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Oct 08, 2014

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Laodicean Report

We agree, it is a strange delusion. This is why Calvinists are so divisive, the implication limited atonement has on the character and justice of God will not allow room for error.
The modern day Calvinists labor to defend a doctrine that none of the early church fathers held. It is interesting that they defend their beliefs against brothers in Christ with the same divisive spirit of John Calvin. Calvin would allow no dissent. Why do the New Calvinists defend John Calvin? The recent blog by JD Greear is a great example. He makes the case that Calvin was a saint, who was ecumenical and loving towards those who disagreed with him. This is a false narrative; just read the minutes of the Consistory of Geneva and the truth about Calvin is clear. To cite one example, Calvin and the Consistory sent a woman to a short prison stay until she could be punished by the Council. What did she do? She was raped by a man, had a child out of wedlock and refused to marry her abuser. So much for the Doctrines of Grace.

rhutchin

Dr. Allen together with Steve Lemke edited a book entitled, "Whosoever Will," a critique of Calvinism. Dr. Allen contributed a chapter entitled, "The Atonement: Limited or Universal?"

In this chapter, Dr. Allen says, "Three major areas comprise the subject of the atonement: intent, extent, and application." (pg 64) Dr. Allen then addresses the area of the "extent" of the atonement in the chapter.

From what I have read, much of the confusion on Limited Atonement results from the confusion between the "intent" and the "extent" of the atonement. The "L" of TULIP is a statement about the "intent" of God in the atonement. The famous argument for this is presented by John Owen in his book, "The Death of Death." No scholar (so far as I know) has taken on Owen and challenged him directly on the argument he makes in that book. Everyone seems to argue for the "extent" of the atonement. We see this in statements like, "Sufficient for all (extent) but efficient for the elect (intent)." Even Owen refers to this approvingly and writes several pages affirming the sufficiency of the atonement for all.

So, here we have a book - "From Heaven He Came and Sought Her" - and have to wonder what new could be said that Owen did not already say. Does this mean that we have to labor through 700 pages to find that the answer is, No?

Then Peter writes, "If the reader would like to experience a scholar busy in his workshop, thoroughly dismantling every argument Calvinism assembles in favor of Limited Atonement and replacing it with sound, sober biblical exegesis, take a look at David Allen's piece on John Piper's defense of Limited Atonement." "...every argument...??" While we do find find bits and pieces of references to Owen and his argument by Dr. Allen, it may be a little extreme to say Dr. Allen addresses every argument. That would take a volume at least comparable to Owen's somewhat exhaustive effort.

Nonetheless, much effort seems to be directed by non-Calvinists to explaining how the "extent" of the atonement covers all people. That is not the issue. If one wants to destroy "Limited Atonement," one must address the issue of "intent." Dr. Allen does not do this in my opinion (and I really don't think anyone else has ever really attempted this).

David (NAS) Rogers

rhutchin,

So you're saying the doctrine is Limited Intention of Atonement? God limited his intention of atoning even though he has the desire to save "all people" (1 Tim. 2:4) and the living God is "the Savior of all people" (1 Tim. 4:10) with "believers" being a sub-set of "all people", the "all people" still having a "Savior". But this "Savior" is one who has not atoned for those not believing since he did not intend for them to be atoned for but still is their "Savior"?

Andrew Barker

rhutchin: "If one wants to destroy "Limited Atonement," one must address the issue of "intent."

I have news for you. There are plenty of people who want rid of 'Limited Atonement'. You can count many of the authors of From Heaven He Came in their number including John Piper. He's on record as saying he doesn't like the term and much prefers the phrase definite atonement. I haven't read the book but I've read through many of the reviews and comments and I still remain convinced that the project was an expensive re-branding exercise to ditch the term 'limited' and adopt 'definite'. But that's just my opinion.

For all its supposed clever thinking, Calvinism always throws up more questions than answers. Why for example are all unbelievers described as the lost when according to Calvinism some are elect and therefore definitely going to be saved. So they never really were the lost were they??

