Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Atonement: Actual or Contractual?

"If someone pays my bill, I no longer owe the money. The Arminian view leaves us with a contractual situation where Christ offers to pay the bill based upon the performance of the free act of faith. "
-James R. White from The Potter's Freedom

6 comments:

dangoldfinch said...

Philip,

Yes, and the Calvinistic view suggests that only a certain few have actually had their sins atoned for. So another post might read: The Atonement: Fully Effective or Partially Effective.

Look, it cannot be both ways. "He is the atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2) The only way this can mean anything other than what it means at face value is if you spin it to fit the mold of a preconceived theological idea. Anyone reading it for the first time would never think it means anything less than what it says.

The Calvinist would have us believe that the atonement was not really effective because it is only effective for a limited few. Well that's not very effective at all--because then all wouldn't have hope. A live dog is better than a dead lion said the teacher. Furthermore, is Mr White suggesting that perhaps Christ offers to 'pay my bill' quite apart from the exercise of my faith? Again, we are saved by grace THROUGH faith.

The Calvinist view leaves us with a contractual situation where Christ offers to pay the bill based upon whether or not I am lucky enough to be one of elect quite apart from my faith. Limited implies, at least, that the atonement was only partially effective. Sorry, I don't see the Scripture reading that way at all.

Thanks for the post. The irony is, I'm not even what one would call a strict Arminian. It's too bad that there has to be such a constant stream of angst from one 'camp' to the other. Sad. It may not necessarily be you, but quotes like this serve only one purpose: To fan the flames of condescension. In some ways, I wish your blog--and it is YOUR blog--was titled Christian Voices. I like a lot of what you write and post and agree with most of it. But quotes like this, where one group or the other is left in the lurch, are silly and do not in the end serve the purposes of Christ.

y/f
jerry

Philip@ReformedVoices said...

Hi Jerry,

This isn't the best place to argue rather limited atonement is true or not. There are plenty of youtube videos that adequately handle this topic from the reformed perspective (James White, Jim McClarty, Mark Keilar, RC Sproul, etc). If you insist further to discuss it then I will, but these kinds of back and forth internet debates are seldom fruitful in changing minds.

you said "It's too bad that there has to be such a constant stream of angst from one 'camp' to the other. Sad. It may not necessarily be you, but quotes like this serve only one purpose: To fan the flames of condescension."

I am sure that I can browse through your blog and feel the same way about some of your posts, don't you think?

you said "In some ways, I wish your blog--and it is YOUR blog--was titled Christian Voices.I like a lot of what you write and post and agree with most of it.But quotes like this, where one group or the other is left in the lurch, are silly and do not in the end serve the purposes of Christ."

It sounds like the only way you would 100% like Reformed Voices is if it was able to be filtered through the lens of your theological persuasion and had a name change, is that what you suggest I do in order to not offend you?

No hard feelings, just disagreements.

-Philip

Philip@ReformedVoices said...

*whoops, whether not rather. :)

dangoldfinch said...

Philip,

You don't have to filter anything at all for me; I'm a big boy. That's why I said it is YOUR blog. You can do what you like with it. I think what I was referring to is that...well, nevermind. You are right, these debates rarely seem to produce fruit...fruit that lasts...fruit that is in accordance with the Spirit.

On the other hand, I don't think you can find any quotes on my blog that you would necessarily find offensive. That's precisely my point. WE are Christians regardless of whether we happen to adhere to Calvin's teachings or not. Frankly, I don't care how a person becomes a Christian--whether they exercise free will or if God overrides their will--as long as they belong to Jesus then all is well and I trust God's judgment either way. Does that make sense?

Nah, you don't have to worry about offending me. I'm hardly offended. I take such statements from reformed theologians for what they are: wrong. :)

y/f and brother in Christ,
jerry

a helmet said...

The only thing that is limited is the Calvinists' understanding of the atonement.

Joseff said...

Dangoldfinch said:

"Yes, and the Calvinistic view suggests that only a certain few have actually had their sins atoned for."

Well, "few" will be in heaven, right? Why?

Because their sins were paid for!

Regarding 1 Jn 2:2, you said:

"Anyone reading it for the first time would never think it means anything less than what it says."

I agree, and who were the first people that read it?

1) 1st Century Jews being written to by a Jew? or..
2) 21st Century English Speakers who don't take the time to consider historical or linguistic context?

If your answer is #2, then yes, "not our sins only but the whole world" would probably mean what you want it to mean.

However, since the correct answer is #1, the text means the same thing it means when the same author (John) wrote John 11:51-52

Christ is the Messiah of not Israel alone (ours), but the also will gather the children of God that are scattered in all the nations of the world (the whole world) - cross reference with Rev 5:9

John was a Jew, writing to Jews, and there is nothing more common in Jewish writing and understanding than for "the world" and "the whole world" to mean the Gentiles.

You said:

"Again, we are saved by grace THROUGH faith."

Yes, and the very next part of that passage that you conveniently left out is the fact that the faith you are saved through "is not your own doing, but a gift of God, so that no man can boast"

We are saved by grace, through faith, not by faith, through grace.

We all agree that faith is what links a man to Christ's righteousness and imputes our sin to him, but the difference between Calvinists and Arminians is this:

Calvinists acknowledge from scripture that saving faith is not originated in the man, but instead, is a gift from God, as all spiritual blessings are.

Arminians want to believe that somehow they, themselves, created their faith out of their fallen, depraved heart that is a "hater of God" and "cannot please God" and "cannot understand spiritual things". That somehow their saving faith is originated in themselves.

You said

"Limited implies, at least, that the atonement was only partially effective. "

I find this very ironic, because it is the reformed understanding of the atonement that is actually FULLY effective: Every single person that Christ died for is perfectly saved and atoned for, and Christ secures all spiritual blessings for them: including faith and repentance.

It is not Limited Atonement that is "ineffective" or "partially" effective, as you insist, but rather, your own view of general atonement or universal atonement.

You see, in your view, the atonement is not 100% effective by itself, but instead, it needs something else, some other ingredient to be added to the pot in order to be effective: man's self-created faith.

In your view, Christ can desperately try to save "Bob", and fail, if Bob will not add his own efforts to Christs efforts.

You then ironically said, regarding a "partially effective" atonement, the following:

"Sorry, I don't see the Scripture reading that way at all. "

I couldn't agree more! That's precisely why I'm a Calvinist who adheres to Limited Atonement ;)