said. Atonement accomplished benefits no one until it is applied. In fact, all the unbelieving elect are not saved until they actually repent and believe the gospel. Ephesians 2:1-3 makes this clear as they remain under the wrath of God.

However, the point you are attempting to make actually has little to do with the sufficiency question, to which you turn in your third paragraph. You state that those who affirm universal atonement “have only intrinsic satisfaction and efficacy (eg., the abstract ability to save every person that Jesus died for) but not extrinsic satisfaction and efficacy (eg., the actual ability to save every person that Jesus died for).” Thus you think we “have an unsatisfactory satisfaction and an ineffective efficacy.”

This is problematic on several levels. First, the satisfaction of Christ is not merely intrinsic with respect to sin, but extrinsic as well. He actually atoned for all sins. Second, the “efficacy” of the atonement speaks to the issue of intention and application. Third, the atonement is only efficacious for those whom the Father intends to apply it. Scripture informs us that the Father intends to apply the atonement to all who repent and believe the gospel, namely, the elect. If every person on planet earth repented and believed the gospel, they would be saved. The reason: there is a sufficient atonement (extrinsic, not merely intrinsic) to cover their sin. Of course we know that all will not repent and believe the gospel. But the fact remains that God, on the basis of the atonement of Christ, has the ability, if he so intends, “to save every person that Jesus died for” as you stated it. This “hypothetical universalism” is grounded in an unlimited atonement.

Thus, it is inaccurate to characterize those who affirm unlimited atonement as having “an unsatisfactory satisfaction and an ineffective efficacy.” The satisfaction of Christ sufficiently pays the legal debt for all sin, but this in no way exonerates any sinner who does not meet God’s qualifications for having the atonement applied to them: repentance and faith. It appears you are operating from Owen’s pecuniary understanding of the atonement whereby the death of Christ automatically secures its application. This confuses oblation (satisfaction for sin) with application, a mistake which it seems to me most high-Calvinists make.

John Davenant, signatory of the Canons of Dort, criticized the double payment argument and made the case for an unlimited atonement (notice his use of the terms “satisfactory” and “satisfaction” with respect to the death of Christ):

I answer, That this would indeed be most unjust, if we ourselves had paid this price to God, or if our Surety, Jesus Christ, had so offered to God his blood as a satisfactory price, that without any other intervening condition, all men should be immediately absolved through the offering of the oblation made by him; or, finally, if God himself had covenanted with Christ when he died, that he would give faith to every individual, and all those other things which regard the infallible application of this sacrifice which was offered up for the human race. But since God himself of his own accord provided that this price should be paid to himself, it was in his own power to annex conditions, which being performed, this death should be advantageous to any man, not being performed it should not profit any man. Therefore no injustice is done to those persons who are punished by God after the ransom was accepted for the sins of the human race, because they offered nothing to God as a satisfaction for their sins, nor performed that condition, without the performance of which God willed not that this satisfactory price should benefit any individual. Nor, moreover, ought this to be thought an injustice to Christ the Mediator. For he so was willing to die for all, and to pay to the Father the price of redemption for all, that at the same time he willed not that every individual in any way whatsoever, but that all, as soon as they believed in him, should be absolved from the guilt of their sins.

David

Hey Ben,

You say: In your doctrine of atonement, nothing is actually repaired. It’s only potentially repaired. Your doctrine of atonement buys nobody actually from slavery. It only potentially buys everybody from slavery. Your doctrine of atonement actually quenches God’s wrath toward nobody. It only potentially quenches God’s wrath toward everybody. Your doctrine of atonement actually saves nobody. It only potentially saves everybody. In your doctrine of atonement, “all living people are in a saveable state because there is blood sufficiently shed for them,” (David Allen in Whosoever Will around page 64, I think). Your atonement only makes men saveable, but actually saves nobody.

David: That seems to be the crux of your argument. So the question then becomes, what is the nature of this ‘efficacy’ in the atonement? Are those for whom Christ died saved on the cross, justified on the cross? Are they born into this world justified?

Regarding wrath, are those for whom Christ died freed from wrath apart from faith? Born into this world free from divine wrath? For as I am sure you know, the living unbelieving elect are subject to punishing wrath in life, before faith.

The issue here is causality: what sort of causality is operative in the satisfaction of Christ? This takes us to the crux issue, and herein lies the confusion as to what a proper penal satisfaction does. The penal satisfaction of Christ, does not, by itself, save. It does not, by itself, justify any sinner, or secure salvation of any sinner, by itself.

What we have within Reformed circles two versions of penal satisfaction. There is the one that works like a pecuniary satisfaction in that it functions by way of the same causal mechanisms inherent in a pecuniary satisfaction, and the other is a properly penal satisfaction.

For example, the following quotations should be very problematic for you, exactly because they reject the sort of causality in the standard limited satisfaction doctrine. Shedd:

In the third place, an atonement, either personal or vicarious, when made, naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims. This means that there is such a natural and necessary correlation between vicarious atonement and justice, that the former supplies all that is required by the latter. It does not mean that Christ’s vicarious atonement naturally and necessarily saves every man; because the relation of Christ’s atonement to divine justice is one thing, but the relation of a particular person to Christ’s atonement is a very different thing. Christ’s death as related to the claims of the law upon all mankind, cancels those claims wholly. It is an infinite “propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2. But the relation of an impenitent person to this atonement, is that of unbelief and rejection of it. Consequently, what the atonement has effected objectively in reference to the attribute of divine justice, is not effected subjectively in the conscience of the individual. There is an infinite satisfaction that naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims, but unbelief derives no benefit from the fact. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2:437

The expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it. The former, conceivably, might take place and the latter not. When Christ died on Calvary, the whole mass, so to speak, human sin was expiated merely by that death; but the whole mass was not pardoned merely by that death. The claims of law and justice for the sins of the whole world were satisfied by the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10); but the sins of every individual man were not forgiven and “blotted out” by this transaction. Still another transaction was requisite in order to this: namely, the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner working faith in this expiatory offering, and the declarative act of God saying ” Thy sin is forgiven thee.” The Son of God, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, ” sat down on the right hand of God ” (Heb. 10:12) ; but if the redeeming work of the Trinity had stopped at this point, not a soul of mankind would have been pardoned and justified, yet the expiatory value of the “one sacrifice” would have been just the same. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3:418.

