A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 2B

August 14, 2012

David L. Allen

Matthew Barrett and Thomas Nettles, eds. Whomever He Wills: a Surprising Display of Sovereign Mercy (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2012), 401 pgs.


(Ed.’s note: Dr. Allen’s “Part 2” is approximately 8,000 words in length. SBCToday will therefore publish Part 2 in 2,000-word (approximate) increments. These shorter installments will be signified thusly: Part 2A; Part 2B; etc. What follows below is Part 2B. This follows sequentially Dr. Allen’s “Part 2A” that appeared on Aug. 13.)

2) Dabney Misread.

Schrock cites my appeal to the negative inference fallacy, and my citation of Dabney. He says my point would be well-taken if these “bare positive statements” [texts which speak of the extent of the atonement “for His people” or “for the church.”] were all there was (80-81). Notice his next move. He follows by saying “However, these texts are but visible geysers forced to the surface by the power of God’s plan to save a particular people. As we will see below, the fountainhead of these verses is God’s covenantal relationship with His particular people” (81). Nothing here mitigates or refutes what I have said at all. Schrock footnotes J. Ramsey Michaels (Ibid.). He then quotes Michaels: “Most references to Jesus death in John’s gospel have to do with its benefits for believers, of Jesus’ own disciples, and are thus fully consistent with ‘particular redemption’ as the early English Baptists understood it” (81-82). Again, this has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. We are not talking about the benefits of the atonement being limited only to those who believe. All agree with that. Nothing in Michaels’ statement contradicts the notion of an unlimited atonement. Nothing in God’s covenantal relationship with His people, i.e., believers, mandates particular redemption either, but Schrock promises more on this later, so we will address this issue later as well.

Schrock’s critique of my “negative inference fallacy” and the Dabney citation is given in a lengthy footnote (80-81) where he appears to be dependent upon Dr. Greg Wills’ critique of my chapter in his book review published in New Orleans Baptist Seminary’s The Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 7.1 (Spring, 2010), 15-18. This critique deserves a detailed response, for both Wills and Schrock have made a significant error at this point. With respect to the negative inference fallacy and the extent of the atonement, the burden is on Schrock to prove that a simple positive can entail a universal negation. This is his claim. Schrock’s problem is to prove from Scripture that Christ died only for some people’s sins (a limited imputation of sin). But he offers no proof for that proposition.

Schrock quotes Dabney as saying “Christ died for all sinners in some sense.” Schrock neglects to point out that Dabney means by this that Christ’s death accomplished universal expiation for sins. Dabney makes this clear just a few pages later on page 535 of his Lectures in Systematic Theology, which I noted on page 83, footnote 78 of my chapter “The Atonement: Limited or Universal?” in Whosoever. Schrock refers to the “context” of the Dabney quote in an effort to refute my understanding of Dabney. Schrock quotes from pages 527, 528, 529 and 533 in Dabney’s Lectures, but apparently fails to see the direct statement by Dabney that Christ expiated the sins of all people. Here is Dabney’s statement on John 3:16 in context on page 535 of his Lectures:

Verse 16: Christ’s mission to make expiation for sin is a manifestation of unspeakable benevolence to the whole world, to man as man and a sinner, yet designed specifically to result in the actual salvation of believers. Does not this imply that this very mission, rejected by others, will become the occasion (not cause) of perishing even more surely to them? It does. Yet, (verse 17,) it is denied that this vindicatory result was the primary design of Christ’s mission: and the initial assertion is again repeated, that this primary design was to manifest God, in Christ’s sacrifice, as compassionate to all. How then is the seeming paradox to be reconciled ? Not by retracting either statement. The solution, (verse 18,) is in the fact, that men, in the exercise of their free agency, give opposite receptions to this mission. To those who accept it as it is offered, it brings life. To those who choose to reject it, it is the occasion (not cause) of condemnation. For, (verse 19,) the true cause of this perverted result is the evil choice of the unbelievers, who reject the provision offered in the divine benevolence, from a wicked motive; unwillingness to confess and forsake their sins. The sum of the matter is then: That Christ’s mission is, to the whole race, a manifestation of God’s mercy. To believers it is means of salvation, by reason of that effectual calling which Christ had expounded in the previous verses. To unbelievers it becomes a subsequent and secondary occasion of aggravated    doom. This melancholy perversion, while embraced in God’s permissive decree, is caused by their own contumacy. The efficient in the happy result is effectual calling: the efficient in the unhappy result is man’s own evil will. Yet God’s benevolence is cleared, in both results. Both were, of course, foreseen by Him, and included in His purpose.

Lest doubt remain, here are two more direct quotations from the very context of Dabney’s Lectures from which Schrock himself quotes.

In 1 John 2:2, it is at least doubtful whether the express phrase, “whole world,” can be restrained to the world of elect as including other than Jews. For it is indisputable, that the Apostle extends the propitiation of Christ beyond those whom he speaks of as “we,” in verse first. The interpretation described obviously proceeds on the assumption that these are only Jewish believers. Can this be substantiated? Is this catholic epistle addressed only to Jews? This is more than doubtful. It would seem then, that the Apostle’s scope is to console and encourage sinning believers with the thought that since Christ made expiation for every man, there is no danger that He will not be found a propitiation for them who, having already believed, now sincerely turn to him from recent sins. (525)

Schrock quotes from Dabney’s page 528 as noted above. Here is Dabney’s statement on that very page stating as clear as a bell his belief that Christ died for the sins of all people: “Redemption is limited, i.e., to true believers, and is particular. Expiation is not limited.” (528).

