Why Care About Limited Atonement?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by amishrockstar, Jun 16, 2009.

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  1. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    When the Puritans and Reformers spoke of Christ's Atonement as being "sufficient for all", the emphasis was different than it is now, when people use the same language. It seems to me that in the 16th/17th century writings when sufficiency is mentioned, the primary aim is to emphasize the grand scope of Christ's Atonement - that NONE, if God decreed it, would fail to be covered, for Christ's blood is of infinite value and Christ's righteousness a limitless and perfect righteousness.

    Today, when "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect" is used, it seems the primary purpose of "sufficient for all" is to somehow get God off the hook in an effort to make Him more appealing... that he really intends it for everyone but, alas, some don't take advantage (and He knew this, so despite his intent, it's really only effective for those whom He elected).
     
  2. Reformed Rush

    Reformed Rush Puritan Board Freshman

    Jake,

    Please keep in mind, as you search for comparisons of atonement between the Passover Lamb and Jesus Christ, that the atonements practiced by the Jewish nation, were particular to the elect Jewish nation, alone, and never given or provided by God to the heathen nations of the world at all.

    In other words,'s, even in the O.T. typology of atonement manifested through animal sacrifices, there was no universal application meant to bless the world at large. God's (non-salvific atonements) were only for the sanctified nation of Israel, alone.

    So comparisons of O.T. atonements and N.T. atonement of Jesus Christ, must be carefully studied for typology and intentions for the church in particular.
     
  3. SoliDeoGloria

    SoliDeoGloria Puritan Board Freshman

    I actually deleted that post due to uncertainty of its validity and steadfastness.

    But for the sake of the argument. The high priest sacrifice was for the entire nation of Israel, or so I recall correctly, and similarly, the practicing Jews did their own for themselves.
    I think it is an expression of general to particular.

    But I'm far more an expert regarding the Pauline Epistles than I am the Old Testament. Not to Bible school yet.

    Although I can tell I am going to learn a lot from you guys, you in specific.

    Simply because of my lack of knowledge (which was why I deleted the post) I'd like to save this argument for another day.
     
  4. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    The value of Christ's blood and of Christ's righteousness are no more in question than is Christ's Person. But this is how the waters always get muddied. We are not truly seeking to assess the value of Christ, we are seeking to rightly assess the measure of His suffering.

    J.L. Dagg, wrote in the early 19th century saying:

    The advocates of the hypothesis urge, that the atonement is moral, and not commercial; and they object, that the notion of so much suffering for so much sin, degrades it into a mere commercial transaction. … The argument is not conclusive. It is not true, that the principle of distributive justice repels the notion of so much suffering for so much sin. Justice has its scales in government, as well as in commerce; and an essential part of its administration consists in the apportionment of penalties to crimes. It does not account the stealing of herbs from a neighbor’s garden, and the murder of a father, crimes of equal magnitude; and it does not weigh out to them equal penalties.
    The justice of God has a heavier penalty for Chorazin and Bethsaida, than for Sodom and Gomorrah. Everything of which we have knowledge in the divine administration, instead of exploding the notion of so much suffering for so much sin, tends rather to establish it. The objection that it is commercial, is not well founded.
    Though justice in government, and justice in commerce, may be distinguished from each other, it does not follow, that whatever may be affirmed of the one, must necessarily be denied of the other. Distributive justice is not that which determines the equality of value, in commodities which are exchanged for each other: but it does not therefore exclude all regard to magnitudes and proportions.
    In the language of Scripture, sins are debts, the blood of Christ is a price, and his people are bought. This language is doubtless figurative: but the figures would not be appropriate, if commercial justice, to which the terms debt, price, bought, appertain, did not bear an analogy to the distributive justice which required the sacrifice of Christ. …
    The wisdom and justice of God have decided this single case, and have decided it right. Christ did endure just so much suffering, as would expiate the sins that were laid on him.
     
  5. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    Limited Atonement is extremely important to me because of its implications these being, 1.Christ actually accomplished something on my behalf when He died on the cross and rose again, 2.We are so entirely evil that it was necessary for us to have a new heart, 3.God actually IS sovereign over the salvation of fallen sinners such as myself, God would not allow me not to be redeemed, 4.Christ's glory, justice, and mercy is fully shown and accomplished, 5.It truly is the Trinity alone who accomplishes all good things, 6.Christ didn't die needlessly.

    All of these are reliant on the others, that is why limited atonement(Satisfaction is a more complete word for what Christ did..) is such an important doctrine, it is THEE core of redemption, the Whole center of our faith is Christ's death and resurrection and without this doctrine the depth, glory, mercy, grace, and beauty of Christ and what He did is not fully realized.

    There are very sincere Christians who don't believe limited atonement, but guess what, Christ chose to die for them by His grace and mercy so that they could be united with himself, this is limited atonement, the Heart of Christian beliefs.
     
  6. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Jakob, one thing which you learn over time to be important to understand is that there are two different senses in which one will speak of sufficiency: The first (the language of the Canons of Dort) is simply that Christ's death was of infinite value, and thus the "limiting factor" of his atonement cannot be its sufficiency--this (obviously, since it is the language of the Canons) is acceptable and orthodox. The Second, however, is that Christ's death had an intention of sufficiency for others beyond the scope of the elect, i.e. that Christ died for all so as to purchase the possibility of salvation for them. In other words, in its intention Christ's death had a reference to the non-Elect. This is what several esteemed modern preachers preach, but it is not the confessional position. Therefore, beware when you see someone simply throwing around the formula "Sufficient for all, effecient for the elect." It is only acceptable if used in the proper sense.

    Also, regarding Calvin himself -- several scholars have tried in recent years to demonstrate a dichotomy between Calvin and his successors on this point as you mentioned; I assure you, however, that they have failed to do so.

    Edit
    Oops, Todd -- Sorry, I somehow missed your post where you addressed this same thing.
     
  7. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    Also, regarding your 1 John 2 citation, I would simply add something to what Josh has already said: the verse would be wholly counterproductive if by "the world" John meant all men everwhere indiscriminately. The whole point of the verse is to assure believers that, if they should sin, they still ought to maintain the confidence and faith without wavering as there is a sure propitiation for their sins, Jesus Christ. I ask: What consolation would this statement bring to vexed, troubled and worried consciences if the John immediately added, "Oh, and he's also the proptitiation for all those whose sins will never be forgiven!" This would run counter to his purpose. There is every good reason for taking the purpose of the statement as setting forth the exclusivity of Christ as the only propititiation available for any, or even for taking "the world" as meaning "not limited to this present people."
     
  8. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I enjoy seeing the alleged Arminian prooftexts being shown to be prooftexts for particular atonement. :)
     
  9. Houchens

    Houchens Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for this post, as I am, by God's grace, seeking to increase my understanding of these very pertinent issues.
     
  10. ewenlin

    ewenlin Puritan Board Junior

    On Limited Atonement,

    I had this little quote written on a small sticky and tagged on my monitor. This for me is why the atonement is limited and so dear to my heart.
     
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