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As a calvinist I believe that Christ died for the world ..meaning.." All the Elect ". I believe that Christ died for sinners(That's language of the Scriptures)..."All Elect sinners". Just maybe that's what this circular letter means or maybe not. If the circular letter means what I have suggested it would be clearer if it defined the word world. Not disagreeing with you but calvinist can truly say that Christ died for sinners !! Your probably familiar with A. W. Pink's work on the word (World). Good read from my view. Again, you may be totally correct in the letters intent. Remember, calvinist love to talk about 1 John 2:2 and I hold to Pinks view of it. Just google A.W. Pink on 1 John 2:2. Have a good day sir.



Thanks. Yes I am aware of the number of Calvinists who interpret "world" as the "world of the elect." And, I am also familiar with Pink and have all his volumes in my library. I am surprised you do not seem to be aware, however, that Pink is considered a Hyper-Calvinist by a number of scholars including Calvinists. For example, Curt Daniel writes:

"There has been only one other voice this century within Hyper-Calvinism which can equal Hoeksema's for force, popularity or output. That is the voice of the enigmatic, if not eccentric, Arthur W. Pink...

...His small book, The Sovereignty of God, has gone through several editions and abridgements by several publishers and has been a major tool used by contemporary High Calvinists in introducing others to the current Reformed movement, even as Gill's ,Cause of God and Truth was in the past (and still is, to some extent). If, as we feel, Pink was a Hyper-Calvinist, his works have almost certainly sold more copies than any other Hyper-Calvinist. He has nearly equalled Gill in output and time may reveal that his influence has been the largest of all, especially given the fact that his popularity has been increasing each year (Murray's book notwithstanding)" (Curt D. Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill, Doctor of Philosophy dissertation, University of Edinburgh (1983)

Personally, I think the exegetical basis for interpreting "world" as "world of the elect" remains entirely vacuous, nonetheless a basis from which High Calvinists & even Hyper-Calvinists like Pink have no real option to consider. In short, their theology demands the interpretation.

With that, I am...

Ron Phillips, Sr.


Let me add that though words can sometimes have different nuances and/or meanings depending on context, this isn't one of them. The people who want to interpret kosmos as the elect in 1 John 2:2 (and John 3:16) are not using context but pretext which is a perfect example of eisegesis of scripture instead of exegesis.


Ron P.



I am Reformed, so as you would expect, I see this verse proving that Jesus was not the propitiation for Jews' sins only, but also non-Jews (not just the Jewish world, but the whole world).

But I have a question. What does hilasmos (the Greek for propitiation) mean? And what can it mean in this verse?

Thanks and God bless.


Stephen Garrett

Dear Peter:

By the mid 19th century many Calvinists had accepted Andrew Fuller's view on the atonement. They were four point Calvinists. Still, nearly all Baptists were either four or five point Calvinists.


Stephen Garrett

Donald Holmes

2434 hilasmós – properly, propitiation; an offering to appease (satisfy) an angry, offended party. 2434 (hilasmós) is only used twice (1 Jn 2:2, 4:10) – both times of Christ's atoning blood that appeases God's wrath, on all confessed sin. By the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus Christ provided the ultimate 2434 /hilasmós ("propitiation").

Bruce Oyen

Peter, one thing 5-point Calvinists must keep in mind is that their belief that Jesus Christ died to save THEM is strictly subjective. For, if he did not die to save EVERYONE, how do they know he died to save THEM? They are not able to point to one verse of Scripture that says he died for THEM, personally. The best they can do is to say they seem to have the experiential proof that he died for THEM, or that they FEEL and they BELIEVE he died for THEM. But those of us who are not 5-point Calvinists CAN point to a number of Scripture verses that say he died for ALL, or something similar to that. And, therefore, we have an OBJECTIVE basis for believing he died for US because we are among the ALL. It is much better to hang one's faith on OBJECTIVE Biblical statements than on SUBJECTIVE hope-so's and assumptions.

Ted Bigelow

Hi Peter -

I too am a Calvinist (5 point) but I agree you - the Campbell County Baptists were almost certainly reflecting a universal understanding of the atonement in their circular letter. The debates on the extent of the atonement were well established in those days as in ours, and the more Arminian-minded Baptist were aggressive and successful evangelists and church planters.

But does the word "world" ever mean "each and every person" in the Bible? Well, I've never seen a single Bible dictionary that allows it that meaning, and I wrote a Master’s thesis in part on this word. Look at 1 John 5:19: "We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” (CSB). In this case “world’ can’t include believers. We aren’t under the sway of Satan, although we are certainly tempted by him. The meaning of the verse has to with obedience to Satan and how all believers know the Father. Very comforting.

May I suggest another sense to the word “world” – “the realm of sinful human existence.” This meaning is embraced by many scholars of various theological camps as being it’s predominant meaning in John’s writings.

And lastly, I suggest this meaning for 1 John 2:2: Christ died for all sins that can be committed, not all sinners. Doubt me? That’s cool. But you should answer two questions for yourself. Why does John use the preposition “peri” instead of “huper” (c.f. 1 John 3:16)? And how can Jesus be the propitiation for all of an unbeliever’s sins, including his sin of unbelief, but yet the unbeliever still be eternally punished for his sin of unbelief?



With that definition from Strong's using the little add on..."on all confessed sin," would you be saying/implying that this propitiation was not actual but only potential, since from Strong's interpretation of the meaning it depends on confessing? After all, in neither place is propitiation said to be dependent in the text on confession.

Bruce, see Matthew 1:21.


Bruce, Bravo. Great points. Could the "non elect" have great faith/belief to no effect?