Dabney:

Nor would we attach any force to the argument, that if Christ made penal satisfaction for the sins of all, justice would forbid any to be punished. To urge this argument surrenders virtually the very ground on which the first Socinian objection was refuted, and is incompatible with the facts that God chastises justified believers, and holds elect unbelievers subject to wrath till they believe. Christ’s satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent, but only such a one as enables the Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit. The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over first in his Savior, and then in Him. See Hodge on Atonement, page 369. Dabney, Lectures, p., 521

What renders the application of the satisfaction is the work of the Spirit in the effectual call, not the satisfaction itself. Charles Hodge says, likewise, that notwithstanding the satisfaction made for a given man, that man would fail to be saved, were it not for the work of the Spirit. Hodge:

This objection again arises from confounding a pecuniary and a judicial satisfaction between which Augustinians are so careful to discriminate. This distinction has already been presented on a previous page. There is no grace in accepting a pecuniary satisfaction. It cannot be refused. It ipso facto liberates. The moment the debt is paid the debtor is free; and that without any condition. Nothing of this is true in the case of judicial satisfaction. If a substitute be provided and accepted it is a matter of grace. His satisfaction does not ipso facto liberate. It may accrue to the benefit of those for whom it is made at once or at a remote period; completely or gradually; on conditions or unconditionally; or it may never benefit them at all unless the condition on which its application is suspended be performed. These facts are universally admitted by those who hold that the work of Christ was a true and perfect satisfaction to divine justice. The application of its benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins. C. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:557-8.

[all bold mine: if the bolding works.]

From my experience, a big problem in these sorts of discussions happens because folk fail to realize that we actually have two versions of satisfaction here, two doctrines, which have existed, at various times, side by side within Reformed theology.

Once someone begins to see that we have two versions of satisfaction operating by different causal mechanisms, things tend to sort themselves out, one way or another. So soon as one begins to ask what does it mean exactly so say that the Christ saves, one begins to see into the problem.

One last thing, you say to Allan: “So, I suppose that if you want to hold that Particular Atonementarians have an insufficient sufficiency because their doctrine of atonement is only intrinsically sufficient and not extrinsically sufficient, you can claim that all day long.”

Thats not really an answer is it. The problem Allan is underlining is what is being offered on the terms of limited satisfaction? If no provision of pardon has been made for the sins of all men, how can God sincerely offer pardon of sins to all men? This is a real problem at this point.

Thanks for your time,
David

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Shedd is my favorite Reformed Theologian. I am a huge fan of Dogmatic Theology. I, of course, do not agree with all his conclusions or explanations on matters of theology (especially with issues related soteriology, or his traducianism, for instance), but I do agree with his methodology and desire for precision (lacking in later systematic theology works, by any theological tradition), even if such precision on topics does not avail him of the common rhetoric used by today’s Reformed folks.

    Even so, he finds plenty of avenues for biting rhetoric against “Arminians” in Dogmatic Theology, which I don’t find offensive, but rather, more amusing than anything else.

dr. james willingham

Dear Dr. Allen: There is one area in which the Traditionalist really and truly fails to face the issue, namely, in the Fall of Man. Isaiah’s description of the sinfulness of Israel in Isa.1:5,6 is an apt description of every man, from the top of his head to the sole of his feet, he is afflicted with the leprosy of sin. In some areas the disease has progressed to a great extent. In other areas it has barely taken told. However, there is more. Man died that day in the Garden of Eden, and our Lord speak of His salvation in terms of a resurrection from the death, Jn.5:5, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and they that hear shall live.” They are so dead that He said in one place, they are graves that appear not, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them. He even speaks of the scribes and Pharisees as white sepulchers, full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.(MT.23;27). He also calls them a generation of vipers.(Mt.27:33). Paul gives a similar description, speaking of all sinners, (Roms.3:10-19), saying, “Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their tongue. An open sepulcher implies a deadness with in, even a deadly filth and poison. While Solomon in Eccless.9:3, speaks of the madness in the heart of men, that they are full of evil. And Paul again refers to men as being dead in trespasses and sins; walking according to the prince of the power of the air,…, and were by nature the children of wrath (Ephs.2:1,2,3), and Peter speaks of men “as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of things that they understand not.”(II Pet.2:12). I could continue, but our Lord’s use of the words, No man can come to me, except it were given of him of my father and except the Father draw him, spells out the issue of inability quite clearly. The folks of the Sandy Creek Assn. followed our Lord’s understanding in 1816, when they adopted as one of their articles that man was utterly impotent of his own free will or ability to save himself….Fall man does not deserve any salvation or even the offer of such. That God deigns to save some is a marvel of His grace. That He should choose to save more than the number of those who will be forever lost is wonder beyond words. There is a doctrine of election, of God’s choice, of His choosing sinners to be saved, and it is not based on any foreseen faith on their part, since they are unable to respond. God must work it, give it, produce faith in the person in order for that individual to respond and be saved. The preaching of man’s inability and the inviting, nay, the commanding of Him to do the impossible, is an act of mercy; it s a therapeutic paradox, of God working by opposites. Dr. Patterson, says, regardless of one’s view of the doctrine of election, that it is intended to produce humility, and with that view both Calvinists and Traditionalists are enlisted on the same side of looking to that truth for the producing and inspiring of a humbleness of mind, a humility of spirit.

    Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

    Dr. Willingham,
    There is a doctrine of election, of God’s choice, of His choosing sinners to be saved, and it is not based on any foreseen faith on their part, since they are unable to respond. God must work it, give it, produce faith in the person in order for that individual to respond and be saved. I like the way Adrian Rogers handled a statement like this. “Once you find that all of God’s chosen are saved God will choose some more.” I appreciate your closing statements but your beginning implication is far off the mark. I do not know of anyone that believes we can save ourselves. Do not know of any statement that we have affirmed that states the work of salvation is anything but dependent on God. Thus, you wax the elephant in areas it doesn’t need waxing. In doing so you attribute things to us who do not affirm Calvinism that we have never said nor would we ever be cause dead saying any such thing.