It is quite clear that Dabney believed “Christ made expiation for every man” and not for the elect only. Many other references could be given from his writings. Schrock’s misreading of Dabney at this point and throughout is a major problem in his chapter.

Schrock then continues to say that Dabney “also argues for the particular efficacy of the atonement.” Exactly right! Dabney sees a distinction between “extent” and “application” which Schrock misses. Schrock continues to quote Dabney: “There is no passage in the Bible which asserts an intention to apply redemption to any other than the elect.” Note carefully Dabney’s use of the word “intention” and “apply” here. Dabney believes as do all Calvinists that God’s intention in the atonement is that it be applied only to the elect. But Dabney clearly believes that Christ’s death expiated the sins of all sinners – the extent question. Schrock makes the false assumption that my references to the universal aspects of Dabney’s statements refer to common grace. He is missing or ignoring Dabney’s own stated position of universal expiation of sins. Part of what might be driving Schrock’s misreading of Dabney here is the failure to understand that many 19th century Calvinists distinguished between expiation and redemption. Expiation was unlimited whereas redemption was limited only to the elect. One sees this same distinction in the writings of Shedd as well as Dabney. Schrock is setting up a false either/or distinction and attempts to shackle Dabney with it. More importantly, this either/or distinction is not supported by Scripture.

Schrock continues quoting Dabney: “Christ’s design in His vicarious work was to effectuate exactly what it does effectuate.” Notice again Dabney’s use of the word “design.” “Design” and “intent” are synonymous. Christ’s design in the atonement is that it would actually bring about the salvation only of the elect. Dabney believed that the atonement was limited in its intent and application, but not in its extent. However, Schrock wrongly concludes from this last statement by Dabney “that Dabney argues for a limited atonement with ‘temporal’ (read: non-salvific) effects.” This is a major misreading of Dabney since he is clear here and elsewhere in his writings that he affirms a universal sin-bearing in the death of Christ. Schrock has confused and thus conflated the issues of intent, extent, and application.

Schrock then continues in his footnote, “Allen’s quotation implies that Dabney supports his egalitarian view, but such is not the case. Allen makes definite atonement appear to be a matter of logical gymnastics, but in fact, Dabney and his Reformed brethren pay very careful attention to the whole counsel of Scripture in order to affirm the particular saving and particular non-saving effects of the cross of Christ” (80-81). He then concludes this first paragraph of three in this footnote by citing pages 15-18 of Greg Wills’ review of Whosoever (see above), the section which deals with my chapter on limited atonement. My point in the Dabney quotation is to show that he held to unlimited atonement with respect to extent. Dabney does more than “imply” this; he states it. It is not a matter of “logical gymnastics” but of straightforward statement on Dabney’s part and on mine. Of course Dabney, as I do, affirms non-saving effects of the cross. That is not the point.

Schrock continues paragraph two of his footnote: “Unfortunately, this is but one example where David Allen misrepresents those who defend definite atonement. Confusing matters, he puts defenders and opponents of particular redemption in the same list and concludes, ‘All were Calvinists, and all did not teach limited atonement.’” He then notes that I explain myself in a footnote where I point out that what they are not teaching is a limited imputation of sin to Christ, which is the hallmark of particular redemption. Schrock will attempt to substantiate this charge of misrepresentation in the next paragraph of his footnote by lengthy appeal to Wills’ review.

Before turning to Wills, I will address the charge of “confusion” in my list of Calvinists who reject limited atonement. My list contains no Calvinist who is a defender of the strict and narrow view of particular redemption. Schrock is mistaken and is assuming he has proven that Dabney does not believe what I am saying he believes. Furthermore, I presume Schrock is affirming that at least some of the names in my list are accurately represented as rejecting limited atonement. If that is the case, then he needs to deal with these. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that my list of dozens of Calvinists contains a few errors. Fine. Let’s throw those out and deal with the remaining Calvinists on the list who are, in fact, affirming unlimited atonement with respect to extent, and who are clearly acknowledged to be doing so by Reformed theologians/historians such as Richard Muller, Robert Letham and Robert Godfrey. Knowledgeable Calvinists know that there are many such Calvinists in the history of Reformed theology. What of them and their arguments? It is primarily their arguments I am using in my chapter. I cannot find a single place in Schrock’s chapter where he concedes the point that there is and has been debate on this issue within the Reformed camp. Schrock demonstrates no apparent awareness of the complexity and diversity within the historic Reformed tradition. Hence, I am at a loss to understand what Schrock is referring to when he speaks of “confusion” in my list of names. Either he has failed to comprehend my statement which he just quoted making clear the distinction between affirming a limitation in the application of the atonement (which all Calvinists and non-Calvinists affirm) and a limitation in the sin-bearing of Christ for all people, or he is unaware of the history of Reformed theology on this subject. When I have carefully quoted and referenced in footnotes dozens of cases of Calvinists who affirm unlimited atonement with respect to extent, the burden of proof is on him to show whom I have placed on the list who is actually a defender of limited extent. Showing in Dabney’s writings where he affirms limitation in the intent or the application of the atonement while ignoring statements where he affirms universal sin-bearing does not cut it and is, in fact, poor theological method.