There is also something I never understood about brilliant Calvin himself. How could he go along with forced state church attendance? Doesn't that make Limited Atonement something of a farce?

peter lumpkins


I do not post historical snippets here to deny the strong presence of Calvinism--including strict, 5Pt Calvinism--in the 19th century. No one I know argues against such proposition. I do post snapshots like the one posted here to show that Baptists (especially Baptists in the south) were not universally strict Calvinists as our Founders brothers often suggest.

In addition, to state "nearly all Baptists were either four or five point Calvinists" is both an unproved proposition and, given the evidence available for anyone to check, almost certainly false. Indeed I have enough historical information logged on this site alone to make such an historical proposition suspect. Sorry.

With that, I am...

Ted Bigelow

Dear Bruce and Imalone,

I get your logic: if Scripture doesn't say Christ died in my specific place, and he only died for a subset of humanity, how can I ever know I am part of that subset.

I answer: by the Holy Spirit who has applied the work of Christ's death and resurrection to me and regenerated me (Rom. 8:16).

The greater problem is yours. If you believe Christ died for all, and you beleive that some of whom made He propitiation for go to hell, how can you know you won't go to hell? Logically you should either embrace universalism, or make something in you (your faith/repentance/humility?) the element that distinguishes between you and the unsaved.

Keith Winfree

Peter let me tell you that I am a graduate of SBTS and know Kevin Ezell. The idea that we live on a young earth like A. Mohler preaches is crazy. He needs to step down or change his views. Look on youtube and the video on a young earth by mohler wow! This person believes ignorance so he can have a door open to him by the creation people. No scholar just a politician. Moore does not believe in intense and earnest prayer. He needs to go as well. Their time is up.

Hobart M. Tucker


I had a wise General once explain to me that the greatest kings of their day were not necessarily the greatest, but the ones who had the best scribes.

Likely, sixty years from now, some YRR who is part of another Reformed Theology movement (these theological cycles happen in 20 year increments it seems, relating to generational influences) will look at a catalog of popular writings from today and conclude that the majority of Southern Baptists were Calvinistic.

This apparently is the basis for making the claim now that Southern Baptists at the founding of the Convention were Calvinistic.

However, a study of the associational reports from those days shows just the opposite. Just like a look at surveys of pastors today shows the same. Most Southern Baptists hold to a Biblical Theology as opposed to adhering to a systematic theology like Calvinism.

-- HMT

Bruce Oyen

Ted, the answer to your question is very simple: we can know we won't go to hell if we have done what the Bible says must be done to be saved, that is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31) As you know, this is only one of MANY Bible verses that tell us how to be saved. My assurance rests on the promises of God, not on anything else. He WILL keep his Word. It mught have been Martin Luther, the Reformer, who wisely said this: "Feelings come, and feelings go, but feelings are deceiving. My warrant is the Word of God. Nothing else is worth believing."

Donald Holmes

Actually, I posted that because you asked for a definition. That being said, I was pretty sure you had something in mind other than just an intellectual desire to learn the definition. Answering your answer, I had no implication, as that was not my definition. I just copied and pasted the "I Feel Lucky" result from Google.

If you really want to learn (rather than just restate the Calvinist position) you would profit greatly from "A Theology for the Church", edited by Danny Akins. In particular focus on “Special Issues in the Atonement - The Extent of the Atonement”. In four brief pages Dr. Patterson impressively lays the subject open. The honest leanrer will walk away from it with an appreciation for both sides. He will also avoid some of the simplistic "traps" that dominate this subject in these sorts of forums; both in answerig them and in the avoidance of generating them.

Bruce Oyen

Peter, many Calvinists like A. W. Pink's book on God's sovereignty. I have read it carefully at least twice. They might profit from reading what a Bible scholar fom years ago, A. C. Gaebelein, had to say about Pink's book. Below is a link to an article in which Gaebelein's view of the book is given. To get right to Gaebelein's statement, scroll down until you see his name in bold print. Here's the link: http://www.newble.co.uk/writers/Gaebelein/pink.html


Ted, Bruce answered well and I concur. But you have not explained to me how Calvin could justify his LA beliefs when he clearly agreed with magistrates enforcing church attendance. Seems like he missed the whole point. :o)

luther m  walters

calvinism and arminianism is a feeble attempt to put GOD IN A BOX. I THINK I HAVE HAD SOME OF BOTH in my walk. the great apostasy is seeing JESUS on the white horse in rev 19. dr. luther said he could not detect CHRIST in that book. i agree. the blood comes up 7 1/2 feet with a 100 mile radius and his robe is dipped in blood. he is addicted to murder. he is a abortionist.



"Actually, I posted that because you asked for a definition. That being said, I was pretty sure you had something in mind other than just an intellectual desire to learn the definition. Answering your answer, I had no implication, as that was not my definition."

Thanks for your reply. And yes, I was not looking for an intellectual answer. My original questions were really to Josh. You just happened to provide one definition from one source, so I replied to you on that and asking for more clarification on said definition.

I don't have that book you recommend. However, I'm well acquainted with both sides of the debate having read widely on the subject over the last 25 or so years. I do have an appreciation for both sides, though I remain committed to the Reformed understanding of the extent of the penal substitutionary atonement.

Thanks and God bless,


A.M. Mallett

Those Calvinists who wish to interpret "kosmos" or world as having the intention of referring to the "elect" are not considering the cultural and historical context of John's statement. If "elect" was the intention, John, as a prophet, would have referred to Israel or specifically to the "elect". The extent of the atonement and the offer of salvation to the Gentiles was a mystery not yet revealed to Israel. It remains a severe exercise in eisegesis to force such a meaning onto the text.

Tim Tuggle

Coming soon, to an SBC worship center hear you...


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