    From your perspective you believe that the fall of man produced such a debased state in man that he is unable to respond with anything inside himself. Your perspective is that if God sentences anyone to Hell then God is justified because we are stained with the sin of Adam to the point that we are guilty before God. Thus, a sentence into eternal torment is not only deserved by humans but it brings Glory to God for that to happen. I on the other hand do not agree with your perspective that humans are guilty of Adams sin. Yes, the fall left us in such a state that we have the inability, on our own, to choose God. However, the fall did not leave us in such a condition that when the Holy Spirit removes the veil we are not able to follow that wooing because it is the Spirit that is drawing us. But, we also have the ability to refuse that wooing and be left to our own selfish desires and wishes. You on the other hand would probably state that we do not have that ability and if we did refuse the call of God to us through the Holy Spirit that is a signal to all that we are not Chosen by God because his calling is irresistible.

    Not quite sure I understand your John 5:5 reference but you do realize that in the end of chapter 4 the Noble man came to Jesus concerned that his son was going to die? It seems that you are just pulling verses out of the context of the Scripture to go along with your soteriological position. You have certainly given us numerous verses here to chew on. However, the issues that follow out of context scripture references keeps many brothers and sisters debating endlessly the merits of the point. But when one looks and sees the verses speaking to something different in the text the point becomes nill.

      dr. james willingham

      Dear Tim: Obviously, Jn.5:5 was a typo, but I gave the quote for Jn.5:25 correctly. Why did you not note that and reply to it accordingly. I supplied a number of verses that clearly indicated man’s condition, and to these you never replied, only making references to the actions of men which can be otherwise explained, such as the internal and external work of God in drawing a person or causing a person to come to Christ with a problem. That alone does not remove the deadness; that is removed only by a sovereign work of God in making the sinner alive. The Bible calls it, “Quickening.” Why would the Bible speak of our being made alive, if we were not dead in trespasses and sins as Paul plainly states in Ephs.2:1,6 whom He quickened together with Christ. I will point to you that Dr. Rogers’ “choose some more” probably comes from Spurgeon, who according to one biographer (whose name is not available to me) made that statement. I can refer you to Spurgeon devotions, Evening by Evening, Aug.6 and Dec.24, where he prayed for the whole world and every soul in it to be converted, something I have been praying for many years. In fact, I began praying for a Third Great Awakening 40 years ago, it will be this Fall, and now I pray for the conversion of the whole earth and every soul in it to be converted, beginning in this generation and continuing for a 1000 generations (anywhere from 20,000 to 900,000 years, depending on how long the generations are during that era. Do I wax elephant or do you mean eloquent? If the former, please explain as I have never heard of that kind of waxing, but I have of the latter. Naturally, man will refuse. And why not, seeing he is a child of Satan, a slave of sin. Jesus said it well in John 5, “You will not come to me that you might have life.” I think Spurgeon had a sermon on the text. If memory serves correctly, it bares the title, “Free Will: A Slave.” In fact, it does. I just checked my index to Spurgeon’s Sermons. Remember, it was the Calvinists that started the Great Century of Missions, who were also blessed with the First and Second Great Awakenings (I end the Second circa 1820 due to Finney’s ruination of everything which produced the Burnt Over District and which converts he admitted in his biography left much to be desired….can’t recall his exact words from about 53-54 years ago.). By the way, Luther’s Bondage of the Will might also be considered in these discussions. And our scholars of the past, like John A. Broadus and Boyce and Manly, Williams, and others were not exactly slouches in their scholarship. It is always easy to charge some one with citing verses out of context. Our Lord cited Ex.3:6 in Matt.22:31,32 as God speaking directly to the Sadducees of His day and we could say He is also speaking the same words to us. What our Lord says and what His apostles say are words spoken to us today just as they were addressed to the people in that generation. Mentioning context, when you are dealing with subjects in which people disagree can be an excuse for pretext. When our Lord uses the term can, mean no one is able, no one has the power, and other people do various things. Their actions in the latter instances do not set aside His teachings on the matter of inability. All of the claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the point of our Lord is man’s inability to come to Him without the work of the Spirit in drawing him )man). Why don’t you and Dr. Allen address the text of John 6:44,65? It is because you cannot get around the fact that HE PLAINLY SAYS NO MAN HAS THE ABILITY TO COME WITH OUT GOD’S SPECIAL WORK EMPOWER THAT INDIVIDUAL TO COME.

      And that work is irresistible in a way unexpected. I remember telling a friend with whom I had attended two schools, East Texas Baptist and Lincoln U. (Mo.) that I had come to believe grace was irresistible. He did not. Then on a soul winning visit with a friend, he had a young lady who responded so readily that he asked her why. She said, “O, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” He said, “When she said that, what you had said popped into my mind.” He did not change his mind, but he did say he was thinking about it. He thought about for nearly 40 years and finally concluded that grace was irresistible. Something funny about the deal, was his last name was Spurgeon. He found out about that time from a genealogist that he was some kind to C.H.Spurgeon. God does have a sense of humor. So wonderful one could not resist it and said so to a fellow who did not believe it at that time and who was related to Spurgeon. By the way I am well acquainted with the issues of text and context. I did 2 years of research on the Greek text of I Cors.12:31b-14:1a, the agape periscope, gathering some 2000 5×8 notecards, and writing a paper of some 50 pages and 305 footnotes which the Dean of SEBTS though could have been published, if I had spent sometime polishing it up for that purpose, but being a pastor I did not have the time.