Since Schrock is dependent for his criticism in this section on Wills, let us now turn to him. I must admit to a bit of frustration with Wills’ review. He doesn’t deal with the facts of my  chapter. For example, he skirts the point of Christ dying for the sins of all men in my Calvinistic sources. He does not address my documentation about sufficiency. Like Schrock, he appears to miss altogether Dabney’s points about universal expiation. Rather, Wills ignores all of this and asserts his own opinions. My chapter does not engage in “universal aspects” of the atonement without carefully defining what is meant. I am speaking of the fact that Jesus died for the sins of all men, including the non-elect. I explicitly make clear in my chapter the number of major Calvinists of the past and present, almost fifty in fact whom I mention, cite, discuss or quote, who affirm this specific universal extent of the atonement. Wills seems to ignore my purpose statement on page 65, i.e. “The focus of this chapter is primarily on the question of the extent [as clearly defined by “sin-bearing”] of the atonement.” Wills attempts to yank the whole conversation back to the “intent” question while completely ignoring the significance of what these previous Calvinists said about the extent question. There is no doubt that Dabney believed and taught universal expiation of sins by Christ’s death on the cross. I carefully documented this in my chapter in Whosoever. To miss this is a serious error on Wills’ part. His vague reference to “universal aspects” in my chapter is nonsense, and is logically nothing more than a red herring.

As I made clear in my chapter, of course Dabney, along with all Calvinists, believes in a limited intent and application when it comes to the atonement. That is not in dispute. The fact is, Dabney and others believed in an unlimited extent as well, which is the point Wills and Schrock have missed altogether. It seems their theological grid simply cannot account for the possibility that Christ died for all with respect to extent and only for the elect with respect to intent. This is a huge blind spot in many high Calvinists.

In summary with respect to Dabney: 1) he rejected the double-payment argument of Owen, 2) he interpreted John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 to refer to Christ dying for the sins of all people, i.e., all people without exception, not merely all people without distinction or all classes of people, 3) he clearly stated that Christ died for the sins of every person in the world, and 4) he argued against Owen, and other Calvinists such as Turretin by name, stating his disagreement with their notion of limited atonement.

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Rick Patrick

What an extremely compelling argument. I will never again describe the atonement using the terms “sufficiency” and “efficiency,” but will follow Allen’s preferred terminology here and use the superior terms “extent” and “intent,” which I believe frame the issue more properly.

Godismyjudge

Here’s Will’s most interesting quote:

“His death for all was such that any person, even Judas, if he should repent and believe the sacrificial death was universal in that it made all men savable, contingent on their repentance and faith in Christ. But Allen is incorrect to argue that such a position is not limited atonement, for these same theologians affirmed that the atonement was in important respects particular to the elect… The key difference relates to the question of intent, not to the question of its universal sufficiency.” (page 81 – footnote 13)

This looks like an affirmation of unlimited atonement – all men are savable. As for intent, if Christ’s death makes all men savable, surely God intended His death to make all men savable.

The rest of the chapter in WHW contradicts this statement. Here’s an example.

On page 117 of WHW this example is quoted:

“no one charges Sears and Roebuck with an unethical sales tactic when they promise 300,000 people in the Sunday paper a washer at a certain price. Who would expect that Sears actually has 300,000 washers – one for every news paper insert?”

The ethical question aside, what is obvious about this illustration is that Sears has an insufficient number of washing machines. Based on the limited number of machines, if everyone showed up, they would not receive machines.

God be with you,
Dan

Joseph

Dr Allen writes: “Schrock’s problem is to prove from Scripture that Christ died only for some people’s sins (a limited imputation of sin). But he offers no proof for that proposition.”

Let me offer one proof:

Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

This text teaches that “All for whom Christ died will infallibly be given complete salvation.” Since it will be assumed that everyone here denies universalism, this text therefore teaches limited atonement.

    volfan007

    Joseph,

    This verse does not teach limited atonement, nor does it teach universalism.

    David

      Joseph

      One of the most crucial texts on this issue is Romans 8:32. It is one of the most precious promises for God’s people in all the Bible. Paul says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?”

      The crucial thing to see here is how Paul bases the certainty of our inheritance on the death of Christ. He says, “God will most certainly give you all things because he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you.” What becomes of this precious argument if Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive all things but instead are lost? The argument vanishes.

      If God gave his own Son for unbelievers who in the end are lost, then he cannot say that the giving of the Son guarantees “all things” for the those for whom he died. But this is what he does say! If God gave his Son for you, then he most certainly will give you all things. The structure of Paul’s thought here is simply destroyed by introducing the idea that Christ died for all men in the same way.

        Robert

        Since I work with literal con men and so am familiar with many cons and schemes, I can spot a con probably more quickly than most people. And I really hate to see when someone’s “con” involves the misuse of scripture, the use of scripture to carry out their “con.”

        Joseph attempts to pull a deterministic con from Romans 8:32. Before looking at his attempted con it may be helpful to remember to whom the apostle Paul is writing Romans 8. He is writing to believers and sharing promises that only apply to people who have become believers (e.g. the famous promise of Rom. 8:28 is qualified in that it does not apply to all people but to those who love God and are called according to His purpose). So the things he says in this section are for believers, it is an “in-house” discussion.

        Joseph writes:

        “One of the most crucial texts on this issue is Romans 8:32.”

