Since posting “Yes, Jesus Did Die for [the Sins of] Everyone!” on Monday, I have received many, thoughtful responses. I am thankful for all who have interacted, even those who voiced disagreement, and feel it appropriate to offer a few thoughts.
1. It appears many people responding did not read the article and merely responded to one of the tweets promoting it, apart from the fuller context. This was occasionally noted by some in the replies.
“It is obvious most people responding or reacting did not actually read the article.”
Drexel King @drexelrking
In a three-tweet response, Gabriel Mira @gabemmira quoted verbatim for me Owen’s Trilemma argument with no comment as if to suggest that settles the issue, apparently unaware that in the article, I listed this argument and responded substantively, pointing out the serious flaws with Owen’s Trilemma argument.
I hope people will seek to read carefully and thoughtfully what I really said and what I meant by what I said. Here is a great example of reading and responding:
“I will be the first to say that this [is] a fair article. This give a fair treatment of both sides. I have read the Scriptures you have provided. I will read it again to make sure my analysis is correct. I will read the article again. Thank you Doctor.”
Charles Ratcliff @Charlesrat74
2. Very few people are responding in any substantive way to the points I raised in the article. My article is a direct response to Erik Raymond’s article, not an independent defense of unlimited atonement. It seems appropriate that those who take issue with what I have said should interact directly with statements in context in the article.
3. In light of the above, I hope people will show where they think I have erred in my rebuttal to Raymond or why they think I am in error theologically. Disagreement is not an argument. Citing common Calvinist arguments for limited atonement is not an argument against my critique of those very arguments. Where and why am I wrong?
4. Shouldn’t comments avoid ad hominem or otherwise disrespectful and/or snarky statements? I won’t respond to these as they are self-defeating.
“Are u reading the Holy Bible? God handpicked the Israelites. Jesus hand picked His disciples. Jesus hand picked Paul, against his will. He was on his way to persecute Christians.”
Edgar (PaPa) Horn @EddieHorn
“Dr. Allen’s arguments Shows He hasn’t bothered to actually read his opponents arguments.”
Whats wrong with you?
Shebi TULIP @ShabiVolley
I will attempt to briefly respond to some of the more common comments I’ve seen on Twitter.
1.Confusion over atonement accomplished and atonement applied. Failure to recognize this distinction leads to the charge that universal atonement entails universalism. My article seeks to demonstrate why universal atonement does not entail universalism.
“Either the atonement is limited by man’s will or God’s will (John 1:13). Or, are you suggesting all will be saved?”
Nathan Creitz @nathancreitz
Nathan is here equivocating on the term “atonement” and using it to mean “salvation.” To put it in other words: the tweet confuses and conflates atonement accomplished with atonement applied. Also, he seems to be understanding the atonement in a commercial sense. I addressed both of these issues in the article.
2. In response to my claim that there is no text in Scripture that says Christ died only for the elect:
“There is no text in Scripture stating the doctrine of the Trinity. See how silly that sounds.”
“John 10:15-16, 26-27 John 17:9, 20 just for starters. Also Dr Allen, are you a trinitarian? Do you hold scripture to the same standard when proving that doctrine?”
Kenny Simon @jksimon80
There are many texts in Scripture stating the doctrine of the Trinity. What is not used in Scripture is the word “Trinity.” I argue that the concept of limited atonement (a limited satisfaction for sins whereby only the sins of the elect are atoned for at the cross) is not taught anywhere in Scripture, explicitly or implicitly. And yes, I am a Trinitarian, because Scripture teaches it.
Some appear to be arguing that Scripture teaches limited atonement implicitly just as it teaches the Trinity implicitly; it just needs to be inferred. Others seem to be arguing limited atonement is there explicitly, as if to suggest, “How could you miss it, Dr. Allen?! It is clearly there.” It is certainly not there explicitly. If it is there only implicitly, then that is a tacit admission that it is a logical deduction based on what one thinks Scripture says, and not something explicitly stated in scripture.
3. In response to my tweet “There is no atonement text in scripture stating that God intends to save only the elect.”
“Wow! Sure there is. Romans 8:31-39.”
The hue and cry over this statement in the article and in the tweet is a misreading of what I wrote, coupled with a misinterpretation of Rom 8:31-39.