If God's intent to save was limited, then the extent of God's ability to save must by definition also be limited. I am in the camp of those who believe that God does not wish anybody (there's the intent) to perish but that all should come to repentance (there's the extent).


Lydia

"For all its supposed clever thinking, Calvinism always throws up more questions than answers. Why for example are all unbelievers described as the lost when according to Calvinism some are elect and therefore definitely going to be saved. So they never really were the lost were they?? "

And what is even more confusing is how Calvin dealt with this himself in his state/church city where "looking" and "acting" like a Christian was mandatory. So who were the compelled elect?

It stretches credulity that folks actually think this stuff has any merit at all. And Calvin's tyrannical behavior was, of course, just like Jesus who he defined for us. (sigh)

"To cite one example, Calvin and the Consistory sent a woman to a short prison stay until she could be punished by the Council. What did she do? She was raped by a man, had a child out of wedlock and refused to marry her abuser. So much for the Doctrines of Grace'"

Laodicea, Keep it up. History is their biggest Achilles heel. The more they try to divorce Calvin from his power the second time around in Geneva, the worse it looks. There is plenty of history out there proving Calvin was a cowardly tyrant and thug who though he could give us a "system" for belief. And "man of his time" arguments do not work unless they want to declare that the Holy Spirit was not operating back then.

It boggles my mind that so many young men have as their hero or foundation for beliefs, a tyrannical thug. History repeats itself, often.

eric

Greetings,
I have a general question for my non reformed brothers.

Do you pray for the salvation of others, family friends, etc.

If you pray, is the prayer simply a conversation with God that you would like for John to accept Christ.

Or if you pray, are you asking that God intervene in a special way, for that family member, that he doesn't already intervene with every single person on the entire earth, past, present and future. This would include the unknown tribe in the amazon 2000 years ago.

You know where I'm going with this.

If you ask God to intervene and believe he does choose to intervene with some people (in a special way, a non universal way), how do you get around the idea of God intervening with some but not all.

This is an age old question.

Thanks and go Gamecocks

Lydia

"If you ask God to intervene and believe he does choose to intervene with some people (in a special way, a non universal way), how do you get around the idea of God intervening with some but not all."

Eric, I am a "sisteren" so I hope it is ok to respond. Since I am a Pelagian rebellious Jezebel (smile), I have a problem with the premise of your assertions. When I pray for people I pray that they will make a decision to believe truth. I believe that humans have volition and I believe that faith is a commitment-- not some mystical power implanted in a person to force them to act on faith.

You seem to start with the premise that humans have no real volition which gives you only a few choices (all within determinism) because humans are basically out of the equation. (inability)

Obviously, since I pray that way I believe that God has the power (and great love) to woo them in ways that will relate to them. I still believe they have the ability to turn away.

As to lost tribes...I can remember a lost tribe was discovered when I was a small child (I think it was Papua New Guinea and it was all over the news...all 4 channels. Ha!). I can remember the major discussions adults in my life had at the time concerning their salvation. And it really had an impact on me when thinking of God being fair and just. Would He really send them to hell simply because nobody had found them and told them about Jesus? Mostly the adults in my life were concerned we find a way send trained missionaries there to help them. Many experts on the news said, "leave them alone".

I also remember reading, when a young girl, the true story of a teen age Russian girl raised as an atheist on a communal farm who had never heard of Jesus Christ.( I believe her story came out of the Stalin era) She looked out the window one day at the snow coming down and started noticing the intricate design of each large flake. It startled her because there was no other explanation than a Great Being had somehow caused them to be so intricate and beautiful. And that one moment in time changed her life as she strove to find out if He existed or not...secretly.

I have read "Witness" by Whittaker Chambers about 50 times because it is the best written book of the 20th Century. I weep every time I read of his feeding his small daughter one day and becoming obsessed with her tiny ear. He was a hard core communist atheist who worked as an underground spy against the US Government. He Hated God. Thought only the ignorant believed.