        Hold it, Romans 8:32 is not a text discussing or referring to the issue of whether or not the atonement is limited or unlimited. The fact Joseph attempts to use it for this purpose proves he is proof texting (he starts with some idea and then goes to the bible to find some text that can somehow be used to support his preconceived idea).

        “It is one of the most precious promises for God’s people in all the Bible.”

        It is for “God’s people” as that is the context of Romans 8, and in-house discussion.

        “Paul says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?””

        Now who are the people referred to as “us” here? Believers.

        “The crucial thing to see here is how Paul bases the certainty of our inheritance on the death of Christ. He says, “God will most certainly give you all things because he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you.””

        And again, who is the “you” referring to here? Believers.
        Now comes the switch-a-roo, the trick, watch carefully as it is a quick change that Joseph now attempts:

        “What becomes of this precious argument if Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive all things but instead are lost? The argument vanishes.”

        But Paul was not talking about unbelievers in this section at all, he was explicitly speaking to believers. Nothing he says in this section applies to unbelievers. But Joseph now asks what becomes of the argument made in regards to the fate of BELIEVERS “if Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive all things but instead are lost?”

        This is dirty pool, this is playing fast and loose with the scripture. Just as a con plays fast and loose with words, the scripture in the hands of Joseph becomes merely a means to perpetrate a con on God’s people.

        If Christ is given as an atonement for unbelievers (i.e. the whole world, which is going to include quit a few unbelievers within in) and they are lost, the argument does not vanish, because the promise was solely in reference to believers. Paul was telling believers that if God is willing to give His Son Jesus to you (which is the greatest gift he can give) then you can trust him with the lesser things. If God does not withhold giving BELIEVERS His Son then you can trust him with these other things as well. That is Paul’s argument. And it makes no difference whatsoever if one person rejects Christ and His atonement or millions of people reject Christ and His atonement, Paul’s promise of Romans 8 still stands.

        Notice the attempted con continues:

        “If God gave his own Son for unbelievers who in the end are lost, then he cannot say that the giving of the Son guarantees “all things” for the those for whom he died.”

        Note that last phrase “for the those for whom he died”. If we were speaking in terms of set theory and using a Venn diagram we would say that there are two groups or sets. Set 1 is the set of all believers. Set 2 is the set of all unbelievers. Set 3 would include all members of set 1 and set 2. If Jesus died for all people, for the whole world as scripture says, then Jesus died for both sets of people (both set 1 and set 2, he would die for set 3 which includes all persons).

        In Romans 8 Paul is speaking to the set 1 people (believers). To the set 1 people (believers) he says “that the giving of the Son guarantees ‘all things’.”

        Paul is not speaking to (or about) the set 2 people (unbelievers) in Romans 8. Nor is he saying anything about the impact of the atonement upon unbelievers nor the impact of nonbelief on the atonement.

        Joseph claims that Paul cannot say that the giving of the Son guarantees all things for those for whom he died (which includes both set 1 and set 2 people) if God gave the Son for unbelievers who in the end are lost. Why not? These are two different groups of people. The fact that Jesus died for set 2 people (unbelievers) and they are lost, has no bearing or relevancy to the promises that the apostle Paul makes in Romans 8 to the set 1 people (believers).

        Joseph’s “argument” or con is like a play on words, but it does not change the facts at all. Jesus died for the whole world, both believers and unbelievers. The fact that the Father was willing to give the Son as an atonement for believers, shows that since He is willing to give us his best we can trust him to give us the other things as well.

        “But this is what he does say! If God gave his Son for you, then he most certainly will give you all things.”

        And the “you” spoken to here, who are they? Believers.

        And the promise is true to THEM even if Jesus dies for millions of others who never believe. Their nonbelief does not negate the promise of Romans 8 because the promise of Romans 8 is spoken to believers.

        “The structure of Paul’s thought here is simply destroyed by introducing the idea that Christ died for all men in the same way.”

        The structure of Paul’s thought here is not destroyed, if Jesus dies for some who never end up believing, because the structure of Paul’s thought here concerns promises made only to believers.

        It is sad to see Joseph so zealous to prove his unbiblical and false doctrine of limited atonement having to resort to proof texting, ignoring the context of scripture, and trying whatever he can to prove his view. It bothers me to see cons manipulating and fooling people via their cons. It is even worse when the bible is used as part of a con to fool other believers.

        Robert

          Joseph

          The definition of “Con”:

          “to swindle”, “to cheat”, “to deceive”

          Unless you appologize for your insult, Robert, I want to hear form Norm Miller why he allows such outragous insults to be posted about Calvinists and if he thinks it is okay for Calvinists to say similar insults to Traditionals.

          NORM MILLER:
          Is it okay at this site for us to call Traditionalists deceivers or is it only okay at this site for Calvinists to be called deceivers??? Or is neither okay? If neither is okay, than please confront Robert.

            Robert

            Joseph wrote:

            “Unless you appologize for your insult, Robert, I want to hear form Norm Miller why he allows such outragous insults to be posted about Calvinists and if he thinks it is okay for Calvinists to say similar insults to Traditionals.”

            I characterized Joseph’s ***argument from Romans 8*** attempting to support his limited atonement view as a “con” (in my original post I even had quotatons marks around it, for example: “And I really hate to see when someone’s “con” involves the misuse of scripture, the use of scripture to carry out their “con.”).

