Thursday, July 12, 2007

Theology 101 - Objections to Limited Atonement

Recently I posted HERE an excerpt of what helped me better understand, and ultimately embrace Limited Atonement.

While making that post, I considered also including the "objections" to limited atonement from the same source, Berkhof's "Manual of Christian Doctrine", but decided not to for fear that the post would end up much longer than I wanted. Well, because there seems to be enough interest in this topic, I've decided to go ahead and post that portion from Berkhof's 'Manual' here for your consideration.

2. OBJECTIONS TO A LIMITED ATONEMENT. Several objections have been raised to the doctrine of a particular atonement, of which the following are the most important.

a. There are passages which teach that Christ died for the world, John 1:29; 3:16; I John 2:2; 4:14. The objectors proceed on the assumption that the word "world" in these passages always denotes all the individuals that constitute the world of humanity. But the word does not always have this meaning; its meaning is certainly more limited in Luke 2:1; 12:19. In the passages referred to it may simply serve to indicate that Christ died, not merely for the Jews, but for people of all the nations of the world.

b. Again, there are passages in which Christ is said to have died for all men, Rom. 5:18; I Cor. 15:22; II Cor. 5:14; I Tim. 2:4, 6; Tit. 2:11; Heb. 2:9, II Pet. 3:9. But the word "all" sometimes has a restricted meaning in Scripture, denoting all of a particular class, I Cor. 15:22; Eph. 1:23, or all kinds of classes, Tit. 2:11. If it were always taken in the absolute sense in the passages referred to by the objectors, some of these passages would teach that all men are actually saved, something which they themselves do not believe, cf. Rom. 5:18; I Cor. 15:22; Heb. 2:9, cf. v. 10.

c. Finally, it is said that the universal offer of salvation in the preaching of the word presupposes a universal atonement. If Christ did not die for all men, the offer of salvation cannot be extended to all in good faith. But the universal offer of salvation does not include the declaration that Christ made atonement for every individual; moreover, it is always conditioned by a faith and repentance that can only be wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit. Only the elect comply with the requirements and thus receive the blessings of salvation.

I am working on another post responding to an excellent comment/question submitted to my initial post on the topic of Limited Atonement--stay tuned!

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