Her ear changed his life. He kept thinking of the design of that ear and how perfect it was structured for its duty. In that moment in time--- that tiny ear eventually changed his life.

There is also my work with Muslims here and also medical missionaries in countries like Afghanistan right as the first war wave was winding down and they were going in on humanitarian aid visas setting up medical clinics, etc. We had to ship all the supplies to Sat addresses because there was no such thing as a real address there!

I was blown away by the stories coming back to us from these medical missionaries approached by Afghans very secretly to ask questions about Jesus the prophet. Some had dreams and some had visions that He was much more than a nice prophet. Most were women, btw.

God wooing, loving and using bizarre ways to draw people to him. Each of the above had the ability to ignore that wooing and dismiss those thoughts/ideas. They chose not to. They sought Him through whatever means they had at their disposal.

Praise His precious Name.

peter lumpkins

rhutchin,

From what I have read, much of the confusion on Limited Atonement results from the confusion between the "intent" and the "extent" of the atonement. Perhaps. But Dr. Allen clearly defined all the terms in his chapter on the atonement. 

The "L" of TULIP is a statement about the "intent" of God in the atonement. Incorrect. Calvinism's understanding of LA deals with both intent and extent. In fact, it would be difficult if not impossible to deal with one aspect without dealing also with the other aspect of the atonement's nature.

The famous argument for this is presented by John Owen in his book, "The Death of Death." No scholar (so far as I know) has taken on Owen and challenged him directly on the argument he makes in that book. Everyone seems to argue for the "extent" of the atonement. We see this in statements like, "Sufficient for all (extent) but efficient for the elect (intent)." Even Owen refers to this approvingly and writes several pages affirming the sufficiency of the atonement for all. The first assertion incorrect. If you have read Allen, you'd see that plenty of scholars have taken issue with Owen beginning with Ussher, Polhill, Davenant, Baxter among others. To suggest as do you "No scholar (so far as I know) has taken on Owen and challenged him directly on the argument he makes in that book" sound like a direct quote from Packer's eulogizing essay in Death of Death. No one LA defenders recognize is much closer to being correct. Yes, and Allen deals with the way Calvinists themselves understand "sufficient for all" is hardly the way others understand it and he deals with it over several pages.

So, here we have a book - "From Heaven He Came and Sought Her" - and have to wonder what new could be said that Owen did not already say. Does this mean that we have to labor through 700 pages to find that the answer is, No? I'm afraid you misunderstand. It's because Owen's work has never fully taken hold--even amongst Calvinists themselves--that From Heaven He sought Her must restate and refresh their failed capture of the historic Reformed market.

Then Peter writes, "If the reader would like to experience a scholar busy...dismantling every argument Calvinism assembles in favor of Limited Atonement... take a look at David Allen's piece on John Piper's defense of Limited Atonement."... While we do find find bits and pieces of references to Owen and his argument by Dr. Allen, it may be a little extreme to say Dr. Allen addresses every argument. That would take a volume at least comparable to Owen's somewhat exhaustive effort. Well, rhutchin, I hardly meant Allen's single piece on Piper constituted the complete repoirtore. After all, the one piece on Piper is now subsidized by a Part 2 which I indicated above. I also indicated that Allen wrote reviews of all the authors and linked to each one. Further, if you can offer a contemporary scholar--SBC or otherwise--who has raised both the same number of questions and whose written with at least the same scholarly intensity as has Allen on the failure of LA, I'd be glad to know them.