        Robert

        Dr. James Willingham appealed to **experience** to prove that grace is irresistible and wrote:

        “And that work is irresistible in a way unexpected. I remember telling a friend with whom I had attended two schools, East Texas Baptist and Lincoln U. (Mo.) that I had come to believe grace was irresistible. He did not. Then on a soul winning visit with a friend, he had a young lady who responded so readily that he asked her why. She said, “O, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it.” He said, “When she said that, what you had said popped into my mind.” He did not change his mind, but he did say he was thinking about it. He thought about for nearly 40 years and finally concluded that grace was irresistible. Something funny about the deal, was his last name was Spurgeon. He found out about that time from a genealogist that he was some kind to C.H.Spurgeon. God does have a sense of humor. So wonderful one could not resist it and said so to a fellow who did not believe it at that time and who was related to Spurgeon.”

        All of that is dashed away by the clear teaching of scripture when Stephen was evangelizing and testifying he said the direct opposite thing to what Willingham appeals to:

        “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are ALWAYS RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT; you are doing just as your fathers did.” (Acts 7:51)

        This scripture says they were resisting the Holy Spirit just as others before them had done.

        So should we go by the clear and explicit teaching of scripture or an appeal to experience by a Calvinist??

        Robert

          dr. james willingham

          Dear Robert: Every read Acts 16:14, concerning Lydia, “Whose heart the Lord opened?” I want two verses inscribed on my tombstone, If I get one, Rev.3:20 & Acts 16:14. When I was an Atheist, I saw the Lord one night, in a vision or what I am unable to say, except I had my eyes open and he was standing before me, about 20 feet in front of me, facing me, looking at me, with his hand raised like he was knocking at a door. Rev.3:20, surely! Anyway, I wanted no part of it and was determined to tell no one. After all, if one says as I said then that there was no God, and He suddenly shows up knocking at your heart’s door, it is really hard on your atheism. Anyway, it was on mine. I was determined to tell no one, but two blocks from my home, something or someone changed my mind, and I decided to tell my mother, and the result was I was converted that night…Dec.7,1957. So I figured that Jesus opened my heart’s door. The church I joined had both Calvinists and what you call Traditionalists on the staff (1800 members, 700 on Sunday mornings, 500 on Sunday night, 300 on Wednesday night and putting more boys and girls into the ministry and mission field than any other church in the SBC from 1948-59, so I heard), and our Calvinistic youth pastor won my brother-in-law to Christ using the sinner’s prayer (just shows even folks like David Platt can be wrong)(pshaw, I know of one fellow who got converted from reading the Lord’s genealogy), and my brother-in-law is a Traditionalist just like your Robert. That youth pastor had a three point sermon on Acts.16:13,14, 1) Her hands were stilled. 2) her heart was opened (guess how he handled that?) and 3) Her house was saved. I like it so well, I have used it. I also have a message on Romans 9:13, The Hardest Text in the Bible, It is an invitation to receive God on His terms. We are invited to receive God 1) Who does not think like we do. We keep back and hide things. He just lets it all hang out. 2) who does not love like we do. The hardest part of the text, how could he love that sorry rascal Jacob? 3) Who does not act like we do? Our text says God hated Esau, but how did He treat him? He treated him with love, He treated him so good, that old Esau could have said with an enemy like that who needs any friends. He made him the first born, the greatest blessing then that a descendant of Abraham could have, the heir, head of family, priest of the family. He gave him more than enough. Esau said to Jacob, “I have enough.” And so Jacob pressed some gifts on him, and he took them. Thus, he had more than enough. But how did old Esau respond to all this. He was a profane man; he trampled it all underfoot, Hebs.12. Had souls saved, too.

          A

            Robert

            Dr. James Willingham you brought up Acts 16:14. I love that verse as it speaks of the fact that God Himself opens the hearts of people (which means I don’t have to! That is not my job!). My responsibility is to get the Word out, to share it with people so that they hear it. I function only as the sower of the Word. It is God alone who opens hearts. This is something that both Traditionalists and Calvinists can agree upon.

            My problem with the Calvinist **interpretation** of what happens to Lydia is that they *****read in way too much into that verse****.

            The verse does not say (as many Calvinists suggest) that grace is irresistible; in fact we have other verses that do say that grace is resistible.

            The verse does not say (as many Calvinists suggest) that she was regenerated first and then had faith. All that it does say is that God opened her heart.

            None of these things is stated in the verse at all. Instead it simply says that God opened her heart.

            I do a lot of evangelism and have been fortunate to have seen this happen many times (as either I or others shared the Word). I have seen the hardest hearts become opened when they hear the preaching of the Word. So I have seen this first hand many times. And yet I have also seen people who clearly had their hearts opened and started understanding the Word and spiritual realities (which the Holy Spirit was obviously revealing to them) not only become more open and become saved persons. But also who never did become believers. I know some folks who seemed to be well on the way to becoming a believer. They really understood their spiritual condition, understood that Jesus is the only way of salvation, etc. etc. etc. And yet they refused to bow the knee to Jesus. They never repented of their sinful lifestyle and became believers. They had their hearts opened, they had to have had this experience as they knew too much, understood too well, and yet came up short.

            People who have little experience in evangelism have never seen this kind of thing, so they speak only theologically about people. But if you get around the block and witness to a lot of people you see peoples whose hearts are opened (like Lydia) and who end up as believers: you also see others like Agrippa whose hearts are also opened as they hear the Word and yet like Agrippa they can say you almost persuaded me (cf. Acts 26:28 “And Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian”, Agrippa heard what Paul was sharing and became very open), and yet they do not become believers. So having your heart opened is one part of the process, but it does not always result in the person becoming a saved person. Only those inexperienced in evangelism would deny this fact.

            Robert

Norm Miller

TO ALL COMMENTORS:

By default, comments are automatically moderated if they exceed 3,000 words — 5,000 characters, including spaces and punctuation, just like Twitter — and if they contain a clickable link.

Some comments of late have been incredibly long. While SBCT understands that dynamic, commentors must also understand that excessively long commentary is oft’ unread and overlooked (according to web research).

The young preacher had a 30-minute radio show wherein he preached it live in the studio. One day he preached for 45 minutes, and then apologized to the engineer for going overtime, saying, “I am sure God wanted someone to hear all of that message.”
Engineer: “That ‘someone’ musta been you ’cause I cut you off after 30 minutes.”

So, unless you are the author of the post under discussion, I must insist, in fairness to others, that all other commentors abide by the 3,000-word 5,000 character limitation.