            I never said that Joseph was a “deceiver” nor did I say that Joseph is a “con man” though Joseph has run off in other threads making this claim.

            I guess I should have said something like: “his argument strikes me as a scam, similar to the kinds of cons that I have seen con men engage in.” That way he would have understood that I was likening his ***argument*** (from Romans 8) to a “con.”

            I don’t think Joseph is a “deceiver” because in order to be one he would knowingly be presenting things he knows to be false. But Joseph actually believes the stuff he is spewing out here, so there is no way that he is a “deceiver.” He is also **not** a con man as they tend to try to travel “under the radar”, they really don’t want to draw attention to themselves or what they are attempting to do. Joseph on the other hand is screaming in outrage and wants everyone to focus their attention on him and his plight.

            I also notice Joseph’s overreaction to Peter’s comment which he took way too personally and screamed his outrage about as well. I agree with Peter’s comments in response and especially this one:

            “Indeed I rarely (if ever) employ ad hominem arguments in exchange, especially in exchanges over Calvinism. There is no need actually. Calvinism has plenty of vulnerable points to expose without falling back on arguing personally against the Calvinist himself.”

            Peter is exactly right, we don’t need to appeal to ad hominems when dealing with calvinism/deterministic theology: it already has “plenty of vulnerable points to expose without falling back on arguing personally against the Calvinist himself.”

            From his reaction Joseph seems like one of those people who is looking to be offended. Like the guy who is just waiting to be provoked so that he can get into a fight.

            Joseph asked Norm Miller:

            “NORM MILLER:
            Is it okay at this site for us to call Traditionalists deceivers or is it only okay at this site for Calvinists to be called deceivers??? Or is neither okay? If neither is okay, than please confront Robert.”

            I would say it is not “okay” for either Traditionaists or Calvinists “at this site” to call each other deceivers. I believe that in both cases, people really believe what they are presenting. They may be mistaken in their views. But they believe it to be true and so are presenting it as being true. I really doubt that anyone on either side knowingly knows their views to be false and is presenting them anyway. So nobody here is a “deceiver.”

            And Norm if you are reading this: I will be more careful in the future to make it absolutely clear that I am talking about people’s arguments and not them in future posts. Again as Peter reminded us, calvinism has enough vulnerabilities to be exposed, so we really need only focus on those areas rather than the proponents of this theology.

            Robert

Joseph

Dr. Allen writes: “Dabney believed that the atonement was limited in its intent and application, but not in its extent.”

I can live with that. It is certainly more in line with the Calvinist position than it is with the Traditionalist position.

    Tony Byrne

    Actually, you can’t “live with that,” Joseph. Your argument from Romans 8:32 presupposes that Christ did not die for the sins of the non-elect, otherwise they would be given all things. That’s the Owenic position, not Dabney’s position. If you were to affirm that Christ satisfied for all men, you would have to abandon your attempt to use Romans 8:32 to prove your case.

    It’s also misleading to speak of “THE Calvinist position,” as there are significant differences among Calvinists regarding the debate on this topic. There are at least three streams: the Amyraldian, the older Ussher/Davenant trajectory (or Hyppothetical Universalism as some scholars call it) and the Turretinian/Owenic trajectory.

Joseph

Dr. Allen: “As I made clear in my chapter, of course Dabney, along with all Calvinists, believes in a limited intent and application when it comes to the atonement. That is not in dispute. The fact is, Dabney and others believed in an unlimited extent as well.”

Okay. Are you and other Traditionalist willing to concede then, that a correct view of the atonement is that it is indeed “limited in its intent”??? This would be a good place for us all to agree.

    Rick Patrick

    Speaking as an “other Traditionalist,” why would God only intend to save some? His desire is for all to be saved. Both the extent and the intent of the atonement are unlimited by God, but only limited by the free response of man. At least that is the way I think many, if not most, Traditionalists view the atonement.

      Don Johnson

      Rick,

      I agree completely.

      Joseph

      I’m not sure why you would speak of “the free response of man” (without a first work of grace) since the Bible clearly teaches that man’s will is not free but rather enslaved.

        Don Johnson

        Joseph,

        Where?

        Rick Patrick

        Who says there is no work of grace in the hearts of men allowing each to freely accept Christ by grace if he should so choose? To quote Ronnie Rogers: “A loving God loves the lost individual and would honestly tell him about his lost condition and offer him redemption only if it was possible for him to be redeemed… Finally, God’s love did in fact make it possible for the people of this world to be delivered from their path to eternal hell by grace enablement.” (Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, Chapter Seven)

        Dean

        Joseph, I can’t think of a trad that would say that there is no work of grace in the heart of the lost. He does a work of grace in the heart of man and that work allows the man to freely choose Christ. He is also can choose to reject Christ.

        Joseph you have to see that by all the responses you are interpreting every passage through the filter of Calvinism. Brother to you every passage teaches limited atonement because of your filter. We can show you passage after passage that says Christ died for the world and you say no He didn’t because you don’t want the passage to say that. You cannot name any verse that in the Bible that says God died only for the elect. It is a matter of reason and deduction to the Calvinist but not Biblical. The long arm of Limited Atonement can reach even passages like John 3:16 in eyes of Calvinist.

          Joseph

          Good to hear.

