Update: This post was written too hastily. The author should be chastised for being so lame. Please read the comments below, especially Daniel's, for some necessary explanations.
I am a five-point Calvinist. I believe in the L in the TULIP, which stands for é─˙Limited Atonement.é─¨ You may have noticed that I have not used the TULIP acrostic yet in this series. I havené─˘t used it because the terms involved are misleading, and I havené─˘t cared to preface every post with an explanation of why I doné─˘t like the terms and what terms I prefer. I am making an exception in this case, because I believe the term é─˙Limited Atonementé─¨ is so bad and causes so much misunderstanding that it is worth addressing.
Before I do that, I want to say this: I doné─˘t believe this post, by itself, will convince anyone of the doctrine of Limited Atonement. This is a doctrine that is necessarily deduced from the other four points. To call yourself a é─˙four-point Calvinisté─¨ and exclude this point is just bad math. It doesné─˘t add up. So I believe that, while this post might not stand well on its own, its conclusions should be inevitable in light of the others.
What does é─˙limitedé─¨ mean? First, it does not mean é─˙limited in efficacy.é─¨ That would actually describe the Arminian viewé─ţChristé─˘s death was intended for all, but effective only for some. The Biblical view is that Christé─˘s death effectively atoned for every sin for which he died. If he died for your sins, atonement has been made for your sins. The penalty for your sins has been paid, and you will stand justified before God. Christ became sin for you, and his righteousness will be imputed to you. Many theologians prefer to say é─˙Particular Atonement,é─¨ meaning that Christ died for particular sins, and actually made satisfaction for those sins.
Now, brace yourselves. Ié─˘m going to state bluntly what I have so far only implied: Christ did not die for everyone. He died for the elect only.
é─˙Hold on!é─¨ you scream. é─˙Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world!é─¨ Of course he is; but does é─˙the whole worldé─¨ mean everyone in the world? (Here I invite the scorn of all Arminians.) I think it clearly does not. If Christ was the propitiation for the sins of every sinner, then every sinner would be justified. Every sinner is not justified. In fact, Scripture tells us plainly that most are not and will not be justified. Christ is not the propitiation for their sins.
é─˙Well,é─¨ you might respond, é─˙thaté─˘s convenient, isné─˘t it. Just redefine the terms to fit your theology.é─¨ But thaté─˘s not what Ié─˘m doing here. We could go through the entire Bible and look at every occurrence of words like all, every, none, no one, etc., and demonstrate that they all have a meaning limited by their context. They seldom have universal application. I woné─˘t do that here, but I will challenge you to do this: analyze your own speech. See how often your use of all-inclusive words has universal application.
I always say . . .
Everyone was there.
I eat there all the time.
Ié─˘ve been everywhere, man, Ié─˘ve been everywhere . . .
Ié─˘m sure you can think of your own examples. Interpreting Scripture without regard for contexté─ţimmediate context and the broader context of Scripture (analogia Scriptura)é─ţis not interpreting it literally. Literal hermeneutics require consideration of context and literary genre. Scripture interprets Scripture, so when your interpretation of a passage contradicts the plain teaching of other passages, youé─˘re getting it wrong.
Getting back to the atonement, it is unthinkable to me that anyone for whom Christ died is not or will not be saved. Let me conclude with a few questions: If Christ died for my sins, how can those sins remain unforgiven? When we consider the fact that God has chosen a particular people to save, why is it difficult to believe that Christ died for them in particular? How can anyone for whom Christ died spend eternity in Hell? Did Christé─˘s death on the cross actually atone for actual sins? And what is accomplished by insisting that Christ died for the souls in Hell?
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