Thank you.

    Ben Simpson

    Norm, I just found out the hard way that it’s not 3,000 words that get a person into moderation. It’s 3,000 characters! I just posted a 1,300-word response, but it was 7,000 characters, and I got thrown into moderation. :-( Do I need to break up my comment into different comments?

      Norm Miller

      Ben: You are correct in the (now former) number of characters allowed. We have just this morning bumped the CHARACTER limit to 5,000. Somewhere in this thread I noted mistakenly that the limit was 3,000 WORDS. I will edit that comment to reflect 5,000 characters, and that includes spaces between words, and all punctuation marks. Thx for bringing this to my attention. — Norm

Norm Miller

BTW: Thx for keeping the commentary civil. It’s fine for such commentary to be like a knife — pointed, but not cutting. That’s great. God bless you all.

dr. james willingham

Dear Robert: If you wish, you may equate Lydia’s open heart with Agrippa’s Almost you persuade me, but I do not. Our Lord told in the parable of the sower, to which you make reference, comparing yourself to a sower, which we are suppose to be, I repeat, our Lord told of the seed that fell on stony ground. These believed for a little while, and even believed with joy, but their faith could not stand the stress of tribulation. In Jn.2:23ff, there were some who believed on Him, but He did not commit Himself to them. And yet the command is to believe. The issue is this: What kind of faith is required, and, according, to Mk11:22, it is that faith which has its source in God, that is, it originates with Him. He gives it as it says in Eph.2:8,9 and Phil.1:29, what Paul calls the faith of Christ in Gals.2:16,20. Clearly, the faith that God commands and demands of people is that kind of faith which He alone gives. Like the fellow in Mk.9:14-28, to whom Jesus said, “If you can believe,” and the man cried, “Help my unbelief.” Shorthand for help me over come my unbelief. Few these days consider that God demands and commands the impossible as He said to the disciples in Mk.10:27. Why does God demand the impossible? He does it in order that men might feel their inability and cry out to Him for mercy and help. In fact, the real appeal in salvation is more along the nature of an appeal to God’s sovereignty than an appeal to the will of man (which as Spurgeon observed is a slave).cf. Mt.8:2,3.

    Robert

    James wrote:

    “If you wish, you may equate Lydia’s open heart with Agrippa’s Almost you persuade me, but I do not.”

    My point was that both had to have had open hearts in order to have any positive understanding of spiritual things. Since both were open, both must have had their hearts opened by the Lord.

    We cannot understand spiritual things on our own apart from the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit (i.e. the Spirit must open our hearts give us understanding reveal our spiritual condition and the way of salvation). Both experienced this work which explains why both had openness to Christianity. But this openness is not enough, the individual still must choose to follow Christ in order to be saved.

    James completely ignored my point that if you do real world evangelism you will encounter both those whose hearts were opened and ended up believing and those whose hearts were opened but never end up believing.

    James went on to say:

    “Our Lord told in the parable of the sower, to which you make reference, comparing yourself to a sower, which we are suppose[d] to be, I repeat, our Lord told of the seed that fell on stony ground. These believed for a little while, and even believed with joy, but their faith could not stand the stress of tribulation.”

    Wait a minute, you prove my point here James. You speak of folks who initially believe (i.e. they must have had their hearts opened in order to believe at all) who then later reject due to tribulation. These people had their hearts opened initially but it was not enough. And that proves my point.

    The work of the Spirit enables a faith response but does not necessitate it.

    What Calvinists such as James mistakenly assume is that if someone is made more open to spiritual things or given understanding of spiritual things by the preconversion work of the Spirit they will invariably believe. But that is not what scripture presents (the parables are good examples of this, such as the Sower) nor our own daily experience of witnessing confirms. Those who evangelize will have seen this truth for themselves and can recount specific instances of this happening.

    The Spirit enables you to believe but the person still must make that choice to trust in the Lord, that choice to repent of their sinful lifestyle, that choice to follow Jesus. God does not believe in your place; nor does he take over your mind and body and force you to believe; nor can anyone else believe in your place. You have to choose to believe for yourself. This is one of the reasons we Baptists reject infant baptism, because according to the Bible an individual must believe for themselves and an infant is incapable of having their own individual faith response to the gospel.

    Robert

dr. james willingham

Dear Robert: I do not equate God’s opening of the heart of Lydia with the Almost persuaded of Agrippa. Likewise I do not equate the believing of the Philippian Jailer, for instance, with the believing of the folks who are like stony ground, even though they believe with joy. First, there are at least two different kinds of faith, one is a human produced faith or believing, such as we find in Jn.2:23ff. In that passage some believed because of the miracles He did, but Jesus knew what was in man. And then there is that God given faith, which God gives to those whom He has chosen in Christ. Such faith is a gift as I have pointed out hitherto (Ephs.2:8,9; Phils.1:29; Gals 2:15,20). A professor I once had in Hebrew asked me before the whole class, why I believed in Irresistible Grace. I answered, “Because the Bible uses the Hiphil (that’s the causative verb) in Ps.65:4. Before the whole class, he turned in his Hebrew Bible and looked at that verse. Then that D.Phil., liberal professor from Oxford University, said, “You are right.” He closed his Bible and continued with the lesson, and he never again said anything to me about why I believed in irresistible grace. Note: I had never spoken to the professor about what I believe. Likewise, I agree that one must make a choice, but I would point out to you as I did to the professor (only in your case I will use a NT reference) that our response, our act of acceptance, is the result and the effect and is caused by our Lord’s choice or as it says in I John 4:19, “We love Him, BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.” I also call attention to Jn.5:25, where our Lord said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” Clearly, He is speaking of those who are spiritually dead. Thus, a good comparison for the effect of His thus speaking is clearly that where He spoke at the tomb of Lazarus: “Lazarus, come forth>” The result was that he who was dead came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes….” Prior to Dec.7, 1957, even though I was raised in church until about the age of 12 or 13, when I chose to quit going, I never had one conscious thought that there was a God at all. I should add that life seemed gray, meaningless, empty, and I never even knew about Joy, except that that was my sister’s name. Then Christ came and knocked at my heart’s door, a door bound against Him, a place occupied by one spiritually dead, one so weak he could not respond, so poor and naked he did not respond, one who fled, one whom Christ followed and opened the door of his heart so that He could enter in. And that night, when I asked God to forgive me of my sins, at the instruction of my mother, I felt a burden lifted off of my heart and my tears of grief turned to tears of joy. Like C.S. Lewis, I was surprised by joy.