Nor is it correct to suggest that in order to thoroughly dismantle the argument against LA it would "take a volume at least comparable to Owen's somewhat exhaustive effort." First, Allen is reviewing From Heaven He came not Death of Death. Second, your presumption is wrong (as was Packer's) that Owen gave an exhaustive effort. He most obviously did not since he has historically had many detractors from his position as Allen demonstrated, detractors within the Reformed camp itself. Tying one's view of LA to a single author may be hazardous to one's theological health. Finally, though Allen was not writing a critique on Owen per se, he dealt with Owen and Owen's influence on the authors of From Heaven He came to show how their use of Owen did not help their case from LA.

Nonetheless, much effort seems to be directed by non-Calvinists to explaining how the "extent" of the atonement covers all people. That is not the issue. If one wants to destroy "Limited Atonement," one must address the issue of "intent." Dr. Allen does not do this in my opinion (and I really don't think anyone else has ever really attempted this). Oh my. Well, if you have Dr. Allen & Lemke's book as you seem to indicate, I suggest you take a close look at Allen's chapter again. He goes over this question in detail. First, your assertion is completely incorrect that the issue is not about the extent of the atonement--For whom did Christ die? Or, For whose sins was Christ punished? Calvinists repeatedly indicate the atonement is most certainly about extent by suggesting He died for the church, for His sheep, for His people, for the elect. These assertions indicate extent. While we may make a clear distinction between for whom Christ died (extent) and the divine purpose in His dying (intent) we cannot and should not separate them as you appear to be doing. What's a bit humorous is, Allen noted in the very essay I linked in this post to Piper's confusion between intent and extent:

It is erroneous to state that what makes the atonement definite is only God’s intent to save all the called who will believe. All Amyraldians and Hypothetical Universalists believe this as well. What makes the atonement “definite” as the term is used by all the authors in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her is the affirmation that Christ only substituted for the sins of the elect.

One must properly distinguish between the atonement’s intent and extent. Piper is confusing intent and extent in his statement above.

With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins

rhutchin,

It seems you logged the same comment to me you logged at Dr. Allen's site, and Dr. Allen responded accordingly. And, since his comment obviously remains more noteworthy than mine, I decided to post it below for all to consider:

Rhutchin,

Thanks for your interaction. Good to hear from you again.

You are correct that much of the confusion over limited atonement surrounds the failure to properly distinguish between the “intent” and “extent” of the atonement.

You are incorrect when you state that the “L” in TULIP is a statement about the “intent” of God in the atonement. No, it is primarily about the extent and answers the question “for whose sins did Christ die?” Of course, intent is a vital part of the question.

You are correct that Owen is the famous proponent of limited atonement and he does address the issue of “intent” in the atonement. His basic premise is that intent = extent. Christ only dies for the sins of those people (the elect) he “intends” to save. Intent and extent are coextensive for Owen.

You are incorrect to assert that no scholar has “taken on Owen” over this issue. In fact, many have, and the most well-known are Calvinists! In my chapter in “Whosoever Will,” which you mention, I cite several who have opposed Owen on this, including the likes of John Davenant, Richard Baxter, Charles Hodge, R. L. Dabney, W. G. T. Shedd, and many more.

On a more contemporary note, consult Calvinists Alan Clifford, Curt Daniel, and Neil Chambers. All are cited in my chapter.

You are also incorrect in your assumption that “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her” does not say anything new that Owen did not say. It does indeed, and should be read by all, whether Calvinist or non-Calvinist.

Likewise, you are incorrect to suggest that the “extent” of the atonement is not the issue. It is the issue. But you are correct to say that the “intent” of the atonement is the ultimate issue. I said the same thing in my chapter. Both “intent” and “extent” should be studied.

Finally, let me speak to your use of the word “destroy.” If by that metaphor you mean simply to illustrate how and why the arguments for limited atonement are invalid, then that is exactly what I, and many other Calvinists and non-Calvinists, are attempting to do.

Whether I have succeeded in any way in successfully addressing the question of the “intent” of the atonement, I’ll leave to my readers.