          A friend of mine and self-proclaimed Arminian recently responded to me saying, “I believe all of that. It is only by grace and by the work of the Spirit through the Father from the Son that anyone can repent and believe and follow. I think that is all clear in scripture”. My response to him was “AMEN brother! If we can agree on these things, there is no sense in arguing at all.”

          I will believe the best and offer the same sentiments to you.

            Dean

            Ive not met any trads that are Arminian thanks for encouragement God bless you Joseph. Dean

David

Hey Joseph,

Here is the simplest way I can think of to respond to your argument here, showing why its invalid.

1) You just repeat the same negative inference fallacy. There is no “only” in the verse. There is no exclusion, which is what is needed to avoid the negative inference fallacy.

2) The term generalization: “us” (from the text) is converted into a general term, “all,” which is ALL irrespective of faith; when all along, in Romans 8, the “us” explicitly presupposes believers.

Eg, at its simplest:

We for whom Christ died, we will be given all things

becomes

All for whom Christ died will be given all things

The first sentence is true to the text, the second is not, in any sense. Its a complete non sequitur,/i>

3) If the term conversion is invalid, then his modus ponens/modus tollens argument is invalid.

Modus ponens: If A, therefore B.

Modus tollens: Not B, therefore not A.

That is:

If Christ died for a man, that man must be saved (If A, then B) [DavidP: which is itself unsound biblically]

If that man was not saved, Christ did not die for him (not B, therefore not A).

Ergo, the death of Christ is limited to the ‘actually saved.’

All that is just invalid given the simple illegitimate term conversion in the first place.

So the two flaws in this argument, are:

1) the invalid term conversion
2) the unsound claim that if Christ dies for a man, that man cannot fail to be saved.

The second false assumption in #2 needs to be proved on grounds other than Roms 8:32 etc, as that text, itself, in no way implies it. So at this point, it just begs the question, formally.

David

    Joseph

    David,

    I will again point out your fallacy regarding Romans 8:32: If Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive all things but instead are lost, then this precious promise in Romans 8:32 disappears. Paul’s argument vanishes away unless Christ’s atonement accomplishes salvation in every case. Thus, your fallacy, as I have pointed out before, is that you have limited the efficacy of Christ’s atonement.

    David

    Hey Joseph,

    I assume this is directed to me:

    You say:

    I will again point out your fallacy regarding Romans 8:32: If Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive all things but instead are lost, then this precious promise in Romans 8:32 disappears. Paul’s argument vanishes away unless Christ’s atonement accomplishes salvation in every case. Thus, your fallacy, as I have pointed out before, is that you have limited the efficacy of Christ’s atonement.

    DavidP:

    Interesting. You argument is, it seems, if it is possible that Christ could die for a person and that person fail to be saved, Paul could not be giving any assurative counsel here[?].

    I think you are missing the Paul’s point. Paul’s assurance is to the “we” who have been given Christ, should not doubt, but be very assured that “we” will be given all things. This is exactly the same sentiment behind or entailed in 8:, 28, 31 and v34, for example. The faithful can and do have this assurance.

    At most all that can be inferred is perseverance of the saints, not limited satisfaction for the sins of the elect alone. See the point? The logic of the text will just not give you grounds for inferring a limited satisfaction.

    That is all that can be inferred from this text. Sorry, that is just the way it is. The textual data does not sustain any generalization outside of its own stated limitation (see below for explanation).

    Paul also uses the same form of the a fortiori argument in Roms 5:8-10:

    Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

    The same structure is present. There is a bi-conditional argument here: having been died for, AND having now been justified, much more then shall we be saved from the coming wrath. See below for explanation on the bi-conditional.

    V10 Paul again sets out two conditions, ‘while we were died for, as enemies, AND now that we have been reconciled…’ both need to be present for the conclusion to hold: ‘much more then shall be saved from the coming wrath!’

    Paul is saying, because Christ died for us, AND because we have now been justified and reconciled, much more then, can we be assured of complete salvation. Same result, perseverance yes, limited satisfaction for limited sins, no.

    There are no grounds to infer a limited satisfaction in Roms 5:8-10, any more than there is in Rom 8:32. Make sense?

    Here is my more formal explanation:

    Back to Romans 8:32. Paul’s actual structure is very interesting.

    Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

    I thought about given the structure of Rom 8:32 we have, and “us all” and an “us” so there are only so many possible relevant interpretations here.

    1) us all refers to all the elect, and us refers to the elect.
    2) us all refers all mankind and us refers all mankind
    3) us all refers to all believers, us refers to all believers

    4) us all refers to all the elect, us refers to believing elect
    5) us all refers to all mankind, us refers to believers.

    6) us all refers to all mankind, us refers to all the elect
    7) us all refers to all mankind, us refers to all believing elect

    Only 2) is unacceptable, as all mankind will not be given all things.

    5) and 7) are, in practical terms, the same, but I will include them separately so the point is clear.

    Exegetically, I can only say 1), 6) and 7) are not exegetically probable.

    4) may be possible, but only given one’s wider systematic assumptions.
    3) is possible.
    7) is probable.

    But either way, its all a sort of “in the eye of the beholder” sort of thing. My take is probably 5) aka 7).

    That means 1, 3-7) are all logically and biblically acceptable (broadly speaking).

    Which ever one we plug in, universalism is not the outcome, as the conclusion is always regulated by the second “us.”