Ben Simpson

David (not L. Allen or Worley; you didn’t mention your last name, and there are lot of Davids around here; perhaps I should just know you),

This is in response to your comment to me on August 6 at 22:17. I’m sorry it’s taken so long to respond. Somehow I totally missed it even though I subscribed to the comment stream. There’s been a lot of back and forth in this comment stream, and I guess your comment got covered over in my inbox. I just noticed your comment directed at me today.

You threw a lot of questions at me in the beginning. So, let me rapid fire answer them.

“Are those for whom Christ died saved on the cross, justified on the cross?” No, they are justified and saved by grace through faith in Jesus’ work.

“Are they born into this world justified?” No, they are born condemned.

“Regarding wrath, are those for whom Christ died freed from wrath apart from faith?” No, they experience the propitiation of God’s wrath toward them when they place their faith in Jesus.

“Born into this world free from divine wrath?” No, they are born under the curse of divine wrath.

You went on to say, “The penal satisfaction of Christ, does not, by itself, save,” to which I heartily agree and appreciate your insight. You go further to say, “[The penal satisfaction of Christ] does not, by itself, justify any sinner…,” again to which I wholeheartedly agree. Salvation and justification are accomplished in the life of any person until they receive grace through faith in Jesus.

But then you went too far when you said, “[The penal satisfaction of Christ], does not… secure salvation of any sinner, by itself.” It’s at this point that you and I part ways because I believe the Bible to teach that the death of Christ did indeed secure salvation for God’s elect, rendering their salvation certain, purchasing on that cross the very faith that will be graciously given to God’s elect. On that cross, Jesus died for every sin of the elect, even the sin of unbelief, which is the righteous grounds of the gift of faith to the elect. This very precious truth seems to be missing the first argument you quoted from Shedd. I can’t say whether or not Shedd totally misses this truth since I’ve not read him and you’ve quoted just a small section. However, upon your citation and Johnathan’s commendation, I’ll definitely put Dogmatic Theology on my reading list.

Concerning your second quote from Shedd, I agree that the expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it. However, I disagree with Shedd, and I suppose you, when he then says, “[The expiation of sin], conceivably, might take place and [the pardon of it] not.” All of those for whom Jesus died had faith purchased for them, and that faith will in time be given as a gift to them unto pardon.

As for your Dabney quote, I’m not sure what exactly the first Socician objection was or how arguing Double Payment surrenders the ground of Socician refutation, but I agree with Dabney when he says, “The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief.” However, I believe Dabney to simply be wrong when he goes on to state, “There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over first in his Savior, and then in Him.” First of all Dabney sets forth an impossible hypothetical, namely a man for whom Christ died forever remaining an unbeliever. Second, sin punished twice is unjust. We’re not just talking about the offer of a pardon. We’re talking about penal SUBSTITUTION. Jesus actually stood in somebody’s place. He lived perfectly obediently so that somebody else doesn’t have to. He died vicariously so that somebody else wouldn’t have to. This somebody else is all the elect, and in doing so, Jesus secured the salvation of the elect.

Finally, I agree with Hodge that the death of Christ is not just a pecuniary satisfaction that ipso facto liberates. He is right here but then goes wrong like the others by putting forth this impossible hypothetical of a man for whom Christ died dying in unbelief. I agree with his hypothetical, that if a man for whom Christ died did indeed die in unbelief, the death of Christ would have no benefit for him. However, that is not possible.

So, let me go back to where we began. The atonement that Dr Allen is putting forth here only makes men saveable, but actually secures the salvation of nobody (this is actually what I meant when I told Dr Allen that his atonement “actually saves nobody”). In fact, the entire death of Christ could have been a total waste as a rescue mission from his schema in that it’s possible that nobody would have placed their faith in Christ and been saved, given that the deciding factor concerning salvation lies with mankind according to his doctrine of soteriology. I’m not sure if you are coming from the same schema or just an Amyraldian one.

You closed by getting back to the heart of Dr Allen’s post, asking “If no provision of pardon has been made for the sins of all men, how can God sincerely offer pardon of sins to all men?” First of all, those who are unconditional electionists (UE) but not particular atonementarians (PA) trot this dilemma out like they’ve really brought up an issue that they themselves don’t have to deal with, but that is simply not true. Those who are UE but not PA simply have to answer the question one step removed because the question immediately comes to them, “How can God sincerely offer pardon of sins to all men when He’s unconditionally chosen to pardon only a portion of them?” If you hold to UE but not PA, I’d love to hear your answer to the question.

Second, to get to the actual question that Dr Allen implied and you’ve posed “If no provision of pardon has been made for the sins of all men, how can God sincerely offer pardon of sins to all men?” David, you of all people should know the answer to this since you’ve put forth Shedd and Hodge. It was Shedd who said, “The expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it.” It was Hodge who said, “The application of [Christ’s satisfaction’s] benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe…” You yourself said, David, “The penal satisfaction of Christ, does not, by itself, save. It does not, by itself, justify any sinner.”

So, there is indeed something that must happen in light of the death of Christ, namely the preaching of the gospel from the Garden of Eden until the consummation of the age and the reception of the gospel thereof by faith. It is offered sincerely and indiscriminately by God because it is His revealed will that all of mankind believe on Christ and be saved. Those for whom Christ died will hear the gospel, be gifted with the faith Jesus purchased for them on the cross, and experience the benefits of the atonement.

David

Part 1:

Hey Ben,

cut Q&A

DavidP: So the cross itself does not save. We are now back to your main claim: “In your doctrine of atonement, nothing is actually repaired. It’s only potentially repaired. . . . Your atonement only makes men saveable, but actually saves nobody.” On the terms of your position, my position and Allan’s position, the atonement itself does not save. The satisfaction only lays down the platform or terms, by which God can save a sinner.