Notice I did not say that atonement and election are not related, or the Bible doesn’t teach election. As I said in the article, there is no text period that teaches Jesus died only for the sins of the elect. I also claim that there is no atonement text in Scripture that limits God’s intention to save only the elect.
Romans 8 is not a text whose focus is atonement, but let’s grant for the sake of argument that it is since Romans 8:32 states: “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Paul is addressing believers and their current status as having been justified because they have believed in Christ.
To suggest this text teaches limited atonement is faulty logic.
All those “died for” receive all things.
Some do not receive all things;
Therefore, they are not died for.
Here is the fallacy: the first “us” in Rom 8:32 is being converted into “all for whom Christ died,” when contextually the “us” refers to believers, not all for whom Christ died.
Those who cite Romans 8 as supporting limited atonement are equivocating on the meaning of the word “us” in v. 32 and “elect” in v. 33. There is no place in Scripture where “elect” refers to the abstract class of all the elect qua elect (unborn elect, unbelieving elect, believing elect, glorified elect). Every time the word “elect” occurs in Scripture, it refers only to believers. There are no exceptions. (As an aside, the same is true of the use of “his people” in Scripture. Never is the term used for the abstract class of the elect, as most Calvinists use it. “His people” is usually a reference to the nation of Israel, as in Matt 1:21.)
Reformed systematic theology speaks of “the elect” as the abstract class of all the elect; Scripture never does. Therefore, it is begging the question when one takes the two uses of “us” in Rom 8:32 and “elect” in Rom 8:33 as meaning the abstract class of all the elect qua elect. It is only believers that Paul is speaking to and about. Paul is giving special assurance to those in a believing state.
Think of it this way—Has God resolved to save anyone other than believers? No. Are there atonement texts that say God intends only to save believers? Yes! John 3:16 is a prime example. If we use the word “elect” as equivalent to “believers” as Scripture does, then there are atonement texts that say God intends only to save the elect, since it turns out in the end that the elect constitute all believers.
In Scripture, universal terms are always used when atonement texts speak of the atonement and its extent. Limited terms are always used when a text speaks of election, because these texts always refer to existing believers only.
4. In response to my tweet “Atonement accomplished does not mean atonement applied.”
Jonathan Murdock @sfjm
“True that we don’t know who the elect are. If God had made provisions for the salvation of all people, all would be saved because salvation “doesn’t depend on man’s desire or effort but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).”
John Carpenter @JohnCarpenter64
Here is the fifth of five tweets from Covenant Reformed Baptist Church @CovenantReform2:
“By making salvation dependent on a condition fulfilled by the sinner, Allen has made salvation based on works, not grace. So God has not designed salvation to be acquired by a choice of the sinner but has designed faith to be a mark of whom He has saved.”
Some Calvinists are so exercised about making sure salvation is “all of God” that they get out of balance and forget their own confessional statements. Even a Calvinist should not object to faith as conditional to salvation, because as orthodox Calvinism affirms, it is still our act, even if God gives faith as a gift.
When salvation is mentioned in Scripture, it is always conditional and human response is involved in it. God has never determined to save people apart from conditions. Faith is always involved. By the way, that’s not Arminianism…that’s just the Bible. Human responsibility is all over the place in Scripture when speaking about salvation. This in no way entails meritorious works.
According to God’s effectual intent to save only the elect, all Calvinists would indeed affirm this. However, when some Calvinists argue there is something in the atonement itself that secures its own application, most moderate Calvinists and all non-Calvinists say “no.” The only thing exclusive is the will of Christ, which is in the application of the atonement when one believes, not in the cross work itself.
You might ask: “Why all the fuss?” Here is why: the extent of the atonement is very near the heart of the gospel. It is a crucial theological issue and what one believes about it impacts many other areas theologically and practically.
To those seeking a formal debate on this issue, my response is there is no need to do so. I have published more than 1,200 pages on this subject (here’s my latest, The Atonement), including arguments by Calvinists since the Reformation against limited atonement. I have often said that most of the best arguments against limited atonement are made by Calvinists themselves who reject it, and their number is legion in the past and today. John Owen’s Double Payment argument and Triple Choice argument have been refuted and debunked a hundred times over by Calvinists. I have cited the sources and explained the arguments. I would love to see Calvinists who affirm limited atonement engage what I and others have written on this subject.