    Like a simple bi-conditional statement: If A and B, then C. C only holds if both conditions are present.

    Paul’s structure is actually not a simple if A, then C.

    But then I realized all that is rather unnecessary.

    If A, us all, stands for all mankind, and B us, stands for believers, or the elect, or the believing elect, his argument is invalid, because in each case, the “us” regulates the conclusion as it delimits it.

    Defining the us all, is actually irrelevant to defeating his argument.

    Your term conversion must convert the us all and the us, into all for whom Christ died (irrespective of election “or” belief). However, there is no textual warrant to do so. Which is exactly what you did Joseph: “All for whom Christ died will infallibly be given complete salvation.” You are free to modify or adapt your argument, but as it stands, the original form is invalid.

    What you are trying to do is force the invalid term conversion upon others. You are saying that the text data necessitates this premise:

    All for whom Christ died will be given all things

    All that needs to be pointed out is that the term conversion is, itself, invalid. End of discussion.

    We, for our part, do not need to establish who exactly the us all are. That can remain a completely open question.

    In short, whoever the us is, the conclusion of any modus ponens argument is defined by it.

    Example, Let X stand for “us” (according to any of the acceptable permutations above).

    All that could be constructed is this:

    All X for whom Christ died will be given all things.

    That is:

    All the elect for whom Christ died will be given all things.
    All the believers for whom Christ died will be given all things.
    All the believing elect for whom Christ died will be given all things.

    Three conclusions follow:

    In any case, universalism is not entailed.

    You conclusion: “Since it will be assumed that everyone here denies universalism, this text therefore teaches limited atonement” is just false, and categorically so. Sorry, but again, that is just the logic here.

    The possibility that Christ could have died for the non-elect, or non-believers, or non-believing elect cannot be categorically excluded. Such a category exclusion formally begs the question in the way I noted before.

    Thanks,
    DavidP

      David

      I screwed up some of the pronouns. You’ll be able to figure it out.

      Sorry about that.

      DavidP

        jdbarker

        I think you read this verse out of context with the rest of the passage;

        -26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God.

        28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

        31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

        God works together all things for the good of those who love God and Paul says that those who love God are those who are called according to His purpose. Paul is making a claim about the people God is showing his favor to. He does not say that God is working all things together for us, but those who are called; the elect. That’s pretty specific.

        Next, Paul illustrates the chain of salvation; foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. From the beginning, these things must and will happen to those whom God has elected.

        Then Paul begs the question, if God has done all of this, giving His son to make these things certain, then will He not give us all things.

        Christ atoning work is in perfect alignment with the rest of the Trinity; God elects, Christ atones for the elect and the Spirit effectively makes it happen.

          DavidP

          Part 1,

          Hey JD

          The approach here has to be exegetical first and foremost. The question is, who are the “us” in 8:32b?

          The are two candidates,

          1) Elect as a class, including elect who not yet converted, that is, all the elect who have lived, live and shall live.

          2) Believers. Even if the believers are believers who are elect, it is still believers.

          So those are the options the two of have.

          The question is then, which one best fits the context. I say that the contexts fits better to 2) because the whole chapter references believers. That is, the predications in the chapter can only apply to believers.

          So from your verses:

          I think you read this verse out of context with the rest of the passage;

          -26 In the same way the Spirit also helps *our* weakness; for *we* do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for *us* with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God.

          DavidP: Clearly believers. Does the Spirit intercede for unbelievers even unbelieving elect? I think not.

          28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who *love* God, to those who are *called* according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

          DavidP: Again the called are believers, those who love God are believers. These are believers who have been elected. These are not the class “elect” simply considered, apart from belief.

          31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for *us,* who is against *us*? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for *us* all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

          DavidP: Give us all things, namely give us who believe. Exegetically, the text clearly indicates believers are the subject of the discourse.

          That being so, the modus ponens conclusion has to be limited by the scope of the premise.

          So now we come back to my earlier taxonomy:

          All the believing elect for whom Christ died will be given all things.

          That is the most you can get out of this.

          That is, to all X for whom Christ died, all things will be given. X is now defined as believers who are elect.

          DavidP

          Part 2
          You say: God works together all things for the good of those who love God and Paul says that those who love God are those who are called according to His purpose. Paul is making a claim about the people God is showing his favor to. He does not say that God is working all things together for us, but those who are called; the elect. That’s pretty specific.

          DavidP: I don’t know what to say. Paul is staring you right in the face. All believers who have been elected is not the same set or class as all elect, per se. The set “elect” is a large set which includes believers, unbelievers, dead, living, yet to exist, etc. The set ‘believing elect’ is a smaller set within the larger set. That being so, all predications derived from 8:32 are limited to the set “believing elect.”

          Its logic 101.

          Either way, even if the set “us” refers to all the elect, who have lived, live, shall live, including unbelieving elect, so what? Nothing David Allen has said is refuted. It simply says, all the elect for whom Christ died, they will be given all things.

          But as I said, that’s not Paul’s point. Paul clearly implies a bi-conditional supposition, all for whom Christ has died, and who have believed (justified/reconciled) these can be assured of being given all things. Your argument just stomps all over Paul’s carefully worded sentence structure.

          You say: Next, Paul illustrates the chain of salvation; foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. From the beginning, these things must and will happen to those whom God has elected.