Thats the first thing that’s important here because your statements to Allan are rhetorical in nature at this point. What you really mean is that there is a sort of connection between Christ’s death for a man, and that man’s infallibly salvation such that no one for whom Christ died can fail to be saved.

Cut

You say: But then you went too far when you said, “[The penal satisfaction of Christ], does not… secure salvation of any sinner, by itself.” It’s at this point that you and I part ways because I believe the Bible to teach that the death of Christ did indeed secure salvation for God’s elect, rendering their salvation certain, purchasing on that cross the very faith that will be graciously given to God’s elect. On that cross, Jesus died for every sin of the elect, even the sin of unbelief, which is the righteous grounds of the gift of faith to the elect.

[bold mine.]

David: Can you prove that? any of that? This is going to be tricky so bare with me for a moment,

Your argument is assuming this form of a logical argument.

[Let “die for” mean “be punished for the sins of…” etc]

All for whom Christ died will be infallibly saved.
Not all men are not infallibly saved.
Therefore Christ did not die for all men.

That’s the general argument. It all hinges, however, on proving the major premise. Now to prove that one needs to be very precise. The major premise is distributed to include ALL for whom Christ died.

1) So you would need to prove something like this: All for whom Christ died, faith is infallibly purchased (to be given). For sure there can be alternative forms of this proposition but no matter, they will need to the all in there.

To be clear, it will not be enough to show that faith is “purchased” for the believer. It will not be enough even to show that faith is purchased for the elect, for that would only beg the question, formally (petitio principii).

2) What is more, and this is even more fundamental to your claims, you will need to prove that the death of Christ purchases faith in the first place. Often in 5-point literature or in Systematics, its just assumed that the death of Christ, itself, purchases faith, but rarely does on find any biblical evidence for this.

End part 1

David

Part 2:

You say: This very precious truth seems to be missing the first argument you quoted from Shedd. …

David: Shedd, along with Dabney and C Hodge, had a different version of penal satisfaction. Lick on my name, go to my website. You will be taken to my main index. The first entry will be the For who did Christ die? file. Click on that, and scroll down until you find Shedd.

You say: Concerning your second quote from Shedd, … given as a gift to them unto pardon.

David: Did you see where he said the expiation expiated the sin of the whole human race, all mankind, etc? For Shedd and Dabney, atonement is universal, redemption is limited.

You say: As for your Dabney quote, I’m not sure what exactly the first Socician objection was or how arguing Double Payment surrenders the ground of Socician refutation,

David: The early Socinians saw the penal satisfaction as working exactly like a debt or fine payment. And, as you know, when a man pays a fine or a debt, all “obligation” is immediately discharged. The Socinians were arguing for Universalism based on the pecuniary categories they had spotted in their Reformed opponents. They held that given Christ died for all, paid the debts for all, all men must be saved. The early Reformed countered that the application is conditional and tho Christ could die for all, not all would be saved, because faith is the appended condition. You can see this in the 4th and 5th generation Reformed such as Ursinus and Kimedoncius (see the file above).

Ironically, Owen and those who began to argue for limited satisfaction flipped the Socinian argument on its head. But the cost was that they conceded that the satisfaction really does work exactly like a debt or fine payment. What this did was to transform the very nature of penal satisfaction. Many later puritans in England and New England spotted this transformation and sought to move back to proper penal categories. Hence we have multiple versions of penal satisfaction within the broader Reformed community. All this is documented at my research site.

You says: but I agree with Dabney … namely a man for whom Christ died forever remaining an unbeliever.

DavidP: Well Dabney has a different understanding of penal satisfaction. That is the point, Ben. :-) For Dabney, Christ sustains an expiation for sin as sin, for men as men. He denied that so many sins of so many men were reckoned to Christ. He found that unbiblical. And importantly, he notes that the double payment argument only works on the assumption that the causality in the death of Christ works exactly like a debt or fine payment: that is, that it has pecuniary causal efficacy.

You say: Second, sin punished twice is unjust. … the salvation of the elect.

David: Again, we have two versions of vicarious satisfaction here in Reformed theology. The other version says this: Christ is reckoned a sinner, as having committed all my sins, all the while, I remain a sinner, subject to punishing wrath in life before faith.

When Christ is reckoned a sinner, no sin or guilt is literally transferred to him: he remains perfectly sinless and legally innocent. As a sinner, in life, I am subject to curse and wrath, because the opposite is the case for me, I am actually a sinner, actually legally a sinner, until Justification. So in life, as a sinner, I am being punished for my sins, even tho Christ was treated and punished in his own person as though he had committed those very sins, along with all my other sins. Hence the double payment argument is contradicted on that point alone.

You have to think about this. Its actually quite simple, but given that for many satisfaction has become fused with pecuniary categories, its quite hard to sort it all out. But once you see whats going on, its pretty straight-forward after that.

You say: Finally, I agree with Hodge …, that is not possible.

David: So we have three men that just happened to have screwed up? It’s not possible that they had a different conception of penal satisfaction? :-)
End part 2

    Norm Miller

    David: *Please* write shorter comments, much shorter. When quoting others, use ellipses to truncate the verbiage.
    Thx
    Norm

David

Part 3:

You say: So, let me go back to where we began. The atonement that Dr Allen is putting forth here only makes men saveable, but actually secures the salvation of nobody (this is actually what I meant when I told Dr Allen that his atonement “actually saves nobody”). In fact, the entire death of Christ could have been a total waste as a rescue mission from his schema in that it’s possible that nobody would have placed their faith in Christ and been saved, given that the deciding factor concerning salvation lies with mankind according to his doctrine of soteriology.

DavidP: I cant speak for Allan entirely, and we may not agree on some of the details. The problem is they way you see how the death of Christ works. Youve got this sort of quantitative approach to imputation. The other Reformed doctrine of satisfaction works like this:

All that condemns one man is exactly the same that condemns a second man, and so on indefinitely. What condemns one man is the infinite weight of legal curse and condemnation. We cant quantify this because sin deserves infinite demerit. But for the sake of the argument let’s call it X.