David L. Allen

rhutchin

Just to note that I responded with two comments to Dr. Allen's comment above to clarify what I believe is an inaccuracy in Dr. Allen's comments and a significant problem in understanding Owen. Anyone who has read "Death of Death" and can contribute substantively to the discussion would indeed be welcome.

peter lumpkins

Actually, I didn't see your responses but will gladly post them here. Thanks and sorry for overlooking them.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Below are two responses by rhutchin to Dr. Allen (see my note at the end):

Dr. Allen writes, “Likewise, you are incorrect to suggest that the “extent” of the atonement is not the issue.”

I am not so sure. In Book IV of “Death…” Owen writes, “…we affirm, such and so great was the dignity and worth of [Christ's] death and blood-shedding, of so precious a value, of such an infinite fulness and sufficiency was this oblation of himself, that it was every way able and perfectly sufficient to redeem, justify, and reconcile and save all sinners in the world, and to satisfy the justice of God for all the sins of all mankind, and to bring them every one to everlasting glory.”

That is my understanding of the argument for the “extent” of the atonement that you make in “Whosoever Will,” and the same that others make – even Calvinists.

Earlier, regarding intent, Owen writes, “…for [the atonement] being a price for all or some does not not arise from its own sufficiency, worth or dignity, but from the intention of God…” Also, “That [the atonement] did formally become a price for any is solely to be ascribed to the purpose of God, intending their purchase and redemption by it.”

To say that Owen’s “basic premise is that intent = extent,” is to completely misunderstand Owen’s argument. Owen clearly distinguishes between the extent and intent of the atonement. The first few pages of Book IV make this very clear. Owen goes to great lengths to separate extent (the value, worth, and dignity of the atonement) and intent (God’s purpose and design for the atonement). LINK

AND:

Dr. Allen writes, “You are incorrect when you state that the “L” in TULIP is a statement about the “intent” of God in the atonement. No, it is primarily about the extent and answers the question “for whose sins did Christ die?”

Owen begins “Death…” with this, “By the end of the death of Christ, we mean, in general, both, -first, that which His father and himself intended in it; and secondly, that which was effectively fulfilled and accomplished by it.

Owen then describes U, L, and I–
U – Unconditional Election: The work of God in choosing those He will save (the elect);
L – Limited atonement: The work of Christ to atone for the sins of those elect;
I – Irresistible grace: The work of the Holy Spirit to irresistibly and effectually bring the elect to salvation.

Couple this with the opening arguments in Book IV, and it seems that considerable misunderstanding exists on the intent and extent of the atonement with regard to the argument put forth by Owen. LINK

========================

For the record, I don't want to take away from Dr. Allen's thread. Hence, if others want to follow the thread should Dr. Allen offer a rejoinder, please see the thread itself--HERE

With that, I am...

Peter

 

Andrew Barker

rhutchin writes: Dr. Allen writes, “You are incorrect when you state that the “L” in TULIP is a statement about the “intent” of God in the atonement. No, it is primarily about the extent and answers the question “for whose sins did Christ die?”

rhutchin then writes: Owen then describes U, L, and I–

L – Limited atonement: The work of Christ to atone for the sins of those elect;

rhutchin finishes with: Couple this with the opening arguments in Book IV, and it seems that considerable misunderstanding exists on the intent and extent of the atonement with regard to the argument put forth by Owen.


It would seem that Dr. Allen agrees with Owen that the L in TULIP is primarily concerned with the extent of the atonement. rhutchins is "Not so sure".

Owen believes that intent and extent are coextensive and as such doesn't distinguish between the two. Dr. Allen disagrees with this and says that intent is the real issue.

rhutchins then finishes with: it seems that considerable misunderstanding exists on the intent and extent of the atonement with regard to the argument put forth by Owen

I think Dr. Allen is quite clear about where he stands. If Owen conflates intent and extent then at least he is being consistent because if God limits the extent of the atonement to 'the elect' then he can't claim to have had any intent to save anybody other than those elect.

I do agree with rhutchin though that there is considerable misunderstand on this issue!


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