          DavidP: Sure, but beside the point. The subject under discussion is neither the certainty of election or of perseverance of the saints. The issue is, can we derive a limitation in the satisfaction from Rom 8:32? The answer is no.

          Next, Paul’s reference to election, foreknowledge, etc is to assure “Believing” elect, that their salvation is certain. Nothing regarding any limitation in the extent of the satisfaction can be inferred. Indeed, as David Allen says, it would only speak to the *intent* to apply.

          DavidP

          part 3
          You say: Then Paul begs the question, if God has done all of this, giving His son to make these things certain, then will He not give us all things.

          DavidP: That is not begging the question. Begging the question in logic is to assume the very premise or conclusion you are trying to prove.

          You say: Christ atoning work is in perfect alignment with the rest of the Trinity; God elects, Christ atones for the elect and the Spirit effectively makes it happen.

          DavidP: Sure. Exactly. There is nothing in that last statement that I find disagreeable. You are missing the point. The issue here is not elective and efficacious intent, but extent.

          So do you understand the logic? What you are doing is a hasty generalization.

          A preacher says to his Church, “God loves us, and will certainly save us.” He can say that because there is an unstated premise, called in logic an enthymematic premise, which is, the supposition that we believe. On the supposition that we believe, it is absolutely true that God loves us and will certainly save us. That is, in essence, what is going on in Paul.

          The preacher says: “If Christ delivered us his own Son for us, how much more will he not give us all things?”

          Again, the enthymematic premise is assumed: for such a statement could not be truly made before the local atheists association. Do you understand now?

          The same statement said in different contexts can be true in one but become false in the other.

          To the Church:
          “If Christ delivered us his own Son for us, how much more will he not give us all things?”

          True.

          To a crowd of Atheists:
          “If Christ delivered us his own Son for us, how much more will he not give us all things?”

          False. Why? Because of the unstated assumption. The second b-conditional is absent.

          Now apply this to Paul’s argument in Romans 8:32 and you should see the problem, as Paul is not saying “all for whom Christ died, irrespective of faith, will infallibly be saved.”

          And just to be sure, my point is, Paul’s predications and assertions speak to his readers who are believers “who have been elected,” not to the “elect” as a total class irrespective of faith and repentance, which is what most strict TULPers do with this text in my experience.

          Hope that helps,
          DavidP

          Joseph

          Amen jdbarker. You are right.

David

Hey Joseph,

I see you have posted follow-ups, so let me by clear, by “argument” I mean what you are deducing based on Romans 8:32 and its context. That argument.

Thanks,
David

Joseph

This is off topic, but I would like to put you Traditionalists to the test, if you will be so kind. You do not want to be called Arminian, and I have honored that request until now. And yet I honestly wonder if you are not more Arminian than Arminius himself. If you cannot agree to at least as much as Arminius says in his quote below, would that not make Traditionalism akin to Hyper-Arminianism?

Arminius writes: “He [Adam] transgressed the command given to him for life. By this foul deed, he precipitated himself from that noble and elevated condition into a state of the deepest infelicity, which is under the Dominion of Sin. . . . In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.”
– Jacobus Arminius

    Joseph

    R. C. Sproul comments:
    “The above citation from one of Arminius’s works demonstrates how seriously he regards the depths of the fall. He is not satisfied to declare that man’s will was merely wounded or weakened. He insists that is was “imprisoned, destroyed, and lost.” The language of Augustine, Martin Luther, or John Calvin is scarcely stronger than that of Arminius. . . . Arminius not only affirms the bondage of the will, but insists that natural man, being dead in sin, exists in a state of moral inability or impotence. What more could an Augustinian or Calvinist hope for from a theologian? Arminius then declares that the only remedy for man’s fallen condition is the gracious operation of God’s Spirit. The will of man is not free to do any good unless it is made free or liberated by the Son of God through the Spirit of God.”

      Don Johnson

      Joseph,

      I guess that’s why we’re not Calvinists or Arminians.

Don Johnson

Joseph,

“But these are written, that YE might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing YE might have life through His name.” John 20:31

The book of John is the only book of the Bible whose expressed intent is to save men. Certainly one can be saved from other portions of Scripture, but John actually states why it was written “that YE might believe.”

According to Calvinistic theology how can something be written that would help people believe? Doesn’t an unbeliever need to be regenerated before he can even begin to understand anything spiritual?

Who does the “YE” refer to in John 20:31? Does “YE” mean the “elect”? It would seem a bit odd that the elect “might” believe. Isn’t it a sure thing? Or does “YE” mean anyone who reads or hears John’s Gospel? If it’s anyone, then we know Christ died for everyone.

    Joseph

    John is writing to readers in general. Just as I would plead with people to put their faith in Christ. John loved people and wanted to see them know Jesus. I love people and want them to know Jesus. This has little to do with election and more to do with John’s heart (or my heart or your heart) that people would come to faith.

      Don Johnson

      Joseph,

      You’re right, it’s readers in general (everyone).

      “John loved people and wanted them to love Jesus.” Where did John get that love? Are you saying he loves more than God? God only wants some people saved, right? Yet John wants all people saved. How can that be?

Joseph

John is writing to readers in general. Just as I would plead with people to put their faith in Christ. John loved people and wanted to see them know Jesus. I love people and want them to know Jesus. This has little to do with election and more to do with John\’s heart (or my heart or your heart) that people would come to faith.

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