A given sinner is due to be punished with X. If there was only one sinner for whom Christ died, he would be treated as though he had deserved X, and so he would suffer X in his place.

Given that, if we had a second man, nothing changes. Christ suffers X for 2 men, the same X, it is not X +1. For three men, the same X, not X+2, etc, indefinitely.

Or in simple terms, Christ suffers death for one sinner. If Christ dies for two sinners, he does not have to die twice, right? He does not have to die a BIGGER death, a harder death, or anything like that because it is not quantifiable.

So when Christ died for one man he suffered X, and his suffering X was sufficient for that man. Christ died for two men, he suffered X and his suffering X was sufficient for two men, and so on indefinitely.

If Christ suffered X for 100000 men and 1 man fails to be saved, nothing is wasted. Its not as if Christ over-suffered, or suffered too much.

C Hodge: In the third place, the question does not concern the suitableness of the atonement. What was suitable for one was suitable for all. The righteousness of Christ, the merit of his obedience and death, is needed for justification by each individual of our race, and therefore is needed by all. It is no more appropriate to one man than to another. Christ fulfilled the conditions of the covenant under which all men were placed. He rendered the obedience required of all, and suffered the penalty which all had incurred; and therefore his work is equally suited to all. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:545

This seems, then, to be the candid conclusion, that there is no passage the Bible which asserts an intention to apply redemption to any others than the elect, on the part of God and Christ, but that there are passages which imply that Christ died for all sinners in some sense, as Dr. Ch. Hodge has so expressly admitted. Certainly the expiation made by Christ is so related to all, irrespective of election, that God can sincerely invite all to enjoy its benefits, that every soul in the world who desires salvation is warranted to appropriate it, and that even a Judas, had he come in earnest, would not have been cast out. Dabney, Lectures, 527.

You say: I’m not sure if you are coming from the same schema or just an Amyraldian one.

DavidP: You want to call Dabney, Shedd or C Hodge an Amyraldian, thats fine by me. :-) However, historically it’s more accurate to locate Amyraut and the Saumur theology as one trajectory or stream within the wider Reformed system of thought. Are you familiar with Richard Muller and some of his work? If so we can continue this line of the conversation at a later date if you like.
End of part 3

David

Part 4:

Those who are UE but not PA simply have to answer the question one step removed because the question immediately comes to them, “How can God sincerely offer pardon of sins to all men when He’s unconditionally chosen to pardon only a portion of them?” If you hold to UE but not PA, I’d love to hear your answer to the question.

David: Sure, I understand your objection here. I have an extended essay on my site which deals with this objection. Click on my name and it will take you it.

Your argument works like this (from my essay):

1) If limited atonement precludes a sincere offer, then election must likewise preclude a sincere offer.
2) But [we grant] its not the case that election precludes a sincere offer.
3) Therefore it is not the case that limited atonement precludes a sincere offer.

Now this will be tricky so bear with me. This argument assumes that election and limited satisfaction sustains the exact same relationship to the free offer.

Again my essay:

Firstly, our response is that the particularism entailed in a limited satisfaction is of a different kind, such that it of necessity precludes a sincere offer, but election and reprobation do not. For in the former, it is an inability to apply forgiveness, while in the latter it is an unwillingness to apply forgiveness. However, the sincerity of the offer of forgiveness is directly indexed to the availability of the provision to forgive and to the revealed will. Neither the sincerity (or insincerity) of the offer, nor the offer of forgiveness, itself, are indexed to election or preterition.

If we restate the high Calvinist counter another way, we can see what they are assuming in their reply to us:

A) What you don’t intend to impart

must has the same functional relationship to the gospel offer as:

B) The inability to impart what is offered.

And so, again, if A) does not preclude a sincere offer, neither does B).

David in the now: I can only suggest you read the entire essay as it dissects the objection you bring line by line, as it were, while also explaining the issues.

David

Part 5: Conclusion:

You say: Second, to get to the actual question that Dr Allen implied and you’ve posed “If no provision of pardon has been made for the sins of all men, how can God sincerely offer pardon of sins to all men?” David, you of all people should know the answer to this since you’ve put forth Shedd and Hodge. It was Shedd who said, “The expiation of sin is distinguishable from the pardon of it.” It was Hodge who said, “The application of [Christ’s satisfaction’s] benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe…” You yourself said, David, “The penal satisfaction of Christ, does not, by itself, save. It does not, by itself, justify any sinner.”

David: I don’t see how that answers the problem? If no provision of pardon has been made for a given man, how can a provision of pardon be sincerely offered to that given man? For to “offer” pardon presupposes the availability of pardon which can be applied to that given man.

You say: So, there is indeed something that must happen in light of the death of Christ, namely the preaching of the gospel from the Garden of Eden until the consummation of the age and the reception of the gospel thereof by faith. It is offered sincerely and indiscriminately by God because it is His revealed will that all of mankind believe on Christ and be saved. Those for whom Christ died will hear the gospel, be gifted with the faith Jesus purchased for them on the cross, and experience the benefits of the atonement.

David: You are missing the point, Ben. Let P stand for Pardon. Under the terms of limited satisfaction the possibility of P has only been acquired for the elect. For the non-elect no P is possible. So how can God offer P to the non-elect?

Again my essay covers most of this.

Why cant God offer P to demons? Because no P is possible for demons. Under the terms of limited satisfaction, demons and the non-elect, legally (not ontologically), stand in the exact same relationship of exclusion from the death of Christ.

Lastly, if you go to my About page, you can see my name, my email addy and what I am about there and you are more than welcome to email me. Email might better if you want to continue to talk cos of the nature and limitations of these “comments” for this blog.

Also I tried to do this in parts to avoid the moderation issue, which I don’t have a problem with, btw. I think they should allow more than one link tho. :-) I think one of my parts may be in moderation made for a while.

Hope that helps.
David

David

Oh Btw, that should be bear with me above. I dont know why fingers do that: bad fingers!

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