Flynn (at theology online) has been posting objection to Owen (some or all of Owen, I am not sure yet). Have you followed any of his posts? I have spoken with him on the phone and pal talk a few times about it. What are your thoughts on defining limited and unlimited in different ways because of different applications?
For me it has always been one or the other. While the idea is completely new to me, seems like it has been a conversation for some time. More interesting is that I heard FV also seems to favor this kind of distinction. I don’t know if that guilt by association by anti-FV, or a defense mechanism for FV, but I thought the tie in was interesting, since I never heard of FV before reading your blog.
I have to admit that I am hesitant about saying that Christ’s death had benefits for the non-elect. I wouldn’t say that I am irrevocably against the idea. I haven’t settled it in my mind yet. However, I firmly believe that saving benefits belong only to the elect.
I recall hearing that sermon by Driscoll (whom I like, so y’all just put that in your collective pipes and smoke it), and he was adamant that so far as salvific benefits are concerned, only the elect (using the narrow sense) receive those, but that Christ’s life, death and resurrection were a boon to the world in general, for instance, because of the activity of the Church in it.
All this type of “unlimited atonement” (and it’s a very poor, inexact term for this) says is that the world is better off due to Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. And I don’t see how we could argue against that.
But as to spiritual benefits of any sort….those are strictly reserved for the elect.
I think that if I were to agree that Christ’s death had anything good for the non-elect, I might chalk it up under the category of common grace. They would then be the common grace implications of Christ’s death. After all, the salvation of the church does have benefits for the world. But it is indirect, not direct. The common grace is channeled through the saving grace given to the church (making then the appropriate distinctions between the grace given to the elect and the common grace that accrues to the non-elect).
In a sense, Christ’s work is restoring all of fall creation. As the hymn tells us “as far as the curse is found”. Romans 8 tells us all the world is groaning, awaiting “salvation”. So we might say, as Christ is putting all enemies under his feet, and His dominion is spread from shore to shore, the non-elect, even the rank pagan participate in Christ’s glorious work.
I would agree with those assertations of Christ’s death, the common grace, but here is what Driscoll states:
At first glance, Unlimited and Limited Atonement are in opposition. But that dilemma is resolved by noting two things. First, the two categories are not mutually exclusive; since Jesus died for the sins of everyone that means that He also died for the sins of the elect. Second, Jesus’ death for all people does not accomplish the same thing as His death for the elect. This point is complicated, but is in fact taught in Scripture (1 Tim. 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1).
Simply, by dying for everyone, Jesus purchased everyone as His possession and He then applies His forgiveness to the elect by grace and applies His wrath to the non-elect. Objectively, Jesus’ death was sufficient to save anyone, and, subjectively, only efficient to save those who repent of their sin and trust in Him. This position is called Unlimited Limited Atonement or Modified Calvinism.
GB: BOQ: I have to admit that I am hesitant about saying that Christ’s death had benefits for the non-elect. I wouldn’t say that I am irrevocably against the idea. I haven’t settled it in my mind yet. However, I firmly believe that saving benefits belong only to the elect EOQ
I have a tough time wrapping my mind around David’s thesis as well. And, he knows this. The issues I see is that to be honest with the texts in John and 1 John, I do see his point and I think its acceptable without giving up Limited Atonement. I was very suprised to read Calvins comments on John 3. I agree to disagree with him overall, however I find his arguments either 1.) Biblical or 2.) Beyond my education to argue with. If I had not known him for years (and well before his current passion on the atonement) I would just count it as an over zelouseness for his position. Being the libratian at RTS makes me second guess my position becaue I do not have the same resources at hand to take home and examine, and I know he has exhausted his resources. Plus, I spent months talking to him into blogging. He knows full well the reaction of his posts, and I think the silence of comments to his posts proves his fears.
I am perplexed at the idea of Chirsts atonement having saving benefit the elect as well. I was not (church wise) raised a Calvinist. I was raised an Amyraldian, or 4 pointer. So, I didnt switch (15 years ago) without study and prayer. I am buying off, for now, that his position is a fuller espression of 5 point Calvinism and not merely an intelligent argument for Arminianism ( in any sense).
Thanks to everyone for you comments. I appreciate seeing both sides of the arguement. At the end of the day, I think we all are seeking to be as biblical in our theology as possible.
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens; Justification, by John Fesko; The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan; Recovering the Reformed Confessions, by Scott Clark; Brief Outline of Theology, by Friedrich Schleiermacher; Principles of Sacred Theology, by Abraham Kuyper
Books I am now reading
Exodus commentaries; Matthew commentaries; Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology; Baker's new history of the church
Books for future reading
Turretin's Institutes; Joseph Caryl on Job, German encyclopedias of theology